Even if you personally have not, it appears that since the September 11th attacks on the United States, many Americans have made a donation online. The American Liberty Partnership (www.libertyunites.com) indicates that as of November 20, 2001, the online community had contributed $110,266,933 for disaster relief efforts.
By the way, that dollar amount only reflects online giving through the six corporations making up the American Liberty partnership. In a recent article Nick Allen of DonorDigital estimates that more than 2 million Americans have given online since September 11th.
On October 17, CNN reported that the total amount of donations for September 11 relief efforts had reached the $1 billion mark. Organizations that are not involved in any type of disaster relief efforts have expressed very real concerns about their current and future financial situation. An October 14th New York Times article, “Outside New York, Charities Feel the Pinch”, shares stories of charities that have had to eliminate services, postpone or cancel fundraising events and layoff staff members as a result of these uncertain times. The article is depressing, which is one reason I decided not to link to it here, but more importantly, I just don’t believe these examples to be the ultimate fate of non-profit organizations as a result of the September 11 attacks, even in the short term.
I truly believe that organizations with the ability to cultivate donors online and accept online donations-using an e-mail based strategy-will reap the rewards of an online community that has a growing comfort level with online transactions. In case it didn’t register the first time you read it, the American Liberty Partnership has collected more than $100 million in online donations in less than two months. I presume that this number represents a portion of the population who gave online for the first time ever.
If you have made an online purchase in the past, remember how it felt the first time you entered your credit card number on a website? You may have hesitated to type in and submit that very precious information. But once you received the goods or services purchased without difficulty, you were probably more willing to make your next online purchase.
The same holds true for online donors. Making an online donation was one of the most immediate ways that people could feel like they had contributed to the ongoing disaster relief in New York and D.C., even from the other side of the nation. The learning curve, which without the September 11 events might have been a lot longer, was shortened by the motivation to be able to “do something” immediate to help during such a devastating time.
A final note…
Although we don’t really know if the Anthrax threat is over, it seems to have calmed down in recent weeks. Regardless, a friend recently told me that his father now goes to the mailbox every day with a clear plastic bag. Any piece of mail he doesn’t recognize goes into that bag and doesn’t make it into the house.
The moral of the story is this: if you have not yet seen the value, or been able to convince your board of the value, of implementing an e-mail and Internet strategy, the time is now. Start asking for e-mail addresses today!