My daughter doesn’t talk on the phone

My 15-year-old daughter doesn’t talk on the phone.  She only checks her email when her school uses it for homework assignments.   She only responds to text messages and Facebook – and she can spend all evening on her phone, texting and Facebooking.  She helps keep me focused on social media even though I still send hundreds of emails a day and even pick up the phone for old-fashioned voice calls.

Convio’s Going Social: Tapping into Social Media for Nonprofit Success white paper published in 2010 is an excellent handbook for reviewing what your organization is doing with social media and determining how to do it better.  While we all know that Facebook and other social media is not producing much revenue – remember my daughter – it’s wher a lot of people spend a lot of their time and it’s essential to building relationships with donors who will give through email, your Web site, or – increasingly – their smart phones.  Here are some of Convio’s “ten key benefits” of social media:

  1. Learn what your supporters are saying (and increase trust and loyalty by allowing them to give you feedback).
  2. Drive traffic. (Some of our clients are getting 10% to 20% of their Web traffic from social media.)
  3. Improve results on search engines with keyword-rich content.
  4. Drive visitors to online donation pages.  (Some of our clients saw this after the Haiti earthquake.  You can also create a donation tab which enables people to enter their credit cards within Facebook and send the info via an API into Convio or another tool.)
  5. Enable supporters – especially your most passionate “influencers” — to distribute messages about your organization to their friends.
  6. Acquire new contacts and build your email housefile.  (While many Facebook fans figure they can get all the info they want about your org via Facebook, some will sign up if you provide the sign-up form.)
  7. Show your supporters that you are where they are (my idea, not Convio’s).

Network for Good’s Online Giving Study: A Call to Reinvent Donor Relationships from January 2011 is also filled with useful information as you plan 2011 and beyond. This study reviews what NFG learned from $381 million in online donations made through the Network for Good system, which powers charity Web pages; portals where donors can find charities, such as NetworkforGood.org, CharityNavigatgor.org, or GuideStar.org; and for social media sites such as Facebook Causes and Change.org.

  1. Donors who gave on organization-branded Web pages gave larger gifts, and more money over time, than donors who gave through portals or social media.
  2. “Cumulative giving over time is a key metric to measuring donor relationships.”  We all know this, but often just look at individual gifts, not “lifetime value.”
  3. Donors who made their first gift on a charity’s Web site (on a charity-branded page actually sitting on a secure Network for Good site) gave larger gifts and more money over time, portals were next, and Facebook givers gave the smallest initial gift and the least amount over time.  Again, this makes sense, but I never thought of it.
  4. 22% of all online giving in the Network for Good universe took place on the last two days of the year (2003-2009).  Does that fit with what you saw this year?
  5. Average gifts online are dropping because (a) online giving is more mainstream, not just affluent early adopters, and (b) at least in the Network for Good example, there are a lot of gifts from Facebook Causes, where donors are younger and give less.

Nick Allen is co-founder and chief strategy officer of Donordigital, the online fundraising, marketing, and advertising company.  Contact: nick@donordigital.com or phone (510) 473-0366.