The Rapture didn't happen on May 21 as predicted. The saved among us didn't shuffle off their mortal coils and ascend into Heaven, and everyone else hasn't been left behind to survive in a post-Apocalyptic Hell on Earth until the real end comes on Oct. 21.
But Harold Camping, head of California-based Family Radio and the man behind the Judgment Day prediction, isn't giving up. He's now saying that the Rapture did indeed happen — except that is was invisible — and that the end really will befall the Earth on Oct. 21. Pretty ballsy, Harold (especially since you made a similar prediction in 1994 and were wrong then, too).
Whatever his motivation — be it devotion, delirium, dementia or dollars (donations to Family Radio spiked wildly in the months before May 21) — Camping made an impact. Followers quit their jobs, got rid of all their worldly goods, even euthanized their pets. Nonbelievers planned post-Rapture looting parties. There were jokes galore, as well as impassioned pleas to take it all seriously and repent while there was still time. When the (invisible) dust settled on that Saturday evening, lots of people had a good laugh and many others were left to deal with confusion, sadness and a sense of betrayal that it all didn't go down as Camping promised.
It was the ultimate viral campaign. So the first inclination among the fine folks of fundraising might be to examine Camping's strategy for ideas that can be used in their own efforts.
But it's a mixed bag. First, we're dealing with the Rapture here. No matter how serious or important your mission, it can't compete with the end of the world. Sorry. Then, many (more likely, most) of the people who believed so vehemently in Camping's extreme proclamations are pretty far out there on the fringe and probably wouldn't respond as well to more mundane appeals. Camping wasn't actively seeking donations, and he has religious fanaticism in his corner. So in reality, you can't credit his "strategy" for the reactions to the Judgment Day campaign.