In fact, this technique has worked so well that Sullivan plans to build more microsites to support several of the nonprofit's other fundraising efforts, including the ASPCA Guardians program. Such a site, indicates Sullivan, will give these long-term donors a little bit of insider information and make them more a part of the ASPCA family.
"We make some assumptions that they already know the basic information about us because they are monthly pledgers, so we won't lead them through the same pages on the Web site that you would a traditional donor," says Sullivan.
In addition to its News and Advocacy Alerts, the ASPCA sends approximately 15 e-mail fundraising appeals a year, which include both membership and renewal efforts.
How does Sullivan measure the success of these programs? "I really don't like to look at online campaigns one at a time because the numbers can appear a little discouraging compared to the mail," explains Sullivan, who says the nonprofit earns about a 1 percent response rate for its e-mail appeals, as opposed to a 4.5 percent to 5 percent response rate for its mail efforts. Instead, Sullivan compares donors with e-mail addresses versus donors without.
"If you pull that group out who received the out bound e-mail as well as received a mail solicitation that had a similar creative and ask, you find that on average the people with e-mail addresses give twice as frequently with twice the average gift. They are so much more valuable," she explains.
One of the benchmarks Sullivan measures is the ASPCA's number of registered Web users compared to donors. "We're successfully converting about 2.5 percent of registered users into donors," says Sullivan, who notes that once registrants become donors, the ASPCA also begins to communicate with them through offline channels.
The total value of a donor matters most."We're becoming more customer relationship facilitators as much as fundraisers," she continues, "so understanding that is critical to growing your housefile and offering donors a reason to want to come back to you."