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.