- Wed, October 07 2009
- Filed under: Social networking and web 2.0
Just a few minutes ago, the Case Foundation, Causes and PARADE kicked off the 2009 America’s Giving Challenge, a 30-day, national online competition that enables people to leverage their online and offline personal networks to build communities (“causes”) that raise money and recruit support for a nonprofit. These causes will compete to win cash awards, funded by the Case Foundation, that will total $170,000. There will be daily and overall awards for the top fundraisers. America’s Giving Challenge will be hosted by Causes through its application on Facebook. In addition, PARADE Publications will help launch the Challenge with cover story about the importance of giving by actor Matt Damon.
As a partner of the Case Foundation and Causes, Network for Good (where I work) is the processing donations for the challenge.
So I’m biased. But I like these challenges, and I’ll tell you why. In my experience with last year’s challenge and similar efforts at our site Six Degrees, I find they are worth your time because they provide:
1. A good reason to experiment with social networking. It’s easier to sell an online experiment internally when there are matching grants and exposure at stake. If you’ve been encountering internal resistance to social networking, this may be something that gets naysayers more interested.
2. Something measurable. By nature this kind of campaign is well-defined in scope with clear goals and measures of success. Those all happen to be key components of strong online initiatives.
3. A way to harness the power of your supporters. Your biggest fans will enjoy a new way to champion your cause - spreading the word on social networks so you can win matching grants. Put your message in the hands of your best messengers - the people who love your cause and quite naturally enjoy recruiting others to it.
4. A strong reason to give. I always say you need to answer four questions to get people to give money: why me? what for? why now? and who says? This kind of campaign answers all four well. You are proving relevance (why me) by putting your appeal in the hands of champions spreading the word among friends and family on Facebook. You’re answering what for and why now with the matching gift—donors dollars can go further if enough people give. This kind of campaign provides a great sense of urgency. And most powerfully, it answers who says—by asking your supporters to ask their friends for help, you gain powerful and persuasive third-party endorsement.
So consider doing it - especially if you have staff, volunteers or supporters who are wildly enthusiastic about this kind of thing, which does take energy. From now until November 6 at 3:00 p.m. EST, participants will have the opportunity to compete for daily and overall awards – ranging from $500 to $50,000 – based on the number of donations to their cause using the Causes application on Facebook. Nonprofit organizations and individuals who wish to participate in the Challenge can get involved in one of two ways:
1. Champion a cause – Individuals can become “cause champions,” individuals who are passionate about a specific cause and will compete to obtain the most donations for their cause through the Causes application on Facebook.
2. Promote, donate or join a cause – all individuals are encouraged to take part in America’s Giving Challenge by joining, promoting and donating to the causes they care about. Facebook membership is not required to donate to a Giving Challenge cause.
If you do give it a try, here are some tips:
1. The more personal the messaging, the better.
2. Donate yourself. It’s not inspiring to see zero donations on a cause when you’re asking others to give.
3. Post links everywhere - on your site, blog, email signature, etc.
4. Send a link to alll the people you know on Facebook and in your email address book.
5. Ask others with a following to help. Go to technorati.com and search for blogs that are focused on your issue. Tell bloggers about your campaign and ask them to post on your efforts. They have a circle of active readers who are likely to care about your cause. Talk to Facebook groups that support your cause. Keep widening your circle of influence by co-opting those with their own followings.
6. UPDATE: Don’t forget to focus on the people, not the money. It’s about relationships at the end of the day. More on this from Joe at Causes.
More tips and training are here.
Finally, here is some parting inspiration from last year’s winner - who proves offline tactics help, too:
“Winning America’s Giving Challenge  has energized the staff, the board, and thousands of members and friends of Engineers Without Borders – USA. The Giving Challenge inspired so many people to give - from the student members who handed out flyers in their college towns telling people how to make a donation online to the board members and staff who e-blasted their entire address books - all in just 9 days from when we first read about the Challenge in Parade Magazine.”
-Heidi Dormody, Director of Development for EWB-USA, which raised $67,867 from 2,979 unique donors.