Originally published by Viktoria Tsukanov on WePay's blog.

 

#GivingTuesday, the Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is a day dedicated to global giving, fueled by social media and collaboration. Crowdfunding platforms have had a big role in this digital movement as one of the top places to find worthy personal and charitable causes.  

On Thursday June 1st, WePay along with the #GivingTuesday organizing team hosted a gathering of the top 20 minds in Crowdfunding. In part one of the afternoon we reviewed unpublished results from a study performed in early 2017 with over 100 top data scientists, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and executed by DataKind. Some interesting findings included…

"For example, pictures of kids far outperform all others and pictures that only featured a charity’s logo made people less likely to engage with a post on social media."

  1. Giving Tuesday motivates charitable giving with intensity much like that which occurs after a natural disaster, producing an enormous spike in donation volume, and a net increase in annual charitable giving.  
  2. There are some predictable ways to get high engagement on social media for your Crowdfunding campaign. For example, pictures of kids far outperform all others and pictures that only featured a charity’s logo made people less likely to engage with a post on social media. We also learned that the most effective campaigns tell a story using a five part Shakespearean story arc. In addition to that, some Crowdfunding platforms have discovered that if a campaign is 30% funded by the start of #GivingTuesday it is more likely to hit it’s goal.
  3. Crowdfunding is changing giving behaviors. 7.5% of loyal donors (those who consistently gave to causes they support prior to 2012 i.e. the first year of #GivingTuesday) gave on #GivingTuesday, which is a larger percentage than any other day of the year. These donors also gave more on #GivingTuesday than they did on the next biggest day, December 31.

Together, the Crowdfunding leaders observed that an additional shift in the motivation for fundraising has occurred. Crowdfunding taps into personal responsibility via a collective call to action. There is a new generation that expects everything to be frictionless and as a result believes that the ability to make a positive impact should be very, very easy as well. The new response to a problem is to post to social media but also, often, to start a crowdfunding campaign to address the problem.

In part two of the event we launched into a discussion of what Crowdfunding-specific questions we could answer at an upcoming DataDive in August with the Gates Foundation in service of growing donation volume in 2017 and beyond. The first report answered some questions, but sparked many more that might be addressed by more in-depth analysis…

We know more about organizers, than donors

The downside of a frictionless experience, is that little information is collected about donors. Campaign organizers spend a lot more time on-site, and must eventually give certain information to cash out their funds raised. However, the donor experience is streamlined for conversion, asking for as little information as possible, and putting as few road blocks on the way to completing a donation. This leaves Crowdfunding platforms a little in the dark as to what happens to the donor once they’ve completed a donation. How do we create repeat donors and retain donors? 63% of of #GivingTuesday donors only gave on #GivingTuesday. But what happens with them next? A more provocative question; do we care about retention or is it just too expensive to strive to keep every donor? Can we identify cohorts which are most likely to become repeat donors?

Blueprint for a Successful Campaign

Top of mind were a number of questions around how best to enable campaign organizers. Increasing sharing and creating virality could go a long way to drive campaign success. What is a single social share worth? If you can tell someone who has already donated to a campaign that each share on social media is worth $X to the campaign, will they share more? What is the optimal goal for a campaign based on the qualities of the organizer’s social network? Beyond that, there is a desire amongst Crowdfunding platforms to offer guidance on what specific steps organizers can take and when they should take them. What steps should a campaign take before launching? Should they make a video? How do both individuals and organizations tell better stories? What elements and sentiments contribute to success?

Importance of Demonstrating Impact

We have some indication that transparency, good communication, and ongoing updates help campaigns raise more money because they do a good job demonstrating impact. There are some signs that these types of behaviors create trust on the platform and create repeat donors as well. Measuring if this is true and how best to communicate impact can be challenging for a number of reasons. One of the obstacles is that some campaign organizers message donors off-platform, using tools like MailChimp or other marketing automation platforms to send emails or even sometimes raising money offline. This makes it difficult to identify best practices for campaign organizers. How can campaign organizers best demonstrate and convey impact to donors?

We are excited to continue collaborating with the #GivingTuesday team, DataKind, and the Gates Foundation to better understand giving behavior in the Crowdfunding space starting with the next phase of research this August.