More examples of online community fundraising initiatives from Holland

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Online Community Fundraising was one of the big discussion topics over at the Dutch National Fundraising conference back in November, so it’s no surprise that since then I’ve noticed a growing number of new examples of fundraisers in Holland making use of social media to engage with supporters and their personal social networks online.

A couple of the latest have been health charity Astma Fons and the team behind the annual Radio 3FM ‘Serious Request’ fundraising campaign on behalf of the Red Cross – both of which have joined Vogelbescherming Nederland in making use of the YoCo online community fundraising platform.

Meanwhile, new Dutch crowdfunding start-up Play It Forward looks to have slipped its launch date just a little – with the launch countdown on its holding site now indicating a live date in February.

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More encouragement for smaller UK charities to start fundraising online

I doubt if there can be many fundraisers out there who would claim that online fundraising does not represent a significant opportunity for income growth (if they do then I can only assume that they’re intending to retire within the next 5 years or so). Even those in the most sophisticated organisations generally admit that they are only just beginning to tap into online income potential. However, I do meet quite a few – particularly from smaller organisations – who admit to holding-back on online fundraising because of a lack of experience, resources, or budget (or all three).

If this is you, then don’t worry – you’re not alone. Research undertaken this year by sector think tank nfpSynergy revealed that only 41% of UK charities with under £1m turnover actually have the facilities to accept online donations. Given that the majority of the UK’s c200k registered charities raise under £1m, that’s a lot of fundraisers missing-out on the opportunity to generate income online.

Fortunately there was some news earlier this month that will hopefully generate some discussion amongst the missing 41% and help motivate more of them to think about fundraising online. Everyclick, the UK search engine that donates 50% of its revenue to UK charities, has launched a new online fundraising platform adding personal sponsorship fundraising pages, ecommerce, and eVouchers to its secure online donation and search fundraising services.

Of the three it was the personal sponsorship pages that I was most interested to see, as they enable charities of any size and level of experience to offer online donors the ability to set-up their own fundraising page to raise money from their friends and family – and so tap into the growth of Community Fundraising 2.0.

Unfortunately, I must admit to being a bit underwhelmed by what they’re offering. Given the length of time that such services have been available from competitors such as JustGiving and bmycharity I had hoped that Everyclick might have taken the opportunity to leapfrog them and offer a richer fundraising environment. Perhaps with such things as video and blog functionality to really help individuals engage with their personal networks. Instead, the pages only provide the basic minimum of functionality, with tabs for the fundraiser, their charity, and a list of people supporting them. Embed code is provided for a simple widget and search-related income can be allocated to individual pages, but that seems to be it. Have to admit it all looks a bit old fashioned and seems like a missed opportunity for Everyclick – especially given that they’re the company who launched the innovative Santa Swing video campaign last Christmas, providing personalised video cards (with your friends dancing as Santa or an Elf – still live and well worth a look).

Financially, the heart of Everyclick’s competitive proposition is that more of the money donated goes to the chosen charity, thanks to their charging a 4.8% all-inclusive transaction fee which it claims results in its charities receiving £12.20 from a £10 credit card donation with Gift Aid compared to £11.93 from “a leading competitor”.

Clearly when comparing the different companies providing these types of service, transaction fees are an important consideration. But both the functionality and look and feel of the pages that can be created are also very important – increasingly so as people get more used to creating their own rich media online profiles at social network sites. So I’m really surprised that none of the UK companies providing these services has yet broken-away from the basic ‘electronic sponsorship form’ page style.

However, at the end of the day the fact that such services are available to all charities with no set-up costs and no specialist experience needed remains a very good thing – and hopefully the coverage achieved by the Everyclick launch will not only benefit them but also the sector at large as more small charities wake-up to the range online fundraising opportunities now available to them.

Online Fundraising and the Hype Cycle

The other day I got chatting with a colleague about the ‘Hype Cycle’, used by technology consultancy Gartner to illustrate the adoption of technologies through the lifecycle of hype, disappointment and (in some cases) the eventual delivery of practical benefits. As shown in the chart above, the Hype Cycle comprises 5 phases:

1. Technology Trigger: the breakthrough, product launch, or other event that generates significant press and interest.

2. Peak of Inflated Expectations: A frenzy of publicity typically generates over-enthusiasm and unrealistic expectations. There may be some successful applications of a technology, but there are typically more failures.

3. Trough of Disillusionment: Technologies fail to meet expectations and quickly become unfashionable. Consequently, the press usually abandons the topic and technology.

4. Slope of Enlightenment: Although the press may have stopped covering the technology, some businesses continue through the ‘slope of enlightenment’ and experiment to understand the benefits and practical application of the technology.

5. Plateau of Productivity: A technology reaches the ‘Plateau of productivity’ as its benefits become widely distributed and accepted. The technology becomes increasingly stable and evolves in second and third generations. The final height of the plateau varies according to whether the technology is broadly applicable or benefits only a niche market.

In the light of all of the current discussion about the potential for Social Media (aka Web 2.0) to deliver real benefits for fundraisers (aka Community Fundraising 2.0) this got me thinking about just where different aspects of online fundraising are on the Hype Cycle – a useful thing to consider if you’re in the process of planning any mid to long-term online fundraising activity.

On the ascendancy between technology trigger and peak of expectations we have things like Twitter – the micro-blogging social network that is generating a load of discussion at the moment but not, as far as I can tell, as yet being linked to any significant fundraising activity.

Just past the peak and on the brink of tipping into the trough of disillusionment there is fundraising in virtual worlds. I still remain convinced that at some point in the future some form of 3D virtual environments will become commonplace for everyday transactions like retail and fundraising. However, despite the interest in the American Cancer Society Second Life Relay for Life and various other Second Life non-profit initiatives last year, I think we’ve got quite a long way to go in the meantime.

Then, some place between the peak of expectations, the trough of disillusionment, and the slope of enlightenment (depending on who you ask) we have fundraising widgets and social networks. Anyone still needing convincing of the fundraising opportunity offered by the latter need only take a look at the Hitwise data from last year which shows how social networks are taking over from email as the primary drivers of traffic to key sponsored event fundraising site justgiving.com. There’s still a lot of testing to be done, but I don’t think it’ll be too long before widgets and social networks arrive on the plateau of productivity and begin to significantly out-perform the ‘old school’ of email as the drivers of online fundraising income.