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I have “Like” and “Share” Buttons. I’m Social, right? Wrong.

26 Feb

This social stuff is overwhelming. Just when you think you have caught up, the target shifts, and you find yourself struggling to understand the next MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest… You can always hire a consultant or ask your niece or nephew to help you understand social, but these approaches are temporary and generally superficial. You can ignore the changes, but you have a feeling you are letting things pass you up, and you worry you may be missing a tectonic shift.

You are right.

Social has changed the landscape of the Internet forever. Remember when you didn’t have email? I do. Or when the Internet showed up in your mailbox about once per week on a disc marked ‘AOL?’ Those days were only 15 years ago, and the next 15 years have similar changes in store.

In the last 5 years, “Web 2.0,” or the “Social Web” has replaced version 1.0 of the Internet. Web 2.0 refers to an Internet where publisher and consumer are one and the same. Everyone publishes, everyone participates. Where once upon a time brands could craft their messages and broadcast them to the consumer public, now the public crafts messages about the brands and communicates those messages to their friends.

Why does this matter?

  • 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations
    • Only 14% trust advertisements
  • 34% of bloggers post opinions about products and brands
    • Do you like what they are saying about you?
  • Nielsen estimates that social media and blogs will reach 80% of all active Internet users
  • One in every seven minutes spent online is spent on Facebook
  • 90% of US households have one or more social media profiles

The world has changed forever. Consumer brands are shifting advertising budgets from traditional media to social media as quickly as they can. 91% of experienced social marketers see positive returns from these investments.

“Okay, okay, okay…. I know that stuff is true. But my business is the business of philanthropy, and my core donors are not of this demographic. They write me checks. For the kids, I put up ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons, and I have a social media director who manages our Facebook page. I spent so much time and money last time around getting my online fundraising pages all working, I can’t possibly fathom doing that again.”


We all spent lots of time and money during the Web 1.0 phase integrating systems, customizing pages, etc. And now that everything works, we’re supposed to change it all again? For what?

This white paper is intended to help by answering two questions:

1) Why do I need to change?
2) How can I do it without letting it take over my budget and management bandwidth?

Question 1: Why do I need to change?

The answer lies in the nature of social media. The social web is an experience that feels a certain way. It is not transactional or ‘one and done.’ It is groups of people who interact with each other. On the social web, you know which product your friends like before you make your selection. You know where your friends went on vacation before you book yours. You see recommendations from friends on movies, books, TV shows… these all influence your decisions. Social means social. It means other people are there—people whom you know. It means people are having conversations and interacting with each other. For non-profit organizations, this is important. Why?

The #1 reason people cited for making an individual giving decision was “personal ties.”

Now think about your online fundraising program. If you are like most, you send out email appeals and drive people to a donation page. That is not friendly. That is not social. That misses the #1 reason for giving—personal ties.

Now consider if the email that got sent was from a friend. “Hi, Susie! I am supporting again this year, and I have signed up to rally 100 of my friends. Will you join me?” That is social. And that will get a positive response 10x more often than an email from your organization.

That’s why you need to change. Because all around you the world is changing, the fundamentals of persuasion have shifted overnight online, and if you don’t get out in front, you will find yourself way behind.

“But my donors are older,” you say. “My donors don’t give online. My online programs only account for 10% of my overall giving.” Okay. Consider this: every day, one of your older donors “graduates out” due to death or retirement or other circumstance. How are you replacing them? I’ll give you a hint: not with your current online donation form. 50% of the world’s population is under the age of 30. And this generation grew up with the Internet. For them, social media is the Web. Static donation forms that are hard to navigate and don’t pull their friends into the experience seem as arcane and out of touch to them as a rotary dial phone seems to us. Sure, it’s cute. But it’s not modern, it takes too long, and it’s going to dissuade me from making a lot of phone calls.

Here’s the good news. That next generation? They are generous. They give 50% more than the previous generation based on percentage of disposable income. Their gifts sizes are smaller, but they give more often. They want to give to causes that communicate with them. And they want to give to causes where their friends are.

Question 2: How do I make a change without disrupting my whole operation?

More good news. This is web 2.0. And along with web 2.0 comes Software as a Service 2.0 (SaaS 2.0). It used to be the case that if you wanted to roll out a new piece of software you had to buy it. And then you had to implement it, which meant hiring consultants to design and configure and integrate it. You were $10s or even $100s of thousands into a project before you could even start using your software.

Software is dead.

In the early 2000s I ran a SaaS 1.0 company. Our software was hosted, so you didn’t have to have servers onsite. But you still had to spend $100s of thousands implementing the software before you could get started using it.

That was then, and this is now. SaaS 2.0 means you can start using it today. It looks and feels like the consumer Internet. You create an account and launch a campaign. It really is that simple. That $100,000 project you did a few years ago to be able to take credit cards online and then log records of those donations into a database? Today my 84-year-old grandma can launch that same capability from her living room. She can create a great-looking donation page and be taking credit cards within 5 minutes. If she has a website, she can embed the donation page on her website just like embedding a YouTube video. And she can embed it on Facebook also.

What about the donation records? All there. Measurement and dashboards are all available at the click of a mouse.

Best of all, the whole thing is social. And I don’t mean social as in it has a ‘like’ button and a ‘share’ button. I mean really social:

  • When you show up, you can see which of your friends are already there
  • When you follow a campaign, you get regular updates
    • When a friend joins
    • When a friend donates
    • When a new photo gets uploaded
    • When someone responds to one of your comments
    • When 50% or 100% of the goal is reached
    • When there are only a few days left…
  • You are encouraged to invite your friends to join
  • Your activity is cross-posted to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or any other profile you request
  • Activities are aggregated and placed on Facebook’s timeline

At this point, it probably seems improbable that the $100s of thousands you spent getting web 1.0 systems up and running were all wasted. You probably think this new web 2.0 approach is overly simplistic and it couldn’t possibly account for all the customization you have done over the years to make your systems exactly match the way you conduct your operations.

You are right. It’s not a full replacement.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Keep your existing database. Online donor databases are not good enough yet to replace what you have. The one exception to this is, which is robust enough to replace any donor database. There are even non-profit configurations of Salesforce that make it look and feel like Blackbaud or Convio. But if you are not ready to switch, don’t.
  2. Embrace the power of ‘and.’ You don’t need to rip out all your existing online work… you can replace it over time. You can start by launching a social campaign or two and then over time replacing what you have.
  3. Go light on integration. If you are keeping your existing database, all you need to do is get information about new donors and new donations into that database. Simple. Keep it that way.
  4. Choose social tools for social programs. The strongest place to use a social fundraising platform like Fundly is in a social fundraising campaign. These are typically campaigns that are designed from the ground up to be social. You may already have some, or you may have been wanting to launch one, but the technology was daunting. Now’s your chance! Here are some ideas / examples:
    1. A “walk for good” (or run or bike or swim or jump or or or…). You can sign people up to participate in your event and give each of them a fundraising page on Fundly to help raise money for your cause
    2. A virtual fundraiser. Pick something you need to fund (a new shed, a new building, new equipment, etc.), and launch a campaign to fund it. People LOVE to know where their money is going
    3. Volunteer sponsorships. Do you have volunteers who travel to help you perform your mission? Let them raise their travel money on Fundly. There are thousands of campaigns like this on Fundly. “Sponsor me to go to Tanzania to help provide sanitary hospital conditions for new mothers.”
  5. Smile! This stuff is fun! Since we’ve taken all the heartache and headache out of the software, you can turn your attention to the fun parts—creative marketing!


If you feel like you are behind in social media, you probably are. If you are nervous about letting that go on for too long, you are probably right. If you wonder if your existing, old-school software company has the ability to bring you into the realm of the mobile, social web, they do not. Social is not an ‘add-on,’ it is a way of thinking that permeates the architecture of a solution.

At Fundly we have built the easiest-to-use, friendliest, most social and most fun fundraising platform on the market. It is trusted by some of the biggest names (Habitat for Humanity, Teach for America, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals), as well as small non-profits you may never have heard of. We would love to help you get started and bring your online fundraising into the new realm of social. We promise not to break the bank or usurp all your management time and energy. Instead, we will make it fun!