And the winners are: a small Oklahoma charity that aids orphaned Chinese children, a small animal rescue group in New Jersey and an organization that fights epilepsy. These are the winners of major new charity contests designed to promote online fundraising, such as “America’s Giving Challenge” and the “Causes Giving Challenge.” These contests are just one new media application providing unprecedented opportunities for smaller nonprofits to extend their reach and competitively vie for donor attention. Though they provide greater access than ever before, such activity has stirred a debate about whether this success comes at the expense of the traditional charitable players.
According to a Reuter’s article this week, “Tough times, more charities pinch Salvation Army,” the Salvation Army and perhaps other large organizations are experiencing a decline in the rate of growth of their donations. The increasing cost of living and the threat of a recession certainly play a role, but Sandra Miniutti, a spokeswoman for Charity Navigator, believes that other factors also come into play. She states that the growing number of charities vying for donations and the changes in what are considered “trendy causes” over time (today, the environment) are shifting the priorities of donors. It comes as no surprise to say that nonprofits, even those with a long history of donor loyalty, will have to become increasingly innovative in communications efforts to stay top of mind with potential donors who have a veritable buffet of cause options at a click of the mouse.
What do you think? Do grassroots new media efforts that bolster small, lesser known nonprofits run the risk of doing so at the expense of the traditional, large nonprofits? If you’re interested in joining the discussion, please share your comments below.