All or nothing: The new frontier for fundraising

25 August 2016

Traditional fundraising models are getting a shake-up with the rise of online crowdfunding platforms and a game-inspired approach to getting audiences interested.

For some of us, our first experience with fundraising came through a box of Cadbury chocolates. Whether we we were helping our school, sporting team or local charity, every Caramello Koala counted.

Imagine if you were told you’d only get those funds if you sold the whole box. Every single chocolate. There’d be more pressure, that’s for sure, but adding this competitive edge – and a clear sense of a win versus a loss – might also compel you to get creative in how you’re finding Freddo-buying audiences.

That idea – minus the chocolate, of course – is known as the “all or nothing” approach to fundraising and, thanks to the rise of crowdfunding sites, like StartSomeGood, it’s helping raise the profile of important projects that would otherwise struggle to receive public awareness or financial support.

And when it comes to crowdfunding online, Tom Dawkins (CEO of StartSomeGood), says entrepreneurial organisations aimed at doing good often fare better than conventional charities.


“Traditional charities operate on a scarcity model where the funding is never enough,” explains Dawkins. “So you focus on scrounging whatever you can get.”

Social enterprises, says Dawkins, often fundraise through a different model, setting a specific monetary target precisely because that number matters. For instance, a socially responsible sandal company might need $7,500 to train Indigenous Queensland women in leather work and manufacturing, or a volunteer organisation could require $10,000 to send abandoned and unused bicycles to African communities. Until they raise the full amount, that project can’t actually occur.

Success rates on StartSomeGood show that selecting the “all or nothing” fundraising approach over “keep what you raise” is more likely to garner the full amount for a campaign.

Dawkins tell us it’s about “game dynamics”.

“In crowdfunding, a clear line of success or failure rallies communities much more effectively,” he says. “If your project is perceived as needing that money, it can make a difference and add urgency.”

So maybe there’s a different fundraising model we can teach our kids in school. Whether they’re selling chocolates – or socially responsible sandals – applying game dynamics can make the experience more inclusive, financially beneficial and fun.


Tom Dawkins spoke at Purpose Sydney in 2015. To find out more about StartSomeGood, visit the website here.


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