News From NTC: New Reports on Social Media, Donor Management Systems

During this week’s Nonprofit Technology Conference, two new reports have been released:

  1. Nonprofit Social Network Survey Report by Nten, Common Knowledge and The Port shows that social networking has become an integral part of nonprofits’ online strategy.  A recent Washington Post article suggested that Facebook’s popular Causes application has not been successful in fundraising in comparison with email appeals and other more traditional ways to generate donations.   But Beth Kanter points out that the value of tools like Facebook can’t be measured only in terms of money raised.  I agree – when my marketing director recently asked me for fundraising results from our Facebook page, I pointed out that generating buzz and engaging constituents in our organization is also valuable.  Beth suggests we seek a metric to measure this.
  2. Idealware and Nten‘s Consumer’s Guide to Low Cost Donor Management Systems suggests looking at what features you need in managing your donor relationships before reviewing specific products.  Sadly, how often do our organizations go through this type of detailed evaluation before selecting a product?  Sometimes the problem isn’t the product, it’s the processes within the nonprofit and the training (or lack of training) that is provided to staff.  Make sure your database has a way to integrate with your existing systems – see my recent post on Reporting Across Multiple Systems.

Nten has also provided a way for those of who couldn’t attend NTC this year to participate online.  Make sure you take a look at Holly’s version of Beyonce’s Single Ladies.

Using Social Networking Sites to Attract Constituents

At the quarterly Not-for-Profit Webmaster Round Table meeting this week, I initiated a discussion on social networking, stimulated by Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal article, A New Generation Reinvents Philanthropy. In addition to the popular MySpace and Facebook sites, the article mentioned many new ways in which our supporters are finding to raise money for their favorite causes.

David Milner, who has run the webmaster group for several years, raised an interesting question.  If pages are created on these new sites and successfully generate interest in the organization, this will hopefully increase traffic to the nonprofit’s main web site.  But if the nonprofit maintains the MySpace and Facebook sites while neglecting its own web site, how will this come across to the constituent?  I also asked – how does the nonprofit decide which content to put on these sites while making sure there is consistency with its own web site?

The social networking sites present an interesting opportunity for us to engage a new audience.  It is likely that visitors will seek out an organization on these new networks before visiting an organization’s main web site.  So we’ll need to make sure that our nonprofits have a presence on these new sites while also keeping our own web sites fresh.  This will be a challenge, but it’s easier to go where our constituents are than hope that they’ll find our organization web sites.

In addition to MySpace Impact and Facebook’s Causes, other sites mentioned in the article that are attracting interest especially among younger constituents include, DoSomething, Firstgiving, GiveMeaning, Kiva and SixDegrees.

Tips on Raising Money with Facebook

Carie Lewis, Internet Marketing Manager at the Humane Society recently blogged about her organization’s success in using Facebook on Wild Apricot’s non-profit technology blog.  Major points:

  • Through collaboration with Project Agape, which runs the Facebook Causes application, they’ve had success in connecting with constituents who are active in other nonprofit organizations with similar missions
  • MySpace or Facebook?  Although it’s a bit early to know for sure, so far they’ve had more success with fundraising on Facebook and advocacy on MySpace.
  • In addition to Facebook Causes, they’ve also participated in applications available at and Care2

Many specific suggestions in getting the most in engaging constituents through Facebook are in the blog posting, Using Facebook to Spread Your Message.

An interview with Project Agape staff about Causes Facebook is available on the Non-Profit Tech Blog.  Causes has raised over $300,000 in only a few months of operation!