Fundraising Through Social Media – The REAL Story

Many nonprofits are aware of the pot-of-gold at the end of corporate, Internet-based promotional rainbows such as the Pepsi Refresh campaign. Although these campaigns have had some bad press recently, they are alluring because, on the surface at least, they level the playing field between large and small nonprofits and their corresponding development budgets; i.e. all players get the same amount of ad space and compete head-to-head for the same funding.

However, there are several factors to consider before entering your proposal in the mix that no one tells you about. Here are THE GOOD and THE NOT-SO-GOOD facts.


#1 – Just getting your project onto the website is tricky. You must be sitting at your computer at the right time and press the right button in just the right way – or you have to wait another month and try again. (It took us 3 attempts, or 3 months, to get it right.) Which leads to…

#2 – You are never certain if/when your project will be posted, until the first day of the month. Which means that…

#3 – Unless you ramp up your support every time you attempt to get on, you can be caught off-guard when your time arrives. If that happens…

#4 – Your project will start out at the back of the pack, and it will be nearly impossible to move from that position over the rest of the period you are in the running. In the meantime…

#5 – You inundate all of your friends, neighbors, relatives, and co-workers with pleas to support your project, to no avail. MAYBE.


#1 – Submitting your project for online competition means that you must refine your story to appeal to a broader audience. Not a bad idea.

#2 – Getting posted on a national website creates buzz and excitement around your project. People get caught up in the competitive nature of the campaign and “get involved” in it, even if it just means clicking on the VOTE HERE button once a day.

#3 – Since every project that is posted has gone through an initial vetting process, just getting onto the website implies a third-party “stamp of approval”.

#4 – No doubt about it, your proposal will be viewed by a wider and deeper audience than you would ever have reached otherwise. And…

#5 – It didn’t cost a thing (except your time).

In summary: Yes, we believe that there is value in these online philanthropic campaigns, although not for much longer. Like most things, it’s best if you get in the game early. If you don’t, others will have figured out loopholes or ways to stack the deck, despite all efforts to prevent them from doing so, and winning will become virtually impossible (pun intended). And pick your project carefully. You will only be able to prevail upon your social network for support ONCE !

See you in March, when we will return to highlight another outstanding nonprofit.

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Richard Beeman