Peter Deitz on Social Actions is asking the question at this month’s Giving Carnival whether person-to-person fundraising is dead. Here is my take on the topic. Person-to-person fundraising is an exciting new frontier, as is online fundraising. I think that we are at the very beginning of a new movement for the whole fundraising field to working online.
At this point when you read a study or talk to people everyone is saying that online fundraising is on the rise. I’ve heard a lot of different numbers about how many more people are giving online. But what we are not regularly hearing is that there are some nonprofits that do all their fundraising online.
The internet has leveled the playing field for non-profits (check out my article Micro vs Macro). But even greater than that I think that the internet has leveled the playing field for philanthropy. Looking at an organization like Kiva or the Obama Campaign and you start to see the power of small online gifts. The future of philanthropy is no longer the “super rich” giving to the “super poor.” In todays world it can be people of any age, any wealth demographic, giving in almost any way (i.e. voting, blogging, awareness, financially).
I think that the world is not yet ready for peer-to-peer fundraising. All we can think about is how great it would be if we could use peer-to-peer fundraising to get our donors to ask one of their friends for money. But the real power is going to come when every day people start realizing the wealth of their personal networks. When they realize that they can raise global awareness for an issue simply by voting for it, social bookmarking it, talking about it in forums & chat rooms, and giving small monthly donations we are going to see a wave of movement.
I don’t think we really understand the capacity of peer-to-peer fundraising. To me when the “Digitally Native” generation starts to see the impact that they can have we are going to see a radical change in online giving.