Will privacy laws impact digital fundraising?

Digital fundraising is catching up fast, thanks to donors not picking up phones or totally ignoring direct mail. Email marketing, crowdfunding and Giving Days are engaging more people digitally, especially alumni in higher education. Will this trend last?

The proposed federal regulations to protect consumer privacy in the US will have an impact on online fundraising. If I can’t trust private companies with my data, will I really give online?

I believe that face to face fundraising will be the number one revenue generator for nonprofits seeking charitable gifts. A conversation with a fellow human being about their philanthropic intent has its own value. However, a 2018 survey done by the consultancy firm, Bentz Whaley Flessner, predicts a bright future for digital fundraisers. People are finding it more easy to connect online than through the phone.

Charitable organizations are using social media, promoted advertisements and influencers to raise awareness and seek donations. And, digital fundraisers with special skills in SEO marketing, online display advertisements and Facebook paid social advertisements will have huge demand.

Companies will have to drive human connection and build a sustainable, long-term funding option using digital fundraising. The only way is to build trust online with constituents so that they feel secure, confident, and are not being manipulated.

I am worried. Recently, Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook wrote in Time: “Google and Facebook are artificially profitable because they do not pay for the damage they cause.” Hope we don’t cause any damage to the trust that donors give us.

A Fresh Look at Fundraising

generosity networkSo…how much did you ask? How did the visit go? This is a common question that fundraisers are asked after they meet prospects.

In a new book, “The generosity network: New transformational tools for successful fundraising,” authors Jennifer McCrea and Jeffrey Walker take a fresh look at fundraising. The authors show that “creating a sense of meaning and personal fulfillment is at the heart of great fundraising.”

They oppose fundraising as a transaction-based relationship where the fundraiser meets the donor solely to secure a financial gift. The book argues that “fundraising is a vehicle for transformation- personal, organizational, social, even global.”

Narrating her early experience as a fundraiser in New York, Jennifer says every ask that she made focusing solely on securing a financial gift yielded a negative response.  She soon realized that fundraising was not just about the numbers. Instead, it is a “shared commitment as two people sit down and have a deep conversation about their lives.” Giving is emotional, personal, makes people happy and is social.

The authors oppose fact-based appeals used commonly in fundraising. They argue that  fundraisers should focus on why people want “meaning in their lives” and  not dwell on data-driven case statements. “Another slide show won’t work and the most important aspect of fundraising is to create human connections.”

They are also against canned elevator pitches, a tactic  commonly used by non-profits. Instead, they encourage non-profits to focus on authentic storytelling. “Do not inundate your audiences with data, instead tell them stories.”

The book urges non-profits to stop selling ideas to people and encourages them to  give donors “opportunities to connect with causes.” It offers several nuggets, including one where the authors ask fundraisers to consider donors as their peers, irrespective of their social or financial standing. Treat them as peers and move from the “salesmanship model to enabling people to contribute to a dream.”

Authentic storytelling gets reinforced throughout the book and it has abundant tips on how to make the ask. At the heart of every ask is a “powerful story of the self, the power of us and now.” A good read.