- Social Media
- Active Citizenship
- Good Giving
- Corporate Responsibility
- Be Fearless
For 50 days—from December 13, 2007 to January 31, 2008—thousands of individuals competed for donors, donations, and matching awards from the Case Foundation for their favorite charitable causes as part of the Foundation’s first-ever Giving Challenge.
Conceived as a way to test the awesome potential of online fundraising, to move people from saying they care about a cause to demonstrating they care about it, and to help people from all backgrounds realize their potential to be philanthropists, the experimental Giving Challenge comprised two events. America’s Giving Challenge in PARADE Magazine and on PARADE.com raised $1,193,024 from 46,044 donors for 2,482 causes. The Causes Giving Challenge on Facebook raised a total of $571,686 from 25,795 unique donors for 3,936 causes. And in both challenges, causes with the highest numbers of unique donors received awards from the Case Foundation.
But the financial figures alone don't capture the full impact of the Challenge. The competition increased participating causes' visibility among a larger network of supporters and in the mainstream press. What's more, the open design of the Challenge enabled any inpidual supporting any organization to enter the contest, leveling the playing field between large, established institutions and smaller or all-volunteer efforts.
And lastly, the partnerships with PARADE Magazine, Causes on Facebook, Global Giving, and Network for Good encouraged people with no technical skills to become cause champions, and helped donors who had never given online find a new way to support issues they cared about.
How did this relatively unprecedented Challenge achieve such remarkable results? Four key elements contributed to its success:
- Its competitive structure – seen as energizing for both donors and volunteers.
- The limited timeframe of the Challenge.
- The leaderboard that enabled participants to see how they were doing against their competitors in real time.
- The incentive to receive award funds from the Case Foundation in addition to the amount raised from donors.
By combining these factors, the Challenge created an immediate, urgent way for a large number of causes to turn lightly connected people interested in their cause into donors. Further, it rewarded donors who used a wide array of tools and channels online and in person to broaden their networks of friends to raise more money.
Of course, every project has its lessons learned, and the Challenge is no exception. The following are the key changes recommended for future Challenges:
- Restrict participation to organizations with budgets under $1 million annually.
- Give more lead time for individuals and causes to prepare for the Challenge and shorten the length of the Challenge to avoid fatigue (ex. thirty days).
- Streamline the event with one name and one platform.
- Improve the donation software by offering easier access for nonprofits to donor information, payment options in addition to credit cards, and customizable widgets to aid inpidual fundraisers.
- Provide additional technical online assistance perhaps in the form of a wiki or Twitter account.
With these recommendations in mind, this assessment and reflection report hopes to inform not only future iterations of the Case Foundation's Giving Challenge (such as the one slated for 2009), but also serve as a guide for other funders seeking to replicate the Challenge or to create similar initiatives.