Qui Diaz, Beth Kanter and Geoff Livingston posted a summary of their findings from a recent survey of nonprofit donors and their attitudes about causes and giving online. A common complaint of online giving to date (see previous post about Blackbaud survey here) is that the dollar amounts are too low per donor and donors are tending to be one-time givers. In other words, online donors aren’t the elixir to replace the dying direct mail donors. Here are a few sub-highlights (meaning a summary of their summary) of their survey results from 426 online respondents:
- The axiom that older donors give more because they have more to give doesn’t change because of the mechanism of giving;
- 84 percent of the social media savvy aged 30-49 and 55 percent of those older than 50 used conversational media to discuss philanthropy;
- Seventy-seven percent of those 50 and older and 71 percent aged 30-49 prefer email. Additionally, 45 percent of 30-49 year olds prefer social networks and 31 percent of those over 50 also use social networks;
- Blogs represent the second most viable source of information next to social networks (among both the digital rich and the traditional brackets);
- 81% want information from a highly credible or quality source
• 77% from a trusted organization
• 59% would like to interact with other donors
• 58% want to interact with philanthropic experts
- In summary, nonprofits and charities have a strong opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations (that may lead to contributions) with the social media savvy (30-49 and >50) – especially those who are uncultivated.
Add to this mix the fact that the fastest growing segment of Facebook users are women over 55 and we can see that social networking sites will be rich areas for discussion, organizing and fundraising for causes from now on.
So, the difficult question for nonprofits right now is: how do we navigate from what has been to what will be while still making payroll? To take that question a bit further, it is really about how you can create the capacity within yourself and your organization for seeing the world as it is but moving towards what it will be. And, for right now in this time of transition, we have to do both.
It is curious to me how often a discussion of social media becomes a zero sum game in people’s minds. If we’re using direct mail we’re not raising money online, or everything that was on land has to go online. The world doesn’t work in such stark black and white contrasts, it is, for better and worse, a continuum of grays.
If you’re struggling wtih how to manage the transition to the connected age of the future for fundraising, here are a few steps to help you get unstuck:
- Keep doing what works but know and plan like it isn’t going to work forever. In fact, you should plan that this is the last year you’ll be able to do what you’ve done before successfully. You don’t want to get caught totally off guard like newspapers that thought they had much longer to transition from old to new than they really did.
- Get your conversations going online NOW! Pick one or two places, say Twitter and Facebook, and start talking about your issues and listening to the conversations that folks are having about your cause. Don’t worry if the conversation is small, don’t worry that it isn’t leading to donations right now. You need to practice talking to people online about your cause; these aren’t skills that more traditional orgs have in their DNA.
- Find one fundraising event or idea to take online this year. Use Facebook to ask your folks for ideas for fundraisers, should we pick a day and everyone does their own thing like Red Nose Day, or should we have one event in person, maybe a lower key breakfast this year instead of a fancy dinner, or maybe a virtual event or contest? Don’t prescribe, listen and learn.
OK, those are you marching orders – get going!