- Social Media
- Active Citizenship
- Good Giving
- Corporate Responsibility
- Be Fearless
Case Study 5: Little Lights Urban Ministries
Little Lights Urban Ministries was the Cinderella story of Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington.
With $37,388 from 729 donors, Little Lights won the Grand Award for most donors ($25,000), the Entrepreneurial Nonprofit Grand Award for 501(c)3s under $1,000 in revenue ($10,000), and six Golden Tickets for most donors in an hour ($1,000 each). In all Little Lights won $41,000 in prizes, totaling more than $78,000 in funds raised during Give to the Max Day.
Little Light’s Klout influence score of 10 before the event is important to note. This is an extremely low score, indicating minimal online “influence.” Little Light's performance demonstrates that it’s not the size of an online account or the amount of retweets and likes that necessarily matters when it comes to online fundraising. Rather, the secret formula for success in social media is an engaged community, authenticity, and a willingness to work and activate a network.
“We went all in,” said Jonny Moy, fellow, Little Lights Urban Ministries. “It was incredibly exciting for the staff!”
How They Did It
Little Lights prepared for Give to the Max Day starting six weeks in advance of Give to the Max Day. Though they did not create a unique story of the event, they did develop a significant campaign that treated the event like a two-week contest. The nonprofit targeted the Entrepreneurial Nonprofits Grand Award with a donor-centric message, “Turn $10 into $10,000 for Little Lights.”
The campaign had several core elements:
- Email and prepare supporters two weeks before the event. Little Lights had a good email list beforehand and had already been communicating with their supporters this way.
- Focused mostly on Facebook (over Twitter) for donor outreach because it has higher return.
- Used Facebook direct messaging as a primary form of contact.
- Prepared a postcard for the event.
In addition to preparing for the contest, Little Lights did a great job of activating its core constituents. Two weeks prior, the nonprofit sent its first of six save the date emails. Promotional videos were included in two of the emails.
The nonprofit was actively discussing Give to the Max Day in its meetings with people prior to the event. “We talked to anybody who walked through our doors about Give to the Max,” said Jonny Moy.
Little Lights also discussed the giving day with all of its volunteers in elementary and middle schools. The face time was crucial to getting people excited about the event. Finally, Little Lights promoted a matching gift of $1,000 if it achieved 500 donors to help excite the community.
How People Responded
Clearly, the response for Little Lights was outstanding. Facebook worked best for the nonprofit. Friends shared, and this helped flood news feeds across different networks with links to their fundraiser. “Facebook acted like a safety net,” said Jonny Moy. “It was good at capturing people who would want to donate, but had not heard about our effort via email or other method.”
Communications from staff to their friends received the best return, as they were very personal and unique. But volunteers and friends helped, too. They were eager to share with their friends, too. Central to their excitement was the timeframe of 24 hours and the low cost to donate. The peer-to peer effect was significant in reaching new voices. In total, Little Lights garnered 418 new donors, 57 percent of its overall Give to the Max Day donation base.
Training and Lessons Learned
Little Lights attended some of the online seminars, which were helpful for the big picture. The minor details offered in the training were note needed, as the organization was already proficient at utilizing social media. Little Lights said the YouTube videos and the online nonprofit toolkit were most helpful.
Staff capacity was an issue for Little Lights, in particular when taking on the work to thank all of its new donors. However, the nonprofit did have a new staffer, which made it easier to focus on the giving day. Without the new capacity, the organization would not have been able to participate.
“The event and training helped us learn what works well, and what doesn’t,” said Jonny Moy. “One thing we really took away from this is the sense of urgency helps. Give to the Max Day did improve our online capabilities through storytelling and relating to donors on a more practical level.”
Moving forward, Little Lights hopes to expand its peer-to-peer activities by getting people to do fundraisers for the nonprofit. “This is a big area for expansion,” said Moy.