Limitless Findraising: Is E-Philanthropy a Tool for Reaching a World-Wide Range of Donors?


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Presentation given at the Western Museums Association (WMA) 2008 in Anchorage, featuring an overview of e-philanthropy, trends in its usage in the museum field, benefits, barriers to entry and success and resources.

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  • E-philanthropy is the use of Internet strategies and tools by nonprofits and nonprofit supporters to: Solicit/donate funds or goods Find volunteers/volunteer opportunities Participate in nonprofit advocacy Cultivate relationships between nonprofits and their supporters Foster connections between individuals with shared philanthropic/nonprofit interests and causes
  • These strategies include ways that nonprofits can enhance their web presence, both on their websites and by using other third-party websites such as social networking websites or online donation websites. NE: Guidestar and Charity Navigator NP-SM: Global Giving and Donors Choose NPW: Kintera, E-Tapestry SN: FaceBook, Flickr A: Care2 Shop: ShopforMuseums Search: GoodSearch
  • This mind-map provides a snapshot of various ways that nonprofits can use the Internet to increase their development efforts. The items marked in green are strategies that can be or are currently being used by museums. Most, though not all, of these tools and strategies are free.
  • With all of these inexpensive or free opportunities online, it's no wonder that it has been reported that the total amount of money raised online increased by 19% from 2006 to 2007. What's more, Professor James Austin of the Harvard Business School predicted in 2001 that by 2010 33% of all donations would be made online. But that's throughout the entire nonprofit sector--what about in museums?
  • In 2007 I performed a comprehensive survey of alternative revenue generation strategies being employed by museums. The survey yielded over 100 responses and a fair amount of data. Recently, I put together a smaller, more focused survey specifically asking about online strategies only. I am still anticipating more results, but so far the changes in just one year are astounding. For example: MySpace Usage: 6% in 2007, 32% in 2008 YouTube Usage: 5% in 2007, 20% in 2008 Blogs on Museum Websites: 9% in 2007, 24% in 2008 Museums Using Some Sort of Online Philanthropy Site: 15% in 2007, 56% in 2008 Museums with Plans for Increasing their Web Presence: 53% in 2007, 80% in 2008
  • The results of both of my surveys, as well as the general literature and anecdotal evidence throughout the nonprofit sector indicate that online engagement with donors is perceived as faster, more convenient and less expensive than some of the traditional methods of engagement, such as direct mail. In addition, online engagement can foster deeper relationships with visitors, members and donors, as well as giving them greater access to more content and more of the collections, thereby enhancing their experience. Because website visitation is not impeded by geography, online engagement can lead to broader audiences and increased visibility for the museum.
  • The big question is still lurking, though: is e-philanthropy actually successful? According to the results of both of my surveys, the jury is still out on that one. Certainly results do not appear over night. 54% of the respondents from my 2008 had seen no increase since implementing their online strategies. The remaining 46% were evenly split between people who had either seen an increase or who were uncertain as to whether or not there had been any change. These responses are not terribly different from a year ago. Another interesting fact that emerged from my recent survey was that overwhelmingly, time and time again the most common reason why respondents were not engaging in e-philanthropy strategies was that they felt they did not have enough staff for the work involved.
  • So does this mean that e-philanthropy is only for large organizations with big budgets and lots of staff? No. It just means that you have to be strategic about how you approach online engagement. Joining every social networking site and every donation site without taking the time to manage your presence on those sites is bound to result in failure. Also, take a look around to see if any of your members or visitors have already started online groups or profiles on your behalf. One reason why online engagement is important is that there most likely are already people talking about your museum online—so you might as well join the conversation! But also remember that some members and donors will still be more comfortable with more traditional forms of communication—don’t give up on direct mail just yet! E-philanthropy is just one set of strategies that can be used for increasing the health and visibility of your museum—not the only strategy. Start small -- d on ’ t try everything at once. Choose one or two strategies and devote as much time to them as you would a mailing. Have mission-driven goals guiding the strategies you choose. Develop a method for measuring the outcomes of your new strategy(ies). Enlist computer-savvy interns and volunteers to staff this new project. Don ’ t abandon direct mail. Remember that e-philanthropy is just one tool; determine your needs and then select the right tool to achieve your goals.
  • This is a VERY abbreviated list of online resources to help get museums started in the world of online fundraising. For a longer list of resources, please contact me.
  • Amanda will be talking about her research findings from her Master’s thesis. Stephanie will be talking about how to grow an online program. James will be talking about his experiences with online giving at both the Magnes Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • Limitless Findraising: Is E-Philanthropy a Tool for Reaching a World-Wide Range of Donors?

    1. 1. Limitless Fundraising: Is E-Philanthropy a Tool for Reaching a World-Wide Range of Donors? Allyson Lazar September 19, 2008 [email_address]
    2. 2. What is e-philanthropy? <ul><li>Solicit/donate funds or goods </li></ul><ul><li>Find volunteers/volunteer opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Participate in nonprofit advocacy </li></ul><ul><li>Cultivate relationships between nonprofits and their stakeholders </li></ul><ul><li>Foster connections between individuals with shared nonprofit interests/causes </li></ul>
    3. 3. What does it entail? <ul><li>Nonprofit Evaluation Websites </li></ul><ul><li>Nonprofit-Supporter Matching Sites </li></ul><ul><li>Nonprofit Website-Based Financial Transactions </li></ul><ul><li>“ Friend-Raising” through Social Networking Sites and Website Offerings </li></ul><ul><li>Advocacy Websites </li></ul><ul><li>Shop-to-Give Websites </li></ul><ul><li>Search-to-Give Websites </li></ul>
    4. 5. Is anyone actually doing this? <ul><li>Total money raised online increased by 19% between 2006 and 2007. 1 </li></ul><ul><li>By 2010, 33% of all donations will be made online. 2 </li></ul><ul><li>1 NTEN and M& R Strategic Services. 2008 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study . </li></ul><ul><li>2 James Austin. “The E-Philanthropy Revolution is Here to Stay.” Chronicle of Philanthropy. March 8, 2001. </li></ul>
    5. 6. What about museums?
    6. 7. What are the benefits? <ul><li>Convenience </li></ul><ul><li>Inexpensive Implementation </li></ul><ul><li>Enhanced Visitor Experience </li></ul><ul><li>Broader Audience </li></ul><ul><li>Increased Visibility </li></ul><ul><li>Greater Visitor Access to Collections and Content </li></ul><ul><li>Deeper Stakeholder Relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Keeping up with New Industry Standards </li></ul><ul><li>Rapid Communication with Stakeholders </li></ul>
    7. 8. What are the barriers to entry and success? <ul><li>Lack of Staff </li></ul><ul><li>Slow to See Results </li></ul><ul><li>Time-Consuming </li></ul>
    8. 9. So what next? <ul><li>Start small. </li></ul><ul><li>Identify mission-driven goals. </li></ul><ul><li>Develop metrics. </li></ul><ul><li>Enlist computer-savvy interns and volunteers. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t abandon direct mail. </li></ul><ul><li>Remember that e-philanthropy is just one tool. </li></ul>
    9. 10. How to…? <ul><li>How to Create a Great Website </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>How to Improve Email Fundraising Campaigns </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>How to Become a Heroic Business Blogger </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>How to Develop a Social Media Plan in 5 Steps </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Nonprofit Blogging Burning Questions (and Answers) </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Fundraising Guide for the Overworked Nonprofit </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
    10. 11. Who’s next? <ul><li>Amanda Fredrickson-Banks: Marketing and Development Associate, Craft and Folk Art Museum </li></ul><ul><li>James G. Leventhal: Director of Development and Marketing, Judah L. Magnes Museum </li></ul><ul><li>Stephanie Almeida: Membership Coordinator, Boise Art Museum </li></ul>