The Long Tail of Online Fundraising

The Long Tail

“The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare.” -Chris Anderson, Chief Editor of Wired Magazine

If you walk into Walmart or Target today, you will find yourself surrounded by “hit” products. Best-sellers will be proudly displayed and the Top 100 albums on the Billboard charts will appear in abundance. These stores stock only items that are likely to be hits because shelf space is a precious commodity and can’t be wasted on low-selling items. All of these “hit” items fall into the Head category, the red section of the graph above. The Head consists of a small number of items sell large quantities.

There was a time when the only selection you could buy was what was available in the Head. The internet revolution changed all that. Online retailers can stock millions of products in niche areas for little to no additional cost. They found that there’s a lot of money to be made in the long tail, selling low quantities of niche items that were once inaccessible.

As an Amazon employee cleverly put it: “We sold more books today that didn’t sell at all yesterday than we sold today of all the books that did sell yesterday.”

Fundraising isn’t so different from retail sales. In the past, fundraisers focused on the large donors – the Head section – and put most of their efforts into cultivating large donors. The shift to online fundraising is letting nonprofits tap into the Long Tail, donors who weren’t big enough to worry about until now.

There’s a lot of money to be made in the “Long Tail”. You may have a few hundred donors who will donate over $25,000 each, but you can certainly find a few thousand donors who will donate $10 each. It’s small, but it adds up.

Let Fundly help you tap into the Long Tail of fundraising by setting you up with an effective online donation form and leveraging the Social Multiplier to grow and accept donations online via popular social media networks.

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