Nonprofits do a great deal of good with small budgets online
Have you noticed an inordinate amount of new mustaches walking the streets? Do not be afraid. The 1970s are not coming back. It's just the run-up to Movember, the third annual event to raise awareness of men's health - and raise money for prostate cancer research.
Instead of a walkathon or race for a cure, men grow out their mouth brows, getting friends to pledge money for the completed 'stache on November 30. Between the clean-shaven kickoff and the hirsute finale, movember.com serves as mo central, letting guys create personal pages and track their stats. (An earlier, less organized group is at movember.org.)
"We have competitive elements that men love," says movember.com cofounder and CEO Adam Garone, including ways to track who's raising the most money and an application that lets site visitors rate mustaches. Mo Bros, as they're called, can post photos and embed YouTube videos documenting the evolution of their flavor-savers.
The nonprofit has raised more than $47 million to date, in seven countries including the United States. The 2009 u.s. event benefits the Prostate Cancer and Lance Armstrong foundations. Corporate sponsors this year include Wahl, Canadian Club, Warner Brothers' Sherlock Holmes, Pepsi Max, Dermalogica, Arbitrage, Demitasse Jewelry, Quiksilver, DC Shoes and Palmer Cash. (Sponsors may donate prizes or items for party goodie bags, and they help spread the word among their customers and employees.)
This year, Movember added a Twitter push. The org suggested copy for Tweets and promoted the use of #movember to increase awareness. In fact, digital word-of-mouth is a huge part of the promotional plan. On average, each Mo Bro emails 12 people about the charity, and they post numerous items on their Facebook pages.
"Because it's such a personal journey growing a mustache, guys can bring that to life online. People will be encouraged to come back and see its progress," Garone says.
Digital media hack away at the frustratingly high percentage of donations that often go to pay administrative and fund-raising expenses. Garone estimates that his organization's overhead costs eat up no more than 9 percent of proceeds.
"Once you've built the Web site and have locked it down, the costs of processing donations online are minute compared to any other method - and very secure," he says. "The days of knocking on the door and essentially selling a charity are going away."
The greater efficiency of digital marketing became extra important this year, as the recession squeezed corporate sponsorships. ieg, a research and consulting firm focused on sponsorships, says U.S. companies will spend $1.55 billion on cause partnerships in 2009, about 9 percent of total spending on sponsorships. The company found that consumers expect businesses to dig deeper into their pockets during a time of government cuts.
The Internet also makes it easier for people to discover worthy causes. Care2.com helps causes connect with consumers by offering content, information and social-media tools. Anyone can use the site to start a movement or mobilize others around their cause (although it has a strong liberal bent). People can post petitions, start discussion groups, send e-cards and upload videos to spread the word, or they can browse to find a movement to join.
"We aim ourselves toward ordinary, well-meaning people who want to take those first steps," says Joe Baker, vice president of causes and advocacy. "We're making it easy and a little fun to connect with other people who have the same concerns and passions."
Care2 also works directly with nonprofits on lead acquisition or other performance-based goals. "We can't promise we'll get a bill passed, but we say we'll get 50,000 people to send comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during a comment period," Baker explains.
The company uses homegrown segmentation tools to help nonprofits target the most likely site-users. It combines demographic information and expressed interests from registration with onsite behavior to find the best audience for a particular cause.
After a campaign, Care2 deliver the signups to its clients either by
inserting data directly into the CRM system or by sending database files. Some nonprofits outsource not only lead generation but also list maintenance to Care2. Says Baker, "They don't have
to put in the labor to build, cultivate and maintain their online community. Because they're always running campaigns with us, our audience is very tied in to them, and it gives them a huge pool
The Whole Wide World Web
The advertising industry hopes to use its bully pulpit to save the environment. The International Advertising Association is leading a global campaign to stir activism before the December 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, where delegates are expected to ratify a new international climate treaty. The multiagency, multinational effort, dubbed Hopenhagen, aims to fire up citizens of the world to demand a solution to climate change, with digital as its hub. It complements the UN's "Seal the Deal!" campaign, which focuses on political leaders.
Donated traditional and digital media, including Google keywords, will send people to hopenhagen.org, where they're encouraged to post a message of hope. The site also asks folks to pass along the info via social media. A later iteration was planned to allow them to add their names and photos to their hopeful messages.
"We ask people to choose hope and to give us their personal idea of what it means to live in a more optimistic world. By aggregating all those people with the other campaigns and NGOs out there, we'll be able to show all the delegates there's an overwhelming desire for change," says Seth Farbman, managing director of OgilvyEarth, the Ogilvy sustainability consulting practice and the agency's lead on Hopenhagen. The multiagency effort includes WPP's Ogilvy & Mather team, MDC Partners' Colle+McVoy and Omnicom Group's Ketchum.
By December, Hopenhagen plans to have created two deliverables: First, it will deliver to the delegates a list of millions of people who hope to save the environment. Second, during the week of the conference, the agencies' goal is to plaster Copenhagen with ads featuring images and headlines from the Web site.
Says Farbman, "We want to
show the power of a movement for massive, positive change. It's not just the commitment of one office or one region, but the entire globe."