Crowdsourced Philanthropy—Making Your Cause Go Viral

July 11, 2012; Source: Mashable

Philanthropy gone viral—it’s a dream come true. Someone posts about your organization on reddit, and suddenly your organization is $100,000 richer—seemingly out of thin air. In reality, those “lottery stories” are rare.

Mashable’s article examines viral philanthropy, where funds for charities are raised via online communities and through social media. There are also many donation sites, such as Kiva, Kickstarter, and Indiegogo, on which you can create a profile or project summary to receive donations. 

Indiegogo, which launched in 2008 to raise funds for independent films, now hosts over 100,000 funding sites of a variety of projects and causes, and turns no one away. Its founder, Slava Rubin, says, “Social media and crowdfunding can change the way that people connect with the causes or the passions they believe in. I think we’ve moved from a world of transactions to a world of relationships.”

So what does it take for your cause to go viral? According to Rubin, “your number-one tool to start off with is email. That’s where you have to pull in your inner circle first, and then you can go out through these other channels.” Other research shows that the most influential factor is video. Teams of more than one person and a regularly updated site also increase your effectiveness.

Mashable’s Matt Petronzio writes, “It’s clear that online philanthropy is booming for both project leaders and donors, already complementing traditional forms of fundraising and perhaps soon to replace them.” Do you see online forms of fundraising starting to eclipse traditional methods? Are you going to be an early/midpoint adopter of crowdfunding, or will you stand back and see how it goes for others?