On Sunday, March 7, I will participate in the American Cancer Society Spin for Hope. Through the fundraising process, I've had the opportunity to see how far nonprofits have come in utilizing social networks to enhance development around events.
The ACS appears to have a firm grasp on the concept of working through others for fundraising, more so than many commercial businesses. Here are just a couple of the ways the ACS has helped me become an effective fundraiser:
Email Outreach - The ACS provides form letters (which I chose to customize to my voice), and a vehicle through which to email, remind, and thank friends and relatives. They also make email management easy by sending notices of any letters which bounced back.
Social Networks - Through my participant center on the event website, I was able to install a widget onto Facebook and enable the ACS to post progress updates to my wall. I could also follow the conversations on Twitter and LinkedIn.
While it is clear that the ACS has embraced new media for fundraising efforts, I would make the following suggestions as they (and other charities) continue to expand their social footprints:
Email Outreach - Offer guidance to event participants on how to structure, write, and customize effective appeal, reminder, and thank-you letters. Apply different versions of the form letter to donor profiles - or personas- to enhance their effectiveness. Allow participants to provide this information about their target audiences following the registration process.
Social Networks - Allow participants to place links within letters on personal fundraising pages, such as an honoree website, participant's blog (just sayin'),etc. Provide guidance to those who are not accustomed to using social networks for fundraising, such as how to leverage social communities vs straight request for funds.
And to put this all into practice, I will close this post with a plug for donations via my own fundraising page. Please consider donating to help make a difference in the battle against cancer.
And...kudos to the ACS on their event marketing.