Fundraising Marketing

Why fundraisers are like the best ice cream ever

on July 26, 2017

Recently we let loose on how we think about social fundraising, and why we think the conversation might need to be refocused. To us, social fundraising isn’t just a snazzy new marketing channel. Social media has caused a fundamental shift in the way we interact with people, and the impact this has had on fundraising is nothing short of spectacular. It has directly and profoundly affected the supporter experience.

As we’ve discovered at CrowdRise and GoFundMe, sharing on social media ends up bringing in 3x more donations. So social media effectively helps you boost cause awareness, amp up donations and also creates a better user experience for your supporter. The act of sharing is pretty powerful - for the supporter, their network, and ultimately your cause.

Now, supporting a cause is as much about retelling the story as it is about simply giving. It’s propelled some donors to launch their own campaigns and fundraise on behalf of an organization. And it has pretty much redefined what each of these types of supporters means to a charity or nonprofit.

But first, let’s talk about ice cream.

I like ice cream. A lot.

Ice cream is pretty much one of my favorite things. You could say I’m an ice cream advocate. I especially love a good soft serve chocolate vanilla twist. There’s a really great ice cream place that’s right next to our CrowdRise office in Royal Oak. It’s called the Golden Cone. They have both regular ice cream and soft serve custard. The thing is, I didn't even know they offered custard because it’s kind of hidden away behind the counter. It wasn’t until they started advertising it more prominently on their signage that I asked for a sample.

I’d never had custard before. So I tried it. Mind blown.

If you don’t know what custard is (the modern form of custard, not the old-timey custard pie your granny used to make), it’s basically like soft serve but a whole lot richer. I took one bite and said to the girl behind the counter, “I’m not going to say it’s life-changing, because that would be embarrassing, but if I’m being completely honest it has definitely improved my quality of life.”

To me, that’s the difference between how donors and peer-to-peer fundraisers relate to your cause. Both are invested, but peer-to-peer (or DIY fundraisers, as they’re also called) take it to the next level. Likewise, maybe some of your donors want to kick it up a notch, but like me and the custard, they don’t even realize they have the option. Why not give them the opportunity?

Donors are soft-serve ice cream

Don’t underestimate the power of the donor (or ice cream, for that matter). And if you’re a charity or nonprofit, your donors are everything. They’re supporting you and your cause. Some of them might even feel so strongly about your cause that they’re more actively involved - maybe they give monthly, or talk about your cause to their network of friends and family.

Let’s say you have a donor named Mary. Mary donates to your nonprofit organization because something about the story resonates with her. She might even give monthly. Maybe she’ll mention it in a Facebook post. This all depends on how she might choose to tell the story of you mission and organization, and what tools she has at her disposal. If you as a charity make it easy for Mary to share on social and spread the word, she might be a more engaged supporter. She’ll be an ambassador for your cause. This is good for you, and it makes Mary feel good to share her experience, too.

But what if Mary really wants to do more for your cause? Are you giving her the option?  If your website or platform doesn’t allow her to create her own personal fundraising page, then she can’t go the extra mile. If she’s super passionate about your cause but can’t become a fundraiser because she doesn’t have the opportunity, then you're missing out….big time. Mary might be like me with the custard. Maybe she doesn’t know about this whole other amazing experience hiding behind the counter.

If there’s an option to become a fundraiser, make sure Mary knows about it. 

Fundraisers are soft-serve custard

If Mary decides to become a fundraiser, she’s made a conscious choice to incorporate the cause as part of her personal narrative. Ladies and gentlemen, Mary has discovered the custard.

At CrowdRise we offer nonprofits a bunch of different ways to offer fundraising as a tool for their engaged communities. All campaigns have the ability to use ‘team fundraising’, so all an organizer has to do is add a little to the page about what it means to be a fundraiser and then flip the switch. Many organizations use our embeddable ‘fundraise button’ and put it right next the the donate button on their website. In The Golden Cone example, that essentially means they keep the “custard” up front right next to the ice cream.

And let’s be honest, fundraisers are pretty freakin' awesome. They will go the extra mile for you. Because like Mary they’ve gone beyond the donation - they’ve adopted your cause story as part of their identity. So any effort they make at sharing this story is something that will resonate more deeply with their friends and contacts. They become your army of recruiters and evangelists. And if you can take a $20 donor and turn them into a $200 fundraiser you’ve pretty much changed the game. Now everyone’s eating the custard.

If you’re a charity that’s participating in a CrowdRise Charity Challenge (they’re also amazing), you know firsthand how powerful this can be. We’ve seen very small organizations with a handful of passionate fundraisers out-raise the large orgs with the big email lists. It’s an incredible thing to see, and it's really inspiring.

Both ice cream and custard are delicious. Did I say delicious? I meant valuable.

The cherry on top: All ice cream is amazing. Some people love all ice cream, and think that custard is the best thing ever. Other people feel kind of meh about it and would just prefer regular ice cream. And that’s okay.

The point is, every single one of your donors and fundraisers should be given the option to try both. Don't limit them with just one kind of ice cream or flavor. Your supporters may want to have a bigger role in the story, and it’s your job to help them with building that narrative. So make sure they know about the custard. It just might change their lives.

Lauren Meir

Lauren Meir is the Creative and Content Manager at CrowdRise. She has been working in content marketing for nearly a decade, writing for a variety of audiences and industries. Lauren is passionate about the power of storytelling for good. When she’s not doing stuff with words, she can likely be found putting out fires. Literally, since her kids just discovered matches.