Understanding the New Breed of Digital Donors and How to Maximize Your Fundraising Through Their Networks
With the global number of users on Facebook now fast approaching the size of the U.S. population, it’s surely clear that time is up for anyone who still wants to ignore online social networking as a passing fad. However, while nonprofits now generally recognize the need to take it very seriously, most still struggle to understand how they can best fit it into their fundraising programs.
One of the reasons for this struggle is that our thinking is all too often myopically focused on the traditional mass-market fundraising approaches that we all know so well. Inherent in social media is the fact that it enables individuals to communicate and collaborate without the need for any intermediary organization to bring them together — and we’re just not used to that. We’re used to being the instigators and the owners of fundraising campaigns and to being in control of the fundraising process. However, social media is taking that control away, and we haven’t yet come to grips with just how we should function as fundraisers when this happens.
If we ever want to truly capitalize on the opportunity offered by social media, we must grow more comfortable with the changing balance of control and better understand the emerging new breed of digital donors who are leading this change — donors who still desire to achieve impact in the world through nonprofits but who increasingly tend to do their own thing in their own social-media way when it comes to fundraising.
The $93 Club — a new-breed fundraising story
There’s no better way to understand this than by learning from examples of how new-breed online donors already are breaking free from traditional, organization-led fundraising. A wonderful example of this is something that began earlier this year with a chance meeting and act of personal kindness in a Trader Joe's grocery store, of all places. Back in August, a lady called Jenni Ware was shopping there when she realized that she didn’t have her purse. Fortunately, next in the line to pay was Carolee Hazard who, on seeing Jenni’s situation, very kindly offered to cover her $207 bill. Jenni gratefully accepted, and as the two left the store she reassured Carolee that she would mail her a check later that day.