fundraising, listening, reputation management, Twitter

Online Engagement with Donors – charity: water Inspires

20 Comments 05 April 2009

twestival-logo1

I am a casual donor. I don’t donate regularly to the same causes, but try to spread my limited funds around.  When I  received an email today from charity: water with the heading “See the First Twestival Well Drilled,” I became more than a casual donor. Charity: water sent me a personal invitation to ask questions about how the Twestival funds are being allocated, view the drilling for new wells in Africa via daily videos, follow the drilling via Twitter updates, and hear answers to the most popular questions on April 13th.

Now that is stakeholder engagement.

When was the last time you were asked to by a charity to engage in conversation?

I was one of the organizers of the February 12th Jerusalem Twestival, a gathering of local Twitter fans to raise funds for charity: water. At the time I proposed the idea, I thought it would be a great way to meet more people and help Jerusalemites give to another part of the globe.  Like most stakeholders and donors, I assumed that my money would be used towards the stated purpose (drill wells in Africa near villages without access to potable water), but I didn’t know much else.

What did I expect from my one-time donation? My excuse to throw a party and meet others at a fundraiser? Not much, honestly. I expected a thank-you note of some sort. I expected to be solicited for further donations. I certainly expected a year-end update. But I never expected to be involved.  Here are the opportunities I now have to get involved:

  • As charity:water goes from village to village drilling wells, I can watch four daily short videos of the drilling.
  • I can follow the drilling updates via a twitter stream update
  • I can ask questions of the local drilling team during the five days of drilling, via email or twitter
  • The local charity:water drill team will answer the top five questions on video April 13th

Brilliant. What has charity: water done?

  • Involved me in the funds disbursement.
  • Offered transparency.
  • Made me part of the success story.

The recent Community Philanthropy 2.0 survey of social media power users by Mashable indicates that donors want to be involved. According to Mashable,

These online donors aged 30-49 want conversation about the following:

• 80% organizational impact
• 74% success stories
• 71% learning more about the organizations they are participating with
• 70% want information on causes they care about
• 43% want information on financial accountability

Furthermore, donors aged 50 and above want the same sort of information, but prioritized differently. According to Mashable, “verifying this opportunity for content sources, 71 percent of 30-49-year-olds directly looked to the charity they support for information, and 63 percent trust referrals from friends. In comparison, 78 percent of those 50 and older directly look to their charities and 72 percent trust friends.”

Charity: water is giving its donors exactly what they want: success stories, videos of the impact of donations, and information about financial accountability.

The study also shows that these same donors are already chatting online about philanthropy. Charity: water has is taking advantage of this trend (see chart below). Their twestival page offers simple button press options to “tweet about the facts” and “tweet about the live drill.”

image courtesy of Mashable

image courtesy of Mashable

Charity:water understands its Twestival donors are actively involved in social networks (many become involved through Twitter), understands online giving, and understands donor engagement.

From this one email Twestival update, I’m engaged and excited to talk about charity: water in my online networks and…guess what?

Give again.

What can your organization learn from charity: water?

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  • Jessica

    As someone with limited means I choose very carefully before donating. I want to know what percentage of my donation is going to the actual charity compared with their overhead. It is very gratifying to see concrete results of my donation. I think despite this economic downturn more people would donate if they could see where their money was going. More involvement = more charitable contribution.

    [Reply]

  • Jessica

    As someone with limited means I choose very carefully before donating. I want to know what percentage of my donation is going to the actual charity compared with their overhead. It is very gratifying to see concrete results of my donation. I think despite this economic downturn more people would donate if they could see where their money was going. More involvement = more charitable contribution.

    [Reply]

  • Pingback: Online Engagement with Donors - charity: water Inspires … - Charity Central Guide()

  • charity:water ensures that 100% of what it collects go to the projects. They ensure reporting, accountability, transparency and feedback throughout the entire process.

    You will not find anyone more committed than Scott and his team – not to just clever/innovative ways of raising money but ensuring it is used judiciously and reaches those most in need!!! Then they use the same level of commitment and innovation to ensure that donors get to see the results of the efforts.

    I know this as we are one of their main implementing partner and I have witnessed them changing the way the world is being engaged in these efforts.

    They are the perfect example of Philanthropy 2.0.

    [Reply]

  • charity:water ensures that 100% of what it collects go to the projects. They ensure reporting, accountability, transparency and feedback throughout the entire process.

    You will not find anyone more committed than Scott and his team – not to just clever/innovative ways of raising money but ensuring it is used judiciously and reaches those most in need!!! Then they use the same level of commitment and innovation to ensure that donors get to see the results of the efforts.

    I know this as we are one of their main implementing partner and I have witnessed them changing the way the world is being engaged in these efforts.

    They are the perfect example of Philanthropy 2.0.

    [Reply]

  • Charity: water is doing some very inspiring things through new media. Their overall approach should encourage and team many other nonprofits about how to use new media effectively.

    http://twitter.com/franswaa

    [Reply]

  • Charity: water is doing some very inspiring things through new media. Their overall approach should encourage and team many other nonprofits about how to use new media effectively.

    http://twitter.com/franswaa

    [Reply]

  • Ted

    Yeah, I cosign Brian’s comments. As a water well implementing organization in the Central African Republic, we too appreciate the collaborative engagement and total transparency of C:W. They really are setting the bar for nonprofit donor engagement. We really want to see this in our funding partnerships as it is an important element of sustainable community development.

    [Reply]

  • Ted

    Yeah, I cosign Brian’s comments. As a water well implementing organization in the Central African Republic, we too appreciate the collaborative engagement and total transparency of C:W. They really are setting the bar for nonprofit donor engagement. We really want to see this in our funding partnerships as it is an important element of sustainable community development.

    [Reply]

  • I continue to be impressed by charity: water from this comment stream. Their team, from the top down, listens (how did the team find out about this blog post? From listening to Twitter) to its stakeholders and engages, as you can see from their comments. I look forward to more great things from charity: water and learning from their social media strategy.

    [Reply]

  • I continue to be impressed by charity: water from this comment stream. Their team, from the top down, listens (how did the team find out about this blog post? From listening to Twitter) to its stakeholders and engages, as you can see from their comments. I look forward to more great things from charity: water and learning from their social media strategy.

    [Reply]

  • Love this post, and the information you share in your blog. I discovered you today at English-writing Israeli bloggers. (Oh, and I, too was a CO in Boston;-)

    [Reply]

  • Love this post, and the information you share in your blog. I discovered you today at English-writing Israeli bloggers. (Oh, and I, too was a CO in Boston;-)

    [Reply]

  • Thanks Debra!

    You’ve really hit the nail on the head here. Transparency fuels involvement.

    At VolunteerBIG, we started with these premises to build our platform- which is almost ready for beta.

    The face of philanthropy is definitely changing, as the Mashable study title suggests. It’s an exciting time.

    [Reply]

  • Thanks Debra!

    You’ve really hit the nail on the head here. Transparency fuels involvement.

    At VolunteerBIG, we started with these premises to build our platform- which is almost ready for beta.

    The face of philanthropy is definitely changing, as the Mashable study title suggests. It’s an exciting time.

    [Reply]

  • annawoods04

    Yes I think See The Difference has a potentially very powerful platform here.And the danger with See The Difference is that it could promote a ‘beauty parade’ version of giving, with only the video-friendly work getting a look-in – and getting funded, if donors are allowed to tag their gift specifically. Charities will need to think carefully about how to promote unrestricted giving opportunities via sites like this.Some people have had enough. Enough self-aggrandizement, enough waste. Instead of defining their lives by how much cash they can blow in a weekend living large, people are beginning to find that true self worth comes from giving … not taking.

    reputation management

    [Reply]

  • Anonymous

    I suggest that all citizens somewhere between the ages of 16-25 serve for a few months at a time in either health care, education, or security situations.What I don’t like is the fact that it is expected that people who have young children, work 50 weeks a year, have no money or time for a vacation are NOW supposed to volunteer for jobs we should be funding as a society.

    reputation management

    [Reply]

  • MiltonJeptha

    Charity foundations should offer total transparency. People making money, cloth, food or even a car donation would like to actually see how they managed to help and improve other people's lives. The organizations that will involve their donors in their activities will be the most successful ones.

    [Reply]

  • Anonymous

    Some charity organizations offer total transparency and that is how things should be, but you will understand with time that not all charity organizations have the best interest in helping people in need, but mainly themselves. You have to research first before donating to others.

    [Reply]

  • Coolsite

    Upload ONE Photo and We’ll Donate 480 Gallons of Clean, Safe Drinking Water

    Upload ONE photo and we’ll donate 480 Gallons of clean water, 170 hours of solar light, or 4.5 kw

    hours of wind powered electricity to needy families around the world. Our aim is to generate 30,000

    uploads leading to a total of 4.8 million gallons of clean drinkable water, 1,700,000 hours solar

    light, and 45,000 kw of wind powered electricity to those who need it most.

    http://budurl.com/ecoblog

    [Reply]

About

Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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