Make New Friends But Keep the Old

If you’ve ever been a Girl Scout, you probably have this campfire song permanently imprinted on your brain. I think about this song a lot as we encounter and test new membership development strategies with what seems to be increasing speed and frequency. As Tony Elischer pointed out at last week’s Bridge Conference, we can easily get so caught up in seeking the next big thing in fundraising that we take for granted – or even dismiss – the tried and true techniques that our programs were built on.

Blackbaud‘s newly released Index of Online Giving neatly affirms the old Girl Scout adage. In its survey of over 1,400 nonprofits of all sizes, it showed online giving to be the fastest growing segment of charitable giving. Small and mid-sized organizations in particular, are finding online giving to be an attractively cost effective channel, and a preferred method of giving among younger donors, while organizations focused on major gift fundraising are enhancing online fundraising efforts in support of their annual funds.

Blackbaud Index for Online Giving

At the same time, Blackbaud reported that online gifts to the organizations in the study accounted for just 5.7% of overall fundraising revenue. In fact, Target Analytics‘ last report on national fundraising performance released last year showed that the overwhelming majority of charitable contributions are still made via direct mail: 77% as of Fall 2008.

As we continually refine and update our programs to keep pace with our donor’s preferences, we would all be well served to keep in mind our old direct response friends that, while perhaps no longer shiny, are as golden as ever. They’re also more than willing to get to know, and work with, our new friends.


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