Customer Acquisition Marketing Manager
Originally posted on AHP Connect, presented by Association for Healthcare Philanthropy.
Like many healthcare organizations, the team at Michigan Medicine historically focused on major donations and was heavily staffed with major gift officers. But the team saw interest and energy coming from key audiences who could raise rather than write big checks. They invested in digital fundraising and that area of growth has become a key revenue stream that’s crucial to their fundraising strategy.
“Donors of $500 or less can add up very, very quickly to large sums of money based on volumes. Digital fundraising is casting a wider net and bringing in a different kind of donor. It just opens doors in ways that you can’t even imagine,” said Kristen Kurtz, director, digital fundraising at Michigan Medicine.
So just build online fundraising pages and see engagement and revenue increase right?
Well, not necessarily. Crowdfunding is not the silver bullet of digital fundraising, and according to Michigan Medicine’s experience, there is work that needs to be done to make it happen beyond just setting up a fundraising page expecting people to donate.
The most successful digital fundraising campaigns are built on a strong foundation consisting of the magical combination of meaningful cause, engaging following, significant marketing outreach, and technology to empower the supporter. Every project that succeeds requires careful planning, time, and effort whether it’s being run by your organization or launched and executed by one of your supporters.
Create Opportunities for Advocates to Do More
Instead of focusing solely on the major donor, engaging additional key audiences in new ways has become a priority strategy to acquire new donors and increase constituent lifetime value. The comprehensive approach to fundraising allows Michigan Medicine to empower advocates to share their stories and inspire their personal networks to give.
Supporters spearhead their own fundraisers and efforts to support what they want, how they want, allowing a sense of ownership around a campaign and deeper connection with the cause. Creating a more deeply aligned approach builds a pipeline of engaged supporters that drives growth and retention among communities of grateful patients, corporate partners, employees, student groups, and even major donors.
Empower Supporters to Fundraise How They Want
Whether supporters rally around traditional peer-to-peer fundraising events like 5K walks, unique livestreaming fundraising events with online content creators, or fundraising opportunities within existing programs, Michigan Medicine is using every element of digital fundraising to allow its supporters to fundraise how they want, supporting what they want.
Go Live to Reach New Audiences
#StreamforMott is Michigan Medicine’s largest livestreaming program, which benefits the Therapeutic Gaming and Digital Technology Program at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. This online digital fundraising event allows content creators to support patients who use therapeutic gaming for treatment at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
“Livestream fundraising has been a game changer for our digital fundraising program. It has allowed us to raise money for an innovative program, broaden our volunteer fundraiser base as well as our donor base–not just through numbers–but geographically as well. People across the country and around the world are now hearing about the groundbreaking work being done through our Therapeutic Gaming and Digital Technology program at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital,” Kurtz said.
Michigan Medicine took its #StreamforMott Livestream fundraisers to the next level by attending in-person events like TwitchCon and partnering with corporate sponsors to double their donations. Allowing them to not only increase their brand awareness and engagement with new audiences across the globe but increase their overall dollars raised.
The digital fundraising program, #StreamforMott has raised nearly $190,000 through partnerships with 250 content creators and donations from over 1,900 generous individuals and businesses. Proving that having diversified revenue streams and utilizing fundraising initiatives like Livestreaming can be an effective and growing way to fundraise for nonprofit causes.
Invest In Partners and Technology that Supports Your Goals
Michigan Medicine proved the model could work, outpacing predicted growth and exceeding fundraising goals again and again. But the experience wasn’t without growing pains. One of the keys to digital fundraising success is immediacy, but with cumbersome and outdated technology, the team struggled to keep up with demand and respond to supporter needs.
Michigan Medicine invested in a digital fundraising solution, DonorDrive, that could handle all their programs and create the fundraiser and donor experience they envisioned. With easy-to-use and scalable event templates, their internal team could create fundraising pages quickly and start seeing results right away.
“The speed and ease of use for how quickly we can launch… that is the thing that has changed everything for us,” Kurtz said. “Don’t be scared to make the investment because digital fundraising is not going away.”
Michigan Medicine is a nationally-ranked hospital and one of the largest research institutions in the country. By partnering with DonorDrive, Michigan Medicine has been able to scale their crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising efforts, increasing their total number of annual campaigns by 48% and total fundraising dollars by 18%.