Last night while pondering what I would write today’s blog post on, I read through other recent posts on Connection Café. Emma Zolbrod’s post on participant fundraising hit a personal chord. Emma, thank you for sharing your story and experience with participant fundraising. I, too, have participated as a fundraiser and athlete in Team in Training’s (TNT) program. My first event was a century bike ride in Lake Tahoe in 2009 and I’m now training for a triathlon. Lucky for me, the online tools have been there since my start with TNT. It is probably also lucky for my friends and family; they get to read pretty emails instead of having to try to understand my chicken scratch handwriting.
Emma’s lessons learned got me thinking: What are some simple online tools that organizations can provide to really help with that “heavy lifting” and make it fun for participants to fundraise? How can orgs put the “fun” back in fundraising?
As a Convio employee and as a fundraiser I have had the opportunity to sit on both sides of the aisle. I’ve created widgets and had the chance to use them from a participant’s perspective. Let me tell you, they are fun! Watching that thermometer move up and get closer and closer to my goal is exciting. Not to get too cheesy here, but it really does mean that the money being raised (and illustrated in the widget) is helping a cause that I’m passionate about.
As an organization, you may be reading this and thinking to yourself, “Widgets are pretty but they seem complicated to implement.” The good news is that it really is not that complicated. With all of the social media, online fundraising systems and APIs available today, there are many opportunities to provide some fun tools for your run, walk, ride event participants to use that do not have to take up a lot of your time or team’s bandwidth.
If you have an online fundraising center where your participants can login to track fundraising progress and send emails, consider placing some snippets of code that participants can copy and paste into their personal websites or social media outlets. These snippets can include the code for a fundraising thermometer or other types of widgets or fundraising badges. Do you have fundraising milestones? Consider creating badges that participants can place on their fundraising pages once they reach those milestones. You may need a little help from your web administrator, but many online fundraising tools provide pre-made widgets or badges that you can use. Do you have a YouTube channel or videos that you want participants to share? Place the YouTube embed snippet of code in your fundraising center so that participants can easily copy and drop that into their own sites.
Today’s web is your podium – a public forum for you to share your ideas with your participants and empower them to take those ideas to their podiums and spread the word about your cause. By giving participants some fun tools to use, you are doing the heavy lifting in making it easy for them to want to share their story of involvement with your organization. Remember, people like big, bright, shiny buttons and exploding thermometers. They just tend to click on them.