How to use social media to inspire 40,000 people to give on one day | Beth's Blog

How to use social media to inspire 40,000 people to give on one day


Note from Beth: Last year I covered Give to the Max Day and the impressive results.   Since I’m enroute to Kenya, I invited Jeff Achen to share his thoughts.   Go Minnesota!

How to use social media to inspire 40,000 people to give on one day
by Jeff Achen,

On November 16, 2010, Minnesotans will take part in Give to the Max Day. This incredible online fund raising event raised more than $14 million last year, and we’re hoping to raise the bar higher this year by engaging more than 40,000 donors to donate to any of Minnesota’s more than 26,000 nonprofits using

No doubt social media is a key part of our promotional and event strategy. In fact, this may be one of the largest collaborative social media efforts in the nonprofit world.

Social media success: collaborate, inform, build, engage

To promote the greatest participation on Nov. 16, we’ve hit the ground running with a robust social media plan that involves Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Livestream and blogs. Here are some of the steps we’ve taken as part of our social media strategy:

We created a social media guide, something for nonprofit staff to download and use to plan their own social media outreach strategy. You can download a copy of the guide here. Our thinking was that many nonprofits wanted guidance, perhaps even a little training, on how to best use Facebook and Twitter to drive giving.

We produced a Public Service Announcement video with some well-known Minnesotans (comedian Louie Anderson, NFL defensive end Ray Edwards, rapper Toki Wright to name a few). This video is getting lots of play on our YouTube channel, has been picked up by several major metro television stations, and was played on the jumbotron at an NBA game Nov. 12.

We’ve partnered with, a nonprofit, online video news gathering organization, which will broadcast live coverage of Give to the Max Day using is a web service that enables users to create free accounts and broadcast video live over the Internet. will broadcast from 8:30 a.m. CST to midnight, when Give to the Max Day ends. They’ll interview nonprofit leaders throughout the day. We also have Minneapolis/St. Paul musicians and performers lined up to perform periodically. GiveMN staff will also be giving updates and announcing the hourly prize grant recipients. You can view the Livestream “give-a-thon” on the Give to the Max Day home page.   Some local news websites will also be hosting the Livestream feed on their sites throughout the day.

We created a hashtag for the event: #GTMD2010 and are already seeing a lot of chatter on Twitter. I was a guest on a popular Minnesota Tweetchat #nptalk last week to talk about online collaborative fundraising and Give to the Max Day. And, we have a Tweetup planned for Nov. 16 where folks can network, enjoy some food and beverages and listen to a local musician perform during the Livestream broadcast.

We partnered with a local YouTube personality, Chuck Olson, who created a YouTube persona just for Give to the Max Day named Dr. Garry. Dr. Garry has produced one YouTube already and will take questions via phone or Twitter (@askdrgarry) in a fun format that we think will be a hit with social media aficionados and promote giving. Dr. Garry has coined the term “emotisfaction” to describe that feeling of joy one gets from giving. We’re turning that word into a hashtag we hope people will use to share their stories of what motivated them to give and which organizations they support. #emotisfaction

And, we couldn’t exist without our platform partners at, a national online fundraising website and web services company that offers innovative web-based products and services to help nonprofits, foundations, and corporations achieve their philanthropic goals. They’ve created all of the innovative tools on, including social media sharing tools that enable donors to instantly Tweet, Facebook or email their friends about donations they’ve made or nonprofits they support.

We’ve structured the event and prizes, such as the hourly “Golden Ticket,” so that there will be plenty to communicate using social media. We hope that the level of social media buzz before, on and after Give to the Max Day will be unprecedented. Will you help us? Simply join in the fun by following us on Nov. 16. The Twitter hashtag is #GTMD2010. We’re on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

And, even if you don’t live in Minnesota, consider donating a little to one Minnesota nonprofit on Nov. 16 at We invited you to be part of the Great Minnesota Give Together.

What is

GiveMN is an innovative online resource that is changing the way Minnesotans give and helping create a stronger nonprofit community for Minnesota. GiveMN is an independent 501(c) (3) supporting organization of the Minnesota Community Foundation. Many partners shaped GiveMN to build upon Minnesota’s strong tradition of philanthropy, including: ADC, Blandin Foundation, Briggs & Morgan, Bush Foundation, Central Minnesota Community Foundation, Ecolab Foundation, F.R. Bigelow Foundation, Greater Twin Cities United Way, HealthPartners, Initiative Foundation, The Minneapolis Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, Northland Foundation, Northwest Minnesota Foundation, The Saint Paul Foundation, Southern Initiative Foundation, Southwest Initiative Foundation, Target, West Central Initiative Foundation and Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.

What is Give to the Max Day?

Give to the Max Day is one day to inspire unprecedented levels of charitable giving online in the state of Minnesota. Hundreds of nonprofits will offer the opportunity to double donation dollars throughout the 24 hours. Nonprofits which offer a donation match will be highlighted on a special search page on Every donation donors make gives their favorite organizations the chance to win the “Golden Ticket” — one donor will be randomly chosen every hour to have $1,000 added to their donation. And, the four nonprofits that get the most people to donate during this event will receive $20,000 for first place and $10,000 for second place.

About Jeff
Jeff Achen is the interactive media strategist for GiveMN. Jeff manages the day-to-day operations, communication efforts and social media strategy for GiveMN, including the GiveMN blog, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Prior to joining GiveMN, Jeff was a multimedia reporter, editor and producer for ECM Publishers, Inc., a community newspaper group in central Minnesota.

10 Responses

  1. Form ADV says:

    The internet is a very powerful social network for helping people in need.

  2. Geri Stengel says:

    A fine example of both collaboration and cross-promoting, two pillars on which nonprofit success with social media rest. As we found in our urvey of nonprofits , nonprofits are learning that social media require working with a community of like-minded people and that one medium supports the other.

  3. Jay Geneske says:

    Fantastic work! Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

  4. @jasoninman says:

    Wow, definitely the most extensive social media campaign I’ve ever heard of. I wonder what the budget is?

  5. Jeff Achen says:

    @jasoninman The budget for social media? We accomplished all of this through the generous support of nonprofit staff who collaborated and/or volunteered to lend their services and time. is a nonprofit, so they saw some benefit from hosting the Livestream, in addition to wanting to support the nonprofit community. We produced the celebrity video in house and simply reached out through our collective networks of friends, colleagues and nonprofits to the celebrities to ask for their participation. Chuck Olsen volunteered his time to create Dr. Garry. As for the budget for Give to the Max Day, I’m not sure, but it was funded by General Mills Foundation, Bush Foundation, The Saint Paul Foundation, The Minneapolis Foundation, Salute Dental and Mosaic. Thanks to everyone who was involved. It was a huge success with over $10 million raised! We exceeded our goal of 40,000 donors this year with a grand total of 42,596 donors in 24 hours!

  6. @jasoninman says:


    That’s incredible, this is a huge inspiration to hear about. Minnesota is setting the precedent for not only the rest of the country but for government entities in general. Great work!

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