In my day job at Twitter, I immerse myself in the real life stories of individuals and organizations using Twitter to make a difference in the world around them. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until researching and writing my new book, Twitter for Good, that I took a long, hard look at fundraising on the platform.
In my efforts to explain my TWEET model for success on Twitter, I wanted to address the main concerns non-profits and social enterprises have. Again and again, questions about fundraising topped the list. How it works, why it works, and when it doesn’t.
Along the way, I came to a new, startling conclusion: it’s not about the money.
Nope, the real ROI of fundraising on Twitter is the relationships.
Here’s one example. Born2Fly is an organization dedicated to banishing sex trafficking, and they’ve worked hard on social media to do so. On September 9 of 2009 (09-09-09), Diana Scimone led a Twitterthon to raise $81,000. Did it work? In a word, no. Only hitting a fraction of her goal, Scimone regrouped before her 2010 fundraising campaign to figure out what she could have done better. Her key insights showed that using the online relationships she had cultivated would make 2010 a better year. Did it? Indeed.
Here’s another story I share in Twitter for Good : Global Citizen Year (GCY) encourages high school graduates to spend a “gap year” apprenticing for a social enterprise in a developing nation. Some of the best support they ever received came from cultivating a relationship (on Twitter) with Pulitzer Prize winner (and now GCY-supporter) Nick Kristof. Did @NickKristof write GCY a check? Who knows. But surely one of his thousands of readers did when he wrote about them in his New York Times column.
Again and again, I found in my research that the success of fundraising on Twitter highlights what we more or less have always known: In life (and on social networks) it’s all about the relationships we cultivate.
Do you agree?
Have your fundraising campaigns on Twitter been great successes or minor let-downs? If they succeeded, what factors contributed? If not, can you re-measure the “success” of a campaign in influencers reached and relationships made (with the long-term eye towards cash) to change the picture?