Tips for Creating an Online Strategy
No matter how successful their direct-mail campaigns, organizations of all budgets, sizes and missions should consider what else they can be doing to bring in more donors, especially as new opportunities — Facebook, Second Life, SMS, MySpace, e-mail, Twitter, etc. — explode onto the scene.
So says Eric Rardin, director of nonprofit services at Care2, an online social network of nearly 10 million people worldwide concerned with a healthy environment and living sustainable lives.
Rardin spoke in May in the Network for Good webinar "Creating an Online Fundraising and Marketing Strategy to Thrive in Tough Times.”
"There's a huge amount of excitement about the potential of the Internet and being able to present to hundreds of millions of people online and connect with people all over the world to get them excited and passionate about your cause," Rardin said. Though enthusiasm sometimes outpaces actual returns, "many organizations have seen some success with a variety of these different spaces online," he added.
When new tools emerge, there's a great deal of excitement and a lot of buzz over the "next big thing," he said, referencing a chart by Gartner Consulting of the "Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies" from 2008. People then flock to these new tools and embrace them, but often without a systematic approach that guides how they're going to use the tools, an understanding of what makes the tools different from other ways of communicating with supporters online, and a way to really make the most of the tools.
When the hype trails off, organizations realize they've invested a lot of time and energy into the new technology without very good returns. Then instead of sticking with it to see if it will become a productive channel, organizations often jump to another new technology. Rardin called this a "cycle of despair."