Fundraising in Troubled Times – Social Networking, Private Online Communities Can Help

By | May 21, 2023

In an article in the February 2009 edition of Fundraising Success, Katya Andresen brings up some valuable ideas on how to increase donations and satisfy donors in today’s economy.

Donors want to feel good. Ms. Andresen points out that donors want “an emotional ROI (return on investment).” She suggests a positive approach. Tell them how they can help not how dire your circumstances are. Make it about them. Use multimedia features to post inspirational pictures of how donations are helping, upload a video of a success story, even allow members to post pictures of what they are doing for your cause. When your members get involved by sharing, an energy is created that not only gives them value from the site but drives activity as they invite other members to view their pics.

Donors want familiarity. With social networking now outranking email in time spent on the computer, news that was once shared in person or over the telephone, can now be broadcast at lightening speeds to members’ address books. Donors are more apt to give when a personal request comes in from friends or family or other contacts. With increased popularity in social networking software, blogs and email, we not only get requests quicker but get hit with them repeatedly from sources we trust (aka, our personal contacts). Now you have a personal army of fundraisers (brand evangelists, of sorts) in your members. Private online member community solutions allow you to mobilize this force quickly with broadcast emails and newsletters. You touch 20 members, they touch their friends and family and your message is shouted from the rooftops — electronically.

Donors want tangibility. Donors want to know what their hard-earned money is going toward, now more than ever. In the face of corporate irresponsibility and government greed, your donors want to make sure their funds are being spent responsibly. Why not upload pictures of how the money is helping? Why not blog about success stories or highlight the benefactor(s) of your programs?

Donors want flexibility. Not everyone can give at the levels they have previously. Sometimes time is more available than money. Add information on your site about how everyone can help. Give specific instructions. Invite your donors to events (either virtual or physical), and manage the process online. Online donations can even be collected from your website. You can choose whether you want them to be able to pay by credit card and can even allow monthly deductions.

Donors want personalization. No one wants to be known merely as a dollar sign. Reach out to your donors in a personal way. Web-based membership software makes this easy by allowing you to personalize bulk emails and because of the way we send them from our server (directly to each member), they are less likely to end up in a spam folder. Plus your membership management includes touch log capabilities that allow you to track communication with your group. Set reminders for yourself and free your mind for other tasks.

Ms. Andresen ends her article by writing that if you have tried all of these things and you are still falling short, the economy is only partly to blame. Maybe “…you need to join forces with an organization better positioned for outreach.”