The Tools Every Charity Should Have in Its Online Fundraising Toolbox
Level 3: Fundraising and social-networking tools
The next level of tools allows organizations to move beyond direct-response techniques. Tools on this level enable a volunteer or donor to become a fundraiser for a campaign or cause. Such tools typically involve a series of personal and/or team fundraising pages and depend on the volunteer to solicit his or her own network of friends and family by e-mail and, increasingly, on sites such as Facebook.
More and more, organizations are viewing their “Fundraise Now” button with equal importance as their “Donate Now” button.
Some new tools on this level allow organizations to create their own private-label versions of Facebook. Dubbed “social software” tools, such as Igloo Software, these tools are becoming increasingly popular alternatives to "just" Web site content management tools. But it takes a plan for care and feeding to produce active online communities; software alone won’t do it.
Level 4: Relationship-management tools
Tools on this level allow organizations to have a collective memory about their past relationships. Formerly known as “donor databases,” these tools are an important part of any online fundraising strategy. Trends in this category are moving increasingly toward browser-based solutions for both cost and ease-of-use reasons. Tip: Make sure any relationship-management tool you choose can easily import and export data, since no one solution can really do it all.
A final piece of advice
As you are considering your online fundraising budget, don’t spend all of it on tools. I’ve seen too many organizations spend large sums of money on sophisticated tools, only to find that they don’t have sufficient budget for staff to leverage all of the features. As a result, they end up using only about 20 percent of the power even though they paid for 100 percent; and as staff turnover occurs, training and retraining demands soar.
Please keep your eye out for next month’s column, "Social Networks: How to Make Them Work for Your Organization." If you are enjoying this content, I invite you to search for my “Digital Fundraising Podcast” on iTunes and listen to interviews with top thinkers in the world of digital fundraising. Also, if you have any thoughts or comments I’d love to hear them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Philip King is president and CEO of Artez Interactive.
Philip King is founder of The Donation Funnel Project, an experiment in online and mobile fundraising. He is a regular contributor to NonProfit PRO.