Great Social Media Idea: Making Promises for Fundraising

Am I really writing a fourth consecutive post about fundraising with social media? Is my name Joe? Do I live in Portland? Do I love the Minnesota Twins, Dr. Pepper, books about the age of sail British Navy, gummy candies (of any sort), the Portland Trail Blazers, Prince, electro pop, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, the forgotten legacy of James Garfield, and Stiegl? Yes on all accounts. Goodness gracious Agnes me.

If you read this blog with any sort of regularity (may God bless you and keep you if you do!), you may have noticed that I don't feature too too many projects from huge research schools. I do sometimes, of course, but I try hard to highlight the work of smaller schools and people who (like me!) do social media work part-time and have little or no budget. I suppose I grade things on a curve... it's easier to do great social media work with bigger teams and bigger budgets. 

But having said that, because they have more resources, larger universities often create absolutely amazing projects, such as the University of California system's Promise for Education, which I'm featuring today. First off, just watch this video (full of Hollywood star power) to see how different of a league UC is playing in:

The basic premise of this six-week campaign is to encourage people (students, parents, alumni, celebrities) to promise to do something if they can raise a certain amount of money. So, Jamie Foxx promises to do a rap if people commit $20,000 to it, a student who doesn't eat vegetables promises to go vegetarian for a year if people commit $5,000; etc. In a lot of ways, it's an old hat fundraising idea (everyone knows a high school teacher who either shaved his head or his mustache for a good cause) conducted in a very much modern way. (Read more about this in a Los Angeles Times article.)

There's a lot to love about this campaign (that it's already raised nearly $1 million is a good place to start), but my favorite part is how it encourages participation. Anyone can sign up to make a promise, and the awesome campaign website creates individual fundraising pages and allows for very easy sharing on social media and otherwise. It taps into the crowdfunding mentality, and makes the community act like gift officers instead of simply donors. Best of all, a strategy like this allows for a much wider base of donors (alumni's aunts and uncles, high school buddies, etc.) than would ever be possible through a traditional campaign that reaches out only to alumni, parents, and friends. Why? Because when people give to this campaign, they aren't just giving to UC... they are giving as an act of support for the individuals making the promises.

While a campaign like this might seem totally impossible for smaller institutions without easy access to Hollywood stars, it's worth thinking about ways that you can utilize passionate alumni as your gift solicitors. Crowdfunding has opened a lot of interesting doors, and we're only just now scratching at where all those doors can lead.

Kudos to the UC system for this amazing campaign! 


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