Chart: Tracking monthly changes to online giving to arts orgs in 2011

Source: The Blackbaud Index of Online Giving



Commentary: How Kickstarter and other crowdfunders can better help the arts

Ian David Moss,, 4/9/12

Right now, it's not clear that Kickstarter is doing much more than offering a streamlined process for donations that would probably have happened anyway. Aside from a handful of lucky campaigns that "go viral," anecdotal reports suggest that the vast majority of donors to a typical project are previously known to the recipient. [But] Kickstarter has the potential to deliver a transformative impact on the arts sector by cultivating more and better donors to the arts. (Kickstarter isn't the only platform of its kind, of course, nor the first. My employer, Fractured Atlas, partners with two of Kickstarter's competitors, IndieGoGo and RocketHub, and many other online fundraising platforms cover the arts and beyond, including USA Projects, Power2Give, and ArtSpire. But Kickstarter's large customer base and obvious cachet with the technology community currently put it in the best position to achieve what I suggest here.) Kickstarter has already taken a number of steps to encourage people who donate to projects to which they have no personal connection. But Kickstarter could do more. By engaging its audience directly in the curation of its projects, perhaps through some kind of guided crowdsourcing process, Kickstarter would expose more of the "long tail" of its project pool to potential review by strangers. That would allow projects that originate from underserved communities and don't already come in with strong connections to donors a more realistic shot at reaching their campaign goals. Kickstarter's broad conception of creativity, one that reaches beyond the arts to video games, product design, and even social innovation, holds enormous promise for encouraging the cross-pollination of donors across various fields, perhaps even training a new generation of tech-savvy arts patrons and board members.


Commentary: What do you do when you've exhausted all of your "crowds?"

Actor/producer/writer/director Jayce Bartok,, 3/13/12

[What do you do] when you feel you can't ask your amazing family and friends for one more nickel for your project and still be able to hold your head up? You think about getting investors, of course. But that's easier said than done. Not only is it difficult to convince someone to invest in a micro-budget project, but I'm finding it's even harder to figure out how to legally accept investments! [My film] Tiny Dancer is fiscally sponsored by New York Foundation for the Arts, which gives us 501(c)(3) status, [but] you can't be a 501(c)(3) and take investments. So when do we abandon our little nutty crunchy artsy not-for-profit status, thereby taking away our ability to apply for the many grants that require recipients to be a non-profit? Then how the heck do we actually solicit and collect investments?


Related: The JOBS Act, Indie Film, Crowdfunding and Me

Jayce Bartok,, 3/27/12

The JOBS (Jump-start Our Business Start-ups) Act [relaxes] federal regulation for small businesses and start-ups (movies like Tiny Dancer), letting them raise capital without running into the tangle of SEC regulations. "Crowdfunding will allow small businesses to bypass Wall Street and go straight to Main Street for financing, freeing every American to invest in a local business or the next great idea," notes Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA). What does this all mean for us, the broke moviemaker types? Well, we will be able to raise up to $1 million a year online (and via social media) through an SEC-registered "crowdfunding portal," which will provide investors with protection. What will this portal look like? I imagine it won't have the funky intuitive design of a Kickstarter or an Indiegogo, but it will have the legalese to get the job done. I foresee Kickstarter and Indiegogo working with this new portal somehow, since they're the top dogs in the field and it would only help them to share in the new legislation. It's kind of mind-blowing that crowdfunding began so small, and now it's being validated on the floor of Congress as a possible savior for the economy and -- bottom-line -- a big job-creator due to the small businesses it will foster.


Report: Most nonprofits still not using social networking to raise money

Allyson Kapin,, 4/3/12

I have been waiting to get my hands on the latest 2012 Social Networking Benchmark Report because it's one of the only comprehensive surveys that provides a good overview of how nonprofits are utilizing social media to brand themselves online, connect with new supporters, and raise money. Between January 24, 2012 and February 21, 2012, over 3,500 nonprofits representing a variety of verticals and operating budgets responded to an online survey about their use of online social networks.

  • The majority (66%) use Facebook advertising for branding and awareness.
  • Respondents [have] an average of 8,317 members on Facebook, an 81% increase from 2011.
  • [They have] an average of 3,290 followers on Twitter, a 30% increase.
  • 93% of nonprofits have a presence on the top commercial social networks.

The majority of nonprofit are still not raising a dime on social networks like Facebook. 46% said that they were fundraising, with the top category (33% of all responders) prioritizing Individual Giving - soliciting Facebook supporters for individual donations (e.g. one-time gifts, memberships, and monthly gifts). I was particularly interested to hear that nonprofits said that the average value of a Facebook "like" over 12 months following acquisition was about $214.81. This includes money raised from both online and offline channels such as revenue from individual donations, membership, events, merchandise, etc. Event fundraising was the second highest category with 20% of all responders. "Causes" was third with 17%, and Personal Fundraising (e.g. peer-to-peer fundraising linked to a mission-focused theme rather than a face-to-face event) was fourth with 11%.


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Smaller nonprofits are now eligible to fundraise via text messaging

Raymund Flandez, Chronicle of Philanthropy Prospecting blog, 2/23/12

Small charities will now get more opportunities to conduct low-cost fundraising efforts by text message. But they'll have to do so under new guidelines designed to prevent fraud. A deal between the Mobile Giving Foundation, which connects charities to mobile carriers, and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, a nonprofit connected with the Council of Better Business Bureaus, seeks to assure donors that their $5 to $10 text donations will go to trustworthy charities. They also hope that by demonstrating the legitimacy of the charities, the guidelines will make mobile-phone companies more willing to allow charities to use their networks to seek large gifts by text or solicit monthly text donations from supporters. Until now, only charities that have raised $500,000 in total donations for one year were eligible to start mobile-giving campaigns. The expansion of mobile giving depends in large part on the goodwill of mobile carriers like AT&T Mobility, Sprint, and Verizon Wireless. Right now, neither the charity nor the donor pays anything to the carrier to process donations handled through the Mobile Giving Foundation, so the organization wanted to find a way to reassure the carriers. Under the new rules, small organizations [will] first have to pass 20 standards of accountability. [The BBB Alliance] hopes to encourage charities to reach out to younger donors, who are increasingly relying on text-messaging for daily communications.

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