Archive | August, 2013

Peer-to-peer fundraising, RAZ Mobile style

28 Aug


Last week, in response to one of our customers looking for a way to let families raise money on their behalf for their kids’ educations, we launched CrowdRAZ. We started about 6 weeks prior to launch in scoping features with our customers and it was fun to witness their excitement about inviting their supporters to fundraise on their behalf.

Fundraising is hard work and having supporters join in advocating lets them do more than just give. At it’s core, CrowdRAZ is an easy and fun way to invite anyone to fundraise on your behalf, to see their results in real-time, and to DRAMATICALLY increase the reach of your cause. If you have 1000 social media followers on Twitter and Facebook and they have 1000 followers each, you could be in front of 1 million people in an hour. That’s pretty amazing and points to the power and promise of peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising.

In contrast, typical crowd-funding (and all its warts) consists of creating a presence on a 3rd party platform and then relying somewhat on their email list to get you donors. Alongside their efforts you would be expected to be directing supporters to your crowd-funding campaign on the 3rd party platform. Your expectation is they have way more email addresses than you which is why you go to them for their service.

P2P is not like crowd-funding in one important aspect. You’re inviting your supporters to create their own fundraising vehicle that they can share in their own online and offline networks of friends, family, co-workers and most importantly-their social media followers. And, since the donor data is yours in real-time with CrowdRAZ, you get the chance to have further engagements with your new donors.

I feel crowd-funding is at the apex of its hype-cycle which is one reason we didn’t choose to go with that approach. If we think it’s played-we don’t build it. Plus, our customers weren’t asking for crowd-funding. They wanted to invite supporters to leverage their networks to fundraise on their behalf. This simple use case drove the simplicity of how CrowdRAZ works. (If you want me to show it to you live, email me at

As we were building CrowdRAZ, Blackbaud released their excellent report, The Next Generation of American Giving. They, like us here at RAZ Mobile, draw a distinction between P2P fundraising and crowd-funding.

The great thing about this report is in the Summary of Key Findings they state “Peer-to-peer fundraising and crowd-funding appear to have promising futures as fundraising strategies.”

Why is this the case? Their findings in the report suggest “strong majorities of donors are highly receptive to ‘friends asking friends’ types of pitches…”. This is precisely what our customers asked for and what CrowdRAZ does.

Also in the report, “friend fundraising” is shown to have an acceptable rating of a whopping 80% of donors surveyed. Moreover, the graph below from the Blackbaud report shows 89% of Gens X and Y have already done P2P fundraising. They get it and in many circles these 2 groups are the future of giving in America.


As our customers work with CrowdRAZ, we’ll share their tactics and results here and it promises to be a great seat here at RAZ Mobile as we watch our customers usher in the next generation of American giving.

How green is your fundraising, event or campaign?

21 Aug

green grass

The post could also be titled-How the government artificially raises and maintains the carbon footprint of the nonprofit space.

It doesn’t really roll off the tongue and sounds pretty dry.

Actually the whole topic of going green is pretty dry since it’s kind of a no-brainer. Raise your hand if your goal every day is to have the biggest carbon footprint you can have.

We can’t recycle everything-it’s a moot point-we don’t recycle everything, therefore we can’t.

Before I get off on a prolonged monologue on going green, I’ll get back to the title and suggest that most nonprofits current efforts for supporter engagement and fundraising can have their carbon footprint reduced. This is especially true of live events like the “thons”.

This post on talks about various thons across the US working in a diligent and purposeful manner to lessen the trash left behind after the event is over.

So why do I point my finger at the government over their role in the carbon footprint reduction challenge facing nonprofits? Three words – direct mail subsidy.

Depending on whose stats you read, direct mail accounts for 75% of donations in a business (individual giving to nonprofits) that is 2% of GDP and the 3rd largest industry in the US behind only the feds themselves and banking. Depending on what direct mail piece you use, your subsidy is around 50%.

Why is this the case in a world where digital is re-inventing and collapsing many legacy forms of communication? One reason is direct mail isn’t going away anytime soon. To many nonprofits it continues to produce results in the form of donations and brand awareness. On the other hand, I have heard many nonprofits say it’s a break even channel at best.

I’ve also heard younger donors say that they fear their donation just pays for more break even usage of direct mail so they shy away from responding. Many new donors today don’t have checkbooks. Seems like checkbooks may be going the way of the pay phone.

I think you know where I’m headed. The online channel is the only channel that’s growing for donations and the online channel is headed towards mobile-first and mobile-only as if it has four solid-rocket boosters attached to it.

If the federal government would only consider adding a subsidy for the use of the mobile channel for giving, imagine the teeny, tiny carbon footprint that all nonprofits would enjoy and be proud of. All it would take is a few sentences in one law to have a massive positive incentive for nonprofits to go mobile and it’s an incentive that’s sure to produce an equally massive positive impact on the carbon footprint in the nonprofit world.

What’s the deal with crowd-funding?

14 Aug


Today, let me channel my inner Jerry Seinfeld and make some fairly obvious and perhaps not-too-humorous observations about the phenomenon, the hype and the reality of crowd-funding.

Unless you’ve been in the basement on your Xbox for the last 18 months, crowd-funding has exploded to the point where the feds now feel compelled to step in. This has always been an indicator I’ve used as to the status of a new industry-how long until the feds step in and want to start picking winners and losers.

The reality is crowd-funding has done some good things (sending a berated bus driver on a vacation and then some) and some folks are less than thrilled with it (any of the many still waiting for their mix tape).

For nonprofits the results are mixed and the downsides need to be looked at before diving in. Let me share with you the 3 things I see wrong with crowd-funding as it pertains to raising money for nonprofits.

Are you really building a relationship with the donor for the long-term? New donors are always needed to grow your mission and acquisition can be expensive and time consuming. Depending on which crowd-funding service you use, donors to your crowd-funding campaign may very well be solicited by the crowd-funding site for donations to other causes. This can erode or eliminate the opportunity to create high lifetime value donors. Not good.

Is raising money all about campaigns? This one always makes me scratch my head. Some of the crowd-funding services will let you have your money but take a higher percentage of the donations if you don’t meet your campaign goal on their platform. I’ve spoken to many, many nonprofits who say the need is ongoing and not just a campaign to to do one thing or another. With the PC internet in decline in favor of the mobile internet, new and existing supporters are constantly looking for your presence through a Google search or on social media and typically they’re not headed to the crowd-funding sites to learn more about your mission. This is a persistent and ongoing occurrence and not a campaign. Most nonprofits should want donors to come to them whether there is a campaign or not.

They get your money first. While you are campaigning on a crowd-funding site they hold onto the donors pledge and/or the donation money while you drive folks to their platform to make a donation to your campaign. To me, it’s a bit odd to be driving money and new and existing donors to a 3rd party while the money is not in your hands while the campaign is going on.

Don’t get me wrong. In our multi-channel world today it’s right to look at all the options as a fundraiser. You have to do what makes sense for your organization.

I guess it comes down to one thing and it’s enough of a downside for me to not recommend using one-they’re relying on you to drive the growth of their email list and this will be used to solicit donations on a regular basis from your new and existing supporters for other causes. I have seen donor comments like “I got too many solicitations after I made my donation” and some platforms are trying to calm fears of nonprofits by saying they provide donor data to the nonprofits that use their platform. This is fine but the other solicitations from other causes won’t stop since this is how their business model works.

In the world of mobile, less is more

7 Aug

less is more

Frequently when talking to our great customers or ones that are looking to come on board our platform I tell them this very thing-in the world of mobile, less is more.

I learned this axiom when I was the TV guy at Sprint back in 2003 and 2004. In 2003 while at Sprint, I launched MobiTV and we were the first carrier in the US to offer live TV on mobile phones. In 2004 we followed up MobiTV with a Sprint-branded service called (boring alert!) Sprint TV.

One thing we quickly learned is that hardly anyone sat down to watch a full broadcast of anything nor did anyone ever make it to the end of a video clip that was on Sprint TV.

The reason for this was an assumption we had at the time that because anyone with a mobile phone is on the go and easily distracted they would “snack” on content. For most of us who channel surf, watching TV is a lot like snacking so the behavior was replicated from one screen to the other. So our assumption back then was proven to be correct.

The other thing driving less is more in mobile besides snacking behavior is that there are so many things you can do with your phone that none of them really engage someone for an extended period of time. My web browsing on my phone tends to be very targeted and centered on completing a task or getting a piece of information. On my laptop, I do tend to mix in a lot of mindless looking around. This is more like me filling time while I’m bored.

What does this mean for nonprofits and politicians looking to go mobile? Simply stated-be OK with not having every section of your PC site in your mobile site. Think like a supporter and present them only the information you think they can easily consume in one minute. One minute is all they’ll give you and if this is all the time you have to engage your supporter, your mobile site must render quickly and it must be easy to navigate because their minute starts when they tap on the link to your site.

Above all, make it easy for them to give because you never know when they might want to give.

Remembering less is more when you go mobile will also help you manage your time. No need to worry about writing grant letters or 4 page appeal letters. Just give them fresh snack-sized pieces of content they can easily consume on the go.

Even though it seems like we’re all ADD these days this can work to your advantage when you go mobile!