Can a Small Charity Use Social Media and On-line tools to raise new Revenue? Part 2


Can a Small Charity Use Social Media and On-line tools to raise new Revenue? Part 2

           Authors such as Olsen et. al. (2001) describe how the combination of social media, email and other online tools can be used together in a powerful way (p.364). They describe:” The internet is merely a new medium, a tool, which can be used to build dynamic and loyal donor relationships in addition to processing funds” ( Olsen et al, 2001,p 365). Since the arrival of powerful fundraising software has come on the market charities have struggled to use the tools not just as an expensive way to produce tax receipts. Instead they strive to use the software as a tool to keep close to their supporters.  As mentioned previously the authors further describe how tools such as email is an:” avenue of communication [which] is the most dynamic tool a fundraiser could use beyond face to face relationship” (Olsen et al, 2001, p 366).It is interesting that Merritt et al. (2001) point out that nonprofit organizations may in fact have an advantage over for profit organizations when it comes to the use of social media and online tools to promote their brand. Olsen et al. (2001) suggest: Nonprofit organizations have an advantage over corporations in using these strategies because people are more likely to be loyal to an organization and its cause than a corporation and its product” (p.366). Also comparing for profit behavior utilizing these mediums to nonprofit behavior it is suggested that corporations send out monthly email messages or social media messages to stimulate buying behavior. Olsen et al. (2001) indicate;” Nonprofit organizations can utilize the same strategy to stimulate donor behavior. When communications are based on a schedule, donors anticipate them” (p.367)”. A theme which appears across the literature is that one social media channel or one individual on- line resource is not a panacea to solve a nonprofit organization’s need to create awareness of their organization or their mission. Instead the concept of combining tools and using them in combination appears to be recommended as an approach that may result in a better synergy than using tools independently. For example Olsen, et. al. (2001) describe;” Furthermore successful e-mail marketing requires additional expertise in using the technologies and infrastructure needed to deliver high volumes of personalized, correctly configured messages across multiple channels” (p.370).

            Since the creation of powerful fundraising databases began to show up in the marketplace nonprofit organizations have had growing ability to create this type of messaging and to communicate in both a personalized and frequent basis. Social media has provided additional opportunities to promote these messages and direct them to a broader audience. Quinton & Fennmore (2013) describe the use of online social networks as a way to direct these messages to a broader audience. Quinton & Fennmore (2013) argue that social networks: “could provide charities with a fertile environment to help build cause driven communities and further incite friend to friend or peer to peer fundraising” (p.37). Essentially followers begin through the use of their own social networks begin to do work for the charity in marketing their cause and spreading their message. “Through online social networks partial control of the cause and the reputation management can be taken on by the contributors. The contributor derives the benefit in form of self-satisfaction of having made an indirect donation through their participation and also possibly by having broadcast their willingness to help society to their online social network associates” (Quinton & Fennmore, 2013, p.38). The potential benefit described by these authors is that a charity has at its disposal tools in which it may use its supporters to reach individuals and organizations which it may have never reached in the past (their followers networks).Researchers are beginning to draw parallels between traditional fundraising tactics which involve recruiting people to ask their colleagues friends and business associates for donations and how social networks actually function. These social networks act in the same manner as other human relationships and thus have the potential to be used as a high tech version of a tried and true fundraising approach. Quinton & Fennmore  (2013) describe this parallel in the following manner;” In sum, there appears to be beneficial synergies between the way in which social network communities function and the way philanthropic communities give to each other because both operate on peer to peer principles” (p. 38).

          Whether your nonprofit is currently using social media or not it would seem prudent that a charity should heed Brinckerhoff’s (2010) advice:” As this is written, nonprofits communicate through personal contact, paper materials, websites, social networks such as Face Book, text messaging, phone calls email and twitter. By the time you read these words those communication choices will have changed. (p.18). Brinckerhoff (2010) goes on to caution:” you have to use all available media, not just those you are currently comfortable with.”

           In part 3 of this article I will talk about some of the “must haves” on your website and some of the ways social media is changing the fundraising landscape.


To see part 1 of this article


Brinckerhoff, P.C (2010) Mission-Based marketing: Positioning your not –for –profit: New   

          Jersey: John Wiley &Sons Inc.

Olsen, M, et al  (2001) E-relationship development strategy for the nonprofit fundraising professional,

          International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, V 6, Issue 4, pages 364–373.

Quinton, S. & Fennemore, P (2013) Missing a strategic marketing trick? The use of online social

           networks by UK charities. Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing.V18:36-51.


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