Marketing Fundraising in the Digital World

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“So what’s the marketing plan for donations?” said a wise but staunch board member of an arts organization that I do PR and social media marketing for at a recent board meeting. Cue the cricket noises. With all my Twittering and Facebooking and digital press releases, I sort of forgot the thing board members like him worry about: raising lots of money. How am I going to market this so it inspires people to donate?

Some deep breaths, a long walk and a few handfuls of Easter candy later, I did what I always do when I’m stumped: I Googled. See, our particular campaign had thus far been very successful being strictly digital and very social. So I knew that the fundraising had to be cool, had to be cutting edge and needed to be social. There’s a billion new online fundraising and crowdsourcing sites — but which ones are effective for new non-profits?

At the top of the search engine heap is Crowdrise. Launched last summer, Crowdrise has the A-listers behind it (primarily Hollywood do-gooder Edward Norton, who used the site to raise over a million bucks for his fundraising marathon). Kristen Bell, Paul Rudd and Russell Brand also use Crowdrise for their pet projects. Easy to use and irreverently written, Crowdrise is definitely skewed to a younger demographic, but it’s a good place to keep all fundraising in one spot. Plus, Crowdrise scores points for being extremely social. So Crowdrise gets put on the “It couldn’t hurt to try” list; I will surely report back here with my findings.

But our next immediate move for fundraising was the thing I know works best with social media and that is using your contacts. Whether it’s breast cancer walks or girl scout cookies, we’ve seen firsthand the effectiveness of using social media to bring in the dough. Besides, you always hit up your friends before hitting up strangers, right?

Cool crowdsourcing site in play? Check. Friends happy to fork over whatever they can? Check. What else is on the plan to market fundraising? Cue the crickets again. But I do know that with social media marketing and a strong digital marketing strategy in place, it won’t be me and the crickets for too long.


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