Fundraising Platforms: Is Three a Crowd?

Over the last month or two I’ve received lots of questions from communications and development directors about third-party fundraising applications like Jumo and Crowdrise. The same question came up this morning at the Nonprofit Marketing in 2011 workshop I did this morning for the Georgia Center for Nonprofits.

I’m personally taking a wait and see attitude with these newer kids on the block. But I know that’s not particularly helpful to those of you who are debating whether to try them now or not.  So when Cheryl Black at Convio told me she was presenting on this very question at a conference this week,  I asked her to write  a guest post for you.  Thanks, Cheryl!

Guest Post by Cheryl Black, Convio

You’ve heard that any publicity is good publicity. Does the same apply to donations? Is any donation a good donation?

Well . . . sure (ethics, morals and such granted). Any dollar, no matter how you receive it is equally green and spends just as well.

But when a donation goes through a third-party does it retain all its elements of good? Or does it lose some of that intrinsic goodness?

This was the essence of what we tried to answer today at Convio’s “Is 3 a Crowd?” panel at Social Media Week in NYC.

In 2010 we saw what many nonprofiteers and marketers are calling “the year of social media for social good.” This catchy phrase can be credited to the increasing popularity of social media sites that connect people to causes and encourage philanthropy. The Big Three, if you will, are Jumo, Crowdrise and Causes.

  • Jumo, founded by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, is in their words, “a social network connecting individuals and organizations who want to change the world.”
  • Crowdrise uses a combination of crowdsourcing, incentives and social networking to raise funds and create awareness while “having the most fun in the world.”
  • Causes, created in 2008, is a Facebook application that harnesses that network’s powerful relationship infrastructure and has raised $30 million to date.

Food Bank for New York and Planned Parenthood have both experimented with these sites. In a nutshell, they see potential but like so many organizations, are still feeling out how to harness it.

To get your organization started, we recommend considering these three questions:

  • Does it make sense for your organization?
  • Can you leverage existing content?
  • Can you access the individual fundraisers and donors for further cultivation?

Our team at Convio has answered the third question for you in regard to The Big Three. The answer? Yes!

Jumo and Crowdrise both use Network for Good to process the donations. Organizations can visit the Network for Good website to gain access to their donors’ information.

Causes uses its own system and provides organizations with a downloadable csv file which includes name, mailing address and donation size. Email thank you notes can be sent through the Causes system but make note, the downloadable csv file does not include email addresses.

Knowing this makes us think that yes, a donation received through a third-party social media website can maintain its intrinsic goodness. It can actually exceed goodness and reach greatness if you grab hold of the donor information, incorporate the donors into your constituent relationship management system and then apply fundraising best practices.

Consider sending a thank you letter, sharing an inspiring story and suggesting they follow you on Twitter or like your Facebook page as best practices to help your one-time social media donor turn into a lifelong supporter.

To see highlights from today’s Social Media Week panel, flip through the slideshare below. For more information on fundraising best practices or effective use of social media, check out the free guides available on Convio’s website.

(5/10/12 update: I had to delete Convio’s slideshow which was pulling from their Slideshare.net account because Getty Images threatened to sue me over the display of the cover image.)

Cheryl Black is the Social Media Marketing Specialist for Convio, a leading provider of on-demand constituent engagement solutions that enable nonprofit organizations to more effectively raise funds, advocate for change and cultivate relationships with donors, activists, volunteers, alumni and other constituents. For nonprofit news and best practices, follow Convio on Twitter at @Convio and for nonprofit news mixed with personal tid-bits, follow Cheryl at @Cheryl_lynn425.

It’s Kivi writing again . . . have you tried Jumo or Crowdrise and if so what did you think? Are you using Facebook Causes actively? Share your experiences in the comments.



© 2007-2017, Nonprofit Marketing Guide. All Rights Reserved.

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  • Development

    Crowdrise sent us one check that not only didn’t tell us who the donors were, it didn’t tell us who the aggregator was! And they are expensive. We plan to build the capability to host donor pages on our upcoming FR website – clearer, easier for everyone, cheaper, and Network for Good says that this platform is more likely to result in repeat donation than a third party like Crowdrise.

    • One thing we learned during the research was that for the most part, these sites don’t proactively offer you the information. You have to go after it. Definitely not ideal but better than what we thought the case might be going into it. Good luck with your new donor pages! Please let us know if they are successful.

  • CharityGuy

    I was just reviewing Causes this morning and they use Network for Good to handle their donations too.

    • Really? Interesting. I didn’t see that – perhaps because I don’t have a log-in as a nonprofit?

      What I can share is this verbatim response from Causes when we were doing our research:

      “Nonprofits can view their donors’ names, physical addresses, cause donated to, donation amount, and time/date of donation in a downloadable .csv file. Records are updated immediately in the Partner Center so nonprofits have up-to-the-minute records of donations coming in through Causes. We also have a “Thank-you Note” feature that allows a nonprofit to set an automatic thank you note that gets sent to every donor’s email, right when they make a donation. The nonprofit can also write mass communications to all their donors (or just donors in a specific time period) or write donors individually on their Causes Profile.”

      And then further in our email communication

      “The csv. file does not give you email information on your donors, only their name and mailing address (unless they have opted-out of sharing that information). Though you cannot download their email addresses through Causes, when you send a bulletin it will be delivered to the email addresses of all the members of your causes.”

      Thanks for adding to the research and conversation!

  • Couple more points…We use Causes a bit and I have noticed that many people choose anonymity so the information with the check will not include name or address. Of course, you can go back to Causes online and try to match donors with donations. But I have to assume that anyone who has chosen anonymity does not want a formal thank you letter or further traditional CRM-style contact. The best we can do is thank them profusely through the Causes platform.

    In my experience, Causes is best when used by individuals – say with the “Birthday Wish” feature, which is quite robust as far as making it easy to send out Facebook messages & wall posts and emails to let people know about your wish, and then to thank them if they give. From an organizational perspective, it might be easier to let donors know about Causes as a tool for them to use rather than trying to raise funds through Causes directly.

  • Rebekah Gienapp

    We have had some success using Causes, primarily through birthday wishes. I was at a seminar recently where a participant said he had used Jumo to give to one of his favorite nonprofits. He was disappointed that the gift didn’t show to his Jumo profile. He also didn’t get any type of thank you, and when he checked with the nonprofit several days later, they hadn’t gotten any notice from Jumo of his gift. He assumed they would. This would make me cautious about using Jumo, because people might assume my organization was failing to thank them.

  • Stacie Mann

    Thanks Kivi and Cheryl for this post. I am the VP of Partnerships at Network for Good and simply wanted to chime in as the nonprofit organization that is processing the donations on these third-party social media sites. Like CharityGuy noted, Network for Good does in fact process the donations on Causes, Crowdrise and Jumo. We couldn’t agree more that segmented follow-up and thank yous are critical in providing orientation for a donor that may have donated at the request of a friend or peer.

    In addition to the response from Causes, here are some of the things that Network for Good does to help charities cultivate donors that have made donations through the sites that are powered by the Network for Good Giving System.

    1. Email notification — We send an automatic email to the charity that includes a summary of the donations made to that organization for that day. The email includes a link to our donation tracking report where the charity can access details on the donors who have decided to share their information.

    2. Donation Tracking Report — We make the donor information accessible for charities at any time — we understand that time is precious when you are juggling jobs. Registration is required but we feel like this is a necessary step for security. In addition to the donor details we provide information on where the donation was made so that charities can segment their follow-up. The data can be exported in excel, a file format common to most databases.

    3. Payment Notification – When we send the donations to charities we include an insert with a paper check or an email if we are sending the payment via EFT. Included in those communications we include detailed steps for charities including recommendations to thank their donors directly.

    We are open to suggestions on how we can best help with seamless donor follow-up.

    • Hi Stacie,

      I was actually just coming to post that I confirmed with Causes that they use Network for Good. Thank you for providing additional information about your services to help cultivate donors. I hope many organizations use them and general best practices to help these great donors turn into lifelong supporters. 🙂

  • Fundraising Platforms: Is Three a Crowd? | Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog

  • Fundraising Platforms: Is Three a Crowd? | Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog

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