In a previous post, I suggested nonprofits do three things to boost their online (and offline) fundraising. 1) Build an online ambassador program. 2) Improve your online giving websites, apps, and widgets. 3) Invest in personnel to manage your social media strategy. Columbia did all three of those things on their way to a wildly successful, 24-hour, online giving campaign that brought in more than $6.8 million on October 24, 2012. But you don’t have to take my word for it. BWF interviewed CloEve Demmer, Columbia’s Director of Annual Fund Programs, and Gwynne Gauntlett, Director of Digital Strategy for Alumni Relations and Development at Columbia. In the video below, Demmer and Gauntlett talk about how they prepared for and executed Columbia Giving Day:
In addition to the massive fundraising total brought in during the 24-hour campaign, Demmer and Gauntlett said they were equally surprised by the success in the days following Giving Day. Several million additional dollars were given to Columbia by alumni and supporters who said they were inspired by the powerful campaign. Which shows that online campaigns might be as valuable as marketing tools, as they are fundraising mechanisms.
Above all else, what Columbia’s campaign demonstrates is the value of investing in online and social media for fundraising. Facebook might be free, but a strategy to raise money using Facebook is not. Columbia’s staff and leadership understand this. As a result, the school just wrapped up one of the most successful one day fundraising campaigns ever. And chances are, they’ll do it again in the near future.
Justin Ware is a fundraising consultant who specializes in online and social media engagement at Bentz Whaley Flessner. To contact Justin, click here.