Be Good Be Social: Part Deux

The Be Good Be Social Toronto Committee: Frankie ChowMarcie CrosbieClare McDowall, Emma JenkinClaire Kerr, Laura Bradley, and Tara Irwin

Last night was the second annual Be Good Be Social Toronto (check us out on Facebook and Twitter), a free conference about social media for nonprofits.  Be Good Be Social started in Glasgow a few years ago, and it’s starting up in Amsterdam too.

Clare McDowall starts the night off in a packed room for Be Good Be Social Toronto

I was delighted to rejoin the organizing committee of BGBS – a group of incredibly talented individuals from all corners of the nonprofit sector.  The planning of the event over the past few months happened almost exclusively online, and mostly through a private Facebook group. We met once in person to confirm our commitment and divvy up responsibilities, and once closer to the event itself to check in.

Paul Nazareth, nonprofit jack-of-all-trades extraordinaire, has a pretty great Storify up about highlights from the night. For those who couldn’t make it, or weren’t following #BGBS12, here are some of my favourite points from the night:

Many hands make light work
Jason Shim & Shubhagata Sengupta started the night off with a terrific run down of crowdfunding. If Karyn Bosnak can get strangers to giver her money to pay down her $20,000 shopping debt, there is a lot of potential for valuable causes.
(Sidenote: Wikipedia has a page called cyberbegging. Harsh. Let’s stick with crowdfunding, shall we?)
Other great examples included The Oatmeal’s BearLove Good, Cancer Bad (raised $220,000 with a goal of $20,000) and Let’s Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum (raised $1,380,000 with a goal of $850,000) and President Barack Obama’s approach to fundraising, going for more smaller donations rather than focusing wholly on the big ticket donors.
But what if you don’t have the profile of The Oatmeal or Obama? The common factor in successful crowdfunding campaigns are two things: they are very very specific (so you know exactly what your dollars are going towards), and they are time-sensitive (to create a sense of urgency).

NFP Confidential
Claire Kerr moderated a panel of Emma Lewzey (The Redwood), Kelly Bergeron (Ontario 211), and Liz Worth (Kids Help Phone) on how service organizations with sensitive information work with social media. Tips for your crisis service organization:

  • Be explicit on all your social media channels about what issues can (and cannot) be dealt with online, and transfer users to channels they can use for help (be in your phone number or shelter)
  • All organizations have different structures for creating content and monitoring social media. Find the one that works best for your users, cause, and resources (e.g. staff). I think The Redwood’s approach of each senior manager taking two-week shifts in the role of “social media manager” is pretty neat.
  • For organizations of all sizes, social media analysis doesn’t always make it to the board level. Find a way of making your information digestible – whether it’s raw data or a pretty one-pager infographic. There’s value in social media, help management understand that.

Be Bold, Be Brave, Be Amazing!
Julie Silvestri of the Yonge Street Mission was exactly what’s missing from a lot of nonprofit social media conferences. It’s great to hear about how a hospital was able to use QR codes through their city-sanctioned race to raise millions of dollars, but how is an organization with little staff and fewer dollars supposed to replicate that? Julie’s words of encouragements to those handed a stagnant social media presence and tasked with turning it around were simple, but bang on. She also emphasized a visual consistency through all your channels – a gal after my own heart! Though my favourite tip was her sharing her editorial calendar:

Just plan ahead, and learn. It’s how we all get started. And it’s something manageable for the small shop nonprofit.
And like, no big deal, but…

Also, big love to our sponsors Good Works, CharityVillage, and My City Lives, who made Be Good Be Social Toronto 2012 a smashing success!

Were you at BGBS12? What did you think of it? What topics do you think so hot right now for social media and nonprofits?


But I need these baskets back!

Or: A Love Letter to Historica Dominion Institute
Or: Donor Tips from a Broke Chick: Nostalgia Edition

If you grew up in Canada in the 1980s and 1990s, chances are you know exactly what happened to those peach baskets. (If you don’t, you can learn here).

Last night I was thrilled to be at Historica Dominion Institute’s sneak peak of two new Heritage Minutes videos. Oodles of Gen Y and Gen X and Gen-what-have-yous gathered to bask in a shared experience, nostalgia, and national pride. We were treated to a few 22 Minutes “sacrilege moments” – celebrating the Canadian tradition of shopping south of the border, and the design of washroom icons (“It’s not insulin. But you know where to pee”). Sadly, my favourite (“Finishing just out of the medals at the Olympics for over a hundred years”) was not included, and nowhere to be found online! If there’s one things Canadians do, it’s reference our inferiority complex.

ASIDE Looking for an academic paper that investigates national satire (aren’t we all)? This one‘s got you covered.

And then we got to see the top twelve (official) Heritage Minutes.  Peach baskets, burnt toast, the Halifax explosion, they were all there! The level of applause as each one began made it clear which ones the crowd loved the most (see the whole collection here). We even got to see the first two new Heritage Minutes to be released in years (coming soon to a commercial break near you). And I don’t mind telling you that some of those videos got me welling up with a sense of awe at the human stories woven through our history.

After the screening was finished, Historica Dominion Institute staff and actors came to answer the audience’s questions.

ASIDE Hey HDI, if you need examples of popularizing Canadiana and history and nostalgia, you may want to check out Kate Beaton.

Nostalgia came up a bunch of times throughout the evening. It wasn’t just that re-watching Heritage Minutes took me back to my childhood, it was the entire set up of the evening (shout out to Spotvin for their work!) There was free popcorn, pop, candy, a tshirt, and a loot swag bag – it was like being a kid at a birthday party again.

ASIDE And has only made me more determined to organize a milk and cookies fundraiser some day.

But it also got me thinking — on a Monday evening, on a modest budget, a not-all-that-flashy, charitable organization managed to draw us finicky Gen-Yers out to watch 30 minutes’ worth of old educational videos. Big organizations have capitalized on nostalgia (and the lucrativeness of derivative rights) in the relaunching of our childhood experiences (see: gritty reboots of 1990s action movies, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). My favourite night out in Toronto is at the 90s night (look, dance music was good back then). Nostalgia’s got quite the powerful draw.

So, if you’re finding it hard to get us to look up from our twitters and the distractions of our (youngish) adult lives, give us a opportunity to remember our pre-iPhone lives. I’m trying to think of events in the nonprofit community that do this and I’m coming up short. If you know of them, I’d love to learn more, so let me know in the comments!

Donor Tips from a Broke Chick: [Don’t] Forget the 20-Somethings

DISLAIMER: I’m in my 20s

Paul Nazareth, networking wizard extraordinaire, sent me this article. In it, they summarize the findings of the Millennial Impact Report and conclude that “young donors” are actually in their 50s. The “young donors” in their 20s are not worth the time.

The article goes on to point out that donors in their 20s are a fickle crowd, throwing ten bucks to a friend for Movember, or maybe even twenty to a street canvasser, but on a random and impulse manner. They are (gasp) financially insecure and may be called to action by a natural disaster but are unlikely to maintain their relationship as a continuing donor.

Let me tell you, I never tire of articles knocking twenty-somethings. Those self-absorbed creatures glued to their MTV smartphones that find a whole new level of entitlement in every aspect of their life: from school, to work, to what kind of lifestyle they think they deserve. They are the worst.

Although as a young broke donor I give haphazardly and have yet to build a lasting donor relationship with a specific organization, that shouldn’t preclude me from being worth an organization’s time and attention. The Millennial Impact Report did point out that the oft-disparaged Gen-Y is generous with their time, actively engaged in volunteer and board opportunities. Hey, we 20-somethings may not have the Bejamins/Bordens, but we’ve got passion and energy. And what with the twitters and our social networks, we can also be vital assets when it comes to peer-to-peer fundraising.

But I get it. You only have so many resources to put in to acquiring donors. Despite the volunteerism and the affinity for P2P fundraising, why would you try to chase down the elusive Gen-Y-ers when (according to the aforementioned article) Baby Boomers will provide you with a more solid return on investment?

Turn the clock back thirty years, before the Baby Boomers were your go-to donor demographic. What if you had started to build a relationship with them back then? Look at it a different way – in thirty years’ time the smug punk Gen-Y/Millennials/20-somethings of today are going to be your best bet for donations.

As the article from Charity Info says, any nonprofit not chasing Millennials isn’t doomed. Since it’s not a lucrative demographic, what’s the worry if they’re not a part of your donor relations strategy? No worry. But I would argue that mentality is short-sighted.

The organization that ignores me today when I’m struggling is going to expect me to give to them in thirty years. And who knows, I might donate something. But let’s say another organization created opportunities for me to feel included in the cause through my 20s, 30s, and 40s (the Royal Ontario Museum’s Friday Night Live is a pretty good example). Of the two organizations, who is going to add me to their list of major donors?  It’s true, I’m financially unstable. So I give haphazardly. But some day I’ll be financially stable (fingers crossed!) and some day I’m going to look to give in a meaningful way.

In order to get that kind of investment from the major donors of tomorrow, you might want to consider investing in them today.

Just a thought.

Saddle up

Last year I was thrilled to take part in Tweed Ride Toronto. I even wrote about how it’s one of the greatest and most accessible fundraising events I’d ever seen.

Photo by ‘Xander Labayen @416cyclestyle
(That’s me, second row, second from the left with the tartan jacket)

Well folks, it’s back. And this year BikingToronto mastermind Joseph Travers, photographer and social media junkie Rannie Turingan, and I have banded together to create the gosh darn biggest and awesomest team we can for Tweed Ride this year and I’m calling on you to join the cause.

Yes, I want you to be a part of the ReTweed Society team for Tweed Ride Toronto 2012.

Why? Well, Joseph, Rannie, and I are on the team so you already know it’ll be awesome.

But wait, what does being on a team mean?

It’s cheaper!

Well, for one thing, registration is cheaper for Tweed Ride if you are a part of a team. In fact, the cheapest way to get in on Tweed Ride is if you join a team and register before August 1 (registration opens July 22!) – you only have to pay $15 for a full day of stylish riding, tea parties, and a lovely dinner.

It’ll fill your social calendar!

We’ve already got some fun ideas in the works for the ReTweed Society. They are of course totally optional, but a great way to get to know fellow cyclists, and do fun things together, like eat, drink, shop for vintage wear, and ride. While the name of the game is stylish riding, we’ve got some cool ideas for fundraising brewing too…

It’s fun!

Meet new people, relish in a sense of camaraderie, and we’re working on something cool for each team member to sport on the day of the ride.

It’s easy!

Not an avid biker? You don’t have to be. Really. The pace is mellow, the vibe genteel, and cycling en masse is the safest way to go. See the sights and sounds of Toronto’s epic built heritage while getting to know awesome folks, all while cycling at an easy and comfortable pace. Cycling events like these are all about having a good time and being welcoming and inclusive.

So how do I register? Just head to the Tweed Ride Toronto website on July 22, and register before August 1 to take advantage of early bird pricing.

Follow the antics of ReTweed Society on twitter and facebook.

Plus I made the awesome posters for this year’s Tweed Ride. Behold!

If you don’t catch this post in time, or prefer to ride solo, definitely still register for Tweed Ride, because it’s going to be so much fun and supports a worthy cause!

Donor Tips From a Broke Chick: My First Fundraiser

Alright. It wasn’t actually my first fundraiser. (Come on people, I’ve worked in the nonprofit industry for close to seven years now.)

But it was my first off-the-clock fundraiser. And it pretty awesome.

The Back Story

When I was eleven, a family friend returned from a trip to South Africa, where a 11-year-old girl named Chanel had asked her if she could be connected with a penpal. I jumped at the chance.

Chanel and I have been writing to each other for 15 years. We wrote letters, man. Pen to paper. We had to number the pages because our questions and answers and stories for each other got so long. I couldn’t believe that someone 13,000km (8,000 mi for my metric readers) away and I could share so much in common. We compared notes on movies we liked. We shared our crushes, our rough days, our perspectives… anything you’d share with someone you’d known since you were 11.  Eventually our letter writing turned to emails, and we’re still at it.

And every now and again Chanel would tell me something and I’d realize that, for all our similarities, our lives are different. It really hit me when she told me she was saving up to get driving lessons and a car because she didn’t feel safe on public transit at night. In my experience people get driver’s licenses to have freedom and fun. Or, like me, they put off getting a driver’s license because it’s a hassle and public transit is just so convenient. I actually like taking public transit at night because hey, plenty of seats!

I was relaying this realization to my friend Krystal, who works at the Guelph Animal Hospital. Chatting with her inspired me to hold an art raffle to raise money to send to Chanel to help support her in her venture.

The Goal

$300. A quick Google search informed me this should cut a big chunk out of, if not cover, the cost of driving lessons.

The Ask

I sent an image (part of which is above) with a background story by email, and privately to a group friends on Facebook. You see, Chanel is on Facebook too, and I wanted to keep this secret. Otherwise, you definitely would have heard me talk about about it before now. Any amount was welcome, and for every $5 donated they would be entered in a draw for a piece of original art. Krystal took the case to her workplace and family to extend the reach.

The Response

Some people didn’t get back to me. Some told me it’s such a great idea, but they weren’t in a position to donate (which, as a fellow broke donor, I totally understood and genuinely appreciated the moral support). And some donated. In fact, 18 people donated. Including a good chunk of people I had never met before.

And we raised $500.

On a Facebook message, a poster, and a story. Peer-to-peer fundraising ladies and gentlemen. It’s how a bunch of broke chicks and fellas pooled their pennies and made a difference in someone’s life.

Chanel got her gift, and had this to say:

I really don’t know what to say other than a huge THANK YOU! While I appreciate the gift, it is the sentiment that really touches me. I feel so amazingly blessed to have someone in my life who believes in me and is willing to invest in my success. I am completely blown away by your generosity of spirit! Knowing there are so many people rooting for my success is a great motivator for those days when I question why I try so hard to be the best that I can be.

A million “thank you’s” from me to your friends who supported you (and me) in this endeavour.

I also want to extend the warmest thanks to everyone who donated and shared their support.

And congratulations to Miranda, winner of this piece of art!

What was your first fundraiser? Do you have any off-the-clock fundraiser stories to share?

Donor Tips from a Broke Chick: Night at the Museum

Dear ROM,

Thanks (again). I was excited when I found out about Friday Night Live @ ROM (#FNLROM), I was excited to go, and now I’m excited to go again.

There were two things I would have liked to see differently – more seating would have been nice. Yes, it’s my own fault for wearing heels, but especially since the food options needed two hands and a drink needed a third, more seat and tables would have helped. I was also disappointed you couldn’t scan my smartphone ticket – something I almost expected at such a hip young event.  I guess Starbucks has spoiled me!

But that’s it for complaints. The rest of the evening was outstanding.

Price point? Perfect. I got to try wines I had never had before and upscale comfort food like they have at all those fancy events, but at a much friendlier price point. (Reminder for my readers: Admission is $9 and food and drink range from $2 to $5, paid for in “ROM dollars” which are good for any FNLROM till June 22).

Timing? Perfect. I was able to get some stuff done after work and still arrive before the event was too much underway, got enough time in at the party, and got home in time to catch up on 30 Rock. I noiced the demographic changed throughout the night. I counted myself among the cinq-a-septs (or six-a-neufs, really) and I left shortly after the galleries closed, swinging by for another glass of wine. As I was leaving the crowd was a bit dressier and more up for the party aspect – they weren’t as concerned with browsing the galleries as the food and drink and people watching. So you provided something for everyone, really.

Letting us walk around in the whole museum? Brilliant!  As I work during the day and don’t have children, I get frustrated when museums and galleries close too early for me to get a real visit in after work, or are open later but open at such discounts they’re sure to be packed with families. (Aside for my readers: I don’t hate families! I just don’t want to fight with children for space in the galleries. Sincerely yours, a selfish childless 20-something.)

But, dear ROM, since your event was 19+, there was nary a toddler or teen to be seen. It was only grownups at the museum! At some points I almost felt like I had a gallery entirely to myself. And I felt like a kid again. Oh yeah. We hit up the Bat Cave. We crawled through the fox’s den in the Biodiversity Gallery (even though I was in a dress and heels). You really made me feel the ownership of the museum space that I have missed for, well, a good ten years. And that, that was incredible. That’s how you get the 20-somethings-without-kids to fall back in love with you.

Good friend and man about town Scott Honsberger and I got to complaining about the shortcomings at other events we had attended – drink tickets that were only good for one night, too-long lineups for drink and food, tiny and therefore crowded drinking areas, no quiet areas where you could hear yourself speak, and on and on… It was as if the organizer’s of FNLROM had sat down, listed their gripes about other events, and created an event without any of those shortcomings.

It made for an incredible visitor experience. I even intentionally didn’t go to all the galleries so I had another reason to come back.

And I will. And I will bring more friends.

See you soon!

Hugs and kisses,

Dear readers: who’s coming with me next time?
And dear readers: If you plan on dressing up, leave the heels at home. There’s a lot of space to cover in the ol’ Royal Ontario Museum.
And dear other cultural institutions: more of this please!

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Donor Tips from a Broke Chick: Friday Night Live @ROM

Dear Royal Ontario Museum,

Thank you.

When I heard about Friday Night Live @ROM, I was really happy. I mean, I’ve been lamenting the lack of affordable events geared towards my demographic (adults without kids that still love going to museums) for a good while. You have your swanky Prom at the ROM ($125-325) and Young Patrons’ Circle ($600-$5000/year) and that’s awesome for those who can afford it.

I was feeling left out.

A challenge with the big-ticket events and memberships is even if I could put the money towards it, I don’t have too many people in my network that are invested enough to do the same. And what’s the point of going out to an event to geek out at a museum and drink if you’re not with friends?

And then #FNLROM came along. And the lineup looks smashing.

And then I find out #FNLROM is only going to be $9.

I thought: Awesome.

Then I thought: Oh shoot, it’s gonna be packed.


A night out for two at the movies (tickets and concessions) costs more than $40. If you get fancy, like VIP or 3D, you’re passing the $50 mark.

#FNLROM has a $9 admission and food and drink items are all $5 (yes, five dollars). For a night out with a buddy, it’s way cheaper with the ROM.

(Yep, that’s right. Young donors/patrons are price sensitive, yo.)

And let’s be honest folks. We’re nearing the summer, a.k.a. the Dead Zone of Decent Movies. Not only is it cheaper, but you will be far better off partying at the ROM on Friday nights this summer than pretending you’re enjoying The Expendables 2.

Plus, I’ll be there. So like, bonus.

So right. Back to you, ROM.  From this broke chick, thanks for this series of events I am sure will be the weekly smash hit this summer in Toronto. Thanks for giving us young, childless, on-the-poor-side donors a way to party with you.

Hugs and kisses,