Consider Crowdsourcing as an Alternative Fundraising Technique
At risk of stating the obvious, your organization can only achieve its objectives with the support — financial and otherwise — of its supporters. You ask them, and they respond to the need. That's the way it's worked ever since the first nonprofits started fundraising. But what if you were to ask them to help shape your organization's strategy as well? What if you opened up a debate on how to spend their donations?
We've all heard of donor fatigue — whenever supporters hear from you, it’s because more money is required. Even though the Internet has helped change that (online updates about funded projects help keep information flowing), there is still a sense that it’s accompanied by the begging bowl. Imagine the effect of getting your supporters to decide which projects they would like to fund. It would certainly take some of the guesswork out of fundraising, as there would be natural ownership and support of the idea among those who suggested it.
In recent years, a new way of consulting the masses has emerged: crowdsourcing. It’s a way of outsourcing something, such as a decision or a solution, to a crowd through an open call for its participation. By crowdsourcing opinions, you can spot an emerging consensus. By crowdsourcing ideas, you may find extraordinary solutions and innovations from ordinary people. Recent high-profile examples of crowdsourcing include BP crowdsourcing solutions to the recent oil spill, the British government crowdsourcing ideas for which laws and regulations should be axed, and President Barack Obama crowdsourcing his resolutions for 2009 as he took office.
Crowdsourcing differs from traditional surveys in that, apart from the initial call for participation (i.e., asking the main question), there are no other boundaries. So, you encourage thinking outside of the box. What’s more, surveys are often constructed with an end in mind, whereas crowdsourcing can reveal answers to questions you hadn’t even considered.