Crowdfunding, death threats, and casseroles

publication date: May 7, 2018
author/source: Brock Warner, Samantha Rogers, Leah Eustace, and Sarah Ali

Crowdfunding is a complicated subject for those of us who work in the charity sector. While we appreciate the heart of those who are willing to give, it can raise lots of challenging questions including why some campaigns resonate so strongly with the public where other equally worthy causes don’t have the same overwhelming response. There was an interesting conversation about crowdfunding on LinkedIN. Below is an edited transcript of the conversation.

Brock Warner commented that “Recently, a crowdfunding campaign for the Humboldt Broncos raised over $15,000,000 within a few weeks. Just a few weeks later, 10 people were killed by a man who, by all indications, was targeting women. I've been looking for any crowdfunding campaigns that have the velocity of the Humboldt campaign, but nothing comes close.”

Sarah Ali noted that “Quebec City journalist Nora Loreto asked this question on Twitter (not specifically about the Toronto attacks) received death threats.

Brock replied “I recall seeing the tweet because of the backlash that ensued. It isn't lost on me that by asking fundamentally the same question I'm not likely to receive death threats.”

Samantha Rogers added “I equate these types of campaigns as the modern-day version of dropping off a casserole when someone has passed. When we want to help, and we don't know what to do, we cook or bake. In these cases, making a $20 gift is a way of doing something immediate to help, when we feel helpless

With Humboldt, the campaign was up instantaneously, highly promoted and you knew exactly who you were helping and why. When you googled Humboldt, the campaign was one of the first results and almost every news piece included the info. Most effective was the fact that the same team picture was seen over and over again. We knew their names and their faces by heart.

In the Toronto case, I have found it to be different because:

1. It took so long to know who the victims were

2. I had to go searching for the campaign, it hasn't really been promoted

3. We hardly know any information about the injured and how we can help

When it comes to crowdfunding, major success stems from a particular set of circumstances. People give to people. elate Social Capital, Canada's leading sports philanthropy firm.

I think people really underestimate how much of crowdfunding comes down to science and circumstance.”

Leah Eustace said “A big part of this is the power of relatable victims. Almost everyone in Canada could relate to the Broncos. Hockey is such a part of most of our lives, the names and faces were quickly public, and we could all imagine those kids at our local hockey rink.

The details of the victims of the Toronto tragedy came out slowly. The story of the single mom leaving behind a young son? That was very relatable to parents. In fact, the individual fund for that orphan had raised more than the general fund for all Toronto victims at one point.

In terms of the rest of these efforts, it may be that that hockey is generally more relatable than Yonge Street to most Canadians.”

Samantha said “I believe people rallied quickly around the Humboldt tragedy because almost everyone can relate to putting their kid on a bus - or being on a bus - for a team or school trip. The Humboldt victims were also kids, which played a big part in the shock of it all. We knew their names, their faces, their families, and their injuries. I think hockey certainly came into play within the media, with pro teams (specifically south of the border) paying tribute.

It’s worth noting that our country is diverse (in all ways), so many can relate to being a young woman on a coffee break or out running errands too. I think our country has rallied Toronto around this sad event. The delay in releasing information about the victims combined with the slower start to the crowdfunding effort may also have impacted the amount raised for the Toronto effort.

We need to be careful about measuring support simply through dollars - there have been examples of people doing good deeds, giving blood, and just showing up to help.”

What do you think? Add your thoughts below.

Editor’s note – All individuals quoted in this article had the chance to review their content prior to publication.

To give to the #TorontoStrongFund and to give to the Humboldt Bronco’s Campaign

Sarah Ali is a digital strategist at Grassriots Inc. She is an expert at leveraging research, analytics and insights to meet client needs. Sarah studied Fundraising Management at Humber College, where she received awards for both her excellent copywriting, and her commitment to improving the nonprofit sector.

Leah Eustace helps people and organizations do great things for great causes. She’s been fundraising for 25 years and have loved every minute of it. Whether coaching, training, writing, strategic planning, or anything else that can help you to elevate your fundraising, she’s in.

Samantha Rogers is a business grad turned social profit professional turned entrepreneur, A social capitalist at heart, she is an advocate for causes that fundamentally impact the community, with a particular passion for sport and corporate philanthropy.She is the Co-Founder and Partner at Relate Social Capital.

Brock Warner is Director, Community Giving and Innovation at War Child. He believes ‘how’ is equally important as ‘how much’ and loves seeing his energy and hard work translate into progressive social change. 

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