The Changing Face of Fundraising
6th January by Mark Astarita
Mark Astarita reviews the successful fundraising appeals to counter the devastating impacts of the Australian bush fires and the power of influencers in raising urgent funds.
The Australian Red Cross has raised $19m and a comedian $20m for the appalling consequences and action directed at the Aussie bush fires. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-50997406
This is not a commentary on the rights and wrongs of either because I do believe all giving is born from good will. So I for one applaud the $39m raised from just two appeals and the many millions raised from others.
It is however a reality that influencers in just moments can be as effective at raising massive donations as the biggest NGOs in the world.
So harnessing the power of influencers, just like patronage of old has become a key strategic issue and challenge for charity fundraising.
But be aware they may well behave in very similar ways to some major donors seeking significant influence over programmes and demonstrate restrictive behaviours despite possibly little knowledge of good programme design or user needs. Again not new!
It is what it is and suggests a significant shift of power this time to new elites. Their power is rooted in their voice, reach and authenticity not just money, status and position as of old. Remember the school teacher who raised over £1m in just a few days for the victims of the Grenfell fire.
This is not exactly a new phenomena just a different one that NGOs will have to deploy and engage with purpose to harness not just at times of emergencies. It was one letter in the Times from a celebrated war hero 150 years ago that raised millions and gave birth to what is now the British Red Cross. In common they are were all spontaneous acts of goodwill of people of influence and standing in a community of common purpose (even if they did not know it at the time). They were trusted and trust has shifted from institutions to individuals and communities of people that think like me.
Oh and before you all get excited I recall Cold Play tweeting their support and encouragement to donate for the Chilean Earthquake some years ago. The office were all very excited the reach was to literally millions. Bless them it was kind and very well meant but the results were just a few quid being raised. All the ingredients need to be aligned for special moments to happen. Designing it to happen is far harder in reality but co-designing might just work.
Just like those that respond to emergencies everyday, prepare for eventualities or design propositions and cases for support, have things prepositioned and practice and train for as many scenarios as possible. Influence the influencers before they just do it. Seek out those with followers and reach in unlikely places and communities (the gaming communities and I don't mean gambling is an example). If in doubt ask your teenagers!!
The world has got a whole lot smaller don't let it pass you by.