- Social Media
- Active Citizenship
- Good Giving
- Corporate Responsibility
- Be Fearless
In the research we conducted after the first America's Giving Challenge in 2007-2008, we found that a hallmark for many successful efforts was a combination of online and offline outreach to mobilize supporters. It's no surprise that the combination of tactics beyond just online to generate donations was once again successful for many of this year's winners.
One such effort that inspired us was the work of Five Star, a youth leadership development program in Michiana, the region in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan, which has been hit hard by the economic crisis. Five Star is mentoring roughly 1000 students in 13 schools across 4 counties, focused on teaching youth five core values of courage, respect, integrity, responsibility and sacrifice; and providing positive role models in the lives of young people. The organization's efforts culminate in an annual event, "Change Our World," which brings together students, business teams, families, and community leaders for a day of community service.
Five Star entered America's Giving Challenge a bit late in the game - about a week after the launch, Five Star's president, Justin Maust, received an invite via Facebook from a friend asking him to support his favorite cause in America's Giving Challenge. After spending a few days learning more about the Challenge, Justin believed that given the tremendous support the organization had from the community, Five Star could make a run for one of the overall awards.
In addition to mobilizing existing supporters on Facebook and their e-mail lists, Justin focused his efforts on leveraging traditional media channels and volunteers to generate success for the organization. Because of the forthcoming Change Our World event, Justin already had great relationships with local radio stations who were promoting the event. When he called to ask for their support in promoting Five Star's involvement in America's Giving Challenge, they were more than happy to oblige. Over the course of the Challenge, six local stations ran roughly 100 commercials each to promote Five Star's involvement in the Challenge, including the one below!
Justin also conducted several live interviews with local TV and radio stations to promote their involvement. Five Star also understood that not everyone is Facebook and online-savvy, so they set up phone banks and had volunteers go door-to-door to not only help generate donations, but explain how to do it. One of the biggest sources of success came from a traditional offline event that took place just prior to the close of the Challenge - a local Chamber of Commerce expo, at which Five Star saw an opportunity to reach a large number of people. They set up a computer in their booth at the expo, encouraged folks to donate as they passed by, and raffled off a flat screen TV for those who did donate to their cause.
Justin believes that the groundswell of online outreach, traditional media and face-to-face interaction were a crucial combination to drive a flurry of donation activity in the last 48 hours of the competition and helped the organization win one of the $10,000 awards. Their success also reminded us that you don't have to be a social media expert in order to be successful in America's Giving Challenge. Justin himself did not have a Facebook profile until roughly three months before the start of the Challenge, and the organization's cause page was not set up until about a month before they entered the Challenge. Today, thanks in large part to America's Giving Challenge, their cause has grown to more than 1,000 members.