Rage Donations: Give Before You Explode!
JUNE 24, 2018
Trump’s politically-inspired human rights horror show featuring state-sponsored kidnapping of refugee children and the torture-by-trauma of their imprisoned parents has triggered a tsunami of rage –and rage giving — worth noting, As was the case after the president’s announcement of the Muslim Ban and his other post-election actions, a flood of responses –financial and in-kind– was unleashed. Some term this phenomenon “rage giving.” [ See Tom’s 2017 post The Rage-Donation ]. From major airlines refusing to transport captured kids for the U.S. government…to Microsoft, Google and other tech company employees refusing to work on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contracts.to law firms offering pro bono services …to a restaurant refusing service to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee , while protesters heckled Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at a Mexican restaurant. Of course, in today’s frighteningly polarized political atmosphere surrounding the issue of immigration, the response wasn’t one-sided, although rage on rage on the part of Trump’s family-separation defenders seemed mostly confined to the Fox News Channel. For example, as other cable channels reported the “wire cages” and “child kennels” of the detention centers, Fox commentator Laura Inghram described the children’s centers as “essential summer camps. Without question the most prominent example of rage giving last week was the Facebook “Reunite an immigrant parent with their child” campaign launched by a California couple–Charlotte and Dave Willner, early Facebook employees. They started with the initial goal of raising $1500 to provide bail money for one or two detainees. Within days the campaign ballooned–by $10,000 a minute– to $20 million contributed by 500,000 folks from around the world as I write this. (The goal has now been raised from $1500 to $25 million.). As USA Today reports , “It’s part of a new pattern of “rage giving,” among progressives who, after the election, began flooding nonprofits with donations, particularly on women’s issues, climate change and immigration. Facebook has found its sweet spot giving Americans easy ways to channel their giving, particularly in times of national or international crisis. And the viral nature of the giant social network has fueled successful mega fundraising campaigns such as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. So, beyond the immediate importance of getting legal and other assistance to those desperately in need–without question a highly laudable action–what does “rage giving” –the “act of feverishly throwing money at a cause because you you don’t know what the hell else to do”– mean for fundraising and fundraisers generally? What if anything should concern us? First, as far as use of Facebook is concerned it’s important to remember that this $20 million campaign, like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that raised $115 in 2014, are few an far between. I mention the obvious only because somewhere out there are a couple of hundred board members or CEOs about to ask their fundraiser, “Why can’t we do this?” More importantly, it’s wise to remember that regular/normal use of Facebook for fundraising is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it’s easy to employ, and Facebook makes a big deal of its not charging transaction fees to nonprofits. On the other hand, while the nonprofit will receive the money from its campaign it will not receive the donors’ names, addresses or other information essential for building an ongoing relationship. Instead, using the immigration campaign as an example, Facebook has now received the names and contact information of 500,000+ donors which it will begin slicing, dicing and selling. No need to charge a transaction fee, the value of the income Facebook will receive by selling those donors’ information is worth multiple, multiple times any transaction processing fee. [ For a detailed understanding of the pros and cons of using Facebook for fundraising see Nick’s series Facebook Giveth and Facebook Taketh Away ]. Last February when Tom wrote The Agitator’s first post on rage giving, a number of thoughtful readers weighed in generally expressing both support for (benefits of passion and emotional triggers), and concern (retention, stewardship, siphoning off donations to others) over ‘rage donations.’ You can see all their comments here. Now that we’ve had 18 months of post-election “rage giving” what are your thoughts on its overall effect on fundraising? Roger. Advocacy Fundraising Communications Donor retention / loyalty / commitment Fundraising philosophy/profession Online fundraising and marketing Social media Uncategorized premium