How to Fundraise Australian: Online Fundraising Lessons Learned From Down Under
I just returned from a trip to Australia, and it’s interesting to me how different countries bring their own unique cultural context to online fundraising. There are also some important lessons to learn that we can import back into our North American fundraising mix.
Overall, Australians are quite similar to North Americans in their use of the Internet, though they face more connectivity challenges than we’re accustomed to. Finding good high-speed at Wi-Fi cafes is more limited, but most workplaces are sufficiently wired. It’s interesting to note that we see most online donations and online fundraising occur during the typical 9-5, Monday to Friday workweek, leading us to believe that many charitable people are contributing from their work computers, which I suppose is more productive than playing Solitaire!
An interesting difference I noticed in Australia is the emphasis on third-party or community fundraising techniques when going online. The typical model I find in North America is one using online fundraising tools to support a walk-a-thon or similar pledged-based special event. While these certainly occur Down Under, there is a higher tendency to consider using online fundraising tools for grassroots, or "bottom-up," fundraising as opposed to the more "top-down" mass-participation events.
One organization that stands out is Cancer Council New South Wales. On its website, you’ll find a link to “How You Can Help.” Inside that section you’ll notice an option named “Do Your Thing.” It is a place where anyone can do almost anything to help Cancer Council NSW by setting up her own, branded personal fundraising page.
The charity helps get the creative juices flowing by suggesting general topics for online fundraising. For example, someone can do a “Gifts Thing” and accept donations in lieu of flowers and presents at her wedding. Selecting a “Pink Thing” brings up a list of ideas for women, including the story of how a recent pageant asked each contestant to raise $500 via her personal fundraising page. “Hair Thing,” “Work Thing” and “School Thing” round out the list. This program was so successful that it won a recent award from the Fundraising Institute of Australia, the Aussie version of Association of Fundraising Professionals.