Site Optimization for Nonprofit Organizations: the Cure for Retention?

Are nonprofit organizations ready to jump into a commitment with digital marketing? Fundraisers typically see their online-acquired donors switching to offline donations in later years. So is it even worthwhile to help them consider an online marketing strategy? The answer is yes and here is why.

The importance of retaining former contributors is indisputable when you note that returning donors account for 65% of all donations. Donor acquisition strategies are very costly, and it seems that nonprofit organizations are averse to altering the way they acquire new business. In order to achieve a reasonable balance, some conservative nonprofit leaders need to dismiss their old-fashion marketing strategies and embrace the advantages associated with furthering their online performance and web analytics tools. The road ahead will certainly be winding, involving work, innovation, incremental development and flexibility, but it will be well worth the challenges.

Let’s start from scratch and reframe the strategy of donor cultivation. What is donor acquisition if not lead generation? Even if the literal connection buyer/seller in the case of fundraisings takes another dimension, their main purpose remains a permanent gain of new “customers”, in other words, capturing potential online donors according to their apparent deep interest in the cause. Along the same lines, what is donor retention if not customer relationship management? Indeed online interactions and technical support to existing and potential donors need to be maintained and controlled overtime.

Anecdotal evidence from fundraising suggests that donors are less willing to transfer money online, tending to switch from online giving to offline after a few years. But donors will begin to evolve into a more digitally-focused behavior as our culture further integrates with digital. The risk to miss the new generation of donors is too high not to be taken seriously.

There are no businesses that avoid finding new customers. This should also be the case for nonprofit organizations running fundraising campaigns and trying to build communities of supporters off and on-line. For nonprofits, websites are the best way to communicate to their followers and reach new visitors. Furthermore, when user-friendly websites are required to attract contacts, generating leads is not a suggestion, but rather a necessity. Moving forward, personalized website content such as banners and customized interactions such as pop-ins are key drivers for incremental donations. Producing personalized content allows for a very unique experience that motivates a person to join or donate to a cause.

Nonprofits must also keep in mind that most of their donors attribute a certain ethical value to each gift they make, so they want to feel they are particularly cared about and considered in return. Their experience should be special but without evoking a sense of intrusion. Thus existing donors and potential prospects have to be targeted and approached at the very moment that they are ready and willing to donate. To achieve such goals, lead generation strategies would be required, providing real-time dynamic site interactions customized based on cross-channel performance data and attribution models. Engagement scores of visitors, determined by previous behaviors and reactions to proactive messages, might lead to the projection of future actions and thus deliver personalized site content in order to improve new leads and donations.

There is a shift in how people find, use and share information today. Technology and the people of this generation, driven and influenced by digital media, are the future of online nonprofit businesses. Acquiring donors via lead generation campaigns might be the most relevant and sensible strategy ever, bringing not only engaged subscribers but also potential qualified and dedicated donors, who take the first step, interact spontaneously and give a particular credit to a specific cause, filling a form or signing a petition online.

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