Tag Archives: River City Food Bank

The Best Big Day of Giving Promo


Big Day of Giving

Tomorrow, May 6, is the BIG Day of Giving here  in Sacramento (a.k.a. #GiveBigDOG) – our first full-blown effort! And we are not alone…. BIG Day of Giving has been growing nationally as part of a promotion to give charitably.

After Sacramento put its toes in the water (before the drought) with the Arts Day of Giving in 2013, I’ve been keeping my eye peeled to see how charities would fire up their support base for this online giving event.

My favorite promotion thus far comes from… ta da!… Bainbridge Island. Our friends in the rainy north shared this short and clever Millennial-meets-Boomer video with their supporters:

I’m in quite a few nonprofit databases, between the support I regularly give to a few, and my “test” donations to Arts Day of Giving. Email and a few snail mail promotions started showing up almost exactly two weeks ago:

  • I received oversized postcards from the Sacramento Ballet (splitting its message between #GiveBigDOG and its upcoming Modern Masters performances), the Sacramento Children’s Chorus and the event’s sponsors, Give Local Now and the Sacramento Region Community Foundation. That one promoted the availability of matching funds.
  • The first promo email from a local nonprofit arrived on April 22 from the California Food Literacy Center. They did a great job (as always) with their brand-centric message, with bits like, “We have reason to jump for Juneberry joy!…Help us put the pepper pot in their day!” The email went  on to give a short, compelling reason to give (a short story and a couple of powerful statistics). It also gave specific instructions about how to participate and made the “ask” (“give $100 or more to Food Literacy Center and other nonprofits that are important to our kids and our food system” and tell your friends). This was interesting: they not only gave the link to the BIG Day of Giving donation page but to their own website. P.S. who doesn’t love pictures of kids playing with their veggies?

California Food Literacy Center Big Day of Giving Promo

  • Next in my email inbox was the Effie Yeaw Nature Center with a straightforward announcement and Q & A’s about the event…
  • …Followed by River City Food Bank’s colorful  5 Good Reasons to support its mission beginning with this: “From nine weeks to ninety years, folks need to have healthy food to grow and maintain good health.  River City Food Bank cares for everyone in need through Sacramento County.” Rather than asking people to give a certain amount, RCFB shared its goal to raise $10,000 and encouraged people to give during two “challenge” periods that could earn the emergency food nonprofit extra prizes for raising the most money: the noon to 1 p.m. lunch time blitz, and the 6-7 p.m. chowtime blitz.
  • On its heels, United Way announced it would be crowd funding community gardens although its “ask” was simply for community members to make a donation to #GiveBigDOG
  • More emails flowed in that week: Volunteers of America, the Nonprofit Resource Center, B Street Theater (that one was kind of hard to read), the Nehemiah Emerging Leaders Program (which asked for a donation of $25 or more) and the Davis Arts Center.

You can learn more about how to participate tomorrow with this quick tutorial from BIG Day of Giving folks themselves:

Which of the 400 participating nonprofits will YOU give to? I hate shopping, but I love it when it benefits people in my community!




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One year later: media changes and what it means for non-profit PR

Jordan Blair, Board member, has helped develop RCFB's social media capability

Last year, I wrote a series of posts on the good, the bad and the ugly, referring to the virtual collapse of the news industry and what it means for non-profits that rely on “earned” media for exposure.  As I reflect on the success of yesterday’s Empty Bowls event benefiting River City Food Bank here in Sacramento, I thought I’d pass along some observations about what worked and why.

But first, some trend info.  Two months ago, Vocus*, a program that integrates news monitoring, media targeting/list management and other tools, released a free analysis called “State of the Media.”  A few highlights:

  • 230 newspaper weeklies shut down in 2009 along with 14 dailies
  • TV stations that didn’t close sought ways to cut costs.  They began sharing news footage and cut to skeleton crews.  To retain viewers and fill content holes, Vocus media analysts suggest that stations will gravitate toward a less news-based format
  • Radio stations’ advertising revenue has fallen short, causing stations to reduce local programming and rely more on syndicated shows.  On the other hand, streaming has grown by leaps and bounds.
  • Newspaper, magazines, TV and radio began integrating with social media.  Hard to find a reporter who’s not blogging, tweeting or on Facebook.
  • Online, locally focused news media will continue to crop up – some as non-profit journalism projects like the Bay Area News Project (just launching) or citizen journalism sites like sacramentopress.com.

Despite all of the gloomy news, Empty Bowls continues to gain momentum in terms of news coverage and participation.  Mind you, this isn’t a giant fundraiser backed by a non-profit that’s a household name here.  This is a scrappy fundraiser organized by a scrappy organization.  This year the event expanded and attracted an estimated 1,100 participants and raised $80,000.

Here’s the approach that Susan Bitar, PR chair, Jordan Blair, Board member in charge of PR, and 3Fold Communications (with a little help from yours truly) took, with good success:

  1. The organization made good use of its website, e-newsletter and its network of friends.  E-newsletters about the event achieved open rates ranging from 35-38%, with up to 40% clicking through to the website to do something (like buy tickets).  45% of attendees were first timers, and many said they heard about it from friends, the website and the e-newsletter. By the way, draft email messages were shared with the Board and committee and they were encouraged to send them to their friends.
  2. Most of the PR resources were focused on an event created for purposes of pre-publicity.  The Vocus report notes:  …”you need to be willing to bend over backward to accommodate (journalists) so they can easily meet their constantly impending deadline.”  No kidding.  We were able to get high school students to show up for media activity at 6 a.m..  One got up at 3 a.m. to do homework and get to the school in plenty of time.  (Wow, WAY different than my high school aged son!)  Around here, local news happens early.
  3. 3Fold arranged a collaboration with Yelp, which distributes an e-newsletter to more than 38,000 locals in the area.  Yelp deemed the event a sponsor (and gave it nice positioning in its newsletter) in exchange for placing Yelp logos on the website and writing about it in the e-newsletter.  3Fold also created an event in Yelp, which brought in at least two new people who heard about it that way (according to comment cards collected at the event).  Two attendees wrote glowing reviews about the event on Yelp.  And, of course, Yelp is regularly crawled by Google and Bing – so that content may end up going far afield as people search for related information.
  4. News articles were provided to organizations that are involved in some way with the event, from churches to schools.  Many people also noted that they heard about the event through their child’s school or through their church.
  5. Local celebs were invited to participate.  Not only did KCRA’s Edie Lambert delight the crowd, she brought a news camera and talked about her participation on several news cast.  But you might not have caught this:  she also did a “raw” video that was posted on the website, a wonderfully compelling testimonial.  http://www.kcra.com/video/22789636/index.html.
  6. Of course, the event was pushed through Facebook.  Photos of the event were posted immediately, along with two rough videos taken on an HD Flip Video.  (The fan page administrator just uploads into the “video” tab on the fan page site, and then clicks “share.”)
  7. The event did the basics, too, calendar listings (three months in advance), media advisories, fact sheets, specialized pitches, and so on.

As Vocus acknowledges, it’s harder to develop trusted relationships with reporters.  There are too few of them, and they’re trying to cover too many bases given the news organizations’ limited staffing.  On the other hand, it’s easier than ever to become a “content pusher.”  Find the local outlets like sacramentopress.com.  Release information so it gets picked up by search engines and regional online publications.  Feed video and photos throughout social media.

It takes a lot of leg work, but it can produce results!

*I’m not sure I trust any company that uses “leverage” and “ubiquity” in one sentence, but that’s just me (small jest there)… but here’s a little more about what Vocus says it does (for a price, of course):  “provides the ability to leverage the ubiquity of the internet to interact with the media, publish their news online where it can be found by millions, monitor news and social media conversations from virtually any source and track their results to compare them with key competitors.”

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What to do when the news media doesn’t show

Sometimes you feel like Cinderella all dressed up for the ball, without the fairy godmother and carriage.  Promoting events for non-profits can feel like that, especially as reporters become an endangered species.  All it takes is a little rain or snow around these parts to send the few reporters and cameras scurrying everywhere but to your carefully orchestrated event.

What’s a nice non-profit to do?  Make the best of a disappointing situation.

Aggressively jump on every social media outlet you can think of, and give your followers the tools to tell their friends.

Case in point this morning:  a wonderful group of students came in at an hour when most of their peers were still in dreamland to finish up some bowls they were donating for the March 8 & 9th Empty Bowls event, which benefits River City Food Bank.  Heavy snow and rain sent reporters and cameras scrambling up to the snow or over to car crashes.  It was pretty lonely at Vista del Lago High School in Folsom.

Though it’s no substitute for mass media, here’s what we did.  (And I was kicking myself later for not bringing my high def Flip video, since a number of the news stations accept and post user-generated videos.)

1.  We quickly posted, captioned and tagged photos on the agency’s flickr account.

2.  Uploaded photos to RCFB’s Facebook fan page and encouraged fans/friends to tag themselves so that the photos get out to an even wider distribution, quickly.

3.  Posted Facebook status updates with links to photos.

4.  Published an article and photo on sacramentopress.com (you can check it out here at http://www.sacramentopress.com/headline/22532/Vista_del_Lago_students_bowl_against_hunger).  I talked about Sacramentopress.com last June, which seems thus far to be leading the race among various “citizen journalist” outlets.

5.  Posted photos an a brief description on the leading television news’ station’s “u local” social media component.  News stations’ website search engines are getting better and better, and my hope is that this story becomes “findable” when people look for related information in the future.  (Also posted photos on another news’ station’s “member” social media feature, but I can’t figure out how people would ever retrieve the information.)

So, it ain’t over when the news fairy fails to wave her magic wand in your direction.  Do-it-yourself distribution is never easy, but we have more tools than ever before to communicate with our networks of friends… and their networks of friends… and their network of friends…

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How Sacramento non-profits are using social media like Facebook

That's Jordan, second from the left, participating in the Social Media panel discussion

My friend Jordan Blair, a fellow volunteer for River City Food Bank, participated in a panel discussion hosted by the Sacramento Social Media Club on Tuesday, November 17.  Representatives of three organizations — RCFB, Center for AIDS Research Education and Service (CARES), and the Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce — participated in the panel hosted by the Sacramento State College of Continuing Education, along with Lesley Miller, Media Director for 3Fold Communication.

Laura Good (a fitting name, given her beat) posted a story about the panel on SacramentoPress.com.  Oodles of detail.  Check it out.

You can check out the live tweet stream that was generated by Ira Cohen during the event by searching the Twitter hashtag, #SMCSac.

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