Fundraising 3.0 – New approaches to sharing, giving online

publication date: Nov 27, 2012
author/source: Lindsey Simms
The popularity of social media has changed the way we raise money. But in many ways, we are missing out on its potential to capture new markets of supporters .

Many wonderful online fundraising platforms help you connect with your donor communities online and make it easy to donate with just a few clicks of a mouse. While face-to-face connections and personal relationships still play vital roles in each stage of your fundraising, social media is being used to reinforce and complement everything you do. And it's working! In the US, online giving generated approximately $22 billion in revenues in 2010, about 8% of total giving. 

Same principles, new channels 

What we're seeing is the digitalization of traditional offline fundraising approaches so that they work online. Instead of spending time and resources on conducting telephone donation drives, some nonprofits are now more inclined to spend that time and those resources on social media appeals or mobile giving campaigns. But it feels like something is still missing. In our hurry to adapt to the popularity of the social web, have we missed out on the opportunity to innovate and take full advantage of its potential to maximize fundraising revenues? 

Collaborative consumption holds fundraising promise 

A new trend called "collaborative consumption" has begun to define Web 3.0. It's the reinvention of old market behaviors - renting, lending, swapping, bartering, gifting - through online technologies, and it's taking place on a scale and in ways never possible before. 

Collaborative consumption is about sharing access to what you have - cars, houses and skills. Everything is now a commodity that can be shared with others. One of the most prominent examples is AirBnB, which allows individuals to offer small-scale accommodation services. AirBnb has introduced a new way for people to put one of their greatest assets to work, and is changing the way we travel and book accommodation. Why not tap into these new market strategies to maximize online fundraising potential? 

AirBnb recently used their model to give back by helping the City of New York to connect victims of Hurricane Sandy with free housing options through a new platform off their main site. The entire process was free, with Airbnb providing customer service, insurance for hosts and other services. In just under a week, over 500 free spaces were listed on Airbnb's Donated Sandy Housing Directory, which allowed those with an unused asset (a spare room in their homes) to donate it to those in need. 

Making it work for you 

Your nonprofit may have supporters who are eager and willing to give talents and skills rather than money. For example, someone may be able to offer custom-designed logos in return for donations towards your cause. Here's where you can merge the principles of collaborative consumption with online fundraising. Instead of tweeting an appeal for their friends to donate money, that person can now offer graphic design services in exchange for donations to your cause. 

People love buying cool and unique gifts and services. They're more inclined to purchase these things from their own friends and networks, and they feel good about giving back while getting something in return. You'll circumvent donor fatigue and tap into your supporters' assets in a time- and cost- efficient way. 

So don't get stuck on the old way of doing things. The social web offers incredible potential for you to maximize your fundraising goals and put the collaborative consumption model to work for your nonprofit. 

Lindsey Simms is a strategic communications consultant with extensive experience developing and implementing online community engagement and fundraising campaigns for nonprofits. She is passionate about the power of social networking to enhance the reach of nonprofit organizations. As Managing Director of Communications for Raise5, Lindsey helps charities use Raise5's online platform to maximize the fundraising potential of their supporters. 

For more information, visit, or contact Lindsey at or on Twitter @Raise_5.

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