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Measuring ROI of social media campaigns by sylvng

I joined the Nonprofit Technology Conference’sConfessions of a Social Media Campaigner” seminar yesterday and found it very interesting to hear the metrics that various charities are using to measure their social media fundraising campaigns.

Carie Lewis of the US Humane Society shared that the society raised $107,300 on social networks in 2008. They did so without spending any marketing dollars, but they did use staff hours; by my calculations they used roughly 1.7 FTEs. The strict, directly measurable ROI then depends on staff pay. A reasonable $40-50k salary would mean a rough 10% ROI, which is not bad. But once you consider the fact that the staff was obviously putting in a tremendous amount of time – Carie herself was mentioning the need to work on weekends and have 24/7 text alerts to monitor the brand – the ROI could easily be judged as negative.

But that would be a narrow minded view of ROI because it’s never just about fundraised dollars. It’s about awareness, community building, and generating interest that will bring in future returns. The other 2 organizations who presented, the National Wildlife Federation, and the American Cancer Society, mentioned some of their metrics which included website traffic, newsletter subscriptions, number of Facebook group users, etc. Which all are good indicators of campaign success, but in order to properly include them in the ROI formula you’d need to put a value (including future value) on each of the activities, which can get very tricky. In fact, if you try to apply traditional Internet Marketing ROI calculation methodologies, and try to assign dollar values to each user acquisition, each retention activity, and de-depe the effect of all your campaigns on any one user, you’d be needing a heck of a lot more than 1.7 FTEs to manage the program. I’m not even sure a tracking platform of the required sophistication (where users are tracked individually across campaigns) is available to nonprofits, let alone available for a good price. And even if it were available, is it worth using? Anybody know of one?

I believe that social media can work very effectively for nonprofits, but proving the case to traditional, strictly dollar ROI-minded individuals can be challenging, especially without solid data for support. I know that there are a lot of firms out there who consult in this area, so if you’re one of them, I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Change the Web Winners Announced by sylvng
April 28, 2009, 6:15 pm
Filed under: General Charity Musings | Tags: ,

A while back I wrote a post on my opinions on the Change the Web finalists and which ones were my personal favourites. Well the winners were announced today, and … drumroll… the first place winner is the Interactive Map by John Brennan! You can see the Social Actions post here. So my 2 personal favs didn’t win, BUT the first 2 place winners were ones that I had bucketed in the “no-brainer” section; as in they’re so great and simple that I don’t see why you wouldn’t put them into action.

Congrats to the winners!

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Ways to give back that aren’t so “micro”, but still easy and fun by sylvng

Since Charity CHAMPS is about microphilanthropy, this blog has featured many ways for you to give back with a few spare minutes or dollars – from sending free e-cards to save 1 square footage of rainforest to playing trivia games to donate rice to the hungry. But once in a while I come across some non-micro ways to make a difference that are just as easy to get involved in as click-to-donate sites. So I thought I’d share some of them with you:

  • Getting married? Crashbar photography will do your wedding photography, and all they ask for compensation is a donation to a charity of your choice. Afterward, if you’re willing to part with your dress, donate it to Brides Against Breast Cancer.
  • Booking a vacation? Auction for Wishes auctions off luxury vacation packages as well as other items for the Children’s Wish Foundation. Auctions are hosted on eBay and start at 99 cents. Or, why not join a volunteer vacation trip? There’s lots of tour operators out there, from GoPhilanthropic to STA Travel.
  • Are you an athlete? Be an athlete for Africa makes it easy for you to raise money for promoting and protecting human rights while doing whatever it is that you normally do for fun, whether it’s climbing a mountain, making a bike trip, or playing in a football league. Raise over $200 and you can become an official Athlete for Africa member.
  • Looking for dance lessons? Some places, like Salsa for Charity in Toronto, offers lessons where 100% of the lesson fees go toward charity.

That’s just a few examples – more in a later post if there’s interest!

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Microfinance: not immune to the credit crunch by sylvng

I have an Economist subscription, and as most Economist readers know, the magazine is packed. Packed enough that I have a problem keeping up with the material even on not so busy weeks. And for the 2 months now I’ve hardly had time to keep up at all. So today, I started going through the March material, and found an interesting article on the impact of the credit crisis on microfinance.

By conventional wisdom microfinance should be cushioned against the drivers of the financial crisis – behind every loan is something concrete (eg. a cow or a chicken), not just a piece of paper. And the fact that the loans are funding local businesses means that the repayment rate should hold up. However, the Economist points out, there are two things that putting the squeeze on microfinance institutions (MFIS):

  1. MFIS depend on international aid budgets for funding, and those sources are drying up, even as global banks are pulling out of their involvement with microfinance  due to the current climate.
  2. MFIS are having trouble re-financing existing loans; the refinancing gap could be as high as $1.8B over the next 18 months.

Some also question the microfinance model; there is evidence that borrowers are using loans from one institution to pay off loans from another. Based on this, there is an argument for MFIS to start taking deposits like your local bank, instead of purely relying on institutions and donors for funding.

My take on it all? Lend away. The borrower delinquency rate has only risen from 1.2% to 2%-3% in recent times, which means that microfinance is still a very dependable way to lend your money. And really, I view some of these MFIS (Kiva, Garmeen Bank, etc.) as charitable, and like any charity in need of some financial help in tough times, donor dollars can go a long way. MFIS have already proven to be stronger than some other financial institutions in this credit crunch; their failure now or in the future would only prove that this economy affects everything, and not that microfinance doesn’t work.

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What’s your favourite microphilanthropy site? Vote now! by sylvng
April 27, 2009, 9:18 am
Filed under: Microphilanthropy | Tags: ,

I’ve featured a lot of microphilanthropy sites now on this blog, from Kiva to DonorsChoose. In general there are so many sites that it’s hard to keep track of them all, so Charity CHAMPS has started to compile an online microphilanthropy organization list. The list is great for reference but what we’d really like to know is which ones are your favourites. Which organization do you think is making the most impact, engaging the most people, or doing the most innovative projects? Go to our poll and vote! The results will help Charity CHAMPS to make some informed decisions about our partnerships and priorities moving forward.

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Micro-actions for Earth Day by sylvng
April 22, 2009, 2:57 pm
Filed under: Microphilanthropy | Tags: , , , ,

Happy Earth Day! I couldn’t let today go by without promoting some micro-actions that you can do to celebrate the occasion. Earth Day should be about going outside, but seeing as it’s freezing today where I am, I’m going to stick to actions that you can do easily from your computer:

  • Go to CarbonZero and use their emissions calculator to find how much carbon you’re emitting in your daily routine. If you’re up for it, purchase the carbon offset for whatever damage you’ve done.
  • Educate yourself with Google Earth Gallery – see what would happen to Vancouver if the sea level rose 6m, which country consumes the most oil on the world map,  the conservation work the African Wildlife Foundation is doing in the African Heartlands, and much more!
  • Join an EcoAction team and commit yourself to the following over the next year: reducing 200 kg of garbage output, saving 36k litres of water, and using 21% less electricity. Think that sounds like a lot? It isn’t – it can all be done by committing to small actions like setting your fridge to a certain temperature and dumping scraps into a backyard composter. US residents – sorry, as far as I can tell the site is for Canadians only.
  • Play some fun, educational, green-themed games with your kids at Kaboose.
  • Are you a Second Life user? Eco Commons is launching today. Check it out!

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How to find volunteers in Toronto – part 2 (Volunteer Toronto) by sylvng
April 22, 2009, 12:33 pm
Filed under: General Charity Musings | Tags: , ,

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how to find volunteers in Toronto.  It’s been a fairly popular post, but while I was at a TechSoup event yesterday I realized that I had missed mentioning something big – Volunteer Toronto. If you haven’t visited the Volunteer Toronto site yet, you should; the organization is very active in the volunteer space in the city.

One thing that’s deterred me from using them so far (for Charity CHAMPS, Wired Woman, or otherwise) is that unfortunately they require a membership fee for organizations to join and post listings. It’s not much – just $50/ year ( that’s for nonprofits with budgets < $100k a year, see the full rates here )  – and from what I can tell the fee is probably worth it. But given the extremely tight budgets of nonprofits, I always look for other avenues, and at the TechSoup event the Volunteer Toronto rep announced something very useful: Volunteer Toronto is now on Facebook (and it’s been endorsed by the Canadian government)!  There’s a group that you can join, and members seem fairly active in posting on the wall / discussion pages, which means that voila, there’s a free way to reach the community after all. But you didn’t hear that from me.

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