Are Fan Bases Major Donors?

With the emergence of so many social media tools, there are fan bases developing all around you. I’ve seen websites that will tell give you a financial value of your network. I’m not sure how accurate they can really be, but the reality is that these kinds of groups are starting to hold more and more value beyond simply marketing.

Organizations can raise thousands–sometimes tens of thousands–of dollars through their blogs. These gifts will most often come at the micro level in amounts of $10 and $20. But when they are added together, they are significant. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, a fan base in many ways starts to act more like a single person than you would think. Should we start treating our online fan bases as major donors?

In order to cultivate your fan base, you will use many of the traditional relationship management techniques you would use in traditional moves management or major gifts fundraising. You will go into your online community and find leaders that you can use to encourage other readers to comment or give, in much the same way that you would in a fundraising campaign. Based on past experience and what you hear from your readers, you will tailor future messages to topics that interest them but are strategic to your organization. If you take too long in responding to a comment or are irregular about posting, you lose the loyalty of your readers. You need to stay in touch with your fan base in much the same way that you need to stay in regular touch with your donors.

What do you think? It is kind of a crazy idea to say that you can treat a group of people in a similar way that you would one person. And it is a little bit of a crazy idea to start thinking of that group in major gifts terms. If you are a fellow blogger, I’d love your thoughts regarding if this is something that you have observed as well.

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3 Responses to Are Fan Bases Major Donors?

  1. Donna Cook says:

    I haven’t thought about it a lot, but perhaps a fan base can be like a Political Action Committee…(thinking a group of teachers which has been my personal experience)….they all chip in their small donations…and you make a difference. Maybe a simple way to think about it….but it has worked for NEA for a good number or years. Worth thinking about!

  2. Hmm…yah, I havent thought about treating a group as one person, although I definitely agree that with the rise in social media, the fundraising trend is to collect thousands of small donations as opposed to a few large donations. Just look at some of the recent successful fundraisers like Twestival ($460k) and 12for12k ($80k) that were mainly discussed only on social media sites.

    I think individuals are more aware that they can make a difference in the world because they can ban together, whereas in the past, there was no way to connect with people with similar interests.

    So to answer your question, yes, I think fan bases can become major donors:)

  3. Elain Evans says:

    “It is kind of a crazy idea to say that you can treat a group of people in a similar way that you would one person.” – That’s not crazy that’s what we do in Annual Giving and if we do it really well the individuals in a group feel like individuals and not a member of a group!

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