Tag - america’s giving challenge

Should Causes Compete With One Another?
Which is Better: More Donors or More $$$?
Final Reflections on America's Giving Challenge
Is there a "Special Sauce" for Social Fundraising?
Mindful Social Media Strategies for Contests
Conversational Case Study for America's Giving Challenge
Contests, Competitons and Prizes
Beth's Birthday Party

Should Causes Compete With One Another?

I’ve been thinking about online contests to raise friends or funds for the past several years. There have been wonderful examples of small organizations, some without any staff, being extraordinarily successful in contests like America’s Giving Challenge sponsored by The Case Foundation, through mainly elbow grease, friends emailing, texting, calling, cajoling friends to sign up for their cause.

Pepsi Refresh is this kind of contest on steroids. Pepsi has given nearly $20 million to causes that garnered the most votes monthly for the past year, and at least for another year here and in South America and China. This contest, like all contests, hasn’t been friction free. As I say here on an NPR story about the contest from a few weeks ago, all contest  organizers are playing a game of whack-a-mole with people who want to game the system:

Refreshing Pepsi’s Superbowl Alternative

I believe that the folks at Pepsi have gone into this contest with good intentions, and they have been resilient and steadfast in their continued engagement. However, a question remains for individual causes as to whether the amount of energy and the head-to-head competition with other causes are worth their energy, or whether the costs are too high.

A post on the Cone, Inc. blog does a great job of articulating the drawbacks to voting contests like Pepsi Refresh.

On this month’s podcast, Lena Shaw, of UC San Francisco, told a great story about a year-end fundraising campaign for a new children’s hospital that garnered over a million dollars in donations and nearly 165,000 new friends for the hospital. The original expectations for the campaign were $100,000 and 1,000 friends. Extraordinary results that are a reflection of the structure of the campaign.

They mixed Silicon Valley superstars like Michael Arrington and Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Salesforce.com, with 12-year-old Paddy O’Brien, a patient at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital treated successfully for bone cancer and now in remission as team leaders. They had great daily prizes, plus the grand prizing of the winning team having the right to name the new atrium of the hospital.  The Zynga team led the charge by having donors use their popular Farmville game and buy candy canes as donations for the hospital.  The Zynga team was the overwhelming first place winner of the competition.

What makes the UCSF contest so compelling is that although the teams were competing against one another, they were all playing for the same children’s hospital. This is a very interesting dynamic, an internal competition where all of the energy is positive and all of the proceeds go to the one cause.

I’m going to think a bit more about how other groups can structure efforts that combine the fun of competing without the detriment of causes competing against one another.


Which is Better: More Donors or More $$$?

The Minnesota Community Foundation has their second annual “Give to the Max Day” last week and once again it was a spectacular success.

The first giving day was last year. I had a chance to talk to the chief architect at the Minnesota Community Foundation, Jennifer Ford Reedy, a few months ago for my Social Good podcast for the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

It was a terrific example of a foundation forming partnerships with dozens of local nonprofits and a dozen other funders, creating an open source platform for giving (it was open source to enable and encourage other foundations to replicate the effort.) And at the end of the day, that first go round, the day generated 38,000 donors giving $14,000. I remember seeing those numbers on Beth’s blog and thinking that there had to be a typo. In the depths of the recession it was astounding to see that Minnesotans had given that much money to charitable causes. But, then, again, it’s Minnesotans, the most generous people in the world.

Jennifer posted a summary of this year’s event on the Council of Foundation’s blog last week. Jennifer outlined a key difference between this year’s event and last year’s. They decided this year to focus on increasing the number of donations not the size of the donations. They were successful in doing this, their bottom line this year was 42,000 donors pledging a total of $10 million.

As Jennifer writes, “we created an incentive system that rewards organizations for turnout.” The incentive were grand prizes of $20,000 and $10,000 to the nonprofits that raised the largest number of donors during the day.

This all raises a very interesting question: should nonprofits be aiming for more donors or more money?

Smart people like Kim Klein have been arguing for years that building a broad base of supporters is critical to long term sustainability for nonprofits.

But what if the needs are so great, winters in Minnesota are brutal after all, that losing $4 million hurts local people and communities in the most need right now?

I think part of the answer has to be what happens to these donors after they give on the big day? Blackbaud reports that donors who give online give more over time than their traditional counterparts. However, we reported that after the first America’s Giving Challenge sponsored by the Case Foundation that the winners didn’t know what to do with their online donors once they had them. That was three years ago, maybe we’re collectively getting better at learning how to build relationships with our online friends and turn them into long term donors now.

Maybe. At least I hope so! Katya, Kivi and Rebecca provide hopeful insights here on how to retain online donors.

This is, I suppose, the heart of our biggest challenge for the next few years; creating online friends, building stronger ties with a portion of them, asking them to give in real, authentic ways — and getting them to give again.


Final Reflections on America's Giving Challenge

Beth and I posted our final reflections on America’s Giving Challenge on the Case Foundation blog yesterday. You can read the post here. It is a summary of what we learned in our assessment of the second round of the Giving Challenge.

Some of the themes that we learned about and discussed online with participants and others were:

  1. the advantages to small organizations in online contests
  2. the need to have joyous funerals by understanding and appreciating failures
  3. the importance of relationship building
  4. the intersection of community organizing and online fundraising, and
  5. how to decide whether to participate in a contest.

And we proposed a special sauce for winning online contests that includes personal appeals, thankfulness, transparency, spreading out the work, the use of video storytelling, and on-land activities.

But, far and away my favorite part of the reflections post is this video that Beth did with Ashley Boyd of Moms Rising on the importance of reflecting on efforts through “joyful funerals.” Enjoy!


Is there a "Special Sauce" for Social Fundraising?

Our third Conversational Case Study for the assessment of America’s Giving Challenge has been posted on the Case Foundation’s blog today.  The topic of today’s discussion is whether there is a “special sauce” that makes some groups or individuals successful social fundraisers.

In the post, the pattern that we saw in the Giving Challenge and in other contests is some combination of personal appeals, thankfulness, transparency, crowdsourcing, visual stories and face-to-face engagement that make groups successful.

But, still (naturally!) we have more questions.

Our questions to readers, doers and thinkers are:

  • In your experience does a concoction, some blend of activities and tasks, exist, that makes some groups or people more successful than others in fundraising contests? And if so, what are they?
  • Under what circumstances does some combination of activities work best?
  • Is there a tool or action you think might work well in the future that you’d like to test next time (e.g. a geo-location service like Foursquare?)
  • Are we trying too hard to be prescriptive in discussing sauces, and should we just let people create their own recipes?

Tell us what you think on the Case site.  Thanks!


Mindful Social Media Strategies for Contests

The sector has been awash in contests the last two years. Here is a list of public contests compiled by the White House recently – it’s huge!

Beth drafted our second Conversational Case Study for our assessment of America’s Giving Challenge. This case study is about the experience of one of the winners, Students for a Free Tibet.

The first decision point for this group is to decide whether to enter the contest at all. Their decision oints include:

They determine whether the contest has value by asking:

  • Do we have the bandwidth?
  • Do we have enough members who will volunteer to reach out to their friends and family?
  • Will our participation in the contest help us grow our network of people who we can educate and engage about political freedom in Tibet after the contest is over?
  • How does the contest fit in our overall fundraising plan for the year?

In addition, like Darius Goes West, Students for a Free Tibet also personalize their appeals for help.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences by commenting on the blog post on the Case Foundation site.


Conversational Case Study for America's Giving Challenge

I’m cooking up some fun with Beth and the Case Foundation again. We are engaged in the evaluation of the second America’s Giving Challenge contest that the foundation sponsored last year. We did a survey and we wanted to do some in depth case studies to better understand the experiences of some of the winners. But rather than do it behind closed doors we decided to do it networked style!

So, here’s the lowdown. Beth has posted the first of what we’re calling a Conversational Case Study on the foundation’s blog.  This first one is about Darius Goes West – they’re a small nonprofit that did a great job of using videos and personal appeals to activate their network to become a winner in the Challenge.  Read their story, it’s really fun and exciting. But their story also raises a couple of interesting questions that Beth outlines in the case study:

  • Whether you’re participating in an online contest or implementing a fundraising campaign using social networks, you’ve got to engage your fans and make it easy for them to share your organization’s story with pride and joy. What techniques are you using?
  • How have you used social media to personalize your interactions with potential supporters?
  • If you are with a small organization, how have you used social media successfully without a big marketing budget?
  • How can we put to rest the assumption that large organizations have an automatic advantage using social media?

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please comment on that post or share your insights on a tweet using the hashtag #agc2.

We’ll be posting two more Conversational Case Studies in the next two weeks.  Thanks for participating!


Contests, Competitons and Prizes

I attended a symposium last Friday hosted by the Case Foundation and the White House on promoting public innovation through prizes and contests. The Case Foundation blogged about the purpose of the event prior to it here.

If anyone had told me two years ago that two hundred people in DC, mainly from federal agencies, would get together to talk about using social media for innovation through prizes and contests I would not have believed it. And yet, there we were – at HUD no less!

A few takeaways for me were the array of agencies interested in working this way. They aren’t all able to do it because of the layers of red tape that prevent prizes from being given. But the gravitational pull outwards to openly sharing innovation and good ideas, lessons learned and processes for innovation is happening. It’s spearheaded by amazing people like Vivek Kundra and Beth Noveck who are working from the inside of government outwards.

I was also struck by the amazing array of contests taking place right now funded by federal agencies and foundations. Of course, I’m well aware of the high profile contests like America’s Giving Challenge sponsored by the Case Foundation, Chase Facebook Challenge, and Pepsi Refresh Project. What I didn’t realize was how may contests and challenges were being sponsored by the feds.  Here is a report that provides an overview of the types of prizes and contests offered.

We’re living in interesting times!


Beth's Birthday Party

Today is Beth Kanter’s 53rd birthday. I wouldn’t have shared the number with you, but she already has here and here and here on her blog! My friends Amy Sample Ward and Stacey Monk organized an effort by bloggers, a surprise bloggy birthday!, today to wish Beth a happy birthday and help her to reach her birthday goal of sending 53 Cambodia children to school. I’ve just donated $25, I hope you’ll do the same here on Facebook.

But, Amy and Stacey also asked us bloggers to do one more thing for Beth’s birthday. They asked that we share how Beth has impacted your work. Well, that’s might sound like an easy thing to do, but for me it isn’t easy at all. The problem is that Beth has impacted how I think about social media, what I know, who I know and what I do in so many profound ways it’s hard to capture it all! I’ll just highlight a few so you get an idea of how important she is to me as a friend, teacher and partner.

  • Beth was the first blogger to review my first book, Momentum. That’s how we met, and I was so struck by her humanness then- she wasn’t an aloof reviewer, she was a full person who just told you what she liked and why without any pretense, and certainly without any snarkiness (unlike yours truly, too often, I’m afraid!)
  • We partnered on the assessment of the first round of the Case Foundation’s Giving Challenge last year. We had fun doing it, and I learned so much from her about how Causes and fundraising using social media. But, again, Beth doesn’t just watch from afar, she is a passionate doer and user of social media and her first hand experience as a participant in the Giving Challenge on behalf of the Sharing Foundation was invaluable to our efforts.
  • And, finally, Beth is my co-author and partner for our book, The Networked Nonprofit, that Wiley & Sons will be publishing this year. Her insights, experiences, thoughtfulness, and practices are central elements to making the book what I thought it finally became: an important and useful work that perfectly captures this moment in time for nonprofits and social media.

So, my friend, happy birthday, many, many happy returns, and thanks for everything that you have done with me and for me!


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