Every sector surveyed in our 2011 Online Fundraising Report experienced double-digit growth since 2009, including roughly 13 percent* in the past year.

Amazing!

Along with strong growth in online fundraising we found that online donors give significant amounts. The median online gift among donations of $1,000 or more was $1,200, and forty-three percent of 2011 donations were between $1,000 and $5,000. 

The largest online gift received in 2011 was $260,000 – more than two-and-a-half times 2010′s largest gift.

You’d be silly not to spend time focusing on improving your organization's online fundraising program knowing that the upside is so incredible. With that in mind, here are four online fundraising tactics that every nonprofit should have in place.

Retention, Retention, Retention

Most people who do online fundraising are looking to both acquire new donors and keep those donors giving on a regular basis.

However, according to our research, many organizations don’t have a well-developed retention strategy in place to ensure that first-time donors turn into repeated givers.

Since 2010 was an abnormal year for online giving - due to the wave of offerings for Haiti’s earthquake relief - many organizations received a gift that year, but never heard back from the donor. We found that organizations enforcing a retention strategy were able to keep 15 percent of their new Haiti-related donors the following year.

A retention plan will become even more important in coming years, as online giving becomes more popular. With a retention plan in place, organizations can count on more past donors continuing their support.

Pro Tip: Keep donors – both scarce and consistent – up-to-date with information on how their money is being used. Show progress, successes, and new areas of focus. And do it all very shortly after they give their initial online donation. 

Don't Count on End-of-Year Kindness Alone

Most online giving occurs towards the end of the year with 20 percent happening in the month of December alone.

Whether December is the most popular month because of holidays or end-of-year joy, it does not have to be an organization’s only month with a spike in monetary gifts.

Educational organizations enjoy an online donation spike at the end of the academic school year in June, while healthcare organizations saw their spikes during fundraising events in April and September.

Pro Tip: Find a month during the year (not in Q4) – perhaps at the end of an annual year-long campaign, or during company events – where you can reliably increase online gifts. Start building this into your overall fundraising plan to ensure it gets the focus and attention it needs.

Learn from the Best!

Everyone wants to be better.

The simplest  way to improve your online fundraising results is to imitate nonprofits that are successfully raising money online. What are their strengths? Where are they focusing? Can you use similar concepts? Adopt characteristics that work well for them and watch your online fundraising take off.

It’s also helpful look at organizations that are less successful than yours, and learn from their mistakes.

Pro Tip: Go check out http://www.charitywater.org  … watch them. Learn from them. Imitate them.

Check out the report for an equation to find out where your organization stands compared to others.

Use Your Website

Organizations, depending on their size, should consider analyzing their website traffic.

An easy-to-navigate site featuring useful information is more accessible, and therefore more appealing, to potential donors. Take a look at the areas on you site that get the most traffic and ask your-self three things:

  1. Is it simple for a website visitor to understand what my nonprofit does to make a difference in the world?
  2. Is it easy for a website visitor to find ways to support my nonprofit's work?
  3. Can a website visitor quickly take action once they’ve decided to?

Larger organizations in particular should examine what they ask of each donor. Is your requested donation similar to your average online gift? Is it consistent with what donors have given in the past?

Pro Tip: Analyze past donations to look for how you might be able to strategically increase your online ask to receive more value per gift, or decrease it to receive more frequent gifts, depending on your needs.

Online giving and fundraising are key strategies for any nonprofit organization looking to bulk up its total annual revenue stream, and assessing and improving your organization’s current methods can help you expand growth significantly in the coming years.

For more information, download Blackbaud’s free 2011 Online Giving Report.