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Archive for October, 2010
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Deirdre Carey | Friday, October 22, 2010 27 Comments
Social networking and fundraising – from door knocks to in box
If you’re around my age – let’s just say 40-something – I bet you can remember your first fundraising efforts, soliciting money for a worthy cause. In the suburb of Boston I grew up in, the charity of choice in school was Unicef. And every Halloween during my grade-school years, my mom would slave over designing me a beautiful fairy, or princess, or ballet costume, only to then release me into the neighborhood bundled up in a down jacket and carrying a flashlight and a Unicef box. Mind you, I grew up in a huge neighborhood with about 50 other children who were all soliciting change on that one night during the year. No wonder when I dragged my tired, sweaty body home to dump out my pillowcase full of sugary treats and then, subsequently, my Unicef box, it was only filled with pennies and an occasional nickel! The obvious reason for the lack of larger monetary donations was simple – 50 kids were hitting up the same group of people! And then as we got older, we were hitting up the same neighbors, aunts and uncles with the school wrapping paper and Yankee candle fundraisers! It was such a tedious task, going door to door with the catalog, the sponsor sheet, having people give me checks, or cash, it got to be too much!
Boy, how things have changed! Now kids today (and adults too) don’t even have to physically interact or have a verbal conversation with their potential donors since social media hit the scene. For kids with Facebook accounts, they simply write up a brief description on their profile, and send a link to where you can donate. As adults, the same is true, whether you’re walking to find a cure for breast cancer, or cycling across the state to bring awareness to domestic violence, you don’t have to “hit people up” face to face any longer. Zip them an email, send a message through Facebook, Tweet about what event you are partaking in, and then just wait and see who responds. In fact, you don’t even have to collect any cash or checks because the majority of nonprofits who are sponsoring these fundraising events are set up with PayPal – so no money exchange is necessary. They even have templates to send out “Thank You” notes via email once someone sponsors you. The good news is, you can post pictures of yourself participating in the event, and you can Tweet about it every set of the way.
We are all busy, going 100 miles an hour everyday, so yes, the quick fix is to go online, and make a donation to support a friend or family member with their cause. And the plus side is you can reach a far wider audience when soliciting online, rather than going door to door. But lets face it, when it comes to my kids needing to fundraise for their school or sports program, the paperwork lands on my desk, and I then do the fundraising – all via social media outreach. I just don’t have time to call people, explain what the fundraising effort is for, chase people down for their donations, and then send thank you notes. And I’ll be honest, during these tough economic times, it is somewhat awkward and uncomfortable to have to ask people to hand over money, even when they know it is for a good cause. So I think it’s easy to hide behind the email or Facebook message. That way the rejection or “sorry I can’t help” is less uncomfortable for all involved. So from a timing, logistics and a comfort-level perspective, for me, social media outreach is the way to go!
But I can’t help but think the lack of human contact deflates the purpose of doing something good for humankind. I can tell you this much, a chubby little cross-eyed Boy Scout, sporting white tubes socks with his Teva sandals, and huge coke bottle glasses shyly rang my door bell not that long ago and there was just no way humanly possible that I could not buy the $19.00 box of Kettle Corn popcorn from him. I had never met the child before, didn’t know where he lived, but to see that sweet innocent round face looking up at me, I raced for my checkbook. Now if that same child somehow got my email address and sent me an email, or a message through Facebook, I highly doubt I would have purchased what was surely the most expensive popcorn I’ll ever have in my life!
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