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November at NCCF Means Giving Back

14 Nov

An Impressive Initiative

The Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation (NCCF), of Chautauqua, New York, has launched one of the most creative social media campaigns I’ve seen.  The foundation is a nonprofit group that distributes grants and scholarships to their community.  One of their initiatives, AmazingCounty.com is an online treasure hunt that allows users to solve clues and perform tasks to earn points, and each point is a chance to win a prize (daily, weekly, or special event).  There’s also a grand prize and runner-up prize at the end of each month.  Multiple sponsors make Amazing County possible, and all the prizes given out are donated.  The program allows community members to explore their local resources, while competing in activities such as puzzles, videos and activities.

The Ultimate Interactivity

Some of the tasks are as easy as posting discussions on Facebook.  Not only does this simplicity encourage users to participate, but it allows for interaction between the foundation and members of the community.

November marks the last full-scale online treasure hunt, and the theme, appropriately, is giving back and philanthropy.  People have been discussing how they plan to give back to their community on Facebook.

(Small) Room for Improvement

Amazing County is also on Twitter. I noticed there aren’t nearly as many followers here compared to their Facebook page (26 on Twitter compared to 521 on Facebook!), but on the surface the Twitter site looks like a great place to see opportunities to score points.  Looking a little deeper, one tweet tells users that they’ll receive 500 points for each person who joins that they invite.  Invite where?  To what?  Some of these tweets are a little confusing.  Overall, it seem like the Twitter page mostly directs users to the Facebook page to see challenges, which is why there probably aren’t as many followers.

Regardless of this minor detail, this is an awesome effort to connect the community virtually, and create a space where they can share knowledge and pride for their area, while having fun competing in the challenges and activities.  Hats off to you, NCCF.

More good stuff from Chad Norman

8 Nov

Remember one of my very first posts where I shared a video about 50 tactics for nonprofits trying to tackle social media?  It was a great video, and its sequel from Chad Norman is just as good.  Check out 50 (More) Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits:

View Video Here

 

With a site called TweetReach, you can see how far your tweets travel.  You can also create a branded page for your charity on Foursquare… actually, a ton of slides in this presentation are dedicated to Foursquare.  Check out the page for Wildlife Watch. Facebook is also mentioned frequently, but there are some other apps that Norman talks about that can be very useful for nonprofit groups.  This is a great resource for new, smaller campaigns to look for ideas.

Spreading Positivity, One Crane at a Time

2 Nov

Making a movement viral

Sometimes charities utilize social media to spread awareness or start a viral movement, rather than solely to raise money.  Sometimes these efforts lead to raising money.  But before any fundraising takes place, a group has to spread awareness about their cause, and the more people reached, the better.  Take for instance, breast cancer awareness, and the millions of status updates on Facebook (“I like it on the …”), a movement that didn’t raise any money, but absolutely got people thinking.

Sandy’s cranes

Here’s a project that a fellow blogger has taken on, called Sandy and the 1000 Paper Cranes, and I think it’s a really cool idea.  Sandy isn’t trying to raise any money, and isn’t sponsoring any big charity or organization, so this is a bit of a side step from my usual beat.  But Sandy is spreading something positive, and sometimes a kind gesture or happy thought can pick up someone’s day (or at least an hour or so).  On her About Page, Sandy says, “My hope is that people will see the

Crane 111: Lucky

crane and be influenced in a positive way, even if it’s just a pleasant thought. Without being too whimsical or naive, I just wanted to spread a bit of happiness around in a relatively simple way.”

Sandy aims to fold 1000 Paper Cranes and place them in random different locations, with hopes that people will find them.  Each crane has a different positive word on it, and as of October 30, 2010, 111 cranes have been released.  The website is also listed on the crane, so if people find a crane they can visit the site and make a comment.  One person found a crane while on a trip in Washington, D.C.:

I recently returned from a deployment to Iraq, and am visiting my parents in Virginia for the first time in a year. I went to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History with my father yesterday, and as I was admiring the expo on ancient humans, I noticed one of your cranes right on the table next to me. Number 103, savor reminds me to savor the time that I have with my family right now. I will hold onto this crane and place it somewhere in Tacoma, WA, when I return to Fort Lewis next week! Thanks for such an interesting and thought provoking idea.” -A Lieutenant stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington

Another cool part about this is that this person said upon returning, they planned to place it somewhere new, sort of like a pay-it-forward concept.

The blogosphere: connecting a project with its followers

Crane 107: Pleasure

By connecting her project with a blog, Sandy is able to connect with her followers in a way she couldn’t otherwise so.  Sandy’s blog tracks all the cranes she makes, with pictures, where they’re placed and when.  The bog entries also have a definition for each word and a little anecdote from Sandy regarding where it was placed.  She then offers the ability for finders to voice their feelings about the positive words and share the action they take from there.  If you want to help out and make a crane, visit Sandy’s site and join the movement!

A New Way To Say Thanks

25 Oct

The currency of appreciation

Twollars is a concept that began in 2009 as a way to thank people.  The program, based in Spain, aims to harness the positive social energy on Twitter and give it a symbolic form that can be converted into hard money. Here’s how it works: people give Twollars as a thank-you gesture to anyone- friends, family, etc. and then the receiver donates the Twollar to a charity of choice.  Every Twitter user automatically has a page where they can tweet people to thank them with Twollars, and the page also displays their account balance and “generosity ranking.”  Every user has a starting balance of 50 Twollars.

Here’s what my page looks like:

My Twollars Page

These donated Twollars are converted into real dollars when partnering businesses and individuals “purchase” the Twollars in exchange for real money at a rate of $1 for 10 Twollars.  Often businesses give out Twollars to customers who purchase their products or support their brand as a thank-you note.

Here are the tips the site suggests for getting more Twollars:

  • Tweet good tweets :-) . Engage with, and help people by passing along useful tips. Be generous and give lots of Twollars away, and others may send you Twollars as well.
  • Ask people to send you Twollars – Tweet This! (be sure to replace it with your Twitter name)
  • Go to one of the websites that rewards its users and visitors by giving away Twollars. Since we have just launched this new service, there aren’t many
    sites in the Twollars programme yet. Over time we expect many to join. So, be sure to check back soon.
  • You can also purchase Twollars directly from a Charity. The exchange rate is at $1 for 10 Twollars.

Here’s an example

One charity on Twollars is called Miles The Bear (BearsOnPatrol) an organization that provides police officers with free teddy bears to use in situations that are traumatic for small children.  100 Twollars buys one teddy bear.  This is such an easy way to raise money, and the best part is anyone can help by simply logging onto Twitter and donating Twollars.  Even more amazing is the fact that users don’t really have to pay anything- it’s supporting businesses that are “purchasing” the Twollars from charities, so people that are tweeting their support aren’t even paying to do so.

Founder Eiso Kant explains why he started Twollars and how the project has developed (Interview with Robert Scoble of Scobleizer.Com):

Act Bolder: Do Good. Get Rewarded.

22 Oct

Bolder is a lesser-known platform that allows businesses to connect with their customers by creating “challenges” to encourage positive action.  Some recent challenges have been ‘Use a reusable mug, bag, or container,’ or ‘Get out and pick up trash.’  There’s no single cause on Bolder, but there are a few different categories such as health and fitness or culture and community.  The challenges are as simple as ditching bottled water for a day, or a little more involved like donating books to a local library.  Businesses post challenges through Facebook and Twitter (handled by Bolder), then users post stories or pictures about their actions and in exchange the businesses provide incentives- typically discounts or gift cards.

Bolder isn’t necessarily raising money for charity.  Actually, businesses that team up with Bolder are profiting and driving sales through social media.  But when their customers take on challenges, they’re taking a stand against current issues, while getting rewarded.  It’s a win for both sides.

Coffee costs and college priorities

14 Oct

How much do you spend on coffee each week?

 

socializeyourcause.org

 

I had an ‘ah-ha’ moment today after reading a great article on Socialize Your Cause, a  social media consulting team that promotes and advises on nonprofit fundraising.  The article considers the contributions that could be made to charity if a single cup of coffee was given up each week.  It displays possible weekly and annual costs of coffee, and the coordinating amount of money that could be donated.  It makes you wonder how much a place like Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks could raise by donating every cup of coffee purchased to a charity on any given day.

The chart looks like this:

 

weekly coffee costs

 

 

annual coffee costs

Considering priorities

It’s such a simple concept, and one that can be applied concerning college students.  Students are notorious for being broke, or at least complaining about being broke all the time.  Yet somehow they make it to the bar every weekend, followed by a pizza or a tray of wings (at least in my building) and somehow the girls are always wearing the latest fashions.  How does that work?  There’s some prioritizing going on here, as there should be, but maybe if students were advised on the statistics and could see the possible results of forgoing one or two weekly expenses, they might reconsider.  I’d argue that most students over 21 go to the bar at least once a week.  That’s a $5 cover fee (typically), plus the costs of drinks, which adds up.  People shell out anywhere from $5 – $50 in a single outing.  College students spend approximately %5.5 billion on alcohol each year.  Applying the same logic as used in the coffee study, students could potentially raise even more money by giving up one night at the bar and opting for another activity.

The pressing question

This raises the question ‘is it worth it’.  Are students willing to actually skip the bar or a night of partying to raise money for a charity, perhaps that they don’t really know or care about?  Well maybe not each week, but even

 

typical drink prices at a local campus bar

 

once a month could make a difference.  There’s other related options, too.  Bar nights are win-wins, since people get to go out and have fun while raising money for a good cause.  I’ve been trying to think of ways to raise money without imposing pressure on my peers.  But when you think about it in these terms, $3, $4, even $5 really isn’t that much compared to how much students spend on drinking, or on groceries, new clothes and coffee.  I like to think that even if they haven’t been to the school in Shanghai, or really grasp how much these kids need the help, they’d still donate or help me raise the money because they’re my friends and they care about my intentions.