The year 2020 has been a turning point for non-profits. The economic and social collapse in many parts of the world, as well as the pandemic and its implications on human life have imposed many challenges in this sector. How is fundraising coping with such changes? What is its trend and how can one effectively fundraise in the new normal?
Actually, it is because of these difficult times that fundraising ought to thrive. Simply, people unite and help each other more in times of crisis. And today, campaigns behind which “giving” is initiated are increasing. Taking action has become more urgent because we have more complex health issues, more people getting poorer, more discrimination, more refugees and more violation of human rights.
There are different types of fundraising, and the trend of fundraising has changed throughout history. It is understood that fundraising is “the seeking of financial support for a charity, a cause or other enterprise” and an indispensable means for most non-profits to bring money needed to cover their expenses and fulfil their mission.
In religion, “charitable giving” is mentioned under different names in the holy books and practices like Islam, Christianity, Judaism. In Islam, giving comes in the form of “Sadaqat” meaning the act of charity that is referred to in the Quran. The Bible also mentioned charity and requires the giving to be in discreet. As for Judaism, charity is a tradition referred to as “social justice” and helping the Jewish poor is a fundamental obligation.
Charitable values that drive “giving” have remained consistent across history. Based on that, people and communities have long helped others in need. However, the way they raise funds has changed significantly over time.
In the early 20th century, the concept of organized modern fundraising became institutionalized. The so-called “Fathers of Fundraising,” Frank Pierce and Charles Sumner Ward, were the first to develop fundraising on a national and professional level. By implementing an effective publicity strategy, using advertisement and face to face they succeeded in raising $4 million to support their cause, which was establishing the building of the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) in New York.
Then, over time, universities, hospitals and non-profit organizations begun to use creative ways to raise funds and build awareness. Selling products, using the phone or writing letters, public campaigns and events are all traditional approaches that were progressively introduced. Media has facilitated the way for the fundraising campaigns to publicize and reach a large number of people in a very short time so that donors anywhere in the world can donate.
But more importantly, the use of social media gave fundraising another dimension. It has played a big role in connecting donors, getting them more involved in the cause and letting them see the progress and impact of their contribution. We even began to witness campaigns led by the public itself across the globe, such as “Black Lives matter,” which raised $90 million in 2020, and the Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised more than $100 million in 30 days.