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America's Giving Challenge: Assessment and Reflection Report

America's Giving Challenge: Assessment and Reflection Report

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Published by The Case Foundation
Thousands of individuals competed for donors, donations, and matching awards for their favorite charitable causes as part of the Case Foundation’s first-ever Giving Challenge. The Challenge introduced emerging technologies to millions of people and helped give new significance to the power of individual donors and small donations. This reflection paper provides an honest assessment of what worked well and what could be improved as more organizations look to adopt similar approaches that engage the public in new ways to raise money and awareness for causes they care about.
Thousands of individuals competed for donors, donations, and matching awards for their favorite charitable causes as part of the Case Foundation’s first-ever Giving Challenge. The Challenge introduced emerging technologies to millions of people and helped give new significance to the power of individual donors and small donations. This reflection paper provides an honest assessment of what worked well and what could be improved as more organizations look to adopt similar approaches that engage the public in new ways to raise money and awareness for causes they care about.

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Published by: The Case Foundation on Aug 24, 2010
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08/23/2010

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Assessment and Reflection Report
Beth Kanter and Allison H. Fine June 2009
 
Dearreader,InDecember2007,ourteamlaunchedourfirstonlineGivingChallenge.I’llbethefirsttoadmitwedidn’tknowwhattoexpectwithouronline“experiment.”Itwaslateintheyear.Theholidayseasonwasinfullswing.Wedidn’thavemuchleadHmefortradiHonalmarkeHng.AndattheHme,anonlinephilanthropiccompeHHonofthisnaturewasrelaHvelyunprecedented.Asthe50daysoftheChallengewentby,wewouldperiodicallygatheraroundthecomputerinmyofficetowatchtheleaderboard.WouldweseethelargenaHonalnonprofitstrumptheliLleguys‐‐orwouldthesmaller,morenimbleorganizaHonsdoabeLerjobmobilizingtheironlinenetworks?owwerepeopleusingsocialmediatoolssuchasblogsandvideostospreadthewordandreachnewaudiences?Weretheprizelevelsright,andwouldtheyprovideenoughincenHvetodrivepeopletoacHon?Intheend,wecouldn’thavepredictedamorefulfillingoutcome.Togetherwithourcorepartners‐‐CausesonFacebook,PARADEMagazine,NetworkforGood,andGlobalGiving‐‐webroughttogetherhundredsofthousandsofpeopleandencouragedmorethan71,000individualstodonate.Alltold,weraisednearly$1.8millionfornonprofitsathomeandabroad.TheparHcipaHonlevelandresultsreflectedadiversesetofcauses,chariHes,andchampions,withsmallerandlesser‐knowngroupsactuallyhavingthegreatestsupportandsuccess.Plus,theChallengeintroducedemergingtechnologiestomillionsofpeople,andshowedhowthesetoolscouldbeleveragedtodemocraHzephilanthropyandgivenewsignificancetosmalldonors.Indeed,theChallengewasanopportunitytounitepeoplearoundcausestheycaredabout,anddeepentheircivicengagementwhileincreasingopportuniHestogive.Theresearchpresentedinthisreportreflectsthea\tudesandexperiencesofGivingChallengeparHcipants,fromcausechampionstoindividualdonorstononprofitleaders.WethinkithelpspaintapictureofwhatworkedparHcularlywellandwhatcouldbeimprovedinfuturechallenges‐‐bothhereattheCaseFoundaHonandatotherorganizaHonsexperimenHngwithsimilaronlinecompeHHons.AsweconsiderthepossibilityoflaunchinganotherGivingChallengelaterthisyear,werecognizehowourworldhaschanged.Forone,oureconomyisinamuchdifferentplace,andweknowthiswillgreatlyimpactindividualgiving.Butwe’realsoinamuchdifferentplaceintermsoftechnology.SocialnetworkingadopHonhasgrownexponenHally,toolshavematured,andweseegreaterusageacrossallgeneraHons,notjusttech‐savvyMillennials.AllthesechangeswillimpactthenextGivingChallenge,andgiveusafreshchancetoeducateandexposemorepeopletoonlinephilanthropy.IhopeyouwillfindawaytojoinusasweconHnuetoexperimentandtakenewrisksthatwillempowermorepeopletofindtheirvoice,connectwithothers,andtakeacHononcausestheycareabout.Sincerely,JeanCaseCEO,TheCaseFoundaHon
 
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The Giving Challenge
Assessment and Reflection Report
 
Executive Summary
For 50 days—from December 13, 2007 to January 31, 2008—thousands of individualscompeted for donors, donations, andmatching awards from the Case Foundationfor their favorite charitable causes as part of the Foundation’s first-ever Giving Challenge.Conceived as a way to test the awesomepotential of online fundraising, to movepeople from saying they care about a cause todemonstrating they care about it, and to helppeople from all backgrounds realize theirpotential to be philanthropists, theexperimental Giving Challenge comprisedtwo events. America’s Giving Challenge inPARADE Magazine and on PARADE.comraised $1,193,024 from 46,044 donors for2,482 causes. The Causes Giving Challengeon Facebook raised a total of $571,686 from25,795 unique donors for 3,936 causes. And in both challenges, causes with the highestnumbers of unique donors received awardsfrom the Case Foundation.But the financial figures alone don'tcapture the full impact of the Challenge. Thecompetition increased participating causes'visibility among a larger network of supporters and in the mainstream press.What's more, the open design of theChallenge enabled any individual supportingany organization to enter the contest, levelingthe playing field between large, establishedinstitutions and smaller or all-volunteerefforts.And lastly, the partnerships withPARADE Magazine, Causes on Facebook,Global Giving, and Network for Goodencouraged people with no technical skills to become cause champions, and helped donorswho had never given online find a new wayto support issues they cared about.How did this relatively unprecedentedChallenge achieve such remarkable results?Four key elements contributed to its success:Its
competitive structure
– seen asenergizing for both donors and volunteers.The
limited timeframe
of the Challenge.The
leaderboard
that enabled participantsto see how they were doing against theircompetitors in real time.The
incentive
to receive award funds fromthe Case Foundation in addition to theamount raised from donors.By combining these factors, the Challengecreated an immediate, urgent way for a largenumber of causes to turn lightly connectedpeople interested in their cause into donors.Further, it rewarded donors who used a widearray of tools and channels online and inperson to broaden their networks of friendsto raise more money.Of course, every project has its lessonslearned, and the Challenge is no exception.The following are the key changesrecommended for future Challenges:
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