Posted by: adrianawollney | November 4, 2019

Fundraising Tactics: The Good, The Bad, and Theranos

Chapter 7 of New Power discusses what motivates people to give to a cause, also known as crowdfunding. As evidenced by the Star Citizen example, one of the most powerful ways to spark donations is to combine altruistic and economic reasons – those who donate get something (recognition, an item, etc.) in return as well as knowing they have done something beneficial for society. However, more impactful is offering the chance to participate in the organization/item development process.

Some “new power” companies are viewed with a lens of irony: “almost-a-million bosses ended up imposing less oversight than the old power construct of a handful of key financial backers …” (133).

The lack of supervision, in some instances, can also lead to transparency issues within new power companies. One example includes Elizabeth Holmes and her company, Theranos. Holmes founded Theranos intending to increase accessibility and affordability of medical care through blood-testing machines that could supposedly diagnose diseases through a couple of drops of blood (Bilton). She raised nearly $1 billion from investors – note: her fundraising methods align more directly with old power funding skills; however from my research, Theranos maintained a combination of old and new power. Holmes committed one of the most significant cases of fraud to-date. She refused to disclose the company’s difficulty in designing functional blood machines, sent false test results to customers and forced secrecy throughout operations. Theranos encapsulates the challenge to balance philanthropy and business and makes a case for keeping some traditional oversight in place.


Heimans, J., & Timms, Henry. (2018). New power: How power works in our hyperconnected world –and how to make it work for you (First ed.).

Bilton, N. (2019, February 21). “She never looks back”: inside Elizabeth Holmes’s chilling final months at Theranos. Vanity Fair. Retrieved from

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