Technology and Storytelling: Seeking Support With Multiple Channels

The power of a good story is widely understood in philanthropy and fundraising, whether it is the effect of a disease, the transforming impact of education or the struggle of wildlife. Fundraisers also recognize that the most powerful storytelling occurs when one person talks passionately, face to face, with another. Charities have long attempted to transfer the authenticity and power of personal communicating to other means, notably direct mail, phone calls and e-mail. Thanks to a talented and restless technology sector, the creation of new tools continues through YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google and many more, and charities are challenged to tell their stories in many new settings. In terms of fundraising performance, the results are decidedly mixed or at the very least difficult to measure. ....Read More

Personal Fundraising From Door-to-Door to Mouse-to-Mouse: Converting Donors to Fundraisers One Click at a Time

The tragedy of September 11, 2001, changed our world in many ways. It made us question why a helicopter was flying overhead. It gave us new government organizations like Homeland Security. And it forever changed the way we think about the safety and security of the United States. But perhaps the least touted change in the world, yet the most important to nonprofit organizations, is the impact of 9/11 on the way we use the Internet for fundraising. With every natural disaster since 9/11, in addition to the last two presidential campaigns, technology and the use of the Internet as a fundraising tool has evolved to bring nonprofits and individuals new and more effective ways to leverage the medium to raise money. One particular technique that has been gaining momentum over the last five years is an Internet based tactic being referred to as “personal fundraising.” Using the Internet as a conduit of “personal fundraising” may seem counter intuitive but it causes us to question, what ....Read More

Donor Management in the Era of Technology: Do You Know Your Donors?

I was at an event for my organization, recently, and I was asked an interesting question, “What is the most important thing to know about fundraising?” With that question in mind, I began having flashbacks, more like nightmares, of all the mishaps and blunders I’ve made with donors. I thought of the pain I felt every time one of our emails or letters went out addressed to “Dear Friend.” I recalled the pain-staking hours I’ve spent at a computer trying to make sense of an excel sheet only to find the same donor listed three different ways. And as much as I hoped to forget, I remembered the time I sent a donor’s receipt to the wrong person. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve so at this point I’m sure my inquirer was wondering what was behind the anxious look on my face. I apologized for my hesitation and calmly responded, “You have to know your donors.” To date there are more than 1.2 million registered nonprofit organizations. This number does not include all of the organizations t ....Read More

The Race to be the "Facebook" for Social Good

Donors need a central source of information guiding them on how to get involved in changing our world. As I consider the future of technology, I often think about the possibility of a website specifically geared toward nonprofits, fundraising, and volunteerism. I envision an online hub for fundraisers, donors, and non-profit experts to share experiences, offer advice, and network. It would be another form of social media entirely separate from Facebook or MySpace. Rather than finding friends, promoting your band, or photo stalking people, it would focus on social good. This new professional site, similar to LinkedIn, would serve as a forum to share positive experiences in the areas of social and global change. This technological advancement has been in the works for some time. In fact, there were three social good networking websites launched in 2010 alone. They are Jumo.com, the newly revamped Idealist.org, and Crowdrise.com. Each of these websites seeks to connect peo ....Read More


Do Good or Feel Good: The Philanthropist’s Motive

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s unprecedented gift of $100 million to the Newark school system was met by many with surprise and skepticism. A charitable donation of this magnitude was a first for Zuckerberg, reportedly worth $2 billion, and was somewhat bewildering because Zuckerberg had no prior connection to Newark. Since meeting Newark Mayor Cory Booker at a conference, Zuckerberg has maintained an open dialogue with the mayor culminating in his monumental gift on September 22, 2010. Critics viewed his timing as calculated after he publicly announced the news on Oprah, the same day the new movie The Social Network premiered which chronicles Facebook’s creation and casts Zuckerberg in an unsavory light. Since the earliest days of American philanthropy wealthy do-gooders have been criticized for having ulterior motives. John D. Rockefeller Sr.’s practice of giving dimes to strangers was thought by many to be a public relations move to restore his image surrounding ....Read More

The Ethical Implications of Mobile Giving

American philanthropy is one of the crowning glories of the United States. Countries around the globe aim to model systems of giving that have proven to be effective. With those successful models come many ethical standards that have been adopted by charities and foundations. The growing use of technology is changing the face of fundraising, but the ethics that guide philanthropy, allow little room for amendment. Most organizations would agree that full disclosure to a donor regarding his charitable gift is not a courtesy but a requirement. Full disclosure is explained in the 13th and 14th requirements for members, like the American Red Cross who wish to be affiliated with the Association of Fundraising Professionals. “13. Members shall take care to ensure that donors receive informed, accurate and ethical advice about the value and tax implications of contributions. 14. Members shall take care to ensure that contributions are used in accordance with donors’ intentions.” ....Read More

The Digital Divide and Grassroots Fundraising

In his seminal 2001 article, Harvard technologist Marc Prensky discusses the differences between digital immigrants and digital natives. Having grown up with technology, Digital natives have a level of innate comfort while the digital immigrants are learning “on the fly” as they move through their careers. The PC wasn’t a household item until the late 1980s and the Internet did not start to become the information hub we know today until 10 years later. Because of the timing of these technical advancements, digital natives tend to be under 40 and digital immigrants over 40. Prensky’s dichotomy points out that learning technology is similar to learning a language, and that as one ages, the ability to learn technology becomes more difficult. Conversely, the younger you are, the more integral technology is to your development and learning. This dichotomy becomes problematic as digital immigrants are often the ones doing the leading, teaching and guiding. Digital natives must lea ....Read More

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