Monday, April 6, 2015

Internet Fundraising - a How Not To

I’ve never tried fundraising of any sort, so I’m speculating here, but I suspect that people raising funds for a cause on the Interwebz are successful to the extent that they 1) have a worthy or interesting cause; 2) are effective at creating positive feelings towards the cause, so that potential contributors will be motivated to contribute; 3) have access to people that can potentially contribute (have discretionary income).


This looks like marketing 101 so far.

I recently followed a person on Twitter that had a project to be funded. Interesting enough project - not essential, doesn’t feed the poor, doesn’t cure cancer, doesn’t insure peace on earth. Probably useful to a small percentage of a small group of people, and only a small percentage of the time. In fact, I can’t imagine when I’ve ever had a real-life need for this person’s idea. Not that their idea was bad, but there are ways to get what this person was proposing, and get it right now, for free. So this person has a challenge in creating that feeling of “need” in prospective contributors.

Imagine that I have $100 in discretionary funds, and I already have a habit of contributing to charitable causes to the extent that all of my discretionary funds get distributed to what I think are worthy causes. How are you going to convince me to re-allocate money from the Food Bank or Save The Children or Serving Seniors to your pet project? It might be possible, but it would take some doing. I think the trick is to “create that positive feeling”. Create the buzz. No whining!

Did I just say “no whining”? Why, yes Bob, yes I did!

The Interwebz Fund-Raiser Person that I’m thinking of, besides having a project that is probably useful to a small percentage of a small group of people, only a small percentage of the time - and essential to none of them, appears to be a whiner.

If you have a project that you need funded, you can use facts, salesmanship, humor, hyperbole, even sympathy. If you’re saving the gay whales, feeding the poor, curing cancer, insuring world peace, or bringing about the transformation of humankind into Transcendant Beings, then by all means, spread the word! But don’t make yourself look like a whiny putz by wondering out loud why someone’s pet dog got twelve billion dollars for a prosthetic leg, but you can’t even get your probably-useful-to-a-small-percentage-of-a-small-group-of-people-a-small-percentage-of-the-time project funded. It makes you look like an unsympathetic, self-centered ass. It makes your project look relatively unattractive by association. And that is definitely not going to sell your idea.

P.S. For a day or two, I thought of suggesting to this person that they change their fund-raising tactics from "why aren't you guys funding me?" to "Fund this super-exciting-innovative-project-that-will-save-the-world", but the torrent of "why aren't you guys funding me?" tweets was so irritating that I whizzed right by the make-a-positive-suggestion phase and went directly to the extreme disgust phase, once the person misplayed the crippled dog comparison.

P.P.S. Yeah, I unfollowed this person

End of rant.

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