Rotary and the Future of Fundraising

by John Borst, Communications Director , District 5550

Is Rotary ready for the future of fundraising?

Compare these two recent successful fundraising endeavors:

Both raised over $100,000,000. Both involved approximately 1,200,000 participants. Both took place simultaneously across many countries of the world. And neither could have taken place without the benefits of 21st Century technology.

But it was how they each used 21st Century technology which resulted in the one significant difference between the two fundraising efforts. One took place over a span of three years; the other a span of one month.

GETS-4-200pxThe longer project of course was the Rotary International and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s PolioPlus Challenge. The shorter was the Movember Foundation’s November 2012 campaign in which they raised $121.7 million for prostate cancer research.

Rotary used modern technology to promote and prod Rotarians to give and give to the PolioPlus account of Rotary Foundation. The Movember Foundation on the other hand used the principles of Crowd funding to achieve a similar goal in a remarkably short time.

Having taken part this past month, in the Movember campaign, I could not help but think as  it drew to an end, that Rotary has got to take a very serious look at this latest phenomena of the digital age.

Crowd funding is not social media such as FaceBook or Twitter. Certainly both are good, but supplimentary tools to broadcast what you are doing and perhaps to a lesser extent ask for donations.

Crowd funding is a subset of crowd sourcing. Crowd sourcing is the process where-by many people from all walks of life work together to accomplish a task. Perhaps the most famous “crowdsourcing project” is Wikipedia.

One consequence of crowd funding is the degree to which individuals can and do overlap traditional territories. Many Rotarians will likely have to get use to requests broadcast to fellow Rotarians using electronically generated email lists. With crowd funding local can be everywhere..

There is another aspect to the future of fundraising that only a central organization such as the Evanston office can bring about.

As we all know cash is rapidly disappearing as a medium of exchange. Today we increasingly use credit cards and debit cards. It is still possible to sell raffle tickets or seek cash donations for PolioPlus or in the case of Movember, prostate cancer research in stores or other public places. However, more and more often people will tell you they simply have no cash on them. And I believe them!

It seems to me that Rotary International could negotiate with the banks and credit card companies to have available portable card readers such as you see at restaurants, and on trains and planes. Local clubs, districts and even zones do not likely have the ability to manage this type of contract.  Clubs could then arrange with Rotary International the use of such an instrument. Obviously, it would require pre-planning but it should be manageable.

What is becoming more and more obvious is that the world of giving is changing along almost everything else that society does. One can only hope that Rotary has the presence to change with it.

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About John Borst

John Borst’s career in education spans the years 1960 to 1996. During those 36 years, he spent an equal amount of time working int he English language, Public and Catholic school boards. Borst taught in both elementary and high school environments. Positions of responsibilities held included department head in Geography, curriculum coordinator of Social and Environmental Studies, Principal, Education Officer with the Ministry of Education, Superintendent of Schools, and Superintendent of Student Services. Borst retired in 1996 as Director of Education for the legacy Dryden Board of Education. During this time, Borst has lived in the Ontario communities of Brampton, Toronto, Newmarket, Thunder Bay, Aurora and Dryden. Currently, Borst splits his time between Dryden and Toronto. Since retirement, Borst has served as a Supervisory Officer with a remote School Authority; been a freelance writer of articles on education in particular for Education Today, the magazine of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA); founded and edited from 2006 - 2010 the Education blog Tomorrow’s Trust: A Review of Catholic Education; and from 2003-2010 was a trustee of the Northwest Catholic District School Board.
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