Online fundraising, does it really work?
Online fundraising sounds so easy and profitable, how can you refuse? “Just place our banner on your site and every time someone purchase a product from our site you will earn a percentage of that sale, get 300 people shopping and your organization could earn $600 a month!”. Sounds good right? The problem is that your organization’s patrons will not just click on your link and shop.
A study of a soccer club’s website with a to-good-to-be-true online fundraising sites banner (on the main page) showed the following. The banner thoroughly and concisely explained the benefit. It explained on the banner the three short steps to help their organization:
2. Get discounts/savings and,
3. Your organization gets a donation on every purchase.
The organization has two seasons each year with about 300 children participating each season. Registration information, game schedules, camp information, directions to the field and, contact information are all included on the site, so we can safely suspect that nearly every parent checks the website at least once per season and most parents visited the site a number of times each season. The site AVERAGES 300 visitors per month. In the last 20 months the banner has not generated a single donation or anyone signing up for a free shopping membership to even check it out… not one…
So why has it failed?
The biggest reason for failure is no requirement to help the organization. In generally when people go online to get information they do just that, get the information and head on their way. If they are going online to shop they go to where they shop (usually from searches) and then shop. Most people will not make the effort, even spend 30 seconds getting a free membership to an online mall to check it out. This is why most fundraisers require pre-payment, you pay up front for the product, then pocket the money when you make a sale. What if your pee wee football team was having a candy bar sale to raise funds.. but it was optional? I would wager that less than 10% would sell one candy bar… hence prepayment.
Now I am not saying they do not work at all, perhaps some funds could be raised if you were required to get a free shopping membership before you could register, and then include direct requests for action through email. But what I am saying is don’t expect to add a link or banner to your site and sit back to watch the funds roll in. Instead expect to spend a lot of time and energy promoting , cajoling, reminding, and promoting the fundraiser some more to earn a few bucks. Then maybe over a few years time your non-profit organization can earn a few hundred dollars a year.