What are you thankful? It's a simple question that Epic Thanks: TweetsGiving has asked supporters to answer online for three years now in support of changemakers making an impact. I want to share some lessons this celebration of gratitude and giving and the program's approach that I think are relevant to organizing social nonprofit campaigns.
Simplicity played a big role in the success of the first TweetsGiving in 2008. We asked people to tell us what they were thankful for on Twitter and to donate in honor of that for which they were most grateful. Simple. Right? There is definitely a sense from the team at Epic Change that this year gets back to the roots of the program, its simplicity and volunteer driven focus. The website which integrates with Twitter and Facebook is carried further in new co-branding of TweetsGiving as Epic Thanks and reflects the reality of the social space today where nonprofit supporters are engaged on multiple social platforms.
It's All About Your Community
Epic Change has done a wonderful job being in close touch with its community and taking their supporters' input seriously. When we went back to the organizers of last year's events the excitement to organize events on a large scale events again was lukewarm. Maybe the community felt burnt out from big social events, maybe the timing was wrong. While there were pre-parties in some cities this year including in Tampa, Portland, and Tel-Aviv, our community wasn't excited about organizing local events. We could have pressed on and strongly pressured past organizers to step up again in that way, or hunted for new event organizers, but instead Epic Change respected the feedback as an honest signal and pivoted in a different direction. Right on. Listen to the feedback you get, cherish it, and be willing to change course given what you've learned.
In the past, TweetsGiving paid more attention to involving influencers than the team's approach this year. For 2010 most of the organizing in advance centered around an opt-in Google Group email list for Epic Change supporters who wanted to help with planning in the few weeks leading up to the program's launch yesterday. Group participants chose "secret missions" and committed to different tasks in advance. The effect has been that this year we're engaging many more people who really have their heart in Epic Thanks' success and its focus on spreading gratitude. Many supporters have shared with co-founders Stacy Monk and Sanjay Patel that the effort feels much more communal than last year as a result.
Creativity is Essential
Epic Thanks borrows a strategy from Epic Change's Mother's Day campaign this year, ToMamaWithLove. Participants are invited to create an online thank you card on the site which the entire community can view and appreciate. You can easily share your card with friends and loved ones on social media sites and customize your Tweet or Facebook status sharing a link to your thank you card.
The cards create an opening for people to share something personal, emotional, and human. While the slacktivist debate continues, supporters are hungry for opportunities where more than their dollars or clicks are essential and online supporters today can sniff out when you're faking it. Epic Thanks makes room for meaningful creativity with an experience that requires creativity, but manages to keep the barrier to entry suitably low.
Happy Thanksgiving friends! What are you thankful for today? Be sure to tell us in the comments and in a thank you card over on Epic Thanks!
*Avi Kaplan is a Co-Founder of Epic Thanks and the Online Coordinator, AKA Coordinator of Awesomeness, at Rad Campaign, an online communications firm providing web design, web development, and online marketing and strategy to nonprofit organizations and political campaigns.