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March 2011

I am LinkedIn member 855,485

At first glance, this may not seem very impressive. There were over 855,484 people that came before me. But when put in the context of a recent milestone for the professional networking site--LinkedIn now has over 100 million member--somehow, being somewhere just below 900,000 seems pretty impressive to me. I, apparently, am a relatively early adapter.

The reason I am sharing what number LinkedIn user I am, is because I recently received a great email from LinkedIn thanking me for making their dreams of 100 million members come true. Now, I know, I know, it wasn't JUST me that made this happen, but their email sure did make me feel pretty special.

So, for those of us in the business of not only getting donations out of our donors, members, activists, but also interested in building a relationship, driving passion about our mission, making our constituents feel thanked and appreciated (even when they are not expecting it), the email I got from LinkedIn is a pretty good example of  the "Just Thinking of You"  note gone right.



Notice the catchy subject line. Am I really one of the first million members? Wow, right away I feel like part of a very special club. On top of that, they are showing me they know something specific about me--not everyone is part of that group, and LinkedIn knows that I am. And, they consider this a very special group of people. So now I'm an early adapter and I'm special.

Next, they make the relationship seem even more personal. Not only am I part of the special 1 million club, they know EXACTLY which person in that club I am. That means they know WHO I am, right? Or so consumer me starts to think (quieting the whole 'Miriam, they have a database plus your member number is in your non-public profile URL' voice inside).

Also, very importantly, they don't seem to be wanting anything from me. Is it possible this is just a "thank you" message with no strings attached? How novel. Could it be they just want to share this big accomplishment with me and thank me for my role in it? Well, aren't they thoughtful.

I've always liked LinkedIn. Now, I might just love them. And I am blogging about how great they are. Is it possible that mission was more than accomplished with that email from LinkedIn's perspective?

And sure, there are probably a few email best practices that could have been used here, like when I try to read this email on my phone it looks super weird, but hey, I feel all warm and giddy inside from being so special, so I'm going to let them slide on that one...

-Miriam Kagan

Curious what the public profile of member 855,485 looks like? You can find me here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/miriamkagan

Digital-Mobile Sphere Rallies Around Japan Relief Efforts

Last week, I wrote here about how social gaming platforms were helping raise money for the Japan earthquake-tsunami relief efforts. As the news grew increasingly more worrying, I started to take note of a rallying of effort across the digital and mobile sphere, echoing relief efforts from Haiti, but pushing channels to a new level of engagement. 

I've rounded up some of the interesting examples I've seen in the last week. Yes, most have the Red Cross as the charity that benefits from the donations, but this is also a testament to the work the Red Cross has done in optimizing new and developing channels as fundraising channels in times of disaster. So, in no particular order:

Living Social:

Last Thursday, Groupon-like site Living Social sent out an offer: Give $5 to the Red Cross, and we'll match it to make it $10. Doesn't seem that huge right? With 15 hours still left to go in the deal, over $750,000 had been raised!


iTUNES gets into the game:

It started some time last week and can still be seen on the iTUNES homepage today--amidst promos of artists, movies, and whatever else, now comes a promo to help Japan relief efforts. Donation goes to Red Cross, your iTunes account is billed. No news that I could find on how much has been raised, but millions of eyes have been exposed to the offer.





Do you HULU?

Just this past week at the annual NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference, discussion abounded about using Hulu's free service for nonprofits to run in-video ads. And what do I see pop up this past Sunday while catching up on some TV viewing time?   A special ad just for Japan relief that was visible during the entire show and had in-video spots.





Travel a lot for business and pleasure? I sure do, and I make it a point to try to stay at the same hotel family to collect points.  I am sure many others do too. Instead of redeeming them for night stays, I can now donate them to disaster relief (well, at least if I'm collecting Hilton points). They also did this during Haiti, but rolled out much quicker with the offer this time around.


Mobile keeps evolving:

The role of mobile in disaster relief efforts certainly proved itself with the Haiti earthquake. since then, some of us have been pondering important questions like: do I want the $10 donor?  What do I do with them after? How do I convert/upgrade them? How do I even find out who they are? 

Having donated $10 to the Red Cross, I see them trying something interesting in the upgrading department: a text back telling me that if I'd like to donate more $$, to call this number...(Can't wait to find out from the Red Cross folks how well this worked!)


Have you seen other great examples of fundraising for Japan disaster relief?  We'd love to share them with our readers!

-Miriam Kagan

Virtual games, real $$ for Earthquake and Tsunami Relief

If you've ever experienced someone interrupting your dinner conversation or even important work meeting with words like "oh no, I forgot to harvest my raspberries and they are going to wilt!", and then watched them run off in a frazzle to their computer, then you have first-hand knowledge of the virtual gaming phenomenon, even if you are not yourself a proud virtual farm, city, coffee shop, bakery, etc owner.

With over 300 million active participants, virtual games like FarmVille, and platform owners like Zynga, have a unique engagement platform that has been used in the past to raise funds, especially for disasters like the Haiti earthquake.

And just today, from TechCrunch,comes even more proof that if nonprofits are still not at least paying attention to the power of games to drive real $, they should be. In less than 36 hours, various Zynga properties have raised over $1 million for tsunami and earthquake relief efforts in Japan, through Save the Children's Disaster Relief Fund. Players use real cash to buy all sorts of "useful" items for their various virtual properties, and now, special items are being offered with revenues going to disaster relief efforts.

Earthquake relief virtual games 

Now, as those of us working in the field of fundraising every day know, disasters are in their own special fundraising category--the need is obvious and great, the mission easy to communicate, and the potential impact easy to calculate, so it's no surprise that funds can be raised in all sorts of non-traditional ways and from non-traditional audiences. 

And some may somewhat rightfully critique this way of fundraising: instead of donating through a virtual game and having a third party take some of the money donated, people should be donating directly to organizations so all the money can be used for relief efforts.

We all know, however, that inertia is a huge barrier to fundraising and convenience is key. Would I rather take $10 and give $2 as a fee to a partner rather than take no money at all because my organization's website doesn't happen to accept whatever form of payment is more convenient for my potential donor and/or they can't be bothered to navigate away from their "Ville" game to fill out my donation form? My personal answer would be a categorical "yes!, I'll take that donation!". The sheer volume of the audience should make us all think twice about discounting games as a potential source of revenue, in non-emergency times and for non-disaster missions.  Has your organization dipped a toe in the virtual gaming space? Are you listed on Games that Give or other virtual gaming sites? We'd love to hear your experience.

-Miriam Kagan

What is this blog all about?

If you're serious about raising money from donors, you need to get serious about donors. More than ever before, donors are insisting that you share power with them, not treating them like passive ATMs. This blog is about the ways you can do that -- and the rewards that await you and your donors when you do.

About the Blogger

DonorPower Blog is penned by Merkle's Power Blogging Team, led by Greg Fox, our senior vice president of strategy. Working with Greg is a police line-up of guest "artists", fundraising pros all, who like to pose as blogatorialists when the sun goes down. You can reach this blog, and any of our regular contributors, at
donorpowerblog [at] merkleinc [dot] com. See this blog's policies.

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