May 28, 2010

24 tools for fundraising with social media



How to raise money to support your favorite cause

Target audience: Nonprofits, social change organizations, cause supporters, businesses

By Vivian Ramirez and J.D. Lasica
Socialbrite staff

In the old days — before 2005, remember? — we would solicit our friends to raise funds through walk-a-thons, cake raffles and similar homespun events. If you were raising money for a favorite cause, you’d look to your immediate friends, family and co-workers.

Today, social media has changed the game. With the surge of Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, you can reach a much wider audience to raise money for your cause. The success of such online efforts varies widely: 30,000 runners in the Flora London Marathon raised $7.3 million through the online fundraising platform Justgiving. On a smaller scale, the Trail of Tails Pet Walk and Festival raised $41,000 for the Jacksonville, Fla., Humane Society using social media tools. And New York dancer Amanda Gravel raised $988 using the widget ChipIn for the campaign against breast cancer.

How did it work for them? Social tools now make it easy to solicit donations using fundraising widgets or badges, social networks like Twitter and Causes (part of integrated with Facebook). With Network for Good or PayPal usually handling the transaction, the solicitors can concentrate on sharpening their message and targeting the right recipients. Not all take the same approach: Some let you add advertising to your site, or create personal webpages, as a way to support your cause instead of ponying up dinero.

Depending on the size of your campaign and budget, cause advocates and small nonprofits now have lots of tools to choose from — further down, we’ll tell you about the ones for mid-size and large nonprofits. (See last month’s 10 mobile apps for social good for ideas on how to donate or volunteer using mobile devices.)

Here are 24 tried-and-true tools for online fundraising. Have we used them all? No. But if you’ve used some of these, add your observations. And we know there’s a 25th out there, so tell us your favorites in the comments below.


ChipIn: The easy way to collect money

1ChipIn is the most popular widget used by fundraisers today for distributed fundraising. It’s a simple tool you can place on your website or on a Facebook profile page. It amounts to a donate button that comes with a thermometer that measures the campaign’s progress. If you don’t have a site, you can subscribe to ChipIn and they’ll host your campaign for free. Subscribing to ChipIn is free, but you’ll need to set up a PayPal account to process donations. Every monetary contribution made through ChipIn is charged at a rate beginning at 2.5 percent of the amount donated.


GlobalGiving: Donate to grassroots projects

2GlobalGiving is an online marketplace for philanthropy where anyone can post an idea and get it funded. The nonprofit connects donors with community-based projects that need support in the United States and abroad. You select the projects you want to support, make a tax-deductible contribution and get regular progress updates — so you can see your impact. The organization sustains itself with a 15 percent optional fee you can add so that 100 percent of your donation goes directly to the project.

change-org Empowering people to take action

3A social enterprise, helps to raise awareness about important social causes and to empower people to take action, chiefly through partnerships with leading nonprofits. Actions might range from joining an organization and making a personal pledge to signing an online petition or calling a congressperson’s office about an issue like homelessness or sustainable food. In addition to signing petitions or leaving comments, you can raise funds by creating a page with photos, videos, logos and supporting materials.’s fundraising pages use donation widgets with progress thermometers that track the amount raised. Basic membership is free; it costs $20 a month for those who want customized pages. Donation processing fee: 4.75 percent for every transaction.


ChangingThePresent: Make the world a better place

4ChangingThePresent is a nonprofit that connects you with more than 1,500 meaningful if nontraditional charitable gifts — for instance, “stop global warming for $20″ or “adopt a tiger for $40.” Browse by cause or nonprofit to find a gift for friends or for your own charitable giving. The service also encourages donors to make simple donations of any amount through their home pages. A premium profile costs $100 per year. Donation processing fee: 3 percent of each donation plus 30 cents.


Razoo: Experience the joy of giving

5Razoo is a new way to donate and raise money online. Whether you want to donate money, run a fundraiser for your favorite nonprofit or raise money as a nonprofit, Razoo offers simple, secure tools to achieve your goals. A nonprofit based in Washington, DC, Razoo helps donors find inspiring giving opportunities and helps nonprofits and volunteers with fundraising pages, social media tools and donation processing.


Causes: Empowering anyone to impact the world

6Causes is a wonderful way to gain attention for a cause. Co-founded by Sean Parker, an early member of Facebook’s executive team, Causes allows fundraisers to solicit donations from their own contacts and recruit volunteers who want to participate on behalf of a cause. People who use the site as a way to socialize can also participate in fundraising ideas by posting Cause profiles on their Facebook page. Donation processing fee: 4.75 percent through Network for Good; only Facebook members anyone can donate.

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October 8, 2009

How social media can give a face to the homeless

Guest post by Kari Dunn Saratovsky
Case Foundation

Armed with just $45, a laptop, and a small handheld camera, Mark Horvath set out on a journey that will forever change the face of homelessness in America. I had the opportunity to catch up with Mark as he made his way back to California following a cross country-road trip that documented stories of the homeless through a series of powerful, raw, and unedited videos — all of which can be seen on his vlog,

So, how do you raise awareness about a cause you are so passionate about with no money and no consistent resources to lean on? You put faith in the kindness of others, you leave a lot to chance encounters, and you leverage social media in ways that you never thought possible. Continue reading

September 5, 2009

How the government can help spur social innovation

White House push for social innovation from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

By JD Lasica

At the Social Capital Markets conference this week, one highlight came in the opening keynote and panel discussion with Sonal Shah, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, who spoke about the federal government’s support for innovative, bottom-up social and community programs. Above is a 2 1/2-minute snippet. Some highlights of her talk:

• She talked about allocating resources toward high-impact models through the Social Innovation Fund that was part of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. The Foundation Center has the details.

• She underscored the need for working across sectors, with the federal government playing a role to bring together nonprofits, the private sector and government agencies.

• Shah also pointed to the need to identify tools to help foster a culture of social innovation. (Perhaps Socialbrite can play a role here.)

I had my hand raised throughout the Q&A session but wasn’t called on. I would have said: Many people in the audience no doubt have some ideas on how to move this agenda of social innovation forward. Aside from the handful of foundations and nonprofits in contact with your office, how can we do so? What’s the best public forum? Where should these conversations be taking place?

By Beth Kanter

I was fortunate to have a press pass to SoCap09 this week, which got me a front row seat for the keynote address by Sonal Shah and panel discussion with Andrew Wolk, Root Cause; Vanessa Kirsch, New Profit; and Carla Javits, REDF, moderated by Jeff Bradach, Bridgespan Group.

Sonal Shah gave an overview of the goals and strategies for the Office of Social Innovation. Nathaniel Whittemore of, who was sitting next to me, has a great write up of the keynote. Marco Puccia has notes here as well.

I live tweeted the key points.  The main themes that resonated for me:

  • Don’t get distracted: Sonal Shah warned, “Don’t think about us as the ‘office that does cool stuff.’  She was warning against shiny object syndrome and used a different “s” word.
  • Government and feedback loops – how can they take the field’s learnings and incorporate in theirs?
  • Measurement is the major theme as the sector grows up. There was an emphasis on finding consistent or standardized quantitative benchmarks.
  • However, there was also a plea not to make evaluation painful, collecting huges amount of data and not using it to improve a program.
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May 28, 2009 Turning concern into action Helping you take action online from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaOne of the most impressive and influential sites in the causes space,, has really come into its own in the past six to eight months. The social enterprise is helping raise awareness about important social causes and empowering people to take action, chiefly through the efforts of leading nonprofits.

Here’s an interview I conduced with Ben Rattray, founder and CEO of, after a meetup at TechSoup’s offices in San Francisco. Ben describes the organization this way: “We’re an online community and media network for social issues, focused on engaging and informing people about the most important issues of our time — global warming, homelessness, fair trade — and compelling them to take action.”

Actions might range from joining an organization and making a personal pledge to signing an online petition or calling a congressperson’s office about an issue. “This is one of the things we’re most interested in innovating on and partnering with other organizations on — finding the most powerful actions possible for people to advance issues they care about.”

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May 18, 2009 adds Jobs for Change

Amy Sample’s Jobs for Change is a career service and jobs marketplace that aims to help people find and develop a career they love in social change — which for them means nonprofit, government, and social enterprise jobs. To do this, they’ve hired a team of career advisors who will each be writing a daily blog to provide advice and guidance to a different demographic of job seekers – from College Students to Sector Switchers.

You can also ask the team of advisors any question you’d like and get a public response, sort of like Yahoo Answers but powered by experts. Excerpt:

We are currently building the largest database of nonprofit, government, and social enterprise jobs on the web and have just hired a team of career advisors to provide daily advice and guidance to help people of all backgrounds find and develop a career in social change. We have also partnered with more than a dozen leading organizations that will give Jobs for Change reach to millions of people interested in deeper civic engagement.

I am curious how Idealist and Social Actions play into this since they are the most frequently visited/used sites by myself and others I know to find both jobs, volunteer opportunities and more in the social benefit sector. I’m also excited to see how the advice and question/answer content develops. After the site is past this initial launch, it’ll be nice to relegate some of the home page to valuable content, too (and not just logos of partners).
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