I’ve seen a few posts reflecting on what made TweetsGiving work, and have seen some questions raised as well about the donor data we collected, so I’m hoping to contribute to the discussion. My partner in crime, Avi, has posted some metrics and shared his thoughts on what went right (and what we could do better next time) over on his blog; here’s my take on the critical factors that led to our success:
Clear, Achievable but Audacious Goal
The goal gave us a way to sustain and build momentum. I think if we’d set it lower, its achievement wouldn’t have been a significant enough accomplishment for the Twitter community to be inspirational and if we’d set it much higher, it may have appeared impossible. That said, I think this is just the beginning for a community of 4 million potential contributors.
I think people got more excited than they may have otherwise because the product of the campaign wasn’t just $10,000, it’s something tangible – a classroom. In addition, each person wasn’t simply contributing $10, they were contributing a brick. I think it’s powerful to be able to contribute more than money.
Accessible Point of Entry
I think donation guidance is essential with any effective P2P campaign, and $10 was a sufficiently low enough “ask” that many people found the fundraiser accessible. Similarly, my personal P2P fundraising hero, Peter Deitz’s current Social Actions campaign has a clever $20.09 ask to fund his 2009 goals. In the end, 162 donors (45%) gave exactly $10, and the average (mean) gift was $30.92.
Compressed Time Frame
We could keep the campaign front-of-mind for 48 hours, but not for much longer than that – and the sense of urgency such a short deadline implied was critical to our success. In retrospect, I may even have gone along with some early advice we received from theKBuzz and cut it to 24 hours. If you check out the numbers, the vast majority was given in the first 6 hours, and in the final six hours; I think we could have condensed it for even better results.
We were keenly focused on making this campaign easy to understand, and on making it easy to give.
Fun, Positive Focus
The campaign was fun; it was spread by gratitude and hope. There wasn’t even a tinge (IMHO) of the fear and pity tactics so often employed by non-profit organizations. We spoke of the potential of the school’s students, and of Mama Lucy‘s incredible accomplishments to date. We spoke of what we could accomplish if we worked together, not the alternative. If we’d gone negative, I don’t believe the campaign would have been nearly as effective.
Multiple Initiation Points
We reached out to many people and key influencers from the outset, and the campaign had many points of genesis. Like a database engineered with failover capacity, if one node hadn’t worked out, another would. Likewise, real buzz was created when tweeters started to hear about #TweetsGiving from multiple streams, not just one.
We also reached out to bloggers, and I’m guessing that helped substantially. I’ve reached out to Avi and theKBuzz to find out how many of the 107 blog posts were created by bloggers directly contacted by our team, and will post that information here as soon as I have it – I believe it’s fewer than 20. I do know that only about 20% of traffic to the TweetsGiving site came from blogs during the campaign itself, so, by and large, my guess is that the twitter campaign was the key impetus for giving, though blogger support surely helped legitimize the effort from the outset. Avi digs a little further into these metrics on his site.
Much has been made of our networks, and certainly those helped. Avi and I have been actively participating in the Twitter community for many months, and this campaign simply would not have been possible otherwise. That said, we met some of our key contributors only days before the event – including @VincentHunt, the logo designer and @theKBuzz, the word-of-mouth marketing firm who so readily got involved and were incredible assets to our campaign – and we met them on Twitter. I’ve never met any of them – not even Avi – in person. @PRSarahEvans, @KatjaPresnal, @DaveKerpen, @BrianCarter and @MariSmith, who did alot of spreading the word, were folks I followed on Twitter only after the campaign began.
To be honest, I wanted this experiment to be somewhat clean: I did not email my regular list of donors to participate. A few caught it on our blog or on my Twitter-fed FaceBook status, but this was very much engineered to appeal to potential donors who use Twitter. I had fewer than 10 Tweeters in my donor database prior to this campaign.
I actually believe this campaign did far more to expand my network than to leverage my existing one. Only 6 out of 360 donors (< 2%) were previous donors to our cause, and I believe I’ve added about 500 new Twitter followers since TweetsGiving began. Over 98% of donors were people who had never before donated to Epic Change.
I couldn’t believe we had 51 donors who donated over $100, and I think that’s in large part due to the “Top Turkey” designation. I don’t think it was so much that folks wanted their name to appear on our site, as that they wanted to feel that they gave at the highest possible level. I believe it felt good to give because there was so much community around the effort. We had 2 donors (both new) give over $400 – they’re now 2 of the top 10 donors – ever – to Epic Change. In the end, the Top Turkey-level givers ($100 or more) contributed 59% of what was raised during the event.
It was ThanksGiving. People were in the mood for gratitude, it’s a time of giving and the holiday timeframe gave people the time to focus on the effort.
Personal & Universal Connection
Everyone can personally connect to the theme of gratitude. In addition, once people are feeling thankful, giving is a natural next step. It often takes substantial context to connect a potential donor with a small school in Tanzania thousands of miles away but, in this case, gratitude served as a universal connector to a common cause.
(Twitter) Community Focus
Rather than create a general campaign with a Twitter component, we created a Twitter campaign, which I think really resonated with tweeters. By participating, I believe people perceived that they were enriching the Twitter community and demonstrating its value, in addition to supporting a worthy cause.
Dave Kerpen of theKBuzz, to his credit, insisted we use a graphical widget. ChipIn was perfect, because it let people keep track of our campaign at a glance, kept people returning to the site to check in and pushing to make sure we met the objective.
Passionate Core Team & Hard Work
Carrie, Dave, Avi and I were 100% committed to ensuring we met the objective, and each of us pitched in when the others were unavailable. Avi was traveling and getting updates while at a wedding. Carrie and her daughters got a stomach bug, and her husband Dave tweeted while alternately tending to his sick family. I worked through a niece and a Mom who just couldn’t understand why I had to miss the beginning of our family ThanksGiving celebration; they understood later. Matt, our web developer, tirelessly attended to glitches and improvements throughout the campaign.
Agility & Willingness to Take Risk
We only had 6 days, and $0 – but we did it anyway. It could have failed, but we had nothing to lose except $0 and 6 days of work by unpaid volunteers (including myself!) and, clearly, so much to gain. It may have been imperfect, but the results were beyond our wildest expectations.
Generosity & Goodness
Ultimately, I think the real reason TweetsGiving worked was the incredible generosity of 360 donors; they’re now all listed on the TweetsGiving site. Thanks so much again to all of you who created this dogooder flash-mob.
Just Plain Luck
Unfortunately, serendipity just can’t be engineered.
Of course, as a former consultant, I know that an insider’s persective is often incomplete, so I’m hoping to hear people outside the effort about what you think worked – and what you’d do differently next time. The event’s spawned so many new ideas for me, I can hardly focus on the many other tasks at hand; I’d love to hear what ideas TweetsGiving has helped you to discover.
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