Interactive Fundraising: 2010 Ushers in Faster Reaction Time for Fundraising
In the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, important lessons are unfolding that underscore how the nature of fundraising is evolving as a direct result of technology and social media.
How did you find out about the Haiti earthquake? I first learned of it on my cell phone while checking Facebook, where a friend’s status referenced the disaster. Minutes later, there were more Facebook updates, and word of the earthquake was starting to ripple through Twitter. It was shortly after 5 p.m. on Jan. 12, and news was spreading rapidly.
Speed of information and action is accelerating
The emergence and mass adoption of social media has accelerated the rate at which people discover and share information, and ultimately take action or give. These steps can be expedited with the help of technology. Organizations such as the Canadian Red Cross reacted within mere hours of the disaster in Haiti by offering up-to-the-minute information and donation areas on their Web sites.
Jody Jeffrey, manager of national Web services for the Canadian Red Cross, commented, “Having the ability to quickly share information on the situation and provide a way for people to help was critical in the hours after the earthquake.”
Other organizations that I have spoken with agree that being a trusted conduit of information was a prerequisite for donations. In the 48 hours following the earthquake, the Canadian Red Cross experienced unprecedented Web traffic, and being prepared was essential for them to make sure the outpouring of support was actionable for the relief effort.
When a disaster like Haiti occurs, people tend to ask what they can do to help. Increasingly, donors are willing to reach into their personal networks or pool of employees to encourage relief support. For the Canadian Red Cross, this meant providing individuals the means to quickly extend donation ability to their networks via phone, e-mail and other technologies. Corporate supporters were able to post donation widgets to their own Web sites, and a few even created micro sites with the help of the Red Cross specific to their organization.