Successful Online Fundraising for the Digital Generation

The days of direct mail to solicit donations are a thing of the past. Generation X and Generation Y, also known as the digital generation, are informed frequently through digital media.1. This generation asks a lot more questions, wants to know where the money is going and most importantly, how it’s being used. Therefore, the way we talk to them, engage with them and ultimately, request donations from them is ever evolving and in order to stay in the fundraising game, we need to change our strategy as a whole.

September 26, 2014

The days of direct mail to solicit donations are a thing of the past. Generation X and Generation Y, also known as the digital generation, are informed frequently through digital media.1. This generation asks a lot more questions, wants to know where the money is going and most importantly, how it’s being used. Therefore, the way we talk to them, engage with them and ultimately, request donations from them is ever evolving and in order to stay in the fundraising game, we need to change our strategy as a whole.

As opposed to previous generations, nearly 60% of Gen Y and half of Gen X agree that the ability to directly see the impact of their donation would have a significant bearing on their decision to give.1 This stat tells us that online communication about their donation is absolutely imperative to retain them as donors. By telling stories through the use of photos and videos, the donor can feel the impact and will be more inclined to donate again or even better, become an advocate for the cause to their peers. Interestingly, donors cite the constant requests for donations and lack follow-up on where their funds went as the major reason why they stop supporting a cause.2 In turn, the following three channels lead the pact for best communicating methods:

Email

Stay in touch with your donors, share messaging around the use of funds, share heartwarming stories about the positive impact their funds is having, and provide charity and company updates. The secondary message is to share the cause with their friends and family to solicit direct donations.

Social

Get your donors to become advocates for your cause. Social should be measured for engagement rather than direct link to dollars collected.1 It is a human platform for building trust and transparency by creating social proof. The vast majority of donors say they do not mind being approached by friends (or friends’ kids) to support a charity.1 There are various methods to have your support base become fundraisers and tap into their networks – creating personal fundraising pages, sharing informative videos, etc.

Website

A majority of respondents place a high value on the website dedicated to collecting donations. This hub should be transparent, informative, direct and easy to operate. Aside from collecting donations, it should also convey an emotion through photos and videos. One third of people say visiting the organization’s website is extremely or very important. Furthermore, donors typically use an organizations’ websites for transactions and not for staying connected.1 The crowdsourcing movement has taught us a lot about the digital generation and the way we respond to fundraising. Specifically, 17% of Gen Y donors say they have given to a crowdfunding campaign in the past, and 47% say they would consider doing so in the future.2 The success of these campaigns comes from the convenience to donate, access to information about the cause or product, and lastly donors turned advocates for the campaign. By feeling directly invested and participating in the future of the cause, fundraising is becoming interactive and almost tangible for the donor.

The future of fundraising is really in the hands of the digital generation. The more we understand their behavior, the better chance we have to obtain and retain donors. Be transparent in the way you communicate and communicate often through online channels. By sharing stories through the photos and videos and make donating convenient, your chances to get repeat donations will increase. Lastly and most importantly, turn your donors into advocates and help them shape and share your message.

This generation is hungry for information and even hungrier to share it with their peers.

1American Giving
2The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Matthew Zehner

Matthew Zehner

CEO | ZehnerGroup

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