On Friday I discussed how the internet has changed the landscape of giving, and today I’ll follow up with a look at two organizations who successfully adapted to these changes.

Social networking offers fantastic opportunities for non-profits to expand their reach amongst virtual groups of interconnected friends, family and co-workers (Facebook currently has more than 200 million active users!) but the most successful campaigns are about quality leading to quantity. The most successful marketing, fundraising, and awareness campaigns are those that have a strong connection to the heart of the non-profit’s mission. Let’s look at Jumpstart’s Read for the Record or the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Second Life as examples.

At their 2009 Summit, Convio honored several nonprofits for their innovations in Online Marketing, Fundraising, Advocacy and Email Marketing. Jumpstart was honored with an Innovator Award for its Read for the Record campaign. Read for the Record is a virtual event that brings preschool children together with the grownups in their lives to read the same book on the same day with thousands of other preschool children from communities worldwide.

This virtual event is a powerful example of the interconnectedness of our 21st century world. “Online giving is about making people feel like they’re part of a larger community that is taking action for your cause,” Eric Rubin says on NPR. And Read for the Record is a perfect example of this. It’s a virtual campaign that aligns with Jumpstart’s core mission and values while also engaging constituents. The event’s fundraising success is just the icing on the cake. According to Convio, the campaign raised $130,000 in two years.The 1,000,000 participants 2009 reading campaign was a dramatic increase from the 78,000 participants during its first year. Read for the Record raises money and constituents. It’s innovation done right.

Our other example, Relay for Life of Second Life, is a virtual Relay for Life benefitting the American Cancer Society. It is designed to engage  interested participants who are unable to attend the local, in-person Relay. The virtual walk has been growing consistently since its inception in 2004. That year the virtual Relay hosted 99 participants and raised $2,000. In 2010, there were 1,579 Avatars who raised $222,804. The American Cancer Society is known for the Relay for Life event, and incorporating a social networking piece into the already successful campaign made sense and aligned with the organization’s mission.

Donors are willing to open their wallets, but are very selective. The internet forces the world to be more transparent. The free flow of information means nonprofits have to keep mission at the forefront of every activity.

My mother will no longer spend her afternoon driving around to find gas or, even worse, spend her money at a gas station that isn’t honest with their pricing strategy. If a donor thinks you are spending too much on that specially designed paw print post-it note, she is going to head elsewhere. With Facebook, Twitter and Google, she now has the means to find plenty of other places to go with her money.

Pictured here are Bridget and her increasingly internet-savvy mother.

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