5 Lessons for Fundraisers From Kony 2012
No. 3: Perception is reality
Once the video took off, lots of different entities began to explore Invisible Children itself. People wanted to know more about the organization's mission, its work and how it was all funded. This has led to some pretty harsh criticism from watchdogs, donors and even the people Invisible Children is missioned to help. A lot of that has to do with the financials of the organization, especially the amount of dollars spent on non-program expenses vs. money spent on direct program projects. That can lead to an unfavorable opinion in the eyes of donors, whether the organization's intentions are pure or not.
No. 4: Transparency is important
Increasingly, donors want to know where exactly their gifts are going. They want to see their gifts in action, know that they are delivering on the programs the organization solicited funds for, and helping the organization achieve its mission. That doesn't mean you can't use funds raised to pay for overhead costs — it means you must tell your donors of that need as well, and that some of their money will be used to help pay staff and cover other expenses vital to the organization.
Transparency is important. Donors do not like to feel mislead by an organization allocating funds to things they had no idea were in the equation. So tell your donors as much as you can about your organization, its financials, its costs, its work, how your donors can help and how their money will be used.
No. 5: Communication is key
Perhaps most importantly, the Kony 2012 scenario has emphasized just how vital communication is for an organization — both internally and externally. Invisible Children did a magnificent job communicating its story with the Kony 2012 video, one that reached tens of millions of people in lightning speed. It also struggled with criticisms and scrutiny because the organization didn't, in some people's eyes, communicate its structure and financials as well as it could have. And finally, the response video by Keesey was another example of strong communication, responding to the feedback it had received following the Internet explosion of Kony 2012. It was a good example of an organization listening to the conversations that were taking place about it and then responding in a way it felt was appropriate.