Thu, July 15 2010

What makes a good friends-to-friends campaign online?

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Social Media •

Allison Fine and Beth Kanter have interesting thoughts on this question in their new report for the Case Foundation, which reviews the results and lessons of their last America’s Giving Challenge.  The Challenge raised more than $2.1 million for nonprofits from over 105,000.  The 2009 Challenge, organized by the Case Foundation, Causes and PARADE ran for 30 days, during which thousands of individuals competed for donors, donations and matching awards from the Case Foundation for their favorite charitable causes.

The report covers what worked and didn’t - and provides recommendations on how to improve future giving challenges.  I can’t think of anyone better to do the report—Allison and Beth just released the book, The Networked Nonprofit.  You can hear them talk about it here.

Read the whole report here, but here are some highlights on what makes for effective campaigns:

Personal Appeals: Personal solicitations to pre-existing networks of donors and friends through multiple channels were rated as the most effective methods for fundraising. Thirty-five percent of contest participants rated messaging to friends through Facebook as most effective; 32 percent rated personal email to friends, family and colleagues as effective or most effective; and 25 percent rated email to an existing organizational donor base as effective or most effective.

Use of Distributed Networks: Social media enables on and offline grassroots activism, giving nonprofits the ability to coordinate large numbers of people across distributed networks. This type of grassroots activism can be enormously effective for contests or any type of cause-based movement.  Some like Atlas Corps recruited 150 “Campaign Captains” before the contest started. Other organizations broke their efforts down into bite-size pieces for their volunteers by creating templates to use to send messages to their friends, post and comment on blogs, and create their own videos.

Additional assets included:
• Thankfulness: Many of the winners cited the importance of thanking
donors profusely throughout the contest.
• Transparency: Creating public spaces to share information about who is
doing what is also a very effective strategy.
• Videos: Most of the 2009 winners, including Conversational Case Study
subject Darius Goes West, made good use of videos to chronicle their
• Storytelling: The ability to tell stories to compel people to act in short,
funny and meaningful ways was an essential element of success.
• Calls to Action: From YouTube’s annotations program to requests to tell
five additional friends, strong campaigns included great calls-to-action,
blending social stories with hard marketing.

One of the greatest things the Case Foundation did this year (in my view) was to provide nonprofits with a lot of training on how to engage supporters online.  I participated - you can see my training and Beth’s here:




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