Note From Beth: I’m a huge fan of Giving Days because they raise the awareness, engagement, and donations to nonprofits and being generous. Last week, we watched as a national day of giving and awareness campaign for “Giving Tuesday” unfold and spur spikes in donations. As I wrote back in September when first covering Giving Tuesday, Giving Days are not a new idea and have been successful in local communities and entire states, like GiveMN which raised many millions of dollars in 24 hours using the Razoo platform its first year. Razoo has also promoted local giving days, including Twive and Receive and recently announced reaching a milestone of raising $100 million. And over the years, many other communities and states have copied the idea – for example Georgia Gives Back Day.
These local giving days focus more a community approach and help nonprofits build capacity in fundraising on all channels, while also promoting the idea of a Giving Day in the local community or geographic area. I couldn’t help but wonder what might happen if there was a coordinated series of giving days in local communities that all took place under the back drop of Giving Tuesday’s ability to harness national attention or even world wide attention. The combination of bottom up and top down strategies could be powerful. I couldn’t help but also think how powerful it would be if an organization like the Case Foundation hosted a convening of those involved with various giving days and challenges to share best practices and learning, perhaps leading to something even global.
But for now, let’s hear from the Grandfather of all Giving Days – GiveMN. I’ve been cheering GiveMN for four years now and every year they graciously agree to do a reflection post on how it all went and what they learned.
GiveMN 2012 by the Numbers by Jeff Achen, GiveMN Digital Strategist
It was an amazing day of giving for our state—$16.3 million raised for over 4,300 nonprofits and schools by more than 53,000 individual donors. To get there, we employed a number of strategies, but chief among them was social media.
Social media has always been a key communication tool for Give to the Max Day. But this year, the buzz leading up to the November 15 event on Twitter and Facebook, as well as on sites like YouTube and Linkedin, was even stronger. Based on our post-event survey of more than 9,000 individual donors, 67 percent heard about the event via email, 23 percent via Facebook, and 4 percent via Twitter. Other channels included TV news, radio, newspapers, websites, phone calls, and through friends or family.
For “giving days”—which are becoming increasingly popular all over the country—social networking and digital communication such as email and blogging are key to driving big results. After all, social media is a space for sharing stories, making charitable giving fun or even “cool,” and for making giving a little bit competitive through prize grant incentives. According to our survey, 41 percent of respondents said they “like” GiveMN or their favorite nonprofit or school on Facebook. A quick look at the social media data from Give to the Max Day 2012 shows a sizable jump over the previous year. Check it out:
Each year since the event started in 2009, we’ve seen these numbers grow. Certainly there’s been a correlating growth in the adoption rate of social media by the general public as well as nonprofits and schools themselves. Nevertheless, we believe that our efforts to help Minnesota nonprofits and schools become “Networked Nonprofits,” to nurture social media usage and provide tools for integrating social media, have been key to driving the amazing results we saw again this year. We saw an incredible range of creative campaigns using social media for Give to the Max Day this year. Our friends at Fast Horse posted a nice summary here.
Here’s a little of what GiveMN did to goose social media participation:
In-person training across the state
Thanks to a generous grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation, GiveMN staff were able to travel around the state in September and October to offer nonprofit organizations in-person training on the GiveMN.org platform and advise them in online fundraising for Give to the Max Day. We were able to coach many nonprofit staff on best practices using email, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
Social media specific webinars
New this year, we offered a series of webinars specifically dedicated to using Facebook, Twitter, Email and mobile devices for fundraising on Give to the Max Day. It was exciting to see that many of the nonprofits and schools adopted our tactics and put them to use leading up to and on the day of the event. Check out the webinars here.
Social media tips & tactics guide
As in previous years, we assembled a “social media planning guide.” This 6-page guide laid out specific steps for using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as advice for connecting offline events and media opportunities offered during Give to the Max Day. Offline events included a young professionals networking “happy hour” at Rainforest Café in Mall of America and a live video “telethon” from Mall of America on which nonprofits and schools could introduce themselves and explain how funds raised that day would further their missions and work.
Internal social media coordination, organization and planning
We made a much more deliberate attempt to organize social media efforts in 2012. This meant pre-formatted social media messages and the creation of a spreadsheet of our sponsors and partners along with their websites, Facebook pages and Twitter handles. Personally, I had operated under a false premise until now that organizations and individuals didn’t want to be told what and how to post. However, we found that a number of nonprofits, schools and promotional partners were hungry for messaging and looked to us for guidance for drafting these messages. A spreadsheet with all of the websites, Facebook page URLs and Twitter handles of all our partners was useful whenever we wanted to mention them in a message, and for our social media volunteers at SocialNicole.com and Minnesota Philanthropy Partners who were pre-formatting sponsorship and partner thank you posts for the day of the event. By writing many of the thank you and promotional tweets and Facebook posts ahead of time, our social media team could concentrate on more spontaneous messaging and be responsive to those with whom we were engaging.
Incentivize video creation and video sharing
In addition to three video public service announcements we produced featuring Minnesota Vikings Defensive End Brian Robison, Minnesota Twins Pitcher Glen Perkins and Minnesota R&B artists Stokley Williams (of Mint Condition) & OSO, we also partnered with Youthprise to sponsor a video contest. Youthprise, a youth-serving nonprofit and grantmaking organization put up $14,000 in prize grants for the contest. Two grand prize winners were selected as well as winners in second through fifth place. This resulted in 72 entries which were shared and viewed widely across social media.
Experimented with a Facebook promoted post
In 2010, we created a targeted Facebook ad with a budget of $250. We ran the ad for the week of Give to the Max Day 2010 and in the end only spent $44.71 resulting in 280,291 impressions and only 41 clicks. We decided to revisit advertising on Facebook this year using the new promoted posts. We promoted one of our PSA videos for just the day of the event. The results were promising: $200 budgeted resulting in 56,916 impressions and 1,075 clicks. Since the promoted post was a video and had a strong call to action (today is the day to donate) we feel it was a great use of promoted posts.
Of course, success was also driven largely by news media coverage, for which we credit our wonderful partners at Padilla Speer Beardsley, as well as a host of media partners who ran Give to the Max Day digital and print ads at no cost. And, there were many offline events and printed marketing/communication materials that contributed to the turnout.
And, we want to give HUGE props to our wonderful technology partners at Razoo who did a fantastic job planning and operating the platform for this event, in spite of what turned out to be unprecedented web traffic (up to 3x as many concurrent connections in the morning hours as last year’s event).
In the end, credit goes to the thousands of people who care about Minnesota and showed some love on Give to the Max Day. Their generosity on November 15 is helping thousands of nonprofits and schools for months and years to come.
Jeff Achen is the interactive media strategist for GiveMN. Jeff is in charge of video production, photography, graphic design, communication efforts and social media strategy for GiveMN, including the GiveMN blog, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.