Follow-up: Is ePhilanthropy the future of charitable giving?

predictions2At the end of 2011, I predicted in a year-end blog post that we would see an “increased focus by non-profit organizations on pursuing and securing charitable contributions by using online strategies and tactics resources“. Last week, I thought it would be fun to look back and determine if my prognostications where off-the-mark and by how much.

Here is some of what I found:

  • online giving continues to climb . . . in fact, the growth numbers continue to be double digit;
  • more people are turning to online ways to donate at the end of the year; and
  • according to surveys more non-profit leaders are saying they believe online is the future.

In reality, I didn’t need to do much clicking around to find evidence that ePhilanthropy is a real long-term trend. All you need to do is open your eyes and look around. In just the last few days, this is some of what I saw:

  • A St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital billboard driving home last night, and it simply told me to go online and make a contribution.
  • An advertisement in a city bus vestibule for the Red Cross, and it simply told  me to go online and give.
  •  My email inbox continually gives me stuff from non-profit organizations, and everything I read simply says “click here and donate now”.

If you trust your eyes, you know that online giving is a trend and will go on to become a very important part of every fundraising professional’s toolbox.

However, you may want to take careful note of what I just said and how I said it.

I did not say that ePhilanthropy is the future. Nor did I say that ePhilanthropy is how we will fundraising in the future. I deliberately used the words “a very important part“.

Some of the data that I’ve seen indicates that online giving tools (e.g. email, website, social media, crowdfunding, etc) are simply an “acquisition strategy“. For example, Steve McLaughlin at Blackbaud, points out that one-third of donors who make a donation online actually go offline the next year to renew their support.

I believe we should all look at this data point and double-down on cross-channel communication and promotion of our fundraising efforts. Tell people online where to mail a check. Tell people in your direct mail letter how to go online and make a contribution. In both your emails and letters, tell donors who they can call to talk to a real person or set-up an appointment.

Are you interested in learning a lot more about online giving? The following are just a few links that I came across while clicking around online:

What do your eyes see around you in your community when it comes to online giving? Here is a fun game that you can play today. Keep your eyes open for evidence in the world around you for evidence of this ePhilanthropy trend. Make a mental note of it, and then circle back around to this blog post and share one or two examples of what you saw in the comment section below.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847