Last week, I had the privilege to serve as General Manager of Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington, an online fundraising event that raised $2 million for 1200 local nonprofits from almost 18,000 donors. It was a fantastic giving day, and it showed that even a super busy city like Washington, DC can come together for a day of collective nonprofit action.
The contest was a great delight with small nonprofits like Little Lights Urban Ministries, For Love of Children and the Kristin Brook Hope Center performing well beyond expectations and winning awards. Traditional mainstays like the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation also fared well.
Many have heard by now about the cinderella winner of the contest, Little Lights Urban Ministries. This small nonprofit based out of southeast DC won the Grand Award for most individual donors, but they did more than just that. LLUM also won the Entrepreneurial award ($10,000) and six Golden Ticket hours (at $1,000 each) raising almost $80,000 in just 24 hours or roughly 1/10th of their operating budget! We asked LLUM they did it.
Here’s what Steve Park (executive director) and Jonny Moy (fellow) had to say:
Summarizing the video, LLUM did the following:
- Social media outreach was biggest factor in winning the awards.
- Focused mostly on Facebook (over Twitter) for donor outreach because it has higher return. Used Faebook direct messaging as a primary form of contact.
- Friends shared, and this helped flood news feeds across different networks with links to their fundraiser.
- Had a good email list beforehand and had already been communicating with their supporters this way.
- Emailed and prepared their supporters 2 weeks before the event
LLUM's minimal Klout Score of 10 (as of last Sunday, now 38) is important to note. It's not the size of an online account that necessarily matters. Rather, the secret formula for success in social media is engaged community, authenticity and a willingness to work and activate a network. These principles -- well discussed in the PayPal Paper Effectiveness of Celebrity Spokespeople in Social Fundraisers -- can be replicated by any online nonprofit brand or individual who can investment the time and energy.
Another great example of passionate engagement was PostSecret‘s Frank Warren, who won the Care2 Individual Fundraiser Award with his IMAlive fundraiser. Frank's effort helped the small nonprofit charity he was supporting -- the Kristin Brooks Hope Center -- finish in third place for both the Most Donors and for the Entrepreneurial Nonprofit Awards.
Frank was very engaged in the weeks leading up to the event, asking questions about how to do well. Further, he is authentically passionate about this cause with a long history of fundraising and personal reasons to be engaged.
There are so many stories from Give to the Max Day like these two. I wish I could write all of them up in this post.
One of the reasons why the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, Razoo and the United Way of the National Capital Area started our local giving day was the troubling economic times, which only seem to be compounded by Federal spending cuts. Now more than ever nonprofits need to build their online communications capacity to cultivate the next generation of donors, volunteers and activists.
It's very encouraging to see so many nonprofits benefit from Give to the Max Day. We hope to hold another event in 2012 to continue supporting our local community.