February 17, 2016

Futureproof Your Revenue: Invest In Your Online Streams

Jeff Jensen • Guest Blogger

Have you ever heard of the money tree? It refers to a Chinese myth about a holy tree that can bring money and fortune and is a symbol of affluence.

Unless you have one of these mythical money trees, it’s likely that you’re working hard to find revenue streams for your nonprofit. You should know where your revenue is coming from and what your greatest opportunities are.

There are dozens of ways that nonprofits can diversify their revenue streams. Just check out this article by Classy that goes over a few of your options and it hardly touches the surface of all of the opportunities for revenue. With so many opportunities and potential revenue streams, it’s difficult to classify or categorize them in order to discover trends. Some choose to separate by the activity, others by the source. While it’s difficult, this is still a worthwhile endeavor because knowing what your next big opportunity is could make all the difference.

Online giving made up approximately 6.7% of all giving in 2014.

That’s a pretty underwhelming statistic isn’t it? 6.7% isn’t really all that much.

I’m sure you’ve guessed that this isn’t the whole story though. While the nonprofit industry saw an increase in overall giving of 2.1%, online saw growth of 8.9%. Online giving increased by more than four times the industry average! While online is still just a drop in the bucket, it’s clear that it is quickly becoming an effective tool for revenue.

It’s not just about being online either. NPengage reported that giving using a mobile device increased by 45% from 2014 and Blackbaud reported that fully 17% of online donations during #GivingTuesday were from mobile devices. This is only the second year of NPegage’s mobile report so it’s difficult to call this a trend but this is still a startling rise. Why and how to take advantage of this growth hasn’t been fully explored either but one thing is certain, giving on mobile phones is growing significantly.

If you hear news on the technology industry occasionally this won’t come as much of a surprise to you. In fact as of this May 2015, more searches occur on mobile phones than they do on desktops. And just because a search was performed on a desktop doesn’t mean they won’t come back to your site later via mobile. A combination study by Google and IPSOS discovered that 90% of people use multiple devices in one day. Mobile is even so important that Google made having a mobile optimized site a ranking factor in 2015.

The growth in online giving isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon either. While there aren’t specific number predictions (I didn’t expect there would be, this would be a fool’s errand) technology and the internet seem to be a common denominator in predictions for 2016. In Abila’s predictions, two of their five predictions relate directly to online giving (predictions number three and four) and one indirectly (prediction number two).

The conclusion to this article should be self evident at this point. But it’s likely many of you who are reading this article are already online so if you’re looking for a takeaway other than “be online” here it is: Invest in online. You can still get by with a bare-bones website but you likely won’t be getting as much revenue from this explosive channel as you could be. Soon it will be a necessity and if you wait too long, you’ll be playing catch up. Futureproof your nonprofit and improve reliable revenue by investing in your online assets.

Note: There were a lot of resources quoted in this article and there are a plethora of white papers and resources out there for you to read. Unfortunately, many of them are hidden behind paywalls. While this is a completely understandable and totally acceptable, I do not have the luxury of purchasing said reports simply to reference in this article.

For a free resource though, I would recommend the MR Benchmarks Report which was full of some exceptionally interesting statistics. It will only cost you your email address!


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