Tag Archive | "Online Fundraising"

The Main Difference Between Facebook and Twitter, by John Haydon


Greetings!  Once again, I am proud to bring you an article by a guest author who has lots of experience working for the benefit of non-profit organizations.  John Haydon (pictured at left) is the man behind JohnHaydon.com and InboundZombie, which is the site for his social media consulting business.  

John specializes in helping non-profits “increase awareness, amplify engagement, and get more donations online.”  I think those are goals that most non-profits would aim for!

John has also written an e-book, called “The Complete Facebook Guide For Small Nonprofits”, which is free to download, if you “Like”  his Facebook page.

I hope you enjoy this article and I encourage you to check out John’s site when you get the chance.  I’m sure you will learn something and have a good time doing it!  Thanks, John!

 The Main Difference Between Facebook and Twitter: A Video


Blogs vs. Facebook for Nonprofits, by Gayle Thorsen


Gayle Thorsen (pictured at left) is back with another great article to share with us here at Step By Step Fundraising!  Over the past year, Gayle has been kind enough to share with us her recent articles from her blog ImpactMax.  

Gayle has been in the nonprofit communications world for more than 25 years, the last 12 as the communications head for two large foundations:The Minneapolis Foundation and The McKnight Foundation.

Take a few minutes to visit ImpactMax and read all the terrific articles Gayle has posted there. It will be time very well spent!  Thanks, Gayle!


Blogs vs. Facebook for Nonprofits

Over the past few months, I’ve helped a couple nonprofit clients who are ready to move into social media decide whether to go with a blog or Facebook. (I’ll talk about Twitter strategies in a future post. It’s kind of a different animal.)

Most approach it as an either/or decision because of their limited staff resources. That’s a real concern. If you truly don’t have the staff time to blog at least once a week or make a Facebook update twice a week, you shouldn’t be considering either medium.

If you do have adequate staff resources, go back to your strategic communications plan to make this decision. You have to start there—with what you want to happen as a result of your communications efforts. (If you need help with strategic communications planning, here’s the first part of my four-part DIY series.)

Each organization has unique goals and needs, they have to drive your choice. Don’t be seduced into thinking that because everyone’s on Facebook or such-and-such an organization has a blog, that you have to do the same thing. Do it only if it supports your strategic communications goals.

Here are a few hypothetical examples of how different organizations might make this decision. (There are many factors to consider in these decisions, but because these are hypotheticals I’m going to  keep it simple.)

Nonprofit A relies mostly on foundation funding. It’s identified program officers, board members, and executive staff from current and potential funders as its key communications audiences, and the priority goal is to keep those people impressed with and supportive of its work.

Nonprofit B has a very different communications goal. That organization is dependent on individual contributions and volunteers, so it’s crucial to engage, feed, and continuously grow its fan base to keep support levels consistently high.

Nonprofit C has developed a brand that emphasizes knowledge sharing and leadership. One of its priority communications goals is to be recognized by local partners, peers, and other influencers as THE knowledge source on a particular issue.

With limited funds and staff time—where do each of these nonprofits begin branching out to more social media: a blog or Facebook? (For now, let’s assume they have no other social media presence.)


Here’s what I’d probably advise.

Nonprofit A–blog

Although Facebook can be a very engaging medium, given the demographics and motivation of senior foundation staff, I’m not sure Facebook is where they will go first to find out about a nonprofit’s work. I’d say, first make your website and email newsletters very compelling for this audience, and work up a series of personal interactions that gets your CEO in front of key members. If you want something more—then consider a blog.

Facebook is fun, but blogs can be more professional and credible sources of information for this particular audience. Once embedded (I recommend embedding blogs in websites in most cases), they also add badly needed dynamism to a website. I also believe that a blog can go farther in advancing your brand than Facebook can—after all you own and control it, not some third party.

Nonprofit B–Facebook

Not only can Facebook help increase the size of your fan base, it can encourage and enable peer-to-peer fundraising and individual contributions to your campaigns and volunteer participation. It’s an exciting interactive medium for cultivating relationships, but do think through the demographics of Facebook before making a commitment. The key here is full integration with your website, email, direct mail, and all other social hubs you eventually develop. Remember, Facebook is one step on a much longer path to lasting engagement. Clearly understand the tactics and media you’re going to use to guide that new Facebook friend down the path. Here are some interesting “onboarding” ideas from a past post.


If you’d like to continue reading this great article, please click on over to Gayle’s blog at ImpactMax! 



4 Poor Excuses for Avoiding Social Media, by Maureen Carruthers


Once again, I’d like to welcome back Maureen Carruthers (pictured at left).  Maureen is a non-profit consultant, and the force behind the excellent blog “Low Hanging Fruit Communication” which covers many topics including social media for non-profits.

Maureen’s goal is to help nonprofit leaders reach their right people more quickly so their organizations have a greater impact,  She has over ten years experience working in and around nonprofit organizations, most recently as the Workforce Development Program Manager for the Dayton Tooling and Manufacturing Association, where she managed a robot competition based on theBattleBots television series. Previously, she managed the Orchestra Forum program for theInstitute for Cultural Policy and Practice and served as House Manager for the Delaware Theatre Company.

I have spent some time on Maureen’s blog, and I highly recommend you check her site out.  I learned a lot!  You can even sign up for Maureen’s free e-class and newsletter.


4 Poor Excuses for Avoiding Social Media

When I was in graduate school, we had a mantra about the work that didn’t get done:  “There is always an excuse, but there may not be a reason.”  We used it to remind our colleagues (and ourselves) that just because we could justify our lack of progress didn’t mean we were off the hook.

I’m pulling out this old gem because when I hear nonprofit leaders talk about why they aren’t using social media to build relationships with the people who can help them achieve their goals, I hear a whole lot of excuses and not so many reasons.

I don’t care what you ate for lunch

This is a favorite excuse of social media avoiders.  The actual complaint differs person to person, but it starts with “I don’t care” and ends with some specific light topic  people tend to mention in social media (weather, traffic, flight delays, etc.)  Luckily, it’s also the easiest problem to overcome.

Get over yourself.

Personal chit-chat is a part of living in a human society.   Social media is a communication tool, and humans engage in small talk when they communicate.  If you ask after people’s children, or inquire into holiday plans when you communicate with people in person, you can bite the bullet and learn to do the same when you use online communication channels.

I tried it and it didn’t work

If by “tried it” you mean you built a Facebook page, posted links to your website and yet, you were not flooded with new traffic, or you have a twitter account where you promote press releases about your events,  you have not “tried” social media.

Social media is not an advertising tool, and it’s not a magic bullet. It won’t work over night, and you’ll only get benefit from it if you use it in a sustained way.  Social media is a two-way communication tool that  gives you and your organization the opportunity to find, and build relationships with, the people who are likely to be interested in what you have to offer.  It also gives you the chance to “overhear” what people are saying amongst themselves about you and subjects you care about.  Used correctly, these new relationships can be a key leverage point in your ability to get the word out about what you do–but only if you focus on the relationships and not your short term advertising or fundraising goals.

I don’t have the technical expertise

The internet may have been invented for geeks, by geeks, but, much to their chagrin,  its most popular tools have been co-opted by lay people and re-built to accommodate our lack of technical know how (and interest).  That’s not to say there is no learning curve.  Like any new undertaking, getting started with social media will involve learning some new vocab words, getting comfortable with new customs, etiquette and standard ways of working, but it is most certainly not rocket science.  You will be able to learn.  If you are nervous, or just don’t feel like navigating the journey alone, I can help.

My people don’t use social media

If this one were legitimately true, it would be a good reason to exclude social media from your marketing plan.  But, before you check it off your to-do list, be sure you aren’t underestimating your user base.

My grandmother is on Facebook.  My co-worker’s daughter blogs about her mission work from a part of  Africa where electricity is a “sometimes” luxury.  I am more likely to learn about breaking news from Twitter than I am from CNN.  In other words, social media is no longer a fad for teenagers and college students.  Almost every one with an internet connection in the United States, and increasingly, around the World, uses social media in one way or another–and those numbers are not likely to drop any time soon.  If your organization has a need to connect with individuals for any reason (ticket buyers, donors, volunteers, clients, etc.), you can benefit from social media.  Even if you work for one of the very rare nonprofits that interact only with other organizations, those organizations are also made up of people.  People who use social media.

Are there good reasons to avoid social media?

In the spirit of fairness, there are reasons to avoid social media.  I just hope none of them apply to you.

Your Turn

What are your favorite excuses for social media avoidance?  Have I over looked any good reasons for not taking the plunge?

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eTapestry Helps Food Bank Recover From Disaster

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There’s a variety of software programs that many nonprofits, just like commercial businesses, need in order to be successful.  For charitable groups managing donor information, communicating with supporters online and accepting internet based donations are of particular concern.

eTapestry offers a whole suite of tools to simplify this process for you. There’s a web-based donor management system, an online giving system, specialized email tools and even event registration just to name a few. Since everything is connected you save time by not having to enter duplicate information or use multiple systems.

Here’s a great case study…

Gleaners Food Bank in central Indiana uses eTapestry’s tools to make their donor data management less time consuming. They are able to track donation information effectively so they can continue to follow up with supporters and solicit additional funds.

eTapestry was instrumental in helping them recover from a major disaster – vandals who damaged the refrigeration system over a weekend left $170,000 worth of food destroyed.

The community response was overwhelming. They went to the food bank website and donated instantly, using the online donation system enabled by eTapestry. Imagine how much longer it would have taken to get the needed donations in without online giving already enabled.

Watch the Video for the full story

The software is user friendly and you’ll get top notch training and support. It can be made available to your entire team so that information related to your fundraising efforts that they need to succeed are right there (from anywhere since it’s a web based system).

Plus the eTapestry team manages all of the techie stuff – all upgrades, maintenance, backups, and data security are managed and monitored for you. A big plus for so many organizations that don’t have a technology department (or even one tech guy or gal)!

The bottom line is that using software like eTapestry helps you focus more on your mission, build better relationships with supporters and makes fundraising easier.

Here’s a great overview of eTapestry that you can print out or just go to eTapestry.com for more information.