All professional fundraising organizations have asked the question, “Should we participate in Giving Tuesday?” Typically, the feeling of “why not” is quickly followed by “what am I getting myself into?” What’s more, Giving Tuesday is just one of many days and initiatives organizations feel pressure to leverage by making appeals to their community — the list grows every year.

Many states now have state-wide giving days like Colorado Gives Day or North Texas Giving Day. There’s National Philanthropy Day in November and the holiday season always seems appropriate to make an appeal. Add into the mix end-of-year appeals, an organization’s stand-alone giving day, and then all the ancillary initiatives like senior class gifts, young alumni giving, Greek life (the list goes on) and it can seem overwhelming.

There are so many days and initiatives throughout the year that could be leveraged how do you pick and choose?

The answer is… ALL OF THEM!

I know that I just ramped up the tension, and while it may feel extremely exhausting to agree with that statement, with the right technology, strategy, and support, embracing this diversity year-over-year will get easier and you will drive exponential results. It’s not a matter of if, but when, organizations will embrace a microsite approach.

Consider this: over the last 30 years, IT departments have almost always been solely responsible for building pages and forms, requiring focused coordination and planning with Development. Data researchers were enlisted to segment lists, marketing needed to create content, and once the content was submitted it still needed to be re-purposed by anyone wanting to raise funds.

Overall, inefficient communication and back-and-forth adjustments have made the effort of spinning multiple fundraising campaigns up feel incredibly daunting. It’s lead to disjointed and challenging efforts to create cohesive campaigns through cross-department volleyball. In response, most organizations have resorted to just directing people to a general form with an email appeal — ineffective but easy.

Most of the tactics of the past have relied on reaching out the masses at a reasonable cost with the hope that enough people will engage to create a reasonable return on investment. No more.

Today, because of our ability to harvest big data and people’s willingness to sacrifice their privacy for convenience, the reality is an organization is able to deliver a customized and targeted experience to a more specific group of people. The amazing thing is that they appreciate it! In doing so you create a higher return on your effort AKA a higher return on investment.

In the last year, microsite technology has boomed with platforms like ours allowing you to quickly and simply bring stories to life. This starts with the ability to segment affinity communities, leverage multiple channels of communication, and design and deploy pages without departmental bottlenecks. Consequently, you’re able to efficiently leverage the resulting data to empower authentic storytellers in specific areas of interest to share their efforts and promote them to an affinity network that cares.

The key is to tell an ongoing story past the moment of giving to better demonstrate the impact of donations and show appreciation with ongoing stewardship automation. The beauty is every contributor can be invited to a single, centralized platform to do their part. While microsites may refer to “mini-websites,” I also use this term to mean micro-channels. A micro-channel is a channel of communication to a community that allows you to hyper-target them with content that appeals to them in the manner with which they are most likely to digest it.

Sounds dreamy, right? All of this has only become available in the past 12 months with a handful of technologies (…some better than others.)

More importantly, when partnered with the right provider, engagement and retention go up, which means inherently there will be an increase in participation. It’s a simple formula.

Let me pose this question to you: if you are delivered relevant content through a desired channel, and the content includes something you personally care about, are you more likely to engage? By targeting people with stories they actually care about you create an atmosphere in which they are less distracted or annoyed by your outreach. In fact, they are motivated by it.

To break it down further, donors, like consumers, expect 3 things: (1) they want to trust who they are giving their money to, (2) they want their contribution to be personal or meaningful, and (3) they want it to be easy. By leveraging microsites, you can check all of these boxes. While most of the articles I refer to below concern consumer behavior, we can infer donor behavior is similar.

 

Trust

By providing a consistent and seamless experience for a donor, an organization builds trust with their community members. If a donor comes back to give and consistently experiences a new layout, new steps to give, a new form, a different message, different priorities, etc. the individual can lose trust in the organization or be confused by the user flow.

Speed of a page loading can also build trust. Studies have shown that a website that loads slowly can cause an individual to lose trust in an organization.

 

Personal and Meaningful

Microsite technology allows you to target segmented groups that have an affinity for the content being shared. This feels more personal to the donor, as it guides them through a tailored experience that hopefully results in a reaction like “my alma mater really gets me.” And, because it is more personal, it makes it more meaningful to participate. The donor feels they can have impact on things that are important to them as individuals.

 

Easy

Gone are the days of multi-step processes and long forms. These are flat-out not acceptable to today’s donor. If it’s not easy, people will likely not be willing to do it! By minimizing the steps to locate, select, and support something you amplify the likelihood a philanthropist will want to repeat that action again in the future.

 

As for the future of the fundraising industry as we move forward, this is my prediction: crowdfunding has been the catalyst for the rise of microsite technology as each “campaign” is technically a landing page. I predict that more and more organizations will realize crowdfunding is so much more than just a tactic or a channel for fundraising. It is a concept that transforms organizations culturally. Crowdfunding is, in essence, empowering the donor with choices that allow them to control their experience.

Organizations will continue to move towards facilitators or “curators” of philanthropic opportunities for individuals to manifest their aspirational selves. Centralizing your story in a way that is easy to navigate through search, categorization, and filters will become even more important to the individual looking for meaningful things to support.

Lastly, crowdfunding web pages will only become one of numerous channels where a story is being told. Platforms will evolve to provide the ability to package stories in ways digestible to any community receiving information through multiple channels and transacting through a variety of mediums, all while preserving the requirements of the organization’s funding needs.

So, when you think “should I participate in #GivingTuesday and my own Giving Day?” The answer is YES, as long as you employ technology and tactics that make it easy and maximize your return on investment.

Every targeted giving opportunity is another way to learn about your community’s interest set as they self-select the things they care about. With each microsite, you can collect more insights and information on your community members and serve their needs by adding meaningful value to their lives.