A major fundraising milestone was set this past week, as the American Red Cross Mobile Giving Campaign for Haiti has raised more than $21 million in text-based donations in less than one week. A landmark campaign, not only because of its creative use of America’s growing obsession with text messaging, but also because the organization used its established presence on social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, to kick-off the fundraising effort, which quickly “went viral.”
As our hyper-connected society becomes more comfortable communicating through devices and social networks than via phone or face-to-face interactions, this social media/technology campaign makes it easy for consumers to become donors by breaking down common barriers to participation. It uses a format that Americans are closely familiar with, and requests a relatively reasonable donation (a comfortable $10 for those still feeling the effects of the recession) without having to pick-up the phone or find an Internet connection.
“Digital trends expert Steve Rubel has said, “An entire generation is growing up that will never dial a 1-800 number to reach customer care.”
And while Rubel’s comments focused on customer service, the same concept can be applied to picking up a phone, or logging on to a computer to make a donation.
Kudos to the American Red Cross, who despite being a nearly 130 year-old institution, has kept up with America’s changing habits to execute one of the most successful social media fundraising campaigns for a nonprofit organization in recent history. The Red Cross’ success has already spurred some imitators, and is sure to inspire nonprofit fundraisers throughout the country to start incorporating more technology and social media as fundraising tools.
Will it work for every nonprofit organization? No. But it’s a great testament to the power of blending social media and technology, and understanding the barriers to getting your key audiences to take action to help those in need.