Virtual Third Party Events – Get with the Program

Today the third party event has gone virtual or if not viral! Causes pages on Facebook, FirstGiving, GiveForward, Tweetathons and Network for Good to name a few allow friends, followers and donors to create, manage and implement virtual fundraising events for their favorite charities. In the previous post I talked about having third party special event policies in place that include events using social media. Next post: What each of these sites can do and differences between them.

I know the data about social media fundraising is not showing huge numbers. But I remember when we started on-line giving and many non-profits thought that was a waste of time back then. Our choices here are to get on board, ride the wave and be a part of the change or watch it happen. It is happening whether we like it or not and sometimes in spite of ourselves!

As nonprofit professionals, we need to not only embrace this opportunity, but determine how we can promote and support it.

I was honored to meet with Ethan Austin, founder of GiveForward. Being Chicago locals, it was nice to meet with a fellow Tweeter in person! We talked about his site, his competition and how they are changing the face of fundraising.

Virtual fundraising “events” hosted by others on behalf of your organization is easy. The social media space has made room for anyone to invite their friends to support a cause important to them. The first rule of fundraising – “People give to people.” No one said it has to be in person or by mail anymore! Using any of the sites mentioned above means a friend of your agency can invite their friends to help – volunteer, give money, support their run or “bake sale” INSTANTLY!

NOTE: If you aren’t using Google Alerts – starting using it NOW. Folks could be raising money on line and you might not know about it. Google Alerts will alert you 😉 when your organization name appears on the web. Set up an alert for your organization full name, acronym, website address, nickname any which way people refer to your organization. Google Alerts will then send you an email when the alert shows up on the web. It is not fool proof but better than searching on your own all the time.

For an organization with a budget of less than $1M using the social media to engage supporters to raise money is a win-win. There is very little cost in terms of real dollars or time. Folks using the social media are used to communicating and using this medium. Put into place easy ways for them to raise money for you. In person special events can be expensive in terms of time and money. Think about how you can engage your Facebook friends, Twitter followers and MySpacers to raise money for you.

  • Ask them!
  • Invite them to a Tweetchat to tweet about the possibilities
  • Sponsor a challenge for who can raise the most money during a specific time period (Ethan says folks who have deadlines on their fundraising reach their goals!)
  • Offer a special prize for the most people engaged and most money raised, most creative
  • Start a virtual group where they can network, chat and learn from one another
  • Bestow special donor recognition for their efforts and outreach
  • Talk about this opportunity in your e-news, newsletter, website – include links and information, FAQs pages
  • Tweet and place status updates about virtual fundraising opportunities, what people are doing, shout outs!
  • List their events on your website and Facebook pages

Get on board! Encourage, support and empower those who are working virtually for your organization. Share you thought and ideas!

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