Thursday, February 14, 2008

Giving on Social Media

The Facebook Philanthropos
How much giving do online contests and networks really generate?
By Georgia Levenson Keohane
Updated Monday, Feb. 11, 2008, at 7:33 AM ET

Can social networks and virtual communities revolutionize charitable giving? Many nonprofit organizations are counting on these online forces to expand their universe of donors. And a number of foundations are testing the potential by underwriting the launch of "social networking for social good" Web sites, and sponsoring online contests to encourage donations.

It's still early, but hopes that viral philanthropy will rain down dollars are probably overblown. To date, sums raised have been relatively modest, though the trend shows movement in the right direction. According to the latest Chronicle of Philanthropy survey, electronic giving to the nation's largest charities, which has been growing at a rapid clip over the last five years, increased at an average rate of 37 percent in 2006. The portals Network for Good and, which allow donors to contribute to a variety of charities, saw increases in giving of 50 percent in 2007. And yet Internet giving still constitutes a tiny portion of total dollars raised—typically between 1 percent and 5 percent of an organization's overall contributions. Donating via social-networking sites (such as Facebook Causes, MySpace Impact, or any number of cause-related networks like or accounts for an even smaller share. The greater promise of viral philanthropy may lie not in electronic check writing, but in increased involvement; 21st-century technology for philanthropos in its most ancient sense.

To explore this possibility, the Case Foundation, created by America Online founder Steve Case and his wife, Jean, launched twin "Giving Challenges" with Parade magazine and the Causes application of Facebook. These contests will award a total of $750,000 to the charities that attracted the greatest number of donors through the Giving Challenge sites—not the most money, but the most people. The contests, which closed Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, respectively, asked participants to champion nonprofit organizations by e-mailing charity "badges" or embedding them in a Web site or blog. The badges can be readily made on a number of Web sites, from pictures, video, and text. Each badge links directly to a donations page. By sending a badge, you direct friends in your network to learn about the cause, give to it, and then e-mail the badge along or post it on a blog. Badges display the number of donors and dollars they have pulled in; the idea, as in all viral marketing, is that popularity drives spending. In the Case Giving Challenges, the horse race was part of the attraction: Contest leaders were listed and regularly updated on the competition sites.

In America's Giving Challenge, the Parade contest, the eight badges that garnered the most donors will win $50,000 each for their respective charities. Unofficial first place went to the "Stephen H" badge for Idea League, which reeled in 2,865 donations. Idea League promotes research and education related to Dravet syndrome, a severe form of pediatric epilepsy. (Click here to see the other top finishers in America's Giving Challenge.) In the Causes contest, the charity with the most donors will win $50,000. Here, the unofficial winner, with 4,564 donations, was the Love Without Boundaries Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping orphans in China. There are also smaller runner-up awards in both contests, and in Causes, daily prizes for the organization with the most donors in a 24-hour period. (The other Causes finalists are listed here.)

The amounts involved show that Case understands these endeavors are more social experiment than nonprofit sweepstakes. Sure, prizes of $50,000 matter for the winning organizations, as do the overall dollars raised (Idea League brought in $62,000, and Love Without Boundaries $94,000). But the denominations of the donations remain small, and it's not clear that one-off contests will lead to more. Any fund-raising professional knows that most nonprofit organizations secure the bulk of their money from a relatively small number of large contributions, either from wealthy individuals or institutional sources. Those gifts demand personal cultivation, and an online nudge doesn't usually do it. Jean Case wants all of this to change. "Philanthropy shouldn't be defined as a bunch of rich people writing checks," she told the New York Times. "Small amounts of money given by large numbers of individuals can be combined to do great things." Barack Obama's success at raising money online from thousands of small donors is the hoped-for model, though nonprofits recognize that political fund raising is different in some ways.

Case concedes that the shift she hopes for will take time. She believes that "leveling the playing field" in philanthropy has as much to do with "citizen engagement" as it does expanding the "donor pool." Research in the field also consistently shows a high correlation among three kinds of giving—"time, talent, and treasure," as they're known. Stimulate a lot more of the first and second, and in time you may get more of the third.

And so the Case contests strive to move people beyond "bumper sticker" support for a cause, as Steve Case explained to CNN. The competitions are deliberately called "challenges"—calls to action. And they employ the term giving in its broadest sense—financial donations, along with volunteer work or simply championing a cause within one's social network. In response to the skeptical question about whether a badge is a bumper sticker received over e-mail, Case maintains that by providing detailed information about an issue, demonstrating that others are onboard, and then offering easy one-click giving, this kind of advocacy allows individuals to activate their social networks in a more hands-on, participatory way.

Viewed in this light, the two Giving Challenges fit right into the Cases' professional and philanthropic history. Alongside her husband, Jean Case held senior executive positions at AOL, helping to build the service—and the network it created. In launching their foundation, the couple hoped to search for solutions to social problems at the "platform level." In the 10 years since, that has mostly translated into community development, often with technology as the central vehicle. The Case Foundation funded a number of the earliest "digital divide" initiatives in the United States, including PowerUp, a network of 1,000 community technology centers for underserved youth. They have sponsored similar efforts internationally, among them a partnership with King Abdulla II to create universal information technology access across Jordan. The precursor to the Giving Challenges, Case's Make It Your Own Awards, called for ideas about how to improve a local community. Last summer, the top 100 entries were reviewed; in February, the final four will be chosen by Internet votes, and receive $35,000 a piece.

Both challenges have been laboratories of giving behavior. Beyond the basic statistics—number of participants, amount of donations, demographics, giving preferences in terms of geography and type of cause—we would love to know whether these social networks brought first-time givers into the fold. The Case Foundation has pledged to share its findings. In the meantime, more notable than the amounts donated is the breadth of causes and organizations championed—many very small and local—from all across the country, if not the globe. The ardor is also palpable, or as close to palpable as video streaming will allow. Some participants have posted clips to YouTube. In one, "Heather Goes Bonkers," a woman dances and screams, wild with excitement, as her organization wins Causes' $1,000 award for daily leader. In this sense, at least, it's a brave new philanthropic world.

Georgia Levenson Keohane is a writer and consultant in the fields of social policy and philanthropy who often works with nonprofit organizations. She lives in New York City.

Article URL:

Copyright 2008 Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC

Forrester Social Strategy

The POST Method: A systematic approach to social strategy
by Josh Bernoff

What do most companies do wrong when they enter the social world? No, it's not that they're being fake, or don't "get it." It's that they don't really know their objectives.

Is your company doing its social strategy backwards?

If you started by saying "we should do a blog" or "we should create a page on a social network" or "we should create a community" the answer is probably yes.

In any other business endeavor we start by figuring out what we want to accomplish. Social technologies are not magic. They accomplish things, too. It's time to stop doing social because it's cool. It's time to start doing it because it's effective.

To help clients with this fundamental idea, we invented a little acronym called POST. It's been one of the most popular ideas we've ever created, even though it's so simple and commonsensical. If you were at our consumer forum in October you saw it (and many of you who were there contacted us afterwards for help with your strategies). It's at the heart of our book Groundswell. Now I'm sharing it with all of you.

P is People. Don't start a social strategy until you know the capabilities of your audience. If you're targeting college students, use social networks. If you're reaching out business travelers, consider ratings and reviews. Forrester has great data to help with this, but you can make some estimates on your own. Just don't start without thinking about it.

O is objectives. Pick one. Are you starting an application to listen to your customers, or to talk with them? To support them, or to energize your best customers to evangelize others? Or are you trying to collaborate with them? Decide on your objective before you decide on a technology. Then figure out how you will measure it.

S is Strategy. Strategy here means figuring out what will be different after you're done. Do you want a closer, two-way relationship with your best customers? Do you want to get people talking about your products? Do you want a permanent focus group for testing product ideas and generating new ones? Imagine you succeed. How will things be different afterwards? Imagine the endpoint and you'll know where to begin.

T is Technology. A community. A wiki. A blog or a hundred blogs. Once you know your people, objectives, and strategy, then you can decide with confidence.

This may sound simple to the sophisticated readers of this blog. But it works. Try it. Think your strategy through. Even if you're just clarifying your own strategy, this should help you explain it to your boss.

Or, feel free to ask us for help. it's what we do.

Thanks to all the bloggers who've posted after our presentations and encouraged us to get this out there.



Tuesday, January 29, 2008

10 Tips for Emergency Copywriting!

If you are looking for some quick tips for copywriting, check out this 10 tips.

I saw them on iContact.

By Pete Savage

Sometimes the deadline, or the budget, for your next promotional piece is just too tight to hire a professional copywriter. When this happens, it’s time for some emergency copywriting! But sitting down to a blank page (or screen) can be intimidating for the occasional writer. For just this type of emergency, here are 10 tips that will get you started and keep you on track…

1. “You” can make a difference. The word “you” is perhaps the most important word in copywriting because it involves the reader with your message. So instead of writing about what your company offers, write about what the customer gets. Whenever you’re tempted to write something like, “We offer the most advanced…”, stop. Instead, begin the sentence with “You” as in, “You get the most advanced…” .

2. Features tell, benefits sell! Good copy clearly communicates the benefit that your product or service delivers to the customer. Poor copy, on the other hand, merely lists features and leaves them dangling, with no explanation as to how they will benefit the customer. Here’s how you avoid that trap… as you write about the attributes of your product, ask yourself, “So what?” Your answer will lead you to the benefit. For example, “This car comes with automatic four-wheel drive.” {“So what?”} “…so you’ll enjoy safe, worry-free driving, in all weather conditions.”

3. Keep your message clear. Focus your message on those benefits that deliver the highest value to your customer. Leave out everything else. Otherwise, you’ll overwhelm the reader. Here’s a real life example of what I mean… I once wrote a corporate brochure for a company that cuts and forms sheet metal into various components, for large manufacturers. The president of the company insisted that we list the attributes of every machine in their factory! Granted his machines are worth millions, and they do some very impressive things to sheet metal; however, such detailed information has no business being in a corporate brochure. Instead, we agreed that I should write about the main benefits that these extraordinary machines help deliver to the customer. See the difference?

4. Energize your copy with action verbs. Action verbs help readers picture themselves using your product or service. “Our expert investment advisors provide reliable advice,” is dull. “Get expert guidance from our investment advisors and watch your assets grow,” is much more exciting. “We have seven waterslides.” Boring. “Let the kids slip, slide, and splash the day away on our seven waterslides!” Fun!

5. You will not be graded for grammar. Good copy not only avoids many conventional rules of grammar, it torments the daylights out of them! This means you can do things that would make your grade three teacher squirm, such as starting a sentence with “And”. And writing sentences that aren’t proper sentences. Like this one.

6. Reinforce your USP. Make sure you remind customers of the reason(s) why they should buy from you. Your Unique Selling Point (USP) is the characteristic of your product or service that sets you apart from the competition. For example, “…the only downtown dry cleaners with in-by-noon, same-day service!” is a sound USP.

7. Prove it! With testimonials. Naturally, new prospects may be skeptical of your offer, especially if they have not heard of you before. One of the best ways to overcome this skepticism is with a testimonial. Make sure the source of the testimonial is someone the reader can relate to, or aspires to be like. For instance, if you’re selling to businesses, quote people whose titles closely match (or are more senior than) your target buyers. Or, if you are selling to consumers, quote people from the same town as your targets.

8. “That’s” the problem. Here’s one of the simplest editing tips around. When you’ve written your copy, look it over for all occurrences of the word “that”. You can often make a sentence much more readable by simply deleting this word. And sometimes, you can delete whole phrases connected to “that” without losing the meaning of the sentence.

9. Tell your reader what to do. How often have you seen a television commercial that ends with, “Now run down to the corner store and buy a Coke today.”? Never. Why? Because brands like Coke have decades of user experience attached to them. By now, their customers know what to do, so Coke can afford to spend millions on an awareness ad with no ‘call to action’. Your ad or promotional piece; however, must have a call to action which tells the reader what to do. Some examples are: “Call today for a no-obligation quote.”, “Call now while supplies last!”, “Visit our website and enter this password for your free subscription!”

10. Ask for help. Everyone needs an editor. When you’ve created your copy, have someone you trust review it. This person need not be a fellow employee; in fact, look for someone who reflects your target audience (a friend, spouse, business contact, or client). When you give them your copy, do not preface it with any sort of background information, or description!

Resist the urge to say, “This is what I’m trying to say…” because you will bias the opinion of your reader. When your writing hits the streets, it will have to stand on its own merit, so test it under these same conditions. The time to discuss the copy is after your “editor” has read it, and given you some feedback.

And then, go back and make revisions. And when you’re convinced your copy is as perfect and polished as it can possibly get… repeat tip #10!

Pete Savage is a freelance copywriter who writes e-newsletters, case studies, direct marketing materials and more for F500 companies, as well as small and medium businesses who want to drive growth with smart marketing campaigns. A variety of FREE marketing resources are available on his website at

© Copyright 2007 Pete Savage


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Don't push please

Seth recommends blog over social network marketing.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Four Hour Work Week

Tim Ferriss talk for how to organize your life (if you prefer to read a summary, check this). Ferriss is the author of Four Hour Work Week, and one of his main concept is summarized in "Deal" as follows:

The DEAL of deal making is also an acronym for the process of becoming a member of the New Rich.

The steps and strategies can be used with incredible results—whether you are an employee or an entrepreneur. Can you do everything I’ve done with a boss? No. Can you use the same principles to double your income, cut your hours in half, or at least double the usual vacation time? Most definitely.

Here is the step-by-step process you’ll use to reinvent yourself:

D for Definition turns misguided common sense upside down and introduces the rules and objectives of the new game. It replaces self-defeating assumptions and explains concepts such as relative wealth and eustress. Who are the NR and how do they operate? This section explains the overall lifestyle design recipe—the fundamentals—before we add the three ingredients.

E for Elimination kills the obsolete notion of time management once and for all. It shows exactly how I used the words of an often-forgotten Italian economist to turn 12-hour days into two-hour days . . . in 48 hours. Increase your per-hour results ten times or more with counterintuitive NR techniques for cultivating selective ignorance, developing a low-information diet, and otherwise ignoring the unimportant. This section provides the first of the three luxury lifestyle design ingredients: time.

A for Automation puts cash flow on autopilot using geographic arbitrage, outsourcing, and rules of nondecision. From bracketing to the routines of ultrasuccessful NR, it’s all here. This section provides the second ingredient of luxury lifestyle design: income.

L for Liberation is the mobile manifesto for the globally inclined. The concept of mini-retirements is introduced, as are the means for flawless remote control and escaping the boss. Liberation is not about cheap travel; it is about forever breaking the bonds that confine you to a single location. This section delivers the third and final ingredient for luxury lifestyle design: mobility.


Friday, November 24, 2006

Moving Back

Got this link from a friend. I don't know who is Masud Alam... but quite an article!

Masud Alam of the BBC's Urdu service moving back

Nice quote:
I'm not sure what worries a returning long-time
expatriate more: not finding anything familiar or
finding things exactly as they'd been!

A scarier version of the quote would read like this:
when you find the good qualities of a Muslim land are all gone/faded, but the bad
qualities of corruption and old-mentality "exacly as they'd been!"

Indeed, as Muslims we should set our goals on moving back to our real homeland --Garden of Eden!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Read the text on the picture, "Look closely, the camels are the little white lines in the picture. The black you see are just the shadows."

[25:45] Hast thou not turned thy vision to thy Lord? How He doth prolong the Shadow! If He willed, He could make it stationary! Then do We make the sun its guide;

Tags: Camel, Shadows, desert, best photo, aerial pictures

Monday, November 06, 2006

Election 2006: Wake Up & Vote

Here comes again the time when we get to make a choice just to regret it for the next six years.

And as always, when it comes to voting, damn you do and damn you don't.