Giving Good Poke

Reflections on Socially Networked Personal Fundraising

By Beth Kanter, Beth's Blog

When I entered the America's Giving Challenge on December 13, 2007, one of my motivations (aside for getting $50,000 for a great cause) was personal learning. I wanted to discover what worked and what didn't work about personal, socially networked fundraising, in particular on Facebook. I kept an action learning, reflection in action journal on my blog as part of my documentation. So the daily posts not only served as campaign messaging, but also to help me discover new insights about practice.

When the official results arrived for America's Giving Challenge on February 21, 2008 and our cause captured first place for global causes, it made me and a lot of people feel great. This was truly a group effort, no one person could have done this alone. There were many people pulling for our cause - people who donated, asked their friends and networks to donate, spread the word through blogging it or other social media ways, and helped us cross the finish line in first place! A very special thanks to colleague and blogger Michele Martin, who helped lead the charge.

The America’s Giving Challenge was the 5th campaign that I helped championed. Each of the four campaigns leading up to this one was an experiment that tested a strategy or technique that I wrapped into this one. Did not use mass media or opt email marketing. Although, we did message our existing donor list (under 400 emails). There is a lot of reflection in action and refining as the campaign unfolds, but there are definitely some best practices. All of these campaigns have primarily benefited disadvantaged Cambodian children and young people. I used a combination tools, from Twitter to send two Cambodians to college for a year and using widgets to raise money for school uniforms for street kids in Phnom Penh so they could attend school.

Summary by the Numbers

In total, I’ve raised over $100,000 -- plus an additional $101,000 in prize money from two contests (first place)
Over 3,000 donors – approximately 30-40% were “new donors” to the charity
Roughly 50-60% have donated more than once to a campaign, these are not just one-time transactions

For details on each campaign and case studies click here.

The Charity: The Sharing Foundation

For the America's Giving Challenge, the organizational recipient was the Sharing Foundation, an all volunteer organization with a mission to care for seriously disadvantaged children in Cambodia. I'm a volunteer and on the board. All money collected went directly to their bank account through an organizational called Global Giving, a conference sponsor.

The Contest

In December, the Case Foundation and Parade Magazine launched America’s Giving Challenge. It was an open, online competition. You could win $50,000 for a charity. $50,000!


There two big ideas – that any individual can raise lots of money for charity using new online tools like Facebook Causes, a fundraising app – and widgets or what the nonprofit sector calls “Charity Badges”
Winners would be selected based on the largest number of unique donors
50 day challenge
The contest launched on December 13th at 3:00 PM EST