6 Fundraising Platforms That Have Disrupted Charitable Giving Forever | Beth's Blog

6 Fundraising Platforms That Have Disrupted Charitable Giving Forever


Image courtesy Tsahi Levent-Levi via Flickr

Note from Beth: I hope you are enjoying summer break as much as I am!   I’ve taken a little break from blogging to enjoy some much needed family time.    I’m lucky because my colleague, Joe Waters, offered me a guest post for your to read while I’m away from blogging.  Enjoy!

6 Fundraising Platforms That Have Disrupted Charitable Giving Forever – Guest Post by Joe Waters

A college grad researching a career in fundraising recently asked me what’s changed since I started in the field.

“Everything,” I replied.

His look showed that he wasn’t surprised. After all, I was ancient. Of course things have changed a lot.

“No, No,” I protested. “I’m not that old. Things have just changed a lot in a short amount of time.”

He wasn’t convinced.

“For example, we haven’t been raising money with the Internet for very long,” I said. “But it’s impact has been huge since you were in the…well…second grade.”

Eager to make my point, I polled my fellow Gen-Xers on which fundraising platforms have had the most disruptive impact on charitable giving since 2000.

Here are the top six platforms, and two more that will continue the disruption of charitable giving.

Disruptor: DonorsChoose.org

Disruptive Model: School Project Crowdfunding

Disrupting Fundraising Since: 2000

Why DonorsChoose.org is a Fundraising Game Changer: Charles Best started Donorschoose.org in 2000 out of his own frustrations of being a teacher in the Bronx who didn’t have the supplies he needed to teach effectively.

“I’d listened to my colleagues in the teachers’ lunchroom. I could tell they were passionate, fired-up people who had great ideas for strategies and projects to help kids learn better,” said Best in a 2014 interview in Fast Company. “They just didn’t have the resources. I was frustrated, but I also knew it was a frustration felt by teachers all over the city.”

From its humble beginnings, DonorsChoose.org has cumulatively raised $335 million and funded nearly 600,000 classroom projects.

Today, DonorsChoose.org is the go-to site for alternative sources of funding for the classroom. This includes some of the most basic student essentials.

“[My first project] was literally for pens, pencils, crayons, glue and rulers. Just very minimal stuff,” said one Mississippi teacher. “I never realized schools wouldn’t have these basic necessities for the kids.”

While easing the burden of teachers, Best has given teachers a new wonderful necessity: Donorschoose.org.

Co-Disruptor: AdoptAClassroom

Disruptor: Facebook


Disruptive Model: Social Network

Disrupting Fundraising Since: 2004

Why Facebook is a Fundraising Game Changer: John Haydon, blogger and author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies, believes that without Facebook pushing the limits of how people use social media, fundraising wouldn’t be as social.

“Fundraising with social media (particularly Facebook) means under- standing that donors don’t separate liking, sharing, or pledging, from donating,” explained John.

“More than 1.5 billion users, who are very engaged, take actions based on recommendations from friends,” he added. “Whether it’s sharing a #CecilTheLion cartoon, or sharing a #PlannedParenthood petition, all of these actions are expressions of our passion for causes we love. So is giving money.”

Not convinced that Facebook has been a disruptor? Look no further than the Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised over $200 million worldwide last summer. A key driver of donations was Facebook, where users uploaded 2.4 million challenge videos.

Co-Disruptor: Twitter

Disruptor: GoFundMe

Disruptive Model: Donation Crowdfunding

Disrupting Fundraising Since: 2010

Why GoFundMe is a Fundraising Game-Changer: While the GoFundMe platform can be used to raise money for any cause – like funding a vacation – charitable causes are some of the most successful campaigns on the site.

Jeff Bauman, who lost both legs in the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013, has the second most successful fundraiser on the site with over $800,000 raised.

Since GoFundMe is an open platform where people can solicit support for life events of any kind users have found plenty of uses for it – like supporting charitable causes.

However, the true genius of GoFundMe may have been its timing. As CEO Brad Damphousse explained to TechCrunch in 2012, the company’s growth was “due to the maturation of payment processing — allowing individual users to accept credit card payments — as well as social platforms like Facebook, which tie campaigns to identity and link them to people users know.”

Three years later, GoFundMe is still riding the wave of social good, online payments and social networks.

Co-Disruptor: YouCaring

Disruptor: Booster


Disruptive Model: Apparel Crowdfunding


Disrupting Fundraising Since: 2013

Why Booster is a Fundraising Game Changer: Booster is doing for crowdfunding apparel – specifically t-shirts – what GoFundMe has has done for crowdfunding donations. Like GoFundMe, Booster lets you to raise money for any cause by designing and selling your own t-shirt. But users raising money for social causes have found the site – and its tees – a particularly good fit.

T-shirt giant CustomInk backed and launched Booster in 2013. With $300 million in annual revenues, CustomInk is eager to extend its reach into the charity apparel space.

The American Childhood Cancer Organization (ACCO) is currently selling a t-shirt with the names of 3,400 children and teens who have fought or are still fighting childhood cancer. To date, the fundraiser has sold nearly 5,000 t-shirts and raised $75,000.

“Booster has given us a great new way to raise money for our supporters,” said Ruth Hoffman, Executive Director of ACCO. “With Booster we can raise money and awareness with a t-shirt that our supporters are proud to wear.”

Booster launched its first campaign in 2013. To date, they’ve launched over 100,000 “Boosters” and raised over $13 million for causes across the United States.

Co-Disruptor: Ink to the People

Disruptor: Kickstarter

Disruptive Model: Project Crowdfunding

Disrupting Fundraising Since: 2009

Why Kickstarter is a Fundraising Game Changer: For nonprofits with projects that need funding, the crowdfunding site Kickstarter has been a winner.

A powerful and recent example of this is the Smithsonian’s campaign to Reboot the Suit and preserve the space suit Neil Armstrong wore when he walked on the moon. The Institute’s initial goals was $500,000. To date, they’ve raised $625,000 and are aiming for $700,000.

Kickstarter is a perfect place for nonprofits to appeal to small-time donors. The Reboot the Suit campaign lets you donate as little as a dollar, and the biggest group of donors have pledged less than $25.

Kickstarter also gives nonprofits a place to go when they’ve come to a dead end. For the Smithsonian and Armstrong’s flightsuit it was do or die.

“Federal appropriations provide the foundation of the Smithsonian’s operating budget and support core functions, such as building operations and maintenance, research, and safeguarding the collections,” the Kickstarter page reads….In other words, we won’t be able to do this project without the participation of Kickstarter backers.”

A rocket took Armstrong to the moon. Kickstarter is the ship that will ensure that future generations remember his historic flight.

Co-Disruptor: Indiegogo

Disruptor: Causecast

Disruptive Model: Workplace Giving

Disrupting Fundraising Since: 2011

Why Causecast is a Fundraising Game Changer: Workplace giving platforms like Causecast are one-stop portals where employees can donate, request matching gifts, quickly respond to disasters and tragedies and launch crowdfunding and social media campaigns.

One of Causecast’s first customers, Neiman Marcus, nearly quadrupled its employee giving from $800,000 to $3.1million after using the platform for just one year.

Chris Jarvis, a leading authority on workplace giving and co-founder of Realized Worth, believes new ways of “giving at the office” are gaining momentum.

“Online tools like Causecast are exploding in popularity,” said Chris. “They are a great alternative to the more traditional United Way program and provide features that stimulate higher levels of interest and participation in workplace giving campaigns.”

Thanks to platforms such as Causecast, employees can put their free time to good use during the workday.

“The convenience and choice these platforms offer are incredible,” said Chris. “It’s like having a donation box on your desk that benefits your favorite charity – and you just don’t have to give money. And in real-time you can see how colleagues and the company are aiding your efforts.”

Co-Disruptor: Benevity

Two More Charity Platforms that Will Keep the Disruption Going

Disruptor: DICK’s Sporting Goods Sports Matter

Disruptive Model: Proprietary Crowdfunding Platform

Disrupting Fundraising Since: 2014

Why Sports Matter is a Fundraising Game Changer: It’s no secret that companies are keen on the societal and business benefits of supporting good causes. Companies like Panera Bread have made a major investment with Panera Care Cafes, restaurants designed to fight hunger in the communities they serve. Increasingly however, businesses are moving their social good efforts online where they can have a broader impact.

In March 2014, DICK’s Sporting Goods and the DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation announced a $25 million multi-year commitment to support youth athletic programs including donations to and sponsorships of local sports teams. At the same time, DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation launched Sports Matter, a proprietary crowd-funding platform that lets youth sports teams raise money from supporters and earn a matching grant through its foundation.

184 teams joined the Crowdfunding program representing 35 states and 35 unique sports. They were offered support on how to use the online fundraising from GOODcorps and the teams raised more than $2 million in donations during the five-week fundraising campaign. With DICK’s Sporting Goods Foundation matching grants, $4.6 million reached youth sports teams facing severe financial challenges.

DICK’s success coupled with a deepening commitment from businesses to change the world will likely mean more propriety crowdfunding platforms that will use the success of Sports Matter to matter.

Co-Disruptor: Dodge Dart Registry

Disruptor: Omaze

Disruptive Model: Contest Crowdfunding

Disrupting Fundraising Since: 2012

Why Omaze is a Fundraising Game Changer: When I shared my initial list of disruptors with Michael Hoffman, CEO of See3 Communica- tions, he said I was missing one.

“Joe, what you are missing are the contest platforms,” said Michael. “Omaze is one to watch – and they just closed on new funding.”

Michael was right on both counts.

Omaze is a fast growing experience platform that gives everyone a chance to win an incredible experience while supporting a good cause. For example, a ten dollar donation gives you a chance to be on the set of the comedy series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

In July, Omaze announced it had raised $9 million in funding. The money will help them expand from customized programs to a self-serve model that will allow any charity, school, or individual to raise funds on the platform.

With the popularity of celebrity and unique experiences and the growing preference for crowdfunding – especially among Millennials – I agree with Michael Hoffman: Omaze is one to watch.

Co-Disruptor: Pear

Joe Waters writes the web’s leading cause marketing blog. Visit him at Selfishgiving.com.










5 Responses

  1. Kickstarter is great, but in my opinion Indiegogo is the bigger distruptor for non-profits looking to raise donations. They allow 501(c)3 donations and work with FirstGiving.com to provide tax deductible donations.

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  3. I echo what Michael C. Dougherty said… the nonprofit I work for has utilized Indiegogo for two different crowdfunding projects. We like their platform and have enjoyed working with them.

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