Online giving – especially as it relates to the annual fund – often works best when the process is “fun”. A fine example of this comes from a Harvard grad who started the microfund organization known as the Awesome Foundation for the Arts and Sciences. Long story short (for the full story click here), the Awesome Foundation takes quirky projects, like adding swing sets in Los Angeles or a giant hammock in Boston, and funds them using $100 gifts from 10-person “giving circles” who, each month, select a fund to support. To apply, individuals or groups submit an application online.
The Awesome Foundation is exploding in popularity for a few reasons. One, they’ve so far been able to avoid a lot of the bureaucracy that hampers larger, more established nonprofits. That aspect helped get the Awesome Foundation off the ground, but another factor for its success – and one that will likely help it stick around through the growing pains – is simply the approach the Foundation takes. For a fund to be selected, it has to be “awesome” – and that makes the whole process a lot more fun and engaging for donors. We know that for a growing number of donors, innovation is the key to fundraising success. Quirky ideas that work is one of the best ways to excite that group of donors that places creativity high on their priority list when selecting a cause or organization to support.
Give the gift of “fun” to bring more gifts in to your organization
Creativity in the giving process does more than create buzz and attract tech-savvy donors – it boosts interest and participation from all donor groups and brings new donors into your organization. For example, look at what Middlebury College did with their online giving program MiddSTART. MiddSTART is a social network where donors can select from any number of funds which are managed by students and volunteers. It makes participation easy, gives donors the power to choose where their money goes, tells the story of philanthropy at Middlebury, gets younger donors involved, etc. What if Middlebury also threw a few projects into the mix that had a touch of “awesome” associated with them? Maybe a giant hammock in the school’s quad or bicycle rental stations set up around campus? Whatever the quirky tactic, the key is giving the donor something that’s a heck of a lot of fun to be involved with (while still maintaining some meaning to your overall cause).
It all comes back to providing donors with “value” via your online channels and social networks. Remember, a fun experience is what most of us are seeking when spending time online. Smart nonprofits can capitalize on that desire to have fun, by adding a little levity to the online giving experience.
For more info on integrating online media and philanthropy, visit BWF.com.