Earlier today… a toe in the water {revisited} talk

When Brendon Veale from Wellington Zoo introduced me at today’s FINZ Central Division learning lunch he said I was going to shed some light on the world of online fundraising. What a big topic!!. I only had an hour so I quickly let everyone know my slightly narrower focus: an exploration of how to use social media and networking to attract support and get donations.

There was an interest in online fundraising in general, so I was pleased to have found references to some recent guides. As well as the one I mentioned during my talk – The 2008 Online Fundraising Survival Guide: 12 Winning Strategies to Survive & Thrive in a Down Economy, by Network for Good – I’ve listed a couple more resources on a blog post about the talk. See: “A toe in the water {revisited}”, and also my presentation on Slideshare.

My talk was based on an article published in “Fundraising in New Zealand” last September. I suggested caution at the time, and nothing I’ve read nor the people I’ve talked to have changed my mind on that.

I didn’t collect any references from the people participating about good examples of online fundraising using social networks. There is a tentativeness, almost wariness about all this – we know we have to get up to speed, but not just now. As one person I spoke to suggested – they’d need to set aside a lot of time to come up to read about what is required to be successful.

Other questions related to the loss of control implied by using social networks – what happens when your supporters take the message in their hands. What will I tell this boss if things go awry? A perfectly understandable reaction – and something I don’t come up against being a freelancer. However, I do think there are some answers to these potential dilemmas.

I presented two examples of people using for personal fundraising appeals, including Give a little, there were questions about making the leap from using social media like Facebook, YouTube and others, for individual appeals to using them for organisations. While I think it is possible, particularly by empowering supporters to take your cause out there, it’s not something I know a lot about.

I’m naturally cautious about trends and fads, and I’d include twitter amongst those. It’s the latest craze, with no little hype. A few NZ organisations like Greenpace and Oxfam are beginning to use Twittter, and I’m sure they’ll work out if they fit their needs (or just die away). Over on Beth Kanter’s blog she quotes Ivan Booth who said:

Begin with your campaign’s strategy — the food you want to eat. Then determine which technologies will best cultivate the fire within your supporters to achieve the social change you seek.

It’s something I endorsed. (See Beth’s original post “Twitter for Activism Tool VS Strategy Debate and A New Twitter Activism Guide” on 14 April 2009.)

I really enjoyed the session and would invite anyone who attended (or didn’t make it) to follow-up by making comments or sending me questions.

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4 thoughts on “Earlier today… a toe in the water {revisited} talk

  1. Kerin

    Stephen your recent talk at the Fundraising Institiute Central Division monthly luncheon was so informative.
    One aspect of social marketing through interactive media is that there may be a lot of energy put in to maintaining these sites once a posting has been made. Some projects/causes/appeals will have varying success compared to others.
    It may be a matter of looking at which of these sites best suits your organisations’ particular needs, whether it be promoting a fundraising event or a personal appeal there is bound to be one or more of these burgeoning sites that can assist with promotion and getting people involved.
    I liked the idea of widgets or postage stamps that people could download on to their Facebook pages, for example, promoting the causes they supported which in turn could be downloaded by their friends and so on and so on…

  2. Earl Mardle

    Hi Stephen,

    Thanks for the report on the presetnation, I’m especially interested in how you dealt with those worried about losing control of their message, given that they already have.

    Did anyone record it by any chance so the rest of us could see how it went?

  3. Stephen Blyth

    No recording this time – but I’ll try to capture it next time I do the presentation at the end of the month. Letting go as the soul canon for your cause is an unsettling idea, but one people should come to grips with, because as you point out, the Internet has turned traditional notions of control upside down.


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