The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that U.S. charities raised $1.4 billion on-line in 2008, a 22 percent increase over the amount raised via cyberspace in 2007. Ten charities each raised $25 million or more, and three raised more than $100 million: the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund brought in $409 million on-line, the United Way of America $245 million, and the American Cancer Society $101 million.
These results are phenomenal, yet true! It's also worth noting that between 7 percent and 12 percent of the U.S. population donates on-line, reaching $6 billion by 2006. Here are a few ideas on how to raise funds using new on-line tools.
Affiliate RelationshipsCreate a passive revenue stream by partnering with an organization that has products relevant to your members/donors. A portion of each purchase made by the individuals in your database will go directly to your organization.
This strategy requires little resources from organizations and has a win-win outcome for all parties. Donors/members receive a product useful to their needs while feeling good about supporting the charity of their choice (you). Your organization receives additional resources for your cause, and your affiliate partner gets connected to a market that wants its product.
Leverage Traditional E-mailIf you have e-mail addresses for your donors, you can create a series of short e-mails informing them of your campaign and how they can support you. Additionally, board members and volunteers can send messages to their personal networks about the campaign.
Make sure you send a series of three e-mails—a single e-mail will not yield the results you want. Also, make sure to include the benefits to the donors. Specifically, articulate how they benefit from contributing to or participating in the campaign.
Be sure to spell out how you plan to use the funds you raise. In a study about not-for-profits' on-line fundraising strategies, a large majority of respondents said an e-mail letting them know how their donation was spent would make them more likely to give again.
Use Social MediaCharities can tap into networks of family, friends, and millions more through social networking sites. Charities are turning to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and similar sites to connect with donors.
Encourage your volunteers and board members to leverage these sites and others that are relevant to them. In many cases, individuals or organizations can post information on causes that are important to them and encourage their own networks to support them as well.
Why not connect with other like-minded organizations and build your own on-line social network? Sites such as Twitter enable people with shared visions to exchange ideas and build on-line networks for success.
Social networking lets charities nationwide connect with millions more people at low cost, even if it's just to get the organizations' names out.
Many charities say it is worth a try. As Tim Blaylock, head of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme, told the Ventura County Star, "If you were on Facebook and there are 200 million users, if you could get half a percent, it would be huge."
Where selling candy, sponsoring raffles, and holding events such as golf days worked in the past, Web 2.0 technology allows your organization to earn passive revenue that will far exceed the dollar amount earned by old fundraising strategies.
So, open your mind, start exploring opportunities, and remember that the possibilities for earning big bucks for your nonprofit organization are only as limited as your imagination!
Bree Quilty, Sixty Second Parent
© 2009, Bree Quilty
Bree Quilty is an on-line fundraising consultant currently working with Sixty Second Parent, a Web site that provides practical advice to parents.