After delivering a pretty good social cause event in Brighton (if I do say so myself), we were approached by a guest who was quite concerned about this whole “crowdfunding” thing.
“Crowdfunding is all well and good,” he said, “but nonprofits should really be focusing on more regular forms of income, like regular giving. It gives them certainty, rather than just fundraising for projects.”
In the first evolution of charity crowdfunding, this was a fair criticism. But in the current state of play, some innovative campaigners are using crowdfunding to create an even better version of regular giving. First, while regular giving is often seen as a goldmine for charities, it’s normally an average experience for donors. You’re ‘acquired’ by street fundraisers, door knockers, telemarketers; sent your welcome pack and signed up to the newsletter until you make the new year’s resolution of inbox zero and choose to unsubscribe or cancel over the phone and are then passed on to the recovery team.
The main complaint that donors have isn’t the sales tactics, it’s the lack of clarity they have around how their particular donation is being used.
Compare that to what one of our campaigners does.
Forever Friends Animal Rescue has a queue of animals who’ve come into their care that they feature on Chuffed.org. On 9th April 2016, it was Jacko, the sweet Jack Russell Terrier who had sadly been hit by a car. They needed to raise $2,800 for Jacko’s surgery: everyone could see exactly how much they’d raised at any point in time, how much they needed to raise, and who else has donated. In less than a month, twenty-two supporters came together and funded the surgery.
On 29th May, Shannon from Forever Friends reported back about the surgery to all the donors.
Then on 5th July, donors received this update. Jack found a forever home!
For the next month, Forever Friends introduced us to the sweet two year old Staffy mix named Nugget. Once again donors raised the funds because they knew that their donations were going to have an impact.
This kind of transparency is infinitely more inspiring than X% of my donation going to the cause and that’s what keeps them coming back to give again and again and again.
Now of course, it’s not the exact same individuals funding each campaign – donors dip in and out. Rather than causing ‘donor fatigue’, it has the opposite effect, with every cycle the donor base grows. The fanbase expands as supporters share the campaign and refer their friends – I like to think of it like a rock band.
Rock bands put on a concert and their fans turn up. But then their fans go away and tell their friends about how great a band this is, so next time there’s a concert, they bring their friends, and the band’s fanbase grows. Of course, not every fan comes to every show, but overtime, they build a following that gives them a regular income.
That’s what the future of regular giving looks like – a rock band.