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Using social networks to increase your donations

This is an excerpt from Healthy and Sustainable Fundraising Activities by Jenine De Marzo, Anne Gibbone, Gregory Letter, and Catherine Klein.


If you would like to learn how to raise money for your cause without contradicting the physical activity, health, and ecological messages emphasized in your school or organization, add Healthy and Sustainable Fundraising Activities to your library.

Donation Networking

As discussed, any fundraising organization can benefit from a well-organized plan that involves free online tools. One such tool is donation and charity mall websites, which are viable, low-cost Internet fundraising tools. As with Facebook, however, someone (we suggest an adult leader) must set up a basic web page for the group and monitor it.

A donation or charity mall site allows registered organizations to receive a percentage of the purchases made on the site. Some charity malls specialize in schools and school-related groups, (e.g., One Cause at www.onecause.com/causes), similar to the program Box Tops for Education. The entire structure is built on commission. Some websites, such as Bidding for Good (www.
biddingforgood.com/online-auction-services) and iGive (www.igive.com), offer online auction fundraisers. Other sites are not affiliated with shopping or auctions and simply accept donations for a cause. Following are some examples:

  • Donors Choose (www.donorschoose.org). School project requests are posted on the site, and donors can browse and give any amount to the project of their choosing. Once the project meets the desired funding goal, the materials are sent to the school. Donors receive photos of the project, thank-you letters, and a cost report detailing how the donation was spent.
  • ChipIn (www.chipin.com). At this site, groups describe the project they are collecting money for, the amount they want to raise, and the date by which the funds are required. A ChipIn Widget, or application, that can be installed and completed within a web page (groupname.chipin.com) is embedded on the group’s favorite social networking sites, and funds are collected via PayPal.
  • Crowdrise (www.crowdrise.com). This site is a compilation of crowdsourcing, social networking, incentives, and more. Crowdsourcing or crowdfunding are terms used to describe openly calling upon a group of people or a community to carry out a request, perform a task, or solve a problem. Like Facebook, a designee from the group signs up for a charitable profile page. Next, the group starts a fundraising campaign by setting up a project page on the website. The share button on the project page is used to message people using e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or a combination.

Regardless of the social network(s) your group chooses to use, when constructing your online fundraising project sites, you may want to consider the following (Kirkwood, 2010):

  • Make personal contacts. Directly invite people who have an affiliation with the group’s members or governing body whenever possible. Mass or generic postings, tweets, or e-mails can be used to reach a larger audience; however, they can lack a personal tone that makes people feel connected to the group or the goal of the project.
  • Narrate your cause. Describe the project and how it will affect those who will benefit from the funding in detail. Share the meaningfulness of the project and how contributing financially or as a volunteer can make a difference in the lives of others. Describe personal experiences and events that led up to the development of the project, and offer comments from students or community members.
  • Be realistic and relevant. Describe an attainable goal that includes the allocation of funds. Clear and in-depth descriptions instill confidence that you will have a successful outcome. Be creative in your attempts to reach contributors, but provide an easy way to make a simple and immediate donation. Effortlessness is an important aspect of online donations. You can also provide choices­ (e.g., small, noninvolved commitments or larger, more involved commitments) so participants can choose what works best for
    them.
  • Be professional. A well-organized and error-free site is appreciated by the people navigating it and, therefore, can increase the likelihood of contributions. Donors who receive reports of the results of the project may be more inclined to donate again. It is also important to thank and otherwise recognize those that have donated in any possible way.

Read more from Healthy and Sustainable Fundraising Activities By Jenine De Marzo, Anne Gibbone, Gregory Letter, and Catherine Klein.


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