A Swing and a Miss

I was out picking up lunch the other day when I was accosted on the street by one of the ubiquitous (at least in the DC area) attractive young people attempting to raise funds for a national charity (whose t-shirt he was wearing).

The pitches usually range from annoying (“Do you have a minute for X cause today?” Uh, I might have a minute, but we both know that’s not what you actually want…) to the downright offensive (“Do you care about X cause?” thus implying that if I don’t open up my wallet for you on the street, I’m a hard-hearted jackass.)

Obviously, the practice works (otherwise they wouldn’t do it), but I wonder if there’s any way to calculate (or even estimate) what it costs them in lost revenue from people who, like me, get really annoyed and vow as a result never to give to that organization?

So what’s the moral of the story for associations?  Don’t annoy the audience you’re trying to reach, even if it seems like it might be effective – for every person who gives you $5, there are countless others who’ve now decided your organization will NEVER be worth their support (and some of them might’ve been worth a lot more than $5 to you).

Twitter Story: Fundraising

I have to admit, I don’t have a story to relate about using Twitter for fundraising. And in fact, the whole issue of social media and fundraising is a bit problematic, to say the least.

A lot of cause-related nonprofits were really excited about the potential of the Facebook causes app – until they realized that, while it’s pretty easy to get people to join/be a fan of your cause, it’s not so easy to actually get them to open their wallets – Facebook causes provide a very weak sense of affiliation.

Blogging is a great way to raise awareness of issues (just Google changeblogging if you don’t believe me), but again, most blogs don’t see enough traffic to generate a lot of cash (and I’m not even talking about fundraising asks here – I’m talking about ads, product placements, and endorsements).

You know what’s still the most effective way to fundraise? Direct mail. You know what’s still the second most effective way to fundraise? Email campaigns. No skool like the old skool.

But some organizations have experienced success using SMS, and that leads us to Twitter. Much like it’s older sibling, Twitter can be a great way to raise microfunds. Now for the average association, microfunds may not be worth it – the funds we need to raise tend to be more in the major donor/capital campaign arena or be related to advocacy work (which comes with a whole range of legal requirements that would be tough to verify in 140 characters), so getting $5 here and $10 there may not seem worth the trouble.

But Twitter provides, as always, another platform to get the word out. Are you going to recruit a major donor through Twitter? Probably not. But you can use it as another method to maintain your relationship with an existing major donor. Can you run a capital campaign entirely on Twitter? Probably not. But you can use it as another way of spreading the word about your campaign and providing campaign updates. Can you do your silent auction 100% on Twitter? Probably not. But you could allow people who aren’t present to bid via tweet. And if you have a compelling story and a connected group, you’d be amazed at what you can accomplish in a short amount of time.

And I haven’t even touched on the concept of Twestivals.

What is your organization doing to get the word out about your fundraising goals? Could Twitter help?