Jun 16, 2008

Nonprofit Media Roundup

Some interesting news tidbits recently:

First off, did you notice the FTC warning consumers about scam charities supposedly fundraising for people affected by the earthquake in China and cyclone in Myanmar? (It was written up by Dan Thanh Dang in the June 15th Baltimore Sun.) Potential donors are being warned to double-check that any phone calls really came from the charity, ask what percentage of the donation will go toward services, and more. Of course, this affects every nonprofit as donors' level of suspicion goes up. No sense fighting it -- just be ready to provide every possible tidbit to reassure donors that you're for real.

Another interesting story came from the June 12th edition of Conde Nast's Portfolio, written by Dalia Fahmy and titled "Charity Prize Fight". The story discusses how nonprofit foundations are using contests -- for example, to create the best, most commercially viable solution to global warming -- as a way to simultaneously address a problem, get publicity, and stimulate more giving. (The global warming contest is, by the way, from Richard Branson's Virgin Unite foundation.)

How is this news important to smaller, non-foundation charities? Aside from staying alert for a contest you can enter (been keeping a solution to global warming up your sleeve?), creating contests among your donors and members might make for an interesting change of pace. The simplest would be an online contest -- say, to raise the most money through grassroots efforts, suggest the best name for an animal under your care, or the like. Instead of cash prizes, offer a personal tour of your facility or a meeting with the E.D.. And be sure to call the media!

Finally, on the lighter side of fundraising, it's interesting to watch overseas trends. As far as I can tell, the British are maniacs for stunt-based fundraising -- like this bungee-jumping priest, or this skydiving grandmother. And then there were the two store managers who (voluntarily, it appears) were locked in their shop window, given a phone, and told to raise 1,000 British pounds for charity before they'd be let out. Is there a lesson to be taken from these? I await your comments.