• John Griffin

Facebook Live for Fundraising Events

I sat in on an interesting webinar yesterday conducted by the folks from Mobile Cause, an app that helps non-profits raise money during charitable events. The webinar yesterday demonstrated how you can significantly expand your fundraising reach by combining Mobile Cause with Facebook Live. I have to say that the potential in combining the two is pretty appealing.

I'm familiar with Mobile Cause because of my involvement as a board member for the Chicago Tennis Patrons, the charitable arm of the Chicago District Tennis Association (CDTA). The Tennis Patrons raises money to support youth tennis programs throughout the metropolitan area in financially challenged areas. We've used Mobile Cause for the past two years for the pledge drive during our annual Evening of Champions dinner. People are able to text a number and enter a designated key word – in our case it was "smash" – and have the opportunity to make a direct pledge on the spot. Using a laptop and a projector, the app shows the rising thermometer of money raised in real-time, plus it scrolls the names of the donors and their amounts. In short, we've been very happy with our results from Mobile Cause, and if you are involved with a charitable organization, I suggest you look into it.

By combining Mobile Cause with Facebook Live, you have an opportunity to reach a far greater audience of people who can't attend your event in person. The setup doesn't need to be especially fancy or professional, and in fact it can be downright low-tech. You simply set up the live stream on Facebook – using even a smart phone by itself, a laptop's own camera, or one or more external cameras controlled through an application such as Wirecast Pro.

The webinar used an example of talk show host Steve Harvey doing a daily Facebook Live stream with Mobile Cause to promote his charity while he was literally walking on a treadmill. (And no, he wasn't misreading the names of Miss Universe contestants at the same time.) He had a handwritten sign taped to the treadmill and in the video frame at all times with the number to text and the keyword to enter. This approach was responsible for raising, I believe, in excess of a half million dollars.

Certainly, for this kind of a coordinated campaign, a great deal of planning had to take place. Steve Harvey is fortunate to have a huge fan base that follows him on social media, so that's a great place to start. One of the big keys is to use social media to promote the Facebook Live streaming over and over in advance. You even want to include reminders right up to the minute that the stream begins so you get people to make the impulse switch to follow the stream. And, the combination of live streaming and real-time text pledge donations is a killer combo.

I'm sure the Tennis Patrons will be exploring ways to utilize this combination in the future. In the meantime, I'm expanding my own live streaming capabilities and offering that to my own clients. It's a great addition to my existing 4K/HD 2-camera video package with audio and lighting. These are exciting times for new developments in communications technology, to be sure.

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