Barefoot | Maximize Aug 22, 2014

Da, da, da, da…. Change fundraising FOREVER?

So you’ve all seen someone you know, love and respect toss a bucket of ice over their head in the past 6 weeks.

In a brilliant grassroots movement, AL US and Canada has received a bucket load of PR and cash. (one can only live with “dad jokes” so long before cheesy word play interrupts normal minds).

I’m sure you’ve also been standing somewhere between : “Wow, this is going to change fundraising FOREVER” or “What next?”

Personally, I think the challenge has been brilliant.

First of all – it’s grassroots. ALS didn’t think of it. Frankly, if they had, it would have flopped or stayed on the stage where they launched it. No, the sheer brilliance is that one young man with some athletic prowess, notoriety and, seemingly, a whack load of friends, came up with the crazy idea. And he challenged – take note – CHALLENGED, his friends and famous people to throw a bucket of ice water on their heads or donate. The storyboard couldn’t be more perfect: young man at the height of his career oozing with potential struck with a disease that has no cure. The prognosis is bleak. Now, confined to a wheelchair, he is waiting for his first child, knowing that he will probably not see that child grow up. It’s an amazing story.

Secondly, the internet is extremely powerful and the lines between Bill Gates and Gayle Goossen have vanished. I can watch Gates nerdy selfie (ok, photo op). But I can also watch Debbie from across the street. It’s almost like doing a wave at a baseball game – only instead of giving up mid-stadium, it’s getting stronger and stronger.

Thirdly, they raised a bucket load of money. The sheer numbers add up to a lot. Note that most gifts hover around the $50 mark. But when 798,000 people give $50 and a few through in an extra $100,000 – well, when you do the math is comes to around $40 million (and growing). The best metaphor I can use is – ALS woke up one morning and discovered they won the lottery. Ordinary people can make a powerful impact when they join hands and do it together. Seriously – if every Canadian gave $1 EVERYDAY to Charity (throwing in the buck for their kids) – well, just imagine the power of change – from a buck a day. We already hand that to Candy Crush and Starbucks – why not to end cancer, provide homes for struggling parents, build schools in regions of deepest poverty, walk alongside an orphan or widow…. There are unlimited good things to do.

Fourthly, today ordinary people who have never met anyone with ALS and forgot that Stephen Hawkins is afflicted with the disease KNOW. There is no PR campaign on earth that could have opened the doors to that kind of understanding. Just the number of news stations (count them: EVERYONE) carrying the story – not just the challenge but the story of ALS – is an amazing gift to patient care and research.

Will it change fund raising?

I don’t know…. But I wish it would.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we would toss the word “fund raising”, with all its baggage and negative connotations, and replace it with “The Power of Compassion”?

Ordinary people can change lives – that’s not new. I think that I have to change my mindset. Too often we think of fund raising and the barriers (and yes, raising funds consistently, year after year, is hard work). But we – leaders in the industry – forget that ordinary people living in our neighbourhood want to know there is something tangible they can do to make a difference.

Frankly – I don’t think that will ever change.

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Da, da, da, da…. Change fundraising FOREVER?
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