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Using Facebook as a tool for non-profit fundraising seems like a great idea, but, as many non-profits have found out, its not as easy as it might look. Clicks generally dont translate into large amounts of cash for charities. For example, only a small portion about 13% of the funds the American Cancer Society collected in 2009 were raised online, according to The Chronicle of Online Philanthropy. The same was true for the Red Cross (about 3.6%), Children International (less than 1%) and Save the Children (less than 1%). Most non-profits who successfully use social media see it as a tool to engage donors rather than make transactions. These five successful fundraising campaigns from brands and charities, however, found a way to do both at the same time.


1. Free the Children We Day Campaign

Free the Children, an organization that helps empower children in North America to improve the lives of children elsewhere, hosts an annual event called We Day. The event brings together youth in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal for a day of motivational speeches and performances. This year, sponsors like The Keg Spirit Foundation, CTV, and Me to We agreed to donate $1 for every Like that the We Day Facebook Page received. The Jonas Brothers, Al Gore, Jason Mraz and Ellen DeGeneres were just a handful of people who helped spread the campaign through their Twitter and Facebook accounts. After about three months, Free the Children is halfway to the $1 million goal that the sponsors agreed to.


2. Tyson Hunger Relief and the Monterey County Food Bank

Tyson Hunger Relief, which regularly makes donations to food banks around the country, added a Facebook twist to its food donation to the Monterey County Food Bank this September. For every new Like that the food banks Facebook Page received, Tyson donated 100 pounds of food. Monterey County Food Bank earned not only a truckload of food, but added about 900 new members to its online community who will potentially become further engaged in the organizations activities.

3. Stand Up to Cancer Telethon Facebook Credits

The Entertainment Industry Foundations second national Stand Up To Cancer telethon accepted Facebook credits as donations this year. Facebook users simply visited the SU2C Facebook Page, which hosted a live stream of the pre-show and broadcast event, in order to place their donations. They could then share their donations through wall posts, spreading the word about the charity. Facebook helped promote the cause on its Facebook Page and the Facebook credits page, and although SU2C doesnt reveal how much it collected on the page, it did receive 150,000 new Likes during the campaign.


4. Timberland Earthkeepers Virtual Forest App

Creating virtual forests with Timberlands Earthkeeper app helps plant real trees. The original version, which launched in 2008, helped plant 1 million total trees in China, Haiti and Nepal. A new version that launched in October teams up with Trees for the Future and the Yle Haiti Foundation to focus on planting trees in Haiti.

For each set amount of virtual trees planted, Timberland commits to planting a certain amount of real trees. For every five virtual trees planted, for example, Timberland commits to planting one real tree. After a user has planted 25 total virtual trees, another two real trees are planted. Users can plant trees in either their own forests or in their friends forests. In the new apps first month, users tree planting has committed Timberland to planting about 3,000 new trees in Haiti.


5. Kohls Cares for Kids Facebook Contest

In order to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its philanthropic program Kohls Cares, Kohls department stores decided to let Facebook users decide where to spend a donation to education. The company gave away $500,000 to each of the 20 schools that solicited the most votes on the companys Facebook Page. Facebook fans could vote up to 20 times, but no more than five times for one school. Voters were also encouraged to leave ideas for what the schools could do with the money, and every school needed at least one idea contribution in order to be eligible for the contest. The campaign ended on September 3. More than 2 million people submitted more than 12 million votes. Although Kohls had committed to the same donation amount regardless of participation, the Facebook component successfully spread the word and earned the company 1.6 million new Facebook fans in six weeks.