What are you personal feelings about fundraising?
I know a couple of people who love fundraising. I know far more people who dislike it. Fundraising is a reality for those of us in non-profit work. You can’t escape it and you can’t really run from it or you won’t have a job in non-profit work. I would describe my own relationship to fundraising as a love/hate relationship.
I love that people are generous. I think it shows one of the great virtues man is capable of portraying, “I don’t have to, but I believe in this so I am going to financially back it with nothing more than tax benefits.” My hate side of the relationship is I’d prefer my income not be dependent on another person’s ability to be generous. After all, generosity is often connected to another person’s ability to make an income and if something where to happen to their income often something happens to their level of generosity. That’s life though, right? If I have one standard of living and I lose the income that provides the standard something has to give.
Which brings us to the quandary we face today and in the next few years of non-profit fundraising is this: Is personal fundraising still the best way for you to fundraise?
The Sochi Winter Olympics are on. Did you see the story on the return of the Jamaican bobsled team? They didn’t have the money to make it to Sochi so some fans of theirs set up a crowd funding pages with the goal of raising $80,000. Well, they killed that goal. The current amount is over $184,000 according to this NPR article! How is it possible a team of bobsledders from a tropical island able to raise $184K in a very short time for a winter sport?
The answer is a lesson to all of us in fundraising:
A great story + Giving your biggest fans a means to raise money = Fundraising success.
Coolrunnings, the 1993 movie about the first Jamaican bobsled team to make it to the Winter Olympics is a great story. What’s crazy is that the movie came out 11 years ago but it’s what everyone thinks of when someone says, “How about the Jamaican bobsled team?” But the story alone isn’t what drove this entire fundraising success story. Crowd funding combined with a great story made this happen. This new style of fundraising where fans can give but also fundraise is HUGE!
Think about it from this perspective. How many meetings would it have taken the bobsled team to personally fundraise $80,000. I know it takes me a week to even get a meeting on the calendar with a potential donor if not more time and there’s no guarantee I’d see a check in the next 30 days. Plus, there’s the mailing right? And then there’s the phone calls. Or maybe they could have gone for the big fundraising event, which would require a few months of work and they might have hit their goal.
Did I mention they raised $184,000 in four days?
I don’t think it’s time to throw out personal fundraising. But I do think it’s time to better develop your story. I do think it’s time to start investing more financial resources towards your non profit finding someone to help you craft and display your story through video. It’s also time to get to the whiteboard with creative people and find your own way to help your biggest fans raise money for the non-profit they love in an online context.
I’ll end on this: On Friday I got an update from the Compassion child I sponsor. With this beautiful letter from a second grader in Uganda was also a packet from Compassion. The packet was something I could use to help drive what they call “Compassion Sunday” coming up in May. This one Sunday is a day for individuals, or churches, to share what Compassion is doing and how others can financially get involved and sponsor a child.
Stinking brilliant. Compassion providing their tribe the opportunity to do the fundraising.
What are you doing to provide your tribe the opportunity to do the same?