November 18, 2009

Fundraising with social media — the right way

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Wildlife Direct harnesses social networks to ‘secure a future for wildlife’

Beth KanterLast week I wrote about a pair of surveys that looked at social media and nonprofits. One came to the conclusion that social media was a waste of time; the other talked about strategic implications on how to be successful.

If you want to be successful using social media in your fundraising strategy, remember:

    Paula Kahumbu of WildlifeDirect

    Paula Kahumbu of WildlifeDirect

  • Build your network before you need it. Don’t have your first interaction be a request for money
  • Focus on engagement and relationship building all the time. You don’t have to be doing it at hyper level at the time, but remember relationship building doesn’t have an on and off switch.
  • Story telling is important – as much as can creatively tell a compelling story, the more success you will have.
  • Should be part of a multi-channel effort — they all work together. What’s important is figuring out the right amount of time to invest in particular channels.
  • Focus on the outcomes and keep reporting on the work you are doing.

Last year, I made a prediction about social media as part of the fundraising mix and I still feel strongly about it:

I believe social media will become as ubiquitous to development offices as is the phone, direct mail, and email. In the next decades, we’ll see rapid adoption of social media for many nonprofit purposes, including fundraising and as gen y’s come into their own as donors. Some of the new tools now being launched to create a single profile that can be used across social networks will as analysts predict make social networks like air. We’re still in the early stages of social media as in the early days of the web and online fundraising, so, we are in the “it’s hype, and not going to last” phase. We’re still in transition and the transition will take many years, but I believe fundraising with social media tools will not just be a niche source of income or novelty.

Peter Dietz, founder of Social Actions, pulled out his crystal ball last year and wrote: “individuals will come to your organization with the expectation of being full partners in your work, not just dollar wells to be tapped when cash is needed. Donations will be a consequence of meaningful engagement, not a measurement of it.”

So, when nonprofits use the best practices around meaningful engagement they see results. Last month at PopTech, I heard Paula Kahumbu, a PopTech Fellow, talk about her organization’s work and use of social media.

A compelling example of social media fundraising comes from WildlifeDirect, a nonprofit based in Nairobi, Kenya, founded by Dr. Richard Leakey. According to Paula Kahumbu, executive director, their approach to fundraising was to build a worldwide online conservancy community. Says Paula, “In 2004, a group of committed conservationists, led by Dr Richard Leakey, became convinced that social networks provided the best opportunity for securing a future for wildlife: an approach that could harness the collective energy of countless good conservationists and combine it with millions of individuals around the world who have a genuine concern for the future of the planets wildlife and unique habitats.”

In 2007, WildlifeDirect had seven blogs in the Democratic Republic of Congo written by conservationists in the field. These blogs raised $350,000 to pay rangers salaries and help save mountain gorillas in the Virunga National Park. Says Paula, “Two years later, have over 70 blogs, donations have risen fourfold, as has website visitation. We treat our donors as partners in our programs.”

Through blogs written about a specific animal by a conservation professional, WildlifeDirect enables individual donors around the world to communicate directly with the people that they are funding. They’ve created a global movement powerful that can respond to any conservation emergency anywhere more swiftly and efficiently than large bureaucratic agencies to reverse the catastrophic loss of habitats and species and secure the future of wildlife in Africa, Asia and around the world.

This post originally appeared on Beth’s blog.Beth Kanter is CEO of Zoetica, a consultancy for nonprofits. See her profile, visit her blog, contact Beth or leave a comment.

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2 thoughts on “Fundraising with social media — the right way

  1. Pingback: Can anyone suggest any affordable wealth manager or family office list databases to use for fundraising? | Answer For Article

  2. Great tips here. It is all about hooking your reader and keeping them there. Unlike what they taught you in grade school you definitely want to front-load and lead with your best stuff. It is all writing to attract.