The Why Behind the Disconnect — Supporters Embrace Orgs Online, but Don’t Give There

The Why Behind the Disconnect -- Supporters Embrace Orgs Online, but Don't Give There

A new research report just released by cause branding pros at Cone shows that 79% of those online are behind orgs harnessing email, Web sites and social media to build awareness, grow giving and motivate action. Better yet, 60% of this group has engaged with one or more cause — from forwarding an email to a friend to purchasing a cause-branded product.

That’s all rosy, but here’s the disconnect. Despite this high level of interest and awareness of causes online, action lags far behind. Only 18% of users have donated via online media and/or done more to help the cause in another way.

Evidently, it’s fear that’s keeping them from giving online. That’s what the research tells us. But I think the disconnect is much greater than that.

My take is that online media (especially via social media tools like Facebook and Twitter) is more about friendraising than fundraising at this point. Dollar and gift counts are low now but are growing and will continue to do.

If you buy my take, then focus on building communities, not dollars. If you hit too hard on giving, you’ll alientate some of your org’s friends, and they are hot prospects for future giving. You don’t want to lose them.

Nancy Schwartz on October 21, 2009 in Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 9 comments
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  • Agree; focus on the relationship and communication, and support will follow in due time. Still, gets hard to hold of the revenue folks…!

  • One can’t overlook the continued uncertainty of the economy limiting donations among passive fb and twitter supporters…but an even bigger issue is the sincerity of those following and RTing cause related tweets. We can all agree that a large chunk of the traffic on Twitter is driven by individuals’ personal/professional agendas (particularly among SEOs and “SM Experts”). Sadly, it seems as though a large portion of cause related RTs/promos (#beatcancer, #socialgood) were done by individuals merely looking to get noticed…with no intent of supporting a cause financially or through volunteering etc. (me…I’m twitter.com/inyourfacebook)

  • Robin

    While my organization is a bit of a different beast given that we’re a federation, this assessment directly mirrors our current strategy: focus on building the community now, and worry about converting them to donors later. Before anyone will give they have to feel invested in the brand and the mission. That takes time. And although I almost hesitate to raise it, I’d definitely be interested in getting others’ take on the possibility of ‘slacktivism’ being at the root of much non-giving [http://bit.ly/GhQQe%5D, and how that might play out in the future.

  • Josh Kilen

    Couldn’t agree more! The same tactics and economic laws that power for profits are going to propel nonprofits as well. 1) Get awareness, 2) build value through beneficial information and value exchange, 3)extend the relationship by asking for commitment. It’s a similar process all around!

  • MD Corner: Social Media or Social Mess?

    (I will preface this post by saying I am a Managing Director and not a marketing expert. My experience with marketing is only tangential, but I feel it ought to be discussed more. So please correct me and let me…

  • I think this take on social media is putting the cart before the horse. In my opinion, social media is invaluable to keeping your past and current supporters up to date on your organization’s activities. Keeping them in the loop with an organization they already are invested in should lead to continued investments and volunteerism. Finding new donors is better done through face to face activities and networking.

  • geoff bridges

    I use this method to advertise to my clients

  • Sue Lawlis

    Wouldn’t it be good to add at the end “[org name] is a 501c3 organization”??

  • MateoF

    Great post Nancy! I was poking around looking for some ideas to help a non-profit I’m helping out with IT support and found your post.

    There’s another similar post here on Relevance – http://relevance.com/turn-your-email-signature-into-a-content-promotion-asset/

    taking the idea to the next level. I’m going to suggest that we start running donation campaigns via the email signature block. Great idea!

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