Fundraising Using Social Media Tipping Point
Posted by Allison Fine on January 25, 2010
Blackbaud released a study last year that provided start evidence that fundraising through social media had not yet reached a maturation, much less tipping, point. The study (based on a very small sample of 24 nonprofit organizations that are significant because of their size) revealed that online giving was still just a tiny fraction of giving through direct mail and in person.
However, the earthquake in Haiti may have permanently changed sizes of the fundraising pie slices. According to a new study by the Pew Center for People and the Press, “Haiti Dominates Public’s Consciousness” (highlighted by Lucy Bernholz) 37% of giving since the earthquake in Haiti was giving online or by text message. And, we know that it hasn’t been small change, either, with the Red Cross reporting $22 million raised by text message one week after the earthquake.
So, have we reached the tipping point? I think so, but with a caveat and a caution (you didn’t think this was going to be straightforward, did you?)
Here’s the good news. It is clear that in the time of a disaster or an emergency a lot of people are ready and willing to give donations using social media. Donating by text, in particular, fits the bill perfectly. But millions of dollars have also been raised on Facebook, websites and Twitter.
But, here’s the drawback. One of the first lessons is that giving by text is easy for the donor but not so easy for the organization. It takes some time to set up the donation process with the mobile carrier (isn’t anything that involves a telecom going to be complicated somewhere along the line?) It is a cumbersome mechanism on the back end – it takes time to set up (the Red Cross that is so fortunate to have Wendy Harman on staff had already put this mechanism in place.) More disconcerting there is ordinarily a lag time between pledges made by text and the time the organization receives it because the phone bill has to be paid. The phone companies agreed to pay 80% of donations up front for Haitian relief because of the urgency of the situation. This also raises the issues of pledges made in the moment that may not be paid later by the donor, unlike giving online using a credit card or PayPal.
The other important lesson is that just because text and, say, Twitter worked under these circumstances doesn’t mean that they are appropriate for other fundraising needs and efforts.
So, the bottom line for me right now is hooray for the increased trust and facility with a variety of social media tools that people are showing right now. However, that doesn’t mean that all of these fundraising channels are going to work for every organization in every circumstance. More reason, again, for organizations to continue to experiment with the tool set and focus on building relationships through online social networks rather than just ask random people for money online — and to focus on learning what works for your organization over time.
This entry was posted on January 25, 2010 at 11:17 am and is filed under Social Media. Tagged: Blackbaud, Lucy Bernholz, Pew Center for People and the Press, Wendy Harman. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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