Tag Archives: ice bucket challenge

How to launch a successful ice bucket challenge

fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, ice-bucket challenge, fundraising infrastructure, annual giving, social media fundraisingLast week we focused on the excitement – and revenue! – generated by the ALS Foundation’s “ice bucket challenge.” We’re talking millions and millions of dollars. And we imagine your nonprofit organization or college is thinking “why didn’t we think of that?!” Or maybe a board member has approached your executive or development director with a request launch your own challenge.

Here’s our two cents: make sure your fundraising fundamentals are in place. We are talking about things such as a board gives and fundraises. Thanking people within 48 hours. Using a donor management system to track gifts, pledges, relationships and interactions. A case for support that defines your vision, what you are raising money for, how the funds will be used, and what the impact will be.

If you are thinking about a “challenge” you want go globally social you may need to consider a few other items. These include: what do you want donors to do and why? What will motivate donors to give and share your message? How will you succinctly communicate your uniqueness, value and impact? What structure will you put in place to launch and monitor your challenge? Who within your network has strong social media networks they are willing to engage? Who has strong in-person networks to engage for events that energize supporters and engage new ones? Who will kick-start your challenge? What are your media connections? Which celebrity can provide a jumpstart? What will be the “buzz?” There are so many social giving campaigns: what will make yours stand out? What about donor benefits? What can you offer donors as an incentive to give at increasing levels? Say $100 instead of $25?

Regarding infrastructure: how will you respond? Do you have technology in place that can automatically respond with a thank you and tax receipt? Do you have people in place to look each day at who is giving, what level they are giving at, and to reach out with a personal touch – a phone call or personal email – to say thank you? Do you have patience, persistence and a “plan b?” Using a “if you build it, they will come” approach to your challenge would be a recipe for “un-success.” Having a plan to promote your challenge – and consistently working your plan – can increase your chances of success. Concurrently working an alternative plan to raise the money you seek from your challenge will be critical to ensuring your organization or institution meets its fundraising goal. Most importantly, if your challenge is successful, what will be your plan to convert your “challenge” donor into one who will support your organization for years to come? Do you have the capacity and infrastructure to nurture and grow your “challenge” donors? Will they become one-time donors or life-time donors?

Photo credit: PeopleAlerts.com

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

In the heat of summer having a bucket of ice water thrown on you may not be a bad thing. It’s a phenomenon that’s sweeping the nation – contagious fundraising spurred on by social media, sports celebrities, television hosts, movie stars and international performers. Everyone – it seems – is in on it. Well, except for the two of us. We are enjoying the summer heat with no ice water – but we’re giving to ALS anyway. Here’s the reason: we want to be “in with the in crowd.”

We’ve known of ALS – otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease – for decades. But no one has ever asked us to give to The ALS Foundation. There are so many worthy non-profits to give to, and like most people we have a limited budget. But, how could we not give when the nation is gripped with the ice bucket challenge?

In case you don’t know, here’s a quick overview of the challenge: someone challenges you to give to ALS. If you don’t, you have to have a bucket of ice cold water dumped on you. Even better: have it video-taped and posted on social media. Once you complete the challenge you have to challenge others to give or get wet. Here’s the thing: many people are doing both. It’s fun. The videos are hysterical. And the money is pouring in. The numbers from their recent press release are astounding. “As of Tuesday, August 19, The ALS Association has received $22.9 million in donations compared to $1.9 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 19). These donations have come from existing donors and 453,210 new donors to The Association.”

And ALS knows receiving gifts is just the beginning. “Our top priority right now is acknowledging all the gifts made by donors to The ALS Association,” said Barbara Newhouse, President and CEO of The ALS Association. “We want to be the best stewards of this incredible influx of support. To do that, we need to be strategic in our decision making as to how the funds will be spent so that when people look back on this event in ten and twenty years, the Ice Bucket Challenge will be seen as a real game-changer for ALS,” she continued.

The ALS Association is committed to communicating with donors and the public about future plans to spend the unprecedented amount of money it has received over the past few weeks.

So, should your nonprofit or college go viral with a “gimmick” to raise millions? Here are our thoughts: put the fundamentals in place first. If you can’t track and thank your donors, you don’t want thousands of donors: that can become a viral disaster instead of success.

Next week: more about the fundamentals.

Learn more at http://www.alsa.org. #IceBucketChallenge

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.