cupcake party Just as for-profit companies are trying to figure out how to exist, persist and grow in this world of new communication so are the not-for-profit organizations. It's time to use our power for good and put some creative energy around this. Many have started and there is room for more.

I've worked with a hand full of non-profits over the past few years that I've noticed that there are some things that are the same across the board. The biggest "same" is the need to raise funds.  Each time I engage with a nonprofit client the bulk of the discussions and energy are spent working on ways to optimize the effectiveness of  the "support us message" and the process of making a donation.  But you know what? Optimization can only go so far.  At some point we need to design new ways to draw people into donate.  We need to design ways to cultivate the donor/organization relationship and take it to the next level.

My best ideas have revolved around the idea of creating an army of evangelists and giving them the tools to go out and raise the money for you. I believe this is the the most powerful way an organization can raise their participation level. I also believe that for-profit companies have known this for years and continue to use the tactic no matter how distasteful it feels coming from a corporation, so it's bound to work for the for-good organizations of the world.

So here are my top 5 things to consider when thinking about redefining and revitalizing the ways you raise funds.

The 5 rules for succeeding in the new world of fundraising:

1. Harness the energy of current supporters, this isn't about acquisition of new supporters (at least not right away). 2. Put your old rules and goals away. People will give money more freely if the cause is endorsed by their peers. So put the old rules away and see how you can redefine your expectations and set a plan to support them. 4.  Let us tell the story in our own words.  You can't and shouldn't want to control the message. Let your supporters talk to their people in their own words. You will learn something and maybe even see your organization in a whole new light. 5. Let us have fun. It's nice to be serious and there will always be the set that wants a straightedge giving experience, but there's a whole crop of people who will be attracted to a good time, especially if this good time results in something good.

There are a few companies working in this space, designing products for individuals and organizations to use for fund raising. I recently came across BeExtraodinary, they are right in there with what I'm talking about.

There's a lot of room for good thinking, design and problem solving in this arena. I would challenge you to think about it a bit. I'd love to hear your ideas.


Hey NIKE!  I would like to talk with you about using NIKE+ as a fundraising tool.  Call me.

photo credit: group cookery