Charity events, galas, and $X000-a-plate dinners have been traditional ways to raise funds, even in these difficult times. And yet, social media have captured the imaginations of many a fundraising group and we have often reported on ways social media, philanthropy, and community involvement are tweaking the traditional ways to do things. Well, The Chronicle of Philanthropy is reporting on how Thompson Child and Family Focus, a charity in Charlotte, N.C., has found a way to combine all of the above.
The head of the charity, Kathy Rowan, is herself a PR specialist well acquainted with the impact social media can have. She created a table, cleverly dubbed the table to “Tweeta20,” which became the theme of the fundraising luncheon. The group raised over $4000 by reaching out to peers and colleagues, and that was over-and-above what the traditional mail-ins and ticket sales brought. The full report (a subscription to the Chronicle is required) can be read here.
Of course, Ms. Rowan and her colleagues at Thompson Child and Family Focus are too smart simply to set up some laptops and hope for the best. A great Top 10 list posted at Mashable.com a few weeks ago will help get the creative juices and, hopefully, donations flowing. To raise thousands, one must already have a network, so begin early and keep the conversation going. Then, as the fundraising showcase approaches, reach out to that network with clear and precise requests. Once the party is over and the funds are being distributed to the target constituents and causes, be sure to keep the contacts aware of what is being done with their money.
Finally, the experts who contributed their ideas to the Mashable list point out that Twitter was not designed to raise funds. Its design is to communicate quickly and broadly. Be aware of Twitter’s strengths, and set appropriate expectations of what those strengths can do for you.
Twitter is a great a many things. It’s a tool for communication. It’s a platform for spreading your message. It’s an information source, and it’s a community builder. However, using Twitter and creating hype around your cause doesn’t guarantee any cold hard cash.
[Twestival creator Amanda] Rose says she’s run into some misconceptions about the best way to use Twitter for fundraising. “Raising money takes a lot more than getting Ashton Kutcher or someone with a lot of followers to tweet about your charity,” said Rose. “That’s not Twitter fundraising; that’s creating buzz and awareness. Twitter fundraising is getting people involved with your mission on a real grass-roots level.”