A Foretelling of the Birth of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

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.

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6 Responses to A Foretelling of the Birth of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

  1. Stacey Monk says:

    I too have read of the supposed demise of peer-to-peer fundraising and, from where I sit, it couldn’t be more clear: e-enabled micro-philanthropy works. So far, friendraising primarily through online tools has enabled Epic Change, my very new organization, to raise nearly $40,000. While we’ve had about five “outlier” gifts over $1K from founders and ardent supporters, we’ve also had over 350 individuals from various economic background “pitch in” smaller contributions. During America’s Giving Challenge, for example, our average gift was $25.34.

    What I know for sure is this: four classrooms in Tanzania built in about 3 months that already serve over 100 children are the DIRECT result of person-to-person fundraising, almost exclusively online. The school we’re funding still exists because so many “average” people have acted in whatever capacity they’ve been able.

    To me, that speaks volumes. I hope examples like this remind people of the power we have when we all work together; we can create miracles. Once people realize that their small contributions really make a difference, I believe encouraging these gifts will become easier.

    For so long, people have believed that philanthropy is for the “rich and powerful.” Giving is for everyone and together, we are all powerful.

  2. […] way that e-enable micro-philanthropy is conducted is through person-to-person fundraising. “Person-to-person fundraising” refers to the social media tools that permit individuals to raise money on behalf of nonprofits, […]

  3. Jason, thank you for your post on peer to peer fundraising. We started a site back in 2007 that facilitates peer to peer philanthropy. Slightly different than traditional fundraising as it’s donor initiated.

    One deterrent of peer to peer philanthropy is something you mention in your post, feelings of obligation: recipients feeling obligated to the donor and because of this friendships are strained. Because of this, we facilitate anonymous giving, but it’s still very intimate and relational, only in a safe way.

    As Stacey said, giving is for everyone. Our concept is that everyone is a charity of and in themselves able to look around their communities for people in need. Our organization, Giving Anonymously, facilitates this type of giving thus multiplying our efforts by recruiting everyone to find and meet those in need.

  4. Jon Hearty says:

    Online fundraising is definitely on the rise. I completely agree with you on this:

    But the real power is going to come when every day people start realizing the wealth of their personal networks.

    This is where things are changing, and hopefully technology utilized more and more to take advantage of this paradigm shift.

  5. Jennymeyer says:

    Good reading, gives even more for thinking… Thanks!

  6. loseweight says:

    Fundraising for non-profits is a great idea, this is a great help. Great article found here and I truly learn a lot. Thanks!

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