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Welcome to Web 2.0: Where Community Comes First, Then Fundraising

Think you can simply add a page to Facebook and like a spark watch it build into a roaring fire of support? Think again. But Jono Smith, vice president of Network for Good, says a lot of good can come to those who follow a few key kernels of advice. The first step? Build community.

Network for Good, based in Bethesda Md., has been involved in social networks since they got a call from actor Kevin Bacon about how to turn the “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” phenomenon into something more important—something charitable, explains Smith.

So began the organization’s foray into social networking:  Network for Good now manages all of the online fundraising on a wide range of social networks, including Causes on MySpace and Facebook,, Razoo, Oodle and Capitol One. So far they have processed over $250 million in donations for more than 45,000 nonprofits.

But what did they learn after launching their inaugural social networking venture with a matching grant from Bacon? Number one: That it can tap into a group of what Smith calls “wired cause champions” who already interact on the web and who have an affinity for your cause. Number two: That these champions for your cause can become your “wired fundraisers” and use their own expanded network to build even more support and raise even more money. But, number three: there is no one “right way” to get this momentum going for your own cause.

No Silver Bullet

Each charity is different. Its constituents are different ages and have different interests. So even among the “wired” there are different strains and trends. And, people use each site in different ways. Finding out where your supporters “hang out” on the web is the first question, says Smith (assuming they are active on these websites at all).

“There is no silver bullet when it comes to building support and fundraising in the world of web 2.0,” Smith explains. “It is actually becomes an incremental part of your larger online marketing program. It’s community based, a two-way dialogue, and something that must start with that community.”

The next step happens before your organization even opens the door and makes its presence known on a social networking site: getting everyone on board with the project, devoting the time and staff to it, and most importantly, having a goal, Smith says.

“We strongly advise against random acts of marketing,” he explains. “Doing well in this medium requires a deliberate approach. Step back and see what you want to accomplish.”

The Right Goals

If your goal is to accomplish fundraising first, that’s probably the wrong goal, says Smith. Instead, seek to amplify word of mouth and build email lists. That is a goal to which social networking is well suited.

“Many organizations ask for a gift in their initial communications, but the average online donor cultivation consists of multiple touchpoints,” he says. Only after five or six (or more) separate instances of contact with a prospect, via email, web or web 2.0, does a supporter usually convert and become a donor. And realistically, the contacts you build are going to be as valuable, or more valuable, than the dollar amount raised within a particular social network, if cultivated strategically.

So you must drum up activity and get people involved. Get them posting videos about their pets, contributing photos of nature for your environmental organization or sharing their stories as survivors of an illness. Smith explains that when there is a creative, enticing opportunity for people to be active, the site can take on a life of its own and grow. You need to reach that tipping point before fundraising even begins, he says.

Other important points Smith offers: Don’t be afraid to experiment. Track the activity for your web 2.0 programs and test, test, test!

So whether you have an event that people can only register for through your Facebook page, or your organization holds a photo contest and publishes the winning photos in a calendar, the key is to have the site come alive. When you have that kind of buzz, it is quite likely to convert to monetary support and build a great group of prospective wired fundraisers and donors. 

Network for Good ( is a nonprofit organization that helps other nonprofits raise money and reach supporters online. Founded in 2001 by AOL, Cisco and Yahoo!, Network for Good has processed over $250 million in donations for more than 45,000 nonprofits.

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How Do You Measure the Success of Fundraising on Social Networks? Dollars or Doggie Treats?  

By Beth Kanter

The Humane Society of the United States launched an online photo contest in honor of Spay Day. The contest combines wisdom of the crowds with person to person (or rather dog to person) fundraising. This is one organization not afraid to learn new tricks.

Over the years, I've watched Carrie Lewis, who is the social networking maven at the Humane Society, do a fantastic job managing the organization's social media strategy and projects. In 2007, it implemented its first photo petition campaign to protest the Wendy's restaurant chain’s treatment of animals. They tracked the number of photo submissions they got, but they also listened carefully to the responses they received from participants.

As Carrie Lewis mentions in the comments in the blog post, "Since this was our first run at a photo petition, it was difficult to get across exactly what we wanted people to do without writing a book. So every person that wrote in and needed help was answered personally. This gave us a good idea of how to more clearly explain ourselves next time." This particular photo campaign had many technical glitches and ultimately the number of submissions was less than impressive. Did HSUS proclaim that photo competitions were a waste of time? No.

Keeping at It

The next iteration of a photo contest, LOL Seals, (LOL is webspeak for “laugh out loud”) made it as easy as possible for people to participate. That's what the Humane Society had learned from the first campaign. In the first contest, it asked people to upload their photos and tag them themselves, which meant they had to create a Flickr photo-sharing web account and know what “tagging” was (photo labeling). The second contest, the society used a slightly different online tool that made everything automatic, tagging and uploading without the user having to even touch Flickr. They had about 3,000 submissions and captured about 2,000 new email addresses.

I think the secret to the Humane Society's success with social media is that they have used metrics to learn what works and what doesn't. They are also masters at the Listen, Learn, and Adapt methods, which I detail on my website (see web version of story for link).

Over on Convio’s Connection Cafe Blog, I found this gem of a video presentation (see web version of story) by Grace Markarian who is the online communications manager for the Humane Society. Grace mentions how the Humane Society has successfully broken down staff silos. Their team has daily nine-minute strategy meetings. These short briefings have helped them to be more efficient and effective with every aspect of multi-channel campaigns. This is a great example of how a nonprofit has embraced social media in a such a way that it isn't an isolated activity by one person.

In the presentation, the Humane Society shares both the tangible and intangible benefits that their social media strategies provide. This is the first step in a traditional ROI (return on investment) process.

Tangible Benefits:

  • Increased email database
  • Obtained original content
  • Obtained free public service announcements
  • Raised some money
  • Recruited new donors
  • Recruited members, fans and friends

Intangible Benefits:

  • Raised awareness about our issues
  • Engaged people to participate in the issue
  • Generated discussions on our issues
  • Received buy-in from the top (organization leadership)
  • Received recognition and media attention (online buzz)

How do they know they've been successful? They use metrics to measure the results and translate into values. Here is a list of the metrics they use.


# of submissions/comments
# of friends, fans and members accrued over time
# of new names added to email file
# of donations/amount of donations
# of video/photo views
# of subscribers (RSS online web feeds, blog)
# of blog and wall comments
# of voting participants
# of blogs linking to us/covering our story (consider quality)
# of friends recruited
Frequency of bulletin reposts on MySpace
Content of keywords, comments (what are people talking about?)

What They Learned

Grace Markarian also offers some tips to get started where she emphasizes the importance of getting buy-in from your organization's leadership, getting over fears of "losing control" of messaging and accepting that it takes time to listen and build your presence. Her conclusions—and I wholeheartedly agree, are:

  • Integrating social media into your nonprofit's marketing and fundraising campaigns can help build buzz and online actions (like donations) slowly, but email marketing is the #1 driver of success.
  • Social media allows HSUS to reach audiences that it may not reach through other channels or at all, but you must allocate the resources to monitor and communicate with this audience to sustain success.
  • Participating on social network sites allows them to experiment with new technologies, but it requires constant willingness to learn.

The Humane Society has certainly landed on all four paws with its venture into social networking. It’s now a part of the bigger picture for their marketing, outreach and fundraising. Now, how about your organization?

Beth Kanter is the author of Beth's Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media (, one of the longest running and most popular blogs for nonprofits. A frequent contributor to many nonprofit technology websites and magazines, Beth has authored chapters in several books, including "Psychology of Facebook Applications," edited by BJ Fogg, Stanford University and "Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission: A Strategic Guide for Nonprofit Leaders," edited by NTEN both to be published in 2009. Starting this March Beth will serve as the 2009 Scholar in Residence for Social Media and Nonprofits for the Packard Foundation.

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Twitter: It Isn't Just for Breakfast Anymore  

By Jared Hughes

I’ve heard the confused refrain over and over, from friends, colleagues and certainly my wife, “This Twitter thing everyone is talking about … I just don’t GET IT. Who CARES what you had for breakfast this morning!?” They are referring to the 140-character “micro-blog” messages that users publish to a web page for a list of “followers” interested in what they have to say.

There is a growing number of savvy, early-adopters in nonprofit development and communication departments across the country who are taking advantage of Twitter as a “friend-raising” tool. Once they have built up their social capital, they are turning it into a fundraising machine.

(If you’ve never heard of Twitter, a web 2.0 tool, a good start would be to check out the video posted at the site’s sign-up page, 

To get examples of fundraising success for this article, I turned to my own Twitter page, which has 521+ followers (followers are people who have opted to receive to my posts and want to communicate with me via Twitter). I simply “tweeted” to all my followers asking for their experience with the web tool and also targeting ten non-profits by direct messaging that I especially wanted to interview. I got a great response. To read the full article, visit my blog.

More Feedback, Better Care

Jennifer Parris (@LeBonheurChild), communications specialist at Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center in Memphis, Tenn. writes, “Social media gives us a special opportunity to hear what people are saying about our hospital. Before this technology, we heard about these conversations by word of mouth. Now, we can listen to specific comments parents are making about the care their child is receiving at our hospital. It gives us the unique opportunity act on their thoughts and comments.”

Jennifer sees social media as being on the front lines of patient relations and heading off disgruntled customers and making them whole again before their word of mouth is broadcast far and wide.

“When we find a blog in which a parent talks about a bad experience, we alert our clinical leaders who can look into the matter and help remedy it,” Parris explains. “Twitter allows us to do the same thing. It has a great search function that allows us to monitor what's being said.”

“We're still new to the Twitter conversation, but believe our uses for it will expand as our followers grow.”

Twitter Litters—Animal Groups and Twitter

Gary Nice, founder of National Canine Cancer Foundation began telling me the story of his golden retriever Bailey who he was forced to put down last January due to cancer that had ravaged him within a month and without warning. His determination to succeed is so strong that he got choked up telling me why he is putting so much energy into his social networking and specifically into Twitter. “I will not rest until this never has to happen to anyone ever again,” he said.

Since Jan. 28 of last year, Gary does his Twittering for 30 minutes at 7 p.m. when he gets home. He has dinner, decompresses and logs back on at 10 p.m. to check it again and will sometimes be tweeting well into the early morning. “It can get exhausting,” he says but, repeating his mantra and tag line, “If we all work together, We Are The Cure." He admits that he can’t keep up this pace for ever and is hopeful that his personal, high- touch social networking will soon pay off. “There will come a day when we will hire someone just to tweet for us,” he says. In fact, some organizations I interviewed have done just that.

Gary has garnered 2,298 cultivated and devoted followers within little more than a month’s time. He expects to more than double that number by the end of April. “When I hit 5,000 [followers], that’s when I’m going to pull the trigger on a fundraising campaign and it’s really going to take off because I’ve invested time at the front end.” Gary says that donations have increased since the October 2008 financial meltdown. While he can’t directly attribute it all to Twitter he says he believes it is a big part of it. “This is how people are connecting with causes they care about today and you can’t ignore that fact.”

Tips for Successful Twitter Campaigns

Gary was reluctant to share his best Twitter secrets and kept his best ones close to his chest. He welcomed readers to follow him @wearethecure and check in from time to time (see his strategy at work here?), and see for their selves. The tips he did share were with the intensity of the radio broadcasting executive that he once was.

1.) Communicate personally with every single follower … especially if he or she “follows” you first. Go to their bio, read about their dog, direct message them back with some bit of information that shows you took the time and effort to read about them.”

2.) Copy their entire twitter conversation and add it to their donor file.

3.) Seek out the “influencers” among your followers and develop strong relationships with them so that they will respond when you need them to, pushing out your message to their followers and onto their own social media networks.

4.) Everyone in the nonprofit world is a sales person whether they like it or not. Every time you open your mouth you are selling yourself and your organization. The same goes for your tweets and direct messages! Be very purposeful in all that you tweet.

5.) Use to list your own organization and to find prospective followers and invite them (personally!) to follow you because there is something in it for them and not you. Followers are easy to get, quality followers are not—you have to work at it. There are twitter pyramid schemes that promise thousands of followers in a short time but why would you want random followers? This is not a time to use the buck shot ammo.

6.) Ask your core volunteers (especially ones with many followers to “retweet” for you, meaning that they re-post your original tweet to all of their followers.)

7.) Seek out companies on Twitter that align with your mission and propose a win-win partnership via the web tool. They will “get it” quickly when they see your organization’s reach to their potential market. I have a major corporate partnership that was born from twitter set to roll out soon if all goes well.

Check out the really helpful blog that is dedicated to all things Twitter at Also, the FAQ section on Twitter’s home page can answer many questions you may still have.

Jared Hughes is the principal and founder of Bellwether Fundraising in Takoma Park, Md. Bellwether specializes in assisting nonprofit clients start and increase legacy planning advancement efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @LegacyPlanning and link with his network on LinkedIn.

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Raise More Money with Less by Embracing Self-Organized ‘Swarms’ 

By Scott Henderson 

What happens when companies and individuals take it upon themselves to organize their own efforts to raise awareness and money for your cause? What do you do?  How do you control the message? How do you protect your donors?

The simple answer is: embrace them. Doing so can help you harness and focus their excitement and help you do more without straining your limited resources.

Share Our Strength and Capital Area Food Bank of Texas are finding that working with a self-organized "swarm" helps them raise more money, get more exposure, and form new, invaluable relationships.

An Unfolding Example: Pledge to End Hunger Campaign

An immediate case of the good that is possible is the recently launched Pledge to End Hunger campaign. This is a unique collaboration MediaSauce, a digital marketing firm, organized with Share Our Strength, Tyson Foods and others.

By signing an online pledge to act, a visitor triggers a 35 lb. donation of food from Tyson Foods. One click feeds 140 kids. More than just making a person feel good, this website ( is also intended to connect the visitor to a local food bank to volunteer, offers educational resources to learn more about the problem and a chance to donate to the organization Share Our Strength.

Because of the ease of action and the compelling story told, 1,000 pledges were generated in the first 28 hours. This milestone means a semi-truck fully loaded with food will be delivered on March 16 to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas in Austin, Texas, during the South by Southwest music, film, and interactive festivals. That is enough food for 140,000 meals for children in need.

A Great Idea From the Swarm

This was a simple concept to help address the complex problem of childhood hunger, and it all started with a well-conceived plan. What’s more interesting is that this idea didn’t come from either nonprofit organization. It was something conceived by the companies supporting it.

Childhood hunger is a very real problem in America affecting us all. Each of our companies brings different strengths to the table and we wanted to band together to do something meaningful. Our partners at Share Our Strength and Capital Area Food Bank of Texas have been marvelous to work, even if it sounded a bit too good to be true at first.

The tangible result is a website that draws attention to childhood hunger in America and makes it easy to do something to help do something about it. All of which is possible with what digital and social media offers today.

More Good to Come

In the coming two weeks, The Pledge is launching the next phase, which will deliver two more Tyson semi-truck loads to food banks in the two states generating the most pledges by Friday, March 20. This phase will include email sends, press releases, Twitter, Facebook causes, and more companies, individuals, and nonprofits helping.

You can experience it for yourself by taking the online pledge at the Pledge to End Hunger site ( We hope you will help us spread the word and witness firsthand how to use digital and social media to change the world.

Got a Question?

Learn more at There you can download a presentation entitled “Authentic Advocacy: How Companies and Nonprofits Can Work Together to Change the World.”

Scott Henderson is a cause marketing director at MediaSauce, an Indiana-based company that focuses on Internet strategy and audience-driven web development. He and his colleague, Mitch Maxson, will be speaking at the upcoming AFP International Conference in New Orleans, La. Their session is on Monday, March 30 from 1:15 pm - 2:30 pm (MKT2:  Connecting with Your Donors: How to Balance New and Traditional Media).

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AFP, The Globe and Mail Create 'A Time to Give'  

AFP is continuing its partnership with The Globe and Mail through a special June 27 philanthropy supplement entitled “A Time to Give.”

This special national report will investigate how charities are addressing the current global economic crisis and why charitable contributions are needed now more than ever. Other topics will include the best ways donors can support a charity in the current climate, ethics and public trust, innovative programs and services being offered and planned giving, bequest and endowments.

Members are encouraged to advertise in this premier report as it will be a tremendous opportunity to reach a wide cross-section of donors and constituents. Special advertising discounts are available. The deadline for reserving space is April 26.

The Globe and Mail reaches 1.3 million daily readers and is a favorite publication of Canadian senior executives, read by 71 percent of all executives and 76 percent of presidents, CEOs and chairpersons.

“In these economically-challenging times, this type of national supplement focusing on philanthropy is more important than ever,” said Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP. “Charities can’t afford to pull back on their marketing and advertising efforts, and we believe our partnership with The Globe and Mail is an extraordinary value and opportunity for members to show all of Canada how they’re helping to improve the world. I encourage members to participate in this special report.”

The supplement will include a limited number of one-eighth, quarter-, half- and full-page advertising positions. The Globe and Mail will also reprint additional copies of the report and provide an online PDF version of the supplement. The special section also will appear online at for seven days and thereafter will be archived for 90 days.

The attached sell sheet (in web version of this article) has additional information about the supplement. Interested members can contact Richard Deacon, “A Time to Give” project manager, at (604) 631-6636 or

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Network Globally With ammado  

To help members connect with fundraisers in different countries, AFP has partnered with ammado, an online global networking community for the nonprofit sector.

Through ammado, members can meet and network with practitioners from around the world and learn about other organizations, companies, strategies and campaigns that are making a difference in the lives of millions of people.

There are nonprofits (charities, sports clubs, schools and universities) from all over the world using ammado to accomplish their core objectives, increase public awareness and engage supporters and volunteers. On ammado, nonprofits are able to upload information about their nonprofit and the work they do, publish news and articles, receive online donations, create media libraries sharing images, videos and documents, mobilize through polls and petitions and communicate instantly with their supporters, potential partners, and other nonprofits from around the world.

“Our goal at AFP is to provide the resources that members need to be successful and to ensure they will be ahead of the curve as new challenges and trends rise,” said Paulette Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP. “Fundraising is growing rapidly around the world, and what happens in one region can have a dramatic effect on organizations and people in another. We believe that partnering with ammado is a great way to ensure our members are connected with colleagues around the world to share ideas, stories and experiences for the benefit of all.”

Create Your Network, Support a Cause

To celebrate the partnership, ammado is offering AFP members who create a profile on ammado an e-voucher for $1.00 to spend on the cause of their choice on website.

What can one dollar support? Here are some examples of organizations already on ammado where your dollar can make an impact. For one dollar, you can get a child vaccinated against the measles (learn more about The Measles Initiative through its profile on ammado). Or provide clean water to a child for 50 days (Children’s Safe Drinking Water Initiative). Or help in the fight against extreme poverty or hunger (World for World Organization).

You can also support your own organization if it creates a profile on ammado or help fund strategic programming for the fundraising profession, such as “The Color of Money:  A Professional Development Conference for Persons of Color,” through the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy (active link in web version of story).

Getting Started

To get started and receive your $1 e-voucher, use this link to sign up (see web version of story).  Within a couple of days, you’ll receive a message that says your ammado e-voucher has arrived. You’ll then be able to support any cause on ammado, including your own organization, and enjoy a new way to network with AFP, ammado and colleagues around the world. Visit the AFP profile on ammado for more details (link is in web version).

Look for ammado at the AFP International Conference in New Orleans later this month!

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Don’t Miss Two 'Wired' Web/Audioconferences on Online Marketing and Web 2.0  

AFP is offering two great web/audioconferences covering online tools and better ways of reaching the donors of “Generation 2.0.” Get your message out and build support with the World Wide Web. Hurry, these presentations are happening soon!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Seven Things Everyone Wants: What Freud and Buddha Understood (and We're Forgetting) About Online Outreach

Presented by Katya Andresen, chief operating officer of Network for Good

With all the shiny technology tools out there, it's easy to be blinded to the fact that technology is about bonds, not wires. It is human connections, not electronic ones that matter. In other words, some very human principles make or break the success of absolutely everything you do online. In this session, two marketing experts – including the progeny of a psychiatrist and a devotee of Buddhist principles – share the seven things everyone wants and show how you can achieve marketing "enlightenment" by tapping into them in all you do online.

Participants will learn:

  • What drives online outreach success
  • The seven things everyone wants
  • How to plug into those principles to achieve online success

Target Audience
Mid to senior level

About the Presenter

Katya Andresen is chief operating officer of Network for Good. She has trained thousands of causes in effective marketing and media relations, and her marketing materials for non-profits have won national and international awards. She is the author of the book, Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes and was featured in the e-book, Nine Minds of Marketing. She was a foreign correspondent for Reuters News and Television in Asia and for Associated Press, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Dallas Morning News in Africa.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mobilizing Generation Web 2.0

Presented by Ben Rigby, founder of

This session will explore the ways in which young people are using Internet technology (so called "Web 2.0") to engage in civic and political life. We'll review the most popular tools such as blogging, social networking, video sharing, mobile phones, mapping and virtual worlds. The discussion will center on how organizations are using these tools to engage young people around their causes.

Participants will learn:

  • The term "Web 2.0" and its many nuances
  • The most popular tools and how organizations are using them in creative ways
  • Strategies that lead to successful engagement
  • Common pitfalls

Target Audience

Anyone who has heard about the many Web 2.0 technologies but doesn't yet have a full grasp of what's possible, what works, and what doesn't work. This session is a primer for non-technical folks.

About the Presenter

Ben Rigby is the founder of, an organization dedicated to using new media to politically empower young people, and the first organization in the world to engage young voters via text messaging (SMS). He has worked as Chief Technology Officer and president of several new media firms, developing and devising web and mobile strategies for nonprofits and Fortune 1,000 companies.

To view the full list of 2009 AFP Web/Audioconference sessions and to register, go to and click on Education and Career Development. Follow the link to AFP Web/Audioconferences.

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Attend AFP’s Premier Annual Conference!

The AFP International Conference on Fundraising is just around the corner. Don’t miss out on the largest offering of sessions found anywhere, packed with timely and interesting ideas for better fundraising. Come join us in New Orleans, March 29-April 1. Go to

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