Aunt Mabel, $200K, 5 Months and You! | npENGAGE

Aunt Mabel, $200K, 5 Months and You!

By on Aug 8, 2011


This is a guest post by Jenn Parker. She rocks online fundraising, social media and digital communications at Greenville Hospital System. She’s an all around great person. We’re glad to have her sharing her insight with us!

Full disclosure: I don’t actually have an Aunt Mabel.

What I do have, though, is a family, a best friend, a neighbor (an Aunt Mabel, if you will) that I’d much rather receive an e-mail, Facebook post or Twitter mention from than pretty much any non-profit organization.

I’m willing to bet that you have these “Aunt Mabels” in your life, too.

More importantly,I bet your organization knows plenty of “Aunt Mabels” who are passionate about what you do and could become fundraising powerhouses that help you make a world of difference.

Here’s a glimpse at how we at the Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center (GHS) Office of Philanthropy & Partnership were able to raise $200,000 in five months through our Dragon Boat Upstate Festival and Virtual Toy Drive, thanks to discovering, equipping and appreciating those folks both online and offline (with awesome social fundraising tools):

Find your Aunt Mabels

  • Locate the need – Where are the specific gaps that you need to fill and can build a case for support around?
  • Locate the champion(s) – The great thing about Aunt Mabels is that they tend to be right in front of you. Once you’ve identified your organization’s need, it’s often easy to pick out your first Aunt Mabel.
  • Locate the opportunity – Now that you’ve got the need and the champion, what are you gonna do with ‘em?

Train your Aunt Mabels

  • Meet your new Aunt Mabels – In your event or campaign planning, make sure that you’re spending time with your leaders or influencers (ie through a team captain training or a volunteer/group meeting). This way, you’re training your initial line of champions first, who can then go out and train the next wave of supporters (and potential Aunt Mabels).
  • Give them what they need to be successful – or, in other words, if you’ve got the web tool, flaunt it.  If you’re sending an eNews to your event/campaign participants, make sure they know how to send an e-mail to their contacts to spread the word and raise money. If you’re posting on Facebook or tweeting about the event/campaign, make sure your participants know how to post an update to their social networks. In short? If you can do it, make sure your participants can do it, too.
  • Tell them they’re Aunt Mabels – remind your champions that, together, they’re more powerful and influential than you could ever be, and remind them that sharing the story of why they’re involved in your event is a crucial first step.

Include your Aunt Mabels

  • Thank them – just like the real Aunt Mabel, a special thank you (an eNews shout-out, a short video, a photobook) is a great way to show your champions how much you appreciate them.
  • Get their feedback  – after an event or campaign, send out a survey or meet with your participants to get their insight on what worked well and what could be improved.
  • Stay in touch – no need for a family-style guilt trip here. Just make sure that you’re including Aunt Mabel in your plans for next year’s incredible event, whether through blog updates on how the campaign continues to make a difference or through a personalized eNews invite to next year’s (bigger and better) kick-off event.


Looking for information on increasing event fundraising revenue? Register for our Event Fundraising Newsletter and immediately get access to 5 whitepapers covering topics from using social media to empower participants to increasing team captain effectiveness. Register Now!

  • Understanding the Value of Team Captains
  • Making Participants and Donors Successful with Mobile Solutions
  • Peer-to-Peer Event Fundraising Consumer Survey
  • Raising More Money Online with Independent Fundraising Events
  • Increase Event Fundraising with Social Media

Frank Barry, formerly worked at Blackbaud helping nonprofits use the Internet for digital communication, social media, and fundraising. He’s worked with a diverse group of organizations including LIVESTRONG, United Methodist Church, American Heart Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, ChildFund Int’l, InTouch Ministries, Heifer Int’l, University of Notre Dame and University of Richmond. Along with writing for industry publications like Mashable and Social Media Today, Frank facilitates discussions, presents solo sessions and organizes panels for industry conferences such as NTC, SXSW, BBCon and numerous others. When he’s out and about he enjoys talking to interesting people about how they are changing the world – check out his interviews. Say Hi on Twitter – @franswaa or Google+

Comments (3)

  • Ash Shepherd says:

    Not only is this solid information for fundraising but a great guide when working to create community engagement in general.  My favorite tips is “Tell them they’re Aunt Mabels”. So often we ask, we get and then forget to validate and recognize.Great post.

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