Have you heard about this amazing online sensation called Charidy? You can run intensive 24-hour fundraising campaigns where donations are matched by others to ‘gear up’ or multiply the giving power. It’s all or nothing – either they meet the target and the matching donations kick in, or … you don’t want to imagine. And you can use social media to spread the word!
This was indeed very exciting the first time I heard about it. The campaign was for a large Chabad organisation with a very ambitious goal, and generously matched. I had been helping them with some marketing strategy, and learnt about the campaign early on. A lot of planning went into it, and BH they were able to reach their goal. It was a big thrill for all involved.
But over the last few months, there has been a flood of these Charidy campaigns, especially from Chabad organisations. Having connections in some way to many of them, my social media feed is full of them, each one bursting with the excitement and energy of trying to meet their goal in just 24 hours.
The Chabad world is highly interconnected. Anyone is usually just two or three “degrees of separation” to anyone else, be they an individual or an organisation. And a large number of organisations are reaching out to everyone in their network looking for funding with a kamus and aichus that is unprecedented.
Similarly, we are receiving more and more phone solicitations from New York (and we are in Melbourne, Australia). People are sitting in call centres (or perhaps at home) and calling everyone on Tzach lists all over the world asking for donations. I received one call seeking support for a Crown Heights organisation from a very young-sounding girl. She told me she was just sixteen (yes, I asked her age because I was shocked at how young she sounded)! Are we teaching our children how to be schnorrers?
From the view of the prospective donor, this has reached – no, passed – a saturation point. Everyone’s cause is very worthy, but donors have limited funds and cannot support every cause to the point of making a real difference. Is it better to support a small number of causes with large donations, or spread yourself with small donations across many causes? This is one of the key challenges for any philanthropist.
Organisations need to consider the saturation risk to their donor market. As the saying in the gemoro goes: תפשת מרובה לא תפשת – if you try for too much, you end up with nothing. The overuse of innovative funding campaigns has left donors with fatigue, and has stripped away the innovation and excitement from these campaign from the very people who are meant to fund them.