Posted by Bryan on July 22, 2009
As mentioned earlier, last weekend saw the 2009 Relay for Life fundraising event in the virtual world Second Life – in aid of the American Cancer Society.
Hopes were high in advance of the event that they would surpass the $210k raised through the event last year – and sure enough they have. At the latest count they were up to $270k, and apparently there is still money coming-in.
If you’re new to the whole idea of online fundraising in a ‘virtual world’, then take a look at the promotional video above. And if you know of anyone else making fundraising work in Second Life then do leave a comment to let me know – because the ACS, with their incredibly dedicated Second Life community, is the only one that I’ve seen over the last few years.
Posted in Online fundraising, Second Life, Sponsored events | Tagged: Bryan Miller, Community fundraising, Online fundraising, Relay for life, Second Life, Virtual Worlds | 4 Comments »
Posted by Bryan on July 19, 2009
I attended an interesting meeting last week, along with folks from a few other charities and non-profit-related organisations, to hear about the plans in place to introduce new Internet Top Level Domains (TLDs) to add to those you’ll already know – like .com, .org, etc – and in particular to discuss what benefit might come from introducing a new non-profit-only community TLD.
If you haven’t heard about this significant forthcoming change to the way Internet addressing works, don’t worry – you’re not alone. While it has been discussed for many years now, it is only relatively recently that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which co-ordinates the Internet’s naming and numbering system, announced a timeline for the use of new TLDs – with applications starting in 2010.
At present website addresses use a relatively small number of generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) – like .com, .net, and .org – or country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) – like .co.uk or .fr. However, as from 2010 gTLDs could actually be any word or acronym you like. So, major brands could register brand-specific gTLDs like .nike or .coke. City gTLDs, like .London or .NYC, could be registered for tourist information, and specific industries could also register their own gTLDs – like .bank or .beer. All you’ll need to register your own such domain is a chunky $185,000 registration fee and then the funds to cover the annual running costs (suffice to say that at that price I won’t be launching .bry anytime soon).
What is potentially interesting from the non-profit point of view is that newly registered gTLDs don’t have to be ‘open’ like .com or .co.uk – where anyone can register a site. It is quite possible to register a new gTLD with a specific set of criteria that must be met before anyone can register a site using it. Hence the main discussion last week, organised by Victoria Harris of Article 25 and supported by VeriSign, which focused on what benefits might be available from a non-profit-only ‘closed’ gTLD – perhaps .ngo – restricted to registered charities and other non-profit organisations and managed by a non-profit consortium. In effect how .org was originally envisaged before anyone was allowed to register a .org address whether or not they are a non-profit.
The idea behind such a closed non-profit-only gTLD is that, over time, consumers will come to recognise and trust this as being evidence that an organisation using it is a legitimate non-profit and not someone running an Internet scam. I must admit that I’d never thought much about fake charity online fraud before, but apparently this became an especially serious issue after the Asian Tsunami in 2004 when a wide range of online scammers posing as emergency relief charities took advantage of the outpouring of online support for the sufferers. More work is needed to get an accurate estimate of the scale of ongoing online charitable fraud, but VeriSign have estimated that it could be around £68m annually just in the UK and as more and more individual giving moves online this will only become a bigger issue for the international non-profit community.
There is much more discussion yet to be had, not least into just how any such closed community gTLD might be funded and managed, but as it progresses I’ll be sure to post updates to keep you informed. In the meantime, if you’ve got any thoughts on the pros or cons of such a proposal then do share them by adding a comment below.
Posted in Online fundraising | Tagged: .ngo, Bryan Miller, charity, gTLD, non-profit, Online fundraising, VeriSign | 13 Comments »
Posted by Bryan on July 14, 2009
Since the heady days of Summer 2007 when we had virtual Wimbledon and The Guardian backed a whole virtual music festival, the virtual world Second Life seems generally to have slipped down the online hypecycle from the ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations’ to the ‘Trough of Disillusionment’.
However, one charity that is still actively establishing its presence there is the American Cancer Society. Led by an incredibly dedicated Second Life community of volunteers, the ACS has grown its Second Life activities substantially since its first virtual Relay for Life fundraising event in 2005 – raising over $215,000 through its 2008 event and now hoping to surpass this with its 2009 event being held this Saturday, July 18th.
Apparently they’ve got over 125 teams and 2,000 participants already registered for the 24-hour virtual relay event – and from past years it should be a fun event to log-on to watch.
Alternately, if wandering a little 3d avatar of yourself amongst crowds of virtual fundraisers isn’t your idea of a fun day out – then you can get a good feel for the event, and other ACS activity in Second Life, from the video above.
Posted in Online fundraising, Second Life, Sponsored events | Tagged: American Cancer Society, Bryan Miller, Community Fundraising 2.0, Online fundraising, Second Life, Second Life Relay for Life, Virtual Worlds | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Bryan on July 14, 2009
There has been quite a bit of online discussion about the initiative launched earlier this month to help publicise the rebranding of the Christian Children’s Fund to ChildFund International, whereby they are aiming to acquire Twitter followers to @childfund by offering to send farming supplies to a family in Gambia, Zambia, Kenya or Ethiopia for every 200 followers gained.
I must admit, the first thing I wondered when I heard about the campaign was quite how the funding of the farming supplies was being provided. Presumably not just from the charity’s usual funds, as the incentive link then just wouldn’t make sense. Yet there was no mention of any matching grant from a major donor to incentivise the sign-up of followers – which would have made sense. It turns-out I wasn’t alone in being confused, as revealed by Geoff Livingstone from the PR agency behind the campaign in a blog post earlier today where he seeks to clarify the situation.
It turns-out that the charity did indeed apparently raise matching donations to fund the incentive campaign – not from a single major donor but from lots of individual donors who agreed to give an extra gift to fund it. However, there is still no more information provided with regard to quite how these special donors were engaged with the campaign – which is a pity as it would have added some much needed authenticity to the whole initiative. A further authenticity gap comes when you take a look at the new ChildFund International website – where there is no mention of the initiative at all (so far as I could see).
So, it looks like there’s a key lesson to be learned here. Before launching any such social media initiative, do make absolutely sure that you’ve thought the whole thing through and are able to explain exactly what the deal is – in this case where the matching funds came from and just what else ChildFund has in store for those who sign-up, beyond the knowledge that they’ve contributed one-two-hundredth of a set of farming supplies for a family. That way you pre-empt any unnecessary suspicions and resulting tricky questions and you’re far more likely to generate a good-sized pool of genuinely interested followers. Indeed, this learning goes for any such prospect pool building initiative – online or offline – although you’re potentially dealing with a more savvy and challenging audience when you embark on Twitter-based initiative than when using more traditional channels (as poor Mr Livingstone has discovered).
As I finish this post, @childfund has got a total of 968 followers, which is four more than they had when I grabbed the screenshot above a few minutes ago – so there’s some life in the campaign yet. However, under the one donation per 200 followers incentive, that still only equates to approaching 5 families receiving the specially funded supplies – which just doesn’t seem right somehow.
The incentive initiative runs through to July 27th, and it’ll be interesting to see just how large a Twitter community they’ve managed to attract by then.
Posted in Online fundraising, Twitter | Tagged: Bryan Miller, ChildFund International, Online fundraising, Twitter | 4 Comments »