“Our Donors Are Not Active Online.” Oh Really?

May 2, 2013

ohreallyI was thinking of launching a new series called “Oh really?”

Let’s start with this one. We hear a lot of sweeping nonprofit generalizations like these:

  • “Our clients may be on Facebook but our donors aren’t.”
  • “Our donors will never give online because they don’t trust the Internet.”
  • “We’ve tried to get people to ‘like’ our page, but no one pays attention to what we post on Facebook.”

When you lump everyone into a single group and make assumptions about their communication preferences or comfort levels, you’re going to miss opportunities to make it easy for your donors to stay up-to-date about your happenings and to make charitable contributions.

There is no single form of communication that is best for everyone.

It’s true that some people will never want to use Facebook or make an online donation. It’s okay too. You’re not on a mission to make them do it or feel obliged to do it.

Our job is to make things easy for donors. Easy means “what you’re comfortable with.” But many donors are ahead of our own nonprofits on the technology curve!

Here are some encounters I have had in the last few months:

  • A lovely 90+ year old woman I met at Panera Bread taught me about a new app to download on my iPhone. She was using it on her iPad and was happily exploring the digital universe with joy and confidence.
  • One of my favorite donors is in her eighties and sends me almost daily alerts from the Chronicle of Philanthropy and other news sources. She loves to read them and share online.
  • Some people who have never engaged with our social media sites as far as I can tell mention to me in e-mails or face-to-face meetings that they enjoy the content we share on Facebook.

Be conscious about whether your organization may be inadvertently feeding your donors’ online fears because your organization is not ready to embrace them.

If you are not promoting online giving as part of your overall fundraising efforts or actively engaging supporters and potential supporters through social networking, remember that these options are offered elsewhere locally…and most likely by organizations with mission focuses very similar to yours.

Author Ken Kesey said, “You don’t lead by pointing a finger and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.”

Donors may not always take advantage of the different options for giving and communications that you make available, but they sure do appreciate having the choices.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy just did a podcast series on cross-generational communications. Hope you can make a little time to listen to this one by Toni Martignetti. It’s called How Fundraisers Can Avoid Generational Stereotypes.”

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County


One Response to ““Our Donors Are Not Active Online.” Oh Really?”

  1. Charlotte P. Graver Says:

    Susie…Oh Really? I like this Charlotte

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