How Nonprofits Powered Their Own Gives Day SuccessTom Zimmerman | Georgia Nonprofit NOW, Winter 2014
As Georgia Gives Day progressed, we witnessed firsthand the smart, creative campaigns nonprofits deployed to activate their “cause champions,” inspiring both current supporters and new donors. Nonprofits large and small seized the opportunity, leveraging prize and incentive opportunities through social media campaigns, media outreach, and live events. Donors offered surprises too, finding some unexpected ways to support the causes that inspired them on Georgia’s second annual day of giving.
Furkids was a Twitter star, revving up their supporters by tweeting updates on progress toward their $15,000 goal throughout the day, asking donors to help them win bonus prizes during specific hours, and posting compelling pictures with a call to action. They ended the day on top of our donor leaderboard, and far exceeded their goal, having raised more than $25,000—plus another $8,000 in prizes.
Social media played a pivotal role in the success of GA Gives Day. With a new tweet posting every 15 seconds, on average, #GaGivesDay and @GAGives created more than 10 million impressions. On Nov. 13, social media like Twitter and Facebook accounted for 28 percent of all GAGivesDay.org site traffic. Many nonprofits, like East Point’s Future Foundation and the Pregnancy Center of Monroe County, used Gives Day images for Facebook page cover photos and headlines.
One Atlanta Community Food Bank supporter answered the call to donate influence as well as dollars. @gmcferrin took to Twitter with a grassroots campaign linking to ACFB’s Gives Day profile page. More than 40 chefs, restaurants, and establishments—including @chef_morimoto, @choptedallen, @flipburger, @AJCBuzz and @AtlanticStation—shared his call to action with their networks. With the help of one energized supporter, ACFB raised $3,490— enough to provide 14,000 meals.
Atlanta’s elite—that is, our most community-minded celebrities and businesses— also pitched in with social media appeals on behalf of GA Gives Day and their favorite causes, including WSB’s Jovita Moore, Nancy Grace, popular Atlanta start-up Scoutmob, and GA Gives Day partner Ames Scullin O’Haire.
Action Ministries brought in $5,350 and won an additional $2,000, thanks to exclusive Gives Day opportunities for hunger and financial literacy causes. With an active day of email and social media appeals, Action Ministries staff executed a winning strategy to drive giving during “power hours.” They fielded one Gives Day call from a current donor who overcame a reluctance to give online when he read, in the email appeal, how it would help them take home the prize.
With the guidance and support of our media partners, GCN continued to build public awareness and drive participation through a statewide multimedia campaign: on billboards and in local businesses, in broadcast and radio PSAs, and in interviews (on air, in print, and online). GCN President and CEO Karen Beavor spoke about GA Gives Day to reporters across metro Atlanta, Savannah, Augusta, and across Georgia. WSB featured Furkids in an extended segment. 11Alive invited Atlanta Legal Aid Society for an in-studio interview. Within an hour of their interview on Albany’s Fox 31, Flint River Habitat for Humanity received an anonymous donation for $1,000. Reach Out and Read used First Lady Sandra Deal’s visit to Fort Benning as a hook to talk about GA Gives Day on WSB.
Some nonprofits took their Gives Day campaigns “offline,” hosting events to build buzz and giving momentum. Atlanta’s Enchanted Closet held a board service and volunteer mixer. Chattahoochee Valley Libraries and Muscogee County Friends of Libraries partnered to host “Superhero Storytime,” with costume contests and crafts. Continuing their winning first-year strategy, Columbus’s National Infantry Museum accepted donations from guests, rewarding them with free popcorn for their IMAX theatre. Keeping with their theme, they even had staff dressed as soldiers lead guests in march cadences, and rang a bell to announce large donations. Atlanta Community ToolBank held a 12-hour Gives Day “funhouse” at their new warehouse, welcoming Atlanta District 1 Councilwoman Carla Smith and community families to enjoy scavenger hunts, tours, food, and gifts in return for donations. Others joined GCN for our noontime flashmob at Lenox Mall with the Atlanta Falcons Cheerleaders, on-site giving, and coverage by 11Alive, WSB, and WABE.
As GA Gives Day 2013 came to a close, we saw nonprofits like Atlanta Pet Rescue, Milledgeville’s Habitat for Humanity, and Communities in Schools following up with creative and compelling ways to express their gratitude to supporters. Nonprofits including Trees Columbus, Girls Incorporated of Columbus and Phenix-Russell are already posting evidence of the impact made by Gives Day donations.
Tom Zimmerman is GCN’s Communications Manager and Community Editor of NOW.