Fundraising is one of the necessary evils of the non-profit world.
In order to keep a non-profit afloat, and do the good works that you originally set out to do, you have to be funded. That requires some mix of seeking grants from the government and businesses, as well as approaching individuals to “invest” in the work you are doing. And quite often, in this economy, it might seem as though you spend more time trying to raise funds, than you do on your actual social mission.
In his wonderful new book, The Non-Profit Narrative (which I’ll be reviewing very soon), Dan Portnoy notes:
Non-profit organizations weren’t started to consistently ask for money and talk about the troubles of keeping the lights on. Remember, they were started to change the world.
And yet, if you work at a non-profit organization, you may feel like you always have your hand out. And that might actually be the perception that many have of your organization. But what if you just took the time to maximize your fundraising efforts, so that you could generate more money with each ask, and therefore, not have to ask so often? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing? It’s no fun asking for money.
Unless you’re creative. And have the right tools at your disposal.
Enter Razoo Giving, an online social giving platform. My friend Ifdy Perez, a champion of social good, and the Community Manager at Razoo, which I believe is the most robust social giving platform[, sent me a DM on Twitter yesterday telling me about their new project: Twive and Receive. When I checked it out, I knew I not only had to write this post about it, but I also signed up. But more on that later…
Twive and Receive is a 24-hour online giving competition scheduled for June 14th. Folks like you and me will represent our communities on Twitter and other social platforms to raise money for our favorite local non-profit, while at the same time competing to help them win a share of $30,000.
Razoo has hosted one-day events like this before, but usually on a more hyper-local or regional level. For instance, “Give to the Max Day” back in November in Washington, D.C. raised more than $2-million in just one day for over a thousand local non-profits. Pretty impressive, eh?
Here’s what I like about this particular campaign:
1. It’s social – At the heart of this campaign is Twitter, but other platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and even blogging will be used to raise awareness during this 24-hour period. While one or two people in each community will be heading up the effort, they’ll be using their online social influence to get others on board.
2. It fosters community – The large majority of the campaign will be done online, but there can be offline elements as well. And you and other locals can band together online, and even gather together offline, to rally the troops and raise awareness and funds for your cause. Nothing brings people together better than a shared cause that benefits your local community.
3. It’s short – Many high profile fundraisers seem to go on forever. And ever. This is limited to 24-hours. In. Out. It’s Over.
4. It’s competitive – Gamification is one of the buzzwords of the social realm these days. Foursquare and other platforms use gamification to get people involved and keep them involved. Who doesn’t love a little friendly competition? It’s you and your city against a host of other cities, seeing who can raise the most money. Community pride can be a powerful motivating factor.
5. It’s fun – Or, it CAN be fun. It’s all how you execute. But when’s the last time you enjoyed fundraising? Usually we dread the task of asking others for money. Here, you can have some fun and raise money at the same time.
6. It fosters and rewards creativity – I have no idea how this campaign will shake out, but I’m convinced of one thing: the cities that win will be the ones that exhibit the most creativity. If all you do is tweet about raising money, you can only go so far. But what if you get local businesses and media involved? Are there offline methods you can use to get people involved online? What about a tweetup for happy hour? There are so many things
7. It fosters relationships between the community and the non-profit – If you do this right, your non-profit will be on board, and they’ll be promoting it as well. You’ll have the chance to connect local folks to the non-profit, who might never have engaged with them in the past. And it feels good to give something back to your community as an individual. At the same time, the non-profit benefits by rolling up their sleeves and working alongside community members.
8. Razoo will help you along the way – This isn’t some promotion or contest where you’re told to do something, and then the organizing business disappears until the last day. Razoo will be putting together an online toolkit to help you plan your day, including widgets you can put on websites and Facebook pages. They’ll also be hosting weekly conference calls to bring you up to date on the campaign, and offer you tips.
9. Everyone wins – You win by being a part of something good in your community, and you’ll get to meet and build relationships with others. Your non-profit wins, because even if they don’t “win” the competition, they still get to keep the money that was raised for them. Plus they’ll most likely have access to new donors. And Razoo wins because they are the organizers of this, and many non-profits will be introduced to their great platform.
I’ve already signed up to be the point person for my community in Lancaster, and I’ve chosen the non-profit for which we’ll be fundraising: Water Street Ministries (client) which provides a variety of services to the homeless and needy in our area. They serve a lot of people and do great work.
What about you? Are you willing to step up and be the point person for your community? If there is no one representing your city, why not consider signing up now? And if your city is already spoken for, join the cause! Contact the person listed next to your city and offer to lend a hand, or a tweet.
What do you think are the hallmarks or elements of a successful online fundraising campaign? What has worked for you in the past? How can you incorporate these elements into your fundraising efforts all year long?