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


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 Through, 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 and helps to protect the lush rainforest sanctuary of the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica (more info can be found at

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.