How Dayton Children's Hospital Reached Untapped Donors Through Digital Fundraising
In 2017, Dayton Children's Hospital Foundation posted an open position for a full-time digital fundraiser as the staff sought to interact with donors and prospects in new and innovative ways. Recognizing that some demographics may not be as quick to engage with traditional fundraising tactics, Dayton Children’s began allocating resources for the digital fundraising space to expand into newer donor pools, while acting as a leader in the healthcare philanthropy industry.
Jennifer Garcia, with significant experience in healthcare marketing, responded to the open requisition and has since grown the digital fundraising footprint for Dayton Children's. Jennifer is the only full-time employee dedicated to digital fundraising.
When she joined the team, Dayton Children's Hospital Foundation had just completed a major gift-focused capital campaign. The digital and online giving efforts prior to and throughout the campaign were passive – there was a form online that could be utilized to donate, and a handful of emails had been sent out to donors.
The goal of moving into digital fundraising was to raise money, but also to become a trusted source of information among donors. Through this process, Dayton Children’s Hospital Foundation has been a leading light, while establishing a strong digital performance baseline prior to the pandemic.
How did Dayton Children's get started in the digital fundraising space?
After bringing Jennifer onto the team, she began to dig into historical digital fundraising performance and to imagine what the future could look like for Dayton Children's.
"The best way to start off is to establish a formal giving page on the website and leverage social media fundraising tools for your organization," Jennifer says.
In addition, Dayton Children's Hospital launched a regular e-newsletter that is sent to all donors. The purpose of this newsletter is twofold. First, the newsletter serves to keep donors informed about various initiatives and how their gifts have impacted the lives of children. The second purpose is to get constituents used to hearing from the foundation staff regularly without an ask attached.
The e-newsletter is just one element of Dayton Children’s new donor welcome series. Increased informational communication through various channels boosts the credibility and level of trust between donors and the foundation.
Online Donation Form:
August 2021 E-Newsletter:
Changes in performance
In 2016, prior to Jennifer’s arrival, Dayton Children's Hospital had about 700 online donations to support their various programs. Wrapping up FY 2021, they have had more than 3,000 donations through digital platforms!
“In 2020-2021, COVID-19 obviously impacted our organization, just as it did everyone else," Jennifer said. "There were positives and negatives. Overall, our donor count was down, but donors were giving at a higher rate. In addition, we were able to convert many in-person events to digital, which helped prevent them from being canceled entirely.”
At Dayton Children’s, digital fundraising is frequently used in conjunction with multi-media fundraising campaigns, along with direct mail, advertising, and media relations. The elements of email, social media, and digital advertising reinforce a cohesive message and call to action, have a relatively lower cost than traditional advertising, and can engage specific audiences with a high level of accuracy.
Wrapping all of these elements together elevates campaigns by ensuring the widest possible audience while getting the message to people in the way they prefer to consume media and making giving as easy as possible. In FY 2021, Dayton Children’s Hospital Foundation raised nearly $8 million. Digital fundraising efforts accounted for a little more than 5% of the total dollars raised and continues to trend upwards.
Should you bring on an FTE for digital fundraising?
While digital fundraisers have their own financial goals to achieve, they serve as an internal resource to the broader development team. This employee deploys fundraising campaigns and conducts digital outreach to the donor base, while simultaneously working with every team in the department to succeed.
If there is any doubt in having a position dedicated to digital fundraising, there is always a need to have internal digital support. Diving into digital can be an intimidating endeavor but yields high returns for all.