The ASPCA took its first steps online in 1995 when it launched a static, brochure-like Web site. Four years passed before it began taking donations online, after which it spent another year or so working out the kinks associated with collecting online donations, getting content up on the site and making sure its Web servers were secure. During this period it raised about $35,000 in online gifts.
"I certainly wasn't very proactive in online work, we just got the benefit of the dollars that fell to the online world," confesses Sullivan. In 2001, the ASPCA adopted a content management system powered by Convio, a nonprofit eCRM provider based in Austin, Texas, that enabled the nonprofit to handle content management in house and become more aggressive with its online marketing efforts. The result was a huge jump in online donations: The ASPCA raised $250,000 in 2002.
The ASPCA takes full advantage of every available avenue to drive traffic to its Web site. Every piece of communication, whether it be a direct mailing, DRTV spot or press release, carries the ASPCA Web address, www.aspca.org. Even the cars driven by ASPCA humane law enforcement officers on the television show "Animal Precinct" are branded with the ASPCA Web address.
"Anytime we can get our site out there, we do," chuckles Sullivan. "It's a constant stream of thought with whatever we're doing," she explains.
The nonprofit also has enriched its Web site text so the ASPCA is the first result that pops up when people search on terms such as "animal welfare" or "animal interest."
Once on the ASPCA Web site, visitors are greeted by images of animals and loads of content that includes articles, action alerts, information on humane education and various animal resources, to name just a few. Visitors are given the option of interacting with the ASPCA in several ways by clicking on one of four prominent tabs—donate, adopt, lobby, shop— at the top of each Web page. By clicking on the lobby tab, for instance, visitors can learn how they can support the ASPCA by becoming an advocate for animal welfare.