Last week, I attended Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen‘s Giving 2.0 book launch at Stanford University with my children, Harry and Sara. The book’s message is simple. Anyone and everyone who gives anything — time, money, experience, skills, networks — in any amount to create a better world can be philanthropist. She shared many stories of philanthropists with far less money and notoriety than celebrities and wealthy people we typically think of as philanthropists.
She shared some ideas that anyone can take make their giving have more impact. It was an inspirational talk that spoke to my inner philanthropists and hopefully awakened the urge to give in my children! And, the book is very inspiring too and even better all proceeds from book sales are being donated to high impact nonprofits.
After the talk, I went to say hello with my kids. Laura gave them a hug and a special message — you can be philanthropist too! You can change the world! My daughter, Sara, was so taken with Laura that she took the copy of the book that Laura gave her to school the next day to share with her friends in 5th grade. Thankfully, Sara or anyone else for that matter – doesn’t need to be famous to be successful raising money for a cause.
A new white paper “The Effectiveness of Celebrity Spokespeople in Social Fundraisers,” written by my former Zoetica colleagues, Geoff Livingston and Henry T. Dunbar and commissioned by PayPal discovered after examining several online fundraising campaigns that combine celebrity and online personality presence with social media found that many celebrities do not effectively raise money for nonprofits. Instead, lesser known people fair better, particularly those that 1.) have a personal connection to the cause; 2.) are willing to engage a pre-existing network that is passionate about the cause; 3) and have an authentic relationship with the cause.
My colleague, Kami Huyse, has a terrific blog post that links to the different campaigns and has summarize the tips offer in the study.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy review of the white paper says it succinctly: “Celebrity Fundraisers May Be Overrated.” In other words, nonprofits many not necessarily get better fundraising results if they use celebrities or a-list bloggers to promote their cause if there is not an engaged community. One of the stories in the white paper was about a campaign on Facebook Causes to raise money for a new children’s hospital in San Francisco. In this campaign, a 9 year old cancer patient with no online presence generated more donations than any other individual, including Hollywood star Ashton Kutcher.
What does all this mean for your organization’s end of the year fundraising strategy?
It’s the “champion” approach for social media fundraising. The organization identifies the people most passionate about their work in their online networks or offline community and empowers them to raise money through social fundraising platforms. This is exactly what NTEN is doing this year with its Community Champions Fundraiser. As a long-time NTEN fan and member of the community, I received a personal request to join this effort along with other NTEN cheerleaders:
Not only are you a nonprofit tech superstar, you are also an integral part of the NTEN community. You have shown your support for our community in myriad ways already. Today, I’m writing to ask you to show that support again. Please become an NTEN Champion and help us raise $15,000 to support the many free programs we provide the larger nonprofit community, like our research and reports and local events.
We know that the power of NTEN is in the community, so we’re asking 25 of our most engaged community members to become Champions for NTEN. We would love your commitment to raising $500 towards our goal of $15,000 by December 31. Of course, we want to make it both easy and fun for you, so we’ll provide training, support and cheerleading along the way. If you’re already thinking, “I’m in! Where do I sign up?” head over to the RSVP page and let us know: bit.ly/vkTxmL
Here’s David Krumlauf’s page – he’s a huge NTEN booster. He page features this video about how he uses technology and why NTEN is important to him. These authentic messages from NTEN Champions tapping in their networks are the secret sauce of social media fundraising. And, tools and platforms make it easy for any of us to be philanthropists by tapping in our networks.
Being a long-time NTEN member, I didn’t hesitate to set up a personal fundraising page to help out with this campaign over at Razoo. NTEN has made it very easy to do and is providing a lot support, including a champion support site that provides step-by-step directions, sample messages, and other resources to make my fundraising campaign easy and effective.
If NTEN has a small army of champions taping into their networks, they’ll meet that goal and maybe exceed it, perhaps proving the point of Giving 2.0 that anyone can be a philanthropist and you don’t need to be celebrity to be successful at social fundraising. You need to cultivate and empower a group of champions to take into their networks using their personal stories and passion for philanthropy.
Is your organization encouraging your supporters to be philanthropists for your organization? Are you empowering champions for your organization’s end of year fundraising effort?