Internet forums: A valuable fundraising resource
By Rose Reinert
Several weeks ago, when I started this blog series, we discussed the idea of opening the lines of communication with donors through social media outlets. In this week’s post, I dive into chapter five of Lon Safko’s “The Social Media Bible” where he talks about a tool that I see as potentially valuable to enhancing your relationship with your donors.
Internet forums were first seen in the 1970s through private Usenet and were seen publicly in 1995. The forum was the precursor to the blog. Since that time, these forums have built strong community ties, loyalty and trust. They are basically online communities that engage people around various topics.
If you are new to forums, you can do what I did . . . explore and click! The book suggested visiting and joining a site called Yuku, which houses a wide variety of forums. As I began to poke around, it was a little bit overwhelming to see the number of options for communities. However, once I sorted through it a bit, I took the first big step by commenting and soon I was part of the community!
Despite this exhilarating experience, the question remains:
What do community forums have to do with donors or your nonprofit?
First, let’s tackle the question of donors.
There are several benefits to engaging your donors in an on-line forum:
- Donors can feel more engaged, as well as special for being a part of a community
- You can utilize a forum to give updates on services, strategies or changes
- You can also utilize a forum to gather feedback from donors
Second, let’s look at how forums can strengthen your non-profit’s resource development program. I found some awesome and unique communities that offer additional resources that you will definitely want to check out.
The Giving Library is a website that connects donors to non-profits through online video interviews. Donors can explore the online archive to locate, study, compare, and engage with hundreds of nonprofit organizations located across the country. The Giving Library also serves non-profits by enhancing donor access through a compelling medium, increasing overall visibility and providing an opportunity to learn about peer organizations. The Laura and John Arnold Foundation covers 100 percent of Giving Library costs for all non-profits selected to participate.
Donors Forum is a resource for networking and education, information and knowledge, and leadership and advocacy on behalf of philanthropy and nonprofits in Illinois. This online resource provides information for both the donors and the non-profits with listings of workshops, trainings, publications, and best practices
Both of these forums are just two examples of online communities that work at engaging its audience. If you are new to the concept of online communities and forums, take a crash course and poke around at Yuku. Once you feel more comfortable consider hosting a forum or engaging your donors in two-way conversation.
I would love to hear more about your experiences with online forums and communities!
Has your organization every used an online forum to engage donors? What are some questions to pose to donors that could develop conversation? What have been challenges or downsides of this type of communication?