Crowdsourcing Strategies for Nonprofits

As indicated in a recent post, causes are cool. Today’s nonprofit organization has abundant opportunities to maximize their impact through creative social media efforts. After all, collective activities are not new to philanthropic organizations, which, for generations have had to rally crowds to aid their efforts. The difference is today, they are able to do so even faster and more efficiently, as long as they stay focused.

Crowd Capabilities

Social media users are already yawning at the influx of crowd voting campaigns that allow users to collectively choose the cause to which a major donor’s funds will be given to. But that doesn’t mean the crowd isn’t plenty useful to nonprofits. From generating collective knowledge to soliciting volunteer labor, the options are diverse. Another trend that is expected to see growth is the practice of crowdfunding— where a lot of small contributions are aggregated online to support ventures.

Research and Planning

Any organization embarking on a crowdsourcing project must be very clear and intentional about what it is they want the crowd to do—and to then create a design to facilitate the crowd’s work as efficiently as possible. There are a variety of technology platforms and on-line intermediaries available to help but it takes thorough research to find the one that will work best to achieve an organization’s goals.

Return to Basics

2010 was the year of brand-cause connectedness, as brands took on causes to improve their image and causes took on brands to improve their visibility. This practice has come under increasing scrutiny however, as donors seek impact and authenticity in their giving, becoming wary of causes that are simply a PR or marketing campaign for a retailer. While the connectedness may not go away, with its mutual benefit, it will be increasingly important for both the brands and causes involved to remain accountable.

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