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Rachel guest posts over at Because It’s Good

Rachel guest posts over at Because It’s Good


When it comes to the need to raise funds for charity there is an automatic assumption that to achieve big fundraising goals a large scale activity is required. However, this also requires more resources (manpower, finances, time, etc.) which is not always an option, especially for smaller charities and non-profit organisations.

With the growth of social media, there is now an effective and powerful opportunity to reach out to a wide audience to raise funds for a good cause. Even established organisations such as The Salvation Army have turned to tools such as Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook to help others.

This growing trend towards ‘micro-fundraising’ by charities and good causes has proven highly successful. But why?

The Daily Telegraph conducted some research into the psychology of charity collections and what worked most effectively. In a secret study across Britain, donation boxes were placed at bookstore tills, each with one of four different signs: “Please give generously”, “Every penny helps”, “Every pound helps” and “You can make a difference”.

The results were clear as the boxes with the “Every penny helps” message collected the most donations. According to an Arizona State University psychologist, the reason is that many people don’t like to put a small amount of money in a donation box for fear of looking mean. The message that every penny helps legitimises the giving of even the smallest donation and actively encourages more money to be voluntarily given.

Just imagine the potential scope when this thinking is used to talk to a vast audience online. This is exactly the approach taken by new enterprise Ploink that offers people online the chance to donate even the smallest amounts of change to charities of their choice – simply and easily. The approach is like putting those spare pennies into a piggy bank. As we all know these all mount up quickly! And the site has already been quite successful.

Our own charity fundraising service takes a similar approach, giving people the chance to play an online game of raffle for small amounts of money which in turn goes towards a particular charity or good cause. Through small spends to enjoy a fun interactive game, people are more likely to take part, come back to play again and spread the words to others to have a go. Enabling people to have fun while contributing to a good cause for little individual financial outlay is a powerful draw – it can also generate substantial funds over a period of time.

Another reason for the success of this micro-fundraising approach can be summed up by the quote from Martin Luther King, “the fierce urgency of now”. This quote was used right from the beginning of the Obama election campaign – yet another successful use of social media to raise awareness of a cause and to rally support. Although for a rather different type of cause the approach was the same, as individuals were inspired to contribute in a small way within a short, defined timeframe in order to play a part in a larger campaign.

Being able to give a little is a good way to encourage people to take part, while still helping them to feel good about what they are doing. This inspires others to do the same as well as enabling individuals to repeat the activity. All of which helps to raise funds quickly and effectively

Thinking big is always good and the long-term goals of any organisation should be viewed with the larger scale picture in mind, but especially when it comes to fundraising for good causes. What must not be forgotten or overlooked though is that activities on the micro scale can quickly add up! Look at the example of Kiva – who encourage microfinance. They offer ‘loans which change lives’ by allowing you to lend money to entrepreneurs in the third world who would not usually be able to secure investment. You can lend just $25 at a time to help them develop their business. Opportunity International is another charity encouraging microfinance and explain it well using this video.

So never forget, every penny really does help. We now have the tools with social media to really encourage everyone to give a little, rather than the typical large scale operations only affordable to those charities with the most donations.

Article originally at Because It’s Good


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