I recently had the opportunity to attend the 2011 Momentum Awards Dinner, organized by the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC) and held at the Hilton Chicago, where about 950 attendees contributed to raising $100,000 to help the CEC reach their total goal of more than a $1 million raised.
At 7 pm, the fundraising total stood at a little over $900,000, but by 9 pm, the total had topped $1 million. How did the CEC raise $100,000 in less than two hours while we ate dinner? Brilliant yet simple–they launched a mobile phone campaign using textgiving.com. Textgiving.com provides the platform for people to pledge donations using their mobile phones. Textgiving.com’s website describes their services as the following:
“Add excitement and raise more money at your next event with a mobile phone campaign by textgiving.com. During your event, guests will be able to send tribute messages and philanthropic pledges from their mobile phones. Within moments, their messages appear on the video screen and their pledges are added to the tally. Your donors receive instant recognition for their generosity, which encourages other guests to give spontaneously. More than 78% of people who attend fundraising events are non-donating guests or comps. And more than 91% of those will never become donors. With a textgiving.com campaign, you can convert these prospects into donors at your event, when their interest is at its peak. The donors receive instant recognition, while your organization captures their phone number for future follow-up.”
And it worked. People texted, people gave, their messages popped up on the screen, people clapped, other people contributed, bigger and bigger donations started rolling in to top the previous ones, people cheered. Text messages were heartfelt and some were funny. Most pledges ranged from $50 to $5,000, plus some bigger donations and matches. The crowd was charged, sitting at the edge of their seats, looking up at the screen every time a new pledge popped up, and the crowning achievement came at the end of course, when the final tally was revealed.
You could say that the strategy here was the use of “mobile” media and not so much traditional “social” media, but I would argue that the “social” aspect comes into play because the CEC engaged their audience and encouraged them to take action by donating. Engagement and a call to action are the cornerstones of any good social media plan.
A little background on the CEC: The CEC identifies promising entrepreneurs and helps them build high-growth, sustainable businesses that serve as platforms for economic development and civic leadership for the Chicagoland area. Since 2003, the CEC has helped entrepreneurs secure $268.5 million in revenue, raised $160 million in financing, and created or retained 6,350 jobs. The CEC is funded through private entities, corporations, budding and successful entrepreneurs, established businesses and academia.
Takeaway: Nonprofit organizations, such as the CEC, that depend on contributions to run their programs should integrate mobile device technology into their marketing strategy to increase donations and aid in their fundraising efforts.