From the Wall Street Journal:
As of Monday morning, the nonprofit had raised $15.6 million in donations between July 29 and Aug. 18, compared with $1.8 million during the same period last year. Meanwhile, ALS Therapy Development Institute (TDI), a Boston-based nonprofit biotechnology organization, said it has raised $550,000 since Aug. 3, compared with about $110,000 during the same time period last year. And the New York City-based Project ALS, a nonprofit dedicated to funding scientific research, has raised about $116,000 over the last two weeks compared with just $1,000 from a handful of donors last year. They’ve gotten longtime donors such as actors Ben Stiller and the New York Mets to call out their organization in recent videos posted on You Tube.
Fundraising experts say the challenge had the perfect storm of elements and will be hard to replicate.
“This is an amazing phenomenon,” said David Hessekiel, president of the Peer to Peer Professional Forum, a Rye, N.Y., trade association for nonprofits. “This happened because it touched people, because it’s fun, because it’s easy, because it’s the summer and a great goofy thing to do.”
As with the Livestrong Foundation’s yellow bracelets to honor cancer patients, Mr. Hessekiel predicted there will be many attempts to repeat the ice bucket’s success. “Any time something like this hits the scene you’ll see hundreds of copycats,” he said. “Will they raise millions of dollars? Probably not. But some organizations may raise substantial amounts of money.”
If you are in nonprofit, no doubt you have been following this story. And it is a great one. And as usual, all the ‘experts’ have weighed in, the copy cats are gearing up to follow suit. Some will do Ok with a knock off campaign and others will not. Copycatting is not an exact science and since this was not planned, doing it again will be much harder.
What elements can you see and take about this wildly successful campaign and apply to your own endless search for funds?
While it is a nice problem to have, I am wondering who and how this windfall will be handled- how will that money be applied, saved and spent?
Who will make those decisions and who will implement the efforts?
How will the ALS groups manage the over 300,000 new donors- they all need to be acknowledged and work done on engaging and developing these donors. If standard donor retention is below 37%, what will the statistics for this be for this time next year? It will be really tough to replicate this, so as great as the increase from $1.5 million to $ 16 million will be, will next year be a let down?
Yes, I am Jealous, But Happy for Them
As a fundraiser and development expert for rare disorders, I understand acutely how tough it is to get attention and funding for diseases that don’t affect large numbers of people and this is really thrilling. I would have loved to be part of this group and am really happy for this incredible response to what began as a little local thing. It has created its own momentum, kind of like a gathering sea, no one is controlling it or directing it.
These groups need all these funds and what a fantastic synergy that came together for them.
But don’t spend hours and days trying to copy, instead be analytical and look at different elements had to work together for this to become the phenomenon it has. Choose the parts that might work for you. Let this effort inspire your own creativity for a daring campaign, but pick and choose what is applicable for your membership and supporters.
Want to try something new, something daring? Call us and we will be happy to discuss with you what you need and what different, fun, inclusive and attractive program you can create for your organization.
Two to Watch
Two other similar efforts are in the works: let’s see how the Mrs. Doubtfire pie-face competition for suicide prevention works out, or the Eat Pie for HI ( hyperinsulinism). I wish them all success.
As the saying goes, Amateurs imitate, Professionals steal. This is one time theft may be a good thing.
image credit: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/08/15/article-2394191-1B494343000005DC-244_634x410.jpg