Experts: Internet, E-mail Key for Fundraising

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NEW YORK -- The Internet and e-mail can be powerful tools for fundraisers, but they must be used properly and as part of an overall marketing strategy that includes direct mail, according to leaders in the fundraising industry.

That message was stressed during sessions at the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 22nd annual Fundraising Day New York held this week at the Marriott Marquis.

E-mail is cheaper, faster and more convenient than direct mail as a way to reach donors, said Vinay Bhagat, founder/CEO of application service provider Convio in a session titled "Raising Money -- and Reaching Your Audience -- With Targeted E-Mail."

E-mail best practices are a must when executing an e-mail campaign, Bhagat said. He advised fundraisers to segment their e-mail databases and personalize messages for each campaign. He also stressed the importance of post-campaign analysis.

"The two key metrics for determining the effectiveness of any e-mail campaign are click through and action," he said.

However, he also said e-mail has to be part of a fundraiser's overall marketing plan and direct mail should be part of that mix.

In a session called "Case Studies Online: What's Working and What's Not," Mark J. Rovner, senior vice president at Craver, Matthews, Smith Interactive, focused on the Internet and fundraising after the dot-com crash.

Included on Rovner's list of "what's in" among Internet fundraisers were fundraising fundamentals; direct mail and Web integration; e-mail; testing and analysis; building site traffic; and application service providers.

He cited outrageous hype, false hopes and denial regarding the Internet as "what's out," and he listed charity portals, banner ads, online shopping malls, click-to-give sites, online auctions and online incentive programs under "five minutes ago."

As far as "what's next," Rovner focused on real-time data integration and "personalization that matters."

Though he does not think fundraisers are using the Web to its fullest potential, he believes the future of Internet fundraising is promising.

The conference drew 2,300 attendees -- the most ever at the event -- and 88 exhibitors. For the first time, session materials are available on through July.

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