Year of Publication

2014

College

Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Executive Summary

In today’s age of social media and interconnectedness, nonprofit organizations have the ability to be creative in their fundraising efforts. One method of online fundraising is a social media campaign, such as the GoodGiving Guide Challenge, an eight-week online charitable giving campaign for nonprofit organizations across Central Kentucky.

A review of related literature shows that previous studies have touched on the growing trend of social media as a nonprofit marketing tool, the role of internet in the nonprofit sector in general, the return on investment in nonprofit internet use, and the importance of accountability and trust in terms of online giving. This paper explores a more specific facet of these trends: the success of a social media charitable giving competition between various nonprofit organizations in a community.

This research uses data collected by Blue Grass Community Foundation during the 2013 GoodGiving Guide Challenge. I explore the following questions:

1) Does the frequency of an organization’s social media posts predict success in social media fundraising?

2) Which organization characteristics predict success in social media fundraising?

I measure success using three dependent variables: total dollar amount fundraised per organization, number of unique donors per organization, and average amount given per donor per organization. I find that frequency of social media use (Facebook, Twitter, and e-newsletters) is not correlated with any of these measures of success, aside from Twitter which has a positive association with the number of donors.

I also explore which organization characteristics, such as finances, management, fundraising intention, volunteers, mission, and age, affect fundraising success. The variables that are positively associated with the various measures of success are program expenses (to a small extent), presence of a capital campaign, and age of organization. The variables that are negatively associated with the various measures of success are number of staff, number of volunteers, CEO term, youth-related mission, animal-related mission, and arts-related mission. Based on these findings, I conclude with recommendations for nonprofit organizations considering entering the GoodGiving Guide Challenge or other similar social media charitable giving campaigns in the future.

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