Transitioning Direct Mail Donors to Social Media
Posted by Allison Fine on November 2, 2010
I wrote last week about the very interesting research findings from Blackbaud that found that donors that come through traditional channels like direct mail give more over time when they transition to social media channels like Facebook.
I received a tweet afterwards asking how, exactly, organizations are doing this. And voila! here is a treasure trove of case studies developed by Catalog Choice, a realy great group trying to unhook us from all of the waste generated by direct mail catalogs and fundraising campaigns. Catalog Choice, supported by the Overbrook Foundation, sponsored a contest called The Paperless Choice Challenge: Discovering Innovation in Digital Fundraising. The crux of the contest was this, “can inventive, out-of-the box thinking replace direct mail?”
Nonprofit organizations were encouraged to send in their best ideas for a total of $20,000 in prize money. An expert panel selected winners for small, medium and large organizations and a people’s choice was selected by public voting.
Here were the winners:
National Wildlife Federation (large nonprofit) for their campaign to raise emergency funds to save wildlife from the impacts of the Gulf oil spill and to reach new givers. The judges praised this campaign as an effective multi-channel effort to replace direct mail and expand the donor-base to respond quickly to a crisis. The campaign integrated mobile, social media, email, video, and the web, and raised significant funds quickly for this wildlife tragedy. NWF acquired tens of thousands of new donors and reached millions of people through social and traditional media. Digital fundraising also proved to be cost-efficient. Overall, NWF spent only 4% of funds raised on fundraising expenses compared to 23% for direct mail expenses.
GiveMN (medium nonprofit) for their 2009 Give to the Max Day to help Minnesota nonprofits attract new donors and move toward online giving. The successful campaign created an online giving web platform and used digital techniques to raised $14 million for 3,434 Minnesota nonprofits in one day. Our judges were impressed with this statewide example of how e-fundraising, combined with savvy events management, can lower costs through economies of scale for many nonprofits simultaneously and benefit less experienced groups less likely to mimic the caliber of this initiative on their own.
VEGlobal (small nonprofit) for its Unite. Act. Engage. campaign, an annual event designed as a completely paperless fundraising effort to support the group’s mission of assisting abandoned children in Chile. The campaign exceeded its fundraising goals by employing a digital network to engage international volunteers who held 16 fundraising events on four different continents. This year’s campaign coincided with their Earthquake Relief program which raised funds digitally for earthquake damage repair and safety training. VEGlobal’s efforts demonstrate how very small nonprofits can expand their visibility in the global community and meet fundraising goals quickly and effectively using only digital tools and techniques.
Go Green Team - The People’s Choice winner, which received the top nod from voters. The Go Green Team campaign will use digital fundraising tools to raise money for environmental causes in the San Francisco Bay area.
There were also a few honorable mention groups:
HomeLine Tenant Advocacy, a small statewide tenant advocacy group in Minnesota, for their highly creative 50-hour treadmill-a-thon webcast. This fun event engaged viewers and volunteers to share the group’s cause with their friends through social media networks, ultimately raising nearly $20,000 from more than 400 donors.
Wardrobe for Opportunity for their “Declare Your 15″ campaign, which gave supporters three opportunities to help the organization’s mission of assisting low-income individuals find and keep jobs: Donate $15, pledge 15 volunteer hours to WFO in 2010, and tell 15 friends about the campaign via Twitter, Facebook or email – all within 15 days. The “15″ theme reflected the group’s 15th anniversary.
Maryland Coastal Bays Program for their impressive efforts to shift all marketing and donor outreach from paper to digital.
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