Donating IS a campaigning action
Most organisation's I've worked with, fundraising and campaigning were separate with only minimal interaction to coordinate communicating timing or promote to each other's networks. But it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, it is a lose-lose scenario for all fundraisers, campaigners, supporters and beneficiaries when it isn't integrated. This means most organisations are operating in a lose-lose scenario all the time.
The Atheist Bus Campaign (with which I have no involvement) has been adopted by the The British Humanist Association. The campaign demonstrates how donating can be a bold and popular political statement. Theirhad a target of £5,500 in donations and achieved this by 10:06 on the day of launch. By 14:30 they had £18,000 (and further updates below). Donors comments makes very clear this is a political act by people who support the idea.
This is by no means the first campaign to use donating as a campaigning action, but is one of the first in the UK. Internationally, MoveOn.org (US), GetUp.org.au (Australia) and Avaaz.org (global) have all done it. But these are new organisations. It is existing organisations that haven't tended to integrate donating and campaigning.
My guess is most donors have never been active supporters of the Britsh Humanist Association but simply heard about it through the growing news coverage starting with the Guardian and then the BBC (among others I'm sure).
All they are asking is for funds to buy ads on the outside of London buses that say "There's probably no god, so stop worrying and enjoy your life". Support seems to be coming from across the UK, not just London, and many people are donating and asking for the campaign to be expanded across the UK.
Since the Atheist Bus campaign reached its fundraising goal by 10:06 am on the day of launch, it has broadened the goals to include advertisements on the inside of buses too. Let's see if they heed supporters' calls to expand the campaign across the UK too.
Given the rate this is growing, I'd be surprised if the JustGiving.com site on which it is running didn't crash :-) (the BHA's site is very slow and I assume this is due to traffic attracted from this initiative).
Note that the action is actually very simple:
- No fancy technology (the JustGiving service is used)
- No fancy creative
- No massive promotion
- Just an idea that appeals to a lot of people who feel they are not being heard.
Of course, they could be doing even better if the tools they used implemented best practices and it is at times like this you want all the best practices to be in place to get the most of the moment.
Chain of Events
- Started with an article on the Guardian Comment Is Free site by comedy writer Ariane Sherine in June 08
- Was then made into a pledge on PledgeBank by Political Blogger Jon Worth as part of a strategy with Ariane
- Ariane and Jon got the British Humanist Association to adopt it and well known atheist and scientist Richard Dawkins endorsed it and provided and matching-funds.
- new post by Ariane on Guardian's Comment is Free helped to launch the action and presumably to help launch the Atheist Campaign site. On 21 October, a
- Articles in The Times and The Telegraph helped considerably as I suspect did the article on the BBC News website as it was the most popular emailed story of the day (and the 4th most popular read story and it briefly peaked at the #1 read story between 14:00 and 15:00)
- Bloggers also helped
- BBC Five Live interviewed Ariane Sherine (Atheist Bus Campaign co-founder) and received listener comments
- The Atheist Campaign also has a Facebook group with lively discussion
- A donation widget from JustGiving is featured on the AtheistCampaign.org site - but I suspect this didn't result in much traffic on the launch day as it needs wide distribution to do so.
- More coverage on BBC Five Live on the Richard Bacon show at 23:00.
- Heather for pointing out the PledgeBank initiative which helped unravel the chain of events
- Jon for further insight and an insider perspective
- Tim for pointing me to the BBC Five Live interview
- Starting trying to integrate donations as a campaigning action
- Link donations the success of the campaigning action: it is up to supporters to make it happen
- Be prepared for success (I don't know if the British Humanist Society is) and for supporters to have a more ambitious vision that the organisation
- Tell your fundraisers: campaigning can be income generating
Average donation value: £15
Largest donation: £3,000
Smallest donation: £2
Donor country: most seem to be in the UK, but others from around the world are contributing. In fact on 23 Oct, two donations over £1,000 were received between 01:00 and 05:00 in the morning, suggesting contributions from outside the UK.
The JustGiving blog details how it unfolded in the first 18 hours after launch.
You can do a lot with public data :-)