Trouble with Facebook

October 29, 2008

Have you ever used the Causes application and found that it didn’t work?  I have been really disappointed with Facebook as a donor tool.  I had really high hopes when I first started using it and have been disappointed in how poorly it has performed.  I think that we are in a very exciting time where the every day person can start to make a huge difference by asking their network to support issues they believe in.  However it seems that Facebook has so many different and arguably useless applications that people have stopped networking that way.  Is this a problem that you have experienced as well?

In terms of applications that use viral community I have found the Network for Good widget more successful, LinkedIn, or even Ning.  There is a new widget out there that pulls together a number of other online widgets connected to volunteering & activism run by Social Actions (read more about their work).

Currently the most successful way that I have seen online fundraising happen is through businesses that provide an online peer-to-peer model that has partnership applications through Facebook.  Often these organizations have badges or giving pages that can integrate with multiple media outlets and can stand alone. I think that online widgets are a really interesting and upcoming fundraising tool but they do not seem to be all that successful as of yet.

What has your experience been with widgets?  Have you used the Facebook cause application successfully?

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LinkedIn & LinkedIn Groups

October 27, 2008

I am a huge fan of LinkedIn and have used it with each nonprofit that I have worked with.  It has taken a little bit of time to build my network and understand that systems but once I learned how to do it I have found it extremely valuable to development work.  Here are a few examples of what LinkedIn can do for you.

  • Stay in Touch- We all lose touch now and again with people that are connected to our organization.  But if you connect with them on LinkedIn they can update their employer and you will always have a way of connecting with them.
  • Leverage the Network of your Volunteers- I often use LinkedIn as a way of figuring out who my organizations key volunteers know.  Once you are connected you can see the people that they know and this can help you understand who their network is and if they have friends that can give.
  • Build an Online Community- LinkedIn Groups are a huge asset to any organization.  Recently they upgraded their “groups” area and you can discuss ideas and issues.  This is a great way to foster networking and community with your volunteers or donors.
  • Find Success Stories- I have found past alumni or clients of my organizations and connected with them.  This has resulted in great testimonials in support of the organization.
  • Up-to-date with your Contacts- If your contacts change jobs, start working on a new board, are thinking about a specific issue, they may include it in their profiles.  This is a great way to keep up-to-date with your contacts and send them a note or call them if anything major happens.
  • Prospect Research- I will sometimes use LinkedIn as a way to do a little research on potential or existing donors.  You can see their past employers, they talk about things that are important to them this is a great resource in learning about your donors.

Do you use LinkedIn as a development professional?  Leave a comment with your story or join the new A Small Change group on LinkedIn.  If you have any questions or want help with LinkedIn let me know and I’ll point you in the right direction.


Fundraiser of the Month: Erica de Klerk

October 21, 2008

This month’s Fundraiser of the Month is Erica de Klerk! As you many of you know, I highlight a different fundraiser every month and asking them to talk about what makes them good at what they do. Last month I highlighted Chris Logan. Feel free to refer someone you know of that’s a great fundraiser in the comments section below.

What kind of fundraising do you do and who do you do it for?

I am the Director of Stewardship (Major Gifts) for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Greater Washington Chapter.

What keeps you going? Why do you keep working in development?

The interactions with those who are motivated to give, because they or someone close to them are impacted by the disease. This past week I spent an hour-and-a-half meeting with one of those individuals, who has been giving to the MS Society for many years but is not really connected to the organization. I had the opportunity to listen, share information and determine how to engage this donor best in our work in a way that was meaningful to her. If I were sitting in the office all day, analyzing research and giving patterns, I would not be working in development. It is the relationships that keep me motivated, challenged and enjoying my work.

What tips/advice do you have to other fundraisers in your field?

Do not underestimate the power of thank yous, for all your donors. If you have doubts on the effectiveness of a simple phone call to recognize a gift, check out Penelope Burke’s, Donor Centered Fundraising. I had a recent example when notified of a gift given through direct mail. These individuals receive a thank you letter in the mail, but it is up to me to make a thank you call. As I dug deeper into this donor’s history I found some connections to one of our board members, who was able to give me additional information prior to the call. When I spoke with the donor on the phone, who we had yet to build a relationship with, she was eager to meet with me. Had I not made that phone call, that opportunity may not have come for some time longer.

What is the most frustrating or difficult thing about fund development?

It takes time, and patience. We have to be attentive to many different motivations for giving, and learn how to sustain these over time.  It is important to determine strategic priorities, develop plans, but to know that ultimately there are many variables affecting these. More recently the economy has become a variable in fund development, another is the internal culture around fundraising- that is is not just the responsibility of the development staff, all staff have a role in fundraising including the IT staff and program managers.

What is a recent, successful, fundraising campaign you wanted to are impressed with?

$19.1million capital campaign for Asian Counseling and Referral Services.


Chris Logan: Fundraiser of Last Month P2

October 3, 2008

Many of you read the first half of my Fundraiser of the Month post with Chris Logan, here is the final question from that post.  Feel free to connect with me if you have someone in mind that might fit.

Do you have any memorable donor visits or solicitations or events that you’d like to share?

A number of years ago, I lived and worked in the former Soviet Union for an international NGO.  Our primary focus was social policy reform for kids and families.  I wanted very badly to change one particular orphanage for disabled girls.  The place was horrific primarily because of a very corrupt director. Many organizations had been trying to bring about change in this place since the mid-nineties.  In the particularly bad winter of 1996, 35 of the 200 girls died from exposure and starvation.

I lobbied hard to bring about change, and brought together a consortium of who’s who in the country I was working – the Ambassadors from America, Germany, France, Spain, etc., UNICEF, the World Bank etc.  We managed to convince the President as a group to get rid of the corrupt director and they brought in a new Director that wanted to be there only because she loved children.  It worked.

I decided to go ahead and hold a special fundraiser to help get the new Director off on the right foot.  I put together a fundraiser called “Dinner with the President” where a small group of ex-pats could come have dinner with the President, and all the proceeds would go to the orphanage.

We sold 200 tickets at $100 each raising $20,000.  The room was packed.  At 5:59 pm, one minute before the start, the President hadn’t shown up.  In a conversation with another government representative, he told me that the President was not coming.  I was devastated!  I thought to myself “what a disaster”.

We went ahead with the speeches.  I spoke, the head of UNICEF spoke, we ate dinner.  It felt horrible.  Then, a man approached me after dinner.  He was a British businessman I had met a few months earlier.  He asked if he could get up and say a few words.  Given that things had already gone badly, I said sure.

The man stood up at the podium and made the most incredible speech.  He spoke about how we had come together to witness something extraordinary.  He spoke about how we had all rallied around a single cause, and how it had made such a difference in the lives of children.  He spoke about how I, as Director of a small NGO had done something that the largest International Institutions in the world were unable to do.  He began to tear up as he spoke about being raised in an institution himself as a child.  He then said, “to hell with the President.  If he isn’t smart enough to understand the impact of this evening, to hell with him.”  To rousing applause.  He went on “I didn’t come here tonight to meet the President.  I have met him and I promise you, I was not that impressed.  In honor of the President NOT showing up tonight, I would like to present a check to Mr. Logan in the amount of $30,000.  To be split between his organization and the orphanage.  I suggest others here consider doing the same”.  They did.  We raised nearly $60,000 total that evening.


What is A Small Change???

October 1, 2008

Welcome to my redesign of A Small Change and the launch of the new logo!  Many of you have been my faithful readers for a long-time and I thank you for that, I could not do it without you.  This is a post to explain to anyone who is new what A Small Change is all about.

I started this blog as a way to provide advice and ideas to nonprofits to help them in their fund development.  This blog is a place for nonprofit professionals to come together and hear new ideas and discuss others thoughts.

There are a few different reoccurring posts that you will see.

  • Fundraiser of the Month: This is a new column where I am highlighting a fundraiser and what they do and tips they have.  Feel free to submit your friends.
  • Online Interviews: About every quarter I will take a new topic and have industry experts answer a few questions.  You can see interviews on Online Fundraising and Capital Campaigns.  The next one is on Solicitations Letters and Direct Mail.
  • Grants: This area talks about awards and grants that I have heard about or see on the internet.  Feel free to submit new awards as you hear about them.
  • Resources: I am always reading or finding new things online.  This is a place where you can find books as well as sample reports and in the future sample solicitation letters.

This site is all about it’s readers.  If you want to see something then let me know about it.  If you disagree with anything I say add a comment to the post I encourage discussion.  And to those of you who have been with me from the beginning and those of you that are reading today, THANK YOU!

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