by Kyla Winchester

We’ve explored before why digital fundraising is an important tool in your fundraising toolkit—but it should never be your only tool, or even the main tool.

There is talk of digital transformation or digital maturity, but to me, that seems like talking about grocery-shopping maturity as if it’s separate from the rest of your household budget. Why would we focus on only one aspect of the budget, when everything in the budget is important? If something is in the budget for a reason, it should get just as much attention as everything else.

The budget metaphor resonates with me because budget is also part of the reason why digital fundraising seems so attractive. After all, it’s free, right?

Sure, it’s free—you can post to your social accounts for nothing! You just need to get someone to spend at least a big chunk of each day working on the content. And then they need to liaise with other staff/teams because each needs to contribute to the content creation. And of course you should have a social strategy, and the strategy will need to be devised, reviewed, and approved, and align with your overall fundraising strategy—because if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right by aligning with existing initiatives and maximizing your results. Speaking of doing it right, who’s designing the content? You either need to pay a designer, hire a designer, or train existing staff to do at least some design. And if you’re going to use social for lead gen or promote anything where you need to get it seen by people, then you’re doing paid ads as well. And did I mention, this is just social media posts—not sending emails, not updating the webpages the posts or emails link to, not processing donations on a new platform, or registering and holding events online, managing new data in the database (putting a data hat on, this includes handling duplicates, segmentation, CASL compliance, etc.) or any of the many other things under the ‘digital’ umbrella.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying digital isn’t worthwhile. Fundraising is definitely worthwhile, and we need to be where our donors are (as much as is feasible). But it requires investment and strategy just like everything else. Digital definitely isn’t free; so when you’re thinking about a new digital fundraising tactic or strategy, be sure to consider all the investment required, including staff time, tools that will be needed long-term, set-up costs and time, etc. Also review Campaign First in light of what you know about your donors: where they are, how they give and what yields the best results.