Online fundraising is growing but still only represents >8% of total fundraising in the U.S. And fundraising through social media channels such as Facebook is even less strong. However, social media will deliver long-term revenue growth if nonprofit leaders make a strong commitment now.
As posted on the blog of the Philanthropy Journal, which quotes the Blackbaud Index of Onine Giving Report (July 2010):
Online fundraising grew 34.5 percent in 2010, compared to the previous year, and accounted for 7.6 percent of total fundraising, a new report says. Large organizations posted 55.6 percent growth in online fundraising, compared to 22 percent at small nonprofits and 15.9 percent at medium-sized nonprofits…
In The Networked Nonprofit, Beth Kanter quotes Betsy Harman, a fundraising consultant, who really hits the nail on the head:
“Any nonprofit who thinks they can simply put a ‘donate now’ button on their website, or slap up [a] Causes page on Facebook and wait for the money to roll in, doesn’t understand online fundraising.”
There is still such a thing as donor cultivation, even online. The same principles of building relationships apply. In fact, Beth even sets a time schedule:
“Building an online community of supporters who want to donate can take six to eighteen months.”
Yet they have cultivated other “offline” donor and volunteer relationships over months, years, and even decades, if they’re lucky. Each one of these relationships started somewhere, probably with a small commitment. So although social media fundraising may seem like the online equivalent of a bake sale now, it has very large potential for the future–and not just in terms of money.
As Beth says,
“People are partners, not ATM machines.”
She also quotes another consultant, Ivan Booth, who says that social media helps cultivate relationships with passionate supporters, “giving them ways to speak in their own voice” and “connecting them with other people.” You’re allowing them to tell your story, or their own story as it relates to your organization, thereby turning them into evangelists. You’re building community around them, which eventually magnifies the effect of your fundraising efforts.
As you read this today, July 15, I’m in Santa Cruz hearing Beth Kanter speak. Check back here soon for more wisdom I’ve learned from Beth .