Photo by Borman818
I usually don't write end of year roundups until those quiet last days of the year, but if Leave09Behind gets legs, that might be next week! But I'm a member of the Social Media Advisory Board for SmartBrief, Inc, a terrific daily summary of social media insights and they asked me to do a roundup post for this week.
Over the past six months, I've been collaborating on a book with Allison Fine, titled "The Networked Nonprofit" and we've been sifting through stories, research, and seeing many patterns. So for this post, I'd like to share 5 fundraising trends that we saw emerging in 2009 related to fundraising and social media and that will most definitely continue to have impact in 2010.
Less than 24 hours ago, Epic Change launched its Epic Change., a 48-hour charity event to encourage people to express their gratitude using online tools and at face-to-face meet-ups. This two-day event, which ends on Thanksgiving, also invites people to donate to
Last year, TweetsGiving, raised $11,000 to build a classroom in Tanzania using Twitter to spread messages of thanks and opportunities to donate. More importantly, the event was one of a series of social media fundraisers that offered evidence that Twitter and other social media tools were not just a passing fad.
This year's Tweetsgiving hopes to raise more than $100,000 in donations. Even though we are well before the ending bell of this year's campaign, there are number of principles that have been in used by other social media infused fundraisers over 2009. These principles will no doubt be copied, refined, remixed, and extended as nonprofits experiment with social media-powered fundraising techniques:
Weaving Together Online/Offline Into Real Time Web Fundraising Events
Last February, Twestival raised over $250,000 for charity:water in 24 hours through self-organized volunteer events in 200 cities around the world. While "Tweet and Meet" events, called "Tweet Ups," were popular with Twitter users in 2008, "Tweet-Meet-Donate" events became more and more common in 2009.
As we march into 2010, might we see the invention of Real Time Web fundraising events? Or maybe as more nonprofit explore the possibilities of location-based social networks and fundraising, the distinctions between online/offline fundraising will melt away.
A Platform for Self-Organizing
Social networks like Twitter connect us with people online who share our interests or passions about making the world a better place. They also provide fertile ground for us to organize rapid, collective fundraisers. They key is designing the opportunity for connection, plus self-organizing. As June Holley, a thought leader in networks, would say, "Be Rhizomatic."
We witnessed the power of combining a platform for self-organizing with network building in the winter of 2009 with A Networked Memorial Service for Maddie, in memory of a toddler, Madeline (Maddie) Sphor who passed away suddenly. The March of Dimes community rallied to raise money in Maddie's memory, unleashing a groundswell of support and sympathy expressions.
Social Media Fundraising As Part of A Multi-Channel Strategy
Using social media channels alone for fundraising will not be as effective as making it a part of a multi-channel straetgy that includes traditional fundraising techniques. This includes using email, web site presence, google ads, face-to-face events and reaching out to the online and mainstream media .
A great example of how well this multi-channel approach works is the Humane Society’s Spay Day. In 2009, the organization launched the United State Spay Day Photo Contest in 2009 as one part of their overall effort that included broadcast media and other social media outreach efforts as well as offline event. More than $550,000 was raised last March.
And just last week, GiveMN, a new online web site that hopes to encourage more Minnesotans to give and help create a stronger nonprofit community for Minnesota, raised over $14 million dollars in 24 hours using a multi-channel campaign.
Donors As Program Partners Not Just Check Writers
In May, 2009, Peter Dietz, founder of Social Actions, reflected on the future of online fundraising and wrote about a shift in donor expectations. That donors in an age of social media, will come to your organization with the expectation of being full partners in your work, not just an ATM machine to be tapped when cash is needed.
Take this compelling example of how deep engagement can lead to better results from Wildlife Direct. In 2007, WildlifeDirect had 7 blogs in the Democratic Republic of Congo written written about a specific animal by a conservation professional. The blogs were an opportunity to engage people in conversations about the daily challenge of conservation work in Africa These blogs raised $350,000 to pay rangers salaries and help save mountain gorillas in the Virunga National Park. Says Paula, “Two years later, we have over 70 blogs, donations have risen 4 fold, as has website visitation. We treat our donors as partners in our programs.”
Not recognizing the importance of relationship building and engagement as the first step in getting donations has lead to a number of articles in the mainstream media or research studies to conclude that social media is worthless as a fundraising tool. If we only continue to use these tools to gather nonprofit trend data, we're missing some opportunities..
The Maturation of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Peer-to-Peer fundraising is about empowering people to fundraise on behalf of your nonprofit. It works for marathons and in lieu of birthday presents or wedding gifts, although sometimes it can be a waste of time for nonprofits.
Last year, Facebook Causes added its birthday wish feature and we saw more peer to peer fundraising unfolding on social network sites. Ammado has recently launched a new take on peer-to-peer fundraising called giving circles and giving communities that nonprofits should keep an eye on.
Another trend with peer-to-peer giving we are likely to see is that donors will want the opportunity to have a closer tie with those who benefit from their donations. In 2010, we are likely to see more interaction - not with the organizations, but with the actual recipients of the dollars.
Click at the Heartstrings
We know that good storytelling that tugs at the heart strings opens the purse strings. With "click philanthropy" actions, ways that users can easily spread a message or leverage a donation, it is important to tap into human emotion. Good fundraisers (and marketers) know that tugging at the heart strings can open the wallet.
Tweetsgiving is playing off the theme of gratitude, according to recent research is a powerful emotion that encourages positive behavior, the giving and receiving of thanks (and gifts.) Drew Olanoff, who was diagnosed with cancer, decided to raise money by taking revenge on cancer through his BlameDrewsCancer.com which allowed you with a twitter hashtag, #blamedrewscancer, to blame anything you want on his cancer. And finally, fun and public humiliation - as NTEN's executive director Holly Ross discovered, can be good levers for donations.
Although social media as part of the fundraiser's tool box is not yet the norm, these experiments are laying the ground work for even more dramatic successes in 2010. Social media fundraising tools will come and go, but the ability to leverage one's social graph to raise money for a good cause is bound to be with us for a long time.
What do you think are the key fundraising/social media trends of 2009? What is important to take into 2010?