Crowdfunding is the New Donation . . . editor notes issue #89

One of the benefits of being a nonprofit, muses Jon Pratt, is that we have an unlimited supply of free advice from people in business, government, and philanthropy. Recently that advice has included many exhortations to raise money via Twitter and through crowdfunding.

Here's the amazing thing: we nonprofits are already experts at crowdsourcing! We've been doing it for decades! The sobering thing: we've been calling it fundraising.

As many of you know, my day job (actually my 24/6 job) is as CEO of the California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits). A CalNonprofits member just suggested that we use crowdfunding to help us "raise hell." After an initial "love the idea!" lightbulb, I realized that everyone who is a CalNonprofits member is already participating in crowdfunding us to raise hell: that's exactly one of the collective benefits of membership. And then I realized that annual campaigns, special events, direct mail, phone-a-thons, raffles, and candy bar sales are all types of crowdfunding . . . that is, ways for many people to contribute towards raising hell and making change.

Every generation re-invents the nonprofit sector, and renames everything. Let's embrace our changing sector, but remember how much we already know how to do well.

(Feel like crowdfunding Blue Avocado? Click here!)

* This issue: Extreme Board Makeover, Office Bullies, Advice on Managing Your Charity Navigator Rating, a Humor Column Point of Vu, and more. Stay cool, friends.

Comments (5)

  • I've never thought of it that way, cool! On my podcast Nonprofit Radio this week we're talking about crowdsourcing. I hope you don't mind if I place a link: Thanks! Tony Martignetti

    Aug 21, 2013
  • Anonymous

    It seems to be our country's favorite pastime: Giving unsolicited advice, usually with little or no knowledge of circumstances. My older brother does this. He'll give teachers advice on how to teach, though he's never taught before. I bet he would advise heart surgeons on how to do their job if he runs into one. And of course, he'll tell me the best way to run my nonprofit.

    Aug 21, 2013
  • Anonymous

    Crowdfunding for nonprofits is not new... but it is fresh! It is not unique... but it is different! It may be more the latest fundraising transformation than the latest innovation... but still, we ignore it at our peril. We have all seen the fundraising waves come in and go out. Some waves we watched and others we rode and held on for the ride. I intend to keep a pretty sharp eye on the crowdfunding wave and I think it will be one worth riding. We have started running campaigns, designing effective campaign models, and analyzing and testing the multitude of platforms. In particular I work with Christian ministries and churches which are usually years behind on utilizing current techniques and models. If you want to follow what we are doing in this space follow us on Facebook or at our website

    Aug 22, 2013
  • Anonymous

    I just had this conversation this spring with a presenter at the Yale Conference on Philanthropy. Even if you don't want to lump plain old philanthropy into the crowdfunding bucket, Isn't this what the United Way and other federated campaign's are. Nevertheless, I'm challenging myself to accept new labels on old wine without getting grouchy.

    Sep 12, 2013
  • Hard to do, isn't it? --a sympathizer.

    Sep 16, 2013

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