I hope you have heard of New MediaFundraising. I am sure you would haveat least heard of something called onlinefundraising or Internet fundraising.If you have not, don’t despair, for in thenext 15 minutes, you will have! Are youwondering if there is any real differencebetween new media and onlinefundraising? Yes, there is a bit ofdifference. In fact, online fundraising isa part of New Media Fundraising.Just a few years ago online fundraisingmeant that you created a website with apayment gateway and sent emails topeople asking for contributions. Whilethis form of fundraising continues toexist, over the years, due to increasedease in sending out bulk emails,effectiveness of this tool is beingseriously questioned. The other aspectof online fundraising used to be buyingor bartering online banners. Here, youcould advertise your fundraisingmessage and motivate people to clickand donate on your website. I am sureall of us have seen if not clicked on suchbanners!In the previous decade emerged thetrend of user-generated content. Thismeant, an NGO’s online presence wasincomplete unless it gave opportunity tousers to express themselves. Therefore,some NGO websites started givingopportunities to people to put theircomments, which would be moderatedby the NGO and published later. Butuser-generated business was notstopping here. With the advent of blogs,the ‘publish’ button went to the user.The user became the king. One couldwrite whatever one wanted withoutbeing at the mercy of an editor. Thisincreased the number of onlinepublications several fold. While earlier,media houses and organisations hadportals for people to visit, this power gottransferred to users now. It sureincreased the clutter in the cyberspace.It also augmented the relevance ofsearch engines like Goggle. People couldsearch and reach a website or blog oftheir choice.With this shift of power to people, alsocame in social networks – Orkut,Facebook... People now not only had thepublish button, they also had theirnetwork of people. These people readwhat their ‘friends’ put online and evenreacted to it. And then Twitter arrived.Heard of New Media Fundraising!With power in the hands of people, it dawnedthat whatever was blogged about or sharedwith friends on Facebook and Orkut or evenbroadcast through Twitter, could carryfundraising or awareness messages for NGOsPeople no longer wrote something andwaited for people to visit and read. Theybecame broadcasters.With such power in the hands of people,it was increasingly felt that whateverpeople blogged about or shared withfriends on Facebook and Orkut or evenbroadcast through Twitter, could carryfundraising or awareness messages forNGOs. That is how the staid onlinefundraising became New MediaFundraising.New Media Fundraising today is abouthaving your fundraising message onblogs of people, their social networksand tweets so that it reaches audiencein their networks and even networks ofpeople in their networks. This increaseschances to motivate more people todonate. It makes donors get involved.They not only give but also advocate.
What is the cost for all this? Well,nothing! But as you know nothing in thisworld is absolutely free. While there isno fee for capitalising on this medium,you have to invest in staff with specialskills and in the development of certainonline promotion material like widgets.Widgets are button-like display bannersthat allow people to put your messagein an easy, cut and paste manner ontheir blogs or Facebook and Orkutpages.New Media Fundraising today is alsoabout managing search engines likeGoogle. A very critical factor is, howhigh in the search results your websiteor fundraising message is. For example,if you are an NGO working for the causeof women and if people search ‘Indiawomen NGO donate’ what is the numberat which your website emerges? If it isnot right on the top, chances of yourbeing a beneficiary of generosity of thesearcher reduce.Managing the search engine broadlyinvolves two aspects – search engineoptimisation (SEO) and search enginemarketing (SEM). SEO is inexpensiveand meets a long-term goal. Throughvarious tools available even free of costlike Google Analytics, you can analysewhat ‘key words’ people use whilesearching. In the example ‘India womenNGO donate’ that we used before, theanalysis would show that these are themost popular key words on the subjectthat people use. Then you have toensure that these key words feature inthe most important sections of yourwebsite. In the case of fundraising, it isdonation and other allied pages. I saylong-term goal because this is difficultto achieve overnight. It may takemonths of analysing and monitoringpopular key words and incorporatingthem in your website.SEM costs money. These are sponsoredlinks, indicated separately on the top ofall search results. With SEM you can linkyour website across blogs and websitesthrough ‘Google affiliates network’.Please see the adjoining picture on howthese appear visually. The costingmechanism mostly followed for theselinks is called ‘pay-per-click’, whichmeans you pay when someone clicks onyour fundraising link.In India, NGOs like Greenpeace, UNICEF,Save the Children, World Vision, Savethe Tiger and CRY have been quietactive in New Media Fundraising.Greenpeace uses the medium both forcampaigning and fundraising. At theclick of button, a person can join acampaign, sign a petition onenvironmental issues and donate.UNICEF has recently launched a newmedia campaign on universal right toeducation called ‘Awaaz Do’. In its firstfew months, it had more than 200,000people signing-up. This campaign alsoadded a new dimension; that of mobilesand telephones to online campaigns.Similarly, the ‘Save the Tiger’ campaignused TV, print and outdoor advertisingin addition to new media, which madepeople sit up and take notice.Is new media raising money?This is a question on minds of people,especially those involved in fundraising.What has become clear is that newmedia campaigns generate a lot of leadsthat can be converted. This has to bedone as a system; people are called,sent emails and donations are attainedfrom them. This does not mean peopledo not donate directly. Greenpeace getscampaigners and supporters throughtheir new media campaigns. WorldVision is also getting child sponsorsusing the new media. But the key hereis follow-up, otherwise you just warm-up people and no fundraising happens!Anup Tiwari heads Asia widefundraising and communications for aleadinginternational childdevelopmentorganisation. Hefrequently blogs onwww.fundraisingasia.org and can bereached through it.The viewsexpressed in thisarticle are his own and not ascribableto his organisation.