Much like Nike’s immediately recognizable Swoosh, the “squiggle” is an iconic emblem of today’s NFT culture. And much like reissues of beloved Nike sneaker models, new releases of Squiggles NFTs appear in various colorways, have a low supply and uber-high demand, and fetch collector’s-item-level prices. For the latest Squiggles drop, creator Erick Calderon (aka Snowfro) went in a new direction: he auctioned off ten Squiggles and donated the proceeds to fund research for a cure for ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease.
After hours of intense bidding, Snowfro’s auction raised 149.02 ETH, a value of roughly $260,000 at the time of donation.
Auctioning off goods and experiences in exchange for donations is standard practice for fundraisers. But the sudden rise of NFT fundraising has caught the attention of nonprofit organizations around the globe. In many ways, Snowfro’s NFT auction is the perfect example of how NFTs can be used by nonprofits to tap into a growing cultural phenomenon while benefiting a great cause.
In the weeks leading up to the auction, artists, partners, and The ALS Association communicated to discuss details: how many pieces would be auctioned, the rules of the auction, how NFTs would be distributed, and how the crypto donation (made in Ethereum, a leading cryptocurrency) would be processed.
“Building partnerships in crypto fundraising isn’t the only way to be successful, but their impact is undeniable,” says Zoe Nawar, Web3 Partnerships & Community Manager at The Giving Block. “More nonprofits than ever are looking to tap into the generosity of crypto donors. Authentic relationships can be a pivotal stepping stone for fundraisers achieving success in this space.”
For NFT creators and charities hoping to replicate this kind of impact, here are a few lessons to take away from the success of the Squiggles charity auction:
1. Use influence for greater visibility. Calderon isn’t just the creator of Squiggles; he also founded Art Blocks, a leading NFT marketplace. The auction reached so many people thanks to the combination of his personal influence (his Twitter account @ArtOnBlockchain has nearly 100,000 followers) and his connection to a high-profile platform.
2. Build hype through scarcity. In the words of the announcement about the auction, Squiggles have “become an icon of contemporary generative art and Snowfro’s personal signature as an artist and developer.” Given that Squiggles NFTs are highly-coveted items, the auction relied on more than the desire to do good, it also tapped into the excitement of NFT culture.
3. Leverage partnerships to increase impact. Promotional articles and posts from partners VerticalCrypto Art (a curatorial house for art and culture on the blockchain), Right Click Save (an online magazine that curates critical thought on blockchain, NFTs, and Web3) and The Giving Block (a leading non-cash asset fundraising solution for nonprofits) helped to increase the potential number of bidders and potential press coverage for the auction.
4. Connect everything to a greater purpose. The ALS Association, the leading organization in global research to find a cure for ALS, a motor neuron disease. The comments under recap tweets (here, here and here, for example) are proof of the community’s excitement generated by the innovative NFT fundraiser.
5. Don’t wait and try to “time the market.” Following the ups and downs of the crypto narrative can make investors (and fundraisers) believe they’ve missed the best time to get involved. But on the contrary, crypto donors have shown that they’re passionate about charitable giving, no matter the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Plus, there are so many great ways to engage crypto donors during bear markets—using NFTs is just one method.
So where does NFT fundraising get all its hype from? To many fundraisers, it’s the ideal mix of empowering a donor base that’s excited to be making a difference, letting them give the way they want to give, and connecting authentically with the community.