Attached are some of the highlights of our Twitter chat last month focused on causes.

One of the challenges we hear repeatedly from senior not-for-profit executives (hell, we hear it from the for-profit suits too) is that this “social thing is a necessary evil maybe even a nice to have, but show me the money. Feed me the ROI.”  So we were curious whether social media and online community building is producing the goods in the competitive world of fundraising, so we asked:

Q5: Has social media success equaled fundraising success for your organization? #wikichat

Perhaps our most polarizing question. Some adamantly claimed no and others claimed most assuredly yes, with results to boot. The general tenor was that for the right audience and/or motivation it could help deliver funding but really, there were a broader set of benefits and impacts at play by engaging in digital.

Not surprisingly, our audience was positive about the digital return on benefits, believed that impact was being created and also had faith that in time, as new digital behaviors mature, fundraising could become more predictive in social/digital arenas.

Here’s what you said:

@kimberleycanada No, not at all. SM does not drive revenue. SM is about donors 15 20 yrs from now. Progressive orgs will build a network now that will drive revenue later. #wikichat

@smallchangefund Depends how you define ‘success’. Not directly impacting $ but indirectly, yes SM is successful for us!

@lowaterkeeper Two completely different measurements, apples to oranges. That said, we have gained a lot of leverage though SM

@movember @adamgarone Yes, social media success = fundraising success. Our Facebook integration raised $6 MM, Twitter $130K during Movember 2010. Friendraising through social media is key to Movember’s success!

@canadahelps We’re seeing growing #s (traffic & conversions) from FB, but still low. Twitter & other SM tools don’t drive much directly

@kidshelpphone We use social media for fundraising sparingly, preferring to use it as a forum to connect about the cause. #wikichat

@wharman @redcross Absolutely. Think it’s bc we made mission impact our bottom line instead of fundraising.

@UNICEFlive We use social media for both fundraising and advocacy, with different definitions of success.

@josh_greenberg A concern of some NPOs I’ve worked with (researcher/consultant) isn’t social media efficacy (they get it) but ethics (privacy)

@tanialittle Social media only drives fundraising revenue if its built into a fully integrated strategy, but alone no

@natureConsCDA social media is more of a communications than a fundraising tool for us — it’s all about opening up new conversations. : that said, we have used it to promote and communicate some of our initiatives like our alternative gift-giving program

@fairchancedc This is the first year we will have been on fb or twitter leading up to our annual Butterfly Bash – so we shall see! (hope so)

@b_west Indeed, every org has specialists hiding inside that they’re not aware of. Identify them

@WWFCanada @sarafalconer Yes – some of it is possible to track immediately, but no matter how you measure it relationship-building is key to fundraising

@NGObuzz We use social media for both fundraising and advocacy, with different definitions of success. #wikichat

@endstigma Social media is almost a stewardship tool in that donors follow us to know how their support is making a difference

@AIDSLAW Not yet! We’ve been too busy building our networks and strengthening relationships online. Hopefully in time!

@edwardbase22 And use Facebook to build the individual/corp donor relationships, fund raising, updates, campaign, etc yes we seen donations from social media fund raising efforts!

@slutwalkTO Wouldn’t be what we are without social media. Word spread across the world (100+ SlutWalks) fast in 4 1/2 months

@hivgirl great thing about Twitter is that you can tweet strangers generally and when they see your cause you can have strangers sign on

@YSM_TO Maybe and yes. It’s hard to track definitively . People know about our name. That may translate into $ and/or volunteer time

@snotforprofit Many orgs have those dual missions like @UNICEFLive – raise revenue & deliver programs, have to build editorial plan

@rjleaman true, Twitter is one of the few social networks where it’s okay to talk to strangers. That’s gold for nonprofits

@tanialittle another key point of consideration is: is ur event geared towards twitters major demographic – be… (cont) Excellent comment, but you’d be surprised how many org. don’t have (or make the tim… (cont)

@snotforprofit Expectations for SM fundraising need to be realistic (“$1 mill from Twitter!!!”) <- may disappoint #wikichat

@claudiapetrilli but, why would you even try if you don’t have a strategy? every fundraiser effort needs a strategy

@sickkids We’ve noticed an uplift in traffic to our fundraising sites – but making connections is equally as important

@josephfreeman We’ve done some here. More successful when keeping people in Facebook environment. Drive them to your page

@tanialittle  if ur event is geared towards twitters major demographic – then SM + leveraged awareness = greater fundraising

@firstwheat Social Media doesn’t drive #fundraising but enhances, we increased proceeds by 6% with S.M.

@tanialittle Social media only drives fundraising revenue if its built into a fully integrated strategy, but alone no. Yep

@jolkona We hv few fundrasing events in the pipeline but struggling to figure out the best way to promote via SM.

Our next Twitter Wikicauses #wikichat is July 26th, 2011 3:00-4:30pm EST on Twitter – (hashtag #wikichat) Hub accounts (@wikibrands @artezonline @seanmoffitt @snotforprofit).

If you work in or for not for profits, causes, charities and CSR efforts,  take our first annual WikiGood survey too – chance to win and get first crack at the research.

If you’d like to meet us in real-life, join us at the Artez Interaction Conference Sept 29th in Toronto for a one-day look at social and mobile fundraising strategies.

Also contribute to our WikiCauses white paper, your chance to direct the insights of our global study of engaged not-for-profits.

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