The most successful fundraisers have combined new social media tools with proven face-to-face methods, Seiler said. Where tools such as Facebook come in handy is by reaching younger potential donors through their peers.
“People give to organizations through people they trust,” he said. “So when someone posts on a Facebook page and says ‘I’m supporting this organization and I’d like you to do that,’ there’s a trust level. Younger generations trust their friends more than institutions.”
Organizations say transparency and accountability are especially important as donors with limited money to give are demanding to know how their money is used.
“It’s vitally important that donors know exactly where their dollars are going and what difference their dollars are making,” said Kathleen Cannon, president and CEO of United Way of Broward County. She said the United Way provides such information on its website and sometimes through Facebook.
Social media has been helpful over the last couple of years in spreading awareness about what the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade is doing and who it is helping, said executive director Alex Rodriguez-Roig. But, he said, he hasn’t yet seen examples of serious fundraising success through those avenues.
“It’s still face-to-face by all means,” he said.
The organization is starting the third year of a board-driven campaign that seeks relatively manageable gifts — $100-$200, for example, instead of $1,000.
“We started that then because with the economic climate, it was much harder to get the larger gifts,” Rodriguez-Roig said. Last year, the effort brought in about $80,000.
“In these challenging times, you have to consider doubling or tripling your efforts to get the same return,” he said. “Having a good marketing plan to showcase what your product is, what your outcomes are is essential for people to understand what you’re really about and for them to be able to believe in you and stand with you and support your cause.”