We live in a hyper-paced world.
Our attention spans have
become non-existent. There is
an overwh...
supporting your nonprofit
organization’s mission through
donations, volunteerism, and
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Fundraising in the Digital Age


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Article by Josh Hirsch and Dave Tinker, CFRE from Summer 2104 Issue of NTEN's Change magazine.

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Fundraising in the Digital Age

  1. 1. 6 NTEN CHANGE | JUNE 2014 We live in a hyper-paced world. Our attention spans have become non-existent. There is an overwhelming need to be connected through our smartphones, tablets, and computers. It is more important than ever for a nonprofit organization’s communication strategy to be clear and concise with their donors and stakeholders, and to start integrating channels such as social media into their comprehensive communications strategy. A recent Pew Report found that today’s Internet consumers live in a world of “instant gratification” and “quick fixes.” This means that nonprofit organizations do not have time to waste in delivering their message. Whether the intention is to educate donors and stakeholders about the latest conditions in pediatric cancer research, to inform them of the ongoing genocide in Darfur, or to issue a call to action to donate in order to unleash the full potential of gifted students; a nonprofit organization’s communication has to be timely and to the point. Know the story you are trying to tell, and how it impacts your donors and stakeholders. This is critical to your communications strategy. This is the 140-character world that is our reality. It is our constant. Forget the old thought of having a two-minute rehearsed elevator speech with the hopes of sharing this with a potential donor. How do you measure performance and communicate your successes in accomplishing goals? How do you inspire the community to engage in REINVENTING THE ASK: FUNDRAISING IN THE DIGITAL AGE BY JOSH HIRSCH, THE WEISS SCHOOL AND DAVE TINKER, CFRE, ACHIEVA
  2. 2. NTEN CHANGE | JUNE 2014 7 supporting your nonprofit organization’s mission through donations, volunteerism, and collaboration on projects? Donors and stakeholders want to know the differences you are making and what positive change you are able to accomplish over time. With well- written copy and appealing visuals, you can capture the attention of your donors and stakeholders, even if it is for a moment in time. Sometimes this brief interaction is all that it takes for a donor to act upon your desired intent. An integral part of any nonprofit organization’s communication strategy has to be diversification in online presence. Over the past five years, there has been exponential growth in the ever-evolving existence of social media and how it can benefit fundraising in the nonprofit sector. This cannot be ignored. If a nonprofit organization has yet to establish a foothold in the social media world already, they need to do so immediately. If your organization is not on social media, no one is speaking in that space on your behalf. You may not have a social media presence, but people may be talking about you on social media behind your virtual back, or even misrepresenting your organization. You need to make sure there is someone official speaking online on behalf of your organization to ensure your overall brand integrity. Today’s donor, with an already diminished attention span, needs to be able to reach out and touch your nonprofit organization whenever is convenient for them and they so desire. Your online presence is your brand. It is your voice. It is a 24-hour billboard showcasing who you are and what you do. Your online presence goes beyond just having an aesthetically pleasing and functioning website, but having an existence on multiple social media platforms. For any nonprofit organization that is trying to capture the attention of donors, investing time and resources into having your nonprofit organization represented on social media is imperative. One such example is a Facebook page. This is where your nonprofit organization’s brand is alive and interactive. Whenever I meet with a potential donor or new family to The Weiss School, I always refer them to not only visit our website but our Facebook Page, as well. It allows them to get a sense of the school’s heartbeat and personality. Setting up an account on Facebook or Twitter only requires an email address and a few minutes of your time. Make sure you have your logo and a compelling image ready to upload. Facebook and Twitter even have easy to follow instructions and pointers for new users. Once you have your accounts set up, make sure to find your constituents on the platforms, friend or follow them, and engage with them. Announce that you have set up your profiles so others can start following and interacting with you. And most importantly, make sure that you have a strategy in place for posting on these channels. The last thing you want is to set up channels without a content plan to make sure that they are up to date. With a multitude of tools readily available at a moments notice, an educated and well-informed donor expects constant access to information about your nonprofit organization. They need this in order to make informed decisions about what nonprofit organization(s) to support. In order to accomplish this, make sure your nonprofit organization’s communications strategy is defined and well thought out; so you are able to stand on your soap box, scream from the highest mountains, and share with the world the great impact and inspiration you have on your community everyday. JOSH HIRSCH, MS (@JoshHirsch1) is Director of Development at The Weiss School in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. He serves as Marketing and Communications Chair for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Palm Beach County Chapter and is a proud member of the #AFPeeps. DAVE TINKER, CFRE (@davethecfre) is Vice President of Advancement at ACHIEVA in Pittsburgh, PA and adjunct professor of informatics in the Master of Information Strategy, Systems and Technology program at Muskingum University. He has written extensively and spoken internationally on social media, fundraising, and nonprofit management. “KNOW THE STORY YOU ARE TRYING TO TELL, AND HOW IT IMPACTS YOUR DONORS AND STAKEHOLDERS. THIS IS CRITICAL TO YOUR COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY.” “TODAY’S DONOR, WITH AN ALREADY DIMINISHED ATTENTION SPAN, NEEDS TO BE ABLE TO REACH OUT AND TOUCH YOUR NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION WHENEVER IS CONVENIENT.”