The Obama Effect, Part II: 20 Takeaways for Multichannel Fundraisers
While channels like direct mail are declining, online is growing. "This channel, while it's still a much smaller contributor than the mail and other channels, it's growing far faster than any other channel," Bhagat points out. To demonstrate the growth he's seen in online fundraising, Bhagat cites his company's recent study showing 25 percent year-over-year online growth across 300 organizations. "Any prudent charity ought to be putting in place a thoughtful, well-defined strategy for the web and make sure they have the right tools and the right resources in place to be successful online."
While most large organizations have adopted sophisticated online fundraising techniques, Bhagat says it will be a few years until the smaller organizations catch up. "For some of the groups that we work with ... online fundraising is outstripping how much they raise in direct mail or over the telephone, and so it is a major vehicle now for some charities ... But most charities are sort of dipping their toes in the water," he says.
What's needed is a more measured, sophisticated and scientific approach to online fundraising. It may be years before most fundraisers are able to employ best practices online. "What is possible online is not necessarily what is within the reach of everybody who is attempting to raise money online now. Some of the metrics require a degree of sophistication that is not universal," Warwick points out. "I don't think that best practices are the norm in direct mail even now, and we've had direct mail in more or less its current form for about half a century. So maybe one of these days this will become a reality online."