The annual holiday donation is something that many companies participate in by gifting to a charity of choice. The end result may be positive association or recognition for their brand giving back to the community. Aside from the feel-good factor (and possibly promo gifts), the possible benefits could also include marketing assets like a press release, social media mention, or photo to help cast a type of brand awareness “halo effect.” However, other than being included in a donor summary list, chances are that your company name may not go further than the Foundation’s record books or a Facebook status update.
But what if you can find a charity and a company keen to do more and make a splash? It could be a match made in crowdfunding heaven.
As November rolled around, it came time to decide how to direct the client’s annual holiday donation. They inspired us to advocate for the cause of autism awareness and set out to take the route of crowdfunding. Instead of cutting a cheque, this unconventional approach could provide the client great exposure and amplify their initial donation. The goal was to raise $2,500 with the client willing to match donations up to $10,000.
But with less than a month until Christmas, the clock was ticking and the social media snowball had very little time to build.
Rather than cut a cheque, the client welcomed the challenge to try and promote their charity recipient by using social media and crowdfunding to match the earmarked donation. We worked to find a recipient charity that was agile enough to welcome this gutsy project, as well as support it with its own network. Autism Ontario stepped up to bat and was a powerful partner in promoting the campaign.
The teenaged nephew of one of the company employees inspired the creative concept of the campaign. The ask was simple – Give a Latte. Give up your daily cup of coffee today and donate the funds to Anthony’s cause instead. Though the ask was to trade in a $5 latte, donors often contributed more than that minimum request. Framing the value of the donation relative to a cup of coffee made it easy to understand.
Using Twitter, Facebook, and email marketing, we targeted media, celebrities, and advocacy groups to spread the word. In fact, according to Nonprofit Tech for Good, email has the highest ROI of any channel and is typically responsible for a third of non-profit fundraising. The supporting content created included blog posts and press releases around autism awareness, particularly drawing attention to teens and adults in order to inform the about the needs the campaign would serve.
Though time appeared to be ticking against Give a Latte, Nonprofit Tech for Good finds that 31% of charitable giving happens in the month of December. The ability to quickly assemble collaborators and activate the campaign got it off the ground in record time and the digital wave sparked over social and email drove donations immediately. The modest goal of $2,500 was quickly demolished.
As people learned about the campaign, they clicked with the concept and also with the video landing page housing a message from Anthony. Above all, people knew someone directly impacted by autism and were often surprised by the information we had researched about funding gaps for teens and adults. Marketing a cute toddler may make it easier to loosen wallets and play on heartstrings, but educating the public about the imminent needs of teens and adults motivated the whole team.
In the end, the campaign achieved 404% of its initial funding goal, with a $20,000 cheque delivered to Autism Ontario in the New Year. The client received a lot of positive exposure through the banners, social media cross-promotion, and press release content created to support the campaign.
Almost as critical is the post-campaign content to help communicate its successful outcome. A press release, email blast, and social media thank you messages connected donors to the awesome hero story of the little campaign that could.
Great ideas usually arrive unannounced. But the mettle of any associate or specialist shows when working their craft hard under tight timelines, and our team of collaborators helped to spark a conversation during an extremely saturated time of year. No one wants to fight Santa, but the campaign was able to succeed with its relatable subject and simple ask – and we were happy to claw dollar bills from him for our cause.
The Guardian writes about the actions and results of non-profits in the UK and reinforces the critical factor of picking a platform (and strategy) that minimizes the distractions and makes donating easy. Working with a very targeted audience and taking a “less is more” approach to content kept focus on the key action – donate now.