Forty years ago, long before most even conceived of the internet, there was a song that opened with the words, “I’d like to build the world a home and furnish it with love.”
It was an idealistic song that became #1 because it spoke of hope and taking care of people who need help.
Forty years later, the message of “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing” by the New Seekers is resonating, online with an organization called Network for Good., which is a leader in the fast growing area of online giving.
Network for Good, which has helped raise nearly $700 million for 80,000 non-profits in the last decade, was created by AOL, Cisco and Yahoo right after the 9/11 tragedy shook the United States.
“The idea of using technology to raise donations is still in the early stages, and so we will only grow further from here,” said Katya Andresen, the organization’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Strategy Officer.Andresen, a former journalist who covered Asia andAfricabefore she entered the non-profit world, is a huge advocate of the notion that particularly small non-profit organizations should take advantage of technology to help their fundraising.
“It makes sense to use a giving technology platform which lets you raise money less expensively,” said Andresen. “Smaller non-profits have struggled in this economy and using the internet and other technology tools is an extraordinary way to reach and keep new donors.”
Network for Good is a leader in helping non-profits become more proficient, offering free training and providing tools that can help their online development efforts.
“We believe that technology can and will unleash generosity,” said Andresen. “Less than 10% of the giving occurs online right now and that will definitely grow dramatically in the years to come.”
Network for Good has caught the eye of The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company, aLos Angeles based non-profit that uses theatre to reach at-risk youth inLos AngelesCounty.
“We have just begun to dabble in online development,” said Sally Fairman, executive director of Unusual Suspects. “We have been able to sustain our fundraising through this difficult economic time thanks to individuals and foundations, but this is an opportunity we will more aggressively explore in the near future.”
Andresen is a student of behavioral economics and social psychology. What she has learned is that we like to give.
“Giving is an emotional experience,” she says. “We are better understanding how people react and why they make decisions. Quite simply, human beings are intrinsically altruistic and are wired for empathy.”
But it is still how the non-profit tells its story that will help a donor decide whether they want to contribute or not.
“Put a face on your cause, and present a messenger to tell the story, and there is not a more trusted messenger than someone who has been helped by your program,” said Andresen who said that if you don’t wake up the emotions of the donor first, the data won’t matter.
The Unusual Suspects’ Fairman agrees.
“When we focus our message around one of the young people that we’ve helped stay in school or stay out of a gang, the donor responds,” she said.
For Andresen that’s the key.
“The best way is to tell the story at a very personal level,” she concluded.
Network for Good imagines what the world would be like if every time you were inspired to help someone or something, you could anywhere online.
Giving online wasn’t part of what the New Seekers were singing back in 1972, when people were still bragging about having a color television set, but today it’s an idea whose time has come.