Tag Archives: americasgiving

viral athleticism

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that donations to walkathons and other athletic fund-raising events rose 12% in 2007, according to a recent survey.

Despite a bumpy economy, all of the organizers in the survey predicted that their events will raise more money this year than they did in 2007. Projected increases for 2008 averaged 12 percent.

While the survey focused on the central definition of these events as “athletic,” it’s interesting to note that these sorts of fundraisers are the kind that encourage, and even require, participants to garner additional support from their own networks of friends, family, and colleagues (and to encourage them to do the same).

In other words, these are campaigns that encourage and reward viral behavior.

It’s the same spirit that powered the recent America’s Giving Challenge — the most successful participants found ways to empower their supporters to evangelize on behalf of the cause.

One powerful way to do this is to provide a widget that supporters can place on their own blogs or profile pages, but a similar ripple effect can also be created simply through links, blog posts, and Twitters.

Nonprofits can build their own widgets now with Sprout (here’s an example of Beth Kanter’s latest creation), post them on their websites, and allow others to share the widget on their own sites and blogs.

So, good news. Successful viral campaigns don’t have to involve any athletic activity at all. (However, it might be better for some of us if they did.)


Reflections on America’s Giving Challenge

I was glad to see that the New York Times picked up on the final stages of the America’s Giving Challenge. The contest is over, and the cause I’ve been flogging/blogging appears to have (unofficially) emerged victorious. It’s pretty exciting, no doubt, that the Sharing Foundation is likely to receive a decent sum of money as a result of the contest — both directly from the donations generated, and from the $50,000 prize money for the top four organizations.

What’s also interesting is who did well in this contest and who did not. The New York Times article reported that smaller groups feared that they would be at a disadvatage to larger, international groups with big Facebook presences that already had lots of “friends.”

But Amnesty International had a hell of a time getting their online friends to donate during this contest. And tiny, new, unknown groups — NOT run by hip, trendy young college students –did really well.


“Everyone is still trying to work out how you organize these things and how you move these people offline into our traditional work,” said Brian Glasscock, a 16-year-old volunteer who is responsible for online organizing at Amnesty International.

It makes you want to speculate about the strength of the ties that exist between a cause and its “friends” when those friends can’t be mobiled to make a bunch of well-timed $10 gifts.

More than that, though, I think it points to the difference between “organizations” trying to mobilize online supporters, and people trying to mobilize other people.

I’d have to look more into how other the campaigns were run, but I know from watching Beth Kanter at work over the last month or so that, when she was mobilizing for donations:

  1. She was asking as Beth Kanter, not as an organization.
  2. She was emailing, twittering, and appealing to people she knew, or at least who knew her — as a person.

Would any of us have blogged this campaign, retweeted, or done much of anything if it had been An Entity, Inc. that had been doing the asking?

I doubt it.

Wasn’t it partly the fact that a person was doing the asking, a person who had already established trust and recognition on a number of vectors was making the appeal.

Wasn’t it also because it wasn’t entirely about the cause, as it was to show the world (or the readers of Parade Magazine, at least) that the social networking shadowlands — about which such astonishing, sensationalistic, fear-mongering, alarmist crap is written — is actually populated by passionate, articulate people who support each other and who work to advance the common good?

home stretch for america’s giving contest

Let’s help the Sharing Foundation win the grand prize of $50,000 in ten days when this contest is over!

Here’s the scoop:

The Sharing Foundation helps Cambodian orphans in a multitude of fantastic ways.

The America’s Giving Challenge will give $50,000 to the four top fundraisers in January. That leaves ten days.

Michele Martin has set up the online giving machine.

Beth Kanter urges you to donate just $10 during the next 24 hours, because this contest rewards you for the number of individual donors — both over the course of the month and, suddenly, for TODAY.

We are winning.


You can give right here, right now.

I think this is a great cause, in addition to being a very interesting experiment in social networking for philanthropy.

I think The Sharing Foundation would do mountains of good for needy children with an extra 50 grand.

I think this is a terrific case study for online donation drives, micro-philanthropy, and social networking for positive change.

I am also very competitive.

So let’s WIN!