$11.1 million. As of this morning, that's how much money the Seattle Foundation's GiveBIG campaign raised for King County nonprofits yesterday—up from $7.4 million in 2012, and tripling the $3.6 million raised in the inaugural year. It's an impressive report, and great news for the county's 1,400 nonprofits. But does the end justify the means? That's what nonprofit communications consultant Joy Portella wondered in a Seattle Times op-ed on May 12, criticizing the blast of "GiveBIG to [my nonprofit!]" emails that flooded our inboxes in the runup to the 24-hour giving spree.
"There is nothing new about nonprofits being competitive. But GiveBIG accentuates this aspect of nonprofit culture to the point of it being unsavory, and possibly even counterproductive.
Who wins in this structure? Often, it’s the large nonprofits that have clearly recognizable brands and sophisticated online marketing systems to reach a mass audience. The three nonprofits that garnered the greatest number of gifts in 2012 were Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, the Seattle Public Library Foundation and KCTS TV."
It's an interesting notion, that Seattleites in particular would be turned off by anything considered aggressive. But I personally can withstand a few days of email bombs if it delivers millions to charities, millions that didn't exist before. I hope that my favorite arts organizations received some of the shared wealth, and if they didn't, I'll get even louder about GiveBIG next year.