GlobalGiving connects you to the causes and community-based projects you care about through their online marketplace. Joan Ochi, the Director of Marketing Communications and Robert Dubois, a Marketing Associate who provides support to the organizations online social media strategy, share how GlobalGiving uses direct marketing to encourage people to donate to the causes they support.
Both Joan and Robert have experience in marketing-communications. Prior to GlobalGiving, Joan provided marketing support for clients such as Fannie Mae and HP. Robert worked at Burns Marketing, Colorado’s fifth-largest marketing-communications agency.
BB: What was your biggest achievement on the social media front in 2008?
GG: Being a part of America’s Giving Challenge – an initiative spearheaded by the Case Foundation earlier this year. The objective of America’s Giving Challenge was to inspire Americans to use online tools such as widgets to participate in a fundraising for a cause – either a project on GlobalGiving or an organization on Network for Good. The Challenge ran for about 6 weeks and attracted over 130 “fundraisers,” more than 13,000 donors, and generated approximately $364,000 in donations. Interestingly, many of the top fundraisers who participated in the Challenge relied not just on social media tools such as widgets and blogs, but used traditional outreach vehicles such as phone calls and email messages as well.
We continued to experiment with other social media tools (Facebook, our own blog, Second Life, etc) as well, and learned that every tools is not right for every organization. Participating in and maintaining a presence on social networks is time consuming and resource intensive, and we found that merely having a presence on social networks has for the most part not been effective in developing online communities or building relationships with new or potential donors.
BB: Tell us about your organization’s marketing/communications strategy for 2009.
GG: Going forward, we are focusing on both acquisition and retention by creating a more engaging website experience – one that will motivate people to return regularly to take advantage of and participate in the more community-oriented features on GlobalGiving. Some of the functionality under development include fundraising tools (which would allow individuals to come together to raise funds for a project in which they have a common interest), tell-a-friend features that enable viral marketing, online discussions between donors and project leaders, and enhanced donor profiles.
BB: What big hairy audacious social media goals will help you achieve your objectives next year?
GG: Once again, we feel that community – oriented features – the ability for donors to connect and interact with project leaders, as well as with other donors – are becoming increasingly important. For example, if I can see what projects my friends support, I might be more likely to support those projects, too. We want our donors to feel connected – with projects and the people that run them, with other donors, and with the broader GlobalGiving community in general. Today, we enable donors to add comments to reports posted by progress leaders – we’re working to make this more dynamic and hopefully turn this “back and forth” into interesting, lively, and educational conversations. And of course, we’ll continue to promote widgets and integrate more video and audio (e.g. podcasts) into our site.
BB: How do you plan to integrate your social media efforts with the rest of your marketing mix (e.g., direct mail, email marketing, mobile, media relations, etc.)?
GG: We typically use email communications to encourage individuals to visit gg.com and engage on our site. Traditional media/public relations also tends to be very effective in driving qualified visitors to our site. Our goal is to create a unified/consistent user experience, so we employ landing pages that are customized based on where the person may be coming from – e.g. if we place an ad, we’ll direct viewers of that ad to a specific landing page that might leverage the same look/feel/messaging, etc.
BB: What is one challenge you face when executing new, social and/or digital media strategy? How are you overcoming this hurdle?
GG: Being a small organization, we have limited resources and therefore a very long wish list of desired features and enhancements – and of course, we can never get these features in as quickly as we’d like – so prioritization is especially important. In addition, it’s hard to evaluate how much time and resources to put into a new (and perhaps unproven) social media tool. We have to ask ourselves “is this the next best thing, or something that may fizzle within the next six months?”
BB: What will be the final measure of success for your digital plans?
GG: Put simply – meeting and exceeding our goals, usually around donation volume as well as other more standard web metrics such as conversion, bounce rate, repeat visitors, etc. As we expand our community, we will implement goals related to community participation and engagement, referrals, etc.
BB: Do you foresee any particularly enticing opportunities that can help nonprofits/causes reach their social media goals in 2009? Any advice for how to take advantage of related trends?
GG: There’s so much out there that it’s tricky to stay on top of all the latest developments. Reading blogs like this one :-) and taking advantage of the myriad of opportunities out there – from Google applications and seminars, to resources like Progressive Exchange, Net Squared, TechSoup – and you’d be amazed of the tips we get from Twitter, too! It’s important not to try to use every social media tool at once – figure out what your organization’s needs are, and then identify the tools that you think would best meet your specific needs.
PS. Could 2009 be the year that mobile actually breaks through as a social media tool in the US in a big way???