Regardless of economic conditions, there is one thing that is always certain: non-profit organizations have to pay their bills and continue to pursue their missions.

For the most part, no money equals no organization.

However, even when there is a rough economy, regardless of what other cuts an organization is forced to make, the one thing that tends to remain constant is aggressive fundraising.

This can present a challenge for many fundraisers, simply because not only are they having to deal with the realities their donors are facing as the stock market continues to decline, but also having to make the argument and justification for spending crucial institutional dollars on fundraising efforts.

For some organizations, a phone campaign may be the norm, and for others it might be direct mail.

If your organization doesn’t have a large volunteer base, it’s likely that you’re going to have to hire someone to handle the calls or mailings for you, which can get quite expensive.

But there is another option, one that for some reason or another many non-profit organizations choose not to use.

The Internet.

I’ve never really understood why some organizations are negligent in pursuing an aggressive fundraising campaign, and more importantly implementing them as long-term institutional models.

It’s extremely inexpensive, can run 24/7, and with the right message, an online fundraising campaign can go viral, not only boosting the bank account of an organization, but more importantly the brand and reputation.

While organizations might have a wide variety of excuses for why they aren’t using the Internet to fundraise more aggressively, I think it would be extremely difficult for someone to make that argument that there simply isn’t an audience.

To prove this, I’m going to cite a few sections from a white paper just released by Convio, titled “$3 Billion is a Click Away.” If you’re a fundraising professional interested in online fundraising potential for your organization, I strongly suggest you check out this paper.

First and foremost, this report quickly rejects the notion that there is a limited audience of American adults who make contributions online.

Consider this fact: It is estimated that 89.5 million online US consumers plan to give more than $3 billion to nonprofit organizations during the holiday season of 2008.

That’s right, there are approximately 89,500,000 consumers in the United States who are Internet users and plan on making a contribution during the holiday season (November and December).

If you truly believe that of those 89.5 million potential donors, none share the mission or agenda of your organization, you might want to find a new career.

Before I delve into the rest of Convio’s findings, here are some details of their sampling for the rest of the data:

Our survey (conducted for Convio by JupiterResearch from September 17 to 24, 2008) asked a sample of the 175.6 million online adults (age 18+) in the US about their planned spending over the 2008 holiday season, including their plans regarding charitable donations.

With that said, here are some of their findings from this research:

  • 42% plan to give $100 or less
  • 20% plan to give between $100 and $1000
  • 3% will give $1000 or more
  • 35% are not sure of the amount they plan to donate

Convio also points out another interesting finding:

It’s also worthy to note that 61% of the people surveyed said they plan on donating about the same amount as last year with 6% planning on donating more, while 33% said they would donate less.

While 33% of the sample indicated that they would contribute less to the organizations they support, the 61% who plan on donating the same is extremely impressive.

This seems to indicate that even though the economy is slipping and people are probably making cuts in other areas, for the most part, it appears that charitable organizations have precedent over other parts the budgets of American consumers.

Among the other interesting findings in this report are detailed breakdowns of who plans to give, who they are giving to, and when do they give the most.

Again, if you’re a non-profit fundraiser who is looking for new, cost effective ways to raise money this holiday season, before you reject online fundraising, I strongly suggest reading Convio’s report.

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