Where do you go to raise money? Traditional wisdom says TV commercials, mail-in forms and even door-to-door. But things are changing in the age of the internet – virtual giving is growing.
Once considered a luxury, online fundraising is now a standard procedure for most charities and other non-profit organizations. Online fundraising has netted over €15 billion since 2010, a number that only continues to rise with the increasing prevalence of paperless banking.*
So what’s the appeal? For one, online fundraising is easy and convenient. It requires no “sales pitch” and no haggard afternoons standing on street corners. It even has a record of attracting bigger donations than traditional fundraising: Unlike real-time efforts, where donors are physically letting go of their money, online giving requires nothing more than pressing a button and entering an account number. People give more when they don’t have to feel how much they’re losing.
Online fundraising also has a casualness that encourages new donors, especially when they’re giving to charity for the first time. They can give what they want without any witnesses. They can do it on their laptops or smartphones, at home or during a commercial break. The right kind of website will streamline the donation process to make it as simple as dropping change into a bucket, with no fuss, no pressure and total anonymity as to the amount given.
However, online fundraising does have its drawbacks. You can’t see the people giving to you; you can’t talk to them, connect with them or thank them for their service. By only accepting donations through the internet, you’re missing out on that vital human touch that can turn one-time givers into dedicated donors.
Online fundraising also trails behind its traditional giving in sheer statistics. Offline fundraising continues to dominate by numbers, with some reports putting it at more than twice as effective as its virtual counterpart. 90% of fundraising revenue is still made offline. And over 30% of repeat online donors actually switch back to mail, compared to 3% who make the jump from mail to internet.
So which kind of fundraising is right for your organization? It really depends on the type of business you’re conducting and where your company stands in the 21st century. Despite the growth of online giving, offline fundraising isn’t yet a dying art form. Most analysts agree that a combination of the two is the most effective form of raising money.
*Paper checks are no longer used in United Kingdom; banking now must be done electronically.
Alison has worked in the fundraising industry for several years and currently works for Easy Fundraising in the United Kingdom. She enjoys discovering new fundraising ideas for various causes and for more info click here for the Easy Fundraising blog.