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The new normal of fundraising

15 July 2020 at 12:00 pm
Maggie Coggan
From round-up apps to TikTok, charities are being urged to embrace new ways of raising money amid the pandemic

Maggie Coggan | 15 July 2020 at 12:00 pm


The new normal of fundraising
15 July 2020 at 12:00 pm

From round-up apps to TikTok, charities are being urged to embrace new ways of raising money amid the pandemic

With coronavirus still very much at large, many annual charity fundraising events across the country have been scrapped and donations have plummeted.   

The crisis has left a big dent in charities’ revenue streams, with a recent Social Ventures Australia report finding the current economic climate means thousands of charities are at risk of closing down with 200,000 jobs at risk.     

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way for charities to raise money. 

Fundraising experts and charity leaders say the crisis is making organisations rethink their strategies and embrace new and emerging technologies. 

Thinking outside the (fundraising) square 

When COVID first hit in Australia, many charities were quick to move their events online. 

Katherine Raskob, the CEO of the Fundraising Institute Australia, told Pro Bono News that while charities did the right thing, they now needed to look at how they could develop their online fundraising programs in creative ways. 

“Charities overseas are creating 15 second TikTok videos that they can produce themselves to engage a younger audience, or are using gaming platforms to find influencers that align with a cause to fundraise on their behalf,” Raskob said.  

“We do need to consider more innovation than just converting physical to digital, because we may be living with this for a while and we may not be able to get back to the good old days where you have thousands of people running shoulder to shoulder in a fun run,” she said.

But there are plenty of charities getting creative. 

Parkinson’s NSW recently launched a virtual, interactive “No-Escape Room”, a twist on the traditional escape room to show users what it’s like to have Parkinson’s disease through completing a series of “everyday task” puzzles such as tying shoe laces and pouring tea. The organisation is aiming to raise money for research and a cure through the campaign. 

And on Wednesday, US tech company Goodworld launched its donation technology, #donate, in Australia. The technology allows donors to send instant and secure donations to charities on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram through the #donate hashtag.   

Goodworld has partnered with World Vision Australia, and plans to expand its offering to other NFPs in the coming months.

Apps to the rescue 

The online shopping platform, Sipora, has recently launched a charity round-up feature allowing users to donate their leftover dollars and cents to charity. 

Every time a user makes a purchase on the app, the price is automatically rounded up to the nearest dollar, donating the difference to one of the company’s charity partners. 

Jonathan Despinidic, Sipora’s founder, told Pro Bono News that while Australians didn’t feel as though larger one-off donations were possible given the current economic climate, round-up technology was a good alternative. 

“Because those dollars are coming out as you’re spending money normally, you don’t really recognise the extra 50 cents or 30 cents on every transaction,” Despinidic said. 

“And it accumulates really quickly, the average monthly round up of accumulation per user is approximately $52.”   

The Cure 4 Cystic Fibrosis (C4CF) Foundation is one organisation holding out hope that the app will help make up lost fundraising revenue.

Suzy Dimaline, the CEO of C4CF, told Pro Bono News that with many of the organisation’s major fundraising events and campaigns cancelled for the year, the only option was to turn towards a digital solution.  

“Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Month in May is where we generate around 70 per cent of our income, and all the events we’d normally hold for that were shut down because of the pandemic,” Dimaline said. 

“And depending on what happens with the pandemic and what that means for the future of fundraising, we knew that we definitely needed to change our approach.” 

While she said she didn’t expect the round-up app to be the answer to all the organisation’s fundraising woes, she believed if charities were to survive, they had to try new things.  

“I don’t think it’s going to be the golden egg straight away, but I do think that it certainly has great potential to build into something substantial,” she said. 

Engaging a new generation

Raskob said the crisis presented Australian charities a chance to test out new ways of micro-fundraising, not only to help them in the current climate, but in the long-term. 

“The US is doing quite a lot of work in the micro donations space and many studies show that even unemployed people are still donating money to charity, but in smaller amounts,” Raskob said. 

“So I think it’s really important for Australian charities to start thinking how they can capitalise on the idea of these micro donations because it’s probably more in line with the younger generation’s idea of giving.” 

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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