Online Fundraising Outlook – Trends in 2011

As we welcome the new year, we wonder what to expect as we begin to plan our 2011 online fundraising campaigns.

GeneralDonations_family
Looking Forward ~ Online Fundraising in the Future

A recent report conducted by the AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) predicts that giving by U.S. foundations is poised for modest growth in 2011.  Since “giving” remained flat in 2010, this is good news for non-profits, schools and community organizations planning to raise money for 2011 programs through fundraising initiatives.

There is also evidence that individuals are looking for ways to “give-back”.  A recent article published on Fundraising Success states that 69% of people worry that society is too shallow.  Therefore contributing to support a good cause may give these individuals more hope.  Another indicator of this phenomena is that today there are more than 130 socially responsible investment funds in comparison to only 39 a decade ago.

One fundraising trend that will continue to grow in 2011 and beyond is the steady move towards “online fundraising” initiatives.  In an effort to increase efficiency, reach more people, and save money, organizations are spending less money on traditional marketing tactics and are looking for ways to build relationships with potential donors, sponsors and supporters through online fundraising campaigns and social networking engagements.   Companies are also streamlining operations through efforts such as: attending online webinars (rather than conferences), eliminating printed copies of collateral and annual reports, moving to electronic grant applications, implementing online fundraising software tools to manage details of charity events, and processing pledge donations via secure payment processors.

Along with fundraising efforts moving online,  we’ll also see a large increase in strategies to integrate mobile apps into  fundraising campaigns.  Just as we all saw the commercials that allowed people to donate to the HAITI fund by simply sending a text, these simple applications will make contributing easier than ever for the donor, and have huge implications to the success of fundraising campaigns.  Mobile engagement is on the rise in many industries and according to Nielsen, smartphone adoption will increase by 50% in the coming year.

Another prediction published on Independent Business Journal is for donors to contribute smaller amounts more frequently. With the ease of online giving, “one-click” gifts based on impulse decisions will gain popularity over one-time large annual contributions. This can reflect positively on non-profits as it provides opportunity for more communication touch-points with donors and supporters throughout the year.

Lastly, relationship-building becomes even more important as online fundraising initiatives allow organizations to reach global audiences.  Your current pool of donors and supporters becomes accessible to competing causes.  This makes “loyalty” that much more important.  Try to understand more about who your supporters are, and focus on their common characteristics so you can address their needs and target similar persons.  Then continually “connect” with these people by communicating through multiple channels (web, mail, social, mobile, etc.)  Don’t think of your donors as dollar signs, but as customers. Make your supporters feel special so they continue to build loyalty to your organization and cause.

Remember, these things are only predictions.  We’re only a few days “into” the new year, so we have yet to see what 2011 will bring with regard to fundraising.  Yet, it’s great to be informed up-front as these anticipated trends may influence your decision-making.