Turning Fundraising on Its Head
The Hope Institute has found that combining social media with e-mail marketing is really strong for charitable giving contests as well. In spring 2010, the organization decided to enter select charitable giving contests for two reasons: 1. to bring in some money; 2. to build its social-media following and bring more supporters into the fold.
Soon after the social-media strategy was implemented, the institute was presented with a high-profile opportunity to test it: the Pepsi Refresh Challenge. In 2010, Pepsi ran a contest to have the public vote on nonprofits to receive grants via a social-media campaign. Organizations across the country competed for grants ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 via online voting, with the top 10 vote getters in each category receiving grants.
"I wanted people to vote for us online. I wanted to bring home the grant money," Brown says. "But as importantly, a) I wanted to give people an outlet to help without giving direct monetary contributions, and b) I wanted them to begin to follow us so they could share that with all of their friends — and that would help me build a relationship with more people.
"Charitable giving contests are one thing that we use to help not only bring in additional money online, but also to help build our fan base online, to help build our number of e-mail subscribers," he adds.
Brown says the Hope Institute is very selective in the contests that it participates in. This year, it ran a similar campaign for the Toyota 100 Cars for Good program.
But the main goal with social media, just as with the e-mail marketing, is to cultivate a relationship and continually drive people back to the website, which Brown has found naturally leads people to attend events and begin to donate.