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Getting more from online fundraising – a follow-up

Following last week’s blog around how charities could benefit by building closer relationships with their online donors, I’ve received comments from various charity folks I thought I would share which add to the debate. The Deputy Chief Executive of a volunteering services charity emailed me to ask;

…do charities in receipt of such donations (lucky so-and-so’s) really care about who is sending the money? I suppose giving by text etc is likely to involve relatively small amounts – not insignificant when you add them all up I grant – but only the really big charities with large staff teams have the luxury of relationship-forging with all their smaller donors I would have thought.

And I wondered if charities do think about the donors or just see the events and participants as their ‘points of contact’?  If your charity has runners in the London marathon, I’ll wager you look after them with T-shirts, training help, cheering and support along the course and maybe even a drink and somewhere to sit down after the event.  But do you know who actually donated all that money?

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Why your supporters are wealthier than you think... Course by Catherine Miles. Background photo of two sides of a terraced street of houses.

Many of the key online fundraising platforms allow donors to choose to make their details available to the charities they are donating to.  But what happens to that information?  Does it get included in future cash-giver appeals?  Is it just included within the cold acquisition campaigns?  When charities contact them do they do so referring to the fact that the individuals have supported them via their friend participating in a particular event? I still believe that if we could strengthen this relationship at the point of donation, charities would be able to make more of the data collected and indeed collect more of it than via the current – very robust but transactional – services.

A second commenter (on our Society Guardian article) asked;

Would it also be a reasonable observation that, with hundreds of thousands of groups that pretty soon the Internet will be saturated with opportunities to give?  Potential donors will find choosing which one to donate to becoming less obvious.  So all the action will be in driving people to your site?

This suggests that perhaps the relationship building needs to be done by the charity on their own website – and I think this is a fair point.  Perhaps the ideal will be for the clever folks at Just Giving, Bmycharity, Virgin Money Giving etc to work out a way that they can still make money whilst embedding their services into charity websites?  Or, perhaps more charities will choose to follow Everyday Hero’s route of creating a robust donation platform but totally branded by, for and with the charity so there is only ever a relationship with one organisation; theirs.

Do please share your thoughts and experiences on this issue – would you like to generate more value from your online fundraising activities or do you perceive these tools as, effectively, electronic collecting tins?

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