Friday, April 20, 2007

My Daughter the Fundraiser

Looks like fundraising runs in the family!

Madeleine Gregg's Fundraising Page

This is part of a pilot for a larger program that we'll soon be launching at Central Dallas Ministries to turn our donors into fundraisers. Over the past two years, we have dramatically expanded our communications program -- especially our online efforts. However, we have been surprised to see that there has not been a very significant impact on dollars in the door. More specifically, our growth in individual giving has only been slightly above our previous three-year trend.

Brand-building is a long, slow process. I truly believe that the efforts we have undertaken will have positive impact on the organization for generations to come (assuming that we consistently delivery high-quality communications). I also believe that these efforts have opened the door for our upcoming capital campaign.

However, like most organizations, we need annual operating funds today. What to do?

We have developed several strategies to address our need for immediate funding, including significant revisions to both our institutional as well as our individual giving programs. Within the latter, we have three main goals:

  1. Increase average donations from current donors;
  2. Improve engagement with current donors to retain them year after year;
  3. Increase number of new donors.

We have determined that the primary way to accomplish all three of these goals is to work on turning our donors into fundraisers. This will not only help us bring in new donors, but it will make our existing donors feel more connected to the organization (thereby increasing their likelihood of donating larger amounts year after year).

We discovered the aforementioned Active Giving program as a potential tool to accomplish this task. We are still looking at other ways to do this offline, but we believe that this is a strong online solution.

So far, I have been REALLY impressed with Active Giving -- everything from the initial solicitation, to the signing of the contract (which we had to negotiate back and forth a few times), to the training. Our customer service rep, Jason Chicoine, has been a delight to work with.

If you are looking for an affordable solution for online giving, I HIGHLY recommend checking out Active. If you'd like more info, add a comment or shoot me an email, and I can let you know more.

In general, the process works like this:
  • We set up our fundraising page through Active's very easy back office software (see it here:;
  • We put a link to the page on our own Web site (or, you can just email a link to the page to your contacts);
  • I contacts can then click to get to create their own page, which takes only a matter of moments to set up if you want a fairly basic site;
  • They can also quickly and easily upload their own photos to Active's server (no Web design experience is necessary);
  • They can either use Active's tools to email their page to their contacts, or just put the link to their page in their normal email (Outlook, Yahoo, etc.);
  • Their friends then make a donation very quickly and securely!

I've looked at dozens of online programs for getting donations. Although we pay slightly more for this service than others (i.e. 5-6% compared to 3-4% at the lowest end), the added value of the "Be a Fundraiser" component promises to be very valuable.

In addition to putting it on the Web site, we will soon promote this service to our supporters through an email blast, through our CEO's blog and also our print newsletters. I think that this service has great capacity to both engage current supporters at deeper levels while also recruiting new donors.

DISCUSSION: What other programs are you using online to turn donors into fundraisers?