I spend a fair amount of my “free” time looking into trends that are and will be impacting the nonprofit sector. The kind of trends I am interested in go beyond what we gather from traditional sources like Stats Canada and Imagine Canada (both of which I hold in very high regard by the way).
Yes, it’s true that current trends indicate the most of the money donated comes from a very small portion of the donor population. And I believe that trend will continue for some time, but I am not sure that statistic will hold up over the long-term. What I mean is that the wealthy will continue to give but there are things happening now that are changing the face of philanthropy. One of those things is what I will call, “the democratizing of giving” and creating movements of interest and change, which are beginning to deliver dollars in growing amounts from small gifts – often called microgiving.
Microgiving is a natural evolution of online giving but more to the point social media, in particular social networking. This trend is bringing giving to a level of human touch and providing people with the means and tools to make a difference directly, not necessarily through traditional charities.
Fundraisers should take notice because there are many opportunities to start capitalizing on this trend – and I mean in good ways of course.
The microgiving trend is not a “stand-alone” trend. It is connected to the rapid rise of social networking in our daily lives and the slow but steady realization of many nonprofits that their futures – or more to the point – the future of their causes must engage people and organizations as a network as opposed to just donors or just volunteers.
Social networks are in effect collaborations on steroids. They go beyond the traditional view of collaboration as something organizations do with one another, which if you think about it is often a way of picking and choosing whom we work with, while excluding others.
Social networks like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, and even wiki technology are connecting people in ways that was never possible before. They enable individuals to connect with one another but also with causes, and perhaps most important social conversations about life.
Sure, much of social media is about people having fun, recreating, and sharing mundane information about their lives, but it is also true that social media is revolutionizing how people become informed, interested, engaged, and committed in terms of what they find meaningful.
While it may seem contradictory, the use of technology and the Internet is creating an intimacy of sorts with life and its many manifestations that people are not finding in institutions.
People want to make a difference in those things that are important to them, and as we know what is important to us is identified through our exchanges with others, through what we are exposed to, what we learn, and what we dream about.
Okay, enough pontificating! Here are some examples of social networking as it relates to creating interest in causes. The following is a mix of things, ranging from small to large efforts that involve networks of people.
12 Nonprofits and Causes to follow on Twitter: This list includes Water.org, Twestival (make sure you take a look at this one), DonorsChoose (I have written before about this one), Dosomething.org, and a bunch of others that have significant “followers” on Twitter. Imagine having an audience of more than 300,000 followers to your cause!
Jason Pollack’s list of non-profit organizations on Listorius offers up opportunties to become a Twitter follower of an incredible list of causes/charities including joinred (over a million Twitter followers), the Case Foundation (300,000 + followers), and Ashoka (over 300,000 followers). While there are people who just twit their time away on Twitter, there are thousands who are choosing causes to be connected to.
Socialbrite’s list of change-makers, focuses more on individuals than nonprofits. Clicking on their link brings you to their Twitter page where you can see the nature of the social conversations there. It’s a small group right now, but given the relationship with Socialbrite.org, I think it will grow.
On my social media site for non-profits (www.theBIGchange.ca), I list some Facebook success stories: the World Wildlife Fund with 337,000 “friends”; joinred has over 500,000 friends. In fact, non profits are creating such a presence on Facebook that Facebook itself launched a page for non profits: click here (it has 290,000 members).
I am not suggesting you rush out and open Twitter and Facebook accounts. And if you are already doing Facebook and Twitter with less than inspiring results, I am not suggesting you get discouraged.
What I am trying to point out is the trend and how important it is for nonprofits to not only understand social media as a tool (or set of tools) but the phenomenon of networking and how important it is for nonprofits to network with people – one person at a time in order to make a difference.
I have posted a number of pieces on social networking and social media on this blog. My most recent one is called Social Media and Your Non-Profit and it is two posts down from this one. You can download the posting too. I hope it helps.
CLICK HERE FOR SOME ENTERTAINING VIDEOS THAT CAN HELP YOU LEARN ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA