Technology and Trends to Catapult Fundraising

technology-and-trendsAlthough the fundraising methodology has changed, the formula has not. Inform, engage and invite will continue to drive a solid fundraising strategy, whether for a particular campaign or for an overall comprehensive fundraising strategy. How an organization informs, engages and invites, however, can make a dramatic difference in the results achieved. As new technologies emerge, savvy non-profits have been adapting the ways they solicit donations, attract new donors and retain existing donors. Donna Wilkins, President of Charity Dynamics, a non-profit consulting service that offers a broad range of services to empower non-profit organizations to successfully introduce and execute on-line programs, states text messaging, texting to give, mobile apps and mobile ready sites as the sizzling hot innovations that can thrust an organization’s fundraising to new heights.

Technology has changed the “how” of fundraising, providing new platforms that spur innovation at an increasingly mind-numbing rate. Technology has also changed not only who uses mobile phones and apps, but demographics of donors across the board. When mobile phones first appeared on the scene and then again when Blackberries and “smart” phones surfaced, the users were typically tech-savvy 30-somethings. Now those demographic boundaries are diminishing, expanding the number and types of users, while transitioning mobile phones from a predominantly business application to a primarily social one. As the experience of mobile communications becomes richer, it has redefined on-line uses. What was cutting-edge five years ago is now traditional, making social media an essential component of fundraising that has evolved from experimental to strategic. According to Wilkins, the number one concern of non-profit executives and social entrepreneurs is how to best integrate social media with their overall fundraising strategy. As more non-profits and social enterprises invest resources in analyzing not only the effectiveness of their own social media use, but also their organization within the context of all social media to fine-tune their strategies and dashboards to measure results. Consequently, more organizations are seeking grant funding to conduct this level of intensive analysis.

Wilkins sites the convergence of e-mail, social media and mobile use for fundraising efforts as changing the way non-profits and social enterprises engage their constituents, once again underscoring the need for compelling, integrated messaging that appeals to a more sophisticated donor base. “Messaging must be consistent across all channels; messaging must be more on point,” advises Wilkins.

The most significant change, according to Wilkins, is the improved response to e-mail due to social media links, by providing facebook, smart phone and web applications. With 150 million people accessing mobile apps, the use of facebook remains twice that of any other platform. In fact, studies indicate that within the first 30 days of owning a smart phone, facebook is the number one activity engaged by new smart phone owners. There are still some privacy issues with facebook, notes Wilkins, who is eagerly waiting for a new platform to eclipse facebook. Nevertheless, the emphasis on social media requires organizations to drastically change both the content and display of their fundraising appeals to ensure effectiveness.

Tweet campaigns are still nascent, but donors who routinely tweet, should be viewed as “hyper-communicators” and as such they are twice as likely to tell others about an organization they support. The diverse demographics of a multi-channel fundraising effort must be monitored and managed based on who is using what method to determine the most effective fundraising strategies.

In tomorrow’s post, we’ll see how Jason Wood, Director of Internet Services for iconic Salvation Army experienced a dramatic shift in their fundraising strategies as a result of multi-channeling. Wood will demonstrate how even established non-profits and social enterprises can reinvigorate their core activities and functions through multi-channel efforts.

Photo credit: Barney Livingston