When disaster devastates lives, it affects us all. Seeing people hurting – so much – is hard to take.
It also reminds us of our human fragility. Whoever is strong today may be weak tomorrow. Whoever may give today may need help tomorrow.
Sometimes we feel helpless. Other times we can be helpful. It’s all part of the circle of life.
Which is why today I’m sharing, with permission, an excerpt from 5 Ways to Donate to and Support Hurricane Irma Victims from the Double the Donation blog.
I do this for two reasons. One of them may surprise you.
(1) First (no surprise here), since last I looked, Hurricane Irma is a “Category 5” simply because there’s no designation for a “Category 6.” It’s unimaginably powerful.
I copy straight from the New York Times as of 9:08 p.m. PST:
“More than 60 percent of households in Puerto Rico were without power. On St. Martin, an official said 95 percent of the island was destroyed. The Haitian government called for all agencies, stores and banks to shut down as the storm hit. Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda said that half of Barbuda had been left homeless. It is expected to hit the Florida Keys and South Florida by Saturday night.”
In the face of mind-boggling natural disaster piling upon undreamed-of natural disaster, most of us want to help. If you do wish to donate, the article I’ve referenced makes it easy by suggesting:
Donate to a disaster-relief nonprofit.
Support a crowdfunding campaign.
- Double the Donation’s CEO, Adam Wenger, is running one with Fundly.
- You can start your own using your own crowdfunding software.
- You can visit your main social channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and see if any of your immediate contacts are running a campaign.
- You can visit a crowdfunding platform directly and search for related campaigns on the website. (See if they have a category for “disaster relief” or “hurricane relief” or type “hurricane” into the search bar).
The full article suggests ways to vet the campaigns for legitimacy.
(2) Second (maybe something you’ve not considered), this article offers a compelling rationale for why you might be motivated NOW to invest in gearing up for crowdfunding – today or tomorrow — at your nonprofit. There are numerous platforms from which to choose. The beauty of them all is that they get your ducks all lined up for you, making it easy for you to press “start” whenever you want to run a campaign.
Motivation #1 for setting up crowdfunding capability.
It’s simply this: To. Be. Ready.
If something happens which requires your immediate response, you want to be able to get out an appeal right away. Maybe it’s a reaction to a natural disaster. Maybe it’s one to a sudden government executive order. Maybe the doors to one of your programs are simply about to close due to loss of a significant grant or major donor gift. Whatever the reason, you can’t afford to delay.
Even if the disaster doesn’t directly impact your charity, you still may want to be able to quickly reach out to your constituents. I don’t know about you, but in the wake of Hurricane Harvey I’ve received numerous solicitations for relief from local charities I support. These charities are neither national in scope nor local to the state of Texas. They’re simply responding to their own supporters’ desires for help sorting out the best ways to respond in this crisis. If they were already set up to do crowdfunding, they could undoubtedly reach out more powerfully and raise more money.
Because the easier you make it for folks to give, the more likely they are to do so.
Motivation #2 for setting up crowdfunding capability.
It’s good common sense to add this powerful new tool to your fundraising toolbox. It’s not just a way to plan ahead should disaster strike. It’s a wonderful way to reach out on occasions like #GivingTuesday or a special anniversary or memorial.
Today, gearing up to do peer-to-peer online fundraising should be a no-brainer for nonprofits of all shapes and sizes.
- It raises more money than direct-to-donor fundraising.
- It helps you reach a broader base of potential supporters by leveraging the power of your advocates and supporters’ online networks (email and social media) – whose combined mailing lists will be much larger than your organizational mailing list.
- It facilitates deeper donor engagement by offering a means to involve your supporters in addition to their monetary donation.
- It’s relatively easy to accomplish with off-the-shelf software.
- You can set it up to operate year-round, with minimal disruption to your existing workload.
Motivation #3 for setting up crowdfunding capability.
It’s donor-centered to empower supporters to do something meaningful (that makes them feel good).
When folks can fundraise on your behalf, whenever the spirit moves them, this becomes a powerful engagement mechanism. It’s a way people can offer truly meaningful support, beyond simply writing their own check.
For those who relish autonomy and authority, the ability to set up their own campaign is perhaps as much a gift to them as to your cause. Many folks don’t need presents on their birthdays or weddings or anniversaries. They’d much prefer to have their friends, who feel compelled to mark the occasion with a ‘gift,’ do so by making a charitable donation to your cause. But… how to make that happen without a lot of busy work?
DIY (do it yourself) peer-to-peer crowd fundraising makes this a cinch. For the best example, take a look at one of the pioneers – charity: water.
Once you’ve set up the capability to do DIY P2P on your website, you have an evergreen year round fundraising engine of which people can avail themselves. Sometimes you can rev up that engine by asking folks to help you raise funds for particular projects (e.g., disaster relief; giving days). Other times you can simply drive folks to your P2P giving pages via your home page, blog or social media so they can start campaigns on their own schedule.
For more information check out How to Use Peer-to-Peer Fundraising to Grow Year-End Giving and How to Increase Your Fundraiser Proceeds with Peer-to-Peer Fundraising.
Thank you for doing the wonderful work that you do. Sometimes, it really does take a village.
Take care of yourself too!