Igniting An Outpouring Of Online Giving
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Igniting An Outpouring Of Online Giving

Minnesotans made philanthropic history on Nov. 17, 2009. In just 24 hours, nearly 40,000 donors logged on to GiveMN.org, the state’s first “place-based” giving website.

Holmes Report

Minnesotans made philanthropic history on Nov. 17, 2009. In just 24 hours, nearly 40,000 donors logged on to GiveMN.org, the state’s first “place-based” giving website. They contributed more than $14 million to 3,400 nonprofits that feed the hungry, protect the environment, and advance the quality of life in Minnesota – shattering the previous national record of $3.4 million set by the city of Dallas.

Minnesota’s charitable givers are typically older and respond to mailed appeals. GiveMN was created to
(1) move these donors to the Web in order to reduce cash-strapped nonprofits’ fundraising costs and (2) attract a new, younger breed of givers who might respond to social-media appeals vs. more-traditional asks for money. The Minnesota Community and St. Paul Foundations partnered with Padilla to name, brand, plan and launch the GiveMN movement and its website. In just six weeks, an integrated communications program drove awareness and – most importantly – donations beyond even our expectations.

Padilla designed a statewide contest – “Give to the Max Day” – as GiveMN’s centerpiece, and ignited interest in this matching-gift opportunity by tapping the social networks of a wide range of influencers. The team overcame its greatest challenge through a swift risk-communications blitz just one week before Give to the Max Day, when organizers learned that a potential processing glitch could crash the site.

Exceeding all goals, GiveMN’s results surpassed the likes of Facebook’s “Causes,” “Donors Choose,” and other national online giving platforms. What’s more, Give to the Max Day became the biggest U.S. fundraising event in the history of online giving.

RESEARCH

Primary
? Foundation partners researched best social-media practices to engage wealthy donors and others in a “place-based” giving platform.
? Padilla’s research team conducted two focus groups to gauge receptivity to this new way of giving and to test logo and tagline options.
? Padilla reviewed social networks of local nonprofit activists and ranked their networks’ strength based on size, update frequency and engagement level with followers in order to maximize a tight budget.
Secondary
? Padilla conducted a media audit to identify best avenues to reach audiences.
? Padilla analyzed research by Minnesota Council on Foundations, ePhilanthropy Foundation and Network for Good for insight into giving trends.
Key Findings
? The median nonprofit raises less than 1 percent of its funds online. MN nonprofits could save $5 million-plus for every 1 percent of giving that goes online.
? Online giving is not prevalent in Minnesota.
? No organization led the philanthropic voice for Minnesota, so we could stake a legitimate claim to the tagline “Click. Contribute. Change Your World.”
? Niche platforms focused on specific issues or types of giving are thriving, but no successful general giving portal with dynamic nonprofit and donor participation existed.

PLANNING

Objectives
1. Attract 20,000 donors to contribute a total of $5 million to Minnesota nonprofits with a single-day giving event at GiveMN.org. At least 10 percent of those donors would be new to their chosen nonprofits.
2. Create public awareness and establish a call-to-action through the media throughout the state, generating at least 10 million media impressions for GiveMN and Give to the Max Day.
3. Develop strong social-media visibility and spur online conversations about GiveMN by recruiting at least five targeted social-media ambassadors (called “MAXimizers”) to help spread the word.

Target Audiences
? Minnesotans who regularly contribute to Minnesota nonprofits do so traditionally through more-expensive mail appeals.
? All Minnesotans, with an emphasis on “wired wealthy” donors – a well-studied demographic with both the inclination and the means to be GiveMN users. These donors, typically in their 30s and 40s, give at least $1,000 per year and are comfortable making online transactions.
? Print, broadcast and online media throughout Minnesota, with an emphasis in markets where Minnesota Community Foundation is based, has affiliates or has strong partners.

Strategies
1. Create visual documentation of GiveMN.org that would (1) capture attention for this bold step toward increasing the breadth of the contributor community, (2) convey the convenience of online giving, and (3) help those new to philanthropy believe that one click could truly change their world.
2. Build GiveMN.org creators – the Foundations – into thought leaders by kicking off media coverage and public conversation with an editorial in the key opinion-influencing daily newspaper in advance of the launch.
3. Launch and manage aggressive statewide traditional and social media campaigns designed to maximize word-of-mouth and donations.
4. Arm resource-strapped Minnesota nonprofits with communication tools needed to spread the word about GiveMN and Give to the Max Day among their current/prospective donor bases -- setting up the equivalent of a “battle of the bands” among nonprofits in advance of Give to the Max Day.

Key Messages
? GiveMN is an innovative online resource that will change the way Minnesotans give and – in doing so – strengthen Minnesota’s nonprofit community.
? The Minnesota Community Foundation and other key nonprofit leaders in Minnesota created GiveMN to take advantage of the many benefits offered by online giving for both donors and nonprofits.
? In the age of the Internet, GiveMN will help keep more money in Minnesota to aid people in need across the state.
? Give to the Max Day – a promotion made possible by GiveMN -- was created to increase giving to nonprofits across the state by raising as much money as possible for nonprofits in one day.

EXECUTION

Strategy One: Create visual documentation that would compel Minnesotans – especially those unfamiliar with online giving – to give to GiveMN.
? Developed theme, name and creative concepts for “Give to the Max Day.”
? Created GiveMN and Give to the Max Day logos, tagline, e-mailer, print advertisements and Web banners.

Strategy Two: Build thought leadership with an editorial in state’s most influential media outlet.
? Secured Star Tribune editorial board interviews with key nonprofit leaders to discuss benefits of GiveMN.


Strategy Three: Launch aggressive traditional and social media campaigns.
? Developed compelling media information to generate a steady stream of media coverage.
? Generated differentiated story ideas for each targeted reporter.
? Created and continuously fed GiveMN Facebook and Twitter pages.
? Hosted hour-long Twitter chat about Give to the Max Day to encourage online giving.
? Identified and engaged local social media “influencers” to advocate for GiveMN.
? Urged local notables – including explorer Will Steger, musician Tim Mahoney and mayors of Minneapolis, St. Paul and Albert Lea, MN – to sponsor fundraising pages on GiveMN.

Strategy Four: Arm cash-strapped nonprofits with communication tools about GiveMN and Give to the Max Day.
? Created templates for nonprofits to use, including an HTML e-mail, direct mail letter, FAQs, mat article and PSA scripts.

EVALUATION

Campaign greatly exceeded all expectations.
Objective one: Attract 20,000 donors to contribute $5 million to Minnesota nonprofits on Give to the Max Day.
? More than 38,000 donors contributed $14 million-plus to Minnesota charities in 24 hours, shattering the previous one-day fundraising record of $3.5 million in Dallas.
? More than 3,400 Minnesota nonprofits benefited – many from first-time donors (20 to 50 percent of donors were new, depending on the nonprofit).
Objective two: Create public awareness and establish call-to-action through the media, generating at least 10 million media impressions.
? Minneapolis Star Tribune published positive editorial two weeks before launch of GiveMN.org.
? Campaign generated more than 149 million media impressions, with key messages throughout.
? Coverage included media in all target metros – Minneapolis/St. Paul, St. Cloud, Duluth, Albert Lea and Grand Rapids, and national placements in the Associated Press and The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Objective three: Develop strong social media visibility and spur online conversations.
? Local celebrities – explorer Will Steger, musician Tim Mahoney and mayors of Minneapolis, St. Paul and Albert Lea – created and pushed fundraising pages on the site for Give to the Max Day.
Six “MAXimizers” shared information with their social networks and reported strong interest in donated.
 

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