Goodbye, Galas: Dallas Entrepreneur Works To Help Nonprofits Step Up Their Digital Game

By Cheryl Hall
The Dallas Morning News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Forget black-tie galas in a hotel ballroom, the future of fundraising is digital. That’s according to one entrepreneur who is creating a one-stop shop for philanthropic fundraising.


Todd Wagner is warning nonprofits to go digital in their fundraising efforts or die from natural causes in the not-too-distant future.

“Technology is a freight train coming down a mountain,” says the billionaire philanthropist. “It is not going to stop. It’s only going to go faster. And either nonprofits embrace it or they get run over by it.”

So the 56-year-old founder and CEO of Dallas-based Charity Network is offering them a death-defying route.

Wagner is using some of the billions he’s made from being Mark Cuban’s partner in and other media and entertainment ventures to create a one-stop shop for philanthropic fundraising.

He’s assembled four subsidiaries in a network that holds global online auctions and sweepstakes, produces videos and commercials, creates broadcast content and comes up with ways to make sure that donated money is being put to its best and most-leveraged use.

Forget black-tie galas in a hotel ballroom attended by aging boomers that cost too much and raise too little, Wagner says.

Stick to traditional forms of bringing in bucks and you probably won’t be around in 10 years because your donor base is aging out.

“I always say, ‘If you know 20 people who will each write a million-dollar check, good for you. But for everyone else, you need digital,’ ” Wagner says.

Today, a staggeringly low 6 percent of giving is done online.

“Digital is 20 times more efficient per person hour in raising money,” says Wagner.” We’re going to put real statistics behind this.”

If you want to reach millennials, you’ve got to become part of their digital landscape, he says. And hiring one person to handle Tweets, posts, emails and God knows what else that’s about to come to the forefront does not an online strategy make.
“That’s like saying, ‘I have one technology person, and now I have a technology company,’ ” Wagner says.

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