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Web Design for Nonprofits and internet Fundraising: Part 1

We recently did research to look at how fundraising has changed since 2000 for nonprofit organizations. We were particularly interested in finding research on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to see if they are producing results for nonprofits. Our research focused on local nonprofit fundraising efforts on social sites, and nationwide in relation to other forms of fundraising, such as donation systems, crowd funding, traditional websites and email campaigns. This is the first in a series of articles on this subject, extracted from our report: “e-Philanthropy Nonprofit Fundraising Strategies” available for free download.

Background

Traditional methods of raising funds for nonprofit organizations include foundation grants, corporate and other gifts, memberships, donations, events and direct mailings. These methods can all prove difficult during depressed economic times. Indirect costs for events, advertising collateral for communications and traditional mailing have all increased, while discretionary funds for giving have decreased.

Many nonprofits have turned to the internet since 2000 for answers to their fundraising dilemmas. While the use of the internet as a fundraising tool is still in the emergent stage, it shows great promise in cutting indirect costs for organizations, while potentially reaching much larger constituencies. The tools available for community building on the internet include organization websites, email campaigns, public social networking sites such as Facebook.com, private in-house social networking sites and crowd funding websites like Crowdrise.com.

James Austin of the Initiative on Social Enterprise at the Harvard Business School notes:

Make no mistake: the e-philanthropy revolution is here to stay, and it will transform charitable
giving in as profound a way as technology is changing the commercial world.

During the 1990s, many nonprofit agencies reported steady or declining revenues, increased competition with other agencies, and rising demand for services from clients who cannot pay. The strategies used at that time to adapt to these changes ranged from small-scale productivity enhancements to responses involving a complete restructuring of the agency as well as cutbacks in client services.

The internet has exploded since 2000, with many millions of new users daily. It seems the obvious choice for exposure for a nonprofit, as many baby boomers have adopted social networking and can be reached in droves on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Many in this generation are also, conveniently, socially conscious individuals with stable pocketbooks, seemingly a match made in heaven for nonprofits seeking funds.

What are the most successful approaches to internet fundraising? How do public social networks compare? What is the best strategy for your organization?

Read our next installment…

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