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.

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Darius Makes A Movie, Begins A Movement

12 Oct

In an article on Mashable, I watched a video for the Darius Goes West campaign.  For those who haven’t heard of this project, Darius Weems, who suffers from DMD, and 11 of his friends road-tripped across the country six years ago in a trailor while filming an award-winning documentary to raise money for research on the disease.  Darius lost his brother to same disease at age 19.

The documentary clip on YouTube is incredibly inspiring, and the DVD can be purchased for $10.  From that price, $8 goes to research, and the other $2 to the organization funds to keep filming, make school visits, etc.  Bumper stickers, bracelets and t-shirts are also for sale.  The campaign has raised over $2 million for DMD research.  Social media use has also had an enourmous impact, according to Mashable:

“They’ve accrued close to 700,000 views on YouTube, collected more than 14,000 Facebook fans, obtained roughly 2,000 Twitter followers, and raised almost $45,000 through Facebook Causes and FirstGiving.”

Check out the video clip:

On the campaign website, you can make donations, purchase merchandise (educators can receive free copies of the DVD as part of the “Know About it Program“).  There’s profiles for each crew member and frequently-updated blog.  What’s really significant is that the documentary was filmed about six years ago. But that was only the beginning. Since then Darius has made tons of school trips and short videos for the website.  Through active social media use, he continues to increase support for DMD research, and it all began with one video.

My video

So, my fundraising project is clearly nowhere near the level of Darius’ campaign.  But, I do have a couple videos that I filmed at the school in Shanghai, and one of them,  of a blind child in the class that was extremeley giften musically. He played four instruments, one of which I went to get fixed and brought back for him. Upon my return with the instrument, he played this song:

The video’s not great quality, and next time I go back I intend to get better ones that show the conditions of the school. and how great the students are.  But it’s a video, and it’s on YouTube.  It’s something that people can watch and listen to, and most importantly with regards to nonprofit social media, respond to emotionally.  This child is so talented, but doesn’t have the resources to take his music further.  After seeing him play, maybe someone with the resources would be compelled to donate money for him to learn in an institution of music for the blind.  You never know what can happen with a single picture, video or post: just look at the impact that Darius’ video had.

These Groups Are Getting Creative, and Recognized For It

11 Oct

Social Good On Mashable

A google alert directed me to an article on Mashable’s Social Good page, a place

 

The Pedigree Post Project

 

I haven’t spent a lot of time looking at but definitely should have been.  It’s a great section of Mashable and there’s a lot of articles worth reading.  This particular story is about the nominees for the upcoming Mashable Awards in the area of Creative Social Good Campaigns.

Nine campaigns are described, and are complemented with videos or pictures.  There’s some big names such as Pepsi and Pedigree listed, but there’s also lesser- known organizations like To Mama With Love, and charity: water.  All were mentioned for their creative fundraising efforts.  Most of the programs utilized Facebook, Twitter and/or YouTube.

Some of the campaigns are creative, but it’s questionable if they’re raising money.  For example, the Bra Color Facebook Update concept isn’t bringing in the bucks, and to be honest, it got a little bit annoying last year when my entire Facebook newsfeed was bombarded with different colors.  It is however, getting people talking, and noticing, and that’s the most important thing when it comes to social media.

 

The Pepsi Refresh Project

 

The Pepsi Refresh Project really caught my attention.  Instead of spending huge amounts on Super Bowl commercials per usual, Pepsi orchestrated a social media giving program, spending $20 million to award grants to grassroot projects, and even more during the Gulf oil spill crisis.  People went to the site and voted on causes they supported and the causes that won the most votes were given grants.  Since January, more people have voted for causes than voted in the last presidential election, as reported by Mashable.  Here’s the video on the Project:

The Big Bucks

At first I was thinking Pepsi is obviously a huge company with tons of resources, so clearly they have no problem raising money.  But I took a look at the website and they’re actually doing a lot of good for any cause, not just big ones.  Anyone can submit an idea (they accept around 1000 monthly) and from there anyone can vote.  To submit an idea, you download the toolkit and submit your idea in one of the following categories: health, arts & culture, food & shelter, the planet, neighborhood or education.  Submissions open and close at different weeks throughout the month and then the voting opens.  Grants are awarded in $5,000, $25,000, $50,000 and $250,000 amounts.  You title and describe yourself and your project, jazz it up with multimedia, then review and submit.  There’s a list of dos and don’ts, and guidelines for posting descriptions.  It’s a great program, and there’s a lot of successful groups, but unfortunately it had to be a project within the U.S., so my project wouldn’t qualify.

What’s Next

After reading the articles and checking out the creativity a lot of groups are showing, I want to come up with something fun and unique to try for Project Revive.  I’ll keep you update on that front… in the meantime, any ideas?  Leave a comment!

Reaching the (which?) Donors

6 Oct

Who’s listening, anyway?

It’s important to be aware of the audience one is trying to reach when using social media for fundraising purposes.  There are statistics that reflect the most active users, the number of times people log into social media sites a day, and exactly which pages they visit.  So, there are definitely ways to see who we’re reaching, but when it comes to fundraising, a second angle has to be considered.  Who’s going to click on these pages and then donate money?

According to a post at JeffBullas.com, the largest group of social network users (on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) falls in the age range of 18 and 34. On Linked In it’s ages 35-49.  While this is the largest group using social media, the older generation is also very much present in the world of social media, and is one of the fastest growing age groups.  According the the graph below, people over 50 have jumped from 25 to 47 percent.

This graph represents the age group over 65 as one of the fastest growing groups

The oldies are starting to…

The 50+ age group has a membership level of 47 percent. I think this is immensely beneficial for nonprofit groups, since this opens up the channel to reach this group through social media.  Instead of sending out emails, letters and airing TV commercials, charities can reach this age group through social media, which is much more cost efficient and faster.  Why is this an important group to target? Funds.  This age group is more likely to donate to a cause than the 18-29 year old audience, and possibly more likely than the 18-34 range mentioned earlier as the largest group.  While people of this age might contribute to a cause or volunteer their time in events and campaign efforts, they’re probably not as likely to donate the big bucks.  After all, they have student loans, rents and cheap beer to pay for.  I’m not attacking the younger group by any means- I’m a member too!  But realistically, nonprofit groups absolutely need to look at who they’re reaching.

Different strokes for different folks

So, how are charities reaching out to older audiences?  Consider the difference between the following two events.  One is an event on UConn’s campus organized by a sorority that is supporting a philanthropy which links together women with breast cancer, that’s been advertised through Facebook:

Notice the event description.  It’s short, sweet and to the point.  This is what college kids want.  They’re not going to sit and read a huge drawn out description of the group, it’s cause or event details- they only want what they need.  The group emphasized the fact that local UConn performers will be present, and included links to the band’s pages.  I’d argue an older generation would probably want a link to the cause’s page if there is one, or more information about it, since they want to know where their money is going.

Here’s the Cause Application for the Campaign for Cancer Prevention.  Granted it has a much base with more resources and most likely a team working on the Facebook page and event listings section, there are still some major differences. Here is the use their Cause Application. Check out the fundraising section.  You’ll notice a detailed description of where the money goes, how much has been raised, and how much has yet to be raised.  From this page, a viewer can donate or share the cause.  There’s also a discussion board.  These are all aspects that make the page valuable.  Since there’s more information, and it’s designed in a way that looks professional and reliable, which lends itself to credibility among the older generation.

This is one example of the types of methods used among nonprofit programs for reaching audiences of different ages.  Twitter, YouTube, and other networks also reflect this concept.  It’s an extremely important factor to consider when raising money.

Sources/related articles:

Social media marketing adviceJeffBullas.com

Facebook Facts and Statistics from the Digital Buzz Blog

The next generation of ePhilantrhropy from People to People Fundraising

Using Linked In for Nonprofits

30 Sep

I joined Linked In, the professional social media network, about a year ago, and have done little with my profile since then. I didn’t make any attempt to add connections or update my work experience and skills summary.  As I get closer to graduating in May and thus, begin the hunt for a job, I’ve decided I need to get my Linked In act together and make some progress (and connections).

While Linked In will be a powerful tool for my personal career advancement, I’m finding more and more nonprofit groups advocating the network for fundraising.  I first considered the idea after reading UConn journalism professor, Rick Hancock’s post about using Linked In for nonprofit organizations.  Connecting with people that are interested in working for the same causes (education, global service), or that are interested in fundraising in general may be an easy way to gain support.

There’s a great blog called Nonprofit Tech 2.0, that acts as a social media guide for non-profits. In one of their posts, I read about joining groups on Linked In as a way to gain support. I requested membership today with the MojaLink group, a network for nonprofits, and it’s education subgroup.  I also have the option to create a company page, but since my cause isn’t developed yet, and not quite at a professional level, I think I’ll just stick to advocating in my personal profile and joining in on forums for various groups.

This is something I hadn’t thought about when using Linked In.While I can use the tool for my own career advancement, I can simultaneously use it for my cause. I can post updates, and add applications, like the WordPress app that uploads my blog posts straight to my profile. The more contacts I make (that are interested in my fundraising efforts), the more exposure I can get.

Here’s a great webinar, (although it’s not free) by Heather Mansfield, owner of DIOSA Communications, that discusses how nonprofits can use social media and mobile technology.  The October 5th presentation is all about using Linked In and FourSquare for nonprofits, so tune in at 10 a.m. US/Pacific if this interests you.

“Changing the World Through Social Media”

29 Sep

“Hope – Change – Belief ” …  and Facebook – Twitter – Blogging

I recently discovered 12 for12k, an organization that combines social media and fundraising to help supported charities connect with as wide an audience as possible.  Founded out of Burlington, ON, by social media whiz Danny Brown, (see an article he wrote about the 12for12k staff here) the challenge has raised over $100,000 since December 2008. Here’s their YouTube video:

Here’s how it works

Each month, for 12 months, a charity is chosen to receive $12,000. 12for12k intends to help lesser-known charities, which is what caught my eye. Would it be possible to land 12k for my charity project in Shanghai?! Well, yes, but not easily.  Here’s the criteria for chosen charities:

  • Financial records available on request
  • Registered 501-c (3) charity or equivalent worldwide organization (all donations tax-deductible)
  • PayPal or credit card donation system (for user-friendliness), made through Chip-In, that is tied directly to the charity’s bank account

Hm. So there’s a couple things preventing Project Revive from gaining 12k anytime soon. But there’s learning here. While charities can raise money through social media, if they want to fundraise directly through Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, they need an existing bank account, and the Chip-In widget. I took a look at Chip-In, and found out it was actually a widget used to raise money through PayPal. You can embed it on WordPress, but you need a hosted WordPress account for the graphic to show up. While this means it won’t grab viewers attention right away, I am still able to post a link for the Chip-In page, so viewers can go and donate directly to my PayPal account if they choose to do so. This is an easy way to charities to increase donations, since all viewers have to do is follow the link.

Back to 12for12k

It seems like a ton of money comes from ChipIn, and the use of Twitter and Facebook (adding Twibbons to respective profiles), and encouraging people to contribute. There are other ways that 12for12k is making money, including events such as Live Concert Streams and Tweetsgiving, which are all advocated through social media.

In the Future…

The challenge is relaunching in a few days, so I look forward to seeing what exactly “relaunching” means. The website doesn’t specify exactly what they plan to implement in the future, so it’s a little unclear what the new goals are. On the 12for12k Facebook page, it appears as though the last activity was in April: when a charity supported brain injury, Boundless was chosen.  Check back in a few days, when I write an update about the relaunching of The 12for12k Challenge on October 1. Here’s the video that’s currently featured on their homepage:

Creating a Cause

21 Sep

The app

The Causes application on Facebook is an excellent venue to raise money, whether it’s for a large charity or an individual activist endeavor.  There’s a huge audience on the Facebook network, and any one can join a particular cause (or multiple) of interest.

Once you support a cause and add the application, you can view a list of friends that are involved in other causes. You can also view the causes that are most successful: here’s the current top five. While some of these are recognizable groups, they’re not all big ones with a ton of funds available for marketing. Yet through the application, they’ve been able to raise a lot of money for their cause. Other nonprofit groups with a Facebook cause include UNICEF, National Team Leadership Program, St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, and Barack Obama Is My President.  Since anyone can create a cause, there are often multiples listed for the same purpose (stop abortion, support our troops, etc). And as seen at the Obama page, the app can also be used for political campaigns. While this may not be a “charity” cause, it is a cause, which is the idea of the application: to raise money. For my own purposes, I’m looking at the web tool as something to use for a nonprofit fundraising.

The effect

Save Darfur's Cause Page

This week (and we’re only halfway through!) a total of $47,586 was raised through the application. If this isn’t a great place to begin tackling my own campaign, I don’t know what is.

Upon deciding Facebook would be the best place to get started on Project Revive, since all of my friends and family are on the network and it’s where I’ll get the most exposure, I created a Cause.

The process

With Causes, you can join a cause that already exists, selecting one from a category (service, health, international, etc.), or

A Sample Birthday Wish

you can create a new cause. I created a cause for Project Revive by filling out the form, listing my goals and a short mission statement, uploading a picture of the classroom, and sending invites out to friends.

The cause admin page is a little bit overwhelming, since there’s

so much you can do with the application. People can donate to the cause, you can list fundraising events, update petitions, photos, videos and links, post discussions and bulletins, and even donate a “birthday wish” to raise money for the cause.

My Cause

I have a long way to go with Project Revive’s page. There’s a lot to be done: uploading pictures and videos, posting bulletins and fundraising events. But it’s an awesome app to help get the ball rolling and the Facebook connection will ultimately grant the greatest exposure.