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Raise for Rotary helps convert your network into donors


If you’re on social media, you’ve likely had friends ask you to donate to their favorite causes to celebrate birthdays or to support disaster relief after tragedies. You see other people in your network contributing, and you’re drawn to give as well, by the story or because you want to help a friend. This kind of peer-to-peer fundraising, sometimes known as charitable crowdfunding, has exploded as a tool for philanthropy, and the Rotary network has been doing this long before the trend became popular.

  • 92.00%

    of people are generally aware of crowdfunding*

  • 32.00%

    typically contribute to crowdfunding projects*

Rotary members ask their friends to donate to our causes routinely because they are passionate about Doing Good in the World. The result can be a small act like buying a raffle ticket or purchasing sponsorships for a dinner.

These peer-to-peer fundraising acts, especially in their digital forms, maximize the power of social media networks and have the potential to supercharge Rotary's traditional fundraising while drawing in a new segment of donors. "The profile of the average donor who gives through peer-to-peer websites is a new group of donors: young, less religious, and more likely to be single" than the traditional donor, notes Una Osili, associate dean for research and international programs at Indiana University's Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. A 2021 study she co-authored — Charitable Crowdfunding: Who Gives, to What, and Why? — found that donors to these campaigns gave an average of $42 toward charitable organizations in 2019.

Since the pandemic began, people have become even more willing to go online to shop, entertain themselves, and do good in the world. Raise for Rotary is The Rotary Foundation's tool to help members around the world capitalize on the crowdfunding movement. Teams or individuals can choose a fundraising template for a challenge, celebration, or memorial, or create their own. And they can choose which Rotary Foundation fund they want to support: any Annual Fund area of focus, PolioPlus, the World Fund, or Disaster Response. Donors to these fundraisers receive the same donor credit they would if they were to donate online or by mail. Two years after the tool's launch in August 2020, 1,637 donation pages had been created, with more than $1 million raised.

By far the most popular area to donate to through Raise for Rotary is PolioPlus in support of eradicating the disease. And one of the more successful peer-to-peer fundraisers lately was Jump!4Polio. For a District 6290 skydiving event in Grand Haven, Michigan, in June, a team of jumpers each pledged to raise $1,000. The team, including 101-year-old D-Day veteran Dick Grout, a member of the Rotary Club of Suttons Bay-Leelanau County, was able to raise $63,000 by using Raise for Rotary combined with more traditional methods. "The more vehicles we have for donations, the more donations we will get," says Al Bonney, past governor of District 6290, who led the effort. "I don't care how you give donations, just give. Raise for Rotary was really helpful."

This story originally appeared in the January 2023 issue of Rotary magazine.

*Source: Charitable Crowdfunding: Who Gives, to What, and Why?

Tips for peer-to-peer fundraising success

Be the first.

Show peers how committed you are to the cause and how easy it is to use the platform by making the first donation. "I'm a huge fan of Raise for Rotary because it's really, really simple," says Jayne Hulbert, Rotary Foundation chair for District 5150 in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Have a launch party!

Throw a big, in-person event to inspire people who are fundraising, recommends Beth Kanter, co-author of The Smart Nonprofit: Staying Human-Centered in an Automated World.

Ask your biggest fans.

Who are your key supporters? Give your team a launch packet of prepared materials that they can hand out or post online, Kanter suggests. This would include QR codes and links, as well as sample talking points and tips for using social media to promote your effort.

Appeal to new donors.

Think about what people who may be especially inclined to donate online will want to hear about your project. Una Osili, an Indiana University crowdfunding researcher, recommends asking friends to spread the link to your fundraising page.

Be prepared for anything, but especially checks.

Some people will still want to write checks. You can mail them to The Rotary Foundation as part of your fundraiser to get credit for the individual and club.

The Rotary Foundation transforms your gifts into service projects that change lives.