Nonprofit Matters - Dr. B.J. Bischoff


New concept in online fundraising

Representatives from 20 different Sonoma Valley nonprofits gathered for a presentation last week to learn about a new concept in user-friendly online fundraising called Charity of Choice.

Launched just two years ago in the Sonoma area for the Echelon Gran Fondo bicycling series, Charity of Choice has expanded to a full social media engine serving charity events in all sectors and has helped approximately 100 nonprofits throughout the country raise over $1.2 million to date.  CEO and Tiburon resident Hunter Ziesing said, “Our mission is to increase constituency growth and following, and in particular for smaller nonprofits.”

Currently, Charity of Choice is primarily geared to enable a nonprofit to raise funds around a single event or to provide the infrastructure for an individual to raise funds on behalf of a nonprofit or charitable cause. For example, Nancy King, executive director of Sonoma’s Pets Lifeline, used Charity of Choice as a vehicle to personally raise $2,190 from friends, family, and colleagues on behalf of Pets Lifeline for her participation as a rider in last month’s Sonoma Gran Fondo bicycle race.

Deirdre Sheerin, CEO of Sweetwater Spectrum, has also used Charity of Choice to raise funds for events. Sheerin commented, “I am very pleased with our experience in raising funds through Charity of Choice.”

School sports teams needing to raise money for equipment, individuals wishing to raise funds to support a local charity through their participation in a walking or running race, couples getting married who would prefer for guests to make contributions to their favorite nonprofit, or families bereaving the death of a loved one who request for contributions to be made to a special charity in lieu of flowers are all perfect candidates for Charity of Choice. It literally takes less than five minutes for someone to set up a fundraising campaign on Charity of Choice There is no cost to run a campaign; instead, Charity of Choice takes a 4.5 percent processing fee plus a $1 transaction fee per donation. Zeising said, “We’re already a cost leader in social fundraising and are hoping to bring that cost down in the future.”

The services provided by Charity of Choice for each secure donation and included in their fees include automatically sending a thank you/tax deduction receipt to each donor, tracking each donor’s contribution through an online display of total funds raised toward goal, and providing an automatic daily transfer of funds to the nonprofit beneficiary. In addition, Charity of Choice allows donors to immediately connect to their contacts via email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and a variety of other online tools.

Sonoma Councilmember Laurie Gallian introduced Ziesing at last week’s presentation and commented, “This is new philanthropy for the new millennium. I am very impressed with Hunter’s passion for Charity of Choice and I have full confidence in him.” During the presentation, Councilmember Gallian read a letter she received from Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin, stating, “A number of local nonprofits have already begun participating in Charity of Choice, and funds have begun to flow to those nonprofits. I applaud this platform and am proud to note that it got started right here in Sonoma.”

The Charity of Choice presentation was hosted by its Sonoma Valley ambassador, Sheana Davis, of The Epicurian Connection. Davis said, “Charity of Choice fits within my business concept of serving local nonprofits.”  Davis’ concept of serving nonprofits includes setting aside one day per month for a local nonprofit to receive 10-20 percent of that day’s receipts, plus income from a reception, raffle, or silent auction the nonprofit may conduct at Davis’ facility later that evening.

Go to Mycharity of choice.com to learn more about Charity of Choice to determine if it’s a good fundraising fit for you and your favorite Sonoma Valley nonprofit.

Dr. B.J. Bischoff owns Bischoff Performance Improvement Consulting, a Sonoma firm that builds the capacity of nonprofit organizations and public sector agencies to better serve their stakeholders. She is President of Impact100 Sonoma, leads the Sonoma Valley Presidents Council and serves on the Sonoma Upstream Investments Portfolio Review Committee as an appointee of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. Contact her at bjbischoff@bjbischoff.com.

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