- Fri, May 25 2007
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
Some folks at Cone, which has great research reports, just sent me their post-mortem on American Idol’s IDOL GIVES BACK campaign. For those of you living under a rock, that was the popular show’s recent on-air fundraiser that raked in $70 million for causes in the U.S. and Africa.
Alison DaSilva of Cone says the fundraiser was effective for three reasons:
*It provided an easy call to action—text to vote in honor of carity, call an 800 number to give, or give online.
*It humanized the issues and the American Idol brand with video diaries and a performance by an children’s choir. There was lots of effective storytelling.
*It highlighted tangible impacts—Cone’s research finds Millennials donate, but are skeptical about the impact of their money. Idol kept tying dollar amounts to outcomes during the broadcast to cope with this skepticism (though some say they could have been more transparent). I’d add that it was very smart to feature causes at home alongside those in Africa.
Plenty of bloggers have weighed in on the broadcast already with astute commentary, but I’d add one observation, based on Cone’s own research. Cone has found that only 15 percent of Americans said they would be influenced by celebrities in deciding whether to support a charity. This is much less than those who cite family members (77 percent), friends (64 percent), their place of worship (60 percent), co-workers (40 percent), or companies (30 percent) as influential factors in giving. So remember, you DO NOT NEED AN IDOL to raise money. Idol is great for attracting a mass audience, and that audience is what led to the scale of the money raised, but it wasn’t Simon or Madonna who prompted giving as much as the compelling (and perhaps slightly exploitative, though effective) stories they showed about people in need on their show. While we’d all like an audience of that size, or a celebrity spokesperson, don’t despair if you don’t have an A-lister out promoting you.
Nothing is better than a great story, and no one is better as a messenger than supporters speaking to their own circles of influence. Put your energy into your message, it’s what matters most. (Seriously. Jeff says so, and he’s right.)
PS - full disclosure, Network for Good processed some donations for Idol Gives Back and our chairman is with Malaria No More, which was involved in the broadcast.