Leveraging Social Media to Maximize your Fundraiser

Earlier this year I decided to run my first marathon and create a Fundraiser around the race. I had always donated when friends and co-workers were participating in an event for a cause. Regretfully, I had never done anything proactive myself. My very good friend Tony whom I’ve known since High School has a son Drew who was diagnosed with a fatal degenerative disease know as Batten Disease in 2007. So it was a no-brainer for me that I would be running for Drew’s Hope Research Foundation.

The research began to find a platform where I could get the word out and would securely and easily accept donations. After many hours on the net I found Crowdrise. It was the best solution for my needs would allow me to get this fundraiser off the ground.

Crowdrise – Turns out Crowdrise has had plenty of publicity and actor Ed Norton is one of the founders. Many of the other online fundraising sites require you to actually be from the nonprofit. Crowdrise caters to fundraisers, projects, and charities. It really has a social media flavor to it, allowing you to upload pictures and videos to your page. Here is the page I created: Run for Drew Crowdrise Page Crowdrise also allows you to easily tweet, post to Facebook, and e-mail all directly from your page. Another pro on crowdrise was how the charity gets paid. Instead of waiting until the event is completed, a check is sent each month in the amount that was collected in the previous thirty days. My only complaint with Crowdrise was the optional tip they asked for at checkout, on top of the 6-9% taken out for fees (on the higher end). Overall though Crowdrise delivered and the experience was positive.

Using the Big Four – I also used Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google + to get the word out. My network also did an excellent job of spreading the word through retweet’s and sharing. I was conscious of the frequency with which I communicated the message. The first week and last week I sent it out twice on all four networks. In between, it was once every four weeks. This was a good balance. Probably not surprising to most, Facebook turned out to be the most beneficial network.

E-Mail – It was paramount that I send a message to all my Facebook friends that knew Tony from East Brunswick High School (NJ). Simple enough right? Well yes fairly simple. I exported all the addresses from Facebook (How to Export E-mail addresses from Facebook) to a .CSV file, did some filtering, and now had my list. I sent my message through G-Mail, and kept my recipients to fewer than 100. I did this once to kickoff, and again closer to the event (to people that hadn’t made a donation). Facebook was a huge help to the entire project.

Set a Goal, but Temper Expectations – The goal was to raise $10K. I figured 200 people at $50 was realistic. I remember as the months progressed being disappointed in many that didn’t donate. I spoke to a good friend that brought me back to earth. My friend pointed out that you don’t know everyone’s financial situation and/or they had it on their list but forgot. Or perhaps donating a small amount would be embarrassing. My thought is no amount is embarrassing, but I understand. The economic climate isn’t the best for raising money, so keep your goal conservative and expectations in check. Say Thank You directly to all that donate. It was a great experience that I would highly suggest. A total of $4040 was raised for Drew’s Hope.