Could social media depress fundraising results?

Most fundraisers believe something like this: The more a person engages with an organization in a non-monetary way, the more likely that person is to make a financial gift.

This might not be true, or it might be true for some forms of engagement but not others. In fact, there may be some forms of engagement that actually reduce the chance of later giving.

Like social media.

Perhaps getting someone to like you on Facebook, retweet you on Twitter, or do any number of soft-touch forms of involvement on social media satisfies the “get involved” need and removes the inward pressure to get involved by donating.

That’s the finding of a recent study: The Nature of Slacktivism: How the Social Observability of an Initial Act of Token Support Affects Subsequent Prosocial Action.

In the study, people who interacted with a charity on social media were less likely to give subsequently.

Don’t take this as gospel! Studies of this type don’t necessarily have any relevance to your donors’ behavior.

But think about it. Are your social media efforts inadvertently short-circuiting actual philanthropy? Watch it and test it.

One of the most important qualities a professional fundraiser should cultivate is curiosity and open-mindedness.


Comments

10 responses to “Could social media depress fundraising results?”

  1. You have to wonder though if social media allows NP’s to spread their mission to people they would not be able to otherwise.
    Maybe it does turn people into slacktivists, but I would argue that in the end it has a positive role.

  2. You have to wonder though if social media allows NP’s to spread their mission to people they would not be able to otherwise.
    Maybe it does turn people into slacktivists, but I would argue that in the end it has a positive role.

  3. Tom Ahern Avatar

    Guilty as charged about “as many non-montary contacts as possible.” Back to the lab.

  4. Tom Ahern Avatar

    Guilty as charged about “as many non-montary contacts as possible.” Back to the lab.

  5. The last section of the report doesn’t quite say that, it says token support depresses gifts from individuals who’s don’t see values alignment.
    Individuals who show alignment with the values of cause of an organization are more likely to give after they have completed an act of public “token support” such as liking a page on Facebook. Without that values alignment, individuals were less likely.
    So it’s not across the board “less likely” just in certain situations.
    Then the question becomes how do you create value alignment with your social audience.

  6. The last section of the report doesn’t quite say that, it says token support depresses gifts from individuals who’s don’t see values alignment.
    Individuals who show alignment with the values of cause of an organization are more likely to give after they have completed an act of public “token support” such as liking a page on Facebook. Without that values alignment, individuals were less likely.
    So it’s not across the board “less likely” just in certain situations.
    Then the question becomes how do you create value alignment with your social audience.

  7. Sharon Bocarro Avatar
    Sharon Bocarro

    How would you test this as suggested by Jeff Brooks?

  8. Sharon Bocarro Avatar
    Sharon Bocarro

    How would you test this as suggested by Jeff Brooks?

  9. Interesting, but would also like to see this study controlled within age/income bands. The bulk of social media users still occupy the cohorts with the lowest levels of discretionary income. Could that skew the conclusions?

  10. Interesting, but would also like to see this study controlled within age/income bands. The bulk of social media users still occupy the cohorts with the lowest levels of discretionary income. Could that skew the conclusions?

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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