Briefings One Good Idea: Picture More Donors
Online social-networking applications have emerged as one of the new frontiers for nonprofits. MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and others offer organizations a public stage on which to present their causes, rally support, spur activism and build relationships with constituents and potential donors.
Flickr is a Yahoo!-run, online photo management and sharing application that allows people to make photos — on the Web, their mobile devices and their home computers — available to others in an organized system. It’s a self-described “WD-40 that makes it easy to get photos from one person to another in whatever way they want.”
The application also is useful in nonprofit fundraising and advocacy efforts. Children At Risk Foundation, an organization dedicated to protecting children at risk and work-ing toward their inclusion in mainstream society, held its Reaching for a Star Flickr Xmas Campaign in 2005 and 2006. It takes place on CARF’s Everyone A Changemaker Flickr group — which has more than 1,000 members — and features stories about street and at-risk children written by CARF Founder Gregory J. Smith, with stunning photos of the affected youths throughout.
At the end of each story is a list of CARF’s costs to help the children and this ask: “To cover these monthly expenses only requires 25 members of this group to contribute with just $10 each month, and we will have resolved the financing of this solution. If 300 members contribute with a one-time $10 contribution we will have covered our current annual costs for this case.”
Oxfam America, an affiliate of global antipoverty organization Oxfam International, recently used Flickr for an advocacy outreach to its online supporters for an international campaign it began in October 2006 to encourage Starbucks and other coffee roasters to engage with Ethiopia on a trademarking initiative. Supporters across the globe sent Starbucks e-mails, faxes and postcards, or made phone calls or store visits urging it to sign an agreement that would enable Ethiopians to build the value of their coffees and capture a greater share of the retail price for their farmers.
“We have an online community already established, and what we did was when this campaign first started, we went out to people with an action, and over 96,000 took an action to support Ethiopian coffee farmers. And so from that list of the people who took actions, we kept going back to them, keeping them updated and keeping them engaged,” Oxfam America Press Officer Helen Dasilva says.
The initial action was a fax. Then the organization asked people who sent faxes to call. Supporters who called got a request to go into a store.
Looking for a fun way to engage ongoing supporters of the campaign, Oxfam America came up with a Starbucks Flickr petition that encouraged supporters to upload photos of themselves with a sign reading, “I support Ethiopian coffee farmers” or their version of that message. (See photo below.) As of this writing, 580 photos have been uploaded to Flickr for the campaign.
“The fact that people have to make the sign, take the picture, post it online; it’s quite a few steps, and to get a supporter to go through those steps to a conclusion is a pretty exciting accomplishment,” Dasilva says.
The Flickr campaign proved to be a great — and different — way to engage advocates and drive traffic to Oxfam America’s site.
“One of the things that we took advantage of in this instance is that with Flickr, when you post photos you have the opportunity to provide links with each photo, so it provides you with an opportunity for people to click back to your Web site,” she says. “In this case, we have them click back to our Starbucks page, so it gave them all the information on the campaign and it gives them all the updates.”