Current nonprofit sector research and recommendations for effective day-to-day practice from ASU faculty, staff, students, and the nonprofit and philanthropic community.
Kayla L. McKinney,
ASU Lodestar Center
Reality: I think your cause is awesome. In fact, I think your cause is fantastic. You want to help the homeless? Me too! Rescue dogs? Me too! Make sure everyone has access to clean water? I’m on board!
Other reality: I don’t have the time or money for your cause.
One more reality: I still want to help.
I know a lot of people who understand my plight. I’m a grad student, after all! And being a grad student means I’ve got more than a few limitations, economically speaking. So, how do you, as a nonprofit organization, get me to help you?
Jump head-first into the world of microgiving.
Microgiving is when a person donates small, seemingly insignificant amounts of money to a cause or a nonprofit. And it’s exploding in popularity, especially with our increasingly digital lifestyles. Many microgiving websites make it outrageously simple to donate, and with mobile giving on the rise, we can definitely expect an increase in the number of smaller donations.
I had a chance to chat with Leo Ramirez, President, CEO, and Co-Founder of MiniDonations, and he summed it up excellently: “When compounded, small donations of one's time, talent, and treasure can profoundly impact our world. Not only are these gifts more accessible — regardless of age or income — they're habit-forming: transforming a small giver today into a major donor tomorrow.”
In other words, it’s worth your time to get into the microgiving spirit. And there are lots of ways to approach it. What makes microgiving so neat is how creative some of the organizations have gotten with it. Below are a few of my favorite microgiving options — some your organization can use, some you can be inspired by, and some you can donate to yourself. So, go ahead - think small!
For your organization
Got a birthday coming up? Ask your friends to donate to your very own fundraiser! Crowdrise is a personal fundraising site where you can ask for monetary support on just about anything. It leverages the power of the people, turning volunteers into fundraisers. It takes only minutes to get going on the site, and there are several different options to get potential donors interested, including contests. Trust me, you don’t need another tie or a DVD. So, set up a birthday fund to give right back to your wonderful cause! (And your friends will appreciate not having to worry about what size t-shirt you wear.)
Remember those bank advertisements that explained how each time you made a purchase, they’d round it up to the nearest dollar and put it into savings? What if potential donors could do that for your organization? MiniDonations partners nonprofits with businesses to do just that. Each time a donor makes a purchase at a participating business, the rounded-up change goes to the nonprofit of his or her choice. While MiniDonations is a newer kid on the scene, they’re quickly adding new businesses into the mix. Donors also get special giving pages, so they can show off which causes and nonprofits are most important to them. (Click here to check out Leo’s profile.) Finally, all those loose pennies and nickels can make a big difference.
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It wouldn’t be a post about microgiving without a shoutout to Kickstarter. If you’re unfamiliar with the site, it’s a place for start-ups, artists, and local organizations to promote specific projects in order to receive funding. Giving is tiered — depending on how much a person donates, he or she will receive something in return. The bigger the donation, the bigger the reward.
Kickstarter is a major player because of how it operates. As a donor, I can easily share the project with my friends via social media, I can receive updates from the project creator, and I can track the overall success of the project I’ve helped fund. These are tactics you can use when your organization needs to leverage more donors. Choose specific projects, and make a webpage that tells everyone how the project is going. Kickstarter works best through story-telling, so find a way to make your project’s story personal and meaningful to each and every donor, no matter the size of his or her contribution. Your fans will love it, and they’ll be sure to keep coming back for more of the philanthropic warm-n-fuzzies.
For those days when you’re feeling give-y
Have an iPhone? Download Snooze. The app, which is owned by LetGive, lets you donate a quarter to an affiliated nonprofit each time you ask for a few more minutes of shut eye. Oh, and did I mention that it’s free to download? Finally, there’s a good reason to sleep in!
Want to give something other than cash? Try Sparked.com, a microvolunteering website where you can fill out a profile with all of your talents and choose your favorite causes. Once you do that, you get a list of "challenges" to choose from, which are basically just needs that nonprofits have. For example, I entered "social media" and "blogging" on my profile, and Sparked.com paired me with a challenge from an organization asking for bloggers to write about diversity. Microvolunteering is a fantastic way to offer your skills to needy nonprofits without having to be at a certain place at a certain time.
If you attended the Center's Spring Forum earlier this year, you might remember keynote speaker Charles Best, Founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org. His site allows you to give small amounts to local schools in order to fund specific projects. You can browse through the many projects by subject, location, or need. What makes DonorsChoose.org so special is the follow up. Each classroom teacher sends updates about their project and writes special thank you notes for your support. One more example of how important it is to remember that, no matter how small the donation, each and every donor is important. (Psst! Take a look at all the wonderful Arizona projects that need your help!)
What are your favorite ways to microgive? I’d love to hear about them!
Kayla is a Project Specialist at the ASU Lodestar Center, and you can catch her regularly updating the Center's social media accounts and managing this blog. In addition, she's currently working on her master's degree from Arizona State University in English Rhetoric & Composition, with a focus on social media. Feel free to stop by her Twitter page to give her a big Texas-style, "Howdy."
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Click here to read "Nonprofit leadership has gone by the wayside — How to create a future of strong, capable leaders" — Dr. Robert Long's look at the future of our sector.