I have had lunch with the fundraising chief of an INGO recently, among others we talked about the effectiveness and relevance of direct mailing and monthly giving solicitation in today’s nonprofit environment.
Yes, I agree that the traditional way in securing monthly donation via direct mails is no longer as fruitful and effective as before. There are a few reasons behind it:
- Overwhelming mailing: It’s pretty clear that we receive a large number of mailings nowadays and people had long begun paying less and less attention to unsolicited those
- Overcrowded fundraising landscape: More and more organizations come forward in raising fund that intensifies the competition for prospects’ money
- Wiser donors: At a donation-matured city like Hong Kong, donors and supporters are increasingly well-informed and hence they are capable in assessing each approaching organization before signing up for any monthly donation scheme
Having said that, monthly giving should remain as a significant and essential part of any organization’s fundraising mix. Even with all the setback, monthly giving remains a must-have, not a nice to have item on a fundraising plan.
All organizations, large and small alike should therefore, review their standpoint towards monthly donations for the following reasons:
- It is an easy entry point. Compare with other channels and platforms, monthly donations are in general asking for a relatively small monthly amount of donation from the donor’s perspective.
- Increase lifetime donor value. Because donors are giving regularly and they are very likely to continue giving over a number of years.
- Stable and predictable income stream. Even with all the sophisticated and systematic forecast, it’s pretty difficult to say for sure the amount be raised every month, quarter, or a year from other campaigns or channels. Even with an alpha list of major donors on hand, that’s not equal to money in the bank.
- A pool of baseline donors to move up the giving ladder. For any experienced fundraiser, there is no need to elaborate on this front. It simply provides a strong and board base of donors and supporters of whom the organization has built an emotional connection with to scale up their support one way or another.
- Chance in securing unrestricted fund. Chance are donors giving through other campaigns are likely to designate their funds to a particular. Monthly giving provide the organization with an off-the-shelf platform in seeking unrestricted fund in supporting and sustaining its operations and delivery of its mission.
So the key question now is how? How we could revitalize monthly donation communications and solicitation? I had once heard the following comment saying that Hong Kong is an advanced city but pretty obsoleted in fundraising. Is there any way that organizations can tap into technology in doing so rather than remaining to rely heavily on mailing and/or street fundraising, which is very labour and capital intensive? In the recent years, many online fundraising platforms have been made available by the likes of Facebook, Instagram, crowdfunding portals, WeChat, etc. that are completely free of charge while the likes of Microsoft has developed tools for nonprofits in empowering their great works.
All of these are built on their respective proven technological infrastructure in enabling us to reach out to a very targeting population that is far beyond our normal scope. Alternatively, have we give technology a priority when thinking about fundraising, donor experience and engagement strategies? Or the fundamental question is whether we have put in effort to get ourselves familiar and updated with what latest technology is available to us and how they could help one way or the other?