Understanding the New Breed of Digital Donors and How to Maximize Your Fundraising Through Their Networks
Carolee probably doesn’t realize it, but she is a great example of the new breed of digital donor, for whom social media is now such a part of life that they use it naturally, without prompting, whenever they want to make something happen — from arranging a personal social event to raising money for a nonprofit.
The evolving role of the professional online fundraiser
If these new breed digital donors are happiest doing the fundraising themselves, then just what is the role for professional fundraisers? Do we just sit back and wait for the online dollars to flow in? Unfortunately, I’m afraid it’s just not that easy. Instead, to maximize on these new online fundraising opportunities, you’re probably going to need to refocus your efforts to better fit with the emerging new paradigm. To help do this, it is useful to consider your role within what I term the 4Cs of social-network fundraising:
- C1 = Community — These donors have their own online communities and, while being happy to help fund your work, may simply not wish to join yours. Indeed there is a growing tendency for these types of donors to shift their fundraising between nonprofits to achieve specific tangible impacts, so the concept of donors “joining” you may well become less and less relevant in the future.
- C2 = Commodity — As the $93 Club story shows, the online applications required to undertake collaborative online fundraising are now freely available commodities. You need to understand which sites donors use and develop ways to better work with these. However, don’t overlook the ongoing importance of e-mail management software. Contrary to expectations, high social-media use does not diminish e-mail use, and well-managed and personally content-tailored e-mail remains a key engagement tool for these donors.
- C3 = Content — Storytelling has always been fundamental to fundraising, and this will not change. However the way in which it happens will, as donors increasingly create their own online content as part of their own fundraising initiatives. You can support this by providing portable content for them to use, in the form of videos or specifically relevant news feeds that can be easily embedded in the donor’s chosen social-network site.
- C4 = Cause Impact — This is where fundraisers still have a unique role to play. The new breed of donors still relies on your organization to deliver the cause impact they want to see. However, the growing desire to fund specific impacts puts pressure on fundraisers to better package donor opportunities and to become far better at measuring and reporting back on the specific impact achieved with donor funds.
Bryan Miller is a UK-based marketing and fundraising consultant and author of the Givinginadigitalworld.org fundraising blog. He recently presented a session on this topic at the IFC Conference in Amsterdam a few weeks ago. You can see more about the new breed of digital donor in his presentation here.