My post over at Katya's blog generated some excellent advice and has also raised many more questions. I'm taking a deep breath to capture the learnings and roll them into the next steps for my personal fundraising campaign on behalf of the Sharing Foundation's College Sponsorship Program and Leng Sopharath.
My campaign goal is $750 by December 31, 2006. I'm sitting here in awe that you all have helped me raised $261 from 11 donors (Thurs. Nov. 16 AM) over the last two days. I can't tell how much it warms the cockles of my heart to see that little campaign thermontor go up!
Have a question: I want to publically acknowledge the names of the donors here on this blog and what I don't know is whether donors opted to be anonymous or not? Is that built into the system? What's the protocol?
So far, other bloggers have added the badge to their site or linked to the campaign and I want say a big thanks and in Khmer too! (and, if you linked and I don't have you on radar yet - leave me a comment)
Emily Weinberg from the Nonprofit Blog Exchange
Michelle Martin from the Bamboo Project
ChipIn News Blog
CrowdFunding (that is that awesome vlogger Sull)
First-of-its-Kind (Peter Dietz - excellent advice on how to go about these campaigns)
My Cambodian blogger colleagues have linked or posted about the campaign.
Mongkol, a Cambodian college student who is studying in the US on a Fullbright Scholarship and knows the importance of a college education had this to say.
Tharum, who I had the pleasure of meeting via my work with Global s, has linked to the Campaign.
I also want to thank Ken Goldstein for sharing with his network on YouTube.
Created the campaign materials (blog post, text messaging, widget, widget campaign page, video, and photos) and message (such as it is) based on the a comment that Katya made about personal fundraising campaigns: (here)
The key is to let people upload their own text, photos, or video about why they care about a cause and then link to the cause. It can't be about the cause so much as the messenger.
I used the ChipIn campaign page feature. I created some template language to cut and paste into emails, skype/im pings, and thank you messaging, etc.
I scanned, uploaded, and organized photos of Leng as well as our communications into photo sets on flickr. In the descriptions, I added the URL to the campaign page.
I create two versions of the campaign video, one for YouTube and on Revver. I did two because ChipIn only integrates with YouTube on the campaign (the player can be easily emedded) and Revver because they pay users for content based on ad click thrus.
What I didn't think about
-Like duh. Should have set up a campaign tag to track blog posts, etc. What a dork I am! The campaign tag is: sopharath
2. Launch Announcements
I decided not to broadcast this out to everyone I know. I wanted to start with my blog readers and nonprofit tech colleagues and Cambodian blogger colleagues.
I posted an announcement of the campaign on my blog
and on Netsquared
Posted a guest blog post at Katya's blog soliciting campaign advice in exchange to share my learnings.
I pinged some nonprofit technology and cambodian blogger colleagues via skype or email, asking for campaign advice.
In the past, I've solicited mostly friends and family for fundraising causes. Soliciting professional colleagues is a little out of my comfort zone as I'm worried about crossing a line. That's part of the reason why I've shaped it as a learning opportunity. I've been flabbergasted by the generous donations from colleagues of their money, their advice, and links.
Unanswered Questions and next steps
These were initial questions jumping into this. I'm summarizing some observations, comments, and advice.
What advice would you give to your supporters so they are successful in a group fundraising campaign? What do I need to think about?
The message is really important and it has to focus on why you are passionate about the cause and the results of raising the money.
If you're raising money for nonprofit, remember that you are an ambassador the cause and what you say and do reflects the organization. So, be sure to thank your donors promptly, etc. So, how do you give your supporters the freedom to run with it while ensuring that it won't backfire?
I'm on the board of the ngo that I'm doing this campaign. At our last board meeting, we discussed online fundraising strategies and I made a proposal about using the fundraising widget and a campaign. Given that we're all volunteer organization and almost all our fundraising is grassroots - the approach was not a mismatch with our culture.
What is the checklist?
I'm not a marketing or fundraising professional. I am technology trainer, evaluator, curriculum developer, and blogger. So, I really need reap experience to create a checklist, templates, and a worksheet. I think its really ironic that I'm often hired to create such tools, but because I have not done a fundraising widget campaign I felt I needed to plunge in. By the end of the experience, will
have some beginnings of a checklist, templates, and worksheets.
What internal issues does this bring up for you?
I suspect in some, if not many, organizations - there may be some control issues. How much are do you have hand over control of the look, feel, and messaging of your campaign materials to the personal fundraiser? Will it still be authentic if you give template messaging? What happens if you don't like the way the personal fundraiser has represented your NGO? What do you do?
My only concern about this down the road is that of potential misrepresentation. What is some jerk decides to go out and fundraise for my cause, collect money, and pocket it?
Britt Bravo also brought an excellent question campaign tracking of widgets (to thank donors) and whether or not their gifts are tax-deductible.
Personally, I would like the ability for the donations to be linked to TSF's DonateNow account or checking account. Is that possible? Also, can an email with EIN number suffice as a tax receipt? And, given that most of the donations are really relatively small gifts, do donors expect, want, need tax documentation. And, some of my donors are from outside US, so it may not be necessary in my case. What is the best practice here?
What should I try doing next?
I got some great ideas for the next round of the campaign that is if the internal issue questions don't stop me from going any further with this experiment. What do you think?
I'm now reading and rereading marketing 101 advice like this and thinking about it.
My initial brainstorm:
-forward the video in YouTube to cambodian groups and appropriate contacts
-forward the flickr photos to cambodian group and appropriate contacts
-post the campaign on Cambodia4Kids blog and send email to adoptive parent network
-post about the campaign on the parent sites that I write for
Additional ideas posted in the comments:
* blog about the progress of your ChipIn campaign so that you keep it in the RSS and search stream. And give those blog posts good technorati tags so people can find them.
* Send your contacts in LinkedIn a note about what you’re doing and ask ‘em to spread the word
* heck, ping your skype contacts and ask them to share
* drop emails to appropriate bloggers and ask ‘em to share your message. It’s amazing how many times a good message works on me. And on the bloggers I read.
* thank the folks that do the blogging and keep them up-to-date on your progress
* engage people in a conversation about the cause
* Try to make connections with local college students in your area. They know the advantages of a college education, can relate to Leng Sopharath as a fellow student, and are tapped in to loads of social networks (Facebook, MySpace, et al). If they get excited by your cause, they can spread the word rapidly. College students are excellent small-time fundraisers, and will often throw benefit parties.
* make sure that you publicize the fact that the chip in code is portable, encourage others to post it on their sites.
* Create a thank you video to acknowledge donors as part of your campaign update and read her letter
* throw a fundraiser/houseparty. keep it simple - have some video you can show, ask folks to bring a bottle of their favorite wine or some cheese and their checkbooks (old fashioned, but could work especially around holiday time).
* use your social network to help you with the campaign. Your goal is $750. If just two or three of your friends each posted the ChipIn widget with accompanying video, pictures and text to their site, you would now have four people all working to fundraise.
* Continue to talk about the fundraiser in multiple posts, updating and describing the cause or event.
Another thing you can try is to get people to Digg the story as they read it. (Hey, someone added to digg)
* create some badges, wallpaper, t-shirt decals, etc. that could be available for free download from your site, making it easy for people to spread the word. Don’t know how do-able that is for you, but it’s a thought.