The Great Recession hardly seems over, though most are confident that we have worked through the deepest part of the proverbial woods. Nonprofits, whose work is even more vital for many thousands of people during an economic downturn, suffered as well. But a few were able to fight the long dark night by sticking to a simple strategy that proved effective before the recession and even helped them expand their Return On Investment (ROI) through the downturn..
The case before us: Livestrong, the cancer-survivors’ organization and network that provides support for those getting treatment and help staying fit while living with cancer.
The yellow bracelets raised millions at $1 a pop, but the support stream from the bracelets was already slowing before the economic crisis hit. Instead of retrenchment, Livestrong went on the attack: it hired a full-time social-media ‘evangelist,’ Brooke McMillan, who remains the voice of the organization’s Twitter feeds.
She has since expanded her team and coordinated their outreach with that of Lance Armstrong himself. And millions of followers later, the community amplifies the voices of anyone who participates in the programs.
The result? According to analysis by SocialMediaExaminer.com:
- The 2009 LIVESTRONG Challenge raised $10.8 million – a record for the 13-year event in a down economic year.
- Online store sales set a new record in the rough 2009 holiday season.
- LIVESTRONG collected 70,000 signatures for a healthcare petition.
- Twitter matching challenges have brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The recession feels for most of us like it continues. But so does the sale of $1 wristbands, perhaps the icon of microdonations having a macro impact.that some 7+ million were sold last year.
The scale of success of Livestrong is perhaps unique, but the strategies are not: Develop an authentic social-media voice as part of a larger outreach plan. Find little innovations that capture the spirit of your nonprofit and broadcast them to the world. Do not shy away from the challenges of a tough economy. Thousands are ready to follow your lead.