Technology in Fundraising

by Robert K. Lewis, Jr. of member firm Global Advancement

            Those of us working in development are, for the most part, in the people business. Donations to good causes come forth only after the careful nurturing of potential donors. That is the counsel we give our clients who are trying to raise funds in various capital campaigns.

But that doesn’t mean we as professionals can’t or shouldn’t use technology to assist in maximizing the work we perform for our clients. Some believe technology is greatly altering the way funds are raised in the 21st Century. In fact, many are saying the Internet is reshaping philanthropy as a whole.

Technology can help fundraisers better communicate with their prospects, strengthen their relationships with their best donors, stay organized and on track so as to increase the number of and size of the gifts. Fundraising and donor management software can make it easier to collect and archive important donor biographical information to ensure that each touch they have with their donors helps enhance the cultivation process.

These sophisticated software programs also allow clients to retrieve up-to-date information on their constituents, identify high-value prospects, track response rates and make it easier for donors to pledge, donate or contact a campaign representative about possibly making a gift.

Should you urge your clients to create a dedicated website for their capital campaign? There are numerous reasons why it should be considered. A website can be an outstanding contact point for potential donors who may want to give online. Or, the website doesn’t have to be state-of-the-art with all the bells and whistles to be effective. It could be informational and include a half dozen or so pages that clearly explain the campaign, the case for support, fundraising efforts to date, upcoming special events, testimonials and so on.

People today are connecting to each other more often through social networking. The most popular social network site, of course, is Facebook. The social networking giant has a site called “Causes.” Facebook calls it the world’s largest platform for activism and philanthropy. The site empowers individuals to create grassroots communities called “causes” that take action on behalf of specific issues or nonprofit organizations.

Another online fundraising tool is FirstGiving, which helps non-profits raise money for the causes they care about. FirstGiving partners with nonprofit organizations to allow them to plan, execute, and measure successful online fundraising campaigns and charity fundraising events with special fundraising software.

Whether to register on these sites is something an organization must carefully consider, but they are just two of many ways that technology is becoming important in philanthropy.

You just may find that technology is the key to moving your campaign from where it is today to where you want it to be tomorrow. Microsoft founder Bill Gates once wrote that even though PCs and mind-boggling technology can often be part of a solution, in this case successful fundraising, everyone must remember to always use technology in the service of humanity.

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