Sunday, August 31, 2014

Why the Ice Bucket Challenge is bad for fundraising

A fundraising event that goes viral internationally, will raise probably $26m and raise awareness for a little known condition ALS.

How can anyone but a killjoy think it is bad fundraising!?

Well, it isn't bad fundraising.  It raised lots of money - which is the point of fundraising.

And the success clearly took MND Australia by surprise - from their CEO taking the challenge thousands of Aussies have taken the challenge...

Yet today when I went to donate, after the initial introduction there is no follow up on the challenge - not even a place to select the challenge as the reason I donated.

The form was standard...

And the thank you doesn't mention the challenge...

You can't blame MND. I imagine they posted it expecting a bit of fun and a bit of cash - they couldn't (and shouldn't) have bet on a massive success. Spending loads loads of money or time lining things up properly is like spending your lottery ticket winnings before you have won the lottery.

Which is my segue as to why the thing could be bad for fundraising.

Pretty much every client I met with this week (and there were many) wants their own Ice Bucket Challenge, Movember or no make-up selfie.  They are all great causes, and I want them to have one too but for every successful one there are countless failures.  You simply can't bet on virality. You'd be better off buying lottery tickets.

The priority for a fundraiser is maximising ongoing net revenue through sustainable means. If MND can follow up the participants well and fast, this event could revolutionise their fundraising.  Their website says they raise around $400,000 at the moment so this could be transformational. But they now need to build ongoing regular giving, one off donor, major donor and legacy streams thanks to this unlikely boost.

PS - I loved the challenge, though regretted being challenged whilst visiting penguins in the Southern Ocean rather than being at home in the sub-tropics.

PPS - Jeff Brooks on Ice Bucket Challenge here.

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