Squeegie Man Fundraising
Posted by Allison Fine on August 5, 2010
What’s most interesting to me about the story is that one crucial factor is overlooked – how being stopped in the street by firefighters, boots in hand, makes donors feel. Call me curmudgeonly (and you won’t be the first!) but I have felt assaulted when approached this way. Comparing a firefighter to a squeegie many is just awful, I know, but when fundraising this way, courageous, selfless firefighters are doing significant damage to their reputations and relationships.
But the bigger issue is that it runs counter to fostering real relationships with donors that will be more valuable over the long term. It is very short-term thinking, that raising $25,000 this way is more important than the damage it does by forcing people to giving this public way.
It is similar to nonprofits continue to raise funds by telemarketing just because there is a loop hole in the Do Not Call registry that allows tax exempt groups to continue to call. The thinking by organizations raising money this way, presumably, is a simple financial one: for every dollar spent soliciting funds telephonically we’ll make back 30 cents or 20 cents or whatever it is. This is fundraising by spreadsheet. However, fundraising isn’t a financial activity, it’s a personal, human interaction and when shenanigans happen in the sector, when the Nature Conservancy is caught doing financial shenanigans, politicians and their minions set up phoney nonprofit fronts, when the scandal-of-the-month of nonprofit directors moving money around illegally (please note, I am not calling firefighters unethical!!) these are organizations that believe that fundraising is a financial not human endeavor.
I had a fascinating conversation yesterday with my friends at Echoing Green. A question was rightly and smartly posed about how we know if we’re building relationships. And that’s why measurement is so important – and changing with social media. Of course, organizations have to raise money, but building relationships is what will sustain them over time. And it can be measured, we have a whole chapter on this in The Networked Nonprofit.
An organization can follow the bouncing ball of conversations that spread across the web by people who care about their cause. Organizations can watch their networks grow online, the number of blog readers, friends on Facebook and Twitter grow. But they only grow when people feel connected to a real, authentic organization, not a fundraising machine. It is incumbent on every organization to ask themselves where and how they are building relationships, and how they can do it better. This in turn will lead to more money.
This entry was posted on August 5, 2010 at 9:42 am and is filed under Social Media. Tagged: Bruce Trachtenberg, Echoing Green, fundraising, Nonprofit Quarterly. 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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