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MS Chapter Learns to Get Personal With E-Donors

NEW YORK – When it comes to fundraising through e-mail, a personal touch is priceless, according to a speaker yesterday at the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 24th Annual Fundraising Day.

“If you take one thing away from this session today, let it be that people read personal communication,” said Michael Cordelli, manager of information systems for the New York City chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, was the speaker at the “What Do You Know About Your E-Donors?” session.

Cordelli, speaking at the Marriott Marquis, discussed how far his organization had progressed in online fundraising since 2001 when it did not have much of an online donation system.

In 2001 the group raised a total of $1.6 million for its annual MS Walk. Of that money, a negligible amount was raised online. But after implementing a new online system, $1.7 million was raised in 2002 with $324,000 donated through the Internet. In 2003, the total reached $2 million with $464,000 donated online.

Cordelli attributed the bulk of that success to the Friends Asking Friends system, which lets walkathon participants send e-mails with links to personal Web pages within the MS Society site where donations can be made. Because the e-mail comes from a friend or family member, the recipient is much more likely to give, Cordelli said.

He gave further tips for netting more online donations. They included linking to the donation page from all pages within the site, collecting only necessary information, having secure donation pages and issuing e-mail receipts for all gifts.

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