Facebook Causes Giving Challenge Post Mortem

The Challenge is over and Students for a Free Tibet came up just short. 4,522 individuals donated to SFT at least once over the course of 50 days. Remarkably, over 2,500 of those donations came in the final 24 hours. Even more remarkably, SFT received between 500-600 donations in the final hour, a number that would have put them somewhere between 7th and 12th place for the entire competition, had they received no other donations.

All told, SFT raised $93,944 over 50 days through small dollar, grassroots supporters around the world. At least a third of that money came in the closing 24 hours and they are still to receive a $25,000 donation from the Case Foundation for coming in second place for the competition. That total – $118,944 – is over 25% of the money SFT raised in their last fiscal year.

The whole process was a phenomenal success for SFT and the Tibet movement on whole. They proved that they are just about the most savvy online organizing group on Facebook, turning a student network into a major fund raising source in a matter of days and keeping pace with an organization that is at least four times larger. Kudos to all the SFT staff, Board, volunteers and supporters who turned this into one of the most – if not the most – successful and memorable giving campaigns in the organization’s history.

Thanks to all my friends, family, and readers who took the time to donate as well.

Huge Facebook Causes Growth for SFT

final hour

This is incredible. In the last 23 hours, Students for a Free Tibet has had at least a 100% increase in their total number of donors in the Facebook Causes Giving Challenge. It took 49 days to find the first 1,943 donors. The next 2,082 were found in just over twenty-three hours. This is remarkable, viral, grassroots work being done online.

If you haven’t given yet, please take a moment to donate $10 to help SFT win $50,000. The contest closes at 3 PM Eastern and there’s $50,000 at stake. I’ll tell you right now, this will go down to the final minute. Your donation could make all the difference.

Donate to SFT through Facebook Causes: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/view_cause/47691 



SFT’s Facebook Challenge

Facebook Causes has been running a giving challenge over the last 49 days. The contest, sponsored by The Case Foundation, has been phenomenally interesting to watch. The challenge is simple: what Facebook cause can collect the donations from the most unique individuals over the course of 50 days. There are smaller contests for you can get the most donors in a 24 hour period, but tomorrow the contest will conclude and the first prize of $50,000 will be awarded.

What’s interesting about the challenge is the groups that have engaged it. The lead for the total prize has gone back and forth for the last few weeks between Students for a Free Tibet, an organization that I have been working with for eight years (two years full time on staff), and an Oklahoma-based organization called Love Without Boundaries, which works with Chinese orphans.

The challenge ends tomorrow at 3 PM Eastern and it looks like it will go right down to the wire.

facebook causes giving challenge
My friends at SFT are running a live stream of their efforts organizing to continue to turn out donors on a new site called Mogulus. Their use of Mogulus is by itself an incredibly savvy way to drive traffic to their Facebook page.

The Tibetan Freedom Movement, SFT’s cause for the giving challenge, has over 4,750 members. 2,190 of those members have donated at least once, and counting. Since I took the screen cap five minutes ago, 150 more people have donated in support of Tibetan freedom. That is one of the highest members to donors conversation rates on Facebook causes. Over the last 49 days, SFT has raised over $60,000 through the challenge, including enough individual donations in 24 hour periods to win nine days.

Students for a Free Tibet is not a big organization. When I worked there, only four other people were on staff in the New York headquarters (now there are six staffers in HQ). In my years, the annual budget was around $350,000; it was closer to $400,000 this year. If SFT wins out in the challenge, they will likely have raised over 25% of their budget in 50 days, a truly incredible output for such a small organization. By contrast, LWB had a budget of $1.2 million last year, four times larger than SFT.

What makes the Facebook Causes challenge interesting is how it has driven organizations like SFT to put in energy to attract new donors. I’ve been able to get a lot of my friends and family to donate, in part because asking for $10 that can be turned into $50,000 is pretty easy. Beyond the small ask, SFT is small enough that the amount of money being raised and up for grabs in the top prize is great enough that it is worth the effort for the staff to put a great deal of energy recruiting more donors. No large organizations or their supporters are pursuing this prize (though the League of Young Voters briefly did).

SFT is doing really creative things to bring in new donors. Campuses around the world have tabled with laptops and wifi to get people to donate on the spot. There have been donation parties. Last night in New York, there was a happy hour* with laptops set up in the bar and people on hand to help facilitate Facebook novices to install the Causes application. People are asking friends and family – this week both my parents joined Facebook and donated to SFT. The contest has been an incentive to innovate and do outreach in new ways and SFT has clearly risen to the challenge.

Winning the Facebook Causes challenge and getting the $50,000 grand prize would also be remarkable for the fact that SFT has never received a single donation that large in its entire existence. Only once has SFT received a grant larger than $50,000. This is not a wealthy organization, but they know how to make every penny count.

With all that in mind, I’m pulling for SFT and will be helping them however I can. I hope regular readers of this site will consider donating $10 to the Tibetan Freedom Movement by 3 PM Eastern tomorrow through Facebook.

If you’re a Facebook member, just go to this link and donate: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/view_cause/47691. Your $10 could be worth $50,000 by this time tomorrow.

*The New York Times utterly failed to grasp the diverse ways SFT supporters are raising money. They described a “keg party” which didn’t exist (it’s unclear if it was the NY happy hour or a gathering in Montreal that had mentioned there would be beer and other refreshments offered). The NYT article gives no attention to why SFT was having success with its student donor base, nor did they bother to contact SFT to talk about what was being done to keep pace with the larger LWB. It’s my understanding that SFT is pursuing a correction to the Times article and will be submitting a letter to the editor in response to their shoddy and potentially outcome-changing article.

Luddism in “Lost”

Brad Reed, writing at Network World, documents the case that ABC’s Lost has a Luddite strain. In short, technology is a harbinger for death on the hit TV show (which, incidentally, is one of the few network TV shows that I closely follow).

Characters who use network technology in ABC’s hit mystery drama Lost are a lot like silly teens who attempt having sex in horror movies: for it seems that anyone who engages in either seems to have a cloud of doom hanging over them. Indeed, the mere presence of network technology anywhere on the show is a harbinger of destruction and chaos, whether it comes in the form of imploding electromagnetic research labs, exploding communications centers or flooded sonar stations.

I wonder if this thread will continue and if the series will ever elucidate why technology on this island kills.

Taking Down AT&T

BoingBoing Gadgets is one of my favorite non-political blogs. Joel Johnson, the primary author of BoingBoing Gadgets, did an appearance on an AT&T owned and distributed talk show in which he spoke out and tried to get the somewhat flummoxed host to address the merits of AT&T’s recently announced plans to filter the content of all internet traffic for copyrighted or illegal or immoral material. Johnson’s full post is here.

This is a great example of someone taking the opportunity to speak when they find themselves in front of a microphone. That’s exactly what Johnson did:

The staff circled me just off-stage after the first shoot. “You realize Hugh doesn’t actually work for AT&T, right? He can’t speak for AT&T.” I told them I understood, but reminded them the entire production is underwritten and broadcast exclusively by AT&T.

That’s the point—I wasn’t being a twerp just for the sake of being one. This is a critically important issue, one that deserves as much attention as can be drawn to it, especially in a venue where AT&T and its customers are sure to listen. And as the reaction of the crowd to my questions showed, no one wants AT&T rifling around in their communications. The only way to stop them from doing so is to speak up whenever we have the chance.

I hope you’re paying attention, Senators Obama and Clinton.

For more info on AT&T’s plans to filter the internet, read Brad Reed’s piece at Network World and Thomas Mennecke’s interview of AT&T exec James Cicconi for Slyck News.

Cellphone Novels

This New York Times article seems like yet another example of how American cell phone technology and culture is embarrassingly far behind Asia. Using cell phones to lower the barrier for writing novels is a very cool turn of cultural saturation of a democratized technology.

Also, in an article about a literary genre “mostly love stories written in the short sentences characteristic of text messaging but containing little of the plotting or character development found in traditional novels,” the Times neglects to include a single sentence from a cell phone novel as representative of “the short sentences characteristic of text messaging.” I’m very interested to find out if these novels are grammatically incorrect or if they’re simply the structural opposite of Jose Saramago novels. For example,  would the author of a Japanese cellphone novel write “I’ll see you later” or “C U l8r”?

Lastly, this strikes me as even more evidence that America must continue to pioneer LOL cats books, so we can retain our current lead in adorable idiocracy.