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Allyson Kapin 13 min read

Game Changing Strategies for Nonprofits in 2011

What fundraising strategies will be game changers for nonprofits in 2011? What’s on tap for social media and advocacy? Frogloop asked some of our favorite nonprofit campaigners and experts to give us their thoughts and predictions. 


Holly Ross, NTEN

Mobile! And not apps. Apps are fine, but nonprofits seriously need to invest in mobile versions of their sites. You don't have to translate your whole site, but be strategic about what content mobile browsers
want, and what you want mobile browsers to see. Be platform agnostic!

Hyper local. It's time to start really thinking about how we can use geo-location tools to show our impact, engage volunteers and donorswherever they are, in context.

Cloud. The new always-on, always-accessible, always-mobile nonprofit is enabled by cloud applications that allow for true productivity from anywhere!


Jocelyn Harmon: Care2

I hope that 2011 will be about getting back to basics and mastering online fundraising, that is the art and science of fundraising via an organization’s own website.  I’m discouraged by the amount of time many nonprofits are spending on new tools (like Facebook and Twitter), which may or may not work for fundraising, at the expense of optimizing their own sites!  Every nonprofit should turn its website into a kick-ass donation and/or e-commerce engine!  Why?  According to the Online Giving Study, 66% of online gifts to charities come in via their own websites.

I’d also like to see nonprofits master the art of writing.  I saw (and responded to a few great appeals in 2010) but much nonprofit communication still seems artificial, inauthentic and dare I say boring!  The keys to turning this tide include the following steps:

  1. Organizations need to stop waxing on and on about their institutional successes and instead connect with prospective and current donors around issues that matter to them. 
  2. Nonprofit marketing, fundraising and communications specialists need to spend more time talking to donors and learning to speak their language.
  3. Organizations must test appeals to determine which messaging works best.
  4. Finally, and perhaps most important, nonprofits need to work with skilled copywriters, including staff and board members who can really write.

Mark Rovner, Sea Change Strategies

Fundraising is all about channel integration. I don't think the use of online channels is dead by any means, but the notion of e-fundraising as a standalone discipline that can be separated from fundraising in general is.

Online Advocacy is broken.  Organizations need to connect people in the real world.  Clicktivism is part of the puzzle but only one part.


Shireen Mitchell, Digital Sistas

First, I think organizations should take are real close look at Facebook groups. The privacy and levels of engagement can be used in creative ways to cultivate various types of members including donors.

Second, data portability. I find nonprofits spend a lot of time and money recreating content and never getting the right integration of their CRM. They should have all their member contact info, lists, events, conferences and webinars, social media, and other files in one location that has an open API environment. This gives them options to move between different CMS's or Mobile apps. One software company attempting this is MemberSuite.  This way they are not stuck with one type of CRM or CMS, which will bring down costs and increase their flexibility.


Beth Kanter, Zoetica Media

Nonprofits need to take a serious look at measurement and ROI to make sure they are getting the most value out of their time investment in social media.  In addition, looking at the idea of abundance vs. scarcity - not trying to do everything - but becoming more like a curator.  Own the impacts, not necessarily the to do's. Also, techniques that allow nonprofits to better understand their networks - like social network analysis.  Look at mobile.  Not just the tools, but an integrated, measurable, and effective mobile strategy - this means mobile readable web site content, apps, and texting - both for engagement and marketing/fundraising.


Garth Moore, 1Sky

Everyone should check in with Jumo to see where they go. No one has that much VC money to just stall forever. It was tough coming out of the gate, let's see what they do to move and mobilize the space.

The tough economy and the increase in the proliferation of donation tools means we need to look at all our channels and determine where to go deep and where to let go. We can't be everywhere at once, so which tools and combination will work best with your supporters. Is it online "CRM-Causes-text", or another combination.

I want to see how the mobile market can become more cost-effective for organization to use with their supporters. Will there be a sea change in how we stop using email and use text more? With all our supporters?


Carie Lewis, Humane Society of the United States

The strategy on our “must do” list for 2011 is keeping our Facebook audience engaged. As Facebook makes more changes to its platform, it’s letting more into the newsfeed and therefore bombarding people with more branded messaging.

We’ve got to remember that people didn’t come to Facebook to hear what brands have to say, they came to connect with family and friends. We’ve got to scale back our messaging and remember that we are not the most important thing that our fans see. People are unsubscribing and hiding brands that post too much,too often, and lack engagement opportunities. Our messaging needs to be relevant, timely, and perhaps most importantly, interesting. For us, Facebook is no longer the “we don’t have room for email, put it on Facebook” medium, it’s “is this appropriate for our Facebook audience?” That’s a fundamental shift in our strategy for 2011.


Shana Glickfield, Beekeeper Group

I don’t think it will be long before people will expect open data/transparency in the same way they demand this from government and corporations. Nonprofits can get ahead of the ball by sharing info, and then getting the added benefit by engaging their base and by asking their opinion on the info. 

Also, its goodbye PowerPoint - hello Prezi, video, and interaction. presentations can be so much more engaging with new tools.

Partner with a corporation, you get $, they get CSR.


Alan Rosenblatt: Center for American Progress Action Fund

Targeting lawmakers on their Facebook walls and with Twitter petitions (Act.ly) is a real game changing strategy. Together with the social fundraising tools for candidates (ActBlue.com and SlateCard.com), this “social advocacy” strategy will force Members of Congress to pay attention to a national constituency as they make national policy.

For understanding who follows you on Twitter, MyTweeple.com is a must have tool. Log in with your Twitter account, perform a full synch, and then download a spreadsheet of all your connections. The download includes all the profile info for each connection: bio, URL, name, number of friends and followers, and whether they follow you, you follow them, or both. It’s a goldmine!


What strategies or tools do you think nonprofits should have on their “must utilize” or “take a serious look at” list for 2011? 


Allyson Kapin

Allyson has been named one of "Top Tech Titans" by the Washingtonian, one of the Most Influential Women In Tech by Fast Company, and one of the top 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Forbes for her leadership role in technology and social media. As Founding Partner of Rad Campaign, she leads the firm's client and online strategic services. For over a decade Allyson has helped non-profit organizations and political campaigns create dynamic and award-winning websites and online marketing and recruitment campaigns. She works side-by-side with her clients to meet their web needs and maximize their online effectiveness to create real world impact.