Tag Archives: online fundraising

Fundraising Envy

TheNew York Times’ article Utilities Turn Their Customers Green With Envy provides a few good pointers for social network fundraising, even though the article is about utility bills. The Sacramento, California utility company created a pilot program that issued personalized bills to some customers, using “smiley faces” and “frowny faces” on the utility statements in order to illustrate how a customer’s electricity consumption compares with his/her neighbors’ consumption. Those who received comparative, personalized statements cut their energy efficiency by 2% more than those who did not receive smiley or frowny faces.

The article article also cited an experiment conducted by social psychologist Robert Cialdini, of Arizona State University, and another colleague that illustrates the effect of peer pressure.  “…(Cialdini) and a colleague left different messages on doorknobs in a middle-class neighborhood north of San Diego. One type urged the residents to conserve energy to save the earth for future generations; another emphasized financial savings. But the only kind of message to have any significant effect, Dr. Cialdini said, was one that said neighbors had already taken steps to curb their energy use.”

Social network fundraising should include competition to reap higher rewards.

image courtesy of Cambodia4kids

image courtesy of Cambodia4kids

The concept of social network fundraising is leveraging one’s own social network to raise funds. Facebook and MySpace are two online social networks that have figured out that leveraging one’s peer network for good is good business…and raises funds. They utilize the concept of “people to people fundraising” — raising money from people you know, rewarding them and making it fun. Beth Kanter posted a summary of the concept in her post here, and be sure to read the comments which offer further amplification of the concept.

How can we leverage our networks to raise funds the most efficiently?  Think about what the municipality of Sacramento learned:

  • People react (and change behavior!) based on how they compare with their neighbors/friends.
  • People compete to be as good as their neighbors/friends, as long as the comparative results are public.

There are many great examples of organizations utilizing Facebook Causes, Chipin and other online donation programs and widgets which incorporate the two points. For example, the Facebook Causes application allows network friends to view who else has donated, what amount, and how close the network is to reaching the entire fundraising goal. Joe Green, founder of Facebook Causes says “Facebook and other social networking sites mimic existing relationships, making users feel more pressure to get involved.” (Beth Kanter’s Five Things I Discovered About Facebook Birthday Cause highlights all the best features of the Birthday Cause application.)

Can we quantify what difference the “public” aspect of people to people, or network, fundraising makes compared to non-disclosed givers and amounts? I’d love to hear of further pilot studies using online giving where one group knows how much its peers/network friends are giving and the other does not.

My bet? Peer pressure is just that, and it makes a big difference.

Further reading:

Online fundraising widgets at We Are Media and a toolkit for getting started linked here.

Social micro-fundraising tools: screen shots and compilation on Mashable.

Wild Apricot also compiled a List of Online Fundraising Tools to consider, many of which are peer-to-peer based tools.

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Online Giving and Clicks

photo by Daquella Manera

photo by Daquella Manera

Blackbaud has just released its preliminary research and findings on 2008 Online Giving Trends. I am considering this report alongside Steve McLaughlin’s earlier blog post, which contemplates the number of website clicks it takes for someone to donate to your organization.  How can we use social media to take advantage of these two trends ?

Use social media to direct donors to many channels. Use social media to increase website “stickiness.”

At least those are my conclusions. Here’s why:

  • A multi-channel strategy  (such as web, email, direct appeal, events, etc.) is the successful approach to building an online fundraising winning strategy.  To support this, Blackbaud reports that “organizations using the Internet mostly for donor acquisition and without integrated strategies usually see higher attrition rates than other nonprofits.” With social media, there are many different methods available to solicit and remind lapsed donors, as well as direct them to all your other fundraising channels!
  • McLaughlin also ponders the number of clicks it takes for someone to donate to your organization. It is anywhere from one to ten. Chris Garrett, interviewed here, says that “we all know it takes multiple “touches” of a prospect before they will open their wallet, on occasions up to seven times.” He refers to keeping customers on a site as increasing the “stickiness” of the website.  Obviously refreshed content on a blog brings customers/donors back for new information, but how to make websites less static? Why not cross-reference social media to your website?

Here are a few ideas to increase the “stickiness” of your site using social media, which encourages more page views and return visits. They all involve refreshing content with social media:

  1. Link your site with each blog post; refresh the home page material with the newest blog post.
  2. Create a Twitter stream that periodically mentions something new on the website.
  3. Keep visitors on the site by leading them to other social media applications your organization uses (see Social Media Map) and back again.
  4. Link to your website in your e-newsletter (e.g. “if you want to see the event, go to the You Tube video by logging onto the website.”)
  5. Create multiple entrances to the site with unique landing pages from each social media application. (e.g. “you’ve reached our organization from LinkedIn! Here are some additional facts about our organization.”)
  6. Obvious but not done: post comments from users/connections/friends about the organization on your home page. This encourages people to check out your other social media homes but also keep them coming back to see the recent feedback. Maybe it’s them!

What about using your social media activities to cross-reference, bolster and lead people to all of your different fundraising channels? A few off-the-top-of-my-head ideas:

  1. Send donors a member-created vlog highlighting a great project of the organization. Try to create viral buzz or tagging. Follow up with phone solicitations.
  2. Recognize important contributors on the blog or in a community forum.
  3. Create a Facebook or MySpace challenge to bring people to your offline fundraiser.
  4. Tweet from the offline fundraiser itself!
  5. Create a fun, interactive challenge asking each supporter to bring one friend to your Twitter stream, blog, website or online group. This will increase your donor pool.
  6. Donations via the Facebook or Myspace causes application.

I’d love to hear of how organizations have cross-fertilized fundraising channels with social media. I’m looking for research on using social media to create traffic for the website or increase the number of times an individual will return.  Thoughts? Food for another blog post!

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