We’ve all experienced it: an email from a friend or relative asking for a “donation” to a cause, issue or pet project… And mostly likely, we’ve all had the experience of wondering: “what am I really giving to and what do I get?”
This March, Miriam Kagan and I made the rounds at industry conferences (SXSW and NTC) talking about the explosion in crowdfunding ($300 billion according to industry statistics), and how both donors and industry are scrambling to sort through the confusion and clutter to determine worthy causes, worthy platforms, and validate solicitations.
Go here to edit the Bill of Rights: http://crowdfundingbor.wikispaces.com/
One of the outcomes of our talks has been to work on a crowdfunding bill of rights for donors: a set of standard expectations that legitimate crowdfunding and peer-to-peer campaigns should adhere to in order to ensure a well-managed, transparent, and effective experience. *
We are going to focus our discussion mainly on the nonprofit side of things: so donors are giving to causes (not someone’s invention) and in theory, giving to one of the million plus legitimate charities.
Why is a bill of rights important and how does it not only benefit the donor, but the nonprofit too? The most successful relationships between NGOs and their constituents are based on transparency and trust. Donors and their networks are demanding increasing insight and oversight into how their dollars are spent and feedback around project impact (regardless of giving channel). Nonprofits that agree to a clear set of expectations, and whether via their own or another platform make sure to adhere to these, will create the kind of trust and feedback loops that are more likely to contribute to long-term engagement and relationships with their donors and funders. This provides a better way for the nonprofits themselves to understand what donors are expecting and how to evaluate potential crowdfunding partners and platforms.
Go here to edit the Bill of Rights: http://crowdfundingbor.wikispaces.com/
Amplify Austin’s encore performance was a hit. Look at what we achieved together in 24 hours:
- $5.7 million raised for 496 local nonprofits who transform lives in our community with your help.
- Over 34,000 gifts were made online by nearly 20,000 donors to causes Central Texans care about.
- $78,000 in prize money was awarded to nonprofits. See the winners and the incredible prize sponsors!
- More than 800 people raised over $442,000 for their favorite Central Texas nonprofits through their Amplify Austin fundraising pages!
- 41 companies were “Business Fundraisers,” with employees giving$297,000 back to the community where they live and work.
The success of the second annual Amplify Austin Day is proof that “giving local” is alive and well, demonstrating our community’s generous spirit. Thank you! Who did you give to? Sound off in the comments.
Fact or fiction. Crowdfunding is a viable source for funding your next nonprofit or social enterprise startup. As with most things, crowdfunding is not all the media makes it out to be. Check out the presentation I did below for more information on crowdfunding in 2013.
A special guest post from our friend Ehren Foss over @ helpattack.
Last month we took some time to plot the history of social media fundraising, and summarized our findings into 10 hard-won lessons of raising money on social networks. It’s relatively easy, with hindsight, to look into the past. But what about the future? What might happen in 2012, or 2015, as more organizations look to their online communities for additional support?
#1 Rewards for Sharing Content
It was tough not to use the biz-speak “incentivize” content in the headline, but this is a very important, and not well understood, part of online campaigns. When Ashton Kutcher donated $1 per MySpace follower to Habitat for Humanity in 2006, he was basically saying “If you follow me, I’ll reward you with the good feeling of knowing another $1 went to a cause you support.”
That basic model continues today – Southwest Airlines gave $1 per #SWAAFF hashtag, Pepto Bismol gave 8 Thanksgiving meals per retweet, and on HelpAttack! organizations like Progress Texas and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are using the Tweets of certain users to drive support.
I think we’re just scratching the surface. As the internet evolves, the cost and difficulty of tracking certain kinds of online actions continues to drop. Thanks to open data interfaces and great tools, we can easily count Flickr uploads, blog comments, YouTube uploads, online gaming achievements, every time someone opens an email or links to a certain URL.
- What if an organization asked their supporters to write a blog post about how that organization has helped them, while a matching donor contributes $10 per blog post? Those people will probably link to the organization in their posts too, improving search engine rankings.
- What if Occupy Wall Street, fighting for mainstream media attention and funds, had asked armchair supporters to give 1c, 5c, or 25c each time #OccupyWallStreet is mentioned on Twitter? As more people participate with donations, the incentive to use the hashtag increases, so more people use the tag, so more people hear about the campaign, and so on.
- What if, instead of those weird, inspiration chain letter emails your aunt always sends you, you receive an email from her where she tells you she’s agreed to give $10 to an organization you support, only if you forward the email to 10 people you know, and they open it?
In these three examples, donations, or potential donations, are used to urge people to take certain actions online. When you those actions up, they can have huge benefits!
#2 Online Currencies
Currently, each organization, or third party tool, that handles your donation has a different donation infrastructure set up. Some use PayPal, some use Authorize.net, some use FirstGiving. This is why you have to enter your credit card again and again! Once you have your payment details stored, you can start using “Give Now” buttons (like Amazon’s One Click Shopping). These gateways also have different minimum donations, policies for tax deductions, currencies, and international policies. It’s confusing!
At some point, someone will figure out how to make this easier for donors worldwide. That someone, rather than being a donation company, will probably be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google, BitCoin, or maybe even Weibo. Apple is notoriously stubborn on the issue, but at some point one of these companies will decide that the benefits of helping society, alongside those of cause marketing and corporate social responsibility, outweigh the benefits of collecting 30% of Facebook Credits or iTunes transactions going to a verified nonprofit or NGO.
Online currencies make it easier to give micro-donations, across borders, in creative ways that harness the social power of the internet. Start looking at the size of those communities versus the cost of implementing donations to your cause in that medium. Worth it yet? It will be.
#3 Respect Your Elders
Billions of dollars of knowledge, infrastructure, study, and effort have gone into direct mail fundraising. The online medium is fundamentally different, but many of the lessons, techniques, and best practices apply in extremely similar ways.
Direct mail pieces are costly to produce: You need to design them, test them, print them, track them, and handle the responses. I think we’ll see more online “pieces” like Apps, Facebook tabs, and websites, that are more involved, costly, and higher quality than what we’ve seen so far, because organizations can invest what they would have spent on postage in a richer online experience.
The direct mail professionals who are retiring are an extremely valuable resource. They know that sometimes you have to spend money to make money, and they know how to track every last little detail. Go out for coffee and learn about the kinds of things you’ll be doing online in 5 years.
We aren’t the only ones guessing what might happen in the future of online fundraising, and remember that most pundits are wrong most of the time. What do you think will happen in the year 2017?