Assessing America’s Giving Challenge
Posted by Allison Fine on June 22, 2009
The Case Foundation released this morning the asseement report that Beth and I co-authored on their Giving Challenge. It was a wonderful opportunity and experience really digging into the Challenge to better understand how and why it worked, we hope you’ll read and enjoy the report.
Here’s the skinny on what the Giving Challenge:
- The Giving Challenge was a 50 day event from December 2007 through January 2008.
- The Case Foundation provided awards to participants who raised the largest number of friends, not money, every day and in total by the end of the Challenge.
- The Challenge raised $1.8 million from more than 71,000 donors, benefiting thousands of causes.
- Individuals were encouraged to participate as champions for their causes as well as organizations (and they did so in large numbers)
All of that is nice, but when it eneded something really remarkable happened. When the final winners were announced they were a Who’s Who of . . .who? They weren’t Amnesty International and the Red Cross, wonderful causes, of course, but not the winners of the Challenge. It turned out that 11 of the 16 Giving Challenge award recipients were for causes with annual organizational budgets of less than $1m. They included Love without Boundaries, Beth’s cause The Sharing Foundation, Nourish International , and the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund. Not exactly household names. So, how were these groups, many of which don’t even have staff, able to be so successful in The Giving Challenge? What’s the secret sauce? That’s what Beth and I set out to find out through lots of interviews and surveys last year.
Here’s what we learned:
- The structure of the Challenge lent itself to leveling the playing field and enabling smaller groups to be successful. Those key elements included the use of Causes on Facebook that enables smaller groups to connect friend-to-friend at no cost, the short time frame that enabled smaller groups to hang in there and give it all they had for a limited albeit exhausting, period of time, the urgency of the Challenge created by the significant matching dollars offered by The Case Foundation, and the leader board that enabled everyone to see how they were doing and spur their volunteers to do more to keep up with the competition.
- The winners were able to make their efforts go viral, meaning friends of friends were working on their behalf to support their Challenge efforts, because they had talented individuals who spent an enormous amount of time as network weavers and cheerleaders-in-chief. The winners had an inner circle fo volunteers who outworked less successful groups not by a few but by hundreds of hours.
- Winners pushed power to the edges through their social networks and were agile, real-time learners. Winners didn’t have set plans when they started, they just started. Friends of friends blogged on their behalf, sent text messages, walked dorm room to dorm room laptop in hand raising friends, asked their office colleagues for help. There was no one right way to win the Challenge and all of the winners had a robust mix of online and on land efforts and learned in real time throughout the Challenge how best to connect with their friends and potential supporters.
- Personal connections were critical in activating the viral effect of successful cause efforts – by large margins (between 61-74%), cause champions reported reaching out for donations and outreach assistance to people they knew personally, including known supporters, family, friends and colleagues first to spread the word and encourage participation in the Challenge.
- Most winners reported that the friends that they raised during the Challenge were new donors to their organizations. The urgency of the effort enabled groups to turn friends into funders. This is a critically important finding not only for the Challenge but for groups using Causes on Facebook.
I hope you’ll have a chance to read the report. I’d love your feedback as would The Case Foundation as they prepare for the next Giving Challenge later this year.
This entry was posted on June 22, 2009 at 6:21 am and is filed under Social Media. Tagged: beth kanter, Fanconi Anemia Research Fund, Love without Boundaries, Nourish International, The Case Foundation, The Giving Challenge, The Sharing Foundation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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