Monthly Archives: January 2011

Social Media fundraising case study: The perfect storm

Just giving flashFundraising using social media can be like nailing jelly to the wall – even organisations like the Red Cross, with a huge online following, only leverage a tiny percentage of their overall donations via the web.

There are success stories though, and they tend to follow a very set formula:

  • Single, issue or individual-based appeals
  • A good back story
  • A clear picture of what the money will achieve
  • A realistic target
  • A deadline
  • Supported through traditional fundraising and PR channels

When all these things come together, you get the “perfect storm” for online fundraising.

Putting it together

I got a good first-hand example of this recently when one of our clients, horse rescue charity HorseWorld suffered a break-in the night after their annual fund-raising Christmas Carol concert.

The £5000 they had raised was stolen – a huge blow after one of their most important fundraising events of the year.

We’d recently been working with HorseWorld on strategising for social media, and – despite some initial reluctance – they decided this setback was an opportunity to dip their toes into the world of fundraising through social media.

Through their JustGiving page, and promoted via Facebook and Twitter – as well as in the press and through their other fundraising channels, they quickly met the target and at the last count were over £10,ooo to the good – 200% of the original money that was taken.

HorseWorld succeeded because they had – and created – the perfect social media storm:

Single issue: They were only looking to  replace money that was stolen, a very clear aim and a manageable scale.

A good back story: The burglary, especially at Christmas, was an emotive story. They followed up with some great update stories on individual givers to keep the story alive.

A clear picture of what the money will achieve: They equated the money to what it would it would have done for the horses in their care – paid for winter feed

A realistic target: It’s the oldest fundraising trick in the book, set a target that individual givers can see their small donation impacting- the “church roof appeal thermometer” technique.

A deadline: When people feel like they’d like to help, they can still need a sense of urgency to make them act. Setting a target, and  a time to reach it, can do that.

Supported through traditional fundraising routes: One of the key things I always say to fundraisers stepping into social media for the first time is to remember that it is simply a tool to help you do your traditional fundraising job, it’s not a different discipline. HorseWorld were extremely effective in leveraging local media, their supporters and existing donors to promote this campaign.