Your Money and careers writer for the NZ Herald

Diana Clement: Social media ups the stakes for fundraising online

In the era of the internet. there are some clever ways to raise money fast

Getting children involved in fundraising can be educational. Photo / Getty Images
Getting children involved in fundraising can be educational. Photo / Getty Images

It's a rare New Zealander who doesn't either give money to charity or fundraise. We all have a favourite charity we support or have friends raising money for anything from Dry July to the SPCA, Epilepsy NZ and hundreds of others.

Lately, I've donated to several fundraising events being championed by friends and helped my son raise $1,100.

In the era of the internet, there are some clever ways to raise money fast. In our case, my son, a Scout, did a good chunk of his fundraising by selling junk from around our house on Trade Me. He'd come home from school, get his iPod out, and list one or two items using the Trade Me app. I handled questions, but when the sale went through, he had to parcel the item, email the buyer and call the courier.

Five dollars here, $10 there and the occasional $50 when the bidders lost their marbles and he'd soon raised several hundred dollars (and helped to declutter my house).

Our Scout fundraising included traditional methods such as selling products - in our case chocolate and Jesters pies - doing a fundraising BBQ at Bunnings Warehouse in Wairau Park and participating in a sponsored "Half Hillary Hike" in the Waitakeres.

Social media ups the stakes considerably for fundraising. Sandringham resident Rebecca Dyke, who is raising $3,000 for The Ride To Conquer Cancer, impressed me. I came across Dyke when I bought an item from her on Trade Me. She asked me to deposit my payment straight into her fundraising page. This encouraged me to donate more than the purchase price for my item.

Dyke's fundraising page posts on Facebook every time a donation is received. "(Friends) can see it on their timelines so it promotes the cause while also reminding the people who haven't donated yet that they need to," she told me this week. "People have found it easy to donate."

The Ride to Conquer Cancer's top fundraiser, Johanna Chambers, had raised $9,136 of her $15,000 goal by Tuesday. She encourages people to donate with regular blog posts about her fundraising and training for the Ride To Conquer Cancer.

Sometimes, the fundraising idea is as simple as it is clever. One Ride To Conquer Cancer fundraiser asked all his Facebook friends to donate "a cup of coffee" to his fundraising effort.

Who could turn down a $4 donation? Every time a friend donated, it appeared on his Facebook page.

This crowd-funding approach to fundraising is growing rapidly. The idea, says Lee Hales, marketing manager at, is that someone creates a fundraising page and then shares that via social media to extend its reach.

This attracts three types of donors, says Hales. There are the friends and family who will support the person regardless of what the cause is, contacts who donate because they support the cause and, if the fundraising page goes viral, complete strangers who like the story. One of the great things about a Givealittle page is that that Granny from Invercargill or uncle Bob in London can get their credit cards out and contribute to the cause with ease.

In the past someone in London or somewhere else overseas might not have considered posting a cheque or cash.

It's free to set up a Givealittle fundraising page because the site is owned by the Telecom Foundation, which bankrolls its costs. That means every dollar donated goes to the cause, which doesn't need to be a registered charity. About 60 per cent of donations on Givealittle go to personal causes such as raising money for medical treatments, education or international sporting events.

We often think of the cause when talking about fundraising. The fundraiser also benefits from the experience.

For example, I baulked at the idea of Scouts raising money (compulsorily) for jamboree when their parents could afford to pay for the trip.

Thanks to our jamboree experience, I'm now sold on the idea of fundraising by children. My son learned some valuable life lessons in the process. Niamh Lawless, chief executive of Scouts New Zealand, says some of those lessons include:

• Planning, prioritisation, marketing and entrepreneurial skills
• teamwork
• valuing money and basic budgeting
• developing self-esteem, confidence, public speaking ability
• building a sense of connection and gratitude to their wider community
• stretching them outside their comfort zone
• taking ownership of a cause
• making the cause all the more valuable.

What's more, some Kiwis do events to raise money that they will remember for life. The website, for instance, organises fundraising trips to events such as The Mongol Derby - the longest and toughest horse race in the world. Last year Kiwi Sam Wyborn raised $25,310 on Givealittle for the Fred Hollows foundation by participating in the 1000km event.

Another fundraising website that might be of interest to readers is, which operates slightly differently to Givealittle. Donors can pledge certain amounts of money, but it is not debited from their credit cards unless the target is met by a certain date.

PledgeMe pages are often dedicated to personal causes. For example, the band Black River Drive has been invited to work with musician Toby Wright at The Sound Emporium in Nashville later this year but needs to raise $20,000 to make it happen. Like many Pledge Me pages, the band offers rewards for donations. For example, for a $30 donation the donor gets an MP3 album download and signed CD. Or for $55 you get a handwritten postcard from the band when it's in Nashville, a CD and download.

On Tuesday, 21-year-old Karli Haugh's Pledge Me page had exceeded its $1,000 target to pay for her to attend the Triathlon Worlds in London.

One advantage of online fundraising pages over traditional methods is the discussion, which often motivates others to give. If you see a message of encouragement from a mutual friend, you might be motivated to give yourself.

Givealittle's home page also lists the latest donations and comments from those who have given, which really bring the stories to life. As I watched the Givealittle page this week, Barbara Hodges of Baxter Healthcare donated $100 to the NZ Organisation for Rare Disorders (NZORD) and "Beth and Shannon" donated an anonymous amount to Skotty Walton, who is raising money for leukaemia treatment. The donation took the total donated to Walton to $510.

It's worth noting that donations over $5 to charity events via these online fundraising pages are tax-deductible.

In the past, they would often have been paid in cash to a friend and would have missed out on tax refunds. Those $5, $10 or $20 payments here and there can add up over a year.

As well as clever fundraising ideas, a successful fundraiser will employ strategy, says David Living, director of the Payroll Giving Foundation. The first point is to have a compelling story for why people should give support. "Be selective in who you approach. Better to do one or two really good fundraisers a year and not over-ask your friends, family and community," says Living.

He adds that people take their cue from how others are supporting you or your cause.

"Research shows that the size of previous donations and how close you are to your fundraising goal motivate how others support you," he says.

"So go out to your key supporters first to get your fundraising total moving along - a donation of $50 will attract higher following donations than when people follow a previous donation of $5.

"Research from supporter pages from the likes of running and cycling events [overseas] show that up to the following 30 donations can be affected by the initial donations on a page."

Anyone who plans to fundraise should Google the "psychology of fundraising" and look at a lot of personal fundraising pages to get ideas of what works and what doesn't.

- NZ Herald

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Your Money and careers writer for the NZ Herald

Diana Clement is a freelance journalist who writes about personal finance and careers. She has worked as a journalist for more than 25 years in both New Zealand and the UK. Diana has contributed to a large number of local and international publications. Her pet topic is the secrets of saving money.

Read more by Diana Clement

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