5 Common Themes in Online Fundraising
I was recently honored to help host the ArtezInterAction Conference at the MaRS Centre in Toronto. The day centered around looking at all that is happening in the world of technology, including Internet, payment systems, social and mobile media, and how technology affects the way nonprofits fundraise and connect with supporters.
The conference featured an outstanding lineup of thought leaders and practitioners, pioneering the change in technology-driven fundraising. The speakers brought many different perspectives, yet I found it remarkable how so many common threads ran through the numerous sessions.
Here are five popular themes at the conference.
Enable vs. control
As social media emerges, your supporters have a remarkable ability to create and publish content. By enabling supporters to take the message to their networks, NPOs are finding that their reach and funds raised can be significantly expanded. Letting go and enabling supporters to carry your message can be scary at first, but it also can be incredibly effective in reaching and involving more people.
It’s all about 'storytelling'
People give to people. The Internet has emerged into an incredible platform where anyone can create and publish his or her story. It’s this content that helps to put a "real" face on your organization and reminds people that they are making a difference beyond just giving to an institution. Embrace the tools that help your supporters tell their stories and yours.
Relationships and personal connections still remain at the heart of technology-related fundraising
With so much cool, fun and exciting technology out there, it’s important to remember that it’s still all about those personal connections and relationships. Technology helps enable and augment those relationships, and having good tools is certainly important. However, the people are still key, not the technology!
Show people how they can make a difference
Two of the keynote speakers at the ArtezInterAction Conference — Katya Andresen, chief operating officer at Network for Good and author of Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog, and Mary Rowe, who coordinated the New Orleans Institute for Resilience and Innovation and recently was awarded a Bellagio Residency from the Rockefeller Foundation to develop her writing on New Orleans as a prophetic city — each talked about the power of showing people what the impact of their contributions will be. For example, seeing that their $50 donations will help to provide water to a family offers important feedback to donors of how they are helping. Technology can help to facilitate this messaging and feedback cycle.
Understand who your influencers are
Fundraisers are adept at knowing the "capacity" of their supporters in traditional terms. However, capacity takes on a new meaning when you consider viewing your supporter base in terms of who has the ability to reach hundreds or even thousands of people with your message. Take the time to identify those supporters who have widely read blogs, thousands of Twitter followers or who are avid Facebook users. These prospects can help you spread the word and deserve special nurturing.
These five themes seem to transcend periods of time as well as different technology. They are important centering concepts that remind us that technology, while important, is also incidental in accomplishing the mutual objectives of fundraiser and donor.