What I read last week...
Face to Face Fundraising Takes a Battering

Child's i Foundation: A model for non-profit social media?

I've recently been introduced to Child's i (thanks @annemcx) and have been really impressed by how they are using social media to connect with their audience.

Check out the site and get in touch with Lucy (the founder) on Twitter or Facebook.

Here are the five key things that I love about the site:

  • It's written in an authentic voice and with personality. The passion, determination and drive of Lucy comes shining through and there is generally (I'll come back to this at the end) a lack of jargon or NGO speak. It seems like one person talking to another.

  • The site takes you on a journey and presents a compelling story. It's full of interesting videos, has a clear roadmap of what they want to achieve (and when by) and explains how you can make a difference.

  • Complete transparency. Even when Lucy gets asked an awkward question she answers with complete openness and honesty.

  • It offers plenty of opportunities to feedback and to ask questions and, from what I see, the questions get a quick and comprehensive answer.

  • You can choose your level of involvement and engagement. It goes from volunteering and donating money right down to the 'slacktivism' of following on Twitter/Facebook or displaying a badge.

Cynics might say 'that's great, but you can't scale it' or 'it'll never work at my charity' but eventually every charity that wants to fundraise from the public will have to engage with their supporters in similar ways or lose out to charities who do.

What Child's i have done isn't rocket science but very few larger charities have managed to cut through the bureaucracy and gatekeepers to allow staff to use social media to talk and engage with supporters in the same way.

However I see two big challenges on the horizon.

The first challenge for them will be turning the followers they are collecting on their journey into donors. However, by building trust, permission and continuing to tell an inspiring story then I would hope that when the time comes for a 'hard' ask enough people will be inspired and motivated to give.

The other challenge is maintaining the passion, authenticity and personality of the charity as it grows. At a certain point it's going to be hard to keep the personal touch that makes the site stand out.

Finally, my one (smallish) criticism is about the one bit of jargon on the site, which can be found at this post. Whilst I can completely understand why they don't want to use the word 'orphanage' unfortunately the reality a 'short-term transitional home' means nothing to me and I'd guess most people.

I always subject these things to the 'mum' test. If I asked my mum to give to a Ugandan orphanage she'd probably say yes, make a donation, feel good about it, but not ask too many more questions. If I asked her to give to a Ugandan short-term transitional home then she'd give me a funny look and say 'What?' and when I'd explained she'd say, 'Why didn't you say it was an orphanage? Of course i'll give.'

It can sometimes be hard to accept this (Jeff Brooks writes/talks about a similar problem with leprosy here), but I think it's vital that you use language that people understand even if it isn't 100% accurate.

Overall, I'd like to commend Child's i on a great example of social media in action and I'll certainly be making a donation towards building the home.