Converting the Faithful

Although most online plans attack the issue of recruiting new donors, don't forget the ones who are already most familiar with you.

Unless you have a recently launched nonprofit organization, you should have a fairly long list of existing supporters, which typically include

  • Previous donors
  • Full-fledged members or active donors
  • Participants in, or attendees of, earlier fundraiser events
  • Board members and volunteers (past and present)
  • Community supporters and sponsors

If you played your cards right, you collected the e-mail addresses of these folks over the years. Even if you never had reason to use those addresses, you should still have them on file.

You should have your list of supporters in a database with at least their names and current mailing addresses. Regardless of whether you ever fully took advantage of this resource, you're now in a great position. Obviously, these people represent a built-in group of followers. If nothing else, they're already aware of your organization and its mission. All you have to do is use your online initiative as a tool to step up their level of giving and involvement.

A great deal of recent e-philanthropy research indicates that people who give to charities over the Internet are likely to donate more — and do it more often. If you can convert a percentage of your offline contacts to online contributors, donations to your site might increase.

To see that happen, you have to reach out to everyone on your current list ...

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