Guess2Give aims to generate new online fundraising income from sponsored events


While I don’t have hard and fast data to prove it I strongly suspect that, after Emergency Appeals, Sponsored Event fundraising is the largest generator of online donations in the UK – with leading sponsorship fundraising site Justgiving recently announcing that its users have passed £1billion in funds raised since it launched 10 years ago. As such, I was particularly interested when I came across Guess2Give, a new fundraising site which is aiming to complement traditional sponsorship sites by adding a £3 per entry sweepstake element to any type of event – with a proportion of the money raised being given to the winner and £2.50 for each entry going to the event organiser’s chosen charity.

Launched in beta last year, and to consumers just this month, the site has already attracted a range of big and small brand charities as well as picking-up a handy financial boost in the shape of a £50k award from NESTA. The heart of its refreshingly distinctive proposition is that far from competing with traditional event sponsorship fundraising it will actually generate additional income from events as supporters fundraising for their chosen charity set-up both a sponsorship fundraising page and a Guess2Give sweepstake fundraising page.

I love the innovative thinking here – such a wonderfully simple fundraising idea and yet no-one seems to have come-up with it before (unless you know better?). However, I’m not so sure about the idea that event participants will set-up two types of fundraising pages and then promote both to their networks of friends and colleagues.

What I suspect might actually happen is that people who have asked their friends for sponsorship before and who like the sweepstake idea will go to Guess2Give so they don’t have to send around yet another sponsorship ask – which could have quite an impact on the amount raised. Assuming that the average sponsorship fundraising page generates around £600 (which doesn’t seem too far off, based on this presentation from Jonathan Waddingham of JustGiving (p8)) then the sweepstake fundraiser needs to secure something like 240 sweepstake guesses to generate the same amount. That’s a lot of friends doing a lot of guessing.

However, on the up-side, new income may well come from people taking part in less challenging and more fun events where a Guess2Give sweepstake is more applicable than traditional sponsorship. For example, one of the site’s promotional videos involves a charity paper plane challenge.

Only time will tell both whether event participants take to the sweepstake idea and whether the innovative approach generates additional funds for the sector or cannibalises traditional sponsorship fundraising by offering a novel but lower value way of raising money. The team at Guess2Give are certainly working hard to get their name out into the public arena – with quite a bit of media coverage related to last weekend’s London Marathon and a spoof face-to-face fundraising promotional video. So, it’s definitely worth keeping track of their progress.

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Much discussion about online fundraising at 2010 Deutscher Fundraising Kongress

I’ve finally reached home here in London after speaking at the 2010 Deutscher Fundraising Kongress over in Fulda last Thursday, having spent much of the last three days waiting for trains alongside countless other travellers stranded by the European air travel lockdown caused by ash from an Icelandic volcano. However, on the up-side, the unexpected land journey did give me an opportunity to see far more of the country than I would otherwise have done and it was certainly a great conference – with over 500 fundraisers attending, mainly from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

I was there to give a couple of sessions. One on Consumer Insight that you can find on my Strategy Refresh site, and the other on Online Community Fundraising that you can view above or on Slideshare.

It’s a really interesting time for online fundraising in Germany right now as adoption of social media is really starting to take off after a very cautious start, compared to the US and the UK (research findings on this are included in the presentation). With this a number of new German online fundraising websites have launched offering project-specific crowdfunding (like betterplace.org and  wikando) and personal fundraising pages (like Altruja). Much of the discussion during and after my session was about how quickly such sites might become popular with German consumers, and when German charities might be able to share online fundraising stories like those of the $93 Club in the US and little Charlie Simpson in the UK.

There were folks with pretty clear views on both sides of the debate. However, I think the majority opinion was that after several years watching other countries take advantage of social media in support of fundraising (Germany having been described as 5 years behind the US in social media adoption), the next couple of years look set to see online community fundraising start to take-off there. It’ll certainly be interesting to check-back at the 2012 Deutscher Fundraising Kongress to see just how things have evolved.

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Great turn-out at the Fundraising Ireland 2010 National Conference

I’m just back home after a flying visit over to the Fundraising Ireland 2010 National Conference in Dublin, where I was presenting a session about online community fundraising – the slides from which are available to view above or via Slideshare.

The conference was a sell-out event and the sessions I got to, as well as my own, were characterised by some really great interaction and questions – which reflected the great atmosphere at the whole event. Add to that the best conference lunch I’ve had in ages and the whole thing was a great success. So, many congratulations to the organisers at Fundraising Ireland. They’re a pretty new network for Irish fundraisers, and just announced that they are about to re-vamp their website as an Irish fundraising information portal as well as introduce a membership scheme. Without a doubt, well worth getting involved with them if you’re a fundraiser in Ireland.

One of the topics that was returned to a couple of times in discussions was the lack of useful Ireland-specific research on everything from giving trends to online usage. To help-out with the latter, here are the links to the latest freely available Irish online usage research I’ve been able to find – and which I quoted from in my session:

> Latest report from ComReg (the Irish Commission for Communications Regulation) a bit of a heavy read but does include the latest data on internet access in Ireland – published just this month: download it for free here

> Amarach Research Irish Life Online Report from Feb 2009: downloadable here

> Barry Hand’s blog post on the top Irish websites for Feb 2010: read it here

> Information on facebook user numbers in any country around the world: Checkfacebook.com

If anyone comes across any other recent research into the Irish online market – especially if it relates to social media use – then do let me know.

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Seven year old raises over £200k for Haiti earthquake victims – with a bicycle and an online donation page!

There have been many stories around the world of generosity shown in response to the terrible earthquake that hit Haiti in January. But the one that I love the most is undoubtedly that of little Charlie Simpson, who responded to what he saw on TV about the disaster by deciding to do a sponsored bike ride around his local park in the hope of raising £500 for UNICEF through an online fundraising page.

Check his page today and you’ll see something that every fundraiser must dream of – a totaliser showing that Charlie has actually beaten his target by over 41 thousand percent!

That amount is still growing daily too, as people from as far afield as the USA and Australia come to hear about this great little fundraiser’s story and log-on to his fundraising page to add their donation and words of support. And no wonder, when you realise just what an international media profile little Charlie now has! Type ‘Charlie Simpson UNICEF’ into YouTube and you’ll see interviews and reports from news stations all around the world charting the growth of his fundraising efforts. There’s even a 14 second promo with pop supremo Simon Cowell helping Charlie promote his website!  A Google search for the same phrase returns some 4,500 results – and a quick flick through confirm that they really are all about the ‘real’ Charlie Simpson.

Now, UNICEF clearly supported Charlie really well once they’d heard that he wanted to fundraise for them – in pretty well every photo and video he’s wearing a branded T-shirt and the charity’s PR team must have helped with many of the media interviews. But it all started with him (and his mum) setting-up his fundraising page. And what is so great about the whole thing is that it is very much Charlie’s campaign through and through. It’s just that, thanks to the power of social media, this particular little boy’s fundraising went truly global over a very short period of time – in a way that even a big charity like UNICEF would have found impossible to achieve using traditional approaches.

As well as being a heartwarming story in the face of a terrible disaster, this is also a great example of how the adoption of online fundraising platforms like JustGiving and the promotional power of social media sites are transforming the way in which mass-market fundraising happens. From traditional campaigns, planned and initiated by fundraising teams within charities – to highly personal, donor-led campaigns that can spring-up from anywhere without any prior warning and engage with online-savvy audiences in ways that traditional approaches simply can’t.

This is a change that we’re seeing more and more as adoption of the freely available online tools involved becomes increasingly widespread (see the $93 Club as another great example of this), and is undoubtedly something that any fundraiser looking to maximise on online fundraising will have to learn to capitalise on going forward.

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2009 Second Life Relay for Life exceeds $270,000 in donations

As mentioned earlier, last weekend saw the 2009 Relay for Life fundraising event in the virtual world Second Life – in aid of the American Cancer Society.

Hopes were high in advance of the event that they would surpass the $210k raised through the event last year – and sure enough they have. At the latest count they were up to $270k, and apparently there is still money coming-in.

If you’re new to the whole idea of online fundraising in a ‘virtual world’, then take a look at the promotional video above. And if you know of anyone else making fundraising work in Second Life then do leave a comment to let me know – because the ACS, with their incredibly dedicated Second Life community, is the only one that I’ve seen over the last few years.


Second Life Relay for Life 2009 virtual fundraising event – this weekend

Since the heady days of Summer 2007 when we had virtual Wimbledon and The Guardian backed a whole virtual music festival, the virtual world Second Life seems generally to have slipped down the online hypecycle from the ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations’ to the ‘Trough of Disillusionment’.

However, one charity that is still actively establishing its presence there is the American Cancer Society. Led by an incredibly dedicated Second Life community of volunteers, the ACS has grown its Second Life activities substantially since its first virtual Relay for Life fundraising event in 2005 – raising over $215,000 through its 2008 event and now hoping to surpass this with its 2009 event being held this Saturday, July 18th.

Apparently they’ve got over 125 teams and 2,000 participants already registered for the 24-hour virtual relay event – and from past years it should be a fun event to log-on to watch.

Alternately, if wandering a little 3d avatar of yourself amongst crowds of virtual fundraisers isn’t your idea of a fun day out – then you can get a good feel for the event, and other ACS activity in Second Life, from the video above.

More examples of online community fundraising initiatives from Holland

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Online Community Fundraising was one of the big discussion topics over at the Dutch National Fundraising conference back in November, so it’s no surprise that since then I’ve noticed a growing number of new examples of fundraisers in Holland making use of social media to engage with supporters and their personal social networks online.

A couple of the latest have been health charity Astma Fons and the team behind the annual Radio 3FM ‘Serious Request’ fundraising campaign on behalf of the Red Cross – both of which have joined Vogelbescherming Nederland in making use of the YoCo online community fundraising platform.

Meanwhile, new Dutch crowdfunding start-up Play It Forward looks to have slipped its launch date just a little – with the launch countdown on its holding site now indicating a live date in February.