Association gives Ice Bucket donors a reason to give again

Take note! A large national health charity is giving donors credit for medical progress.

The ALS Association, beneficiary of the Ice Bucket Challenge of two years ago, is now publicly stating that the extraordinary outpouring of funds from the Challenge is now directly connected with a research breakthrough.

If I were wearing a hat, I’d take it off to the ALS Association.

This shouldn’t be newsworthy, but it is.

Far too few nonprofits ever report back on the impact of donations. Especially medical charities.

Medical research moves slowly, is usually hard to explain to non-experts, and is rarely dramatic. Plus it’s often jaw-droppingly expensive. That’s why so many medical charities are lousy at reporting back to donors.

But it’s no excuse.

The main reason given by people who never donate is that they believe their giving doesn’t make any difference.

That’s at least partly the fault of the never-report-back charities.

The ALS Association blew a hole in that wall of indifference with their public announcement that connected Ice Bucket giving with real progress against ALS.

Think about it: Many, maybe most, Ice Bucket participants were young and other atypical donors. People who rarely give, who aren’t (yet) participating the miracle of philanthropy. When they made their rare donations, the most normal response they get from the organizations they give to is more requests for funds. And little or no information saying that their giving actually accomplished anything.

The message is loud and clear: Your gift didn’t make a difference. Can you blame them for believing giving is pointless?

I hope other nonprofits, especially health organizations, take a cue from the ALS Association and start reporting back to their donors — giving them the credit that’s due to them for the progress they make possible.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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