Moving charitable giving from 'push' to 'pull'

Photo credit:  Ronnie McDonald

Photo credit: Ronnie McDonald

“The young man spots me as I walk out of the train station, grinning broadly in his brightly coloured tshirt. I knew I should have kept my eyes down but it’s too late now - we made contact, and even a fraction of a second is enough. “How are you today sir?” he enquires, hand quickly outstretched at precisely the right time to elicit an impromptu muscle memory response with my right arm. Too late! Decency dictates I can’t stop the handshake now so I’ll have to rapidly think of a reason why I can’t stop to talk. Or at least not for long because he’s managed to subtly block my exit with a friendly outstretched arm manoeuvre, asking for one minute of my time…”

We’ve all been there, especially those of us blessed with ‘resting nice face’, it’s one of those first world problems most of us feel bad complaining about, yet find uniquely invasive, disingenuous and awkward. The same goes, I’d imagine, for the hard working street fundraiser who’s trying so damn hard to be upbeat and friendly for a few dollars in commission.  Ask anyone these days what they think of ‘chuggers’, and you’re almost guaranteed to get the same answers: “they’re annoying”, “I hate being made to feel guilty” or “I’d rather give on my own terms thanks”. So why is this still a common sight on our streets, or on our doorsteps?

Photo credit:  Howard Lake

Photo credit: Howard Lake

The obvious answer - because it works. Even though the upfront commission earned by each clipboard wielding enthusiast takes a significant chunk from one’s first year’s recurring donations, this tactic is still a cost effective fundraising channel for many charities. One has to wonder though, what the long term impact of such negative sentiment is to the charity’s brand.

This form of ‘push fundraising’ is seen by many in the not-for-profit space as a necessary solution to meet high revenue targets. A significant budget is allocated for direct mail, telemarketing calls, leafleting, list rental and other scattershot methods of finding new supporters. Complex campaign analytics, multivariate message testing, database segmentation and multi-channel attribution is required to maintain a positive ROI, the science of which is beyond the reach of smaller organisations, while the strike rate continues to decline among the ever increasing noise and burnt out donor pools.

So now what?

It’s understandable why some in the charitable realm feel demoralised by these seemingly impenetrable cost barriers, hurdles more easily traversed by larger organisations with deeper funding, wider reach and in-house expertise. There’s also a view that the ‘pie isn’t getting larger’ and the ‘slices are getting thinner’.

At Benojo we disagree.

Our vision is to make good easy, by:

1. Giving charities of all sizes the tools they need, for free
Not-for-profit organisations on Benojo each have the same real estate and prominence, no matter how well known or big they are. They each have unlimited use of our volunteering, ticketing and fundraising capabilities, and the same opportunity to reach new supporters.

2. Matching individuals and organisations to the causes they care about
When new users join Benojo, they are asked which causes are of interest, and how they’d like to support them. Charities can form direct connections with these individuals who are open to ‘pull fundraising’ - meaning they have invited charities to ask for their help. Over time, charities will have an ever growing pool of willing donors and volunteers to call upon.

3. Providing ways for people to give efficiently, on their own terms
More and more charities are using Benojo as a single solution in place of the many disparate and sometimes costly platforms they once employed. Payroll giving, volunteer recruitment, ticketed fundraising, peer to peer team events and online donations - all managed in one place.

4. Capturing every good deed and celebrating the impact
So much happens that goes unnoticed; employees donating to forgotten fundraiser, missed volunteer hours, lost spreadsheets or unrewarded generosity. A unified data-driven platform is the only reliable solution.

Lowering barriers through social technology can measurably make our planet a better place to live on and by empowering individuals and organisations with the means to ‘pull’, the opening scenario could be quite different:

“I saw what happened. It was on the news and all over Facebook - I couldn’t just sit back without doing anything. I picked up my phone and browsed Benojo for campaigns supporting those affected by what had happened. I found a charity I’d not heard of before who were on the ground delivering aid, so I donated on the spot and followed them so they could ask when they needed my help again. I shared this with my mates and on Monday we’re going to set up payroll giving at work to help out. Fortunately my workplace likes to get behind the causes we care about - after all, that’s one of the reasons I choose to work there.”

Aidan is Benojo's Marketing Bloke - His thoughts are purported to be his own and may not represent Benojo's opinion.

What do YOU think? Am I missing part of the story? We’re always listening at Benojo, so add your comments below: