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Success Begins at Home

Whew! There’s a lot to “Like” out there, as they say on Facebook. But keeping a website, Facebook, Twitter, or other media channel lively and up-to-date could be more than a small operation can take on. If you have to pick and choose, where should you focus your efforts?

Turns out that’s an easy one: Your top priority has to be your own website. It really doesn’t matter what you’re raising money for: yourself, a friend, a team, a charity, an event—your website is your most valuable tool. So make sure it tells donors what they want to know (more on that below) before you turn your attention to composing pearls of wisdom in 140 characters or less.

Why’s that? Because a majority of online donations come through charities’ own websites. Network for Good, which processes donations and provides other services for nonprofits, follows the money that flows in to the more than 20,000 charities that use its platform. It consistently finds that 60 percent or more of the donations it handles come through charity websites, as shown in Figure 4.1, followed by charity portals and social websites.

Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1. Dollars donated through charity websites increased 10 percent over 2010 and accounted for more than half of all donations through Network for Good in 2011.

Social media, on the other hand, is still in its infancy as a fundraising tool, although there have been some notable successes. The ShareCraft 2012—Save the Children Challenge FundRazr campaign has raised more than $1 million on Facebook for children in the Horn of Africa. Still, fewer than 1 percent of nonprofits have raised more than $100,000 using social media, according to the 2011 Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report by NTEN, Common Knowledge, and Blackbaud. The real value in social media so far has been in building relationships and creating awareness about causes.

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