Sent this off after some wild, though not misplaced, enthusiasm for Kickstarter, Indiegogo and a few other newish online fundraising services; the soft lead-in and enthusiastic closing paragraph are not included.

No fundraising tool will replace an engaged membership who well-understands the necessity for monetarily supporting the organization’s activities. Yes, a certain tool may be marginally more effective for certain kinds of asks or circumstances, but the common framing of tools (especially new/hot online tools) as alternatives to the regular grind of individual giving and relationship development (“cultivation”) is a LIE.

When evaluating any tool, the questions to ask is:

  1. Why is our existing fundraising strategy/planning insufficient to meet the need for which this tool is the (potential/alleged) solution?

  2. Why can’t we ask our membership to fund the need directly or through existing channels?

Which is not to take a reactive stance against any adoption of any new tool, but to ensure that we are investing in creating a stable base of individual donors who will fund us regularly and consistently—and building the organizational capacity to ask people for their money honestly, confidently and DIRECTLY.

See also FreeGeek Chicago’s Funding Statement; an excerpt:

We believe these questions should be kept in mind when pursing funding:

  • How does funding sustain or improve something FreeGeek Chicago already does?

  • How does funding make FreeGeek more sustainable?

  • Who provides the funding? Do their values and behavior match FreeGeek’s mission and values?

  • Has FreeGeek planned for the time when funding runs out? Where does it leave us?

  • What forms of overhead does the funding create? Do we have the organizational resources to properly manage the transactions?

  • What forms of accountability go along with the funding?

  • How could the obligations of funding affect our organizational structure and community process?

  • Can the goals of a funding source be better filled by another organization (either existing or to be created) outside of FreeGeek?

  • Does the funder require personal information from participants? Are we comfortable asking for that information?