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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fundraising and the Nonprofit Board - Amy

In today’s floundering economy, fundraising for nonprofit organizations has become more important and harder than ever. Many Boards are charged with the task of meeting fundraising requirements. So how can a Board use their time more effectively to raise the most money for their cause? With the recent flourish of social media outlets, I think there are several new possibilities for nonprofit organizations.

When someone mentions using social media, there are few people that do not immediately consider Facebook and how it can be used. Facebook has over 500 million users and any given Facebook user has an average of 170 friends. It’s easy to see how quickly one can reach a large group of people by using Facebook for advertising fund raising events. The fact that it is free to post of Facebook makes this option even more ideal.

So how does one use Facebook specifically to fundraise? The first way is to use Facebook is to create and invite friends to your fundraising event through an events page. This allows you to reach a lot of people quickly and for free. In addition, people who RSVP to your event will be reminded of the event as it approaches and hopefully help remind them to actually show up. Another way is to share stories of your organization with ways to contribute and ask for specific needs. The Roanoke Valley SPCA and other animal rescue organizations often post about specific needs for volunteers and supplies. Sometimes people just need to know precisely what your organization is looking for in order to make a donation. I know for me it is easier to think that the SPCA needs more towels and to go round up some old towels in my house and drop them off, than to remember when I am actually spring cleaning.

But Facebook is not the only modern day way to fundraise without going door-to-door or sending out a mass mailing. While I was working with the dog park committee, we found one of the easiest ways to solicit donations was through our website. Several companies make it free or very easy to collect funds for your nonprofit through just the click of a button. This allows people to highlight a specific story or need on their website and then click a button and voila a donation has been made. And in place of going around the office soliciting donations for the most recent walk/run you will be participating in, websites allow groups to set up their own donation page where electronic donations can be made. While one nice thing about this is that you don’t have to hear people tell you no to your face, another is that family and friends that are easiest to guilt into giving you a donation, but don’t live locally, can still be pestered into giving that donation.

Just because the economy is not rebounding as quickly as we had hoped, doesn’t mean that nonprofits are not able to continue fundraising and meeting those financial goals. It just means that some nonprofits may need to get “hip” with new trends in fundraising and marketing and spread their wings a little outside of their comfort zone. Using social media and the internet can be a very effective way to increase or supplement your fundraising efforts.

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