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May 27, 2009

Looking at two of the articles I used for research on this topic, I would like to take a moment to consider the state of fundrasing using Social media as a vehicle.  If we look at  the Facebook and Fundraising – No magic bullet article we get the impression that the Facebook causes application is a pretty poor platform for fundrasing. Kim Hart and Megan Greenwell state:

“…it turns out that approach doesn’t always work. The Facebook application Causes, hugely popular among nonprofit organizations seeking to raise money on-line, has been largely ineffective in its first two years, trailing direct mail, fundraising events and other more traditional methods of soliciting contributions. Only a tiny fraction of the 179,000 nonprofits that have turned to Causes as an inexpensive and green way to seek donations have brought in even $1,000, according to data available on the Causes developers’ site. The application allows Facebook users to list themselves as supporters of a cause on their profile pages. But fewer than 1 percent of those who have joined a cause have actually donated money through that application.

Taking this information at face value a non-profit might think twice about using this application.  But then we turn to the article And now, Twitter philanthropy we see this;

““There’s an older mentality when it comes to fundraising, which is, ‘give it to me now,’ ” says Beth Kanter, a new-media consultant and blogger who has written extensively on the Twestival. “But that’s not good fundraising. When you leverage a social network, you can launch smaller, employ the best practices, and gain trust.”Ms. Kanter has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity using her blog and a range of social networks, including Twitter. She says that many traditional nonprofits have been slow to adapt to the realities of the Digital Age. They hold out their coffers, and wait for the money to arrive, without realizing that an effective campaign is built carefully and incrementally using preexisting on-line groups.”

Two very different outcomes. So should we use this technology as non-profits?

Of course.

Is that all we should do?


At the essence of the technologies in the “social network”. Non-profits can’t sit in a room and hope that a post on Facebook will solve all their funding needs. Organizations have to build on all their current work and incorporate new techniques to reach the broadest group possible. Only then will they start to have success with new technologies, and see them contribute to their fundrasing goals.

Once again we see Social Networking as an addition to current practices, not a replacement.

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