socialvibe and fundraising

Linkin Park and SocialVibe.com recently released a video to ask people to help raise $25,000 for Haiti. The SocialVibe member with the highest number of recruits will be flown to Los Angeles to meet Linkin Park in their studio while they record their new album this spring. You can watch the video here.

Here’s the way this works in general—go to SocialVibe; pick a corporate sponsor; find the cause; create a SocialVibe “badge” that links the two profiles; and encourage your friends to click on the badge. The more sign ups, the more your charity benefits.

OK, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to see people helping those in need. I can even imagine that it is good for people who aren’t exactly philanthropically minded to get involved. But I have to tell you, like most of the social media kinds of fundraising, this doesn’t make much sense to me.

Check me on this:

  1. The person clicking, isn’t actually giving the money, it’s the corporate sponsor.
  2. The person clicking (are they giving?) appears to be unknown to the charity who is benefiting.
  3. The likely demographic of the “clicker” would be traditionally least inclined to philanthropic intent.
  4. The relationship is more between the corporate sponsor and the “clicker” than the “clicker” and the charity.
  5. And here’s my big problem, the charity can’t thank that clicker/donor, can’t cultivate them, can’t demonstrate what great stewards they were of the clicker’s gift (although it really is the corporate sponsor’s money, but that’s a technicality). And don’t even try to think about long-term value analysis on donors (clickers) in a strategy like this.

OK, OK, I’m willing to give them kudos for a good idea, but it illustrates one of the fundamental flaws with much of what passes as fundraising in the social media world—they are not creating a relationship between the donor and the charity. Sorry, I just don’t see it.

This is the electronic version of “kettle change” or as a friend says, “it’s just people throwing dollar bills.” Don’t get me wrong, cash is cash and most charities are in need. But for my time and my client’s money, I want a relationship with a donor—a relationship turned into more than a one-time gift built on someone whose primary motivation is wanting to see a Linkin Park recording session not helping people in Haiti.

Again, kudos to Linkin Park and SocialVibe for the idea. But frankly I’d rather invest the money spent planning and promoting this kind of project on a good integrated, multi-platform donor acquisition campaign where I can know the donors acquired and develop a relationship with them (not to mention calculate long-term value and replicate the strategy).

What do you think? Is this the future?


Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity

Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas

5 thoughts on “socialvibe and fundraising”

  1. Corrie Gaumnitz

    I could not agree more, it is all about developing a long-term relationship with a donor to the point where they are more like an “investor” who is well informed about your cause and is willing to be a champion for your cause. And like you pointed out, how will all this happen when you don’t have a way to build a relationship? A second gift is so much more important than a couple dollars here and there generated from someone who is motivated by a 3rd party reward that is unrelated to the cause.

  2. @Corrie: Sorry I missed your comment. I’m glad you agree, but now what? How do we take this whole social media thing and make it work? You’re a genius, talk to me.

  3. Steve, I must say YOU really missed the mark on this one, or you didn’t do your research very well.

    “The person clicking, isn’t actually giving the money, it’s the corporate sponsor.”

    There is no clicking to being with. It’s based on impressions where clicking or engagement is an extra. And the point of the corporate sponsor is so the donor has to give no money of their own, but instead have their brand sponsor do so. Which not only increases the brands halo effect, but garners them impressions and engagements, PLUS and injection into that persons online social persona graph.

    “The person clicking (are they giving?) appears to be unknown to the charity who is benefiting.”

    Again, no clicking is necessary (research). Charity benefits in the form of funds and awareness, consumer benefits by being able to GIVE to their charity without opening their own wallet PLUS engage with the brand they like, and brand benefit is again penetration into the persons online social graph. Which anyone who studies social media knows has been a brand goal since social media began.

    “The likely demographic of the “clicker” would be traditionally least inclined to philanthropic intent.”

    Again, no clicking (research), and it is not about the intentions of the person who VISITS their friends page, but rather rewarding the person who actually pasted the SocialVibe badge. Example, I put a socialvibe badge on my page to support music for relief, when YOU visit my page that earns money for my cause. YOUR intent in this case is not important, because I am the publisher of the content.

    “The relationship is more between the corporate sponsor and the “clicker” than the “clicker” and the charity.”

    Wrong again. Every SocialVibe badge is also branded with charity content. Simple research would have revealed this.

    “And here’s my big problem, the charity can’t thank that clicker/donor, can’t cultivate them, can’t demonstrate what great stewards they were of the clicker’s gift (although it really is the corporate sponsor’s money, but that’s a technicality). And don’t even try to think about long-term value analysis on donors (clickers) in a strategy like this.”

    Way off. Anyone who posts a socialvibe badge has obviously signed up for a socialvibe account. The charities can then reach out to any of their supporters on SocialVibe via email. As their base grows on SocialVibe, they have more and more people to access. The relationship is between the charity, the brand, and the member. This ‘clicker’ you made up (doesn’t exsist, again no clicks are necessary) is not the value point for the charity or the brand. The value is in the person who signed up to support your cause, and them being online publishers of content exposing it to their friends and family.

    “This is the electronic version of “kettle change” or as a friend says, “it’s just people throwing dollar bills.” Don’t get me wrong, cash is cash and most charities are in need. But for my time and my client’s money, I want a relationship with a donor—a relationship turned into more than a one-time gift built on someone whose primary motivation is wanting to see a Linkin Park recording session not helping people in Haiti.”

    Hate to sound like a broken record, but wrong again. One, in this economy every charity dollar is VERY important. And as Obama’s campaign has shown us, $2 from 10 million people is more valuable than 10 million $ from 2 people. This is not a one time gift on socialvibe, as long as that person has a socialvibe badge on their online profiles they will CONTINUE to raise funds and awareness for the charity of their choice, AND that charity can continue to reach out to the person.

    Sorry to vent, but what has happened is there is so many people giving opinions on social media and sadly many of them are way off, and in this case in the end your opinion is off and can hurt the charity which is why i had to speak up. You have ‘cutting edge technology’ in your heading, it’s important to fully understand it and research it in order to critique it.

  4. @Nick, Thanks for your thoughts. Something that might not have been clear from your read of this post is the niche we serve. Our niche is the smaller nonprofit, specifically ministries. Since I don’t know you yet and don’t have a way of seeing all of what you’re talking about, what you do might be right from your experience but still doesn’t necessarily work for our space.

    We do have a difference of opinion but maybe we’re not as far apart as it seems at first. And I certainly am interested in knowing how this is working for you. I’m always ready to learn from other industries.

    First, about the whole “clicking” thing. That really seemed to bug you. Sorry for that. I wasn’t referencing “clicks” as in “click thrus” but was thinking of the whole mousing activity of choosing within a browser, which, to me, is clicking. Maybe I should have made that clearer.

    Rather than go point by point through your response, let me try to restate my discomfort with this whole deal. And if you still disagree, let’s continue the dialog. Love to hear your thoughts.

    The reality is that a dollar is not a dollar in fundraising. In every case I can think of, there are costs associated with raising that dollar. Some costs are direct, others are not. While social media has many advantages, when all the costs (direct and not) are rolled up, the cost to acquire and the cost to cultivate may not be that attractive. (Don’t know for sure, since we’re all still learning how this will work).

    In donor acquisition, three metrics are critically important: cost to acquire, long-term value of that donor (usually tracked by source, kit, strategy, first gift size) and rate of 2nd gifts.

    One could make the case that acquiring lots and lots of donors is a great idea. But without consideration to gift size or long-term value that thinking often leads to very nasty surprises when acquisition is studied over multiple seasons (years). I have seen situations where there were astounding differences in LTV based solely on the size of the first gift. Cost of cultivation has to be considered in evaluating acquired donors (even social media and E strategies have costs to acquire).

    And on 2nd gifts. This is where I have the most questions. Maybe I’m dense (and judging from your response you think so), but how do I get a 2nd gift and future gifts from these guys? How do I avoid having to constantly create the biggest, baddest buzz to acquire donors? And of the donors I acquire, how do I keep them from jumping to the next hot event and leaving my great work unfunded? And how is this replicable? What if Linkin Park isn’t available? Is it scalable? Wouldn’t this lead to competing on “coolness” and buzz rather than on substance and relationship?

    Maybe the biggest disagreement we’ll have is over the million $2 donors vs the two $1 million donors. If we’re not talking about cost to acquire and it seems that you weren’t, then give me the two $1 million donors! The cost to cultivate is tiny compared to the cost to cultivate all those other donors. And I can connect with those 2 donors readily and build relationships much easier than with a bunch of donors. I don’t need a donor database, I need 2 3X5 cards:). If I lose one donor, it will be painful, but if I understood your point, I’d rather have the two big donors. But that’s just me.

    About social media–I think maybe we can agree on this–maybe… I believe it is part of the future of fundraising, but not yet THE future of fundraising for all nonprofits of all sizes. To me, one-size fits all is never a good strategy. (I’m not sure I agree with your analysis on the Obama campaign either–but what I will agree with is that the Obama campaign PROVED beyond any doubt that social media is one of the key components–not the only or all–but a key component).

    Thanks again Nick for your passionate comments. We’re all about intensity and passion around here, glad for the interaction. Thanks for jumping in and spicing things up.

    st

  5. Pingback: oneicity // income solutions for non-profits » only one donor

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