Before I go further, I have thank everyone for the early birthday present - a donation to the Sharing Foundation. In less than 24 hours, I've raised $806 to help children in Cambodia using a new feature in Facebook Causes.
January 11th is my 52nd birthday and even though I'm an official member of AARP, I couldn't wait for my birthday this year. Why? Every year I do a fundraising campaign using social media. Last year, when I turned 51, I posted a challenge on my blog - could I get 51 people to donate $10 to the Sharing Foundation? And, yes they did! For my 50th birthday, I held a 50th Birthday Card Flickr Photo Remix Party
Well, a few weeks ago, I read a blog post by Amy Sample Ward about Birthday Causes, This new feature lets individuals on Facebook create a birthday fundraising campaign as part of a Cause. It's easy to set up. It lets you ask your friends for donations instead of presents and makes it easy to thank them.
After donating $26 to FreeGeek to honor Amy's 26th birthday, I went poking around Causes to see if I could install the application. The folks at Causes are controlling the installation. This is a good way to avoid application fatique and a great way to build interest in the application. As soon as I read and contributed to Amy's campaign, I knew I wanted to set up my own campaign for the Sharing Foundation.
Not two minutes had passed after I set up my birthday campaign and added it to my profile, I got pinged from Facebook friends asking how they could install it. The short answer: you have to wait until two weeks before your birthday and you most likely receive the email from Causes if you have installed the application.
Yesterday, two weeks before my birthday, I got this email.
Thanks to Facebook, in two weeks all of your friends will see that it's your birthday. Instead of just writing on your wall, or giving you something you don't need, what if they had a chance to help a cause you believe in? Whether you want to raise money for clean water in Ethiopia, vaccinations for children in Haiti, or a safe home for a puppy in Mississipi, with a Birthday Cause your friends can give in honor of your special day.
The email directed me to a set up page where I selected a Cause from the too many I've installed on my profile There was also a recommendation from Causes which was for CharityWater. There was link to the Charity for more information, but it made wonder how they are selecting these recommendations. It would be good to spread the love.
The set up page was easy to set up, but you are only given a limited number of options for the fundraising pitch. You can ask 5, 10, or 20 friends for as many dollars as you are in years. So, in my case, the campaign goal was:
- 5 friends donate $52 = $255
- 10 friends donate $52 = $510
- 20 friends donate $52 = $1,020
I've never lied about my age (okay, once when I was senior in high school), but I was tempted to say I was younger because the trend is with micro gifts, smaller gifts. $52 isn't a huge amount, but it is more than the cost of a latte. But the overall goal would have been smaller (I'm guessing). So, I added some messaging that any amount would be appreciated. There wasn't enough flexibility in the suggested donation amount or campaign goal or number of donors.
I opted for a 20 friends campaign, the largest number. But it set up my goal as 18 donors for $969. Probably some glitch.
Despite some drawbacks with the interaction design - please let me have more flexibility in setting up my campaign parameters - amount, number of donors, etc., I think this is application might just be a winner:
- It meshes with Facebook culture
- It uses the status line and newsfeed for viral marketing
- It matches real world philanthropic behavior
- It facilitates free agent fundraising
On that latter point, social media savvy nonprofits will be thinking of strategies and ways to leverage this free agent fundraising - and it gets back to relationship building. The role of having an active individual presence on behalf of the organization on a social networking site will be important.
I asked Danielle Brigida for her thoughts about the application:
I promoted this campaign mostly through Facebook friends, but also mentioned it on Twitter. Some of my Facebook friends let me know that budgets were tight this year and couldn't participate with a cash donation. Robert Tolmach from Changing the Present emailed me this screenshot and concerns about credit card security. (He'd probably prefer to send me a birthday card from Changing the Present, I suspect)
Friends that aren't using Facebook asked if there was another way to donate. Ah, I needed a multi-channel birthday campaign ... In addition to sending a birthday card, the Sharing Foundation has just launched its campaign for college student sponsorships over at Global Giving.
And, I've also set up Twitter Micro Campaign using TipJoy and will ask folks for $5.20 to support the Sharing Foundation. That's the cost of one school uniform and will try to get 100 kids covered.
I've also set up a way for those want to raise money for their favorite cause - the Beth 5.2 Flickr Photo Birthday Card Remix Contest. Join the group, remix a photo of me, add the name of your favorite charity, and I'll donate $52 to the winner's charity. More on this later, my kids just made a wonderful video to promote this.
How will you celebrate your birthday this year?