Social Media Puts F-U-N In Non Profit Fund Raising

01/15/2009

Lil green patch Recently while doing some research for a presentation I stumbled on what almost 6 Million Facebook members have been doing .. planting virtual gardens. (Late to the party .. yeah I know!)

While I thought the little avatars were too cute and the game seemed fun what was intriguing was  (Lil) Green Patch is a fund raiser for The Nature Conservancy. 

Sue M. Citro, Senior Digital Membership Manager, of The Nature Conservancy graciously agreed to provide some of the back-story of how the organization came to be the recipient of a generous donation program that is one of the most popular games and one of the highest fund raisers on Facebook.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Where did the idea to create a Facebook application, (Lil) Green Patch, for fund raising come from? Did you approach the developer first or did the developer approach you?

Sue M. Citro: In regards to (Lil) Green Patch, two developers created it and chose our organization as the beneficiary. 

Toby/Diva Marketing: Lucky The Nature Conservancy! Was it challenging to get buy-in from your Executive Director and/or board? What were their reactions?

Sue M. Citro:  I wouldn't say challenging. Like anything that's new, we try to understand it and determine what the impact both positive and negative will be. Often we approach things as a pilot and I think that helps us get buy-in. I think the key to working online is just to be open to trying new things -- doing so yields invaluable learning that's often applicable to other channels too.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Did you establish goals or success measures? If so what were they?

Sue M. Citro: For (Lil) Green Patch or other Facebook applications, we personally did not. Although the developers may have. We did launch our own widget tied to our Plant a Billion Trees campaign at plantabillion.org. Through plantabillion.org, our goal was to raise enough to plant 1 million trees the first year.

We thought price point was important for the campaign we were promoting through social networks -- each tree costs just $1 -- and while that is something to think about, we learned it isn't the most important thing. I'd say our biggest learning is to think of the application like a video game -- there always needs to be another level. There needs to be a reason to keep it going and come back and that's what I think is so brilliant about (Lil) Green Patch, you get characters for Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day.  It keeps on going and going. 

Toby/Diva Marketing: How much money has been donated to date? Facebook indicates: $109,500 in donations. How many square-feet of rain forest have been persevered to date?

Sue M. Citro: The figure Facebook indicates for the amount donated by (Lil) Green Patch to The Nature Conservancy is accurate and correct. The money donated to The Nature Conservancy ties into our Adopt an Acre program (more can be found about this program at nature.org/adopt) and helps to protect the lush rainforest sanctuary of the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica (more info can be found at nature.org/adoptcostarica)

Toby/Diva Marketing: I noticed in addition to the Facebook app there are also cute (Lil) Green Patch widgets. How's that working for you?

Sue M. Citro:  Yes, that's something else the (Lil) Green Patch developers recently created.  

Toby/Diva Marketing: What has been the most surprising aspect of the program? 

Sue M. Citro: I heard a stat that people now check their facebook page before checking their email accounts. When I heard that stat, I thought can that really be true. Only then did I realize, that's exactly what I do!  

Toby/Diva Marketing: What has been the most challenging aspect of the program?

Sue M. Citro: I think it all comes back to staff time and resources.

I don't believe there's some new thing that's going to be born on Facebook that means we no longer need to fund raising on web sites, by email, through search -- rather social networks are another mini-channel within the web where we must also focus some of our time as they add to and complement all those other efforts.   

Toby/Diva Marketing: Any plans for future social media initiatives.

Sue M. Citro: I think social media has to be a part of all future plans any organization has -- so yes, we plan to continue testing and trying new things in this space.  

Sue M. Citro on Social Media

I think many view social media as some big, new, crazy thing. While it's newer, it's really just another form of communicaiton, another avenue to share your message. I think the biggest thing is trying to figure out the best way to share your story via this newer mechanism in a way that's truly tangible and compelling.  Hopefully in the new year, we'll all get better at that.

Sidebar: Be sure to check out the new blog Cool Green Science, (Lil) Green Patch Badges and of course the Facebook page.

Idea: Auction/sell the opportunity for to help create or sponsor an avatar. Might be an interesting fund raiser.

Read More About (Lil) Green Patch

Beth's Blog Case Study Slide Show.

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Comments

Toby, if you're late to the party, I missed it altogether! I was always curious to know how well some of those Facebook applications really did benefit other than raising a bit of brand awareness. Thanks for the insight - and the info on a great cause!

Posted by: rebeca trautner on Jan 15, 2009 1:14:44 PM

I thought the LiL Green Patch approach was brilliant. So brilliant, it used it as the key story for a chapter I contributed to Psychology of Facebook Apps. Sue and her colleague, Jonathan Coleman just rock

Posted by: Beth Kanter on Jan 15, 2009 4:57:27 PM

I love Sue's comment regarding the "another level" insight. The app I'm currently promoting might be flatter than it should be.
Thanks for the great "Why didn't I think of that?" thought for the day.

Posted by: Melissa Anunson on Jan 15, 2009 10:59:42 PM

One of my favorite Facebook non profit/ social cause stories to date. Just brilliant, and so many people are still supporting it. Fantastic!

Posted by: Geoff Livingston on Jan 17, 2009 12:25:20 AM

The behavior of people in crowds or communities like this is very inspiring - it's great to see the best come out every now and then.


Patrick
Follow the Herd

Posted by: Very Evolved on Jan 19, 2009 10:42:51 PM

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