I’m working on my session for the NTEN’s 2011 Non-Profit Technology Conference, a panel on location-based services. As I’m preparing slides for my part of the panel, where I’ll talk about Big Love Little Hearts’ #100X100 campaign, I know that the reason this campaign received so much attention was because we raised $25,000 in 24 hours.
There’s no doubt that I’m proud of that – we were an 8 month old organization at the time. We had only entered social media a few months before, and only seriously weeks before. In fact, the entire idea was born during a late night work session 9 days before it was implemented. To raise $25,000 in 24 hours against that backdrop is plenty to be proud of.
But that’s not what I’m most proud of. I’m most proud that 1,000 people took a political action because of the campaign. That political action in April led to the desired outcome happening in September. We wanted people to express their support of pulse-oximetry as a method of screening newborns for heart defects. Their public support in adjunct with some amazing advocacy work being done by key people in the community led to Secretary Sebelius adding that screening to the National Newborn Screening Panel. This panel is the recommendation that states use to guide their own decisions regarding what tests are mandated.
The $25,000 we raised saved 12 lives. That’s fantastic. States integrating screening for heart defects as part of their mandated panel will save thousands of lives. I am so proud that our campaign played any small part in this that my eyes well up every time I think about it.
My point isn’t to brag about how super duper awesome and smart the campaign was or how we’re the bees knees because it was effective. My point is that the best use of location-based services for non-profits might not be fundraising or the engagement we hope will lead to more effective fundraising. The best use of LBS for some organizations might be to improve or increase their impact.
Yes, fundraising is what makes our programs possible so I’m not suggesting you stop focusing on how LBS or social media can help you do that better. But I am suggesting you start thinking about how it can help you do your mission better. When I look at what’s being written about location-based services in relation to non-profits and what people are asking about LBS in relation to them I don’t see this come up often. I’m definitely not the only person thinking about it but I wish there were more.
Big Love Little Hearts could use Foursquare to leave tips at OB/GYN offices, maternity clothing stores or baby boutiques about congenital heart defects. Locations like that weren’t part of our #100X100 campaign because we wanted to use locations we thought would have heavy check-in traffic on a Saturday (Target, Starbucks, grocery stores, gyms, airports, etc). But if we wanted to be targeted about raising awareness and encouraging moms to talk to their doctors about what can be done to detect heart defects…well, that would be a better use of Foursquare in the long run for us.
Can you guess what I’m doing right after I finish this post?
What about you? How can your non-profit leverage LBS or other social media applications to raise impact, not just money?