The other  morning I heard a disturbing report about people asking friends, family and strangers to fund their weddings through a certain crowdfunding site.  And now we have people pouring water on each other all in the name of fundraising.

It is madness I tell you.  Simply madness.

Or is it?

As a proud professional who works in the nonprofit industry, I am thrilled  fundraising is making headlines.  Because of this, ALS has 71,000 new donors.

So why is this new wave of fundraising fraught with fear?

Because people raising money for their wedding is not the same thing as raising money for your charity.  Because you want to be able to control your brand, your message, your image.  Because it’s just not the way it is DONE.

Someone very wise said to me that the next great fundraising idea is not in your board room.  It is in the playroom,  backyard barbecues,  bunco parties,  wine tastings. It’s in the crowd that dares to fundraise for you.

And believe me, if you don’t want their money, they will raise money for someone else.  They want to raise money for the causes that they care about and they will find a way.

As a professional in nonprofit management, what do you do?

Step 1 – Have a good partner

Blackbaud of course has a lot of good options to facilitate do-it-yourself campaigns and our newest service, everydayhero, is an excellent option.  The key is accountability.  Just because I say I’m going to jump in an ice cold Jacuzzi, doesn’t mean I did.  Nor does it mean that I made the donation that I promised.  A good technology partner can help you track the results of these campaigns and help make them successful.

Step 2 – Set policy

Some folks just don’t know the rules.  And that’s okay because you do.  At the board level, understand what is permissible and what actions to take if something doesn’t fit your mission.  A drunk fest for a recovery session?  Probably a bad idea.

Step 3 – Be open to new ideas

A lot of nonprofits are closing their eyes to the potential and by time they get on board, a new trend may have surfaced.  The industry is changing.  Social media makes all things possible but it moves very quickly.  Be prepared and embrace the change.

Step 4 – Be informed

My friend Dan has been following this latest trend with great interest.  On NPR, a high ranking nonprofit executive was confused about a campaign that had gone viral for their charity.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Dedicate a short period of every development report for a social media briefing.  Crowdfunding campaigns start as a whisper but can quickly become a roar.

Crowdfunding is nothing new.  The money dance has been contributing to the coffers of young married couples for decades.  As a nonprofit leader, you want to be in front of the conversation.  Not hiding behind the door.  Have fun with it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Debbi Stanley is manager of the Blackbaud client success team. As certified fundraising executive, Debbi has raised more than $15 million for nonprofit agencies and is a recognized expert in strategic, succession and resource development planning. During her nonprofit career, she served in many positions including development director for health and human services agencies and she was a successful consultant teaching nonprofits approaches to organizational development that properly leverage resources for project sustainability. Her expertise in situational leadership and her knowledge of funding strategies has helped hundreds of nonprofits do more for their communities. An avid fan, Debbi is blessed to have two sons who are great athletes at both forms of football – the American and the International version.

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