44% of Donors Check Out Your Nonprofit Online

Lori Halley 28 August 2008 1 comments

When your nonprofit sends out its next fundraising direct mail appeal, how many potential donors will be heading to the Internet before they decide if they want to donate? The number of people checking out your organization online may be higher than you think!

According to a new study by The NonProfit Times, the number of potential donors using the Internet to find out more about the nonprofits who contact them has jumped from 25% in 2005 up to 44% in 2008.  Even more significant, perhaps, is the data on where these people are going online in search of their information...

The survey asked,
When you receive a mail solicitation from a charity, which of the following places on the Internet do you look at before deciding whether to give money?

Participants were invited to choose from the following options, and they could choose more than one response if they went to more than one of these places:

  • Look up organizations on the Internet;
  • Go to organization’s Web site;
  • Go to the sites of independent rating organizations;
  • Go to online discussion groups and/or blogs.

nonprofit times donor study resultsMore people said they visited independent rating sites (up from 11% in 2005 to 24% in 2008), online discussion groups (from 3% to 10%), and blogs (from 2% to 8%) — but those destinations still come in a distant second to the nonprofit’s own website.

In fact, the number of people who report visiting the organization’s website for more information has almost doubled in three years — from 19% of those who responded that they went online in 2005, up to 37% in this year’s survey.

“We already know that consumers believe that your Web site is the most updated place to get information about your organization,” e-marketer Gene Carr notes: “What we’re seeing is that direct mail can motivate a Web site visit in advance of a donation. So, for those fundraisers out there who aren’t yet convinced that your online donation technology is as important as your direct mail, this [study] should do the trick.”

“Maybe it used to be okay to have a website that wasn’t really aimed at donors,” says Jeff Brooks of Donor Power, “but that’s changing.”

As the Internet becomes ever more integrated with our lives and “more donors are making the web a meaningful part of the way they interact with charities … you’d better make sure what they’re getting in the mail and what they find online are in some way connected.

Naturally, your website address is printed on every mailing piece that leaves your office… Right?  (If 44% of the people you mail to are going to go online to check you out, make it easy for them to find your website!) And what do your prospective donors find, learn, and experience, when they visit your organization’s website?

Visual branding — color schemes, logo use, even choice of type fonts — can help to confirm that the connection between your web presence and your mail solicitation. Your web content will answer your donors’ specific questions about your current campaign, as well as provide background information about your mission and methods — they'll be looking for transparency and accountability.

These are readers who have already expressed an active interest in your organization, remember — simply by making the effort to go online after reading your letter. Give them the tools to take that interest one step further, perhaps with an invitation to subscribe to your blog updates or become a member, and an easy way to make their donation online.

What do you think?
Are there other ways in which your website could be “tweaked” to better support your direct mail appeals, and convert those prospects into donors?

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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Thursday, 28 August 2008 at 4:19 PM

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  • Melanie Guin said:

    Friday, 29 August 2008 at 9:45 AM

    The number one suggestion I make to my clients is to pursue a web presence if they have not already. To me, nothing is worse that writing a grant for a client who doesn't have a website. Where will the funder go to check out more info??


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