April 14, 2010; USA Today | This article begins with the dramatic juxtaposition between the day before and the day after the devastating earthquake in Haiti. The day before the earthquake, a test of fundraising through text messages by the Red Cross fell flat. The next day—the day the quake hit—those test results were blown out of the water.
Text messaging has now leveraged $32 million and rising for groups seeking to help earthquake victims in both Haiti and Chile. This story reports that fundraising is facing a “potentially dramatic shift in the way charities and non-profit groups organize and raise money.” It should be noted the origin of text messaging philanthropy can be attributed to American Idol voting.
The article also mentions study results compiled by Convio, which found are Gen X’ers (30-45 years old), and Gen Y donors (19-29 years old) are the groups that are increasingly using text messaging to give.
Marnie Webb co-CEO of Tech Soup Global says this trend towards more social networking could potentially pose some threats to nonprofits, however. She notes that despite the power of social networks, “individuals can do a lot without them.” Joe Green, president and founder of the Facebook application Causes, says that “Over the next couple years, fundraising and advocacy will start to move online, and . . . traditional mechanisms are sadly starting to die.”
There’s a lot of enthusiasm among social networking enthusiasts about the potential for social networking to transform everything—including the way nonprofits do advocacy and fundraising. While the power of social media is undeniable, many times we’re reacting to predictions (and often hopes and wishes) rather than years of extensive research. It’s important to keep our eye on the real staying power of this trend moving forward.—Kristin Barrali