by Abigail Harmon
Online fundraising, personal fundraising pages, email signatures, social networking sites, are just a few of the “new” methods for fundraising. But with each new invention, you must decide what you will invest in and what you will ignore. Sifting through the choices is not always an easy task but sticking to general rules of thumb can be.
Before you start a new method for attracting donors stop and look at the decision as you would any other major business decision.
- How many hours do you estimate it will take you for set up?
- What do you expect in return?
- How long will it take to reap the return?
- What will you not be doing in order to achieve this new goal?
As new technology pops up, your organization should be flexible enough to consider the possibilities while smart enough to avoid getting bogged down in every potential windfall.
Examine Everything On A Case-By-Case Basis
Take something like an email signature with a link to your site. It will take under a half an hour from start to finish including creating a template for the members of your organization and explaining how to use the signature. Realistically it will not, on its own, create many new donors, but it could get more people to visit your website. And learning more about your organization is a key step to gaining the investment in your organization that could translate into a donor relationship.
Now, what about utilizing a social networking application like Facebook? You want to meet your potential donors where they are, but until you fully understand an application, proceed with caution. You may have a staff member who says they can easily set up one of the new fundraising applications and even link to their page with their 300+ friends and would love to publicize the organization in this way. It sounds great – 300+ new people who will be sent major updates about your organization with little effort. And let’s face it, your staff member is probably on the site during the day anyway.
But, how are you going to control the message? Who is in charge of it? Is it public relations? Marketing? The development office? The executive director? Is this where you want them to dedicate their time and energy? If you are linking to staff-members pages, do you know whether everything on that page is appropriate to be connected to your organization? Does your employee understand the implications?
Our advice? Unless you aim to be the most tech-savvy nonprofit, no one expects you to be ahead of the curve but every investor in your organization does expect you to be responsible for your image and, in turn, the donors’ image.
This is not to suggest that you should stay stagnant. New technology can help propel you into new places and in front of new donors. And that should be the goal of every organization that wants to secure a stronger future.
Abigail Harmon is Creative Director/Development Associate at Mersky, Jaffe & Associates.