One day a couple weeks ago, my Twitter feed was lit up with comments about “GiveBig.” Various local nonprofits were tweeting requests to “GiveBig” that day to support their work. By going to the Seattle Foundation’s website, I learned that I could give to any of 1,300 local groups and that part of my donation would be matched by dollars from a $1 million “stretch” fund. I made a small donation to a scholarship foundation in my hometown. From midnight to midnight on May 15, 54,500 people Gave Big, with donations totaling $11.1 million.
More of this is happening across the country. Crowd funding is on the rise, with proven results in fields like venture capital, disaster relief, and presidential campaigns. A number of sites—see Causes.com, Network for Good, DonorsChoose.org, CharitySub.org, Kiva.org, and Razoo.com—have delivered crowd funding to the charitable sector. And today we have the power through social networks to create large online fundraising events not only for major national causes, but for small local ones too.
Four years ago the Minnesota Community Foundation and fourteen partners created GiveMN through Razoo.com to raise money for Minnesota charities. Since then, the platform has brought in $62 million to 6,600 recipients. On its “Give to the Max Day” last November, GiveMN raised $16.3 million for 4,381 organizations, the world record for one-day online fundraising events. GiveMN encourages non-profits to go the extra mile in their promotion of Give to the Max Day by offering prizes up to $12,500 to organizations that turn out the highest number of individual donors. Learn more about about GiveMN and other online community-based fundraisers in a recent article by Devin Thorpe at Forbes.
GiveMN has transformed charitable giving in Minnesota. According to the GiveMN website,
Nearly half of all Minnesota nonprofits report that GiveMN is their primary online giving vehicle. And in GiveMN’s 2010 donor survey, 68% of donors reported that online giving was their preferred method of giving compared to 46% in 2009. The same survey showed that the percentage of those preferring to give by check dropped from 83% to 30%.
More money has been given to organizations through GiveMN than has been given to charities throughout the world through Facebook’s Causes.com.
Austin, Texas, got into the 24-hour online fundraising business on March 4-5 this year. Amplify Austin generated $2.4 million for 300 local causes, in addition to $513,000 in matching funds. On March 14, "Milwaukee Match Day," the Greater Milwaukee Foundation raised $2.6 million, along with $750,000 in matches, for 21 local charities.
While online fundraisers for local nonprofits have been successful within specific communities or regions, the next step is to make crowd funding for local charities a national movement.
On May 6, 2014, community foundations across the country will join to raise money for local nonprofits through Give Local America: A National Day of Community Giving, set up through Kimbia.com. By pooling money from community foundations over the next 11 months, Give Local America will build a national matching fund. Nonprofits will rally their supporters, and friends will spread the word to friends through social media. Then on May 6 next year, Americans will log on to www.givelocalamerica.org and support their favorite causes. Give Local America has aspirations in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The internet may be global, but it is becoming the most powerful tool available for connecting local organizations and resources.