Are you a fundraiser with too much to do?

As someone who fundraises for a living, this may sound weird, but people actually want to fundraise for you, for free! They want to do a walk-a-thon, a bike-a-thon, or a bake-off. They want to touch the people they’re helping. They want to do more. The problem is, you don’t have time to supervise and help all of these people with every little idea that they have. You have grants to write! You have appeals to plan! You have major gifts to ask for!

How are you giving them ways to do more, and reasons to do more?
You need to invest in technology on your website, so that you can empower donors to fundraise. It’s an initial expense that will pay off. How?

What’s in this for you?
1.You will create a structure that will compel people to act, and make it easy for them to do so

2.You will start to have a pool of donors that will make their own fundraising events, with the need for minimal support from you

3.You make your programs more engaging and more REAL by highlighting real people, real situations, instead of just a holistic set of services.

4.You will have a place to send people when they ask, “What can I do?” It can link to volunteer opportunities, to a place where they can create their own event, and send their friends and family to donate, and a link to other ways to give or get involved.

George Stevens recently posted on R.E. Foundations, the Council on Foundation’s blog, about entrepreneurial donors. He wrote,

“…community foundations are a platform for the nonprofit ecosystem. Do we encourage donor innovation using our platform? Do we engage the entrepreneurial donors in our communities? To fail to do so is to be left behind in the recovery of the nonprofit sector.”

How can you get started making your donors into entrepreneurs?

Do what Kiva.org does.



If you haven’t heard of Kiva, they do microloans, connecting one donor and one entrepreneur in a developing country, whether it’s in Azerbaijan or Vanatu.

What they do
You go to their website and you immediately see a picture of a person who needs help starting their business. Maybe they want to start a stall to sell shoes. Maybe they want to sell vegetables by the road to market in their town. Whatever it is, there’s always a monetary goal. The goal is something small, usually $25 to $1,000. That’s how little it takes to help people in developing countries.

A quick solution
So since your money goes a lot further in these countries than in your own country, you feel good. Here’s a problem, all it takes is $40 dollars to solve it, you put the money in, and problem solved. Now the person can pay back the loan slowly, over time, as they get more successful. Then you get your money back, and you can choose to keep it, or reinvest it in another entrepreneur.

Ways to make it even more meaningful
And you can even go see the person that you funded, and make a report back to Kiva, with pictures, a blog post, or a video! Talk about a meaningful “voluntourism” opportunity!

Focus on people, not programs
Kiva has taken donor engagement to a whole new level. Their transparency makes them successful. When I first saw what they were doing, I just thought, “HOW CAN I DO THIS FOR MY ORGANIZATION?” But I couldn’t get any buy-in from senior leadership about doing this. It’s a dilemna peculiar to nonprofits. We have individual programs, all of which need money, but often, we don’t focus on the people in the programs. And we should.

How to start
So to start to make your organization like Kiva’s, start with the stories of real people, or real animals, or real places. Put a number on how much you need to raise to keep offering services or ramp up services for a particular program. Talk with your program managers, directors, and other staff. Find compelling things to say about these stories. Then go to your website, and get a programmer to put a donation thermometer up next to pictures and stories. Keep adding more pictures and more stories. Wash, rinse, repeat. If you need a programmer to help you make your changing stories and donation thermometers, I recommend Steve Havelka. He is affordable, and gets the job done fast!

If you have a few more resources
Do what Mercycorps does.

MercyCorps and MPower

MercyCorps and MPower

They have a button on their website called “MPOWER” where they educate people about four or five programs that need help, make a donation thermometer, and help people choose how they want to be involved. This page is where donors can fundraise for a cause, create their own donation page, and start to use their own ingenuity, as a volunteer, to fundraise.

If you only have five minutes
You can partner with The Extraordinaires, and provide microvolunteer opportunities through their website, or yours. Does some lawyer have 15 minutes to look over your legal document? Take advantage of that! Does a researcher have 1 hour to research grants for you? Jump on that opportunity!

Extraordinaires and MicroVolunteering!

Extraordinaires and MicroVolunteering!

If you want to set up donation and fundraising pages for your donors to become entrepreneurs, you can use Crowdrise.

Thanks for reading! Is there anything else that you can think of, that would be useful for people who want to engage donors to be entrepreneurs for their causes?

Please leave a comment!