Looking for a new fundraising platform? There are many reasons why you could be answering ‘yes’ to this question.

Looking for a new fundraising platform? There are many reasons why you could be answering ‘yes’ to this question. Your existing contract with your platform provider is running out, or you have a great new fundraising idea that you’ve finally received approval to launch and you’re thinking this is going to be the next Dry July!

You are in a very exciting place, but you have an important decision to make that could determine if your campaign successfully continues for years to come, or fails to make it
past year one or two.

Here’s some positive news as you start your search for a fundraising platform: now is a great time to be in the fundraising events space. The ‘for-purpose’ technology space has come a long way in the past three years, and highly competitive offerings from proven service providers means the landscape has shifted.

With readily available and reasonably cheap technology offerings, it’s much easier to enter the market. You can create an event website within a few hours, switch on your Facebook ads, and registrations can start coming through.

In addition to the increased platform offerings, there are now even more consultants competing for your business, guaranteeing to transform your fundraising idea into a local or
national success.

With so much choice, it’s challenging to make the right decision when selecting and
investing in your new fundraising platform. Importantly, you are choosing who you partner with, and who will help you grow your event (notice I said ‘partner’ and not ‘use’). So where do you start?

Granted, there are an infinite number of other decisions to be made around the campaign name, creative and marketing strategy. Let’s assume that if you’re at the stage where you’re investigating fundraising platforms for your event, you have most of these areas ticked off.

You’ve given yourself ample time to prepare and launch your event (naturally, right?) and have reached the point where you need a fundraising platform to run it all from. Where do you go for that sort of info? It can be an overwhelming experience, and there’s a lot of responsibility placed on your shoulders to get it right! I know this because I have been there.

Understandably, the size of your event and organisation will play a big part in this process. For the purposes of this feature I’m wearing a ‘small organisation, small event hat’ ($100k fundraising target).

A Google search on ‘fundraising platforms’ shows a huge number of systems available, all boasting to be the best. You visit numerous websites wanting to know more about their features and pricing. But you’re not finished yet – you might also head to a few websites of fundraising campaigns that you admire, and see who they’re ‘powered by’.

So now you’ve got a list of about five or six platform providers you think you’ll approach. *Breathe*

Next, you chat with colleagues and industry peers, and each provide mixed responses on their experience or ‘hearsay’ with software providers (because that’s who they are, right?).
You may be down to two or three platform choices by now. One of the biggest decisions to your campaign success (yes, consider that) was done in about two hours. Easy, off to the gym!

But wait, now is a good time to seriously think about what is going to make your event a success, because I can guarantee that the platform you choose will be a defining factor to your fundraising outcomes and event longevity.

Tip: Make a list of the ‘must haves’ and critical success factors to your campaign. It’s worth investing time in this and it will be repaid tenfold.

For example, you know you need a mobile responsive site, you know it needs social media connectivity, leader-boards, participant and team profile pages, targets and gamification, and that’s just the start. I’d expect you’d have a list of over 100 requirements if you really sat down and worked through what you need. The
site must be available all the time, be infinitely scalable, secure and, the most important factor (said the person who approved the budget), cheap as chips!

One of the most pressing factors of any event is budget, especially when piloting a campaign. Budgets are important – we all have them, we all work to them and, in our industry, they are especially tight. However, when you’re at the purchase point for a new fundraising platform, remember this: consider the tens of thousands of dollars in fundraising outcomes that could be achieved when partnering with experience and expertise.

What value do you put on advice, support and mentoring, that could transform your own knowledge, your team’s knowledge, and significantly impact the cause you’re raising funds for? After all, you don’t want to be repeating this process in a year’s time: that’s valuable strategic-planning time and essential budget that can help smash your event fundraising out of the park.

So who am I to write an article like this and why would I? I started the Dry July Foundation back in 2008 and have grown the event into one of Australia’s biggest fundraising campaigns. This year we raised over $10 million with 43,000 people participating in the event. We’ve rolled out the abstinence concept to NZ, UK and Canada and now inspire over 130,000 people to give up booze for a month each year and raise US$18 million-plus annually for numerous cancer services around the world.

What you might not know about us is that we (the team behind Dry July, CHIL Fundraising) also now work with numerous other nonprofit organisations to help them deliver their cycle events, walks, fun runs, and community fundraising. Wait, you also do what?

With a background in graphics and websites we built the original Dry July fundraising website that served us well for the first eight years. With the abstinence peer-to-peer initiative expanding across three other countries and the rapid changes in technology, we took a blank canvas and, coupled with years of knowledge and learnings, developed the CHIL Fundraising platform in 2016. We have regularly enhanced and developed significant new features into it ever since, and continue to do so.

Dry July (the campaign) has grown from raising $3.7 million in 2016 to raising $10.9 million in 2019. Coincidence? Yes we rebranded, yes we invested, but this was only achievable from the insights we gained from the platform data, and the confidence we gained from the engagement we were seeing across the campaign.

Tip: Take the time to choose the right platform and supporting team for your event, because the results will speak for themselves.

In rebuilding the fundraising platform, the vision was to build a fully scalable and affordable solution that could serve any for-purpose organisation and their online fundraising event needs. We now have that offering and are continuing to invest in the system to ensure many more organisations can benefit from the leading edge technology we have built and, importantly, the expertise and experience we have gained.

It’s been an interesting journey for CHIL Fundraising over the past couple of years – we have scaled Dry July beyond what we ever thought was possible, and we have built an incredible team and robust fundraising system that is ready to make an even bigger impact for the causes it is utilised for.

I could reel off a long list of system features but I won’t. I could’ve written a big feature on Dry July achievements, but I didn’t. I’ll save that for Katie Evans (Dry July Foundation GM) to tell you all about that at EventRaise 2020.

What I do want to say is that I have met with many amazing organisations over the past year, showcased the fundraising platform more times than I can remember, even built demo sites for potential partners, only for them to never get visited. It’s evident to me that organisations view their fundraising platform provider as simply a software vendor who gives them the keys and wishes them well with their event.

What if there was more to the relationship than just software provider? We (providers) are not all the same, as much as that may seem the case from the outside.

The CHIL Fundraising platform has been built from the ground up for charities with a focus on fundraising growth. The team behind it are experts in the fundraising sector with a wide range of skills across tech, comms and advertising, and we have the tools to get the results.

The most common question I hear is, “What makes you different from all the rest?” My answer is simply, “We get you, because we run campaigns ourselves.”

The purpose-built CHIL Fundraising platform is designed to increase conversions to fundraising, and lift average donations and amounts raised per active fundraisers. There are many ways we approach this through personalisation, segmentation and system smarts.

If you are interested in finding out more about the work we do, our case studies or how we can partner for your next event, get in touch.

Brett Macdonald

Brett co-founded the Dry July Foundation in 2008. Since then he has expanded the initiative to four countries, encouraged over 500,000 people to go dry and raised over $100 million for people affected by cancer. With over a decade of experience running mass-market, online peerto-peer fundraising initiatives for leading NFPs in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada, he has launched the CHIL Fundraising Platform to help other organisations grow and launch their fundraising events.

Contact Brett on (02) 9237 8427 or [email protected] or visit chilfundraising.com.

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