I was recently invited to speak on a panel at the Utah Society of Fundraisers Fundraising Day on women’s giving. Preceding it was a luncheon with keynote speaker Darian Heyman and let me say, WOW!! Darian spoke about the future of fundraising including how social media can be utilized to reach millions.
So how do you go “viral”? He laid out the answer by means of a simple equation, C+C+C=C. Darian explained that in order to have your message go viral it needs to be “COMPELLING” – why should anyone care about your message? Secondly, it needs to be “CONCISE.” Unless your message is to the point and easily accessible, people will miss the purpose. Third, it has to be “CREDIBLE.” In Darian’s words, “Great, so you’ve engaged me and done it quickly, but if you try and tell me that your magic beans are the cure to cancer tomorrow, I’m onto whatever else my fascinating network of do-gooders and colleagues is up to.” The three C’s come together to create a “CONTAGIOUS” message thus going “viral.” This was clearly the secret sauce with the internet sensation the KONY 2012 campaign which was viewed more than 100 million times in just under a week making it the most viral video in history. By utilizing social media to transmit a message the potential for online fundraising or raising awareness is dramatic.
So what does the future look like in terms of online fundraising? According to a report by Blackbaud (“The Blackbaud Index of Online Giving ) looking at total giving for 1,700 organizations of varied sizes the average online revenue accounted for 6% of their overall fundraising revenue. This number is growing with The Index of Online Giving “showing a 23% increase in March to May 2010 revenue over the same period in 2009 across the 1,787 organizations tracked, with large organizations (revenue over $10 million) showing a 28% increase.” If you don’t have an online strategy, you will be missing a potentially very big boat.
Though online giving has huge potential Darian also said that one of the most powerful forms of fundraising ask is the “peer ask.” I loved this as this is what Women Moving Millions is all about. He said that being asked to give to an organization by one of your peers is more powerful than being asked by someone you don’t know and does not know you. Better yet if that person is asking you because you have already shown an interest in the issue areas of that organization. I feel strongly that we have come to rely to much on the development efforts of our NGO partners. Of course professional fundraisers are very important and needed, but it can and should not be a substitute for a committed Board of Directors and current donor network, and now these online possibilities.
Raising money is both hard and expensive. Though the number varies hugely depending on the type of organization it can be said that 10-20% of revenues go towards raising those dollars. If WMM is successful, our measurable impact will be to dramatically reduce the overall development costs for the women’s movement. It was always the vision of our Co Founder Helen LaKelly Hunt that WMM would become a development engine for women’s funds and that continues to be our vision. Current donors should take a more active role in fund raising for the organizations THEY care about most. WMM exists to support these efforts by supporting our member’s philanthropic leadership. Perhaps our motto should be ‘Step up, give and bring others with you.’
The power of the peer ask is what is behind the online potential of fundraising through platforms such as Facebook. When people like you, and you like a cause, and are willing to press for support, money follows. This is especially true for micro-donations where giving a small amount for someone you care about is a relatively easy thing to do it. Though not all small gifts will lead to bigger levels of involvement, some will. Years ago I dreamed that one day we would be able to share with all who are interested the causes and organizations we care most about, and now we can! We have gone from fav book to fav NGOS, social change videos, and more. Further I imagined an “amazon’ type thing for giving where if you shared what organizations you have to, others would be suggested with like missions. I am dreaming this in to our web platform for WMM and perhaps more generally.
Darian’s facts around social media lead to a powerful conversation around next generation leadership. With nearly 78 million baby-boomers and just about 38 million Gen Xers there are about half as many people to take board positions for many nonprofits. We are not preparing our organizations for this potential problem. BoardSource Nonprofit Governance Index 2010 reveled that only 3% of board members are under the age of 30 and nearly 50% of board members were between 50-64 years old. The current age of board members is not an accurate representation of the community many organizations serve. Empowering younger team members to get involved and to get “social” makes smart business sense. One of Darian’s points, which is a bit harsh but ultimately true, “This country is an alcoholic, we have to hit rock bottom to realize we need to change.” Whether it’s in reference to needing younger board members, more female board members or needing more substantial social media fundraising strategies, we’ve got some work to do and let’s not hit rock bottom to make it happen.
You can get a copy of Darian Heyman’s new book, “Nonprofit Management 101: A complete and practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals” here.
Additional resources Darian mentioned-
Social Entrepreneurship Websiteswww.ashoka.org Skoll Foundation Social Enterprise Alliance Tap Root Foundation (Where skilled professionals can donate their time to nonprofits) Social Media for Nonprofits Websites Beth Kanter Blog Social Brite Social Media for Nonprofits Nonprofit Technology Network