Three "case studies" on using Twitter to engage people in a cause and to use Twitter as a fund-raising platform:
Twestival: On one day in February of 2009, Charity: Water held Twestivals around the world. This event combined Twitter with offline events in about 200 cities around the globe. The events generated more than $250,000 in support of Charity: Water's clean water efforts in Africa.
TweetUp4Troops: During the week of Veteran’s Day in November 2009, the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation held Twitter-initiated local events to honor veterans, generate support for its Trees for Troops program and have fun. CSF announced the program and began recruiting local hosts in mid-September. In addition to locally hosted events, Applebee's restaurants in the Phoenix area joined by providing funds from a single day event.
Tweetsgiving: Epic Change is a new nonprofit organized that amplifies the voices and impact of grassroots changemakers and social entrepreneurs. One of its major projects involves support for Momma Lucy's school in Tanzania. In 2008, Epic Change held a global 2008 Twitter campaign to "share your gratitude." The effort -- organized by two volunteers and launched six days later -- led to more that $9,000 in donations to Epic Change. In 2009, Epic Change began organizing in May and launched in September. Events around the world increased donations to more than $36,000.
These three campaigns combined Twitter's online functions with off-line hosted events.
We've developed the following "lessons"/"tips" from these campaigns that could benefit other organizations seeking to use Twitter as a platform for fund-raising.
Planning the Campaign:
- Start early (ideally six to nine months before “event”).
- Keep it simple: remember you have only 140 characters!
- Make it easy and secure to donate and to spread the story and message.
- Avoid the curse of knowledge (forgetting what it is like not to be on the “inside”).
- Select the social media platform that fits your organization and your community. Whatever social media you’re using, use it often!
Growing the Campaign:
- Start by engaging your existing network/community and grow from there.
- Build a strong database of participants to continue keeping in touch with after the event is over.
- Pursue those who show interest beyond online conversation.
- Illustrate where contributions go and what donations support (photos, videos, testimonials).
- Be transparent (include any qualifications, share exact dollar ($) amount that goes to the charity; include a “leader board” for fund-raising updates.
- Make your Web presence strong and the site easy to navigate.
- Use a variety of mediums to tell your story: video, photos, audio, etc.
- Seek volunteers aligned with your cause in many regions of the country/globe.
- "Manage” the volunteers and ensure they abide by your values, message, and purpose.
- Provide a link to a place where people can make donations quickly and easily.
- Network, network, network and find others who will spread your message.
Using Twitter for Your Campaign
- Do NOT ask for donations at the beginning; start by building/engaging a community around your cause.
- Team up with other cause marketers or cause marketing programs already on Twitter.
- Communicate personally with followers, especially those who find you. Go to their bio, read their blog, direct message them back with some bit of information that shows you took the time and effort to read about them.
- Search for people who may be interested in your cause on Twitter – do a keyword search to find them.
- Ask core volunteers to retweet for you.
- Select a hashtag (#) that makes sense and is easy to remember/use. Start using it early.
- Consider adding a Twibbon for all who are Tweeting on your cause.
- Remember to thank people on Twitter (or other social networks) for their support/donation. Also retweet when they post/tweet something nice about your organization.
- Tweet the status of the fundraising campaign regularly.
So, what do you think? Which of these are the most important? What is missing to create success?
Please share your thoughts by completing the survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/DrakeCoTwitterTips.