Online fundraising is all about how you engage your community. Christiana Sterigou from Scribbly Bark shares what she has learned recently and shows you how you can become an online fundraising superstar.
Fundraising is not all about Facebook, Twitter, blogs and websites. Fundraising is about things like storytelling, engaging, asking and thanking. That's why I was so relieved to meet AJ Leon, digital problem solver, New Yorker and sometimes fundraiser, at the International Fundraising Congress (IFC ) in the Netherlands last October.
AJ was at IFC sharing the story of his work with Global Hope Network International (GHNI) to raise $72,000 in three hours with a mobile phone and a $250 budget to fund change in the village of Ola Nagale in Kenya.
It sounds simple, and a significant part of the simplicity is that it doesn't rely on the latest whizz bang technology. I was relieved to hear AJ say that we will never be able to keep up with technology. Instead, he believes that three main concepts - digital storytelling, influencer outreach and the donor experience - will remain a constant when it comes to raising funds online, regardless of the technology at hand. And these are the main tactics in his digital fundraising model.
AJ believes future of giving will be at the local project level. A basic fundraising principle is that 'people give to people' and so he forecasts that more people will want to give at a project level and feel that they are directly connecting with the people that they help, rather than giving to an big organisation or a brand. Perhaps one day soon, logos could be a thing of the past, because the internet is giving people direct access to the people that organisations help.
The way to get your message across is with stories. "Without stories you raise no money. With no money, no work gets done". AJ was instrumental in helping the organisation Epic Change develop its "Twitter Kids of Tanzania" campaign, where laptops were provided to kids in a Tanzanian school for which Epic Change was raising money. The kids introduced themselves to the world via Twitter, shared their stories and connected directly with donors. As a result, Epic Change, a relatively unknown organisation, raised $100,000 to fund a library in the school.
AJ's calls his fundraising model 'unfundraising'. It is all about getting influential people to tell your story for you, and to share it with their communities. He suggests some influencers are simply "geeks with lots of friends" and classes himself this way. In the online world, there are followers, fans and influencers. It is the last category that can incite people to action.
Finding these people is not about how many followers you have, it's about the type of followers you have. He says, 'go deep not wide'. Build relationships, rather than focussing on the numbers. Comment on blogs, retweet their news, engage without asking for anything first. And, offer stories that they may want to share.
For the Ola Nagale village in Kenya, GHNI was able to connect with a high profile blogger, who had posted some comments on the GHNI blog. The manager at GHNI picked up the phone and asked for her help. As a result, she visited the village in Kenya and then shared her experience with her subscribers and followers.
For AJ it is important that donors become part of your story and part of your family. He feels that the 'donate now' button is a dreadful invention, and instead, he focuses on the power of 'joining'. The power is that they become part of you and they can experience the things you do, sometimes even firsthand. He uses three traditional sales techniques to promote this:
Now I'm sure you do want to know what technolgoy enabled this project. It goes something like this:
You can connect with AJ here.