Charities and Digital Giving

Tod Cohen in a recent artlicle points out that from recent studies in the US, it seems that many charities are behind the times when using digital means for fundraising and giving. For instance a new study conducted by Forrester’s Technographics for online provider Convio estimates online giving in the U.S. to nonprofits will total over $4 billion this holiday season, with over 111 million givers saying they plan to give over the Internet this year.  At the same time, a study earlier this year from Target Analytics, a Blackbaud company, found online giving generates only about one in 10 dollars given to charity.(from Stanford Social Innovation Review – Charities Missing out on Digital Giving )

Scot Hartley’s follow up article provides some practical ideas for dealing with web 2.0 issues, and getting your organization engaged in the Brave New World of online fund-raising. There are a number of ways organizations of all sizes can leverage web tools to understand their users, target and acquire new followers, and solicit online donations:

Understanding users:
Google Insights for Search: Google Insights for Search allows firms immediate and free access to online market data.  Non-profit managers can longitudinally observe relative Google search query data across geographies on terms relevant to their operations or message.  This tool allows managers to instantly pinpoint target markets and uncover related keywords, enabling an iterative and potentially exhaustive process of understanding online users.
Facebook Lexicon is a tool where you can see the buzz surrounding different words and phrases on Facebook Walls. Lexicon pulls from the wealth of data on Facebook without collecting any personal information in order to respect everyone’s privacy.  Check it out here

Building Targeted Channels

Knowing effective keywords, their growth, related terms, and the target markets in which they have the highest proportion of search, all have intrinsic value.  Such knowledge enables a number of new and highly targeted channels for traffic acquisition, and user adoption.  For example, strong performing keywords across all geographies can be used in search engine optimization, incorporating these terms in varying capacities on the website
Further outreach can be pursued through the putative means of email, website, Facebook, YouTube channels and Twitter. Less often utilized MySpace, Orkut, and LinkedIn target different online demographics, and offer branding opportunity.  Other methods such as Flickr, StumbleUpon, and Scribd can all create conduits through which users arrive on the site.  Web analytics tools can then analyze and confirm those means that are most effective.
Both PayPal and Google Checkout offer easily embeddable “Donate” buttons.  These buttons can be customized with default donation increments.  Furthermore, differentiated buttons can be targeted to different users based on their method of site entry. Here in Canada, Canada Helps also provides a very worthwhile service.

Article 1 “Charities Missing out on Digital Giving” from Stanford Social Innovataion Review
Article 2 “Tis the Season to be Online” from Stanford Social Innovation Review

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