Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Social Giving... Philanthropy what are we calling this?

I had the pleasure of meeting with our development office a few days ago. They had been quite hesitant about venturing into social media as a communications tool until now. What is different about now?

1) A local competitor just launched a donation campaign with lots of social media elements.

2) A patient/donor went and started a Facebook causes for the hospital without our knowledge or permission, and with the wrong non profit information!

So, now they want to talk to me.

I went into the meeting with my trusty presentation. I presented the user data I talked about the current online giving trends, and how according to the Washington Post In September, his single biggest month of fund raising, Obama amassed more than 65 percent of his record-shattering haul -- $100 million of the $150 million -- from online donations. Then I started showing examples of our national competitors and their use of social media to raise money... That is when the snickering started to subside.

I all honesty I did not know much about social media in the philanthropy space until I started researching to prepare for this. I learned a great deal from James at Convio. who sent me some great examples of applications. I read a few blog post, most from the Chronicle of Philanthropy... but those left me with more questions than answers.

Then I just started to search. I began to try to think like a donor. Someone who has been affected by cancer, and who might be searching online or in their existing social networks for a way to give back. That is when I started to see some overwhelming trends. I honestly found just a handful of organizations that were even making themselves available to be found and accept financial gifts online for cancer research. Those are the examples I put in my presentation.

For one organization I found at least 5 social channels where they were attempting to raise funds, when I added all of the funds that were donated to them through these 5 channels it added up to over $20,000. Now I know that is not the 10 million dollar gift that some hospitals may be accustomed to. But that is 20,000 that they did not have before, and $20,000 that they spend $0 to solicit for and collect. No mailing, no postage, no donor event... nothing.

In the question and answer part of the discussion there were lots of air quotes being thrown around in disbelief of the intentions "fans" and concern over not being able to "capture" the donor information. A few still did not really understand why or how, but I think the last word came from one of initial naysayers. After all of the discussions he mentioned once again how he could not believe or understand why so many people would put so much information online about themselves... "It must be an ego thing" but he began making an effort to verbalize how he saw this working into his vision of the campaign. He may not have really gone away understanding how it works, but I think that they began to understand that it is indeed going to have to be an essential part of their fundraiser communications mix.

Overall I am excited about working on this project. I love to see the evolution of thinking that occurs as a new group learns this method of communication. I think however this ends up fitting into the donation raising communications mix it will be beneficial to their overall goal of getting people involved in the fight against cancer.

To Do Listen to:
Podcast - Social Good, Host Allison Fine (Chronicle of Philanthropy)

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