Fundraising online
February 12, 2008 11:08 AM   Subscribe

I want my not for profit organization to maximize its presence on line, in particular by increasing fundraising efforts.

We're a midsize musical theater with a regional profile (3000 subscribers, about 750 donors). I want to try replacing at least one, if not more of our fund appeal letters to an email appeal. The list would be narrowly targeted, so I 'm not looking for ASPCA type 100,000 mass emailings. I hope further to be able to convince the powers that be to get us up (gack I can't believe I'm about to use this term) to a better Web 2.0 profile but adding more interactivity to our website (currently you can't even sign up for email on our website unless you are buying tickets).

Miko turned me on to the blue pogo app. Does anyone else have resources, experience, or anything to share on this? Thanks.

I found this, but it's for a much larger effort than we are looking at.
posted by nax to Technology (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Sorry, bluepogo link didn't go through. Here it is.
posted by nax at 11:09 AM on February 12, 2008

A non-profit I do some work for it currently moving in a similar direction, but I'm not really sure how much of our experience is applicable to your situation.

Can you be more specific about what you want from your website? Do you want some sort of blog with comments setup, online donations, a way to sign up for your email newsletter, or something else? What kind of interactivity would benefit your organization? Do you have any money to spend? Is your plan to send one or two mass emails to your potential donors or something more?
posted by ssg at 11:33 AM on February 12, 2008

You might create two lists, one for donors who have previously responded to mailers only and who have given their e-mails, and another to everybody else. That's an easier way to manage click-through percentages without getting your information muddled. It also lets you manage how often and how much you are looking to make an ask for to your lists. So, for your confirmed donor list, you might make clear ask. For those who have not given, you want to shape the ask around a product, like "see us prepare for our new production" and a click-through to a photo gallery with a splash page gently explaining your needs and how you use the money you receive. You also need to remember to advert voluntary and audition opportunities to your lists and see how they respond. It's really all about click-through rates to start out, that percentage is going to make the change for you between continuing to stuff envelopes and paying out for a dedicated CRM system.
posted by parmanparman at 11:35 AM on February 12, 2008

Response by poster: It's hard to get more specific before I know what people have tried, but my vision is that we would have a variety of interactive capabilities that might be available all the time, or that we would change. These could include a forum, surveys, email sign up, streaming video (tricky because we deal only with copyrighted works and royalties).

Because of resistance from critical quarters, we probably need to *start* with a fund appeal-- this I can get through because it will potentially save, rather than cost money.

Parmanparman, I love your photogallery idea.
posted by nax at 12:27 PM on February 12, 2008

What's your budget for all this?
posted by parmanparman at 12:51 PM on February 12, 2008

Response by poster: Yeh. Budget. Let's just get us some ponies and then see what they cost. Mostly looking for people's experiences with this.
posted by nax at 4:52 PM on February 12, 2008

Nax: from personal experience, you need to be very vigilant with e-mail lists, because constant contact is the name of the game. In my last job, I built up an e-mail list that started with 60 names and branched to over 4,000 by the time I left. When I did, my successor and my boss both stopped doing the e-mail newsletter I instituted, which meant e-mail prospects weren't primed for the winter giving season and thus, there was no e-mail fund raiser in the fourth quarter of 2008. I think a lot of small non-profits, whatever their aims, are reluctant to move to the web despite its cost-cutting function because of the high learning curve and the chances that they will miss out on those without e-mails. That's beside the point, however. Most CRM systems were built for small businesses led by Boomers, so the curve is far smaller in comparison with learning spreadsheets, for example. On the 'missing names' side, e-mailing new and existing web prospects raises your opportunity of going the extra mile to raise from high and medium-giving mail donors. Why? Because now you can lavish them with attention. Instead of stuffing envelopes, you can start cultivating a strong high-donor reach out list to contact and meet with and start soliciting donations from those donors. You can start that route with a hand-written greeting or a phone call, if you feel brave enough to do so. I trust you are the fund raiser, so this might be old hat to you.
posted by parmanparman at 7:37 PM on February 12, 2008

The other thing, from personal experience, is that it's unlikely that for a list that might stick to <10,000 names for web purposes that you will get the most out of bluepogo. Something you might consider is this: go to an arts non-profit you know about that uses e-mail newsletter distro services and make them an offer: two annual e-mail broadcasts of your events or whatever to our list or use of our theater for an event in exchange for hosting our list each annual period and sending out two to three e-mails each month. Most non-profits will jump (and fight over) the opportunity of new names and will probably give you a nod to do it. You will have some inevitable grumbles, but you can clear that hurdle by making it clear that this organization is doing your theater a cost-cutting favor and that you are now using the savings to finally find a rope strong enough to pull a full-grown adult Pinocchio right off the stage and swing them around the first seven rows.
posted by parmanparman at 7:13 PM on February 13, 2008

I do this stuff for a (part time) living (ie, online non-profit work). I'm not in the frame of mind to post a primer at the moment (and the thread is too old to be of help to many people), but if you have any specific questions, please feel free to mefi-mail me.

Good luck!
posted by prophetsearcher at 10:09 AM on February 18, 2008

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