Slam Dunk or Snake Oil?
Consider what happens when TuDiabetes makes an ask of its die-hard network and how that can spill out into the larger social Web. I can envision Obama-campaign-like ripples. (For an in-depth examination of the TuDiabetes.org Web site, see Sarah Durham's Brandraising column at tinyurl.com/y4cd9zm)
JH: Similar to raising money for memorial gifts in traditional fundraising, raising money for special events like anniversaries and birthdays seems to be working for some nonprofits. Can you expand on this theme?
GL: This is an intelligent use of social media for fundraising. It plays to two core aspects of social media that most charities fail to realize when they try to fundraise with these tools.
1. Relationships: If it's just you on Twitter, Causes, etc., your network is going to yield very few donations in the long run. The people within your network make for the best agents of both change and fundraising. They have real relationships with their social networks, whether they are 200, 2,000 or 20,000 strong. An ask from them for a birthday or an event means something within that network. Enlist and empower them to make the ask instead of you.
2. Long tail: Alone, most charities get frustrated with the limited fundraising power of their Twitter/Facebook/blog reach. By creating a real program that harnesses hundreds of fundraising volunteers who can bring in $200 to $2,000 per birthday or event, you've suddenly replicated the mastery of Amazon and Twestival.
This is the long tail, where you assume that collectively many small impacts can make a large statement. A successful grassroots campaign allows you to create mass fundraising totals via many microdonations. Consider that the Lance Armstrong Foundation is on pace to raise well over a million dollars via its grassroots platform this year (tinyurl.com/y36krmx).