I’ve been meaning to add a post about DonorsChoose.org for a while now, as it is another excellent example of how we can use online fundraising to give donors what they are increasingly looking for – real choice in terms of how their donations are used and a real connection with the impact they are making.
Then I was reminded of it when I heard of the site being mentioned in a recent Doonesbury comic strip – which is great product placement for the folks at DonorsChoose.org!
DonorsChoose.org was originally set-up in 2000 by teachers at a Bronx public high school as a means to help overcome the shortage of quality learning materials available for their pupils. From the outset, they recognised the “untapped potential in people who were frustrated by their lack of influence over the use of their charitable donations” and set-out to address this by offering specific project funding opportunities at levels affordable to all donors.
Since then DonorsChoose.org has grown to involve schools right across the USA, with teachers submitting project proposals that range from “Where did all the pencils go?” at $60 to “Geological Field Trip” at $2,000 – and the site has advanced search functionality to help donors find just the right project for them.
This alone would make DonorsChoose.org a fantastic example of online fundraising – but they don’t stop there. The subsequent feedback donors receive sounds second to none, with all $100+ donors receiving specific feedback from students participating in their project – keeping the whole experience incredibly real and personal.
The impact of this fantastic individual donor fundraising approach is plain to see with $13,717,312 so far raised to fund 29,574 projects right across the USA.
As I mentioned in my earlier post about Kiva.org, this is what the future of individual donor fundraising is all about – doing all we can to make donating an increasingly real experience, far beyond what we’ve become used to offering donors through mass mail campaigns and ‘thank you’ letters which amount to little more than receipts.
Organisations like DonorsChoose and Kiva are wonderful examples of how the Internet can enable us to do just this – transforming the relationships we develop with donors and thereby the income we receive from them.
Yet still such initiatives remain as rare as chickens teeth – and where I see them they are almost never being developed by large established charities.
Is it perhaps that the established organisations are simply trapped by the way they have always fundraised and so can’t break-out to offer donors a ‘DonorsChoose-type’ experience even if they want to?
If so then in the future we could be in for some very interesting developments as the big, established, fundraising dinosaurs lumber-along as always while the new, smaller, faster-moving fundraising mammals evolve the way they do business to better fit the developing consumer world.
And we all know what happened to the dinosaurs (if not then best ask some kids on a DonorsChoose project – they’re bound to know).