World Tour of Fundraising Innovation

When it comes to fundraising, the reality is we live an ever-globalized world.  Development in Arizona is as much impacted and affected by what is invented in Austria as it is by innovation in Austin, Texas.

On July 5th in London, the fundraising associations of the world agreed to a fully revised "International Statement of Ethical Principles in Fundraising” during the "International Fundraising Summit". But how many fundraising professionals, including those in the USA, even know that they have agreed to abide by these principles? Though I am sure few would disagree that:

“Fundraisers will always act responsibly, understanding that we share a common objective to promote fundraising excellence for the benefit of the common good. We value and encourage diversity in our practice and our fundraisers, and continually seek to develop our professional standards.”

Having worked in some 60 countries around the world over the last 35 years I have often been asked by US fundraisers questions like “is there really fundraising in Europe?” Despite the fact that most of the great temples, churches, universities and national monuments were paid for by fundraising over last two millennia.

From speaking at conferences in the last 18 months in China, Japan, Sweden, USA, Canada, Spain, Holland, UK and many more I am continuously impressed how innovation in fundraising is happening EVERYWHERE.

As “old” techniques such as direct mail decline in effectiveness in most markets or have disappeared entirely, new tools for recruiting donors have emerged. Face to face fundraising (street/door/shopping mall etc.) was invented by Greenpeace in Austria in the 1990s but today is the leading committed/regular donor recruitment tool in all of Europe, Canada, Latin America and most of Asia. In the USA it is still seen as an “emerging” fundraising technique.

SMS/text fundraising may have taken off in the USA during Obama’s first election campaign, but it was already being used to raise millions of dollars overnight in Italy for 2002 Molise earthquake disaster. In Spain every major non-profit has its own SMS/text number which for UNICEF is promoted by many of the nation’s leading sporting and TV celebrities, raising 10’s of millions of dollars per year for children.

Digital fundraising was largely pioneered in the 1990s by Greenpeace and mostly further developed by its innovative and visionary fundraising leadership in Argentina. It could be argued that fully integrated fundraising involving face to face/digital/telephone to develop an effective donor journey has been pioneered in Spain. Bitcoin fundraising is possibly best developed so far in Hungary. Some even say that Bitcoin and Blockchain fundraising will soon be “the next biggest thing”.

At the first China International Fundraising Conference in Shenzhen in late 2016, I suggested I continue my conversations with the young and eager fundraisers via WhatsApp and took out my Samsung cellphone to do so. In seconds they were all laughing at what they saw, as my phone and the “latest” apps looked like a Stone Age tool to them. In China, which now makes some of the most advanced cell phones for 25% of the cost of the most popular brands in the West, all social media, banking, shopping, chatting, and donating are all integrated into a single app. It is not uncommon for little known GONGOS (Government Organized Non- Governmental Organizations) to recruit 1-2 million new donors in 24 hours via combining the social platform WeChat and Alipay, China’s leading online payment solution, which regularly processes $25.3 billion sales within 24 hours, 90% via cell phones.

Where in the world will the next new big game changing innovation come from…and are you working on it already? Join me for my webinar Fundraising Inspiration: Innovative Ideas from Around the World on August 28, 2018 to see what the next trend is in digital fundraising.