Last year I used Chipin to help raise funds for an Opportunity International Australia fundraiser for Filipino Women to get out of poverty. Some amazing people around the world – people I had never met in person – rallied together and donated to help 12 women start their own businesses.
Yes, Chipin was an interesting way to collect money. Especially for a mum like me who had only experienced fundraising through preschool raffle tickets, school chocolate boxes, mango trays and and yes, even apple slinkies. I had a goal of $10,000 to create a Trust Group and I needed something that would work online, so that my social network could make a difference
I’m not sure that I’ll use Chipin again.
Why? In an attempt to explain, here are 5 things you should consider if you’re planning to use Chipin. (*note, this was my experience last year and some of this may have changed. I’d love to hear about your own experience)
1. You Can’t Extend The End Date of Your Chipin
I was counting heavily on the last 24 hours of fundraising, because of the Twitter ramp-up to the finish line. I was tweeting like crazy. Others were re-tweeting. People were donating. What a buzz. And then I get a note from someone telling me they can’t donate because the Chipin has expired. WHAT? I had one more day, surely? Unfortunately, Chipin’s timezone is different to my timezone. Once my Chipin expired I couldn’t extend the date. My Chipin had ENDED and I couldn’t reopen it. I lost at least one $50 donation, maybe more.
2. People Couldn’t Work Out How To Pay
Too many people told me they wanted to donate, but couldn’t figure out the conversion rate and left the site. Remember, you need to make it simple for people when asking themto donate online. In the end, I created a Paypal donation button for Australian donors in addition to the Chipin on my fundraiser blog. It would have been nice if Chipin could have done this too. The Paypal process was easy, the only drawback being the lack of social interaction (comments, sharing etc.)
Also some people couldn’t see how to pay by credit card (it’s not glaringly obvious if you don’t use Paypal) so I had some people request to donate directly into my bank account instead.
3. The Figures Didn’t Add Up (at least, not in the widget)
As you can see, this created a bit of a mess, as some donations were now being made in US dollars through Chipin, some in Australian dollars through Paypal, and some directly to me. The benefit was people could choose how they wanted to pay, so I didn’t miss out on donations. The drawback was that only the US dollar donations were being updated in the Chipin widget. It would have been nice to have some flexibility in the admin to manually enter cash donations into the status bar. For example “Chipin donations plus$X cash donations = $90% of total funds raised”.
4. Don’t Use Chipin During a Financial Crisis
Well, what I mean is this – because people donated using US Dollars and suddenly the Australian dollar went up, and the US dollar went down, down, down – some of the initial donations lost a few dollars in conversion rates. For this reason, it’s probably not so good for long term global fundraisers. It meant extra work for me in admin (keeping an eye on the conversion rates, withdrawing from paypal) and account keeping too. It might have worked for a 3 day fundraiser. But in my case I was raising funds over quite a few months from different parts of the world.
5. Chipin Doesn’t Offer Individual Admin Support
I had one particular, important issue I needed Chipin to fix on my Chipin fundraiser. Chipin is free to use, so there isn’t much admin support, just FAQs. In fact, there is no longer any individual support AT ALL. I used their form (now removed) and sent several urgent requests on the same topic. I didn’t receive a single reply. Not an email. Not a tweet. Nothing. This wouldn’t have been so bad if I had more admin functionality. I could have fixed the problem myself.
There were probably a few more things, like their blogging functionality is horrible and there were no alternatives to their Flash generated widget (so I couldn’t put it on this WordPress hosted site ….shhhh) but I think you get the picture. At least, I hope so.
Next time I use a service like Chipin, I’ll probably pay a small fee per transaction for a service like Everyday Hero. This woman is using their service to raise funds for parent beds in a Children’s Hospital (I heard about it via MiscMum)
There are other fundraising sites like Give A Little and Greater Giving. And I have to say, despite it’s shortcomings and my own learnings, Chipin – along with the microfinance fundraiser blog and other social media -allowed me to reach people outside of my own local community. So I’m glad I did it!
What do you think – is Chipin easy to use or do you prefer other social fundraising sites? What’s your experience?
(Note, I’ve been meaning to write this post for aaaages, but @digitalkulcha prompted me in a Tweet today as @silkcharm mentioned it in her session at ConnectNow – see slide 37. This post is for you both!)