Slam Dunk or Snake Oil?
I would focus on building a social community. Whatever you want to do online, having real relationships with people that care about your cause and are influential in their own social networks is the essence of success. Then, after it matures, begin harnessing willing community members for online grassroots fundraising.
In addition, be smart. Integrate donation capabilities into your social efforts. Meaning, use the social-site real estate to give people an option for donating. If you have a blog, and there's no prominent donation badge, shame on you. You just lost your very captive, interested social-media community who wanted to donate money — even if it's just 1 percent to 2 percent of them. Twenty online donors every month is better than none.
JH: It's almost three years since the launch of Causes on Facebook, and more than $21 million has been raised. But, according to Giving USA, this compares to more than $300 billion raised in total by nonprofits in 2008. Blackbaud analyzed this data and suggests that of this $300 billion, approximately $15 billion was given online. In short, even if you only focus on online giving, the numbers don't seem to add up. Is social media, in particular Facebook, a good tool for fundraising?
GL: I am not a big fan of Causes. It's platform-specific and doesn't enable the cause to have access to the database for further cultivation and e-mail. Further, their reporting mechanisms are frightening and hard to analyze.
Lastly, the numbers as referenced here are unimpressive. Alone, Twestival, the Armstrong Foundation, 12 for 12K and Tweetsgiving account for one quarter of that total — in one year. There are much better ways to fundraise online and in social media. For example, start by growing your e-mail list.