INDIA’s tenth Daan Utsav just ended with tens of thousands of people celebrating the giving festival by donating their time, money, skills or even hugs.  As different kinds of donation campaigns flooded social media, the one thing that became clear was the need to stand out.

The ease of electronic transactions has taken online fundraising to another level, with organisations employing fresh, attention-grabbing ideas to draw people’s attention.  Be it using the power of social media or tapping into the joy of instant gratification, in the recent past nonprofits, as well as individuals, have come up with some creative ways to engage people when fundraising.

Here are some unconventional ways that have been adopted to raise funds:

1.  Contactless Benches

In the world of fundraising, the ease of making donations is given foremost importance. Using the advancement of technology, Cancer Research UK transformed 100 street benches in London into ‘smart benches’ for World Cancer Day on February 4, 2017.

People could tap their contactless debit or credit card on these solar-powered benches and donate £2 to CRUK.

The smart benches also offer free Wi-Fi, mobile charging point and have sensors built into them which monitor real-time environmental data, including air quality.

Miloš Milisavljević, founder and CEO of Strawberry Energy, developers and owners of the Smart Bench network, said: “Our charging stations bring people together, motivate them to spend more time outdoors, and enhance their enjoyment of the environment with information such as pollution sensors.”

2. Give Button

For frictionless, easy donations, Save the Children introduced the physical Give button in 2017 with which people can make donations with just one push. These real-time donations give donors the instant gratification many of them seek.

The button is initially set up online with payment information and a fixed amount the donor wishes to donate every time they push the button. Then whenever they feel the need to contribute towards bringing about a change, they can act immediately  by just pushing the Give Button.

Sarah Fitzgerald O’Connor, senior innovation manager at Save the Children said: “With the Give Button, if they are at home and hear about children suffering and in crises around the world, they could choose to do something about it there and then without the effort of going to our website and filling in forms.”

3. Boston Strong T-shirts

After the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, which killed three people and injured at least 264, the slogan ‘Boston Strong’ started trending on social media. The slogan became Boston’s voice of unity and a sense of support as people dealt with the trauma of the bombing.

Wanting to do their bit for the community in the aftermath of the blasts, two students, Christopher Dobens and Nicholas Reynolds of Emerson College created the ‘Boston Strong’ charity shirts, supporting the One Fund Boston, formed to help survivors and victims’ families.

Over the next three years, they sold close to 70,000 shirts and raised over $1 million for the One Fund.

4. #DogSelfie 

In 2014, a devastating fire in Manchester Dogs’ Home killed 58 dogs and about 150 others had to be rescued.

The blaze sparked the #DogSelfie movement and people started posting pictures with their dogs and encouraging people to donate to the Dog’s home.

The selfies had a personal touch and connection that made it relatable. Celebrities such as comedian Ricky Gervais supported the viral campaign. The #DogSelfie tapped into people’s empathy as many identified with the tragedy. The campaign raised more than £750,000.

5. Movember 

Often people lack awareness of men’s health issues, especially something like prostrate cancer. In a patriarchal society, where there is a constant pressure on men to project themselves  as ‘strong’ and masculine, there is an imposed silence on mental  health issues and illnesses such as testicular and prostate cancers.

To change this, The Movember Foundation who claim to be “the only global charity focused solely on men’s health” started the annual Movember movement about 15 years ago to start a conversation about men’s health issues. Ever since, every year in November, men around the globe are challenged to grow a moustache.

Over the years millions have joined the movement and raised $769million which has funded over 1,200 projects focused on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

-Compiled by Anirudh Rao

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