Social Media – Not Just For Millennials

Any person reading this article likely uses and appreciates social media.

It may surprise you to learn that your donors increasingly also use and appreciate social media to keep informed of their charities.

In my business use of social media, I’ve seen a similar trend. My target client, a senior company executive, is increasingly monitoring social media or relying on it for research.

So if you think that only millennials get their information online, think again and revise your communication plans.

Donors’ increasing use of social media is one of the takeaways from The Burk Donor Survey for 2016 (Click here).

Mark Miller, social media commentator and former White House communications professional, posted an article drawing from the Burk Survey (Click here).

The data suggests that fundraisers should use occasional social media posts to convey a charity’s goals and fundraising needs and to show the link between donations and results.

Excerpts from the Miller article:

“If you think social media is just for young donors, consider that 68 percent of donors 65 and older follow at least one nonprofit on social media — that’s more than triple the figure of 21 percent just five years ago. As younger donors mature, we can expect those numbers to grow even more.”

The top four reasons donors said they follow nonprofits:

Get real-time information on current projects.

See how recent gifts are being used.

Get general background on the nonprofit.

View images that show the nonprofit’s work.

“Social media is a powerful and efficient channel to communicate impact and demonstrate need. Donors love to see success stories, and they need the organizations to connect their giving to those accomplishments.”

The Burk Survey generates over 28 thousand responses. These social media survey results were not skewed by a young respondent pool. 42% of respondents were over 65 years of age and 49% were between 35 and 64.

Time to re-evaluate our communications strategy.

Fundraising Via Twitter

donate-here-buttonTwitter is now making it even easier to fundraise using its service.

Twitter has teamed with Square, Inc., the ubiquitous little plugin devices on cellphones and tablets, to make donating even easier.

Apparently politicians have quickly seized on this opportunity. The system makes it easy for politicians to report the donation to the Federal Election Commission.  Click here for the article on Yahoo.

Can non-profits also benefit from this new service?  Are there any reporting benefits available? I believe the answer is yes, non-profits can use this Twitter function too.

As I searched for answers, I found a useful article which reminded me that technology, even easy to use technology, is only one of the keys to using Twitter for successful fundraising. Click here for the article, “Twitter and Fundraising


Non-profit Boards Rate Themselves

OvrhdBdTableOur research finds that too often board members lack the skill set, depth of knowledge, and engagement required to help their organizations succeed,” says accounting professor David F. Larcker, the lead researcher.”

So concludes the Stanford Graduate School of Business survey of members of non-profit boards of directors.

The survey of 924 non-profit board members paints a pessimistic portrait of non-profit board member capability as characterized by fellow board members.

A mitigating factor, echoed by experienced board advisors, was that many boards were fortunate to have at least a handful of directors who were both capable and engaged.

To read the article from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, click here or copy and paste this link into your browser –

The personal and professional risk faced by a board member who is inadequate to the task is made clear in a recent Court of Appeals decision placing several million dollars of personal liability on board members.

The court concluded that non-profit boards share a similar standard to that of for-profit boards,  “the standard of director conduct applied by the appeals court is quite similar to that which might be applied to a traditional (business) corporate board.”

This case was reported on an article on Huff Post by Eugene Fram of the Rochester Institute of Technology.  Click here or copy and paste this link into your browser ––business-direc_b_7007414.html

So, add this item to your checklist when considering joining a board.  read my prior article “Before Joining a Non-profit Board.

Attacking Donor Advised Funds

MoneyLockedUpPerhaps it’s a sign of the success of donor advised funds that they’re getting more negative press.

A commentary in the “New York Times” by an author for “ProPublica” took sharp aim at the rapid growth of donor advised funds portraying this as a harmful development.

As described in the preceding post on this site (click here), donor advised funds permit a donor to take a deduction for tax purposes when money is put into the fund even if the money never makes it to a charity.

The commentary suggests that donors and large money managers, who manage the funds, may have little incentive for the money to get to charities once the tax deduction has been obtained.  The money may simply accumulate.

This reminds me of the historical criticism of wealthy families creating their own charities to obtain tax deductions without immediate use of the funds in some charitable endeavor.

In either the donor advised fund or wealthy family charity situation, the donations are irrevocable.

A charity seeking capital should identify and pursue these pools of money to learn just what would elicit a donation.

I conclude that  it’s better to have the funds in these irrevocable pools than to have lost the money to some other form of deduction.

To read the commentary from “ProPublica”, click here.


The Donor Advised Funds Debate

MoneyPilingUpThe rapid growth of donor advised funds (DAF) has sparked a spirited debate.

A DAF is a tax exempt fund to which a contributor can contribute money and get a tax deduction in the year of contribution.

The money, however, doesn’t need to be given to a charity that year in order for the contributor to receive a tax deduction.

With a DAF, there is, in fact, no obligation that the funds ever go to a charity. The funds may remain in the DAF, presumably invested and accumulating income tax free, forever. The donation is irrevocable, however, so the donor can’t get the money back.

This timing differential between the donor’s receipt of a tax deduction and actual receipt of funds by a charity has prompted issue among some in the non-profit community.

Concern has been expressed that separating the timing of the tax deduction from actual receipt of funds by a charity deprives charities of needed funding now.

Supporters of DAFs point out that DAFs enable donors to contribute whenever money is available and the tax deduction is useful but contribute to charities over time, perhaps, making charitable giving less lumpy.

At this point, there may not be enough evidence to conclude just how DAFs will influence charitable giving.

It wouldn’t surprise me if DAFs further increase donor influence on charities by increasing the competition among charities for DAF funds.

Therefore, DAFs may ultimately favor newer, more responsive charities to the detriment of larger, more established but less flexible charities.

Unless DAFs are eliminated by a change in tax law, the debate will likely continue.

The New York Times “Dealbook” provides a commentary on the negatives of DAFs (click here).

Youtube Perks for Non-profits




Youtube offers extra benefits for non-profit organizations.

ReelSEO explains the benefits and how your organization can access them.

Benefits include:

1. Call-to-action overlays on videos

2. Donation button via Google Wallet

3. Grants from Google/Youtube.

4. Extra support and advice

These features are available to 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profits.

Click here to go to the article on ReelSEO.


Technology Tools for Causes – Webinar

RightToolBoxCalled “Civic Tech” by the webinar’s sponsor, Royce Law Firm ( information technology has proven itself a very powerful tool to change perceptions and mobilize followers for political and social causes.

Used highly successfully in the last presidential election as described in a prior article (click here), data mining and internet marketing has proved its value.

I attended this webinar and learned about several useful online tools.  The archived event is available on Youtube by clicking here.  The slides are also available by clicking here.

Fast Company magazine also ran a story about how the two main US political parties are preparing for battle in 2016 with major technology projects.  To read the Fast Company article, click here.

Amazing Lemonade Stand Story

VivienneLemonadeStandVivienne Harr, a 10-year old girl in the SF Bay area, and her parents, made a lemonade stand to sell fair-trade organic lemonade to raise money to stop child slavery.

That project took off thanks to Vivienne’s precocious personality and her father’s social media skills.

That led to development of an app to rapidly enable anyone to establish a fundraising tool for the charity of their choice.

Currently still in beta, the app is taking requests for invitations.  Sign up at

Read the whole amazing story on The New York Times “Dealbook” (Click Here)

Watch a charming video and read what “Make A Stand” is about (Click Here).