The Search for Sneezers: How to Find Online Fundraisers in Epidemic Proportions
I hope you enjoyed last month’s article, “Top 5 Tips to Improve Your Digital Fundraising.” For those of you who missed it, let me provide this disclaimer: I lead a fantastic online fundraising company, so my perspective is very pro-digital … but it’s also informed by 10 years of Internet fundraising experience, so I hope it will be of some value to you. I’m fortunate to observe hundreds of online fundraising organizations from all over the world, but primarily the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia and The Netherlands.
This month’s topic is timely as the weather warms up across the northern hemisphere and we get back into special-event fundraising season!
“What is a sneezer?,” you may ask. I’m borrowing the term from Malcolm Gladwell in his fantastic book, “The Tipping Point.” If you haven’t read this yet, please do; it will help you become a great digital fundraiser. Basically, a sneezer is someone who is particularly contagious. Epidemiologists who study the spread of disease through any population note that some people are more infectious than others. Much more infectious! In the context of this article, imagine that the sneezer is an online fundraiser for your cause who is particularly good at bringing in lots of online donations.
I know it’s an odd way to start a discussion about online fundraising, but I think it’s appropriate. As many of you traditional fundraisers know, 80 percent of the money in a fundraising campaign comes from 20 percent of the donors. This happens online, as well, but with an important difference. In an offline capital campaign, the 80/20 effect occurs because a few donors make very large gifts. In an online fundraising campaign, the 80/20 effect occurs because a few fundraisers not only rise to the challenge, but exceed all expectations.
Remember your old-fashioned walkathon? Participants were asked to register and then solicit donations from their friends and family using a pledge form they received in the mail. Once participants completed the walk-a-thon, they followed up with those who had pledged and collected their donations. In the 21st century, leveraging the Internet, this process happens at warp speed. Rather than carrying around pledge sheets, participants e-mail or message their friends who link to a personal fundraising page and make secure, online donations.