“It’s not an accident that some products catch on and some don’t. When an ideavirus occurs, it’s often because all the viral pieces work together. How smooth and easy is it to spread your idea? How often will people sneeze it to their friends? How tightly knit is the group you’re targeting–do they talk? Do they believe in each other?”
Seth Godin, The Purple Cow
I read Godin’s book for the first time recently, and have been thinking about how the author’s metaphor of the purple cow relates to different areas of everyday life. I’ve been thinking about how it relates to my personal goals in life, how I set goals in my career, and how it fits into the particular industry that I work in. As a nonprofit technology nerd, I’ve been thinking about purple cows in the world of fundraising.
The purple cow is the one that stands out in the field of all of the other boring “normal” cows. Purple cows are “remarkable,” as Godin explains. They are extraordinary. To be a purple cow, to do something remarkable, you have to take risk.
In the world of fundraising, we’ve seen some purple cows over the years.
Peer-to-Peer fundraising is a purple cow. The run, walk, ride space has taken off at warp speeds and now birthed cute baby purple cows–crowdfunding, do-it-yourself campaigns and extreme challenge events. The Ice Bucket Challenge was a purple cow.
#GivingTuesday is perhaps one of the most notable recent purple cows. The idea of individuals and communities around the country turning around the day after we consume ourselves with consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, to come together and give back, and focus on the spirit of the giving season. That’s a purple cow. It was a new idea that didn’t exist until just a few years ago, and it has been wildly successful. It’s spawned a whole new giving revolution around the end of the year campaign season.
My friends in fundraising, we have a new purple cow on our hands, something truly remarkable and it’s changing and continuing to evolve and improve the online fundraising space.
Online giving days are a purple cow. And, here’s why:
- They utilize a single sneeze to spread a virus for good. They spread the idea of local giving like wildfires. As Godin explains in his book, the “Sneezers” are the people who adopt and spread an ideavirus. They are often the early adopters who gravitate to a remarkable idea and spread it to all of their friends. (Similar to the flu, but in a good way.) In a typical giving day set up, a community foundation or some charitable group is the sneezer. They pull together nonprofits and other smaller organizations to band together and spread the spirit of giving on a single day.
- Community. Giving days are all about community, whether via a nationwide day of giving or a very targeted region. A community is a group of people that shares a common interest, they believe in each other. Communities talk. By promoting community, online giving days are empowering small, local nonprofits to take advantage of a community-led campaign. This gives small organizations new opportunity to raise online funds and receive money from large corporate matches that they would have otherwise not been exposed to.
- They are fun. People like fun. People like giving days. There is all sorts of gamification and competitive moves involved in an online giving day. From corporate match incentives to challenge boards, leaderboards and prizes. Sounds like a party, doesn’t it? They sort of are. Like I said, People like fun. That it itself is not really a remarkable concept. But oftentimes, in the world of fundraising, when we are talking about serious topics and are concerned about our campaigns portraying a certain level of sensitivity, we aren’t always able to incorporate fun-ness into the mix. Giving days give you that opportunity to make fundraising fun.
Giving days can be risky. You have to build a campaign around it, promote it, get volunteers involved, and find an online fundraising platform to make it happen. It takes effort. But, what we are seeing in so many cases, more and more each day, is that the risk is worth the reward. Many giving days are raising millions of dollars in the span of 24 hours. One of the brightest purple cows in the pasture is the North Texas Giving Day. On September 22, the 8th annual event raised a record-breaking $37.3 million! That is seriously remarkable! These events are happening across America and are picking up more steam than ever before. See the rest of our Fall Giving Day lineup here.
Considering participating in a giving day, but need more information? If you are a community foundation and interested in hosting a day for your community, read 10 Reasons Community Foundations Should Get Involved in a Giving Day. If you are a nonprofit and interested in participating in an event, read 10 Reasons Nonprofits Should Get Involved in a Giving Day.
This time of year gives us a unique opportunity to combine two purple cows: #GivingTuesday and Giving days! Many organizations choose to host a #GivingTuesday giving day event. I invite you to join our webinar on October 4 to learn how to plan your #GivingTuesday event. Register here.
Whatever you decide, find your purple cow, jump on, hold on tight and be remarkable.