Digital Fundraising and Staff Shortages: What’s a Nonprofit to Do?

[fa icon="calendar"] Apr 20, 2017 12:08:36 PM / by Sean Finnegan

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Does your nonprofit have a digital program or the staff to successfully run the program? According to a new report, chances are high it doesn’t.

The 2017 Digital Outlook Report, developed by Care2, hjc, NTEN and The Resource Alliance, found a staggering 62% of nonprofits have no digital program. That means these nonprofits don’t have “a digital strategy, a staff member dedicated to digital strategy, measurement and tracking of key performance indicators, program analysis, plus having defined their user personas.”

The authors of the report surveyed 530 small, medium and large nonprofits from around the world dedicated to a variety of causes.

Many of you are still getting started with digital, and that’s ok! Everyone has to start somewhere,” the report states. And a great way for your nonprofit to start developing a digital program is by consulting with a direct marketing agency.

The Digital Outlook Report isn’t focused on pushing nonprofits in this direction. Suggestions are given about hiring staff and developing goals and strategy in-house. This may work for some nonprofits, but for many, working with experienced professionals dedicated to growing their brand and raising money is the better way to go.

The value of nonprofits working with a direct marketing agency is highlighted in a case study found in the Digital Outlook Report involving Lawrence Direct Marketing, Inc. and one of our clients.

From the Digital Outlook Report: “Working with their agency Lawrence Direct Marketing, the organization created a petition urging President Obama to put pressure on the government of South Sudan to cut ties with groups that send children into combat. ...

“This campaign highlights the importance of integrated teams and marketing tactics. The fundraising, digital and direct mail teams all needed to collaborate quickly for a rapid response to the crisis.”

As online giving continues to rise, this type of integration in fundraising is becoming more and more essential for nonprofits.

Yes, digital fundraising may seem easy and accessible, but when it comes time to create and execute a digital fundraising plan, it is often difficult to justify the time, effort and staff needed to do it properly. Any fundraising plan that is sporadic and inconsistent will fail. It is harmful, not only in terms of revenue, but also in terms of your nonprofit’s public image. This is true for direct mail and it is true for digital fundraising.

Fundraising is more science than art, and the methodologies developed in more established fundraising channels, like direct mail, need to be employed in your digital fundraising. This includes a long-term, systematic strategy, carried out month in and month out. It also includes an inbound and outbound strategy — thank you emails, a content creation system, data management and so on. No doubt, this is a great deal of work, but fundraising is not an easy job.

As LDMI President Mike Lawrence put it:

“When it comes to creating and implementing a successful [fundraising] campaign, the right answer for most nonprofits is, ‘buy it.’ Buy [it] from a fundraising company that is already in the business and familiar with the mountain of detail that is involved in managing, supervising and constantly improving a nonprofit [fundraising] program. The many complex facets of an effective [fundraising] campaign include regular prospect mailing, frequent house mailings, monthly giving appeals, thank you letters, reactivation appeals, etc....

“As a nonprofit, you are not in the business of doing all that. You’re in the business of advancing your cause. The right Direct Response Fundraising Company is in the business of doing all that on your behalf and for your benefit.”

Applying a systematic approach to fundraising is essential for any nonprofit. And there is really no time to wait.

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Topics: Digital Fundraising, Nonprofit Staffing

Sean Finnegan

Written by Sean Finnegan

Sean Finnegan is the Online Marketing Director for Lawrence Direct Marketing.

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