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Cause Marketing Your Birthday

My birthday is in February and recently I got the notice at the left from Crowdrise, a free online platform and social media site that helps you raise money for causes you care about.
It’s similar, in several respects, to the friends and family fundraising platform that comes your way when you sign up to participate in a race event on behalf of Komen, the American Diabetes Association or the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The difference is that with Crowdrise you decide what the cause is and how to make your case for it.

You can also be sure that Susan G. Komen for the Cure spent a darn sight more on their back-end software than did Crowdrise. That’s not a dig on Crowdrise or Komen as much as it is recognition that in the Internet age a lot of software which used to cost a fortune no longer does.

Because Crowdrise is independent of any single charity it feels more organic. You direct the effort, determine timelines, goals, messaging and the like. You’re not just another cog in a giant fundraising machine.

I’ve been watching Crowdrise for about 18 months now and they’ve latched onto an idea that I think is promising. Certainly it's presented with great fun.
“In case you didn't know,” the email said, “it's only a month until your birthday.”

Emails from Crowdrise tend to be cheeky, but not rude.
“That means it's definitely not too early to start thinking about how great it'll be to pretend you don't like all the attention you're going to get and, more importantly, it's a perfect time to get a birthday fundraiser going. Really, unless you're getting an iPad2, you should start a fundraising project on Crowdrise to raise money for your favorite charity and tell everyone to donate to your fundraiser instead of getting you a present.”

That’s the tone the American Red Cross’s advertising should have taken late last year with its advocacy and fundraising effort. With this copy Crowdrise strikes a blow... albeit a glancing one... that many of us don't need more stuff for our birthdays. Although if someone wants to send me an iPad2 for my birthday, I promise not to return it to the Apple store.

Crowdrise gets a lot of publicity because one of its founders and principal funders is actor Edward Norton. If that seems surprising, know that both his parents worked in the nonprofit sector. So he comes by his advocacy on behalf of nonprofits honestly.

Good on him and Crowdrise.


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