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WHITE PAPER: Blackbaud Crowdfunding Whitepaper

December 11, 2018

The next big fundraising idea will come from the crowd. It is true of yesterday; it is true today and will be true tomorrow.

In 1988, a man rallied 38 friends to run the New York City marathon to raise money in honor of his daughter, a leukemia survivor. The team raised $322,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). Today, 26 years later, LLS's Team In Training®, is a leader in endurance fundraising efforts. It has raised more than $1.4 billion dollars—because of one man’s passion to do something.

In 2007, after going into remission after her own cancer battle, a woman wanted to give back to her doctors. She and her husband created an event called Spin4Survival to raise money for rare cancers. Today, it is known as Cycle for Survival and is an official Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center™ event. Since its inception, the event has raised more than $51 million. In 2014 alone, this vibrant fundraiser generated more than $20 million.

Mostly recently, a man living with ALS challenged his friends to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads. The Ice Bucket Challenge went viral; and the crowd went wild. More than one million people doused themselves with ice water, challenged their friends to do the same, posted their videos on social media, and made donations. As of September 17, The ALS Association® received $115 million in donations compared to $5.7 million during the same time period last year. Enough said.

While technology has changed over the time span of these three projects, there are several things nonprofits can learn from these and other well publicized crowdfunding successes. Jennifer Ashbaugh, director of national events for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America®, thinks we can learn a lot. However, she said, “We shouldn’t be trying to copy someone else’s success.

We should be listening to our own supporters—those who are invested in our cause. We have to pay attention to the people who are creating small fundraisers in our name, as well as to those who have bigger ideas. Some of the ideas may not be productive, but who are we to say? We don’t know where the next big idea will come from.”


“We shouldn’t be trying to copy someone else’s success. We should be listening to our own supporters—those who are invested in our cause. We have to pay attention to the people who are creating small fundraisers in our name, as well as to those who have bigger ideas. Some of the ideas may not be productive, but who are we to say? We don’t know where the next big idea will come from.”
— Jennifer Ashbaugh, Director of National Events for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America

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