That is one of many, many questions a new City of Austin committee has been tasked to answer. Luckily a smart group of people has been pulled together to answer this question. That group includes me (strangely enough) and I’ve decided to blog about the process. Consider me your inside FOIA person. The committee has been pulled together by the City of Austin Chief Information Officer and is called…ready for this….The Strategic Advisory Group for Community Service, Volunteerism and Philanthropy. What’s the acronym for that?
Austin’s in need of a serious reboot of what we do around all three of those . Why? Well Austin’s on a downward slide for volunteering. Since 2007 we have moved from 5th to 41st on volunteer hours. And as Monica Williams (who joins me on the committee) put it’s in her editorial in her latest issue of GivingCity “Where have all the leaders gone?”
Take a look and let me know what you think. I’ll update you as the committee takes shape and defines a clear vision.
Long time, no talk! In fact I almost let this domain name expire. Life has been insane (which you have seen if you follow me anywhere else). The latest change? Well it’s time for the Fourth Annual Lights. Camera. Help. Film Festival. And that’s happening the same month that my consulting gig just got acquired by PwC. That’s right. What an insane month. But never fear dear reader. This blog is making a come back. Stay tuned for a great ten part series on top trends in nonprofit technology…..coming soon!
Thanks for reading!
A special guest post from our friend Ehren Foss over @ helpattack.
Last month we took some time to plot the history of social media fundraising, and summarized our findings into 10 hard-won lessons of raising money on social networks. It’s relatively easy, with hindsight, to look into the past. But what about the future? What might happen in 2012, or 2015, as more organizations look to their online communities for additional support?
#1 Rewards for Sharing Content
It was tough not to use the biz-speak “incentivize” content in the headline, but this is a very important, and not well understood, part of online campaigns. When Ashton Kutcher donated $1 per MySpace follower to Habitat for Humanity in 2006, he was basically saying “If you follow me, I’ll reward you with the good feeling of knowing another $1 went to a cause you support.”
That basic model continues today – Southwest Airlines gave $1 per #SWAAFF hashtag, Pepto Bismol gave 8 Thanksgiving meals per retweet, and on HelpAttack! organizations like Progress Texas and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are using the Tweets of certain users to drive support.
I think we’re just scratching the surface. As the internet evolves, the cost and difficulty of tracking certain kinds of online actions continues to drop. Thanks to open data interfaces and great tools, we can easily count Flickr uploads, blog comments, YouTube uploads, online gaming achievements, every time someone opens an email or links to a certain URL.
- What if an organization asked their supporters to write a blog post about how that organization has helped them, while a matching donor contributes $10 per blog post? Those people will probably link to the organization in their posts too, improving search engine rankings.
- What if Occupy Wall Street, fighting for mainstream media attention and funds, had asked armchair supporters to give 1c, 5c, or 25c each time #OccupyWallStreet is mentioned on Twitter? As more people participate with donations, the incentive to use the hashtag increases, so more people use the tag, so more people hear about the campaign, and so on.
- What if, instead of those weird, inspiration chain letter emails your aunt always sends you, you receive an email from her where she tells you she’s agreed to give $10 to an organization you support, only if you forward the email to 10 people you know, and they open it?
In these three examples, donations, or potential donations, are used to urge people to take certain actions online. When you those actions up, they can have huge benefits!
#2 Online Currencies
Currently, each organization, or third party tool, that handles your donation has a different donation infrastructure set up. Some use PayPal, some use Authorize.net, some use FirstGiving. This is why you have to enter your credit card again and again! Once you have your payment details stored, you can start using “Give Now” buttons (like Amazon’s One Click Shopping). These gateways also have different minimum donations, policies for tax deductions, currencies, and international policies. It’s confusing!
At some point, someone will figure out how to make this easier for donors worldwide. That someone, rather than being a donation company, will probably be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google, BitCoin, or maybe even Weibo. Apple is notoriously stubborn on the issue, but at some point one of these companies will decide that the benefits of helping society, alongside those of cause marketing and corporate social responsibility, outweigh the benefits of collecting 30% of Facebook Credits or iTunes transactions going to a verified nonprofit or NGO.
Online currencies make it easier to give micro-donations, across borders, in creative ways that harness the social power of the internet. Start looking at the size of those communities versus the cost of implementing donations to your cause in that medium. Worth it yet? It will be.
#3 Respect Your Elders
Billions of dollars of knowledge, infrastructure, study, and effort have gone into direct mail fundraising. The online medium is fundamentally different, but many of the lessons, techniques, and best practices apply in extremely similar ways.
Direct mail pieces are costly to produce: You need to design them, test them, print them, track them, and handle the responses. I think we’ll see more online “pieces” like Apps, Facebook tabs, and websites, that are more involved, costly, and higher quality than what we’ve seen so far, because organizations can invest what they would have spent on postage in a richer online experience.
The direct mail professionals who are retiring are an extremely valuable resource. They know that sometimes you have to spend money to make money, and they know how to track every last little detail. Go out for coffee and learn about the kinds of things you’ll be doing online in 5 years.
We aren’t the only ones guessing what might happen in the future of online fundraising, and remember that most pundits are wrong most of the time. What do you think will happen in the year 2017?
Here’s your chance! The SXSW Interactive Scholarship program recognizes individuals who are using innovative technology and new media to address significant community challenges. This program seeks nominees across all sectors and countries whose innovative, impactful work (whether as a career or avocational passion) helps others. Non-profit leaders, grassroots organizers, individual citizens, and civic-minded entrepreneurs are all eligible to win.
At SXSW, we believe that the strength of community comes from diversity of thought, gender, geography, and background. We strive to achieve this community-centric goal by utilizing a V-O-W-E-L scale of basic diversity principles. See more about the VOWEL judging criteria for the scholarship program here: sxsw.com/interactive/
To enter your essay for a chance to win a FREE 2015 SXSW Interactive registration for you and the person you nominate (or yourself and a plus one), please use the form here: http://adobe.ly/VCNpoO. Deadline for entries is 11:59 pm CT on Friday, July 25, 2014
Hey All! I’m featured in the 14th issue of the NTEN: Change journal is out, and this quarter is all about fundraising.
From Bitcoin, to crowdfunding, to the tricky discussion about overhead – articles cover some of the latest topics in digital fundraising, and opportunities for nonprofits.
This issue is packed with actionable ideas, inspiring interviews, and tips that your organization can use to get ready for the end of the year, if not sooner!
>>Read the June 2014 issue! (online or mobile device)
Here’s a run down of their feature articles:
- Reinventing the Ask: Fundraising in the Digital Age, by Josh Hirsch, The Weiss School and Dave Tinker, CFRE, ACHIEVA
- The Missing Middle: Neglecting Middle Donors is Costing Nonprofits Millions, by Alia McKee, Sea Change Strategies
- Crowdfunding: Tomorrow’s Fundraising Models Today, by Miriam Kagan, Kimbia and David J. Neff, PwC Digital and Lights. Camera. Help.
- Changing the Conversation About Overhead, by Rick Cohen, National Council of Nonprofits
- Bitcoin: A Fundraising Digital Disruptor, by Jason Shim, Pathways to Education
They also go behind the scenes with Kiva, GlobalGiving, Urban Ministries of Durham, and FundsforNGOs, and the Surfrider Foundation reveals the key ingredient that’s needed to complement digital tools for effective advocacy and engagement.
In case you missed this…..here’s our Bitcoin for Nonprofits Webinar in all it’s glory!
Bitcoin is a digital peer-to-peer currency that has been gaining momentum globally. In 2013, Bitcoin had 3.4 million online mentions and many companies, as well as nonprofits, have begun experimenting with emerging digital currencies. Nonprofit Bitcoin experts, David J. Neff and Jason Shim, will help you understand how the digital currency can benefit your nonprofit.
David J. Neff helped PricewaterhouseCoopers (pwc) with an online consumer survey to gather awareness, attitudes, and behaviors about Bitcoin, and he will share some of the findings. What should nonprofit tech, web, digital, and executives know about Bitcoin and its potential impact? What are the risks and benefits? PwC’s point of view is that Bitcoin can be part of an innovative strategy for products, services, and payment systems.
Jason Shim led the Bitcoin implementation for Pathways to Education Canada in 2013, and has advised numerous other nonprofit organizations on how to integrate digital currency as a donation channel. Jason will explain the process of how Pathways integrated Bitcoin and will discuss common challenges around executive buy-in, legal and financial compliance, donation tracking, and security. In this webinar, you will also learn about a funding opportunity that will donate $1,000 USD to your nonprofit if you implement Bitcoin as a donation channel.
- A basic understanding of how Bitcoin and other digital currencies work
- An understanding of the potential impact of Bitcoin and other digital currencies
- How your nonprofit can prepare for Bitcoin
- Learn about a funding opportunity that will donate $1000 USD to your nonprofit if you implement Bitcoin as a donation channel
Who should attend:
This webinar is geared toward nonprofit staff members that work in finance, operations, and fundraising. This webinar is ideal for those that run payment and database systems, as well as payment integrations. It is also a good fit for nonprofit folks who work on digital strategy, and online fundraising.
A Minnesota nonprofit called Spare Key, (which we featured earlier this week) has hired Roerick Sweeney as Director of Crypto currency Development, Markets and Social Engagement.
Spare Key may be the first charity in the nation to hire someone specifically for the purpose of taking advantage of the emerging new crypto currency economy.
“Since late last year Roerick has been providing us with technical advice and assistance, as well as a direct ear to the ground to the crypto currency economy,” said Erich Mische, Executive Director of Spare Key. “Because of his efforts we’ve been able to accept several forms of crypto currency since early 2014, and look to continue to expand our capacity to solicit and accept various forms of crypto currency moving forward.”
Spare Key provides rental and mortgage grant payments to families with critically ill or seriously injured children in the hospital. Since 1997 the organization has supported nearly 2,200 families in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin with nearly $2.2 million in housing grant assistance.
Sweeney will begin by expanding Spare Key’s network of potential donors, as well as expanding the platform of the organization’s capacity to secure new forms of crypto currency.
“Ultimately, our goal is to make a seamless commercial transaction between donors that contribute to Spare Key in the form of Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Vertcoin, and many other charity-focused altcoins and then to make rental and mortgage grant payments on behalf of families by using a donor’s preferred crypto coin,” said Sweeney. “It’s pretty exciting to see the culture of crowd sourcing and micropayments applied to the operations of an established non-profit like Spare Key.”
The organization also has a blog dedicated to crypto currency issues at http://sparekeycryptocurrency.blogspot.com “This is a brave new world,” Mische. “As early adopters we’re excited to see where this journey leads us. As a small non-profit we are eager to find creative and innovative new ways to offer portals to supporters to engage with our mission and support our efforts to help families “Bounce and not Break”. This is a bold effort to see where leaning forward on an evolutionary new economic model could well become revolutionary for non-profits across the globe.”