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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