<< by on February 11th, 2010
On Wednesday, I was “arrested” and taken to “jail”. As part of the MDA’s Lockup fundraiser, I was asked to raise “bail”, or funds for MDA support and research. While many of the participants relied on the good old-fashioned telephone calls to their networks to raise funds, I thought I’d give social media a try to see how effectively non-profits might use social media for real-time fundraising. While this research was far from scientific, I think it does reveal some interesting (perhaps predictable) outcomes for using social media with real-time fundraising events.
Compared with my fellow “jailbirds”, I found that real-time fundraising via social media was just as effective for me as telephone calls were for my colleagues. I was “locked up” for about two hours, and during that time, I exclusively used Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for my fundraising efforts.
In the end, I raised comparable funds to my fellow fundraisers in the same time period.
Which Media Were Most Effective
So what was most effective? By far it was Twitter. Most of my donations came via Twitter and most from followers that I have regular conversations with online.
My first approach was to simply broadcast news of my “arrest” and goals to raise money for the MDA. But what also worked well was targeting local Twitter colleagues by addressing them directly in the tweet, such as: “@jstatad I’m stuck in “jail” at the Omni to raise money for the MDA? Can you help “bail” me out?”. The main reason I think this approach was effective was that many may lose sight of the broadcast if their respective Twitter streams are very long. But by addressing them directly in a tweet, it put the tweet in their mentions, which made it easier to see for the respective follower. This approach brought in several donations and many retweets.
What About Facebook?
I added photos, updated my status and more on Facebook, but I didn’t see much response from that. What seemed to work best on Facebook was the online chat — connecting directly with friends who were online at the time. I received a donation and several Twitter retweets by asking friends directly through Facebook chat.
I expect that Facebook status updates and pics may have been less effective than real-time chat because many friends don’t log in to Facebook during the day (or even for several days), and may have even missed the status update in their news feeds.
What About LinkedIn?
Unfortunately, LinkedIn didn’t provide any Twitter retweets or donations. I expect this is likely because fewer users update or review their LinkedIn statuses as often as they do Twitter or Facebook. It doesn’t appear to be a terribly effective real-time communication tool at this time.
So was social media more or less effective than traditional fundraising efforts, such telephone calls? It’s hard to say for sure, but it appears that it may be equally effective. However, like telephone calls, it appears that the personal, one-on-one social media connection, such as through Facebook chat or Twitter mentions, is the best approach to real-time fundraising.