I know I said this wasn’t going to be about fundraising, so you’ll be surprised that I’m recommending this book to anyone delving into 2.0 for NPOs:
People to People Fundraising: Social Networking & Web 2.0 for Charities
by Ted Hart, James M. Greelfield, and Sheeraz D. Haji
The first section of the book was so relevant to first forays into the online world. The articles talk about relationship-building, that age-old adage that’s the First Rule of Fundraising. And that’s where social networking comes in–how will you ever be able to fundraise from an online community if you don’t have one?!
The book isn’t a ‘how-to’ but rather presents lots of great examples and ideas, and some simple ‘big picture’ steps to getting started in Web 2.0.
Are your websites…..?
Communicating two ways
Responsive to giving, volunteering, and learning needs
Optimized in search engines to locate you
Interactive websites spur action. You can engage advocates, maybe not in the traditional since of political advocacy, but to market your cause. Here’s how: User-contributed content engages even more people who are interested–it’s the power of the group, and the incentive to be recognized and compete–you’ve seen this happen with forwarding of emails. Well, this is the same concept. Organizations just become the host, who can drive the content but don’t control it. (Take a deep breath…ride the wave…we’re figuring out what message control looks like in Web 2.0 together!)
A tip: Take your content to the people–don’t wait for them to come to your website. What does that mean? Set up a Facebook page, find other sites similar to your mission and engage on them, participate in blogs or groups….don’t worry–the first step is understanding the CONCEPT of not having your website be the end-all-be-all of information.
The internet is here to stay. It’s not a matter of non-profits choosing to get on board with new technologies, it’s a matter of when. Starting something, anything, is good, but there’s also an evolution to be aware of–that supporters who are online at 3AM can also be cultivated, join groups, and even rise to your highest level of engagement via personalized content and a one-to-one (as opposed to the internet’s, and many websites, initial one-to-many) relationship.
Providing multiple ways and portals for people to get involved is important, too. Here’s a good way to know if you’re trying the ‘right’ thing–does it make you say ‘COOL!’?, illustrating that first impressions are still important in the online world.
P.S. For those of you who really did come just for the fundraising info, I’m going to be checking out these ‘social networking fundraising’ portals: FirstGiving, Change.org, JustGiving, and Kintera. Theses site provide online tools that allow your supporters to raise money for you. The catch is that they of course charge for providing you with this opportunity!