The Kristin Brooks Hope Center won several awards thanks in great part to the IMAlive celebrity fundraiser run by nationally renowned PostSecret Author and Blogger Frank Warren. The team effort garnered 462 donors and $11,427 on Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington, and won four awards:
Frank Warren and Reese Butler have a long-standing relationship, and have teamed together on several fundraisers before Give to the Max Day. Frank has an authentic interest in the Kristin Brooks Hope Center through a personal loss, and combined with an active and engaged PostSecret community, he brought a considerable effort to bear. The combination of authenticity, an engaged community, and a willingness to activate people are the key components of a successful celebrity fundraiser, according to research conducted by PayPal for Nonprofits.
Frank Warren also began promoting the fundraiser several days before the contest, which garnered additional early donations. In all, between prizes and donors, the Kristen Brooks Hope Center raised approximately $40,000 in funds from more than 700 donors, 90+ percent of which came through the Frank Warren IMAlive fundraiser. “It’s amazing to do that in one day,” said Reese Butler, founder and president of the Kristin Brooks Hope Center. “Our donors came from around the world, different ethnicities and places. They all did it to support suicide prevention. Their comments were substantial, and we are still getting them a month later.”
Frank Warren and Reese Butler had brought best practices from their past efforts, including coordinating email, Facebook, Twitter, and the PostSecret blog. The team was careful not to say the same thing in each medium. They actively prepared for the event, and developed messages in advance. Further, they thought about after Give to the Max Day: “Looking towards the future, we were careful to follow-up to thank them individually, and asked them how they were going to help out,” said Reese Butler.
“PostSecret is a project that tells hidden stories,” said Frank Warren. “One of those hidden stories is self-harm. Once a person is strong enough to tell that secret, through PostSecret we were able to channel that secret. For us this was part of the relationships we’ve built for years. Asking for help with the Kristin Brooks Hope Center wasn’t a surprise; it was authentic for our community.”
Frank activated the PostSecret community with a special Sunday Secret post on November 6 asking more than 1 million readers to sign up to donate on Give to the May Day. More than 1,000 did sign up, and in addition, many donated before the event. In addition, Frank Warren keynoted DCWEEK on the evening of December 9, which triggered a large amount of donations during the speech and won the Kristin Brooks Hope Center a Golden Ticket.
In addition, the Kristin Brooks Hope Center asked its volunteers to participate in Give to the Max Day.
There was a donation match as part of the IMAlive fundraiser, and Frank Warren tied rewards to the cause, including book giveaways. The campaign fit well with PostSecret followers, and the response was fantastic. By the end of the effort, the Kristin Brooks Hope Center had cultivated more than 700 unique new donors.
Perhaps what was most unique about the response was the symphony of stories that rose up. Frank shared his story, then the volunteers shared their stories, and the beneficiary shared stories, too. A chorus of voices drove the IMAlive fundraiser.
Another example of the giveaways is the suicide prevention playing cards that the Kristin Brooks Hope Center uses, which address ideation and depression. A user wanted to create a video to describe the cards, and the video became a story, which was shared by the PostSecret Community and Kristin Brooks Hope Center during Give to the Max Day.
“PostSecret.com is always attracting unique new efforts,” said Reese Butler. “All the excitement focused on one day was tremendous. It was the single best day we’ve had in getting new donors and exposure. All the components worked together.”
The IMAlive team did use some of the training materials and events that were available online. Frank Warren participated in two virtual town halls and the team used the training materials on the site. “The virtual town halls were useful,” said Frank Warren. “People are participating in them and it made a difference.”
However, Frank and Reese were not able to come to any of the in-person training events. Moving forward to next year, IMAlive asked the Give to the Max Day organizers to facilitate better peer-to-peer communications online between participating nonprofits. One suggestion was a Facebook group.
“Meeting with great people and great charities, and working with other charities and creating connections would be helpful,” said Frank Warren. “People want to know other people involved.”
“We’d like to build a coalition of like-minded nonprofits,” said Reese Butler. “We each have a part that someone else could use. Coalitions are important. The relationships could work year-round.”
The overall experience was a new one for the Kristin Brooks Hope Center, and they will likely continue innovating their approach for Give to the Max Day 2012.
“Give to the Max Day had an energy we hadn’t seen before,” said Reese Butler. “We hadn’t seen that kind of concentrated giving focused on a singular event before. It was an awesome signature event that we can plan for next year.”