Establishing online fundraising by supporting a community

Online communities of like-minded supporters are more likely to strongly back your cause.
Date Published
08/28/2015

The dynamics of fundraising have changed significantly in the last decade. A combination of different technological forces, including but not limited to social media and mobile devices, have shifted people’s perceptions and ability in terms of contributing money to a cause. These advances have made it far easier to send money to a charity of any kind.

In addition, engagement with potential donors and supporters has changed significantly. No longer can a mass ask work as effectively as before, since so much content already exists for people to read, view or hear. At the same time, there’s a chance you can get a more enthusiastic support base of contributors through the establishment of online communities. Understanding these passionate groups of users will help you gain a foothold in funding your cause.

Sharing interests with the hardcore
What is a community? It’s an important question to ask these days. When people mention the term now, they’re often referring to communities found all throughout the Internet, according to the Nonprofit Technology Network. These groups of people, found either on independent forums or social media outlets such as Tumblr and Facebook, share a small set of interests and communicate primarily through whatever site they’re on. They’re not that much different from the supporters you talk with on a regular basis, except that they can be anywhere in the world and have a greater zeal for what they do when they’re not speaking with someone in┬áperson. Another factor that separates online communities from offline groups is┬áthe ease with which you can gather information and apply metrics to them.

Online communities also take less cohesive forms. On Twitter, using a hashtag for everyone to communicate their thoughts is a common way to bring people together. A good example of this was in 2014, when people used #IceBucketChallenge to post their videos in support of research for Lou Gehrig’s disease. While you may have a harder time speaking with these communities as a whole, you can still provide support and outreach through them.

Needing a little understanding
There is little doubt that there is a community of supporters out there on the Internet that back your organization’s mission. If you’re able to reach out to them effectively, you can leverage their support into a greater level of promotion for your cause. In order to do so, however, you need to identify these people and understand how they function with one another. For example, you should utilize data analytics systems such as Google Analytics to identify possible keywords that create the most attention between you and your supporters. That includes hashtags on social media, viral videos and other sources.

Once you know how these people communicate with one another, take the time to simply listen in on their public conversations. Social media tracking tools can help you get this information without having to constantly hunt down key players. If you deploy your own hashtag, that’s an even better way to keep track of your supporters. You should also feel out any sort of feedback or criticism that you hear and take it to heart. It will help you better gauge your supporters’ mood when you engage with them.

Finally, make your presence known to these communities so that they know who you are, and present yourself in such a way that they’ll see you as their backer. Inbound Marketing Agents suggests that mere acknowledgement of these passionate supporters will show that you care and establish the grounds for a long-term relationship. In addition, open the proverbial floor to questions about what you’re doing and what your mission should focus on. The responses you’ll get will turn these people into allies and eventually donors for your cause.

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