Implementing Social Change Anytime Everywhere: Q & A with Amy Sample Ward and Allyson Kapin


Earlier this week, I posted my review of Amy Sample Ward and Allyson Kapin’s new book, Social Change Anytime Everywhere. After reading the book, I sent Amy and Allyson six questions about the book, following up on some of the concepts and examples presented in the book. In the following Q&A, Amy and Allyson share their thoughts on what inspired them to write the book, how real-time web and mobile has changed how we do business internally and externally, which nonprofits are successful at building online community, what assets an organization should have in place before launching a multichannel campaign, and the investment needed to raise money online.

1. What inspired you to write Social Change Anytime Everywhere?

ASW: So many organizations that I talked to were looking for which tool they could focus on to get the most impact, and the most bang for the buck. The answer isn’t just one tool but is instead how you’re integrating the tools and content to create the best constituent experience. I was interested in writing this book so I could help show how organizers can use a multichannel approach in their work, and do it for many organizations at once.

AK: I wanted to show organizations how they could build a ladder of engagement with their constituents across multiple online channels ranging from their websites to social media. Most nonprofits are really good at utilizing one or two channels well, but very few are using several channels effectively to support campaign goals in order to reach people wherever they are. This concept is what inspired the name of the book Social Change Anytime Everywhere.

2. If you were to say that there is one overarching theme in the book, what is it?

AK: The real-time web and mobile has changed the way we do business both internally and externally. You need to reach your supporters and target audiences wherever they are and how they prefer to communicate with you – whether that be through your blog, email, direct mail, social media, texting, etc. This is why it’s so important that nonprofits focus on having integrated teams and not silo departments who aren’t coordinating multichannel campaign efforts.

ASW: That multichannel strategies aren’t difficult and organizations of all sizes are using this way of operating to be more effective in their work – you can, too!

3. What type of online assets should an organization have in place before planning a multichannel campaign?

ASW: We discuss this in the book, of course! As far as the technology goes, if say organizations need ways to communicate, this could mean websites, email marketing, social media, and mobile text messaging. Organizations then need a way to store their constituent data in a system that will track and segment the list. When those pieces are in place, it’s time to talk about the process or people-focused systems. These are things like standing meetings that bring people from across the organization together to review data and communications, planning processes that involve staff from all related departments, etc.

AK: In addition to having systems and processes in place to make multichannel campaigns successful, you also need good stories to tell to humanize the issues you are working on and to demonstrate impact. For example, how did one person’s donation make a difference in your campaign? How did their advocacy action have an impact on the campaign goal you identified in your campaign plan (which we outline in the book). If you can’t demonstrate this you need to go back and re-examine your campaign goals and objectives.

4. You identify five principles integral to a structurally sound campaign or movement. If you were to pick one of the five, which would be the most important, and why?

ASW: I would say the first, because this is something I see happen all the time and will fundamentally impress your organization’s success: Knowing Your Community. A terrific campaign that has great content but is using language that doesn’t connect with the community and is focused on a call to action by those not on your community will ultimately stay as a very beautiful but unsuccessful campaign. It’s crucial to invest time first in understanding who is already in your database, who already comes to your events, who retweets your posts before you can engage them in advocacy, community building, poor fundraising.

AK: One of the ways to really get to know your community and learn how to connect with them is to understand their pain points around the issues you organize on or even within your organization.  If you take the time to listen to their frustrations, you can adapt your strategies, messaging, and sometimes even your advocacy targets to make your multichannel campaigns better resonate with your community.

5. When you write about raising money online through social media, you note that it is “not an overnight process, and it will take a big investment.” Can you elaborate on what you mean by that?

AK: First, I think it’s important to recognize that right now social media is not the best channel to use to raise money. However, it’s a great space to build relationships with people who can later become donors if you focus on a ladder of engagement, which we discuss in the book.

The majority of money raised by nonprofits still comes in offline. Social media is first and foremost a channel for people and organizations to use to socialize with each other. It’s a channel that should be used to foster community with your current constituents and new people you want to bring into your community. Unless you are in the middle of a massive and urgent campaign like raising money for victims of an earthquake or some other natural disaster or tragedy, social media should not be viewed as a channel to raise a lot of money on in the short term. In fact, according to a couple of the largest nonprofit benchmark studies  by NTEN and Blackbaud, most organizations aren’t raising a dime on this channel.

ASW: Raising money through social media requires an established relationship and trust. That doesn’t happen overnight.

6. The book emphasizes community-building throughout, particularly in Chapter five. What organizations have been consistently successful at building community online, and why?

ASW: One that we profile in the book is Iraq and Afghanistan veterans of America. I think they do a great job of building community online especially because of their multichannel approach, using multiple tools the same way their community does, pushing Instagram photos to Facebook and focusing on a streamlined online putrescence through their website. And, they always make it clear how you can join their work, which is crucial.

AK: One of my favorite case studies in this chapter is the rapid response multichannel campaign that the National Wildlife Federation did after the oil spill. As Senior Manager for Online Integration, Kristin Johnson has said, there was no handbook written for how to launch a multichannel campaign when an oil rig explodes in the Gulf.  But they organized quickly and got key people from different departments collaborating on a rapid response. They used several channels such as their website, social media, and their blog to post facts and resources on the oil spill and its impact on wildlife. They also used all of these channels plus text-to-give via mobile to raise money for wildlife rescues. In addition, they used video and Flickr to visually document the impact that the oil spill was immediately having on wildlife. And it wasn’t just NWF staff contributing content, it was volunteers on the ground. NWF did a great job vetting and repurposing content to keep the information flowing across all of these channels and to give their community the information and resources they were looking to NWF for.

Allyson Kapin photo Allyson Kapin has been named one of the Most Influential Women in Tech by Fast Company, is a Founding Partner of Rad Campaign, founder of Women Who Tech, and Blogger-in-Chief for Care2’s blog Frogloop. She tweets @womenwhotech.



Amy Sample Ward photoAmy Sample Ward is an author, facilitator, and trainer focused on leveraging social technologies for social change. She is the Membership Director of the Nonprofit Technology Network, co-author and facilitator of Social by Social, and former community organizer of NetSquared groups through Tech Soup. She is also a regular contributor to the Stanford Social Innovation Review. She tweets @amyrsward.

A Giving Tuesday Pay It Forward Success for the American Diabetes Association

Step It Out Giving Tuesday

I was thrilled when my nonprofit technology colleague Shana Masterson of the American Diabetes Association agreed to write a guest post about the organization’s Giving Tuesday success. While some organizations used Giving Tuesday as an opportunity to ask for donations during the nationwide event, the American Diabetes Association took the opportunity to plan an extremely creative peer-to-peer fundraising opportunity, Step It Out. While it was a fundraising campaign, I was intrigued by how the organization used it as an opportunity to deepen and engage its community. The result was bountiful: $21,000 in donations, increased involvement from fundraisers, and deeper fundraiser loyalty to the American Diabetes Association.

When the Giving Tuesday movement was born, fundraisers rejoiced. A chance to start the year-end campaign earlier! A new reason to ask for money! The founders of the movement stressed “acts of giving,” but the truth is the great majority of nonprofits used Giving Tuesday as an opportunity to raise funds for their cause.

We weren’t interested in a straight fundraising ask, but wanted to do something that would truly engage the Step Out community. Being an idealistic bunch, we kept gravitating towards “random acts of kindness.” We also wanted to turn the usual concept of event fundraising incentives on its head.

As part of the Step Out “Pay It Forward” Giving Tuesday campaign, participants and donors were encouraged to make an unexpected donation to someone who walked in a 2012 event. In a twist, not only did the donor have the opportunity to surprise someone with a unexpected gift, but for every online gift of $26 or more – representing the 26 million Americans who have diabetes – the person receiving the gift would qualify for an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii (prize donated). We hoped this would encourage the recipient to “Pay It Forward” and make a gift to someone else, and so on.

 Pay it forward FB post

Pay It Forward started on Giving Tuesday and ended four days later. It was promoted via:

  • Teaser posts on Facebook through the National Step Out and local pages.
  • Creation of a Facebook event and a Pay It Forward cover photo.
  • Campaign promotion added to the Step Out website main carousel and creation of a landing page.
  • Updated the donation form, donation thank you page, post donation social sharing prompt, and the donation notification email for recipients with information about the program.
  • Emails sent on the first and last days of the campaign, segmented with specific content for donors, team captains and walkers, with ideas of who they could give to and why.
  • Materials provided to the local offices for local promotion, including personal emails, phone scripts, social media posts, etc.
  • Facebook posts on each day of the campaign on the National Step Out page, with some posts being shared to the flagship American Diabetes Association page.
  • Facebook ads and promoted posts.
  • Creation of an admittedly cheesy YouTube video.
  • Posts through the flagship ADA Twitter account.

So, how did we do? Kind-hearted folks donated more than $21,000 through 333 online gifts!! Last year during this same period of time, $8,500 was raised online through 88 gifts, which included one $3,000 gift. The majority of gifts with a source code were credited to the emails, with many also coming directly from a Facebook post.

The bulk of gifts were also given on the last day, so we were pleased with our decision not to make this a one-day campaign. For word of mouth to spread, felt that one day would not be enough time for this sort of initiative, especially during our off-season.

Our goal for 2013 will be to raise $26,000 during the Pay It Forward campaign. We plan to build on what we did this year and tweak some aspects of the campaign. For instance, the Facebook event didn’t gain much traction and we didn’t give the local offices enough time to prepare for the campaign.

So, who won? A Red Strider (a Step Out participant who has diabetes) from the Los Angeles, who said, “When I got an email alert that my mother-in-law donated a second time I actually called and reminded her that she already donated last month! She then told me that she donated a second time to give me a chance to win the Hawaiian trip! I feel very honored and blessed that my mother-in-law cares for me, my well-being and ADA’s worthy cause.”

Shana photo

Shana Masterson has been working in event fundraising for national health nonprofits for the past twelve years. She is currently the National Associate Director for Interactive Fundraising and Engagement with the American Diabetes Association. Find her on Twitter: @npshana

One Donor’s 2012 Giving Tuesday Challenge Test

Lynne Wester, Director of Stewardship and Donor Recognition at Yeshiva University in New York City and a fundraising stewardship consultant, conducted a brilliant donor user experience test this week during Giving Tuesday, effectively doubling the value of Giving Tuesday for 15 organizations. She donated to all, carefully documenting the experience, assessed the donation process, and blogged about it. I first saw a tweet from Lynne the night before Giving Tuesday:


Of course I was curious…and was thrilled to learn that Lynne was going to put Giving Tuesday to use for everyone. Crowdsourcing names of nomprofits for the Giving Tuesday donation test, she used her social media channels and coworkers, asking “if given $1 million and it had to go to one charity, who would that organization be?”  She donated to many organizations, from Gorilla Fund to charity:water, donating online in amounts ranging from $10-$1000.

While donating, Lynne carefully watched and compiled information on the following experience indicators:
  • How many clicks it takes to get to their giving site
  • How long the gift takes to complete
  • Is the site mobile friendly
  • How is she receipted and acknowledged?
  • Is the donation linked to social media for sharing
  • If I tweet the org saying I just gave, will they tweet back?

This is what she learned, reprinted with permission from Lynne’s original blog post.

The Bad:
1. Not enough social media exposure
2. Giving websites were not mobile-friendly
3. Not enough places gave me the option of giving in honor of someone and even then, only in written format and not through email. The Red Cross told my honoree how much I gave – ARGH!!
4. I’ve already been solicited again!! (Feed the Children)
5. There is no excuse for having a “CAPTCHA” hurdle in order to give
6. Sites are arduous and repetitive, too many sites prescribe the dollar amount to give
The Good:
1. Showing the impact: look at charity:water
2. Sites are starting to be better about where to find them on social media
3. A good response from those that I tweeted (5 out of 15)
4. I saw one site’s button that said “Save a Life,” which is much better than “Submit” or “Add to Cart”
5. We have room to grow
Lynne documented everything in an open spreadsheet that you may view here.
(The following are screenshots reprinted with Lynne’s permission.)

Here are some screenshots of The Good from Covenant House, American Cancer Society, VCU Massey Cancer Center:

Lynne told me that “American Cancer Society was good because they embedded social media, Massey had a great acknowledgment page, and Covenant House told me what my donation would do!”
Here are screenshots of The Bad from Colon Cancer Alliance, Feed the Children, New York Charities, and UMass Boston:

As you can see, there was a problem donating to NY Charities and Colon Cancer Alliance barely acknowledged the gift. Lynne explained in a follow-up email to explain why she included Feed the Children: “Along with the Feed the Children acknowledgment was another ask to buy items in the store! And an additional note, they solicited me again today, TWO days after I made my first gift… Horrible!” She notes that she included UMass Boston “because in their thank you, all the bullets were about giving, not my gift or the impact of it…”
…and some things we can implement
Charity Water Wins the Response Screen Messaging
In Lynne’s words: “Charity water was the great because of the amazing on screen message and immediate impact of my gift!”
Lynne also offered this in her blog post: “I will make a gift to anyone and discuss their online giving site and response should they want it… be ready for honesty. I would love to hear what you think, we have one more step to go to find out how I am formally acknowledged and how fast they re-solicit me! I look forward to your commentary and let me know if you want to join the experiment.
Lynne notes that she will examine acknowledgment and stewardship for the gift, how quickly she is re-solicited, and whether or not this happens before she is properly thanked in a follow-up blog post…stay tuned to her blog for that post! You can find out more about Lynne through her Donor Relations Guru website and chat with her on Twitter @donorguru.

The Birth of a National Community Giving Day: Twive and Receive

On June 14th, over 200 nonprofits are vying to see who can fundraise the most in just 24 hours. Twive and Receive is the latest giving event that combines the power of social media and the compelling mission of local-serving nonprofits to mobilize their networks to give back to their hometown.The giving day is sponsored by Razoo.

Ahead of the event, I wanted to know more about what led to Twive and Receive, and lessons learned from past giving day events.  Ifdy Perez, the community manager for Razoo, wrote this guest post:

Building Upon Past Successes

In 2009, groups of social enthusiasts used their networks to fundraise for a local nonprofit in Twestival Local. It was one of the first instances where the online community proved that it could make a difference in its hometown by using the power of social media to raise money for a hometown nonprofit. A specific day was designated when 133 cities hosted Tweetups to fundraise for 135 nonprofits. Twestival is one of the closest precursors to Twive, proving that communities will come together to donate to one local nonprofit.

In 2009, the Minnesota Community Foundation, along with 14 other funders, sponsored Minnesota’s Give to the Max Day (GiveMN) was held. The Minnesota Community Foundation worked with 14 other funders to leverage technology and bring the community together to increase giving.  GiveMN raised $14 million its first year, and inspired other giving days in other states and communities. Last fall Razoo hosted Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington, where over 1,000 nonprofits participated in the 24-hour marathon, supported by 18,000 donors who raised over $2 million for nonprofits that directly serve the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area.

These giving days have proven that nonprofits can fundraise online, reach new donors, and diversify their resources with the chance to win prizes in addition to the money they raise.

We’ve seen a good share of community-wide fundraising events in the past few years, including the groundbreaking Twestival, America’s Giving Challenge, and Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington. We learned from these events, and on June 14th, we’re applying the best practices to Twive and Receive (pronounced like Give and Receive).

Lessons Learned: Provide Tools and Training

One thing we found out is that nonprofits are still learning how to integrate social media into their overall marketing and organizational strategy. With Give to the Max Day, we experimented with providing several in-person social media workshops to local nonprofits, and a larger workshop that was broadcast online. Most participants found these resources to be helpful to developing their fundraising strategy for Give to the Max Day.  Many post-event surveys from participants mentioned how important these boot camps were to the success of the individual organizations’ fundraising.

We have incorporated a similar training schedule for Twive participants; a four-track webinar series covering the basics of using social media as a nonprofit, and advanced strategy-development sessions based on contest best practices. We also developed a robust toolkit, with turnkey templates that busy nonprofits can “plug and play.”

Lessons Learned: Good Game Design

The gaming aspect of the giving day has proven important to its success. The tight 24-hour time frame, colorful real-time leaderboards, and the social media lifeblood contribute to the excitement of donating. People respond to the short time frame, and tend to start the beginning of a Giving Day by donating; donations continue to pour in steadily throughout the work day. During the evening, when donations are likely to lag, Razoo has sponsored hourly financial incentives to keep participation high. The nonprofit that gathered the most donations each hour leveraged prize money from Razoo ($1,000, for example). Messages such as “only one hour only to make a difference” inspired quick message-donation turnaround.

For Twive, the website was enhanced with added color, more downloadable resources, an interactive map for people to find their local-serving nonprofit, the ability for supporters to schedule donations ahead of time, and social media sharing capabilities. We want to help nonprofits harness the power of social media to disseminate their message: “Donate and spread the word to help us win on June 14th!” We continue to incorporate rewards as well: the top three nonprofits with the most dollars raised will receive a total of $30,000, donated by Razoo.

Common and Individual Goals

Over 200 nonprofits have signed up and are getting their fundraising pages ready.  They are working alongside local social media champions who know how to use social media.

Whether it’s winning one of the prizes, acquiring new donors, or simply experimenting with online fundraising for the first time, organizations have set their own expectations for participating in Twive. Not every organization is going to raise thousands of dollars, but as they follow their own strategies to reach the goals they set, nonprofits have a unique opportunity to get there with Twive.

Support Your Favorite Local Nonprofit!

The competition starts at 12AM Pacific on June 14th, and donations made up until 12AM Pacific on June 15th are counted towards the competition. The top three nonprofits to raise the most funds will win an additional share of a $30,000 prize. Find your favorite local-serving cause and support them on June 14th with a donation, and spreading the word!


 Ifdy Perez is the community manager at Razoo, an online fundraising platform that empowers individuals and nonprofits to meet their fundraising goals through online giving campaigns. She’s also editor of Inspiring Generosity, a blog that gives nonprofits helpful resources on online community management and social media tools.

Three Simple Rules on Twitter: Guest Post by Susan Perri

Image courtesy of Wendi Gratz, Flickr Creative Commons

Note from Debra: Susan Perri (@wingrants) tweeted to me a few weeks ago that she was seeing a rise in self-promotional tweets on Twitter, and a lack of courtesy. I asked her to expand on what she was seeing, and what advice she might offer to those new to Twitter. Her advice may well make sense for all, whether you are new to Twitter, not yet using Twitter, or an old hand at Twitter. Twitter requires a two-way relationship to create engagement. In that spirit, Susan offers three basic Twitter etiquette tips.  What follows is Susan’s guest post:

Our social media experiences often boils down to one question: Do you want engagement? On Twitter, it’s going to require a two-way relationship, with communication that addresses questions and comments from your followers.

I should begin by acknowledging I do see lots of great folks sharing the compelling stories of their work, which is often interesting and sometimes even noble. I’m glad to hear those stories, and connect and engage. At its best, I believe this is what social media should be, and certainly these are my intentions for using my selected platforms and Twitter in particular. Lately though I’ve been noticing the sheer volume of self-promotion combined with a general lack of common courtesy I encounter on Twitter. Like any other social or community venue, not all folks have the same idea, which can lower the quality of the user experience for the rest of us. Just because you can self-promote on Twitter does not mean you should do solely that. While there are many ways to engage with others, some etiquette should apply. Fundraising blog Fundly and my fellow Twitterer Dave Boyce (@davidjboyce1) speaks about this issue via a great post titled “Spread the love with social media, but don’t forget to mind your manners.” In the post, Dave references the work of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. According to Carnegie, the best leaders improve relationships with every word and action on a daily basis, and this kindness is contagious.

Let’s have some more kindness, please! Our increasingly digital age need not corrode the basic tenets of social niceties. Perhaps I’m hopelessly old-fashioned, but here are the values I (still) believe in, and would urge us all to follow while making our way around the Twittersphere:

1. Walk Your Talk

I’m looking for the kinds of leaders on Twitter that Dale Carnegie wrote about, especially as they relate to my work.  In my particular line of work, I see a lot of Twitter users who promote themselves as nonprofit, communications and/or fundraising professionals. Some of them use self-aggrandizing synonyms for professional, like maven or guru or genius. Many with really large followings put themselves out there as specialists on engagement – donor engagement, social media engagement, building relationships and communities. Surprisingly, these folks have been the most challenging to connect with or get some return engagement back from. Here’s an example to the contrary. Social media whiz (my label, not his) Robert Caruso (@fondalo) really practices what he preaches. This guy has almost 24,000 followers, and he still finds it in his heart to respond to and acknowledge promptly each and every mention, DM, and personal shout out on Twitter. If you’re looking for a best practice for engagement and Netiquette Twitter style, check him out.

2. Remember Your Manners

Think about what your mother taught you. There are really basic, simple acts of kindness that don’t require anything of you but carry tremendous social return on investment. When someone follows you, give thanks. A simple “thank you” goes a long way. Consider following back if that user fits your criteria for doing so. When someone mentions you or references your work, acknowledge it. It’s the right thing to do, and it may just inspire them to do so again in the future.  Don’t be afraid to mention back. It generates goodwill. Irene Koehler (@IreneKoehler) has a great post about Twitter fails of this ilk titled “11 Sure-Fire Ways to Get Me to Unfollow You on Twitter.”

3. Don’t Be Too Full of Yourself

Fellow tweep Matthew Smith (@MatthewSm1th), well versed in social media and philanthropy, recently wrote about the difference between sharing information and “shameless self-promotion” via social media outlets. Self-promotion may be the most common reason for using social media, but I submit there is a balance between self-promotion and respectable engagement that need not be shameless. Let’s begin by the way we put ourselves  out there. Another Twitter connection, Ephraim Gopin (@fundraisinisfun), very smart about all things fundraising, recently ranted about the overuse of the self-administered “social media expert” label. Remember what I said earlier about “geniuses” and “gurus”? This practice of self-proclaimed mastery is indeed overdone, whatever the profession or service. For example, it’s enough call oneself savvy – you need not have a qualifier like “incredibly” or “super” or “amazingly” before it. Sometimes less really is more.

In this era where we are constantly creating new tools to connect, social media is an emerging and evolving platform for communication. Granted, we are learning as we go. We are increasingly interested with how we measure up, how many followers we can count, how much Klout we have. In the end, I think the old adage holds true – it’s quality, not quantity, and the same rules from your childhood playground still apply. Make friends, be nice, take turns, say please and thank you. Oh, yes, and have fun while you’re at it.


 Susan Perri is a grant writing specialist, philanthropic fundraiser & nonprofit social media strategist. She connects organizations with the resources they need to make a positive impact.