12 digital fundraising trends for 2012 #2 Investment in Strategic Blogger Outreach

Over the last few years, charities have increasingly got to grips with establishing a branded social media presence and starting to collect and engage with ‘Followers’ of various types. However there is a significant gap in the majority of non-profit social media strategies, and that involves how fundraisers can effectively engage with some of the most powerful influencers in the online social media world – bloggers.

One reason for this gap may be that Blogger Outreach is managed by the Communications or Media Relations teams in your organisation. If this is the case, then offer to get the relevant person a coffee and book some time with them to talk through just what the Blogger Outreach Strategy is and how well fundraising is integrated into it. More likely, your organisation won’t have a properly developed Blogger Outreach Strategy. In which case work out who should have developed it, get them a coffee, and sit down to help them – ensuring that support for fundraising is baked-in from the outset.

Either way, even if you have to throw-in biscuits with the coffee, make sure you consider investment in strategic blogger outreach as part of your fundraising planning this year. If you don’t then you’re potentially missing some great opportunities to inject new momentum into your online fundraising and campaigning programmes.

One great example of what can be achieved through strategic blogger outreach was shared by A.J.Leon at the International Fundraising Congress in Holland last October. He told the story of his work with Global Hope Network International on a project to fund the provision of clean water for a Kenyan village called Ola Nagele, by getting 100 donors to join the ‘Extended Village’. Sounds like a typical project crowd funding appeal. But, in this case, rather than promote it through traditional online or offline channels, all promotion was by one professional mommy blogger who visited the project personally to share the experience of bringing water to the village with her 250k monthly readers.

You can see more about the project in AJ’s presentation here. But in short, the whole thing was funded before the blogger left the village to head back to the US. The key take-out from the story: As a donor the blogger could be worth $50/mth to the charity. But as a blogger with 250k monthly readers she could offer far more valuable support for its work by sharing the opportunity to donate with her readers in a uniquely compelling way.

Another example comes from Save the Children UK with their 2010 #Blogladesh initiative. This involved taking three of the UK’s leading mummy bloggers out to visit projects in Bangladesh to see for themselves the work the charity is doing and to report-back to their readers in support for the charity’s preparation for the UN MDG summit in New York. The Tweets, videos, photos, and blog posts sent live ‘from the field’ resulted in a 10m reach on Twitter, thousands of blog hits, 63k people signing Save The Children’s ‘Push for Change’ petition, and two meetings with Nick Clegg, the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister.

The charity followed this up in 2011 with #Passiton, where three bloggers followed the journey of a vaccine from a warehouse in the Mozambique capital right to the point it was given to a child in a field clinic. This time aiming to raise awareness and put pressure on the UK Government prior to the Global Vaccination Summit, and again with great results – 27m Twitter reach, over 200k YouTube views, and support from hundreds of bloggers globally. You can read more about it on Liz Scarff’s blog here.

I hope to hear of a lot more such examples over the coming months as fundraisers around the world see the potential of investing in strategic blogger outreach and come-up with ever more creative ways to work with bloggers as a way to engage online audiences with both campaigning and fundraising opportunities.

However, do note I use the term ‘strategic blogger outreach’. By which I mean properly planned outreach to specific bloggers with properly tailored content and engagement opportunities, and specific objectives that you can achieve together with them and their readers. If all you plan to do is email appeals to bloggers and ask them to say nice things about you then for both your and their sakes you’d probably be better off investing your time elsewhere.

Before you do anything blogger-related, for a fun take on how to avoid blogger outreach failure have a read of this post and related comments on Jay Dolan’s The Anti-Social Media blog.

This is the second of 12 posts that I’ll be publishing throughout January on trends I think will prove to be important for digital fundraising in 2012. You can find the previous trend post on Truly Personalised Video Thanking here.


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