A debate kicked off online yesterday on what impact — if any — can social media have on charitable fundraising efforts.
On one side, few charities have truly embraced social media as another fundraising channel; less than 3% of the 11,196 non-profit groups that responded to the Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark survey say that they raised more than $10,000 on Facebook in 2010 (via The Chronicle of Philanthropy).
On the other hand, according to Anthony Sicola of NetWitsThinkTank.com, charities that have taken a holistic or integrated approach to fundraising — combining multiple social media tools with the more traditional approach of email or mailed requests — saw their fundraising increase as much as 40% compared to peers that didn't use these social tools.
Sicola lists some things to think about when integrating social media tools into a fundraising plan (via NetWitsThinkTank):
Facebook-Allowing your participants to sync their Facebook account directly from their personal fundraising headquarters allows them to update their current fundraising goal to friends, family and colleagues and provides a direct link back to their personal fundraising page. This one is all about simplicity…sure, anyone can update their Facebook status with a link to their personal fundraising page, but if you're offering your participants a way to do it that's integrated with their fundraising headquarters, you'll see more participants sending more messages…and in turn raising more money.
Twitter-140 characters isn't a lot of real estate, but if event managers allowed participants to link their Twitter account to their personal fundraising page, those participants could engage their Twitter network with fundraising updates and a link back to their page so people can donate. Again this is about simplicity- anyone can update Twitter, but allowing participants to do it directly from their headquarters is easier on them and will get your message out to their network.
YouTube-A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Well how many words is a video worth? While a static image can help your participant personalize their fundraising page, just think what a video could do. A personal message directly from your participant about why your cause is so important to them will help them achieve their goals.
The take-away? Social media tools can have a positive impact on fundraising as long as charities are savvy about the approach.
For a grassroots take on this issue, I recently heard about this young man who helped build a boat for school children of Zamboanga City, Philippines, with a help from Facebook.
Last October, Jay Jaboneta attended a blogging summit in Zamboanga City. While at the summit, Jaboneta heard a story about a group of children who were swimming a half a mile each day just to attend school. The story moved him so much that he posted an update to his Facebook wall that night. Almost immediately, one of his friends started an online fundraising campaign among friends, and in less than a week, the "Zamboanga Funds for Little Kids" campaign had raised $1,614.39.
"I never thought a Facebook update could help us raise almost $2,000 in one week," Jaboneta told me via email. "The money was used to build a boat so the little kids in Zamboanga City no longer need to swim to school. We've built one already, and we're now raised enough funds to build two more boats."
Their campaign, which simply started as an update on Facebook, is even beginning to look like a more traditional not-for-profit, Jaboneta says.
"The project is now a small-scale charitable operation in coordination with local volunteers, national donors and myself. We are also looking at how we can improve the livelihood opportunities of the kids' parents."