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,” said 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.”
Wagner, 56, is using some of the billions he’s made from being Mark Cuban’s partner in Broadcast.com and other media and entertainment ventures to create a one-stop shop for philanthropic fundraising.
Today, only 6 percent of giving is done online. “Digital is 20 times more efficient per person hour in raising money,” Wagner said. “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 and e-mails does not an online strategy make. “That’s like saying, ‘I have one technology person, and now I have a technology company,’” Wagner said.
Last year, playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda wanted to share the bounty from his sensation, “Hamilton,” with a cause near to his heart, the Hispanic Federation. So the 37-year-old winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama used Wagner’s sweepstakes subsidiary, Prizeo, to offer two pairs of tickets to Miranda’s final Broadway performance and a chance to hang out with the star as the grand prize. The sweepstakes brought in more than $2 million.
Wagner launched content production company Chideo in Dallas three years ago. In 2015, he bought Los Angeles-based Prizeo and then New York-based Charitybuzz, which holds global online charity auctions. A year ago, he formed Charity Network and put everything under its umbrella with offices in all three cities.
It also has a network that includes Sinclair Broadcast Group, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and Delta Air Lines distributing its content.
In March, Wagner bought Global Philanthropy Group in LA, which advises celebrities and foundations on how best to put their largesse to good use. Expenses are split, with the charity typically getting 80 percent of the net proceeds and Charity Network the remainder. Last year, that meant more than $40 million for good causes.