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The Fundraising Payback of Social Media

There’s much talk lately about social media (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blogs, etc.).  In fact it can at times feel like the beginning of a cult.  And there is increasing pressure on nonprofits, in the midst of an increasingly difficult fundraising climate, to jump on the social media bandwagon.  Blogs and journals are riddled with articles about how to dip your nonprofit foot into the social media space.  And there are some good tips.  But the bottom line of all of them is just to try something, jump on Twitter, set up a Facebook page, start a blog.  You don’t need to do it all, just pick something.

But in the middle of everything else a nonprofit staff is working on, with tapped out resources, an increase in demand for their services, and doubled efforts in fundraising it can seem that social media is just something for which there is no time or resources.  And what is the payoff anyway?

Well, Roger Craver, a fundraising consultant with The Agitator, has done some pretty interesting calculations on what the fundraising payoff to experimenting with social media could be.  For an organization with 100,000 donors, a social media fundraising campaign, asking donors to reach out to their networks and fundraise for you, could raise over $500,000.  The nonprofit provides a social media tool, for example a Facebook, Twitter or other tool that their donors can use to encourage their friends and family to contribute.

Craver has some interesting math, but basically the idea is that 2.5% of a donor base could raise $210 each.  So, for an organization with 100,000 donors that translates to $525,000 per campaign.  He doesn’t extrapolate this to smaller organizations and really all of this is projection anyway, but what if?  Take an organization with a donor base of 10,000 people.  2.5% of those people raising $210 each would be $52,500.  This is for one campaign that probably cost the organization nothing, beyond minimal staff time.  That’s pretty impressive.  That could replace the revenue from a time-intensive and expensive gala.

But how does an organization get started?  There are two simple solutions that have been generated here in Austin.  First, Charity Dynamics created a Facebook application that allows nonprofits to do this very thing.  And Kimbia helps you create a very easy online fundraising widget that people can send out to their networks.  There are also some Twitter applications, like Twitpay that allows people to donate to organizations via a PayPal-like extension of Twitter.  Donors simply Tweet their donation amount to their intended recipient, in any amount under $50.  And new applications are being developed every day.

So don’t be afraid.  Just get out there and try it.  Despite the many social media “experts” out there, this space is new for all of us.  All of it is an experiment.  There’s no such thing as failure.

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Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009 Fundraising, social media 5 Comments


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