Monday, March 24, 2014

#NoMakeUpSelfie - What Should Your Charity Learn From It?

I'm usually sceptical of on-line 'like and shares', petitions and awareness raising campaigns. Not only do they achieve very little, but they can have a negative effect on donations as people feel they've 'done their bit'.

But I like the No Make-Up Selfie campaign - primarily because it's raised loads of money. As well as taking part, the friends on my Facebook timeline are also donating - I've never seen that before. I've never seen people actually post screenshots of their donation receipts. It's amazing. (And here's a nice post from Emma Hannigan).

But let's look at the dos and don'ts of what fundraisers can learn from this:

  • DO have a mobile friendly donation page. It should go without saying by now, but around half of these donors are going to be on their mobile or tablet. If your donation page makes it difficult then they're going to give up.
  • DO have a SMS donation facility. But only if it's cost-effective. They can be pricey to set up but more and more it's getting affordable or even zero-risk.
  • DO engage. Thank everyone that takes part. Take part in the conversation.
  • DO encourage your supporters to reach out to their friends and family. Coach them on how to do so. Some call it 'member-get-member', which is such a stupid name, but think 'refer-a-friend'.
  • DO be ready to move quickly and make the most of these type of campaigns.
  • DO follow-up. If you're fortunate to have received donations then make sure you show how you spent them. This will be the end of the story for many donors, but for some donors it's the beginning of your relationship.

  • DON'T try to make your own viral campaign. You can't force viral. It'd be like buying a lottery ticket as part of your fundraising plan. Denisa Casement put it well: If it can't be reproduced with a degree of certainty it doesn't belong in your fundraising plan as anything but a contingency response.
  • DON'T believe anyone who tells you they can make a viral campaign.
  • DON'T entertain anyone that suggest you just do a #NoMakeUpSelfie campaign or something similar. You will hear this from your Board and other people with good intentions. It almost certainly won't work.
  • DON'T forget staff costs. When we look at social media costs we pretend they're free - we forget to take in to account all the hours your staff or volunteers spent cruising Facebook and Twitter. You could have spent that time earning or raising money.
  • DON'T forget that Irish Cancer Society (probably the biggest beneficiary of this campaign in Ireland) put years of work and money in to being the 'first choice' for people to donate to. If you're a small, young organisation you're not going to have that.
  • DON'T believe the hype. We're probably going to hear conference speakers and on-line consultants cite this as proof that social media is killing everything else. For every #NoMakeUpSelfie there are a million efforts that raised nothing. Get the basics right first.

Anything else? Please feel free to comment!


  1. Hi Simon,
    While I agree with much of what you say, PAWS launched a #WetNose selfie on Sunday. It is now Tue at 8.36am and it has raised €500 so far. The text donations are free to the charities, but we have to wait 3 months for the funds. We as an organisation, would prefer to pay a small commission to an organisation such as yours, to receive the donations monthly, rather than wait three months for desperately needed funds.
    Last night, our #WetNose selfie campaign was retweeted by someone who has 2200 followers in show business in the states. Therein lies an issue....they cannot make text donations.
    There are no staffing costs as I monitor it myself. Time consuming, yes, but it is raising funds for our charity.
    So come on Total Fundraising, set up a text donation system where the charity is King and lets all get on board.

    1. Thanks for the response Gina. That's awesome to hear your own efforts are paying off. I think that's a really good example of moving quickly and making the most of the coverage.
      I think there's a big difference between a charity trying to run their own #nomakeupselfie in 3 months compared to what you're doing by capitalising on what's happening. It's great.

      In terms of staffing costs I would argue YOU ARE a staffing cost. You could either be using that time to run some other form of fundraising, or use it to get a job in Centra and donate to an animal charity. Everything has a cost...even free stuff. :-)

      Ha ha - we'll keep looking at it...but don't know how we can possibly compete with 0% fees on SMS giving!

      Keep me up to date with your #wetnose - it would be awesome to do a blog post on how well it worked for you.

  2. We have absolutely no problem paying a % if we got the money quicker.

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