By Tom Perrault, Vice President Digital Services, Dunham+Company
We’re all about helping our clients grow. It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning. So while devoting our efforts to help nonprofit organizations get more from their fundraising efforts, I’m often struck by how easy it is to get it wrong – especially in the digital realm.
Despite the greatest intentions, we all can fail in some of the most essential areas, resulting in loss of potential donations, frustrated constituents and employees, and reduced impact. The mistakes are consistent, and the current pattern is easy to spot. Almost like a can’t-miss formula for failure.
Of course, no one ever says, “Hey, I’m trying to reduce revenue, shrink our results, and generally run this thing into the ground. Any ideas?” But if someone were to ask, here are some things that seem to work pretty well:
- Develop a website that’s a labyrinth of competing priorities where the email sign-up opportunities are either buried, too complicated, lacking any apparent value to the user, or – preferably – a wicked combination of all three. If at all possible, have your IT department oversee your site’s planning, design, and build-out with minimal input from development.
- Ensure that your online donation process itself is a cumbersome, anxiety-inducing slog that only a color-blind engineer would appreciate. One that gives visitors who care about your cause a reason to pause and reconsider their decision.
- Do your best to confuse visitors to your website, and especially those who may be responding to your direct mail, by eschewing coordination between offline and online campaign communication. This helps to alleviate the chances that visitors who may have seen your offline appeals will recognize and follow the cues on the website. Keep those donations down!
- When someone gives to your organization online, whatever you do, don’t make it quick and easy for them to share it on their social channels. And if they post or ask a question on your Facebook page, or mention their donation, avoid acknowledging or thanking them for it, as it would only encourage them to give more. In fact, do your best to manage your organization’s Facebook pages and Twitter feeds as billboards rather than channels for communicating with people who care about you.
- Avoid adapting your website, communication, and donation mechanism to the mobile environment, where more than 50% of your emails could be read and a quickly increasing amount of your donations may come from.
- Choose systems, software, and related vendors that are magically incompatible with industry best-of-breed choices, and which make it impossible to do the most basic and critical parts of digital fundraising. Also, do your best to choose options that will not scale and will hamper growth efforts later.
Hint: Choose systems that are not unnecessarily complex, yet power growth and scale, and not just something your IT guy or current vendor says they can add on. ➡ Stay tuned for more data and advice in this area.
By: Rick Dunham