Major Gifts — Just a Tweet Away?
I get weird looks from development directors when I ask them what their social-networking strategy is and how it is used in the overall strategic plan with their major-gifts program.
“What? That’s handled by our mass communication team.” Or, “Huh? Major donors are not that into Twitter or Facebook.” Or even worse, “What strategic plan?”
I say, “Nonsense!”
Social networking and major-gifts programs are made for each other. In this article, excerpted from a three-part series that I wrote for the Passionate Giving blog, I outline how your organization can best use social networking to enhance both your program and your major donor’s experience.
There are three distinct areas I want to cover.
- Research/deepening the relationship with donors
- Cultivating and reporting back to donors
- Raising money
Research/deepening the relationship with donors
Good research is key in trying to understand your donors. Remember, you want to know and understand who your donors are, what makes them tick and what they are involved in, among other things.
Google Alerts, TweetBeep, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all great ways to deepen your understanding of who your donors are. In fact, if you have a caseload of donors, you should have all your donors on Google Alerts and TweetBeep right now. Seriously, go do it right now. OK, now that you have them all signed up, let’s continue …
Both of these free services allow you to track your folks if they pop up online or Twitter. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you work for an East Coast nonprofit and one of your donors lives in California. Your donor receives a humanitarian award in her hometown, and that event is posted in a local online newspaper. That night you get an alert from Google about your donor receiving that award. You then send a nice e-mail, tweet or Facebook post on your donor’s wall congratulating her.
How awesome is that? Your donor will be blown away!
Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are great ways to connect with donors and get great information. You can find out what they think about life, what they’re reading, working on, who their friends are and what they are passionate about. This is all great information to help you understand these good people.
Now, don’t get discouraged if your donors don’t accept your friend request on Facebook or don’t want to connect with you on LinkedIn. That is also giving you great information. Respecting and understanding your donors’ wishes on how they want to communicate with you is a key element in your relationship with them.
And, of course, not all your donors use social networking. But many of them do, which is why you want to understand it and use it as another way to make a connection with them.
Cultivating and reporting back to donors
Now I want to turn to how to use social-networking tools to further cultivate and report back to donors. Reporting back to donors in order to show them how their gifts made a difference is absolutely crucial.
Unfortunately, it’s one of the many barriers development directors and major-gifts officers run into within their own organizations. This just has to get solved. If you’re going to survive as an organization, you have to be able to quickly report back the impact of a donor’s gift.
What’s great though is that you have all these cool social-networking tools to be creative and (cheaply) tell your donors how they’ve made a difference.
Imagine this happening: You have five of your caseload donors helping build a school in Haiti. Traditionally, you’d get a report from the field, rewrite it with a few pictures at the home office, and mail it or e-mail it to your donor. That’s fine — nothing wrong with that — but today we can do so much more.
Now you can have someone in the field video or use ipadio updates as the school is being built. You send the update via a direct tweet, Facebook update or e-mail that directs the donor to his PURL, where he can see or hear firsthand what is happening with the project he’s funding.
I mean, think about how powerful that is for the donor. Here she is sitting at Starbucks in Denver enjoying her morning coffee and she gets a direct tweet, which links her to a two-minute video of the walls of the school going up and grateful kids cheering … all of this happening minutes ago!
Is that incredible or what?
What a great time to be a fundraiser, huh? There are so many tools out there for you to be creative, cost-effective and deliver an emotional message to your donors, which helps them feel great about their investments.
Now, the key is to get the folks in your organization on board. Start researching these tools and show folks the power they have to reach your donors in new and exciting ways.
Remember, you will not survive if you cannot effectively tell donors how their investments made an impact and difference.
It’s an exciting time to wow your donors. Start now.
Has your mind been swimming with cool ideas on how to use social networking for your major-gifts program? Mine sure has. Never before has it been easier to connect your donors to what is happening with your mission. The possibilities are endless.
Many nonprofits have been using social networking for fundraising for a few years now. It’s been an extension of their mass communication programs.
However, it can also be much more personalized with your major donors. Let me give you an example:
Let’s say you are on a view trip with a group of your donors in Sudan. This group is funding 10 water wells in a very arid region of Sudan, and these donors are coming to see firsthand how their investment made a difference. Because of the impact and the emotional nature of the trip, while on site, these donors decide they want to fund another 10 water wells by collectively putting up $50,000.
That’s awesome, right? But wait. What if you got them to use that as a match and sent out personal messages to 10 people on your caseload that had a similar passion for Sudan but couldn’t make the trip?
Imagine this group of donors visiting Sudan sends a video message to each one of those donors and personally asks him or her to help with this special matching-gift challenge.
That personal message is sent to those 10 donors via Twitter, Facebook, e-mail or LinkedIn. The next day, one of those donors in Sudan calls the donors in the U.S. to follow up.
You tell me how even one of those 10 donors could not say yes. OK, but there’s more.
Now, three days later, waking up to her breakfast, the donor in the U.S. checks her Twitter account and reads a direct message from Sudan. It’s one of the donors in Sudan who sends a video link thanking her for contributing and busting the goal of $50,000, which now enables them to drill 20 water wells. And, she receives a personal greeting from the tribal elders thanking her for her help.
Do you see how powerful this can be? This is not some pie-in-the-sky idea. This is a very simple, cost-effective, yet extremely personal way to reach your major donors and inspire them to give.
You could also use social networking for special mini-campaigns with tight deadlines or use it at the end of a calendar or fiscal year when you’re trying to remind people at the last minute to consider a gift.
There are many more possibilities, and we’d love to hear from you on some of the strategies you have used for your organization.
There is no better time to get started than right now!
If you like baseball, tennis, golf, Gregorian chant, jazz, rock, good wine and deep conversation, then you’ll like to hang out with Jeff.
If you are passionate about fundraising, Jeff will inspire you to be a true “broker of love” for your donors, helping you bring together a donor’s desire to change the world and the world’s greatest needs. Jeff believes that if nonprofits truly want to grow and obtain more net revenue for their mission, it will come through creating, building and successfully managing major-gift programs. The Connections blog will give you inspiration and practical advice to help you succeed. Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit fundraising experience and is senior partner of the Veritus Group.