June 22, 2011

6 ideas to help nonprofits get started on Foursquare


A heat map of Foursquare members worldwide.

Use check-ins & shout-outs to raise awareness among its 10 million members

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, brands, start-ups, Web publishers, educators.

Guest post by Wilneida Negrón
LawHelp.org

WilneidaHere are six ideas to get your organization started on Foursquare, the geolocation social network that announced Monday it has surpassed 10 million members.

Make your nonprofit a venue on Foursquare

1Make your organization a “venue” on Foursquare so that when people are in your area, a notification about your organization will show up. You can take advantage of this feature by adding advocacy action alerts that will show up when others view your organization to alert people to any advocacy needed or even to recruit volunteers, etc.

Also encourage your staff to start individual Foursquare accounts so that they can promote their activities. For example, if you have an outreach or community education component to your work, your outreach staff could check in at venues where they are holding a workshop, attending a task force or participating in any other community meetings or events.

Bring awareness to resources in your community

2Use the “tips” feature on Foursquare to bring awareness about resources available in your community. Have your staff create individual Foursquare accounts and have them leave tips about locations in the community that could be helpful to your client population. You can also encourage local community leaders to leave tips as well. Your staff can also include facts about your organization, hours of operation, nearest subway or bus stop.

Promote and enhance the donation experience

3Consider this idea to enhance the donor giving experience and support local businesses. Talk to local stores and businesses and see if they will make a tax-deductible donation to your organization if a number of people come to their store. For example, talk to your local coffee shop and see if they will make a donation to your organization if 50 people will check into their shop within a period of time.

You can promote this arrangement in your other social networks accounts such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. and let people know that if they check in at this store, the shop will make a donation to your organization. This is a win‐win situation for all: You can promote your organization and raise funds, local businesses also get promotion and business, and customers feel involved and glad they made a direct contribution.

Community education and public awareness

4Many organizations have been using Foursquare to educate the public and bring awareness to issues affecting the community. For example, the National Wildlife Foundation developed a campaign where every time someone checked into an outdoor space like a park or natural landmark, they would receive NWF sponsored tips of the wildlife they should look for, or views to not miss. The idea is to make visiting outdoor spaces interesting and informative and increase awareness, while at the same time increasing awareness of NWF. Continue reading

September 27, 2010

How nonprofits can get started with mobile

How nonprofits can get started with mobile from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

 

Some tips about how to create an effective mobile campaign

This is part two of a two-part series on how organizations can use mobile tech for social good. See part one: A beginner’s guide to mobile fundraising.

JD LasicaWith the explosion of mobile giving in the wake of this year’s humanitarian relief efforts in Haiti and the Gulf Coast, nonprofits and social change organizations are now taking a new look at what mobile might be able to do for their own causes.

Nicola Wells, regional field director for the Center for Community Change’s Fair Immigration Reform Movement, offers nonprofits a half dozen tips about how to get started with mobile and create an effective mobile campaign, whether for fundraising, recruiting or other goals. The 11-minute interview was conducted just after we presented the Mobilize Your Cause bootcamp at City University of New York as part of Personal Democracy Forum.

The Fair Immigration Reform Movement is a national coalition of immigrants rights groups whose work in social media has three goals: to build a list of individuals who can be called upon when needed to press for immigration reform legislation; to communicate important news and information to those individuals as the campaign evolves, and to engage those supporters and build a relationship with them.

Mobile was a key component of the strategy. Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo

Nicola noted that immigrants and people of color tend to use mobile more than the general population, and a lot of FIRM’s supporters did not have computers and did not belong to Web-based communities like Care2 or Change.org. Thus, mobile was the perfect tool for keeping in touch with them.

Wading into the mobile space should not be done lightly, however. “It really takes a lot of staff time just to set up the mobile piece: to create the messaging, do the copy editing and to deal with the day-to-day functioning of the list,” she says.

When the mobile initiative got underway, the executive team had to make sure they had staffing in place and in alignment, including having a key manager of the social media team involved in the mobile campaign. Next, they dedicated to the team a tech expert who was familiar with mobile campaigns and brought in Mobile Commons — a text messaging platform for mobile marketing — to handle the back end.

They talked with partners before they began building the list so they could figure out the right positioning and managed to negotiate relationships to get their long-term buy-in, Nicola said. Finally, they began thinking deeply about the user experience, particularly:

  • calls to action, including urging them to attend rallies on behalf of the cause
  • alerts, so that when specific high-tension information came out, people would be in the loop
  • a feedback loop that gave members a sense of having access to the campaign

Key lessons learned along the way

Some key lessons they learned, Nicola said, were these:

  • You really have to put your short code and mobile information everywhere you put your url.
  • Person to person is the best way to sign people up, not through email.
  • Have people at your events walking through the crowd to recruit people for the mobile list. “Computers are not the best way to sign people up.”
  • Once you have a short code, try not to change it, because you’re building a brand around your code and number. For example, FIRM uses the short code JUSTICE (Justicia in Spanish) texted to 69866.
  • You really have to learn the art of communicating complex ideas in 160 characters. “Allow one or two people on your team to take ownership of that,” Nicola says. “I like to call them the gatekeepers.”

Continue reading