We started looking into the history of social media fundraising, to see how thinking has evolved over time. We’re also interested to compare with the development of email fundraising from a slightly earlier era (but one less accessible to search engines). If you have corrections, things to add, or thoughts on either, please let us know in the comments!
Pressed for time? Check out the 10 big themes.
The items below include the first campaigns of their kind, or particularly successful case studies. We also included blog posts, articles, and slide decks that provided good examples of how thinking about social media fundraising has evolved so far.
- People start keeping online diaries, but don’t know what to call them. “escribitionism” is used for a time. :-)
- The portmanteau “slacktivist” is coined.
- Facebook launches
- Flickr launches
- First “Relay for Life of Second Life” fundraiser by American Cancer Society volunteers. Raises $2,000 in 2004, eventually raises more than $750,000 through 2010.
- Beth Kanter shares links to a number of nascent “friends asking friends” tools. This industry will develop into the strongest trend in the next 5 years, led by Fundly.
- An article from August 2006, written by FirstGiving but appearing on Guidestar, highlights many best practices still widely accepted 5 years later, which now apply to both online fundraising and SMF: On-Line Fundraising Best Practices: Two Words of Advice. Those two words? Links and email.
- In early September 2006, Ashton Kutcher donated $50,000 to Habitat for Humanity after offering to donate $1 per new friend on MySpace. Kutcher used this campaign to help jump start his new official page.
- Allison Fine’s “Rethinking Fundraising Using Social Media” from November 2006 contains this paragraph, loaded with insight and foresight:
The Connected Age provides an opportunity to change fundraising as we have known it. We can use social media to rethink fundraising entirely and help people to become more involved, to give more, and to give in different ways than they have in the past. The importance of facing this issue now is intensified by the rising Net-Genners, who have different ideas about giving than their parents do. They are likely to be less loyal to institutions, but they may well become loyal to institutions that connect with them in meaningful ways. We have to broach the uncomfortable topic of changing how we raise funds, of shifting the interactions between givers and receivers of donations. This transformation has to occur or public confidence in the sector will continue to sink and our prospects for increased donations will inevitably be dampened.
- Also from November 2006, a Slideshare presentation on “Promoting Your Campaign or Fundraising Event Online” mentions:
- ProBlogger raises money for an Australian organization “Blogging for Chickens”
- Oxfam and The Nature Conservancy tying Flickr content to their campaigns (Flickr launched in 2004)
- Organizations using YouTube content to enhance their campaigns (YouTube launched in 2005)
- Facebook Causes created in May.
- Fundraising Meets Social Networking (Beth Kanter)
- The Future of Fundraising (segmentation, social networks, multi-channel…) August 2007
- Social Networking and Fundraising - expresses frustration with high numbers of Likes but low donations.
- The Future of Fundraising? Probably Not (June) Discusses new Facebook platform, and identifies large numbers of groups and high membership, but low donation totals.
- Social Proof and Fundraising – Katya Andresen
- Richard McPherson publishes Digital Giving (July)
- Second Life and Nonprofits (8M+ members)
- Wiley publishes “People to People Fundraising” (December)
- Frozen Pea Friday fundraiser on Twitter (December).
- In reference to political fundraising, Andrew Rasiej says:
“Online fundraising is a complete misnomer. Money is a byproduct of online communities, not the product (emphasis HA!’s), and social networks are representative of the online communities,” he said. “If you want to raise money online by tapping into the fervor of these online communities, then you should do everything you can to bolster or nurture the community. It’s so ludicrous that campaigns are not paying more attention to the social networks.”
- Justin Perkins on Nonprofit Social Network Fundraising, emphasizing the continued effectiveness of email vs. social media.
- Advergirl discusses points from Richard McPherson – Fundraising and Social Media (see Digital Giving above)
- Nell Edgington on Social Media and the Future of Fundraising
- Makin’ it on MySpace (July) Adding a “Donate Now” button doesn’t magically create donations.
- Predicting the Future of Social Media Fundraising (Beth Kanter, September 2008) Draws comparison with early days of online fundraising.
- Charity Water: A Social Media Birthday Experiment
- First Twestival event (September)
- Twitter as Charitable Giving Spreader (Beth Kanter, November 2008) Contains an excellent history of early uses of Twitter to spread a fundraising campaign.
- Obama raises a ton of money online, and with social networks.
- EpicChange.org’s TweetsGiving (November)
- TwitPay launches – their oldest blog post is from December 2008 (Rt2Give is their donation oriented service)
- 12for12k launches (December)
- FundRazr launches
- Social Media Fundraising: Unsustainable, Scarcity-Based Begging? (Hildy Gottlieb, February)
- The Fundraising Payback of Social Media (Nell Edgington, February)
- In March, Fundly is founded.
- In April, 2009, Ashton Kutcher was again in the news after competing with CNN to reach 1M Twitter followers first, again donating per Follow.
- Also April, Washington Post ‘Causes’ Social Networking May be All Talk, No Cash for Nonprofits Seeking Funds.
- In May, FrogLoop discusses the ROI of social media.
- Mashable launches Summer of Social Good (June) Raises $55,000 by September.
- Social Media Fundraising Success? (September) Worries about gimmick vs. values based fundraising.
- What Are the Challenges to Social Network Fundraising? (Debra Askanase, October)
- Social Networking and Midsized Nonprofits – What’s the Use? (November)
- America’s Giving Challenge raises 2.1M from 100,000 donations (November, Causes.com)
- The Right Way to Use Social Media for Fundraising: Wildlife Direct (November)
- How To…Social Media for Fundraising Online (December)
- Yahoo builds, but has not yet launched, Centmail.
- Fundraising using Social Media Tipping Point (not yet… January)
- GiveATweet founded (January)
- After Slacktivism (recap of SxSW panel – March)
- Causes.com reports generating $40,000 per day in donations, including $20,000 per day from Birthday Wishes. This implies around $14.6M per year .
- Big Love Little Hearts uses Foursquare and #100×100 to raise advocacy and awareness, with a $25,000 matching donation (April)
- WalMart and ASPCA campaign, matching $1 per post (April)
- 24 tools for fundraising with social media (May)
- To Mama With Love (Epic Change, raises $30k in 2011)
- The Frontier of Social Media and Fundraising – What To Expect? (June)
- HelpAttack! launches in August allowing users to donate with their Tweets.#beatcancer campaign – attempt at world record for most widespread social media message (October)
- Social Media Tools Not Replacing Traditional Fundraising (November)
- Eight Types of Social Media Fundraising (November)
- US Movember participants raise $7.5M
- Challenge for the Children raises 1M (Causes.com, December)
- Myths of Social Media Fundraising (January)
- Social Media: A Bubble About to Burst (January)
- In February, HelpAttack! added Facebook, allowing individuals to give with their Facebook posts. HelpAttack! adds #hashtag, “proxy” Twitter, and RSS campaigns through the summer of 2011.
- Rainmaker App, Givey.co.uk, and a few other sites pioneer “cross platform giving syntax” (our term) allowing donors to use the same kind of post to give through multiple platforms (SMS and Twitter).
- Donate Your Account and JustCoz provide infrastructure for individuals to allow automatic rebroadcast of cause related messaging.
- Snoball launches in late May.
- Using Social Media Increases Fundraising by 40%
- Jack Draws Anything raises > 20,000 £ for The Sick Kids
- Has Social Media Fundraising Finally Arrived? (August)
- November 13, Southwest Airlines donated up to $100K to the Armed Forces Foundation, $1 per #SWAAFF tag mentioned on Twitter.
- November 16, Pepto-Bismol (@pepto) donates 8 Thanksgiving meals per RT, up to 100,000.
- #12DaysOfGiving (December)
- If you’re reading this in 2013, remind us to come back and update this, ok?