The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently published an article entitled “Far-Flung Missionaries go mobile to connect to Donors.” That article discussed how missionary groups are using technology to connect potential donors and supporters with their mission in a real and palpable way–as we say in philanthropy, putting a face on the cause. The article shares how a missionary group uses video, blogs and social media to cause a paradigm shift in the way they educate people about their causes and the impact of their work. The traditional way that missionaries, in this article, went about educating others and seeking support was through yearly visits to church groups. There they would tell their stories and try to engage the congregations with their mission. As a fundraiser, I see the inherent flaw in that model. Though understandable, after all, missionaries are spending most of their time doing their work, a single yearly visit is not a great way to garner support for a cause–even if it is a great one. It is too easy, once the missionary leaves for his/her stories to get lost in the din of everyday life. We all know a single event does not usually cause the transformational connections we all seek.
This article really does serve as a great lesson to all of us working with nonprofits. What are we doing to tie our supporters to our cause in a real and palpable way? How are we connecting them to our mission? Are they able to see and feel how their support makes a difference? The missionaries in this article are taking a leap to break-down the separation by showing, through video, the change happening, telling the stories of their work and sharing them through social media. They are flattening/shortening the distance between the cause and the donor and letting them, virtually, be part of it.
This article caused me to pause and think, “How am I trying to connect the organizations with whom I work with their supporters in a real way?” What am I doing to shorten the distance and give my supporters the sense that they are partners in our missions and to show them that their support does make a difference? Please share your thoughts.