HOW TO: Avoid online donor fatigue
- 37 Comment
I’d consider myself a member of the do-gooder and social good tribes. It makes me happy to help others and, perhaps, alleviate a bit of that old Catholic guilt.
In the past year I’ve found myself saying no to causes. A day doesn’t go by (literally) where I’m asked to give time, money, join a group or fan page, tweet a hashtag, etc. I have a feeling that I’m not alone. It actually pains me to say no. Why do I do it? I know that by saying no to some, I can do more for those causes I support. Put simply, by helping all I help none.
So, where do I receive the majority of these requests? Online networks. Now anyone with an online profile can start a campaign or movement (and a lot of people are). Twibbon, a cause-sharing online application for Twitter, lists 21,937 causes as of today. That’s only one tool for one platform. When I type the word “foundation” in Facebook search I receive 148,000 results.
I’m among those who share cause- and movement-related information with online networks. However, there are reasons that campaigns like BlameDrewsCancer, Crisis Overnight and #beatcancer have been successful.
I don’t want to see online donor fatigue or worse, donor blindness because of too frequent asks.
Make a clear, concise ask
If your “ask” is to “change the world,” it’s too big for people to comprehend and won’t work. Seth Godin discusses the concept of enormity and I agree. People can help with something they can grasp, easily understand or see immediate results.
For Crisis Overnight, a campaign I led for Elgin’s Community Crisis Center, we had strong messaging, “We raise the money they stay open. We don’t, they close.” I asked for a $10 donation from networks where I had never asked for donations, time, resources, etc before. In three-weeks we raised $161,000.
I cannot duplicate those efforts again; they were unique to the situation.
Acknowledge and thank supporters and donors
Notice I didn’t say reward. A big motivator around those who like to help is GIVING. Acknowledge and thank supporters in a way that is appropriate to the campaign or movement. Not everyone wants to be publicly acknowledged, but they do want to see what their money, time or resources helped to do.
Combine forces, find the umbrella
If your goal is to raise awareness (but not money) for a disease, find others with the same goal and join forces. Instead of five similar requests, I might receive one, motivational message.
Additionally, if your cause fits nicely with an overarching cause or movement (i.e. umbrella), find a way to integrate. If your cause is on Twitter, it might be as simple as including additional hashtags with your movement.
Give before you ask (but not because you want to ask)
If you’re new to an online network, don’t let an ask be your first form of communication. Let’s say your organization wants to end world hunger. Find others with a similar passion and start a dialogue with them. Offer facts, statistics and articles from experts on important topics. Build your relationships without an agenda.
Give me somewhere to go for additional information
I want to confirm that a cause or movement is credible. During Crisis Overnight we put together a very simple Web site, no pictures, text only. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the message across. We were in crisis and didn’t have time to develop an intricate site with Twitter feed et al.
Just because it worked this time doesn’t mean it will work next time
Last year’s Thanksgiving season brought together the Tweetsgiving team. Their goal was to raise $10,000 in 48-hours to build a school house in Tanzania. They exceeded their goal and wanted to continue the tradition of Tweetsgiving. This year, they’re not making the same ask. Although you can still donate, this year they’re asking people to talk about what they’re grateful for. That’s it. UPDATE: They’re giving people three ways to participate: 1) Attend a gratitude party; 2) Spread gratitude on the web; 3) Host a house party.
Get my attention
#beatcancer was big right out of the gates. Why? Because the Everywhere team partnered with an existing audience with a large reach, Blog World (among others). It didn’t take long for #beatcancer to become a top trending topic on Twitter because of the background work and buy-in obtained before launching.
Make it shareable
If I like what you’re selling, I might decide to share with my friends, family, networks. Include ideas to help me share the information. It’s nice if you have links to Twitter, Facebook, etc, but help me think of other ways (i.e. specific tactics) to share the information.
In fact, you might want to develop specific tactics for those who are repeat do-gooders. (I have lots of ideas on this, but I can’t give away everything!)
Do something different
Maybe a Twitter hashtag isn’t the right tactic. What if you created an exclusive direct message campaign? Just sayin’. Just because everyone is doing it a certain way doesn’t mean you have to. As part of the Macy’s Path to Peace online outreach, the Blogrollers created an Ambassador Program with other bloggers. They created a hyper-targeted, sub-movement around a movement!
The campaign or movement has come to an end (even if its just for a particular phase). Now what? Spend as much time and energy engaging post-event as you did before and during. Make sure people know where there resources went and what is happening. Stay connected.
Alright, I’m just getting started. What are your ideas?
*DISCLAIMER: I work/worked on the Crisis Overnight, #beatcancer, Tweetsgiving and Macy’s campaigns.