At betterplace.org, we are naturally interested in the changes that digital technologies have affected on the social sector.
Online fundraising continues to develop but remains in the small numbers In 2009 many German organisations discovered the potential of social media for furthering their aims. For the first time, fundraising guides explicitly added “Online Content” modules to their demanded courses. Small and middle-sized associations and foundations have meanwhile found that a website is indispensible, while large aid organisations have hired on Internet-specialised communications experts and brushed up old websites. Many German fundraisers signed onto twitter and facebook for the first time this year, and 2010 will see the first large-scale online campaigns to strategically gauge this potential for younger donor groups.
Still, in Germany we are light years away from collecting truly significant gains over the Internet in contrast to in the USA, where just last month a call for help for 3,200 non-profits in Minnesota received 14 Million US$ within just 24 hours. Here in Germany only between 1-3% of donations are made online. At a renowned, multi-day conference on the topic of “Why do we donate?” in the scientific centre of Berlin, only one single presentation (mine) was offered on the topic of Online Fundraising. Despite the great successes achieved by German online donation platforms such as betterplace.org or helpedia, we have collected altogether in one year less than Just Giving collects in only two weeks, as the founder of helpedia, Sebastian Schwieker critically pointed out. (In 2009, Just Giving became a definitive household-name and clearly broke the record in the 500 million pound donor market).
Still in the learning process In this sense, we at betterplace.org found 2009 to be the beginning of important learning processes for organisations and platforms. Increasingly, we grappled with serious discussions about how the Internet alters fundraising from and communications with donors. We want to share our learning process with everyone: for example, through our Good Practice Case Study, and the soon-to-launch Online Fundraising Toolbox.
As to how enriching and unlimited the engagements through social media can be, the impressive last days of 2009 are self-evident: in the course of 18 days over twitter, facebook and blogs, a small Berlin flower shop received the necessary 10.000€ needed to keep its doors open. Calls to action such as this mobilize a completely new group of supporters—people (including so called Digital Natives) who, while not feeling at all compelled to join in an annual “Week of Civil Engagement,” are ready—with their knowledge, money and networks—to support social justice actions online.
In Part III of the Year Review, we will address issues of transparency and development 2.0.