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  Fundraising Widgits Potpourri

Canadian FundRaiserPossibly the Latest Fad to Catch Donors' Imaginations

Well, we’ve had buttons, we’ve had bracelets, we’ve had car magnets. Possibly the latest gimmick in nonprofits’ endless striving to catch donors’ imaginations and win their interest (and dollars) is the charity badge.

The new tool, typically rooted in the US, was initially heralded here by Matrix News, a publication of HJC New Media:

“An interesting flurry of activity in past weeks with the appearance of a new type of online fundraising tool that could bridge the gap between tried-and-true online donation forms, and the emerging world of Web 2.0 applications (myspace, youtube, wikipedia, etc) – charity badges are also known as fundraising widgits.”

The badges, says George Irish of HJC, “are interesting new tools that could open up a whole new area in online fundraising – it’s still a bit early to tell if and how these tools might catch on.”

He refers to an article published by idealware (www.idealware.org/blog/2006/12/tis-season-for-cheap-and-easy-and.html), where the concept is presented that a nonprofit would encourage any of its members/supporters/donors who are operating blogs to install a badge from Chipin, a “simple interface that requests money for a goal and shows the money raised to date”.

Other suppliers

also offers the opportunity for nonprofits to create widgits, for blogs or their own web sites, or for inclusion on its site. GetActive, Kintera, and Convio have also made similar offers to their own customers, says idealware.

Says the author of the idealware blog: “Either this was an idea whose time had come with a vengeance, or one or two people had an idea so good and so easy to implement that everyone’s copying it. Either way, it’s great for the sector.

“These tools are touted as a way to tap into the participatory media culture, like blogs or social networking tools – and they are, no question about it. The ability to let supporters essentially run their own campaign for you on their own web site is a powerful thing.”

It’s not very clear on any of the materials Canadian FundRaiser has so far been able to identify exactly how the system works – how the money gets from the badge to the charity, how the donor identifies him/herself, and how receipts are handled, either here or south of the border.

How to pay?

In a response to the idealware posting, an official of Chipin (carnet@chipin.com) says “our Chipin distributed fundraising system works with any online payment system. NPOs do not have to change their current business practices to use our service.”

However, the company’s own site, which is directed at bloggers rather than nonprofits, asks them to fill in the organization for which they want to collect, their target dollars, a date for completion of the campaign, and send funds via a PayPal e-mail (required). This would imply that the nonprofit has such an account, and the blogger/supporter is familiar with it, as there is no alternative to use a credit card.

There is no suggestion that Chipin takes a piece of the action en route, although it does say there will be a PayPal fee.

NetworkforGood similarly directs its web site to bloggers rather than nonprofits, but has considerably more detail about how to create a badge,and how to make it good and effective.

It also has recommendations on how to increase the fundraising effectiveness of the badge, by posting it on the supporter’s web site, blog or AIM page. It’s also possible to feature a link to the badge URL on a MySpace page or in the supporter’s e-mail signature, it says. Some of the badges it shows as samples also encourage a viewer to add the badge to his/her site.

It also lacks information on how the funds flow from donor to nonprofit and how receipts are handled, although in answer to a query, a customer service representative said the funds would be processed through NetworkforGood’s system.

Bacon site

One place to see several badges at work is www.sixdegrees.org (CF February 15), Kevin Bacon’s gathering of several celebrities pushing their individual causes.

The NetworkforGood site also lists, as sites which include badges: www.nonprofitmarketingblog.com, http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2006/12/network_for_good.htm, http://www2.democracyinaction.org/node/344, http://musingsfromdc.blogspot.com, www.aimpages.com/nfgmkting/profile.html.

(Of course, granted the rapid pace with which things change in the 2.0 world, the list may be totally different at time of publication than it was at time of writing; already the Chipin site had changed from first investigation to second about five days later, in restricting the payment vehicle to PayPal, where it had been more flexible.)

For further information: See various sites above; irishg@nonprofitmatrix.com.

Canadian FundRaiser
Canadian FundRaiserSince 1991, the Canadian FundRaiser™ newsletter has been updating nonprofit managers twice-monthly on news, trends, tips and analysis of developments in the fields of fundraising and nonprofit management.

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