Fact or fiction. Crowdfunding is a viable source for funding your next nonprofit or social enterprise startup. As with most things, crowdfunding is not all the media makes it out to be. Check out the presentation I did below for more information on crowdfunding in 2013.
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?
By Margaret Barry
Dalya Massachi’s book, Writing to Make a Difference: 25 Powerful Techniques to Boost Your Community Impact.
, promises to help nonprofit organizations and anyone interested in social change better communicate their mission to their constituents. The book includes practical advice and 500 examples from nonprofits around the country. Here’s what Massachi has to say about her book:
Q: There are a lot of books about writing for nonprofits—books about how to write a grant proposal, how to write a blog. What makes your book unique?
A: The book is tailored specifically to the needs of copywriters and other staff who write all kinds of fundraising and marketing material for organizations involved in social change. It is presented in the context of the specific communications challenges they face. I provide 500 examples from nonprofits that do it right and organizations that could improve their messaging.
Q: What is the most common mistake made by writers at nonprofits?
A: They don’t focus on the organization’s mission in a person-to-person way. They need to do that not only in the annual report, but also in all other communications vehicles, such as brochures, newsletters, appeal letters and blogs. Your mission is the most important thing to your reader!
Q: Are there other ways they could improve?
A: In the materials I’ve reviewed, there is rampant use of jargon and acronyms. This should be avoided at all costs. The other top challenge is to make sure your writing is concise enough to skim.
Q: What about the nonprofits that cannot afford to hire a copywriter?
A: There are many organizations that don’t have the budget for this, but I’ve found that typically there are people in the organization that are pretty good writers. They can fine-tune their writing by reading books about writing (like mine), attending writing workshops, and forming what I call a “writing circle.” They can choose a “writing buddy” from another department and then edit each other’s work.
Q: Are there other trends you have uncovered in your research?
A: In their appeal letters and brochures, nonprofits dedicated to social change tend to focus on a list of services they offer and not the benefits they offer to the donors. The readers’ response is to ask themselves, “If I donate to this organization, what’s in it for me (or us)?” So the message in these marketing materials should be focused less on services, and more on how the organization makes the world a better place.
Dalya F. Massachi, founder of Writing for Community Success, specializes in helping social change professionals advance their missions through outstanding fundraising and marketing materials – online and offline. For nearly 20 years, Dalya has worked with community-oriented organizations as a trainer, writing coach, grantwriter, journalist, and organizer. To learn about her workshops and free e-newsletter, go to: www.dfmassachi.net. Her book is available at Amazon, her website, and at a bookstore near you.
The folks over at Convio, Inc. announced today their new product “Common Ground Social”. Common Ground Social is a complete, fully-integrated social fundraising solution for nonprofits and their supporters. Common Ground Social allows organizations and individuals to leverage the power of peer-to-peer networks by empowering users to create and share personalized fundraising pages through different social networks with the simple click of a button, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Fundraising activities are then seamlessly shared with Common Ground CRM™ — Convio’s simple, easy-to-use database — allowing organizations to quickly and easily capture all donor information
“Common Ground Social is one of the cleanest designed social online fundraising solutions I have seen,” said Andrew Kerr, development manager for All Hands Volunteers. “It gives us the ability to fully brand our organization and control the message; it is simple to use from an administration perspective as well as from the individual fundraiser’s point of view. The seamless integration with our Common Ground database is fantastic. It eliminates the process of manually entering donations like we had to do with our previous online fundraising portal—that alone will save my development staff several hours a week.”
Check out their video here: http://events.convio.com/product-tours/2011/Common_Ground_Social/
Common Ground Social enables nonprofits to turn their supporters loose in the digital world to share their passion and excitement for an organization’s mission with family, friends and co-workers via a very straightforward, easy-to-set-up interface requiring no technical expertise.
Key features of Common Ground Social include (for both nonprofits and their supporters):
- Simple, Streamlined Interface: Supporters can register, personalize, and share a unique fundraising page in three easy steps. Common Ground is simple for a nonprofit to set up and run.
- Built Into Common Ground CRM: Nonprofits can track and interact directly with fundraisers and everyone who supports their cause — all from Common Ground CRM donor database.
- One-Click Social Sharing: Peer interaction and donations are built into the solution. After creating a personal fundraising page, donors need to only click a button to share with their personal Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn networks. With millions of users spending time on these sites daily, the one-click-sharing provides organizations, and their causes, unparalleled exposure.
- Automatic Relationship Tracking: Common Ground Social and Common Ground CRM automatically create relationships and connections between fundraisers and donors.
- Data Flows Seamlessly: When a donation comes in through Common Ground Social, information about the donor and their gift shows up automatically in the Common Ground CRM database. No importing or exporting needed.
- Control The Message: Default boilerplates and coaching tips help to ensure success.
“Being able to leverage the power of social networks is critical for any nonprofit,” said Tom Krackeler, vice president of Common Ground at Convio. “There are certainly many products on the market that play that role, but none that provide one-click social network sharing capabilities for individuals as well as the the full integration into a donor database that allows nonprofits to develop lasting relationships with donors like Common Ground Social does. We feel this is a game changer for the nonprofit sector in terms of empowering supporters to truly engage with the nonprofits they support in a very meaningful way.”