Talking Online Fundraising with the Center for Nonprofit Success

Yesterday I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion about Online Fundraising: Harnessing Technology to Build and Maintain Relationships sponsored by the Center for Nonprofit Success.  My co-presenters included Olivia Harris of the Bond Street Theatre, Brian Reich, author of Shift and Reset, and Stephen Streicher of the Princeton University Pace Center for Civic Engagement.

We began the 3 1/2 hour session with brief presentations.  Olivia suggested engaging supporters to help raise funds, and suggested utilizing free research available from site such as HubSpot.  I then followed with ideas on how to Kick Start your Online Fundraising, such as tweaking your donation form and developing a multichannel approach.  Then Steve reminded us that good communication starts within our own organizations (if we can’t communicate well internally, how can we do it well with constituents?).  He also encouraged our audience (mostly small nonprofits) how even the smallest organization can be a big communicator using currently available tools.  Also, make sure donors can see their role in stories you share.

After a break, Brian challenged us to ‘stop doing what’s not working’ and that we measure our nonprofits not only to each other, but to online vendors such as Amazon since this is the type of customer service and responsiveness our constituents are accustomed to.  He also explained how phones have changed everything since we can ‘get information when we want it – don’t have to wait.’  In response to a question, he suggested (and I agree) that instead of only providing an annual report, we provide ongoing feedback to our donors on how their contributions are helping others.  (Kivi Leroux Miller also has many resources covering this topic.)

As expected, our extended interactive discussion with the audience was the most stimulating – for us and hopefully for them.  Some key takeways:

  • if you’re on Facebook, you MUST be ready to have a conversation, not just post updates.  If you’re not getting likes / comments to your posts, you need to try something different to encourage interaction
  • want a novel way to thank donors?  Do a monthly conference call with the ED, invite constituents to participate and record so others can listen later.
  • don’t build a mobile app (too expensive and high barrier to entry) – focus on having a web presence that is optimized for phones and tablets
  • you must use a tripod when making videos – no one will watch a shaky video
  • repurpose content for different communication channels, but make sure you optimize them for each platform

Thanks to everyone for participating in our session!