Ernan’s Insights on Marketing Best Practices

Monday, March 7, 2011

Social Media's Power To Help Charities Engage Donors: Relationship Marketing Innovator; Free The Children

THE CHALLENGE: According to a survey from Merrill Lynch and Indiana University, charitable organizations around the country are reporting a noticeable drop in donor contributions. Wealthy donors in particular are cutting back sharply on donations.
THE SOLUTION: Broaden and strengthen your base...by enlisting social media to recruit true evangelists who will advocate for your organization on an ongoing basis.
I recently interviewed a fascinating Relationship Marketing Innovator, Craig Kielburger. He is the founder of Free the Children, the world’s largest network of children helping children through education, with more than one million youth involved in their innovative education and development programs in 45 countries. The primary goals of the organization are to “free children from poverty and exploitation and free young people from the notion that they are powerless to affect positive change in the world”.
FTC’s Facebook fan base has nearly doubled in the past year. I asked Craig to share some of the social media best practices his organization uses to attract evangelists and broaden his total base of stakeholders, even in a down economy. Here's what he recommends:
Reach out to your community members regularly to learn what's relevant to them. Remember that the true power of social media tools lies in your ability to generate and sustain two-way conversations with them. Build your "live" events around what really matters most to your stakeholders.
Ramp up the "sharability" of your content. Make it easy to tell others about the event, idea, or cause you're sponsoring. Make it easy for them to express interest or approval in what you are doing.
Maintain an ongoing dialogue with “hand raisers.” This means constantly cultivating those initial (low-risk) expression of interest (see above), and then using that initial contact as the first step in donor acquisition. According to Craig, “within one week of any event (or initiative), individuals who expressed interest in learning more receive both an e-mail and a phone call to help them build an action plan. This serves as the first step to engagement and involvement with Free the Children.”
Let more of your individual team members give a “face” to your social message. Many people are more likely to "follow" an individual who posts regularly on Facebook than they are to follow institution.
Don't send irrelevant messages to your stakeholders. Respect their trust; communicate only what is relevant to them.
Click here to read the CMO.com article: “How Dannon Cultured Multichannel Marketing.”
Try This:
Use social media to stay connected and transparent with both current donors and new prospective donors. Engaging with both groups can help you to build up an army of evangelists who will spread the word about your cause.
To do this, consider modeling successful, targeted charitable initiatives that engage, inform, and mobilize both current and future stakeholders.
For instance: Free The Children’s annual “We Day” events, have inspired schoolchildren to volunteer more than 2 million hours of their time and raised $10 million for 500 causes.