There is a feeling in the nonprofit fundraising world that all the causes are looking for the same piece of funding pie, market share, volunteer pool.  The idea seems to be carrying into the online fundraising arena.  What is actually available, though, are new levels of engagement with people who you may never have had access to before and the opportunity to mobilize them on your behalf at unprecedented levels.

I stole this post from Beth’s Blog, the ‘go to’ resource for nonprofits using Social Media.   This copy below is a chunk from the original post.  It lists and describes the 5 stages of building a relationship with donors.  I wanted to share it.   It is edited for brevity, you can read the entire article here.


The Five Phases

Online movements are successful because they marry the right set of opportunities for engagement with a level of awareness and passion among the target audience.

Let’s review: Its not about the technology.

Strategic organizations must move through five phases of relationship building in order to establish a trusted relationship with a long term giver or supporter: 1) Listening, 2) Introduction, 3) Education, 4) Engagement, and finally 5) Mobilization

3199587450_539c5da185Listening: Before you launch any communications effort, it is necessary that the organization understand more thoroughly who the online audience is, what their interest and willingness to participate in your efforts might include and are driven by, and what will drive them to engage and take action around this issue.  The social rules now are continuously changing so stay plugged in.

Introduction: Organizations need to find ways to put issues in front of their target audience – to generate interest, prompt curiosity, and begin to build awareness.  Introduce key voices representing the organization and their work. Seed discussions about your issues by participating in existing  social networking and community conversations and sites where the target audience is likely to spend time.  Reach out to bloggers.   Encourage supporters to speak for your cause.  A strong introduction and increased attention fuel what follows.

134329985_d9259a07fdEducation: Cause administrators  often underestimate the complexity of their issues.  The result – low levels of participation and limited impact.  The solution – when issues are complex organizations need to spend significant time and energy educating. Engage your target audience, with response driven content, polls, public inquiries, live forums, interactive blog posts.  Regardless of  form, the results of target audience education and self education should be in place before any significant outreach effort has begun.  This allows, effective use of time and resources, invested audiences, accuracy of intent and participant ownership in the cause or endeavor.

Engagement: Engagement happens at the level of signing a petition or recruiting a friend  to empowered citizens creating and initiating new  actions to help grow and expand a campaign.  As awareness and understanding about the issue grows, it is possible to engage the audience more deeply, and to further expand the reach and impact of the campaign.  Until that happens, moving quickly to request action or financial commitment from your audience won’t work.   A single donation, particularly one resulting from a relationship to someone who is already part of your network, does not mean that your new supporter is interested in a relationship with your organization.  Organizations need to identify ways the target audience can engage and participate meaningfully and provide interactive tools and support to make that possible.

1795262311_0ba9429de1Mobilization: Finally, organizations will need to identify ways to activate and mobilize its audience,  beyond building a large list, sending emails to Congress, or signing a petition.   Those activities are not  sufficient to bring about the level of engagement that builds large sustainable action groups.   In fact, the very nature of Facebook Causes — and its ability to standardize and simplify the ways that audiences can get involved in issues online — now means that every group needs to find new and better ways to distinguish themselves and their work.

The challenge seems to be developing engaging strategies to  continuously engage and reengage those one time givers and clickers to come back for more.  Have participation centers, like blogs, microblogs, wikis, pages, and groups.  Offer subscribers and followers something in the way of video, education tools, events, tours, or benefit programs to keep donors participating.  Schedule your ask events as or at the culmination of a series of other events.   Make your cause their cause.   Your job is to empower your target market to actualize your policy and fundraising objectives.  They won’t do that if you’re not standing with them.  Get to know your audience and what is important to them so that they’ll know what’s important to you.

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