Great presentation on the emerging philanthropic web by Christine Egger of Social Actions

I had the very great pleasure last week of finally meeting face to face with someone who I can honestly say has changed the way I think about online fundraising over the last 18 months or so – that person being Christine Egger of Social Actions.

I first came across Christine and the work of Social Actions back in early 2009 when I blogged about their ‘Change the Web Challenge’. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to share ideas on open source thinking and the evolution of online fundraising and wider microphilanthropy through numerous email, Twitter and Skype exchanges with her – every one of which has left me with an excited “now I get it” feeling about what the future of online microphilanthropy might hold.

So, when the Institute of Fundraising asked Jason Potts and me to plan-out the Digital Fundraising channel for their National Convention here in London, Christine was naturally top of my list of ‘big thinkers’ to get onto the convention platform. Which is why we finally came to be having coffee in the Convention Hotel last Monday morning.

You can see Christine’s Convention presentation above – or even better view it on Slideshare here complete with full notes to help explain the finer intricacies of “Designing and aligning for the emerging philanthropic web”.

Grab yourself a cup of something, sit back, and take some time to think through the ideas Christine shared in her session – from understanding where open giving markets fit into online fundraising to ideas on how to design your own activities to take advantage of the way the philanthropic web is developing, it’ll be time very well spent.

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Advice on Twitter use – based on what top US companies are NOT doing

It’s often the way with things like Twitter that you tend mostly to hear stories about how well people are using them. Which can leave you with something of an inferiority complex about the fact that you haven’t actually had time to begin testing them properly – because you’ve been too busy raising money.

With this in mind, it’s worth taking a quick look at a free report just released by PR Agency Webber Shandwick entitled ‘Do Fortune 100 Companies Need a twittervention?’ – because their research revealed that as much can be learned from what big US companies are doing wrong as from what they are doing right when it comes to Twitter use.

Apparently 73 of the Fortune 100 companies are on Twitter, with 540 Twitter accounts between them. However, half of these accounts have fewer than 500 followers, three-quarters rarely ever tweet, and 81 are inactive – either abandoned after a specific event or simply placeholder accounts protecting against brand-jacking.

The report goes on to consider whether the accounts convey any form of personality or particular tone of voice – with over half registering a FAIL on this. It also examines how the accounts are being used, and then offers a summary of best practice – comprising advice which is as relevant for non-profits considering adding Twitter to their online communications programme as it is for big corporates.

Overall, the report concludes that for the majority of Fortune 100 companies Twitter remains a missed opportunity – which will hopefully make any fundraisers with a Twitter inferiority complex feel just a bit better that they’re not so far behind as they might have thought.

There is no doubt that Twitter can form an effective part of your online programme. But its use has matured extremely quickly and with this have come certain specific expectations on the behalf of Twitter users – which can only be met if you understand and follow best practice when you’re using it.

It’s no longer sufficient just to get your organisation a Twitter account and then play about and see what happens. At best that’s likely just to be a waste of your time and at worst could have a negative impact on your brand in the eyes of those online consumers you’re looking to engage with. Over the last couple of years there have been masses of different reports written on what to do and what not to do – so start by learning from other people’s successes, and failures, and then you’ll be in a far better position to capitalise on whatever Twitter-based opportunities might be out there for you.

For more specific guidance on using Twitter for non-profits, here are a couple of guides to start you off:

If anyone has other non-profit specific Twitter guides that they would recommend, then do share details of them by leaving a comment below.

 

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15 UK organisations competing for 2009 Non Profit Website of the Year

The Twitter feeds are starting to run hot with requests for Followers to vote for the various sites nominated for the 2009 People’s Choice Website of the Year Awards, with the full line-up of shortlisted nonprofits looking like this:

2009 markes the sixth time these awards have been organised by online research agency MetrixLab and they are apparently the  “largest annual ‘people’s choice’ website awards” around, with members of the public ranking the sites based on ‘design’, ‘navigation’, and ‘content’.

Awards aside, it’s also interesting from a general online engagement perspective to browse the shortlisted sites to see just what the different organisations are doing to make their websites especially attractive to online consumers.

Unfortunately, what is most striking is that so many of the landing pages deluge you with so much information and so many calls to action that you end-up with an engagement opportunity overload likely to lead to option paralysis for all but the most focused visitor. I’m not going to name and shame the worst offenders – as I’m sure you’ll spot them if you have a browse.

However, there are some noteable exceptions. British Heart Foundation goes for a cleaner approach, with clear integration with its current advertising campaign and iPhone-like buttons for “quick links”. Likewise, WWF’s homepage goes for simple clarity from the outset – with a wonderfully striking close-up of a Tiger staring out at me and then two columns entitled “We do…” and “You can…”, alongside four clear engagement buttons.

Greenpeace’s blog-style landing page with calls to action in the sidebar also works for me, helping me focus on the key things they want to tell me about the UN Climate Summit (including a great embedded YouTube video) while still making clear the range of personal responses I can make.

Voting in the awards is open until 8th December and the winners will be announced on 15th December.

 

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Help with writing your Social Media guidelines – from over 70 different organisations

Social Media Guidelines

The incredibly fast adoption of Social Media over the last couple of years has left many, if not most, organisations in something of a spin – as, in very short order, something that was at first dismissed as the preserve of the young and the geeks has become an unavoidable key component of mainstream communications.

With this recognition has come the need to better understand and manage the use of social media by organisations – including charities and other non-profits – leading to the desire to develop social media guidelines to help ensure that everyone across an organisation works together to get the most from this new technology. However, this is not as easy a task as it might sound. Where do you start when trying to write guidelines for something that is, at its heart, often about engagement through spontaneous, unstructured conversations?

Well, one very handy place to start is Chris Boudreaux’s Social Media Governance website, where he has very helpfully collated links to social media guidelines from over 70 different organisations – including the American Red Cross and Easter Seals, as well as a diverse range of other corporate and public sector organisations.

While the very organisation-specific nature of Social Media usage means that it’s unlikely you’ll find an exact fit for your own guidelines – reading how others have approached the same challenge should certainly help you set off in the right direction.

 

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Some interesting thoughts on Quantum Fundraising

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There’s an interesting article by Jon Duschinsky in the latest edition of the Resource Alliance eNewsletter, where he introduces the concept of ‘quantum fundraising’ as a way of explaining how people increasingly want to come-together online to make something happen – but then to disband and move-on to do something different elsewhere. Jon says…

People are increasingly self-organising and using the tools of the flat world platform – the web, networks (physical and virtual), tribes, omniscient communication – to effect change in different ways. Linear society is fading from our present. We have entered the age of quantum society, where people come together under a shared vision to effect change before disbanding and going off to do other things.

He goes-on to examine what can be learned from Obama’s grassroots fundraising activity as a guide to how to make quantum fundraising happen as well as to highlight what he believes to be one of the Obama team’s few errors – going against the quantum fundraising idea by trying to maintain the community that formed to get him elected when the mass of those involved have moved-on to other things.

It’s well worth a read as a fresh take on the challenges fundraisers will face in the future as they seek to engage with supporters in our networked society.

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Other related Giving in a Digital World posts:

What is the future for membership organisations within our networked society?

Social Actions – open source microphilanthropy in action

US retailer lets donors choose in Facebook charity campaign

I just spotted this fun video from the American Red Cross encouraging people to vote for them in the “Bullseye Gives” campaign being run on Facebook by US retail chain Target, and it reminded me that I’ve been meaning to mention the campaign since it launched earlier this month.

From May 10th to May 25th, US Facebook users can go to the Target Facebook Page and vote (once daily) for which of the ten charities listed they would like to receive a share of a $3 million donation from the retailer. The charities in the list being the American Red Cross, the National Park Foundation, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Operation Gratitude, Feeding America, the Parent Teacher Association, HandsOn Network/Points of Light Institute, the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Kids In Need Foundation and the Salvation Army. After May 25th the final voting results will be announced and the $3million split between the charities accordingly.

It’s classic viral marketing stuff – authentic, very simple and highly ‘share-able’.

And, of course, the power of it being on a social network like Facebook is that each time someone votes they can also publish that vote on their Facebook feed so all their friends see it – and so the reach of the campaign grows and grows, without the need for lots of forwarding of intrusive emails to your friends.

Apparently Target has been giving 5% of its income to charities since 1946 – which now adds-up to $3 million a week. But this campaign clearly represents an excellent new way to spread the positive brand impact of this long standing philanthropy and attract massive new numbers of fans to the brand’s Facebook Page – currently standing at 322,916.

It’s also a far cry from the Facebook promotional tactics that Target got accused of back in 2007. When it was criticised for encouraging members of its ‘Target Rounders’ word of mouth marketing programme for students not to mention their association with the brand when posting positive comments on the newly launched Facebook page.

Looking down the comments on the Target page today, the vast majority are highly positive – presumably without any form of encouragement other than the great opportunity being offered to help raise funds for a preferred charity. So, the shift to an authentic and honest reason to enthuse about the brand looks like a good lesson learned by Target’s marketing people – and it’ll be interesting to see if they roll-out the campaign beyond May as an ongoing part of their CSR programme.

2009 email fundraising and advocacy benchmark report just released

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It’s May again, which means that the latest update of the annual M+R and NTEN eNonprofit Benchmarks Study has just been released.

The study, which provides cause-specific benchmarks across a range of email metrics is based on data from 32 US nonprofit organisations, but I’ve always found the results to be a good steer for European nonprofits too.

The headline take-out is that despite the recession most of the organisations taking part in the study saw their online fundraising up overall from 2007 to 2008, driven by more donors giving online but at lower average values than seen previously.

Beneath this overall trend is a wealth of data across both fundraising and advocacy activities that anyone involved in email communications is bound to find useful.

You can download a free copy of the 2009 report here.

The eNonprofit Benchmarks Study was first released in 2006, so it offers the potential to examine the latest data in the context of previous years to illustrate some multi-year trends. Unfortunately the latest report doesn’t provide much insight beyond the 2007 to 2008 comparisons, but you can still download the 2008 Report and also the 2006 Report (there wasn’t one in 2007) to look at the trends yourself.