Tag Archives: AFP

Online Advocates Help You Raise More

This article about online advocates, entitled “Online Advocates Help You Raise More”, originally appeared in the May/June 2011 issue of Advancing Philanthropy

Empower your raving fans to fundraise on your behalf

By Stacy Dyer, Sage North America

Humans are social creatures.  We are more likely to support a cause when asked by friends or family.  Make the most of people’s natural social nature by empowering those individuals who are most passionate about your cause to share their passion for your cause and solicit support on your behalf.

“We work hard to develop long-lasting, strategic relationships with individuals, organizations, and businesses, so our pool of existing supporters and donors are essential to us,” says Jessica Anderson, communications manager for Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC). “Not only are they the most loyal event participants, but they also reach out to new supporters with whom we wouldn’t otherwise connect.”

It’s about more than just getting people to sign online petitions. Encourage your raving fans (you know who they are, right?) to ask their own social networks to support your cause online. There are several ways to encourage personal advocacy online.

Peer-to-peer fundraising

First, there is simple peer-to-peer fundraising.  This happens when a donor or supporter shares a link to your donation form on their personal email or Facebook, Twitter, or blog page, encouraging their friends, colleagues, and readers to visit your website and make a donation.

Make it easy for supporters to share your organization’s donation forms on popular networks by embedding “share” links on every donation and event registration form you create.

Personal Fundraising Pages

To engage your supporters even more, allow individuals and partners supporting your organization to host personal fundraising pages on their own websites or blogs.  Maximize distribution with a portable virtual form. Advocates will be more willing to host a form on their site if it does not require visitors to leave their site in order to complete the form.

Make sure you address security within the form itself.  Credit card transaction security is crucial. Allow advocates to host your form without needing to worry about security, and without needing to specially configure their own blog or website.  Sponsors and other organizational partners will find this particularly helpful and will be more likely to not only sponsor your organization or special event, but also fundraise and advocate on your behalf on their own websites.

Ideally, the form you distribute to allow others to fundraise on your behalf will be easy for you to update, at any time.  The wider your distribution, the more difficult it would be to contact each advocate and request them to manually update it.  Create a form that you control, so that if you need to update your message for an urgent call to action, or any other reason, your changes will be immediately reflected anywhere the form is published.

Personalized Advocacy Center

Bring e-advocacy even further by allowing individuals to create their own personalized fundraising page, tracking the donations they have raised for your cause, on your site.  This type of advocacy is often used by registrants of race events, as they ask their friends to sponsor their participation in your run, walk, or ride.  But you don’t need to host a race to encourage advocate fundraising; it can be used in any type of fundraising campaign.

Create widgets online that supporters and participants can customize and share with their own peer-to-peer networks.  Make it both fun and personal.  Allow advocates to upload an image and share a personal statement about why they are supporting your cause.

Encourage your advocates to thank their friends and family who donate or pledge their support. Collect and share the email addresses of donors with the advocate, so they can send a thank you message to each of their personal supporters.

Competition can be a great motivator, too.  Set clear goals for each advocate, and allow advocates to increase their goal to keep the support flowing even after the original goal is met and surpassed. Be sure that any donations your advocate collects offline are counted, too. Use visual progress meters to publically track progress and allow individuals to share their success.

“We’re excited to have an advocacy center for each of our Pennsylvania Environment Ride participants,” says Anderson. “Making it easy for riders to ask their friends to sponsor them in the event, plus get credit for all the donations they raise themselves, will increase the amount of money raised by the event.”

Expand Your Reach

You rarely get anything you don’t ask for, so ask for it!  Your network of supporters, participants, and donors are your greatest asset when it comes to expanding your organization’s reach.  Ask your raving fans and most motivated supporters for help and make it easy for them to do, and you’ll be pleased by the results.


About Advancing Philanthropy
With 32,000 subscribers, Advancing Philanthropy is written for the members of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and executives of nonprofit organizations and institutions. The magazine provides ideas and strategies for the fundraising community, and includes information on education, training and advocacy for philanthropy. It also addresses ethical concerns and provides the latest news, resources, tools, models and technology for the sector. Web site: http://www.afpnet.org/Publications/IssueList.cfm?navItemNumber=544

Online Advocates.. from AdvPhil (pp33-41) Technology MayJun 2011


What do Social Entrepeneurs and Sesame Street have in common?

Blake Mycoskie of TOMS recently had appearances to both SXSW in Austin, TX and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) International Conference in Chicago.  I learned about his inspiration and motivation around his now famous TOMS brand and one-for-one movement.

Combining social good and the power of consumers is nothing new.

I came across a great article by Allen R. Bromberger, A New Type of Hybrid.  In it, he discusses how social entrepreneurs are using a hybrid model to combine the for-profit and nonprofit models.

Museums and performing arts organizations create for-profit retailers to sell merchandise, such as posters, jewerly, and books. And the hybrid model is nothing new to public broadcasting. The Children’s Television Workshop, owners of the Sesame Street characters, use separate nonprofit and for-profit organizations to both achieve business objectives and further a social mission.

Dan Pallotta, in his book, Uncivilized, points out why this arm’s length model is used for supporting social good with commercial activities. Rather than being politically or economically motivated, it was a religious view held by the Puritans who came to America in the 17th century. They believed that any commercial activity was sin. However they also understood it necessity, so to atone you could perform charitable activities and – never the twain shall meet.

In his article, A New Type of Hybrid, Bromberger discusses how modern social entrepreneurs are using separate, but contractual linked entities to accomplish their goals.

For any nonprofit concerned with the legal implications of UBIT (Unrelated Business Income Tax), or for-profit entities concerned that the pursuit which want to pursue a social mission, a single hybrid structure that contractual binds the nonprofit and for-profit entities may be a solution.

But Bromberger points out, it isn’t simple.

In the article, Bromberger describes various types of legal entities typically used in social entrepreneurship including, B corporations and benefit corporations and how they differ as well as the low-profit limited liability company (L3C) option.

He describes legal options to enter into activities together to achieve social good.

  • Parent-subsidiary model – where a nonprofit creates for-profit subsidiary
  • Commercial transactions and collaborations between nonprofit and for-profit companies (arm’s length model)
  • Corporate sponsorships and commercial co-ventures
  • Contractual hybrids

There is also a great discussion of legal ramifications of some of the various options and Bromberger spells out the particular IRS rules to consider.

  • Joint Ventures
  • Private Benefit
  • Unrelated Business Income Tax
  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Related Party Transactions
  • Form 990

The lively comments are also a must read.  One commentor notes a new option being considered in California which would allow the formation of a Flexible Purpose Corporation (Flex Corp.) You can read more about it in California to Allow Corporations to Blend Mission and Profit at corpgov.net.

I also loved Milton Friesen’s comment about using the open source model – create a platform upon which individual organizations can built new models – like allowing developers to create apps for an app store.

So what does all this very geeky, public policy mumbo jumbo mean?

Through open collaboration, we can essentially crowdsource innovation in social good and social entrepreneurial models! How cool would that be!

Online Fundraising: Fact vs. Fiction

The following article, Online Fundraising: Fact vs. Fiction, was originally published in the January/February 2011 issue of Advancing Philanthropy, a publication for the members of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and executives of nonprofit organizations and institutions.


Online Fundraising: Facts vs Fiction

By Stacy Dyer

Most organizations see the huge opportunity presented by online fundraising. Unfortunately, the majority have achieved limited success. In the 2007 Philanthropic Giving Index report, published by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, only 34 percent of nonprofits surveyed reported success with online fundraising. Even worse, survey participants ranked online giving as the least successful fundraising technique.

If your organization has yet to experience strong results raising funds online, it may be because you have bought into the online fundraising myths – that it is not as effective as traditional fundraising, that your donors don’t give online, or that you need expensive technology to be successful. These common misconceptions can easily be addressed with a few simple facts.

FACT: Online fundraising is just as effective as offline fundraising

Traditional fundraising campaigns focus on presenting professionally printed mailings, which include moving stories about your mission, and multiple giving programs to which donors may contribute. Too often, when donors go online, they find a generic giving form with no associated content as to how their donation will be used. Should it be surprising that they frequently abandon the process of making a donation online?

Make it easy for a donor to give directly within the content that motivated them in the first place. By creating donation forms that can be embedded within an email, or even within content pages of your website, you will remove barriers to completing the transaction and create a simple, elegant experience for your donor.

Start by evaluating whether you are committing a comparable amount of resources—people, time, and planning—to both your online and direct mail initiatives.

FACT: More donors are more comfortable with giving online than ever before

A 2008 Nielsen Company survey showed that 94 percent of Internet users in the U.S. have shopped online. Clearly, there is little reluctance within the general population to make purchases online. So, is something holding people back from giving online to your organization?

The answer to this question has a lot to do with the options given to donors. If online giving software is complex, cumbersome, and unrewarding for a nonprofit, it is almost certainly complex, cumbersome, and unrewarding for a donor, too.

A donation is an extremely important social interaction, but once someone is committed to a gift, it is simply another transaction; and the more steps a donor is asked to take, the less likely he or she is to complete that transaction. Creating multiple giving opportunities for each of your programs and streamlining the donation process are two simple changes that can increase online giving and strengthen donor satisfaction.

FACT: Raise more money by reaching donors where they already are online

Many organizations try to reroute people from wherever they are on the Internet – such as social networking sites or sponsors’ websites – back to a central, generic giving form on their own website. However, the true opportunity of online fundraising is unleashed when you tap into the powerful networking potential of all the other websites that your supporters frequently visit.

If we look at the places individuals visit online everyday, their favorite charity is probably not among them. However, they do visit their employers’ websites, and they might take action for a nonprofit their company supports. They likely edit their personal pages or blogs everyday, and they’ll even publish about a cause that inspires them. They also visit their friends’ blogs and personal pages, and may post, email, chat, or tweet about their favorite charity.

The individuals engaged in these conversations include some of your strongest, most vocal advocates. They have established bonds of trust with their personal networks. Why, then, would you ask them to leave a site they trust and go to yours?

Instead, take your message to where the social interaction is already happening. Reach out to your network of supporting partners, and the personal sites of individual advocates, and encourage them to continue the conversation.

FACT: Set high expectations to achieve better results

In January 2008, the Barack Obama campaign raised $28 million online—88 percent of the total funds raised. In fact, in one day that same month, the campaign raised $525,000 online in one hour. Many political campaigns, like most nonprofits, consider raising five to 10 percent of all funds online to be a success.

Ed Kless, political candidate for the Texas State Senate has much higher goals. He says, “Online donations are critical to any small campaign. In fact, I expect to raise nearly 100 percent of my campaign contributions online.”

To be successful, organizations must commit to making the Internet a major point of supporter engagement. Kless agrees, “In addition to my website, which includes a regularly updated blog, I have a Facebook page. It’s crucial that I have a fundraising tool that’s both easy to use and integrate into my current website and campaign.”

FACT: You don’t have to stop what you’re doing

In the past, online giving tools were expensive, only worked on a single website, and were difficult to update once deployed. Today’s online fundraising solutions are designed to work with your existing website and program content, so you don’t have to stop what you’re doing. By directly integrating into the methods you already use to communicate with your supporters and advocates, you can create a seamless, multi-channel approach to your fundraising.

Apply the same focus to your online strategy as you have to other communication channels. New online fundraising and advocacy tools allow you to easily control the message without the need for IT intervention or complicated website updates. Be agile – experiment and test often. Use your results to design more successful campaigns in the future.


You already have a compelling story for why your donors should support your mission.  Leverage it by embedding rich media, such as images and videos, into your donation forms, and then empower your advocates to share that message on your behalf. Consider this your opportunity.  The vast social shift happening online will create winners and losers. Be one of the winners.