International Fundraising eConference Roundup: Empowering Networked Communities
We’re living in a networked society where people are interested in making a real difference by doing things through their own, self-selected communities — online and offline.
This according to Bryan Miller, head of strategy and consumer insight at Cancer Research UK, who presented the session "Community Fundraising 2.0: The Future of Fundraising in Our Networked Society" at the first International Fundraising eConference May 12 to 14.
Miller said we’re living in a networked society not because we're connected by the Internet, but rather because individuals are "free in ways not available to previous generations to choose our own personalized networks of connections and influences — in place of traditional sources of information and authority."
"The societal changes underpinning this have taken place over several generations through the dissolution of traditional social constraints related to things like class and gender," he said. "And the increased personal expectations and wider world view that come with increasing education levels, job flexibility, affluence, opportunities to travel, etc."
Living in a networked society has had two key impacts:
1. Consumers are increasingly defending themselves against marketing messages, leading to falling response rates for traditional "interruptive" communications.
2. Peer endorsement — primarily family and friends — is replacing the opinion of traditional sources of authority, including brands. Word-of-mouth is still the key channel for peer endorsement. Miller said that while, at most, about 20 percent of peer-to-peer brand advocacy currently occurs online, it is growing every year.
The result is that consumers now sit in a Web of information sources that they predominantly have chosen — made up of friends and family, social networks, peer-to-peer sites, specialist information sites, online search, nonprofits, traditional news sources, and traditional advertising — which makes it more challenging when looking at how best to engage people.
What this all means is that fundraisers have to stop interrupting what people are interested in and become what people are interested in. This is challenging for many organizations, Miller said, because so much of mass fundraising activity is based on interruptive approaches. This shift requires nonprofits to evolve.
Traditional, individual-donor fundraising follows a "funnel" approach, in which organizations pump prospects into the top, present them with fundraising asks, and see who comes out of the bottom with a donation. Miller said this is how many nonprofits measure the performance of direct marketing.