The Secret of Online Fundraising Success

By eleventy marketing group

While nonprofits are spending more time and resources to amp up online fundraising and make multichannel a priority (the total dollars raised online for national nonprofit organizations have risen consistently since 2006), the majority of organizations still struggle to effectively integrate online into the mix. The challenge, after years of concentration on phone and mail, is finding a way to leverage the unique advantages of the Web.

Tip of the Online Iceberg

  • $22 billion raised online in 2010
  • 8% of all fundraising now online
  • 32% of online donors switch to give through offline channels
  • 30% of online giving happens in the final three months of the year
  • $60 peer-to-peer fundraising average online gift
  • <1% of nonprofits have raised more than $100,000 using social media


Engagement and Interaction

The key to successful online fundraising lies in engagement. Online fundraising is more than just a website and a button. It’s about creating effective ways of reaching people and inviting them to engage with your organization. There has to be more than a plea or ask. There has to be interaction. Organizations that have had the most success with online fundraising have discovered the power of the Web lies in the people.

Keys to Online Fundraising Success

Engage – Find ways to draw people to your organization on the Web

Interact – Give people something to do, online actions they can take

Connecting to Connections

Like the interconnected spirals a spider weaves, the Internet is a place for people to converge and connect. That’s an advantage phone and mail can’t match. The Web allows you to access millions of users who are concurrently connected to one another. Mark Zuckerberg recognized the value of this concept and spun it into 845 million users and a $100-billion-plus company. Nonprofit organizations need to do the same thing: band people together under your online umbrella and let those people make connections for you.

2010 Top Online Fundraising Organizations

  • United Way Worldwide   $359,835,899
  • American Red Cross     $188,622,721
  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Society     $78,949,225
  • National MS Society              $73,475,000
  • Doctors Without Borders USA     $51,471,242
  • American Heart Association    $36,900,000

Stats: The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Following the Event Model

An area where nonprofits have been successful at online engagement is event fundraising. It makes sense since events have always been people-oriented efforts. Long before the Internet, there were pledge sheets and phone calls inviting friends to support a run or buy a raffle ticket. Transported to the Web, this idea gains greater magnitude. Volunteers can more easily ask friends, family and acquaintances for a donation in a much less imposing manner. Friends can conveniently make donations without the second thoughts of pulling out the checkbook.

2011 Top Fundraising Events

  • American Cancer Society Relay for Life   $415,000,000
  • Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure   $131,315,739
  • March of Dimes March for Babies   $105,000,000
  • American Heart Association Heart Walk   $99,088,367
  • The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society  $87,511,103

Stats: Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council

The Power of Peer-to-Peer

This is all the result of peer-to-peer or social fundraising. It’s an incredibly effective fundraising tool and one that’s ideal for the Web – the “people’s medium”. The key to successful online fundraising can be found in this model. After all, who is an individual more likely to donate to: an organization or a friend? But event fundraising is just the beginning. This concept can be applied to a wide variety of different efforts, from general fundraising and advocacy efforts to social media promotions and beyond. And when executed effectively, it will create a continuous, cost-effective stream of revenue for your organization.

Get the scoop on eleventy’s peer-to-peer fundraising platform, ONCORE.