This is the first of a four-part series of frank talks on social fundraising and its effect on the future of your non-profit with Managing Partners Todd Levy and Paul Ghiz of Global Cloud, the makers of DonorDrive Social Fundraising software.
Social fundraising goes from the “new” way to raise to the way.
For many executive directors, it’s evident that what’s worked in past to raise funds is no longer working. Legacy methods that were successful for so many years just aren’t pulling their weight anymore. And despite dwindling intake, it’s common that a board of directors and established staff might not see a need to change. You can only use the bad economy as a scapegoat for so long until the reality hits that while your organization founders, so many non-profits that are embracing social fundraising are prospering, some even finding it to be key to their growth strategy.
It’s often the undertaking of an executive director and the forward thinkers on staff to pry fingers away from past ways and drag their non-profit, kicking and screaming into the present, sheerly for survival of the organization.
Don’t lose dollars because you’re no longer connected.
Non-profits have always depended on being connected. In the past this has meant being physically connected to donors with big checkbooks. But today it means something very different.
Todd: “Social fundraising is almost a reboot of how we look at donors. Non-profits have said for years: if the donor gives under $50 a year, it costs too much to keep talking to them. The organization may take the money, but they don’t establish the relationship. Now step forward to today. What social fundraising does is give an organization the ability to look at that $50 donor and see that person has a network of $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 in donations. That’s where I think the exponential gain is. You really have to look at donors differently now. It’s more about their network than their wallet and that’s what you’re tapping into.”
The old donor is literally a thing of the past.
Face it, the traditional philanthropist may be headed for extinction. In 2010 The Chronicle of Philanthropy saw the top 50 U.S. philanthropists give the smallest amount in over a decade. While this rose in 2011, non-profits are still wary of whether the big donor is dependable anymore. A Non-Profit Finance Fund survey conducted this year shows that 87% of causes don’t expect their financial outlook to improve in 2012. And we’re seeing more evidence of the disappearance of the big donor worldwide. The British government noted a 2011 drop of 33% in giving among UK’s top 100 philanthropists. So how is it that so many of our DonorDrive clients are raising record amounts in their events and campaigns? The answer is that social fundraising appeals to a different donor.
Todd: “Instead of big money people, it’s key influencers. What’s great about social fundraising is that you not only get the influencer’s network, but you also have the ability to reach out to their extended networks. So that’s the exponential growth that we deliver in constituents and donors.”
Paul: “Social fundraising allows a cause to tap into someone who’s an influencer that has maybe a thousand friends or a thousand followers. In very short fashion they can drop a note and those friends will listen. Even if you convert a small percentage, that’s okay. You’re that much larger as far as your constituent base and the people that you’ve reached.”
Todd: “We have very specific metrics that show that people who link their Facebook and Twitter with DonorDrive deliver more dollars than those who don’t. We have clients seeing increases of 400% for Facebook alone. Numbers like these might get the interest of a reluctant board member, but it’s just as helpful to understand why social fundraising is successful.”
A better medium to tell your story.
Todd: “Where social media excels is in telling the individual story.”
Paul: “You go where the people are and share a story that pulls on the heartstrings. You form a relationship and share good conversation. That person is more likely to refer their network or to make everyone aware of the good things that your cause is doing. And their friends are more likely to click the link that he posted and learn more about your org.”
Todd: “It’s a much more authentic ask when a friend or family member asks you to support the organization that you may or may not be familiar with than if you get called by a stranger who works for the organization.”
Paul: “As soon as you can engage someone in a conversation that touches on passions and shares a compelling story, just like in any relationship, your heart grows fonder to that individual and you’re more likely to reciprocate by donating or participating.”
Listening for a change.
At one time that small donor was completely ignored, but now non-profits are discovering just how valuable social fundraising has made them.
Todd: “I think non-profits need to take heed to the creativity that these fundraisers are developing on their behalf. I think they could get a lot of great free communication points that way. It used to be that a constituent just passed along the organization’s script. Now through social media you can put your thumbprint on it and make a unique request.”
Paul: “Many times organizations are forgetting about the listening component. It’s not that you’re going to flip a switch and the flood gates are going to open. Across social media, you can know exactly where these donors are congregating. When a non-profit joins the groups and joins the communities that those who are most passionate about their cause are members of, the first step is to just listen to what they have to say. Soon you find the opportunity to join the conversation and add value to that conversation, which will raise your awareness of that community and raise their awareness of you.”
The downside of living in the past.
It’s hard to judge which is bigger: the benefits of social fundraising or the risk of not fundraising socially.
Todd: “The true danger of not using social fundraising is that there are discussions and interactions that you’re missing out on. For non-profits who are replying on traditional mediums (like direct mail) the return on investment just isn’t there anymore. Especially when you factor in how the postal service is changing dramatically too. They’re not able to get the message out. It’s a matter of change or perish.”
Paul: “If you don’t, you’re going to get left behind. Your donor pool unfortunately is going to expire. Youth is on social media, but they’re not necessarily the fastest growing segment. Mom and Dad are catching up. Grandma and Grandpa are catching up. You’re going to miss the boat if you don’t tap into those communities. Not to mention it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to reach more people.”
“The first step in convincing your non-profit to get effectively involved in social fundraising is that it’s the space where funds exist today and it’s the way that people want to give. If your donations haven’t grown or have been down over the past few years, these cold stats can be helpful in proving your point to the old guard within your organization.”