The 2012 Chase Community Giving Contest ended on Wednesday after 12 days of incessant pleas for votes from thousands of nonprofits competing for $5M in grants. Below is a brief look at the social media reach and strategies of some of the top winners.
Surprisingly, for a contest driven by Facebook, none of these groups have an incredibly large Facebook following comparatively for similar sized organizations. The top two winners have strong international ties, both relying heavily on votes from international users and posting pleas in foreign languages. Not surprisingly, each of these groups very successfully used Facebook images to communicate their message and amplify their “Share” power.
Some lessons learned this year: when it comes to garnering big numbers of social media votes, your organization’s Facebook following isn’t as important as the clout of outside parties you recruit to ask for votes on your behalf–particularly the partner’s ability to mobilize international users. How successfully you activate your own Facebook group is perhaps even of negligible importance when it comes to winning big. Organizations that focused on maximizing relationships and successfully enrolling international partners to “Share” and ask for votes on their behalf did very well.
- Top winner at 93K+ votes – Egyptian Cancer Network (ECN)
Though ECN has a modest Facebook following at 17K fans, they appeared to gain most of their momentum through “Shares” of this blow-by-blow instructional image on how to vote on behalf of the Asa7be Sarcasm Society, a group with 806,000 Facebook fans.
- Second place winner at 60K+ votes – Help Nepal Network (HeNN)
HeNN Facebook following is rather small at 5K fans. This organization also relied heavily on votes from international friends, at times communicating in Nepali. They gained momentum though “Shares” from their Founder, BBC journalist and actor Rabindra Mishra, who has 28K+ Facebook fans.
- Third place winner at 47K+ votes – VT Seva
Though VT Seva does have an international presence, they didn’t appear to appeal to international users. Most notably, this organization utilized the website splash page tool suggested in the help guide provided by Chase Community Giving.
- Notable Mention: Fifth Place at 20K+ votes – World Environmental Organization (Rescue Me!)
Interestingly, Rescue Me! doesn’t have a Facebook page. Yet, they held second place steadily throughout the contest until the second weekend, when they appeared to max out their — presumably via the parent group, World Environmental Organization‘s massive email lists. Rescue Me! Also utilized the splash page tool website pop ups.
Taking a closer look at the winners, we see that as with past contests, organizations best able to leverage their social media base in specific ways relevant to the design of that particular contest soar to the top. The Chase Community Giving contest has drawn criticism for technical deficiency, exploitation of nonprofit brands for Chase’s PR gain and accusations of fraud. This is presumably why the contest structure has changed so much since it’s inception in 2009, most significantly, so that each participant can only vote 1-3 times and participation is limited to organizations with an annual budget below $1M. Cheers to the organizations who developed the best strategy for the 2012 contest and mobilized international users to vote in droves!
More reading on the 2012 contest: Are Online Philanthropy Contests Worth The Effort? – Chronicle of Philanthropy