Category Archives: Charitable Giving

Donation Round Up

donationI need to follow up on something—my pledge from the first post when I began this blog for my digital networking class in spring 2009.

I promised to donate to Reading is Fundamental for every comment posted through April 29. The number of comments within that parameter is 31, but I’ll count May, too, for a total of 32.

This equates to $8.  I opted to round up just a bit.  Isn’t this a nice confirmation screen by the way?

 

Dear Christine Pill,

Thank you for your thoughtful donation of $10.00.  Your support of RIF will help us build a literate nation in which every child has access to books and an opportunity to succeed. 

We hope you found your visit to the RIF site informative.  Be sure to visit us again to learn how RIF is touching the lives of millions of children and families across the country.

Sincerely,

Carol H. Rasco signature

Carol H. Rasco 
President & CEO

 

So, the next time I make promise like this, let’s go wild.  Let’s aim for the stars.  

Until then, enjoy my previous posts as I consider a brief hiatus from blogging to tackle my thesis project.  Here are my top ten favorites, in chronological order:

  1. Calling all Numismatics!
  2. Digital Sharing Dictionary
  3. And it was all Yellow
  4. Slimming Down
  5. Not Kodak’s Moment
  6. Selfish Sharing is Still Sharing
  7. Get out your Sunglasses and SPF/Lighting up Legislation
  8. Mouthing Off
  9. Kudos to Erdos
  10. Throwing Sand

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Deep and/or Wide

I read Vanessa Grigoriadis’ article “Do you own Facebook?  Or does Facebook own you?” in New York Magazine last week and thought she had a great voice and a few great viewpoints. In particular, I’d to point out what she wrote about the term sharing:

Sharing is actually not my word. It’s the most important Newspeak word in the Facebook lexicon, an infantilizing phrase whose far less cozy synonym is “uploading data.” Facebook’s entire business plan, insofar as it is understood by anyone, rests upon this continued practice of friends sharing with friends, and as such it is part of the company’s bedrock belief, as expressed in the first line of its principles: “People should have the freedom to share whatever information they want.” “A lot of times users-well, I don’t want to say they undervalue sharing, but a lot of times they don’t want to share initially,” said Chris Cox, Facebook’s 26-year-old director of products. “And then eventually, they say, ‘Okay, I’ll put a profile picture up here. I’ll do it.’ Immediately, their friends comment on it, and there are no tacky, weird strangers around, and suddenly they start to realize, ‘Hey, wait, this is different. I am on the Internet, but I am in a safe place.

She goes on to state how “In a time of deep economic, political, and inter gene rational despair, social cohesion is the only chance to save the day, and online social networks like Facebook are the best method available for reflecting—or perhaps inspiring—an aesthetic of unity.”

And, in my last quote of this post, I’ll note her note about how, on Facebook, “many actions that take on weight in the real world simply don’t pack the same punch: You can reconnect with long-lost friends without a gooey, uncomfortable e-mail about why you grew apart; you can forget to return Facebook e-mail and nobody minds.”

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Filed under Charitable Giving, Digital/Social Networks, Fostering Sharing

Selfish Sharing is Still Sharing

One of the most interesting and timeless types of sharing is charitable giving. I’ve been fortunate to correspond with Joe Waters, director of cause and event marketing at Boston Medical Center (BMC), about how he thinks new technologies have impacted fundraising and development. Before reading on, I suggest you check out his blog, Selfish Giving.

Header for Joe's Blog, "Wings," courtesy of Gapingvoid (http://www.gapingvoid.com/)

Header for Joe's Blog, "Wings," courtesy of Gapingvoid (www.gapingvoid.com)

At what point did you become an adopter? When did you realize that communications channels were undergoing an irrevocable “e-shift”?

For me it’s really not about a shift, but what’s effective. And there is clear movement out there to new forms of media, whether it is blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I’m interested in staying effective and that’s where I need to be.

Of all the technologies you employ, which has yield the most response?

I think my blog has been a great tool to educate potential sponsors about cause marketing and to position myself as an expert in the field. It’s almost an online resume/notebook that I’m constantly updating with new ideas, accomplishments, and projects.

Asking donors to share their time, talents, and money is as old as the Catholic church, and probably older. But fundraising has typically been based on the idea of relationship building, and many would argue that online relationships tend to be inherently less personal than face to face cultivations. Has the internet helped or hurt (or both)?

Fundraising exclusively online is not a development strategy; it’s a tactic. To be successful raising money you need a comprehensive strategy that involves many different types of communication, including online. Online can be very efficient and effective, but it’s not a standalone. Just like cause marketing shouldn’t be a standalone. It needs to be done within the full suite of development activities (events, major gifts, foundations, etc.). The Internet can help nonprofits so long as they recognize they can’t stop doing all the other things they’re doing. Unfortunately, it won’t replace many of the things they are already doing. But it will enhance the success of those efforts.

Building on this question, you said: “Some people have asked why I gave my blog the rather irreverent name of Selfish Giving. I meant it as no offense to the practice of cause marketing or philanthropy, both of which I hold in high regard. But cause marketing is giving with an agenda, so why not call it what it is?” I agree that frankness is the way of the online and blog worlds. But probably not everyone in your industry does. Any backlash stemming from this conflict by people who don’t get it?

No one has ever said anything negative about my blog’s name. Of course, now that I say that I’ll probably have ten negative comments tonight! But really, people usually laugh when they hear the name. I think it also fits with my no-nonsense approach and witty tone on the blog. People know when you’re being sincere and anyone who reads my blog knows that I admire companies that give. I should add that there is plenty of unselfish corporate behavior that the press just doesn’t want to see right now.

So, BMC gala invites are distributed online this year. Interesting…

Necessity is the mother of invention, right? It was the tight economy this year that prompted us to rethink how we spent our money, especially for a big event like the Gala that involves 1,300 guests. One of the great things about a recession is that it makes you really question everything you’re doing, and when we looked at how most people heard about the Gala it wasn’t from the invite. We also cut the save-the-date card and the gala program (which I always thought was a big waste anyway). And we’ll save $15k by not having flower centerpieces at the event. Flowers are beautiful and great, but we think it sends the right message to our donors that our patients come before petunias.

The Rabbi Chaim story, to me, is one of depth vs. width. One of the comments on you blog makes valid point: “My guess is that the Rabbi’s SM is an active community with much participation in conversations. You need to build a similar community, now that you see how effective one can be. It is not about the cause, it is about the community around the cause.” Do you have advice for cause marketers in making their online sharing efforts authentic and community-based?

I think you have to try to make the online experience just as real as you can for donors. For example, we have a Boston Marathon team and while these folks raise tens of thousands of dollars for BMC, many just don’t have the time to visit the hospital to see firsthand the work we do. So instead we bring the hospital to them. Using a Flip video camera that cost us a couple hundred dollars, we’ve taped a series of interviews on our food pantry, cancer care, etc and then shared them with our runners via a weekly email newsletter. While we would still love to have them visit, we’ve tapped technology for a second option that is easy, cheap but effective in delivering our message of hope, health, and inclusiveness.

**Special thanks to Joe Waters and to Jessica for helping me coordiante this interview.**

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