Car racing is a growing trend and has been so since the advent of the automobile. What is it about racing that attracts people? For some it’s the adrenaline rush of driving at extremely fast speeds, for others it’s doing something illegal, and for others the status that comes along with being a street racer.
Well, it seems to be no different when it comes to philanthropy. A race, even when it comes to fundraising, can be just as exciting.
It all started in 2007 with the America Giving Challenge – a 50-day national online competition that enabled passionate individuals and non-profit organizations to easily leverage their online and offline personal networks to increase awareness, attract new donors and encourage people to get and stay involved with causes they care about. It was conceived as a way to move people from saying they care about a cause to demonstrating that they indeed cared about it.
Today, the America Giving Challenge has grown three-fold from its 2007 performance of $1,193,024 from 46,044 donors for 2,482 causes. Participants in the challenge continue to remain pepped up to compete for daily and overall awards, which are given to the causes that receive the highest number of unique daily donations.
The story is no different many miles away in India. In 2011, as the country hosted its first ever Grand Prix, the heat on the fundraising circuit was building up too. The third edition of the annual India Giving Challenge, India’s first and only online fundraising event, crossed its previous benchmark to Rs. 3 crores in overall funds raised. Partly inspired by the America Giving Challenge, it exhibits, just like its ‘originator’ (and a nail-biting F1 race too for that matter), the key elements of a successful online fundraising campaign.
The competitive structure kept participants energized through the 45 days of intense fundraising. The limited timeframe gave donors no reason to postpone their donations to a later date. The leaderboard, which was updated once a day, gave participants a fair sense of how they were doing against their competitors. And last, but not the least, an incentive in the form of matching grants, which were offered in different categories of fundraising during the course of the event, gave a much-needed boost to everyone involved.
As is characteristic of a good competition, there were some thrilling moments. For example, when on the last leg, newcomer Teach For India overtook the Challenge Champion from the last two years, Parivaar Education Society. What was more interesting was that Teach For India’s 1,868 donors contributed an average of Rs. 2,348, compared to the first runner-up Parivaar Educaton Society’s 113 donors who contributed an average of Rs. 34,641. At the end of the day, it didn’t matter how participants reached the finish line – the rush of emerging as one of the winners of the many prizes on offer was enough to keep them going for more.
Research shows that donating is good for the brain. Research also indicates that competition enhances adrenaline secretion. Looks like a new formula has been discovered to get people all pumped up to raise funds for charity!
Tarika Vaswani is senior manager in the retail giving team at GiveIndia