- Social Media
- Active Citizenship
- Good Giving
- Corporate Responsibility
- Be Fearless
Key Success Elements of the Challenge
The following elements were critically important to the success of the overall effort and should be included in any future Challenge efforts:
- The Competition. The competitive nature of the Challenge invoked a fundamental human desire to win and succeed. Many of the interviewees mentioned the competitive aspect of the Challenge as catalytic and energizing, both for their volunteers and donors. As Erin Kelly of Students Helping Honduras said, “At first, I thought competitions were a horrible idea because you had to beat another nonprofit. But, we got $30K in flat donations that we wouldn't have gotten otherwise. Without the incentive of the competition, we wouldn't have raised the money.” Julie Katz, the cause champion for EVERYBODY WINS! South Florida, said, “Some people who have the best intentions don’t have the motivation to give, but the Challenge gave an extra push.”
- The Time Limit. The deadline of the Challenge made it immediate and urgent for cause champions. Most of the interviewees felt that the time was adequate for this effort. Some, in fact, said it was more than adequate and that the entire challenge could be shortened to 30 days because the effort is so intensive and exhausting. The impending deadline was an important factor in converting friends to contributors.
- The Leveling Effect. The Giving Challenge, perhaps more than any other philanthropic effort we’ve seen, had a terrific leveling effect enabling the smallest organizations, often without any staff at all, to be more successful than larger, staffed organizations. There were no out-of-pocket expenses for participating in the Challenge, allowing a greater number of smaller organizations to participate. In addition, the simplicity of the effort—the cause with the most donors wins—plus the network effect and the lack of technical skills needed in fundraising or social media to successfully compete made this a wide-open contest for unusual suspects. Friends asking friends for donations was critically important to successful efforts, which meant that the cause did not have to be well-known at the beginning of the effort to be successful, although it was important that the cause was easily understandable when it was introduced to new supporters.
- The Leaderboard. Perhaps the only thing better than winning is watching your cause win in real-time. Clicking on the refresh button became a reflexive habit of many of the award recipients and their volunteers. They noted that the leaderboards were instrumental in spurring them on and giving them a context for how well, or how poorly, they were doing.
“At first they thought it was just another one of my crazy ideas and that we couldn’t win, and then when we were number five we were so excited and kept checking the website to see where we were in comparison to the other charities. I was like, ‘Wow, this really could happen!’” – Peggy Padden, Fanconi Anemia Foundation
- The Match. The awards given by the Case Foundation, coupled with the simplicity of the contest, were attractive to the cause champions. One thousand dollars for daily winners and $50,000 for the overall winners—plus what they raised from their own individual donors—were significant amounts for the contestants, particularly the smaller organizations. The Challenge even opened up other avenues for matching initiatives. For instance, Greenpeace reported that as a result of the Challenge, a donor offered to match individual donations made during the Challenge.
- Online, On Land, and on Many Channels. A mix of activities was evident in all of the successful efforts that included Internet, mobile phone-based activities, and in-person solicitations. Online activities began with e-mail (the most popular form of outreach, but only successful when they were personalized), instant messaging, Web-based social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and viral videos like Heather Box’s. Off-line activities included telephone calls, parties to encourage people to give on a laptop, taking a laptop to popular gathering spots on campuses, and soliciting colleagues in offices.