This morning I got really early so I could participate in a panel for a conference with UK NpTechers organized by Laura Whitehead. (See the conference page at Lasa’s website for further details). This social media for the nonprofit sector panel also included David Wilcox of Desigining for a Civil Society and Nick Booth from Podnosh.
I got Skyped in for 10-15 minutes for a Q&A with Laura and the audience. I shared some learnings from the recent America's Giving Challenge Campaign which raised a total of $93,000 (included the $50K prize) from 1829 donors (1650 official count on 1/31 at 3 PM EST) in 50 days. The points include:
(1) In the 5 campaigns I've done, it has evolved to a personal, socially networked fundraising campaign. Set up as experiments and learned and refined what works.
(2) Make it personal - not a speech from an organization, but a conversation from the heart
(3) If you really want them to love you, tell them a story. I described the three story telling strategies I used throughout the campaign.
(4) The hacked ladder of engagement - I'm noodling with this - it is a mash up of community organizer's ladder of engagement with personal fundraising campaigns and online social networks. What's important is that people go through different stages of involvement and participation in your campaign and your strategy has to move them along. You have to make it easy to participate.
The challenge is scaling your personal fundraising passion and getting other people to go out evangelize or instigate on your behalf. I've been analyzing the campaign for examples and insights which I'll probably talk about next week at GSP as part of "Giving Good Poke."
(5) The 3 R's Move Involvement: Relationship building, Rewards, and Reciprocity. I gave some examples.
(6) Fun! Humor! Passion! Urgency! Competition! work together to build momentum and can lead to tipping the tuna in the last legs of campaign.
(7) Saying thank you in creative ways to build a bridge to your charity/cause.
I got some terrific questions that got me thinking.
A.) Were donors from just the US? Were they one-time? Were they new donors?
The donors came from around the world literally. I think in all my campaigns combined I have donors from every continent. I have to do a geographic analysis. Roughly 35-40% new donors - 20% repeats or donated to more than one campaign (I don't have all the numbers from the last campaign - and I had tabulate with a spreadsheet -- the limitations of the back-end of some of the systems we've used)
B.) Was the effort worth your time?
I did this all volunteer, while still doing my day job. I lost a lot of sleep, but it was worth. How? Let's talk about dollars. Since my first campaign in November 2006, I've raised over $200,000 - half of that prize money from Yahoo/NetworkforGood and Parade/Case Foundation. We've more than doubled our email addresses/names in our database - so for prospecting it was valuable. Some softer benefits or intangibles - we have a great collection of stories about the impact of the work that we can recycle and use, the visibility for the organization has increased, we're cultivating some of the new donors for major gifts (not from the recent campaign, but previous ones - we're in the middle of $3 m endowment campaign), and the attitude of people within the organization has become more favorable towards social media and online fundraising.
C.) Was there anything that you feared by opening it up for your supporters to fundraise on your behalf? Were you concerned that they would go message, not include your branding, etc?
The Sharing Foundation is an all-volunteer organization - so we're not a big institution with paid staff and logos and branding and messaging. Also, I'm probably working more as an "extra organizational" activist - so I am unencumbered by these types of fears that might be imposed from within.
With that said, I did have a huge fear. That I would miss out on winning $50K for the Sharing Foundation. That drove me.
My advice to you is loose your fear gradually and incrementally over time. I did this with each of my campaigns - trying a small step towards "opening my kimono" until I was comfortable being naked. For example, my biggest fear in November 2006 was whether or not I should blog about or ask professional work colleagues to give money to my personal charity. So, each experiment was a small lesson in fearlessness.
Can't wait to do this again in a few hours with the repeat of the panel. Right now they're playing the social media game!