New technology and giving–your responses!

Last week as we watched the flashy uber-production of “Idol Gives Back” on American Idol, we got to thinking about the impact of new trends and technologies and wondered if they are the future (or perhaps even the present!) of giving. So in line with “Idol’s” big celebrity-filled fundraiser, we wrote a blog musing about whether altruistic reality shows or Web sites aimed at the 18–35 crowd and other new trends such as text-message donating are a part of our local clients’ interests and future.

So we asked you, our readers, how interested you were in these new trends and technologies. Here is what we found:

  • About 75% of you said you had an online giving component to your Web site, but only about 20% of you have a MySpace or Facebook page for your organization. This is great news that so many of you have online giving on your sites now! Social networking sites aren’t right for every organization (we currently don’t have one at JVA!) but are a nice approach if you are working with or trying to attract young people to your organization or events. Also, if you aren’t too protective of your message, Facebook’s Causes application is an interesting and cheap route to go, although it’s still less than a year old so its long-term impact on cultivating donors remains unclear.
  • Only about 30% of you have heard of text message giving technologies, but 73% of you would be interested in learning more about text-based giving or trying it out with your organization. We have just been learning about this technology as well, but luckily for all of us we are on the cutting edge here in Colorado. Denver-based Mobile Accord is leading the way nationally with text-to-give technologies and has plans to launch a Web site that any 501(c)(3) can sign up to join this May, so stay tuned!

In a nutshell, most of you were eager to learn more. Some of you felt you really needed to catch up in this arena and were eager to learn more in the coming months:

  • Clearly, we are way behind in this arena of giving, so i am very curious to know more about what is going on “out there!”
  • I am very interested in social networking and text messaging as tools to raise funds and as means to “stay relevant” to upcoming generations.
  • Our organization is slow to adopt these new ways of giving, but I think we need to catch up with the times if we are to attract younger donors.

Others had some reservations. One of you even had experience with text-message giving but said it didn’t work out; others said it wasn’t a direction your organization was even ready to head into at this time:

  • I worked for a very prominent organization that tried text messaging—right type of promotion, right demographic—major disaster! Not worth the effort.
  • We’ve decided not to do text messaging giving now because potential unasked-for fees may still be part of the equation for our donors…
  • Text messaging giving is pretty well beyond where we’re at right now. We don’t even have a fund development plan…

You also pointed out, and rightfully so, that online giving and text-to-give technologies aren’t the end all; you still have to market them to the right audience at the right time:

  • Just because you have the capacity to receive online gifts, or text gift, doesn’t mean you are going to get them. It’s still going to be a lot of marketing and communicating of your mission and we all know that is best done through dedicated volunteers who are excited to be part of your work.

Lastly, a couple of you hoped for some training on this topic in the future! We’ll keep this in mind as we develop future workshop sessions!

  • Looks like we need to learn a little something new! Will our favorite NPO gurus be offering a session some time soon?

Note: The results of this survey are nonscientific and should not be cited as such in other documents. The responses were obtained from a convenience sample and may not be representative of the population.

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