For Impact


Crowdfunding is the new Yellow Bracelet

Funding | | Nick Fellers

Every few years there is a new fad in fundraising. For the past 2+ years (at least), it’s been crowdfunding (think: Kickstarter campaigns).

I am asked about these at least once per week and here’s my reply: “Crowdfunding is the new yellow bracelet.”

When Livestrong sold the yellow bracelets, it became fashionable for every cause to have a rubber bracelet.

I’m often asked about the ice bucket challenge, specifically. That’s a phenomenon, not a (repeatable) funding model.

I believe social media is a big medium for communications. It should factor into how we build relationships — but it’s a tool, not a funding solution.

Though the specific advice varies for each organization, here is what I shared with one team last week:

“If you’re trying to build a movement and you want to incorporate crowdfunding, go for it… but you would be justifying it (to me) by bolting the funding onto something with a different end (goal). If you’re trying to add crowdfunding as a core part of your funding strategy then it’s my belief — based on seeing actual numbers at organizations — that you’re going to spend 80 cents to raise a dollar AND it won’t be a sustainable source of funding. On top of that, you have an opportunity cost; you’re putting resources into crowdfunding when you need to be putting more into 1:1 sales first.”