Philanthropy 2.0 Study Results

9 years ago

Source: Philanthropy 2.0 Study


Last week,  Geoff LivingstonQui Diaz and I posted a summary of our findings from our Philanthropy 2.0 research, a survey of the giving habits of the social media savvy, over at Mashable.   I'm using this post to roundup the reactions to the study and add some more context.

A common critic of online giving through social media is that the dollar amounts are too low per donor and donations tend to be transactional, not relationship-based or one-time donors.   This has been found in a number of surveys over the past few years (see Allison Fine's astute commentary on the recent Blackbaud survey here)

If we look back a year ago at donation trends on Facebook Causes, we also see the same complaint.

But, we know that the demographics of social networks are aging (see my round up the recent research about babyboomers on social networks) and we are beginning to observe that the social web is becoming more of a place for fundraising for causes as well as philanthropic discussions.  

As we wrote in the Mashable post:

While the social web has been a fantastic place for nonprofits to harness the long tail of giving with movements like Twestival and the Case Foundation’s Giving Challenge, high dollar donor cultivation has not been prevalent. The goal of our Community Philanthropy 2.0 survey one month ago was to determine whether there is potential for nonprofits to cultivate significant donors online (defined as someone who gives $1,000 or more), and how that can be accomplished.

You can read about the rest of the findings on Mashable, but there were a number of good points made about the challenge of transitioning to social media infused fundraising. While there may be tremendous opportunity, your organization won't be able to reap the benefits if it is stuck in doing the same strategy year after year.

Allison Fine offers some great advice for getting "unstuck" 

  1. Keep doing what works but know and plan like it isn’t going to work
    forever. In fact, you should plan that this is the last year you’ll be
    able to do what you’ve done before successfully. You don’t want to get
    caught totally off guard like newspapers that thought they had much
    longer to transition from old to new than they really did.
  2. Get your conversations going online NOW! Pick one or two places,
    say Twitter and Facebook, and start talking about your issues and
    listening to the conversations that folks are having about your cause.
    Don’t worry if the conversation is small, don’t worry that it isn’t
    leading to donations right now. You need to practice talking to people
    online about your cause; these aren’t skills that more traditional orgs
    have in their DNA.
  3. Find one fundraising event or idea to take online this year. Use
    Facebook to ask your folks for ideas for fundraisers, should we pick a
    day and everyone does their own thing like Red Nose Day,
    or should we have one event in person, maybe a lower key breakfast this
    year instead of a fancy dinner, or maybe a virtual event or contest?
    Don’t prescribe, listen and learn.

I'd add to Allison's point about finding a low risk experiment that you can learn from.   I've outlined a methodology for this based on David Armano's Listen, Learn and Adapt.  Carie Lewis from the Humane Society of the United States has used this approach with impressive results over the last three years.

You have to think of your "experiments" as one part learning, and the other part building up your online
network of donors.   It takes time, but does show results as the comments on the original Mashable post seem to indicate:

Two years ago The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada established a
presence on Facebook and incorporated guidelines for our Chapters to
establish their local groups. This integration has lead to lead to 7
Chapter groups communicating local news to their community and a
national group with over 3,400 people sharing their stories and

Since then the Foundation has ventured out to
many of the social sites, spreading awareness about our cause and
connecting with supporters. We have experienced great success with
wishes granted, funds raised and ultimately; relationships built.  Find your supporters; engage them, create trust and your organization will reap the rewards.   Jennifer Paterson Dempsy, The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada

The 12for12k project -
- has been successful at attracting all kinds of donors, with $1,000
coming from at least one corporate sponsor. We have also had great
gifts donated for giveaways and that has helped us achieve fantastic
support and awareness. We are also about to announce a new corporate
sponsor who will be donating a percentage of every sale they make.

project has been driven purely by the partners giving up their time for
free, and the fantastic support of donors and supporters since the
beginning. As a long-tail project (12 months and ongoing
awareness and support for the charities involved) it's proving to be a
useful social media for good project. Danny Sullivan

Kari Dunn over at the Social Citizens Blog offers some great points about the importance of having your donors make an emotional connection with your organization - and that donating time is a way to accomplish this. She references the work of Jennifer Aaker at Stanford University and her research that supports this notion.

This leaves me with some questions for all of you as you think about moving forward with a social media strategy for charity or fundraising:

  • What are best small learning pilots to get started to attract bigger dollar donors through social media?
  • How is your organization planning to incorporate a social media strategy in your fundraising efforts to attract larger dollar donors? 
  • What are the challenges?  What works?

Beth Kanter, BlogHer CE, for Nonprofits, writes Beth's Blog

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