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by Devin D. Thorpe
Over the last year of writing my Forbes blog, I have had the opportunity to really dig deeply into the world of crowdfunding. I’ve just completed my first draft of my new book, Crowdfunding for Social Good: Financing Your Mark on the World.
The book is a guide to successful crowdfunding for people who want to change the world.
The book is not a sequel to my book, Your Mark On The World, but it is written in the same spirit. I’ve studied a dozens of successful crowdfunding campaigns, interviewing the people behind them to learn their secrets for success.
Devin’s Book, Your Mark on the World, was downloaded over 75,000 times and reached the #19 spot on Amazon’s free book list–among all free books. It remains on the top 50 free nonfiction books at Amazon.
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How To Raise $16 Million From Crowdfunding In One Day
by Devin Thorpe
Minnesota’s GiveMN raised $16.3 million in one day using crowdfunding site Razoo in November of 2012. In what has become a major annual event in the nonprofit community in Minnesota, 4,381 nonprofits participated, raising money from 53,339 people on “Give to the Max Day.”
The Community Foundation of Utah (with whom I volunteer) is sponsoring and organizing the Love UT Give UT campaign which will happen on March 22, 2013 with hopes of raising over $1 million for nearly 400 participating nonprofits.
Fraser Nelson, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Utah notes that Utah is a unique state, saying, “We are the most charitable state in the nation, by far. Utahns give on average 10.6% of their income to charity and are consistently #1 in hours of volunteer service. While much of those funds go to faith organizations, it creates a culture of giving. We are the youngest state, among the most ‘wired’, and are heavy users of social media.”
Utah’s Nelson adds, “In all these ways Love UT Give UT makes particular sense for Utah. It is easy, it is high tech, and it is in line with our values of giving back while recognizing our increasing diversity. I know we’ll see that in full force on March 22.”
Razoo exclusively serves nonprofits in their online fundraising efforts and has helped them raise approximately $139 million. Razoo has hosted many of these community-wide fund raising days. Minnesota presently holds the record, but the Dallas, Texas community is not far behind.
Razoo CEO Lesley Mansford offers the following tips for successful community led fundraising campaigns:
1) Incentivize the behavior you want to see, both the behavior of donors and of nonprofits; encourage creativity.
2) Use effective partnerships: leverage media, nonprofit groups, and local PR firms to amplify the message of the day and rally their networks to collective action.
3) Train your nonprofits: teach them how to use social media, help them cultivate long-term relationships with donors; show them how they can tell the story of the work they do. The more prepared and confident your nonprofits are, the better the giving experience will be, and the more donors will enjoy giving and so do it more often.”
Dana Nelson (no relation to her Utah counterpart), the Executive Director of GiveMN, the person primarily responsible for the world record for single-day fundraising offers these tips for success:
1) Matching grants: With Razoo it is easy to add to the page and easy for donors to find nonprofits with matching grants so their money can be leveraged. It is vitally important for nonprofits to go out and find their own matching grants.
2) Be creative: Nonprofits must engage in competition, find ways to stand out by doing fun things. As an example of this creativity, we have a local arts organization that live streamed 24 hours of improv, another allowed donors to write a line in a play that was later performed.
3) Spread the word: Each organization must reach out to boards, employees, fans, followers and supporters to spread the link both in advance and on the day.
Utah’s Nelson also offered her advice based on what she’s learned so far from organizing the Love UT Give UT day of giving scheduled for next week, saying, “This is a shared responsibility of the corporate, nonprofit, and education sectors and we are in the role of community organizer, booster and funder. It takes a lot of hands. We cannot control – nor do we want to – the events in local communities and businesses, the ways participating organizations are getting the word out. Next year we’ll have a much better idea of how one of these works, but my advice is remember this is about and for the community. It really is about love – our collective love of place, people and causes.”
One of the key ways that GiveMN motivated its nonprofits was through contests. The number of donors to each nonprofit is tracked in real time by Razoo, allowing the nonprofits to compete for the most donors. Cash prizes were given to dozens of nonprofits based on their number of donors. A $12,500 first prize was given in four categories: all nonprofits, medium (nonprofits with budgets from $100,000 to $1 million), small (nonprofits with budgets of less than $100,000), and higher education. In each category a $5,000 second prize, a $2,500 third prize and $1,000 prizes for 4th through 10th place were given.
With an average raised of just under $3,000 per organization, the prizes were significant and motivated the nonprofits to meaningfully engage their base to expand their reach on Give to the Max Day.
Razoo’s Mansfield shared how she feels her role in raising so much money for nonprofits, saying, “It’s both personally and professionally rewarding that we can raise millions of dollars in a single day for the nonprofits of a region and drive greater awareness of the amazing work they are doing in the local community. I feel so proud that the technology we have built can have such an impact on the day itself and also provide the nonprofits with a new set of tools they can use as part of their fundraising toolkit year round.”
Other giving days coming up include “Match Day Milwaukee” on March 14, 2013, “Arizona Gives Day” on March 20, 2013, “Nevada Gives” on April 25, 2013, “Spring 2 Action Alexandria” on April 17, 2013, “Live PC Give PC” on November 8, 2013. The next GiveMN Give to the Max day will be November 14, 2013.
Devin D. Thorpe thinks he is the luckiest person alive. After being “let go” from the best job he’d ever had—as the Chief Financial Officer of the multinational food and beverage company MonaVie—he and his wife ended up living in China for a year where he wrote Your Mark On The World and embarked on the career he’d always wanted yet hadn’t dared dream.
Now, as an author, a popular guest speaker and Forbes contributor, Devin is devoted full time to championing social good. His current life isn’t much like his past.
As an entrepreneur, Devin ran—at separate times—a boutique investment banking firm and a small mortgage company. He served as the Treasurer for the multinational vitamin manufacturer USANA Health Sciences years before becoming CFO for MonaVie. Over his career he led or advised on the successful completion of $500 million in transactions.
Devin squeezed in two brief stints in government, including two years working for Jake Garn on the U.S. Senate Banking Committee Staff and another year working for an independent state agency called USTAR, where he helped foster technology entrepreneurship during Governor Jon Huntsman’s administration.
Devin is proud to have graduated from the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business, which recognized him as a Distinguished Alum in 2006. He also earned an MBA at Cornell University where he ran the student newspaper, Cornell Business.
Today, Devin channels the idealism of his youth with the loving support of his wife, Gail. Their son Dayton is a PhD candidate in Physics at UC Berkeley (and Devin rarely misses an opportunity to mention that).
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