A handful of small projects are the beginning of what Michigan State development staff hope will be a massive change in annual giving work at the University. That change involves a shift of focus toward more donor engagement via crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding allows donors – specifically new and smaller gift donors – to more clearly see the impact of their gifts, because they’re helping to fund a specific project or cause. This demonstration or proof of impact is something annual giving programs have been struggling with for some time. Crowdfunding, or online peer-to-peer giving, is one very effective way of addressing that desire of the donor to see the impact of their gift.
At the same time, crowdfunding is tremendously efficient at acquiring new donors, because …well, it’s all about the crowd! Peer-to-peer or online ambassador-fueled crowdfunding campaigns reach out to new donors by way of friends and family communicating online, specifically, via social networks. On average, 40 percent of the donors who give during ambassador-led online campaigns are new.
In the video below, Michigan State’s Director of Online Engagement, Paul Prewitt, uses MSU’s recent Extreme Makeover: Sparty Edition campaign to show how crowdfunding is helping the University identify more new donors and communicate the impact of philanthropy to all donors, big and small.
Consider the following:
- Online is the #1 method of choice for donors making their first gift to an organization for everyone age 65 and under (NOT JUST KIDS). Far more <65-year-olds give their first gifts online when compared with direct mail.
- Online-acquired donors earn more and have higher household incomes than offline (mail) acquired donors.
- Online-acquired donors give larger first gifts (twice the size, on average) as those who give via mail.
- Social media is the #1 way (by far) digitally active people first learn of a cause to support. (Georgetown/Waggener Edstrom survey)
In other words, all those new donors the Sparty campaign brought in for MSU are not just college kids and recent grads – they’re middle age and older supporters of the school. Many of them have deeper pockets than you might imagine.
Knowing the above, it’s clear – serious resources should be dedicated to an online and social media strategy for development. And not just resources for crowdfunding in the annual giving department, but for your entire development operation. Millionaires are online disproportionately more than those of lesser means. It’s not just about the annual fund – if you want to have a major gift program ten years from now, you had better start engaging and stewarding those future big gift donors with a smart online and social media strategy today. And you can start by leveraging the crowd.