How to measure the effectiveness of GiveBig and other “day of giving” campaigns?

Today, May 15, is GiveBig, Seattle’s third annual “day of giving” event. Created by the Seattle Foundation in 2011, the idea is to focus attention on charitable giving, raise the public profile of the Seattle Foundation and of course raise some dough. There are similar events in many other cities now, and even a national “GivingTuesday” event right after Thanksgiving.

But how do we know whether GiveBig and similar day of giving type events are really working?

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Tips, Tricks and Hacks considered harmful

Michael is once again spot-on, although he buries his lede a bit:

If I were to write a description of an online seminar for nonprofits that captures what I see going on, it would probably be something like this:

    Title: Don’t Fall Behind in Raising Money: 27 Free Tips, Tricks, and Hacks for Online Fundraising

    This description might even work, right? But it has all the symptoms of fast fix obsession. It elevates and preys on nonprofit anxiety. It throws in some brand name buzzwords to leverage the appeal of the latest cool thing. Most importantly, it promises to reduce online fundraising to a set of tiny quick wins.

    You can’t afford to fall behind. Those online donors are being scooped up by organizations that are on the ball when it comes to Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and all the other places new donors are hanging out. With this webinar, you’ll have the secrets for getting your share. Each of the 27 online fundraising tips, tricks, and hacks are free and can be implemented in minutes!

Don’t get me wrong: Quick wins are great. As students, we all need the
feeling that we can hit the ground running and see at least some
immediate progress for our efforts. This is especially true when we’re
working on large projects. But the quick wins have become an end in
themselves, rather than just another part of a balanced toolkit for

This misplaced emphasis on fast fixes is truly harmful in several ways.
(1) After delivering some quick satisfaction, it sets us up for
disappointment when those tips don’t add up to anything. (2) It
encourages sloppy thinking on the part of both students and teachers,
generating lists of vaguely related ideas rather than coherent
frameworks for thinking about the topic. (3) It fails to build the
underlying strategies that in turn would make tips genuinely effective.
(4) By asking so little of us, it appeals to and encourages our worst

We can do better than this.