Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Example: Focused Campaign Within a Large Nonprofit

    The attitude of leadership at large nonprofits toward mini "boutique" campaigns can often be described by one of the most famous cinematic lines of all time: Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.

    Of course, rather than dear you would need to insert AVP, Director of Annual Giving, or some other title.

    A few of my recent conversations have discussed how large nonprofit organizations could benefit from focused boutique campaigns with relatively small goals. Not surprisingly, these conversations have often been as a result of the question How can [Example University] use social media to raise money? My viewpoint is that large organizations can target small segments of their data with unique, specific, urgent campaigns and have great success. Yes, social media can be the primary component. No, it shouldn't be the only component. Things like press releases and mini-events can gain your campaign the attention that can make such a campaign successful.

    The push-back associated with campaigns like these is often a resistance to dedicating resources to a campaign that is only $20,000 or something similar. That leads to how I think large organizations could succeed at raising enough money to make the dedication of resources worthwhile: developing a systematic approach and campaign calendar that provides your organization the ability to have dozens of these boutique campaigns per year. This way, your totals will start to turn into "real money" and you will not have to reinvent the wheel with each campaign.

    So on the heels of one of these such conversations, I met with my friend and colleague at the University of Texas-Austin, Carolyn Connerat. She is the Executive Director of Development and Campaign Manager for the Campaign for Texas. We were discussing the opportunity for boutique campaigns to be successful at large institutions when she shared the Harry Ransom Center's campaign to save the Gone With The Wind costumes. It was a great success, gained international attention, and only had a goal of $30,000. I have included some images below to illustrate how such a campaign could be successful for other large organizations.

    I realize that not ever organization or institution has Scarlett O'Hara's costume to gain attention, but I'm willing to bet you can uncover some creative, fun "small" campaigns that would draw attention.

    Have you already had such a boutique campaign? Please share any similar stories in the comments section.

    By the way... I know there's a pun somewhere between "boutique" campaign and "Gone With The Wind costumes," I'm just not feeling it... plus, I already used the "don't give a damn" line. :)

    Learn more about the campaign & Harry Ransom Center: Web / Twitter / Facebook / YouTube / Flickr

    The campaign website:

    Facebook promotion of NPR story on the campaign:

    Twitter examples:

    A great visual thank you for those that supported the campaign (see the page here):

    Related posts, by topic:

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