Online fundraising: March 2011 Archives

March 29, 2011

Fundraising Kudos to: Winners of DoGooder Nonprofit Video Awards

Looking for a little inspiration regarding how to create videos that get people interested in your nonprofit's cause? Or more realistically, that attract them to press "play" without pressing "stop" soon thereafter?

Check out the 2011 winners of the DoGooder Nonprofit Video Awards. They include:

  • For best small-organization video: The Post Carbon Institute, with "300 Years of Fossil Fuels in 300 Seconds"
  • For best medium-organization video: Ronald MacDonald House Austin, with "Meet the Digits"
  • For best large-organization video: American Jewish World Service, with "A Public Service Announcement Not Approved by AJWS"
  • For best thrifty video: Watershed Management Group, "It's in Your Hands."
Even if you don't have time to view all four videos in full, it's worth watching at least 20 seconds of each, to get a general sense of their tone and enjoy the creative variety in their approaches. Even with that variety, however, the videos share certain winning features, namely:

  • Takeaway factoids. Each video tells us something we didn't already know -- facts we can tell our friends, like, "Did you know that studies show that children heal better if the people they love are close by?"
  • Humor. Whether it's fun cartoons, finger puppets with silly hairdos or offbeat ethnic one-liners by Sarah Silverman, each video finds a way to take a lighthearted approach to a serious subject. (The Watershed Management Group is the one exception, but it uses a gentle, artful, cinematic approach instead -- another way of avoiding pounding viewers over the head with a dire message.) Viewers can watch them for enjoyment, not out of a sense of duty.
  • Hope. The Watershed Management Group video, for example, highlights the simplemadagascar_wash_schools.jpg solution of getting kids access to soap and water using "tippy taps" as a way of reducing by half the instances of deadly childhood diarrhea. Viewers instantly think, "That's doable!" (What's a tippy tap? The video makes it clear, as does the photo to the right, from USAID.)
  • A call to action. There's no point in getting us interested without giving us a way to follow up, and each video does that, whether by asking for support of the group itself, or with tips like, "Learn to live without fossil fuels" (and an image of a bicycle), or "Understand the issues and pitch in." 
Well done, I say!
  
March 4, 2011

Nonprofits Feeling Burden of New Fundraising-Registration Requirements

We'll probably be hearing more stories like the one with which Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine ended its March, 2011 issue: Herb Knoll, who founded a fledgling nonprofit called Michelle's Angels, describes the frustrations of needing to register the nonprofit in every state in which it receives donations and pay both first-time and annual renewal fees, and worries about the impact, in terms of costs and required time, on his group.

Although the article didn't specify, it looks quite logical for Michelle's Angels to want to be able to fundraise nationally. Unlike many nonprofits, it doesn't provide local services -- it primarily uses the Internet to providing emotional support to people in need due to illness or other reasons.

usa50one.gifSo as long as Michelle's Angels is reaching out to clients around the country, it would make perfect sense for it to ask them to contribute, or to request that their interested friends and family do so. Yet the site currently has to warn donors that it can accept contributions only from two U.S. states, New York and Tennessee, while it works on getting registered in others.

Knoll says, "There should be a not-for-profit national registry or a single, uniform state application and low fees -- or no fees for small charities."

Good idea -- let's hope that message gets to the right ears! In the meantime, for nonprofits struggling with interpreting and meeting the registration requirements, help can be found in the Nolo book, Nonprofit Fundraising Registration: The 50-State Guide, by Stephen Fishman.