Mar/Apr 2008

Maximize the Online Opportunity with your High-Value Donors

by Vinay Bhagat, Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Convio

While online marketing (eCRM) will never replace the need for person-to-person contact, new research from Convio, SeaChange Strategies and Edge Research shows that major donors are very active online with the intention of becoming even more so when it comes to their philanthropic support.

Just presented at this week's AFP International Conference, "The Wired Wealthy: Using the Internet to Connect with Your Middle and Major Donors" examines the online behaviors, experiences and expectations of the "wired wealthy" — individuals who had given at least $1,000 to a single charity over 18 months and who had an email address on file with one or more nonprofits. For the nonprofits who shared data with us, this segment of donors represents just 1% of their active donor file, but 32% of their annual revenue.

Inspired by an article on major gifts and the Internet I wrote in June 2006, our just-released landmark research shows that a tremendous opportunity exists for nonprofit organizations to better leverage their online presence to better connect, motivate and retain major donors:

  • "Wired wealthy" donors have been using the Internet for an average of 12 years, and are online an average of 18 hours a week.

  • 80% have given online and 51 percent said that they prefer online giving.

  • 66% said they visit the Web site of a cause or charity before donating for the first time; of those, 49% said they visit in nearly every instance when they are considering a donation to a new cause.

  • 42% responded that they are somewhat more likely to give if they received email communications; 18% are a lot more likely to give again to a charity if sent email with news of recent accomplishments; 41% said that they are somewhat more likely and 33% are a lot more likely to give again if sent email about how their donation was spent.

  • Only 8% of donors agreed strongly that charity Web sites are inspiring, and just 7% agree strongly that charity Web sites make them feel personally connected to their cause or mission.

  • Only 8% of respondents agree strongly that emails from causes they support to be inspiring or report that these emails make them feel more connected to the cause.

  • High-value donors want to have more control over their online experience, controlling both the type of content they receive/see and the frequency of communications.

Some 23 major nonprofit organizations representing Advocacy/Public Affairs, Animal Welfare, Christian Ministries, Environment, Health, International Relief and Development, and Public Television sectors participated in our study. Nonprofit organizations have made major strides in the last few years to integrate offline direct response fundraising with online marketing. The next major area of opportunity is mid-level and major gifts. Nonprofits that rely on or want to develop strong major giving programs would be wise to make eCRM an important part of their overall marketing mix.

I encourage you to download a full copy of the report, and let us know your thoughts on our new blog, Connection Café. And if you missed our presentation at AFP International, you can hear me, Mark Rovner of SeaChange Strategies and Colleen E. Learchof Edge Research discuss "The Wired Wealthy" at the DMAW/AFP-DC Bridge Conference on Friday, July 25.

Maximize the Online Opportunity with your High-Value Donors | Convio