Crowdfunding Ignorance Is Not Bliss. It’s Wasteful.

This May, I am trying to help launch the second Jewish crowdfunded Giving Day to the Jewish community: MillionsforChesed. I would like to invite eligible Jewish organizations to participate – and hope they will take up the call. But I am not sure they will, despite the $1.36M success of the pilot in February, MillionforOutreach with the unheard of 100% success rate of all organizations meeting their individual goals.

Behind the Times

The largest national giving day in the US is planned for this May. Give Local America has grossed well beyond Giving Tuesday due to a major difference in structure. They’re planning $100M in 1 day.

Our community, a leader in philanthropy nationwide, has lagged behind this exponential joint funding model for non-profits – that is time and cost-saving to the organizations providing services. The first US state-wide crowdfund was launched in 2009 in MN and raised $14M ($6M more than its goal!). Why has there been no Jewish Giving Day? Can we not work together? Are there obstacles to its adoption from within our philanthropic model?

Recently, one crowdfunding platform shared with me that a Jewish organization that had been able to raise $100,000 in one day and garnered secular media coverage, put out the word that they were going to do a follow-up campaign. They were contacted by a local large Jewish organization to please cease and desist. The constructive response from the interloper organization, in my perspective, would have been to connect, learn, and collaborate.

Hesitation

When I approached one leader I was advised would be capable of swallowing this innovation in 2010 – he did not see that our community was ready. We do walkathons, phoneathons, dinners, and Chinese auctions. Looking back, I believe he was right. I gave up until I started helping organizations in Baltimore crowdfund and my children’s school last year as a school administrator with a $40K deficit looming in June. After the crowdfunding success these organizations experienced – they understood the benefits. And I understood that our community cannot afford to keep waiting for the ‘big guys’ to do this – especially, when in my community, there’s still a phone-a-thon organized annually for our Federation. Newsflash: Give Local’s national crowdfunding day analytics uncovered these donor demographics: Under 45 (28%) Boomers (46%) Seniors (25%). Not just the younguns donate online.

I approached several of my city’s organizations before I approached AJOP (Association for Jewish Outreach Professionals) at the end of 2014 with the concept of a joint Jewish Crowdfunded Giving Day. Even after they’d witnessed others’ success, no organizations in my city agreed to it. Their reluctance is understandable. These are technology-based tools – but their output is exponential. It’s a challenge to conceive of- but easy to understand and master – especially with the innovative crowdfunding tools available.

I have been pulling people on board against their will – with AJOP’s participants as well – because our community benefits from these specific individuals from their ability to deliver their service –not fundraising. These tools save hundreds of hours of labor and stress, and most definitely expense – netting the organizations the same or more money than traditional fundraising events do.

The Need

Spotlighting the use of crowdfunding – its proper use and innovations – is of major importance to the ability of our community to fund its services in a fiscally and administratively responsible way in today’s economy. While it may be uncomfortable – we can’t afford to not learn, adopt, and improve – and sometimes push our communal organizations into the future.

The platform I’m using for these giving days is Charidy.com, an innovative model that has an unheard of 100% success rate in this industry – and it nets organizations 10X more than other platforms in the same market. Developed by a group of Jewish guys in Brooklyn! Its cost: 5 cents on the $1. Time from beginning to end: for $20K-$1M goal: 6 weeks, with 1-2 staff/lay people, approximately 2 hours/day, and 2-3 days full-time. No advertising costs needed. Plus, it brings in new donors, increases average gifts, and generates widespread community awareness of the organization beyond the traditional community.

Then – add the Giving Day: increasing the spotlight from local to nationwide on a cause. You’ve now brought the cause and its organizations thousands of new potential donors.

While in its infancy, charitable crowdfunding will change VERY rapidly, and the spectre of donor fatigue, especially with poorly-crafted or unsuccessful crowdfunding campaigns is already setting in. How are we ignoring it? The benefits and loss to our community are too great.

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