The Big Give For Autism: A showcase of the power of crowdfunding

Raising a total of $133,413 through 1,176 gifts toward autism initiatives worldwide, The Big Give For Autism, a brand-new event launched last year by the Autism Society, was a crowdfunding success no matter what metric you consider.

Held over the course of a single day, Sept. 17, 2015, The Big Give For Autism became both a fundraising event and an opportunity to teach the general public about an often misunderstood condition. The daylong push is an excellent showcase of how crowdfunding can be used to raise large sums of money and plenty of awareness around an important issue.

At the Washington Nonprofit Conference hosted next month by the DMA Nonprofit Federation, two of the leaders of The Big Give For Autism will elaborate on their approach. At the “The Autism Society’s Big Give For Autism: A Model for Mastering Crowdfunding” session Feb. 18, many secrets to nonprofit crowdfunding will be revealed. The discussion will take place between Michael Leaver, the director of development at the Autism Society, and Miriam Kagan, the senior principal at Kimbia, the online fundraising platform that hosted the event.

When first unveiled a few years ago, crowdfunding seemed like a godsend for nonprofits attempting to raise money in the crowded digital sphere. Now that many crowdfunding sites are oversaturated themselves with nonprofits and causes of all stripes, it remains difficult to make an impact. The challenges can seem even more insurmountable for older institutions without the resources or time to research next-generation funding trends.

However, The Big Give For Autism shows it is definitely possible to overcome the online noise – and the Autism Society just turned 50. When done right, single-day crowdfunding events can bring in an impressive return-on-investment and new donors in the double digits. This case study will show how the Autism Society used crowdfunding best practices and lessons learned during their successful first-time giving event, The Big Give For Autism.

“The Autism Society chose to host a giving day because of the model’s proven ability to reach across communities, channels and segments to unite supporters, partners and donors,” Kimbia noted in a statement before the event. “The organization also cited the opportunity to raise significant new dollars, recruit new donors and increase awareness of their cause as reasons for organizing a giving day event.”

The Kimbia platform was well-suited for the Autism Society’s needs because the team has pioneered the strategy behind single-day events. For The Big Give For Autism, Kimbia partnered with the Autism Society to help develop the giving day website, marketing materials, social media calls-to-action and an email, plus an offline campaign for constituents at the national level.

“The Autism Society has the perfect structure to do an event like this,” Amy Zumbahlen, The Big Give for Autism Project Manager at Kimbia, said in a release. “We love to see friendly competition help an organization grow brand awareness locally and nationally.”

Autism, which has recently been reclassified as Autism Spectrum Disorder by psychologists and also includes conditions like Aspergers syndrome, is prevalent in the American public’s mind but often in an obtuse way. Autism is often in the news but not in a way that pushes people to donate to groups like the Autism Society. Positive events like The Big Give For Autism, though, can take this renewed awareness and turn it into action.   

“The prevalence of Autism has nearly doubled since 2004, driving higher associated costs and a truly urgent need for our programs that assist families impacted by the disorder,” Leaver said in a statement. “Working with the Kimbia team, platform and best practices approach will ensure that we engage seamlessly across all of our stakeholders while providing a simple, secure donation process.”

This article is brought to you by the DMA. Click here to register for Nonprofit Federation Conference, Feb. 18-19, 2016, in Washington, D.C