May 02, 2012

Using Pinterest to Raise Money: One Charity's Experiment

Opportunity International

Opportunity International created a fundraising campaign that lets users honor their mothers or loved one with personalized quilt squares.

Pinterest, the fast-growing social network that allows people to share information on virtual bulletin boards, has become a hot topic of conversation among nonprofits in recent months.

Many groups have hesitated to spend considerable time in the popular network until they can get a better understanding of how it can help them connect with potential supporters. But a new effort by Opportunity International, a nonprofit that provides small loans to poor women overseas, might offer a blueprint for how other nonprofits can use Pinterest.

For Mother's Day, the group has started a fundraising campaign though Pinterest that invites donors to pin personalized squares to an online quilt honoring a mother or another loved one.

Ian Haisley, Opportunity International's director of online strategy, says the organization is experimenting with Pinterest because it reaches an important demographic: women. Women make up more than 90 percent of the charity's clients and more than 70 percent of people who use Pinterest.

In the latest episode of Social Good, Mr. Haisley discusses his organization's goals for the campaign and for Pinterest. In addition, Joe Waters, a cause-marketing expert and nonprofit consultant who blogs at Selfish Giving, offers advice on how other charities can participate in the popular social network.

Allison Fine, a nonprofit leader and expert on technology and communications, discusses how charities and foundations can more effectively use social-media tools to spread their messages and raise money. Ms. Fine incorporates suggestions and questions from readers into her podcasts and invites you to e-mail her at Look for new installments on the first Thursday of every month.