Findings Friday | Creating a Vortex

Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication (CSIC) presents a new analogy for thinking about donor stewardship: the vortex.

source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons

According to CSIC, more supporters than ever are learning about causes online, through social media or elsewhere. A majority hears about these causes directly through friends and family, and then passes it on deeper into their own network. And once engaged, supporters tend to donate (40% of the time). The 2013 Millennial Impact Report found that 70% of millennials are willing to raise money on behalf of nonprofits they care about. This goes to show that implementing easily sharable communications via social networking sites is vital to raising funds and awareness.

According to CSIC’s research, there are a myriad of reasons and benefits people identify for using social media in supporting causes that they care about:

          82% Getting more people talking about the cause
          55% Raising more money for a cause

          50% Motivating people to take online actions
          39% Building new relationships
          32% Motivating people to take offline actions

So, how does this relate to a vortex? Well, it’s one very effective way to imagine these inputs—organizational communication and peer influence—interacting to grow an ever-widening engagement potential. That is, as nonprofits deliver their message and individuals pass it on to their networks, the base of support grows, creating a greater likelihood of community engagement.

The vortext model below illustrates key areas of contrast from the more traditional linear pyramid or funnel model.  Donors don’t necessarily receive a communication, learn more about the organization, volunteer, and donate money/resources in a specific chronological order up a ladder or pyramid. The vortex model allows for people to engage at any point through any method. It accounts for the more holistic, systems-based reality that humans are influenced by.

source: Stanford Social Innovation Review

Thinking about donors and potential donors in this innovative way, emphasizes the need for more dynamic approaches to community engagement, and, importantly, doesn’t minimize the significance of online activity.

Read more about the vortex model in our Fall 2013 issue of Georgia Nonprofit NOW feature article.

Tommy Pearce is Communications Coordinator at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits.

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