The Case (Studies) for Social Media
"The real benefit is not only does [the widget] let people know that they're participating, but it also shows that momentum for their fundraising," Wilkins says. "So each day as they're making progress in their fundraising, your friends see where you are and how far you have to go."
The Hill Country Ride for AIDS is one event that has utilized this tactic successfully. An annual cycling event in Central Texas to raise money for HIV/AIDS support, the ride benefits 10 agencies. All riders must raise a minimum of $500 to participate. That might seem like a lot, but by embedding a social-media widget to Facebook and adding an iPhone application, the Ride for AIDS made it easy for participants to reach out for pledge donations online.
Hill Country actively promoted the adoption of the widget through the participant center on its website, the registration page and coaching e-mails to those who signed up. Participants could then post the badge directly on their Facebook walls so their Facebook friends could donate or register themselves. This helped spread awareness for the ride and the charities involved, as well as encouraged participants' friends to make donations, coming directly from someone they know rather than from one of the organizations themselves — and that often is much more powerful motivation to give.
"Think about yourself. If an organization that you support periodically sends a request for fundraising, it's not quite the same thing as a friend who you know is impacted by the cause and you see three or four times that they're raising money for that cause," Wilkins says. "You're much more likely to respond to the friend than the organization."
To further motivate others to give, beyond the application displaying the total dollars raised against the goal, a stream story to the participant and her friends on Facebook was automatically sent out every time she made progress toward her goal.