#zooGooder Twitter Chat #1: Online Fundraising Best Practices from John Haydon and Others

It was a momentous night.

Mightycause.com, in partnership with Zoetica, hosted its first Twitter chat on Tuesday focused on best practices in online fundraising, and, boy, did the #zooGood community show up!

John Haydon, of Inbound Zombie, led a rigorous discussion on online fundraising for good causes via social media. For a powerful half hour, zooGooders from all over Twitter discussed important issues affecting online fundraising, such as how often to make “the ask” of social media followers and how to tell your story.

For those of you who missed it, don’t worry, you can join us next week Tuesday 9 pm – 9:30 pm EST, when @miriamskitchen will be our spotlighted voice.

In addition, we’ve captured some of the highlights of Tuesday’s chat. There were three questions during the 30 minutes, each spaced 10 minutes apart. You can also search for #zooGood on Twitter to find the raw, unedited discussion. But if you want something a bit tidier, here are some lightly edited highlights:

Question 1: What’s the right frequency to ask for donations from your Twitter and Facebook followings?

@JohnHaydon: If you’re community is completely uninterested then asking them for $1 is too much.

@JohnHaydon: If your org protects the ocean and there’s a massive oil spill, then frequency is a non-issue. Fans will get the urgency

@JohnHaydon: ATM machines will gladly give you money, so long as you have adequate funds in your account.

@JohnHaydon: The key is to build up an active connected community that will respond loudly when an online campaign begins.

@JohnHaydon: So frequency really depends upon how interested fans are in the issues and each other.

@JohnHaydon: You want to build a strong community way before conducting an campaign. Putting in the sweat equity will be well worth it.

@JohnHaydon: Biggest mistake many nonprofits make is leading with “How can we raise money with social media”

@JohnHaydon: The campaigns that are successful have an amped up community even before they go into a campaign.

@JohnHaydon: I wish I could say that the right frequency is every 33 days. There are so many factors that influence frequency.

@JohnHaydon: A nonprofit who asks how often they can ask for $$$ as their first question, needs to go back to school and get people skills. 😀

@baekdal: Donations is the result, not the action – ask people to help with the action, and donations just “happens”

Q2: How do you keep people interested in your fundraising drive?

@xtopher1974: Make the audience feel goals are attainable. Break up ask into chunks.

@JohnHaydon: By making it about the *fans* and not the org.

@JohnHaydon: By making it about the cause and not the org.

@JohnHaydon: The other thing is that it’s hard for anyone to stay interested for long, so keep an online campaign short. Say 48 hours.

@JohnHaydon: A narrow fundraising window also let’s people know that you’re not going be a pain in the butt all year long – just two days. 😉

@JohnHaydon: Make your fundraising website as sociable as possible. 10,000 websites are adding Facebook Social Plugins every day!

@baekdal: Asking for help with an action is the motivation factor, helping people decide “how to do that” is the call to action.

@JohnHaydon make those chunks have direct link between $$ & impact. “$10 buys one mosquito net? Cool! Ill do it!”

@VarshaMightycause: Matching grants can be a kickstart to motivate giving. For every $ donated, a benefactor kicks another $ upto x amt

Q3: What kind of stories are right for a fundraising effort on the social web?

@baekdal: The right story is always the one the leads to a solution, or are ethically “the right thing to do”

@baekdal: About fundraising stories: People don’t want to donate to problems. Help with solutions. Focus on the path forward

@JohnHaydon: Stories about a single person. Like @mamalucy and @staceymonk (smart women).

@tomjd: @baekdal I totally agree. Need to offer hope, not just anguish, the real possibilities of a better world/outcome.

@johnhaydon: Research shows that A single child with a name gets more $$ results than “100,000 children need food….”

@baekdal: Finding the right story: What is the emotion? And how can the solution help them feel better/happy

@sue_anne: Remember to always be testing, especially with messages and images to find what draws people in to make the donation.

@sue_anne: Beauty of using social media tools to fundraise is that it’s relatively inexpensive to test and find out what works.

@jenniferwindrum: PERSONALIZED! RT @baekdal: RT @johnhaydon The best stories are about a single person. <- absolutely! Both ways actually. @baekdal: It's about the person helping, and the person receiving help. That's the connection - and a very powerful story @johnhaydon: And the best stories are when the donor can be part of the story! @arflott: People rally around relevancy & short-term projects. It's more difficult to build commitment. @johnhaydon: @Sue_Anne Plus when you mess up, it's easy to adjust quickly. People on Twitter are very forgiving. @baekdal: @mightycause Also, focus on making your "client" the cause. You are not a middleman, or a spectator. You are hired to solve the cause @tomjd: @johnhaydon I think some orgs get scared of telling the true social change story of their work, so break it down 2 helping 1 person @tomjd: The challenge becomes telling powerful stories of individuals that also facilitate deeper understanding of issues. Hard to do well.