By Gary Wohlfeill, Director of Brand and Marketing at CrowdRise.

Social fundraising. The idea that your supporters want to engage with your cause, make it their own, and show the world how they care and give back...all through the megaphone of their mobile device and social networks.

It’s a major shift in how people interact with each other and, at the end of the day, it’s an essential part to evolving and modernizing your fundraising. So, let’s dig in and get a little context on how this whole thing evolved.

In the beginning

Back in the day, if you wanted to drum up donations and spread awareness for your cause, you’d go door-to-door, usually around 5pm, and hope that with your shining personality and a really nifty pamphlet, that you’d be in the door sipping coffee with the family in no time. When you left, you could check one more donor off of that week’s list. But, how do you get ‘em to give again?

Fast forward to that hunk of paper we called a telephone book. It was golden. A list of names and numbers just begging to be called. Life just got so much easier. Right?

I mean here you are with a pre-made sales list all ready to go. Now you could reach triple the amount of people you could in a day walking door-to-door.

And let’s not forget about direct mailing to that list either. Postcards and letters are being sent hand over fist trying to vye for your attention over the ads and newspapers filling up your mailboxes.

You may have lost a bit of that personal touch that you got sitting over a cup of coffee with the Joneses with telemarketing and direct mail. But, you’re moving faster and that’s gotta be worth something. Right? So much easier than door-to-door.

Everything starts to change

Sure, all of these changes led to advances in efficiency. It was fundamentally ‘easier’ to do your job. You could reach more people faster. And that’s huge.

But what about making your job more effective?

Email came along and it was an easy and super cost-efficient way to reach out to mass amounts of people to share your story and ask for donations. In terms of effectiveness, you could argue that the invention of the ‘forward’ button probably helped spread cause awareness to people that weren’t on your original mailing list. Maybe some of them even ended up becoming donors.

For sure, email is definitely light years better than door-to-door and way easier than cold calling. But if only there was a way for you to spread cause awareness more naturally, just by engaging with people who would then share with their networks.

Social media...finally.

Social media comes along and changes everything. You might still email, use direct mail, and cold-call, but now not only can your supporters learn about your cause and give, they can also easily share with everyone they know. And it’s so easy to do it’s almost an organic process, because of how natural it is to share.

The whole concept of social media not only empowers your supporters to take action, but it allows them to take the action that feels right to them. They can now donate, share, fundraise, or do all three. It’s not just another marketing tactic for Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. It’s a way of sharing with the world in a way that’s personal to the supporter. And it really works.

And social media still allows for the conversation and direct interaction like the door-to-door and over the phone techniques. Those conversations were key to raising money and awareness because you could spread awareness by using your voice to help the potential donor or supporter understand the cause from your personal perspective.

Now we’re talking efficiency and effectiveness. It’s all of the sudden so much easier to get your supporters and donors to tell your story to everyone they know in a way that is personal to them and that resonates with their friends and family. So much simpler. Not to mention it’s free - when others share your message you’re getting FREE advertising

Ok, this has been a great history lesson. But now what?

We really believe that social fundraising is the key to keeping your cause relevant and successful in today’s world. We are at a point in time where the technology to do exactly what you’ve been trying to do for decades is right at our fingertips.

By incorporating social fundraising into your current fundraising tactics, you’re able to reach more people. You’re able to tell your story through the lens of your supporters, who make it a part of their narrative. That’s a really powerful and effective way to spread your message, raise awareness, and ultimately get more donations than ever before.

There are so many fundraising strategies these days...peer-to-peer, turning donors into fundraisers, recruiting new fundraisers. But, at the end of the day, if you’re not doing social fundraising, you’re missing the boat. You’re missing a huge piece of the pie. You’re missing a huge slice of that pizza. You’re missing...well, you get the point, right?

So there you have it – social fundraising. Start using it, embracing it, and thinking about it. You’re going to be amazed at what it does for your cause. And, you’ll be equally amazed at how those who don’t adopt social media get left behind. Who are you going to be?

About Gary Wohlfeill

Gary Wohlfeill is the director of Brand & Marketing at CrowdRise. He works with partners to develop highly engaging fundraising campaigns and leads the marketing team in developing the CrowdRise brand. Gary has been named as having the “third best haircut of people under 6 feet tall at CrowdRise" and hopes one day to slip to fourth.