It’s socialtastic! It’s interactivaceous! It’s going to be the Biggest Thing in fundraising since the ten-cent apple.
Future Fundraising Now Amalgamated Industries℠ proudly announces the Charity Research Education Target Information Network (CRETIN). It’s a new thing using the internet and technology to allow donors to connect with the charities they like in some powerful new ways.
Best of all, CRETIN will free you, the fundraiser, from the embarrassing burden of raising funds!
Features of CRETIN include:
- Donors who join get daily email, text, and robo-voice phone calls with updates from their favorite charities. There are extra reports whenever there’s a board meeting or a brand change.
- Donors who join are required to post daily thoughts about their favorite charities to the CRETIN social network site.
- Donors are also required to find replacement donors for themselves should they leave, become too impoverished to give, or die.
- Donors whose activity fails to keep pace with the community in general will be “encouraged” to be more active participants in the fun.
- Best of all, our patented new Contact Over Network (CON) device (see photo). This is a special Bluetooth device that the donor is required to carry at all times. When a donor comes within 30 feet of another donor who has a CON device, the two devices will begin singing out the names of the charities the two donors support. Unfortunately, the CON device will cost donors 1 at launch, but as the network starts to take off, we’ll have economy of scale to bring that price down.
Facebook? Old hat.
Email? Stop kidding around.
Direct mail? What’s that?
This is just the beginning of what will truly be a revolution in fundraising. Here’s just some of what CRETIN will make possible:
- Donors will actually respond to your new branding initiatives.
- You’ll be able to raise funds from eight-year-olds.
- Your friends who work at dot-coms will stop sneering at your career choice.
- You’ll get revenue even if you never actually ask.
- You’ll never have to pander to donors who have boring lifestyles.
Good news for forward-thinking nonprofits: If you sign up now, you’ll be first on the list of charities what will be part of CRETIN. This offer is good only today, 1 April, 2011.
For more information, go to www.charityresearcheducationtargetinformationnetwork.org.
Do you vet your donors for moral suitability? It’s not as crazy as it sounds, as brought up recently at the PhilanTopic blog at ‘Dirty’ Money.
The post recounts a New York Times story about a chapel in Mexico that was funded by a drug lord know as “the executioner.” The unsavory benefactor is recognized by a plaque on the site.
None of us could know this, but the Church may be using the drug lord’s donation as part of his program of rehabilitation and salvation. (I have to admit, that sounds far-fetched. But stranger things happen all the time.)
If that’s not happening, then this seems like one of those cases where accepting the money does a lot more harm than good. It looks like the Church is cooperating with a thoroughly bad actor just because it’s convenient do to so. The harm to their reputation is huge.
That can happen to any charity when a donor uses it in an attempt to add a veneer of respectability to their reputation that their behavior doesn’t otherwise give them. Donors of that type are probably going to fail in the attempt, but the nonprofits that cooperate with their schemes can be deeply damaged:
In both good and lean economic times (but especially the latter), temptation … knocks on many a nonprofit door. I recall vividly, many decades later, the words of a civil rights leader in the South who declared, “The problem with tainted money is ’tain’t’ enough.”
The gifts you should be wary of are those made publically, where it’s clear the donor is linking their reputation with yours. In those cases, make sure accepting the gift or entering the partnership won’t make it look like you aren’t paying attention, or you don’t really care about your cause, as when Susan G. Komen publically entered a partnership with KFC last year.
But don’t be too quick to judge an individual donor as unworthy, especially when it’s private, the way most giving happens. Nearly all gifts are given with mixed motives, and all donors, like all humans, have flaws. For all you know, any given donor is shot through with personal failings, like:
- Owns a business that buys or sells Nestlé products.
- Expresses outrageous or obnoxious opinions.
- Kicks dogs.
- Doesn’t recycle.
- Is a jerk.
Things like these might make a donor someone you’d rather not hang out with. But it doesn’t necessarily make the money dirty.
My advice: Don’t worry about the taint of the money’s origin. Worry about the taint it could give you.
by guest blogger Stephen Hitchcock, Senior Manager for Special Projects at Bread for the World. Steve is author of Open Immediately: Straight Talk on Direct Mail Fundraising and, with Mal Warwick, Ten Steps to Fundraising Success.
Given the rewards for being focused on donors, why are most nonprofits so steadily not doing that?
I’ve been in the business a long time, and I think it’s because nonprofits organize themselves around two purposes:
- To avoid focusing on their mission.
- To avoid asking people for money.
Most organizations have such big and difficult missions that it’s easier to spend time debating trendy typefaces and cool colors. And asking people for money gets you lots of rejection.
Compounding these systematic flaws are a few other factors:
- Those who make gifts to nonprofits are two generations older than most nonprofit staff. Grandparents are nice to visit, but spending lots of time with them isn’t that much fun.
- Effective fundraising entails doing the same thing over and over. And even when you do new things, you’d better mind the details. It’s hard, boring work.
- Nonprofit staff are talkers (especially to each other). They’re not sustained readers. And they love photos. But most of those who respond to direct mail love to read, and they love to read stories and reports about real events.
This “great divide” between nonprofit and their donors is inherent in the way nonprofit organizations are staffed and funded. A helpful antidote is to get nonprofit staff out of the office. Ideally, meeting and talking with donors. Bribing donors to visit and talk with staff helps as well (and board meetings don’t count).
We should also pray for the good health and long lives of writers and graphic designers who know how to communicate with older readers who give to nonprofits.
I cringe every time someone reports on what happened when they sent a bunch of charitable gifts. Not because I wish they wouldn’t do it — I’m glad they do. But because the results of this type of research is so numbingly predictable — and bad.
About.com Nonprofit Charitable Orgs blog sent online gifts for relief work in Japan. The results: How Not to Thank a Donor During a Disaster. Yep, the headline pretty much tells the story:
The result? Only one provided a thank you email that was specific to the relief efforts in Japan. The others were all generic: thank you very much and here’s your receipt.
Besides that, I found one donation page that never loaded after my information was entered, thus aborting my donation; another website required me to go through a registration process before sending me to the donation page; and one site where I couldn’t find a page dedicated to Japan relief even though the home page said I could do so.
These massive and all-too-common online flubs set back online fundraising (and fundraising in general) every time they happen. They show donors that giving online is frustrating, unrewarding, and often impossible.
Every one of us has a responsibility to get it right. Not just for our own organizations’ bottom lines, but for donors and nonprofits in general.
Fundraising online is more than just banging out an email or slapping up a photo on your homepage.
You won’t get (and hardly deserve) the donations you need if you don’t cover the bases:
- A working, specific, clear, easy-to-use landing page.
- Adequate and specific thanking and welcoming of new donors.
- A plan for what to do with new donors. (New donors motivated by Japan are going to be harder to keep than most new donors.)
The session is called The Online Giving Study: What we learned from 1.8 million online donors and what you can do with that knowledge, and it will happen on Thursday, May 12 at 6:30 p.m. London time, 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time in North America.
There’s a lot else going on at the conference too. Consider registering!