Tag Archives: philanthropy

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!

Forever Books

My boss forwarded me this story about how BookSpring in Austin, Texas made an impact on one student and his school librarian. Read on…

I know we’ve talked now and again about my work at BookSpring. This story just was too touching not to share about our Reading is Fundamental program (RIF). Thanks for reading it, and if you have a chance to give a gift to a child this year, buy them a book (or two). It makes a huge difference.


From a librarian at an Austin elementary school:

Our children unfortunately move frequently. Part of the process of changing schools is the return of all library books. Last month a boy came into the library looking very sad. I tried to comfort him and showed him online pictures of his new school and his new librarian. He asked me again whether he had to turn in all his library books, couldn’t he at least keep one or two? He said “I sleep with them no matter where we are.” I shook my head. He opened his backpack and there were nine RIF books (along with his library books.) Joyfully, I explained that RIF books were forever gifts and library books were only borrowed. I hugged him goodbye and he left, smiling and clutching his backpack full of his forever books. Then I cried.