In Unity we know that God is Source and there is no limit to the abundance of the Universe. Today, in 2011, there are social media tools available to help channel some of that abundance to your spiritual community. Social fundraising is an increasingly popular and effective way for nonprofits, like your spiritual community, to leverage the power of online connectivity and raise money for good. It’s a form of crowdsourcing, meaning asking the vast online community to contribute—from ideas to dollars—to your projects.
There are many fundraising sites to choose from, but two stand out. “Causes” is an application, fully integrated into Facebook, that lets nonprofits build communities of supporters, run fundraising campaigns, distribute petitions and build a volunteer base (www.facebook.com/causes). If your spiritual community already has a Facebook aspect, this is one way to incite them into action. Supporters love it because it exists within a platform they’re already in—Facebook—and they are rewarded with badges for their Facebook profile page when they contribute. Another popular tool is called “Kickstarter,” a website that assists and administrates fundraising and promises donors that their credit cards won’t be charged until the campaign’s full goal has been pledged. This is a great way to raise money for a specific need or project and allows your supporters to see the precise effect of their dollars.
As you consider social fundraising, remember that online social networking is about connecting and communicating. It’s about human interaction. People are the key to successful fundraising, not the tools or websites. Communicate to people your fundraising purpose, goal, and request. Why should they care about your cause? Who will benefit? How much of the funds raised can go straight to the cause and how much goes to overhead? Always tie in an offline event to the fundraising, even if you simply host a gathering to celebrate your efforts, and to give donors an opportunity to connect. Take the time to recognize your contributors and volunteers in person and also “publicly” in social media. Keep supporters informed about progress towards meeting your goal and about additional needs.
Final tip: Beware of exhausting your community. Over-asking is a major turnoff. Educate people about your campaign and then let it happen. Letting go makes room for the unexpected to show up.