Friday, May 30, 2014

BIG’s Blog: Online Tools Can Help Supporters Raise Funds From Their Networks

The above title, Online Tools Can Help Supporters Raise Funds From Their Networks, was an article published May 29th in The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s online edition (I don’t read their dead tree printed version). They even have a section called “Online Fundraising.”

So you read the headline and ask yourself, “Do our supporters have networks?”

Frankly, your question is a good one and points to a big (no, make that a huge) problem for you and your fundraising organization. The truth is YOUR supporters DON’T HAVE networks, at least not in the sense that the article is describing them. Your supporters have friends and family … but not networks.

Your supporters, who were 99.9% acquired via direct mail, are mostly in their 70s and 80s with a few in their 60s sprinkled in. Most use a computer and some use tablets and smartphones. But these folks don’t have networks in the sense that the Chronicle is describing a network.

The article is describing online networks of primarily friends. It is talking about younger people who use social networks and other online channels to stay in touch with their friends daily… if not more often. It is a concept that people over 65 find hard to grasp. “Why would anyone need to connect with their friends hourly?”

The point is that this “online network phenomenon” is not remotely a part of the vast majority of your older, direct mail-acquired donor’s life experience. And that means it probably isn’t important to your fundraising team’s plan.
Yet there is the article about “networks” and supporters in The Chronicle of Philanthropy.  

Whose supporters are they talking about?

Do you think the Chronicle would be writing an article about “networks” if they weren’t important?

A part of this blog’s readership has already shifted online. Many have been through our online learning program. They actually get what the authors of the article are writing about and, for them, it is valuable information. Valuable … as in, it is information they can use to grow revenue for their organizations.

But for too many reading this post, it seems unnecessary … even worthless. It just doesn’t connect to your supporters . . . at least your supporters today.

So how many more articles, association sessions, or webinars about online fundraising are you going to attend while nodding your head in agreement before you go back to your fundraising organization and actually make online growth part of your fundraising?

And sorry, being online is more than having a website, sending out email blasts and having social media pages. Come on, how does that generate new supporters and, ultimately, revenue?   

I mean seriously, today you are not only hurting your career by delaying … you are now beginning to seriously impact your organization’s financial future.
Wouldn’t it be nice to read a fundraising publication story about online fundraising and be able to say, “We’re already doing that!”

Isn’t it time to figure this online thing out?


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