By Justin Brady
The telethon just edged closer to extinction when TV Star Eva Longoria recruited over 100 of her celebrity friends to participate in TwitChange, the first ever Celebrity Twitter Auction. The auction raised over $500,000 for aHomeInHaiti in just over a week. Bidders vied for the opportunity to be retweeted and followed on Twitter by their favorite celebrity. Sounds easy? Maybe not. If you are a smaller local nonprofit, chances are you don’t have hundreds of celebrities waiting to promote your charity. But here are three big things that nonprofits can learn from TwitChange’s success:
1. Everyone has influencers
2. A clear, concise ask is key
3. Involve your donors in big ideas
Everyone has influencers.
Many nonprofits are now probably wondering how can we replicate a twitter auction locally? Forget celebrities, the key to this and any social media campaign is influencers. What twitter mavericks can you find locally? Think football players, restaurant owners, TV and radio personalities, PR pros, and business leaders. Once you get a few big names involved, ask them to help recruit influencers in their network. Just remember, if they don’t already have a Twitter following, they won’t be much help. The highest celebrities bid on TwitChange were Chuck star Zachary Levi and UFC fighter Dana White. These may not be household names, but they have devoted online followers. When selecting influencers, think creatively – TwitChange bidders weren’t all obsessed fans; innovative small businesses also seized the promotional opportunity.
A clear, concise ask is key.
Celebrities can only take you, so far. TwitChange intrigued audiences with a cool incentive, but engaged donors with a very specific ask to help in Haiti. Their website concisely, describes the specific center that donations would rebuild, as well as why that center mattered. Additionally, the site included design sketches for the new center and evidence of successful past projects. The audience knew precisely how their money would be used and why this was the right organization to give it to – two important factors for donors selecting amongst charities. The result was greater awareness of the organization, with over 1,000 choosing to donate directly rather than bid.
Involve your donors in big ideas.
Many donors now want to be involved beyond just writing a check. aHomeForHaiti organizer Shaun White wanted to use social media in a big way that most were skeptical of, but it just took finding the right donor to get behind the cause. Eva Longoria approached Shaun about getting involved beyond donating, and latched onto his big idea. She then utilized her network to promote it and get others on board. No one involved knew if it would work, but they were excited to try something new and think differently. As the idea evolved many celebrities began creating extra incentives to get higher bids including matching bids, thus engaging them in the process as well.
Expect the twitter auction phenomenon to take off as the newest, trendy way to raise money for a cause. TwitChange is already planning to announce their second initiative soon. I know I can’t wait to see what lessons they learned and what they do differently next time.
By Andrew Brockman
Videos have captivated people for as long as they have been in existence, and it is no secret what harnessing the power of video can do for your non-profit organization. It can be hard to make a video, and your organization may not have all the resources, so here are some things to think about before embarking on such a project.
- Make sure the organization is able to make the video- the organization should not just be able to make the video, it should be done well. A camera, a script, and lighting are not the only things you need to make a good video. How about good editing? And there are countless other things to think about when creating the video. If you don’t think the organization has the personnel in place to get it done right, you must get help. Go to the board, get volunteers, or ask a production company to donate their services if you don’t have the means to pay for professional services.
- Create a call-to-action- the video isn’t worth much if you don’t create an income stream. There are services to help you imbed a button into the video to generate online donations, and at the least it should leave the viewer with a way to give- online and/or offline. YouTube has a non-profit program that creates call-to-action overlays, and the caption can contain a link to the online giving site.
- Disseminate your video widely- if your organization uses social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) this can be done easily. If not, the video should at least be on your organization’s website. Putting it on YouTube can be another way to get the video viral. Your organization should be aware of the audience though. If your organization is regional, then disseminating it to a global audience may not be the best thing.
- Optimize, Optimize, Optimize! – Once the video has been made and circulated, your organization must check-in and see who is watching the video and for how long they watch it. Most importantly, make sure the call-to-action is working. After analysis, your organization must make the needed changes to make sure the video is a success.
There are also different types of videos. Consider first what the organization wants to accomplish. Do you want to inform or advocate? In other words, does the organization seek to raise funds or awareness?
A good informational piece will get your organization the public relations that it needs. The ASPCA made a great video that both informs about its mission and about the need for support. The video has moving music, words that come from the heart and speak to the mission of the organization, and create a solid call-to-action at the end.
► Include Stories -Use volunteers, board members, and/or constituents because they know the stories best
► Make it easy to donate- include links to a donation website page as much as you can
By Derrick Feldmann
You have probably heard that reaction from any staff person who is not a fundraiser about their involvement in seeking support for the organization’s mission. Why does this mentality exist? Is it wrong? Should the organization’s staff, beyond the development department, be charged with raising money? Absolutely. Here’s why.
The individuals who work at organizations are fulfilling the mission and serving people in the community. Part of that service is to engage people at all levels in carrying out the organization’s important work for beneficiaries. It is natural to involve the very people who work directly with service recipients in cultivating relationships and helping the public understand how the organization is able to be present in the community providing such services.
Does this necessarily mean that we are asking non-fundraising staff to solicit individuals? No – not necessarily. What we are asking is that these staff members assist in telling the story (program and support story), identify potential donors, and educate anyone they interact with about how to get involved.
A full organization wide commitment to fundraising can be accomplished. It will take the full organization. Department heads must commit to helping their staff understand their role in relationship building. Managers must continue to enforce the message and practice good cultivation.
Most importantly, fundraising staff must help educate the organization on ways to acquire donors, identify potential supporters, and assist in the relationship process.
Make it exciting and energetic for other departments to help. Begin by having staff share their best client or program story at your next staff meeting, stories can be shared in conversations with donors or in marketing materials. Brainstorm creative and unique “behind the scenes” program site visits for donors or create contests and other ways that staff can help celebrate success. Share stories of donors interacting with non-fundraising staff and their cultivation path to donation.
You will hear we are all busy. Absolutely – the staff wears many hats. One of them is also telling the story and finding supporters. Taking a second to mention to the people they interact with in the public about the organization and opportunities to be involved as a supporter can be very minimal and meaningful.