The data and survey revealed several areas that could use further refinement and resources in future challenges. To start, the effort's fragmented nature confused many cause champions. Between the different names for the Challenge on PARADE and Causes on Facebook and the multiple donation software entities, the leadership was unclear for participating organizations and champions.
In addition, although nearly 60 percent of the survey respondents believed the rules were clear, the interviewees believed they need to be clarified further for future efforts. For instance, some reported not knowing there were both daily and overall prizes. Others were fuzzy on whether people overseas could participate. And still more didn’t know whether a staff person at an organization could sign up as a champion or if it had to be an outside person.
There was also confusion between international and domestic causes. Those on Global Giving were described as “Global Causes” and those on Network for Good were referred to as “Domestic Causes,” when in reality both platforms supported both kinds of organizations.
Some donors had technical difficulties and concerns about donating online. We felt it was important to note this difficulty since it arose so often in the implementation and subsequent reporting about the Challenge by the cause champions; however, we are not recommending changing the Challenge to address this issue.
Instead, we suggest providing assistance to people who may not have given online before and want to try, with the understanding that there will always be a slice of the population who are not ready for or comfortable with donating online. They should be considered outside of the scope of the target audience for this effort.
Only 38 percent of survey respondents believed there was adequate technical support available during the Challenge. Champions on America’s Giving Challenge reported spending a significant amount of time providing technical assistance to donors with varying degrees of success.
Materials provided by the partners – Network for Good and Global Giving - were cited as 'somewhat adequate,' and interviewees mentioned that it would have been beneficial to have a live person to help concerned or confused donors. It will be important to address the need for scaling assistance efforts as future Challenges grow in size and scope.
Causes Giving Challenge had a few issues as well. The need to create a new, unique cause on Facebook just for the Challenge confused champions and donors. While technically this helped start all cause champions on the same level playing field, it then proved difficult for groups to point their existing “friends” to the new cause.
As one survey respondent noted, “Even my potential cause supporters already on Facebook had to overcome the barrier of installing a new Facebook app, with the usual warnings about sharing info with that app. This was a huge deterrent.” Another wrote, “Convincing people who were already part of a Facebook group or cause to join another Facebook cause just for this Challenge [was a problem]. Now we've got four different groups and causes on Facebook - not very efficient.”
Similarly, some misunderstandings also occurred, because of lack of access to technology or credit cards. A survey respondent illustrated this issue: “Many of our donors signed up with new accounts on Facebook specifically to participate, and many were new refugees and not computer-literate. Our volunteers assisted them in creating accounts and often took their donations in cash, reusing volunteers' credit cards to process the donations.”
According to the Challenge rules, a unique donation is defined as one single donation per individual, and duplicate donations from the same individual to a single charity only counts once. The mechanism for recording an individual donation was via credit card number. Thus, according to the Challenge rules, all of the donations collected by volunteers in this example, but made on the same credit card, were considered as only one unique donation.
Beyond the initial donation, post-contest follow-up with donors was challenging because of structural barriers, including the lag time it took Global Giving to provide contact information for donors, and the fact that the Causes on Facebook software does not provide donor contact information to the cause organizations.
And with only a few exceptions, almost no fundraising momentum was created beyond the Challenge (although 28% of survey respondents reported that the Challenge will have an impact on how they raise funds in the future). As Rick Gentry of Greenpeace noted, “The donations came to a grinding halt at the end of the challenge.”
Several factors might play a role in this donor drop-off. One, the intensive campaign itself was likely the compelling draw for many new donors, so once it ended, few donors found reason to return. Two, many award recipients were often not professional fundraisers and unaccustomed to cultivating donors beyond the initial event. And three (and perhaps most importantly), some donors may have had a stronger attachment to the person who asked them to give than to the cause itself.