The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) is an independent, reader-supported news source providing extensive coverage and commentary about issues affecting the church and its community. NCR provides avenues for expression of diverse perspectives, promoting tolerance and respect for differing ideas. Readers are offered subscription-based biweekly print and e-reader editions with full content, as well as a selection of free online content. As an independent voice, NCR depends on donors to help fund and advance its mission. Connie Stucki, director of development, says they view online giving as a logical extension of both NCR’s mission and Internet engagement strategy. We asked her to share a few tips for online fundraising and how DonateNow helps NCR meet its campaign goals.
Network for Good: What makes NCR successful at online fundraising?
National Catholic Reporter: We recognize how important online giving is and have emphasized it over the past four years. It’s a team effort with both the marketing and development departments. One of our strategies is to encourage readers to sign up for alerts letting them know about new posts from their favorite columnists. This brings folks to our website, which has three donate buttons leading to our donation pages. It also creates a database of emails.
We rely upon two major campaigns each year: our Friends of NCR Annual Appeal (direct mail and email) and our annual online Webathon, which is a concerted fundraising effort, kind of like an online version of PBS’s fundraisers. We send out emails and create videos with staffers and recognizable faces telling why people should give. Both of these campaigns make a substantial difference and cover a major portion of our normal operating expenses.
Our online paper covers these campaigns. We also do major gift research and reach out by phone and email. Any donation over $250 warrants a phone call. For major gifts of $25,000 or more, we chat personally with the donor. These strategies help encourage repeat giving. The important thing is that we are building a solid online community.
NFG: Do you set goals for your online campaigns?
NCR: Yes, we set a goal for the Webathon based on the previous year’s giving and the number of website visits prior to the Webathon. We’re finding that website visits are increasing.
NFG: Why did you sign up for NFG’s services?
NCR: We chose NFG because of the cost advantage. We also found your customer support team to be excellent. DonateNow is very simple to set up and makes it easy for donors to give. We’re really looking forward to the phone app!
NFG: How have NFG’s services helped you improve your online fundraising?
NCR: DonateNow simply enables online fundraising in a way that makes it easy for donors to give. Customizing our donation pages is also very easy to do on our end.
NFG: What advice would you give your fellow nonprofits about how to be successful with online engagement fundraising?
NCR: First of all, just start doing it. Online engagement and fundraising have a learning curve. Use the capabilities that DonateNow provides, and evolve your strategy as you begin to see results. Try doing matching gifts and campaigns like our Webathon. Get everyone involved. One of NCR’s advantages is that our entire staff participates: editorial, Web, marketing, even the board of directors. Be consistent in your efforts, and don’t give up.