Donor Fatigue is Real – Crowdfunding is a Solution

Donor fatigue is real.

If we want to continue raising funds to support important causes like the fight against cancer, it is high time charities stop engaging supporters as donors and start turning them into advocates.

According to a recent article in the Globe And Mail, “Internet-facilitated fundraising methods, such as crowdsourcing, allow people to raise money for niche causes that might be closer to the heart than those supported by large, amorphous entities such as the United Way, which has seen a steady decline in donations over the past five years in Greater Vancouver.”

I couldn’t agree more. Crowdsourcing is a powerful, and increasingly popular, way of fundraising for things like new products, startup financing, paying for your cat’s vet bills and everything in between. Better yet, the highest category of all crowdfunding was for charitable projects. According to a recent report, in 2012 alone, 30% of the 2.5 billion dollars raised via crowdfunding globally went towards social causes.

That’s right. Passionate individuals are increasingly turning to crowdsourcing as opposed to traditional fundraising to support charitable causes near to their hearts. Examples include a 9-year-old elementary school girl who raised funds for her favourite charity to support education funding for Afghan girls, Vancouver BMO marathon-ers who raised funds for their local charity and a donor campaign that raised funds to provide laptops for low-income youth.

So why the sudden craze around crowdfunding?

Well, for starters, it is entertaining. Unlike most dated leading fundraising software, crowdfunding platforms are built for the “iPad generation” with lots of social gamification features. The ability to involve your community, launch and brand campaigns as you wish and the ability to offer perks makes crowdfunding a fun event in itself.

Second, and more important, crowdfunding isn’t about asking people for money.

Rather, it is an opportunity to invite someone to take part in an awesome journey in achieving something radical. It’s exhilarating, it’s empowering and—most important—it works.

In crowdfunding, everyone has a role to play. That’s precisely what makes it an extremely powerful and promising solution to the staggering donor engagement crisis. For charities, crowdfunding switches the project from being charity-centric to being a collective community initiative where everyone feels as though they are equal stakeholders in making success happen. Crowdfunding also changes the perception of the donor, transforming him or her from being seen as a mere wallet to being seen as an advocate for the cause or an extension of the charity.

Just as the marketplace of tomorrow’s business will not be B2B nor B2C, but H2H (human to human), so too must charities undergo a paradigm shift and understand that tomorrow’s fundraising will not be between donors and institutions. Rather, it will be “human to cause.” Crowdfunding platforms are well equipped to help charities adapt to this change in fundraising behavior by allowing supporters to feel a personal connection to charitable causes they fund and support.

Yes, donor fatigue is real. However, we can reverse our donor engagement problem and the solution starts with revisiting and prioritizing our approach to donor interaction.