Slam Dunk or Snake Oil?
JH: You recently raised more than $5,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation in a few weeks using social media like Twitter. What did you learn from this experience that other organizers and nonprofits can follow?
GL: I wrote a whole post on the individual things I learned (tinyurl.com/y82erut), but strategically I would tell nonprofits to have a grassroots fundraising coach in place to encourage people through the process. It can be a slog, and having coaches there to help, encourage and make suggestions is a win-win for all of the parties involved. I think this is no different than having a development director who handles mid-tier donors. In essence, that's what this staff person is doing: cultivating individuals who are willing to solicit on behalf of the charity.
JH: Many folks have talked about the "long tail of Facebook fundraising," i.e., the fact that contrary to the popular belief in the democratizing power of social media, fundraising on Facebook is still a drop in the bucket for the smallest charities. What do you think about this phenomenon?
GL: Facebook is just the tip of the iceberg. All of the major social networks are easy to focus on, but if you think about Facebook, it's the McDonald's of social networks. Everyone goes there at least once a week, but no one wants to have a date or family night there.
Like McDonald's, Facebook has everything: chat, direct messaging, update streams, photos, videos, on and on. It does none of it well. In each instance, there's another social network (Skype, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube) that does these individual things better than Facebook.
In contrast, consider TuDiabetes (tudiabetes.org), which uses the big social networks as beachheads to fuel its topic-specific social network of more than 10,000 people. These 10,000 people all have their own social networks, making the TuDiabetes network a brilliant use of all the social tools to fuel a cause. They get that the majors are just the tip of the iceberg.