Idea Bank: What Would You Do for a ... Fundraiser?
ASSOCIATIONS NOW, August 2009 , Intelligence
What's the great idea? Offer up staff talent to raise money for members to attend your annual conference.
Who's doing it? Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN)
What's involved? When 60 NTEN members needed financial support to attend the 2009 Nonprofit Technology Conference, Executive Director Holly Ross asked other members to donate to a scholarship fund. As incentive, Ross promised to offer her talents and drop her inhibitions if the fund reached $10,000. Once the fund reached its goal, donors voted on Ross' fate: Eat a "bacon explosion," play trombone in Union Square, or re-create the dance from Beyoncé's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" video—all caught on camera to be revealed at the conference. (Beyoncé won. Watch the video below.)
Convio, a nonprofit software company, agreed to match donations dollar for dollar. NTEN promoted the campaign through routine postings on its blog, as well as through Facebook, Twitter, and email. Ross created two videos to promote the campaign using the camera on her laptop. "In every case, I did the editing myself. ... It was incredibly low tech and easy," says Ross. "Ultimately, I think that paid off. Since I was basically selling my personality in this fundraising drive, the videos needed to reflect the real me. So the unpolished and somewhat flip nature of the videos worked to our advantage."
Ross says the two most successful outreach strategies were Facebook Causes and direct email. "We raised over $1,000 on Causes in one week. Email was also really successful for us. We emailed everyone who had already signed up for the [conference] directly and mentioned it in some other emails as well. Those emails accounted for several thousand dollars," she says.
What are people saying? In addition to meeting the fundraising goal, NTEN was able to send 60 grateful members to the conference. "Ultimately, I think that what made this challenge a success, and what makes NTEN successful as a small association, is that people feel truly connected to me, our staff, and the other members. We really are a community. This isn't a campaign that would work at an organization of checkbook members. This kind of fundraising only works when the donors feel connected to the individual who's asking, as well as to the people who will benefit."
Is "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" Holly Ross' favorite tune? Will she ever dance again? Read her extended interview below and find out:
Associations Now: Were you surprised by what respondents chose? What were the votes like (was it a landslide for "Single Ladies")?
Holly Ross: After the first week of the campaign, there was no doubt in my mind that I would have to remake the video. Everyone who donated would email me and tell me what they were going to vote for, and it was almost always Beyoncé. I think in the end we had one vote for the bacon explosion and two or three votes for the marching band.
How long did it take for you to learn the dance?
Let's just say that I know all the words and can still do it. But I have deleted the song from my iPod.
Can you tell me more about the great reveal of the video at the conference?
It was both the most horrifying and amazing moment of my professional career. I was sweating a lot, wondering if I would ever be taken seriously by anyone again. I couldn't look at most of it while it happened, but listening to the crowd was really fantastic. We had over 1,400 people at our conference this year, and it felt like all of them were acting as one. They laughed and clapped and cheered. For four minutes, we were really one community, with one purpose, and that felt great.
How do you feel about having over 3,000 views on YouTube and a 4 ½ star rating for your video?
Over 3,000 views? My sister-in-law has really got to stop watching that video! The views don't really matter to me, as long as all those donors got their money's worth!
Would you do something like this again to raise funds for this or other NTEN initiatives?
We may. We're talking next month with our members and as a staff about the 2010 [National Technology Conference], so we'll see if there's interest and momentum. Certainly, I'm a little nervous about what I would have to do to top this year!
|Rate this item:||Comments:|
Summer Mandell, May 25, 2010
Thanks for the comment and the question. At the time the video was made, Beyonce’s record label was sponsoring contests for the best remake of the song, so this is one of many remakes. Since we didn’t enter the contest, we decided not to host the video on our website.
Kellie Moser, May 18, 2010
That is awesome! Kudos to Holly!
Question... was the association required to have a music license to do this?
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