Put Some Fun Into Philanthropy

Vol. 11 No. 7


Peter Sagal, best known as the host of NPR’s very popular game show Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me!, says that “giving, altruism, is a pleasure, and it can be fun. But it also can not be fun. You have to find a way to let people enjoy, access the enjoyment of giving.”

Speaking with Philanthropy.com, Sagal talked about organizing a fun run to raise money to research a crippling genetic disease. “There is nothing funny about this disease,” he said. Yet, a relative of a child who has the disease wanted to do something to raise money for this. The relative came up with a one-mile run, around Valentine’s day, and the participants run in their underwear—Cupid’s Undie Run was born.

Most of the participants were not runners, and they had no connection to the disease. “They just thought it would be really fun to run around in their underwear, starting and stopping at a bar, in the middle of a cold winter afternoon,” he said.

Even though the race didn’t attract people who are emotionally invested in the cause, it still raised a million dollars in an afternoon. The runners didn’t participate because of death statistics or disease rates. They understood that families dealing with this disease were in a struggle. People responded because there was a story—and they had fun raising the money.

“As hackneyed as it is, I think that’s something that everybody needs to do. You need to present a story that you, the viewer, and the potential giver can get involved in.”

Leave the generalities to the fact sheet. Tell a personal story to maximize gaining the connection you need for a potential donor to give.

Fun events like the Undie Run are also a great way to get young donors—the booming Millennial population—involved with your organization. Ian Adair, Executive Director of the Martinez Foundation, says the Millennials are the largest generational demographic today, 30% larger than the Baby Boomer generation.  These are your young alumni who are social media savvy, who want to get involved and make a difference. But, because they are young, they may not be in a position to make the monetary contributions you’d like to see. So, how do you engage them?

A great way is to ask them to volunteer at events and for service projects. Adair says that, as volunteers, your young alumni will get a chance to see a different perspective of your school, and be around other donors. “Millennials love to be connected, they love to have a voice, and they love to see impact,” he said. Service projects you design should be fun, should involve the leadership, and provide an opportunity to recognize participants and reward them for the efforts. Keeping these young adults engaged will give you the stewardship route that hopefully will lead to the financial support you are looking for as they get older.

Additional ISM resources of interest
Alumni Are Forever: How to Keep Them in the Family, ISM Workshop, June 23-26, 2013
ISM Monthly Update for Development Directors Vol. 10 No. 2 21st Century Development: It’s All About Engagement
Building Your School’s Social Media Marketing Plan, recorded ISM Webinar

Additional resources for ISM Consortium Gold Members
Ideas & Perspectives Vol. 36 No. 14 Alumni Relations and the Portrait of the Graduate
To The Point Vol. 16 No. 4 Building Your School’s Social Media Campaign

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