The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.
Mar 29, 2011

Earlier this month, one of the nonprofits that I volunteer with asked if I could help them raise $3,000 for a special project. The organization had already raised some money offline through their most active supporters, but those efforts had plateaued at $1,125.

First, I assessed their online assets to determine which ones could produce the most robust dividends. Based on that analysis, I decided to approach both their Facebook Fans and blog readers by:

  • creating a “Donations” tab on the Facebook page that described both the project and the goal
  • adding a PayPal button in order to accept credit card donations
  • adding a snail-mail address for donors who were more comfortable sending a check
  • posting to the nonprofit’s Facebook wall (as administrator) letting the organization’s 1400 fans know about the project and new donations tab
  • publishing a blog post about the project that included a link to the new Facebook donations tab
  • and updating the list of donor’s names as they arrived.

The following is a chart illustrates what happened.

In less than nine days, total donations hit $4,575, eclipsing the organization’s $3,000 goal by 53%!

So, here’s a math question for you. Based on the following information, what’s the ROI?:

  • 1400 Facebook fans
  • 120 blog subscribers
  • 400 unique blog visitors per month
  • $30/month for a PayPal account that takes credit cards
  • $0 Facebook Fan page
  • $0 for donated web hosting
  • 2-hours to create and publish the content
  • added $3,450 of online revenue in nine days to the $1,125 that was generated offline.

Successful business folks understand that companies are complicated entities that consist of many moving parts. And although the ROI of individual projects is important, the assets that companies build over time may hold more overall significance in the grande scheme. Therefore, rather than spending time calculating ROI on a project-by-project basis, perhaps it’s more prudent to invest that same time into building your company’s online assets?

By considering new media activities as investments in the development of corporate assets, a world of opportunities open. The more valuable the asset, the larger the dividends that it produces.


Great article! Do you even need the PayPal account that costs $30 a month? (Presumably the Payments Pro Plan) One should be able to do the same with the Payments Standard plan, that has no monthly fees. (And i see they now have a Non-Profit plan which advertises even lower transaction rates ) I know it’s splittn hairs, but I’ve seen companies even balk at $30 a month.

March 30, 2011

Hi Blake,

You are correct. In this case the nonprofit uses the “Virtual Terminal” service, so in the true spirit of transparency, I included the $30/month charge.

But you also raise an important point. Any company that balks at such a small charge that is directly related to raising in cash, should not be taken seriously as a business to work for or to take-on as a client:-)

April 1, 2011

[…] For the past two years, this blog has discussed a theory that Audience is an Asset that should be carried on a company’s balance sheet as opposed to the commonly held belief that social media should be tracked as P&L. Over time, The theory has been refined through other posts, such as: Valuating Your Social Media Asset, Social Media is a Mutual Fund and Assets Produce Distributions. […]

RonAmok! » No apreciation…until it’s gone
December 27, 2011

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