We sent them to the Super Bowl

In my last post, I told you that if you want to connect with your audience and persuade them to donate money to your cause, you should not be professional in your Twitter and Facebook feeds.


This week, I want to give an example.


The National Center for Fathering (Fathers.com) is one of my favorite nonprofit organizations. I love being a father. In fact, I have four kids under six.


Needless to say, Fathers.com is near and dear to my heart.


The Fathers.com mission is, in essence, to make sure that every child has a father he or she can count on. Unfortunately, when I came on board, its growth has been stagnant.


It had been relying on traditional means of raising money—sending carefully worded letters, holding Father/Daughter Summits and weekend retreats, and sending long-winded html-formatted weekly newsletters.


These were all professional, but they were not doing the trick.


When we were brought on board to help increase online donations, we asked: What can we do that will generate lots of attention?


We came up with an answer–Piggyback off the biggest sporting event of the year: The Super Bowl.


We decided to search for a “Super Dad” to send to the Super Bowl, along with his son or daughter.


Although we knew that traditional media had a place in our overall plan, we also knew that it was not the fastest way to reach the largest number of people.


The fastest way to reach the largest number of people is through social networking sites.


Our Super Dad / Super Bowl plan looked like this:


1) We added a “Super Dad” Facebook page that included the contest rules and entry instructions. To view the rules, users had to “like” the Fathers.com Facebook page, provide their name and email address, and agree to allow Fathers.com to contact them in the future.


This gave the organization more leads for future fundraising campaigns. All those people “liking” the page so they could submit videos became future donors.


2) To enter the contest, Facebook users were asked to post 60-second videos describing why they (or a father they were nominating) deserved to take their child to the Super Bowl.


We received videos from dads across the country, as well as their children, family, and friends.


One of the entrants had a handicapped son who was just beginning to realize he was different from other kids.


A sister nominated her brother.


A seven-year-old daughter paid tribute to her single father by filling the 60 seconds with a raving testimonial about her dad’s commitment to being a great father.


These videos were funny, heartfelt, and at times gut-wrenching.


They were personal.


3) After submitting their videos, entrants then had to make their way into the final three by collecting the most number of votes from the general public, including their own friends, family members, and colleagues.


This is where the rubber met the road: Entrants got all their friends and family members to vote for their videos, which meant we collected even more names and email addresses of future donors.


Collecting names and email addresses was a crucial part of the plan. We didn’t want only publicity, we wanted to build the Fathers.com mailing list, thereby increasing future donations.


Of course, entrants promoted their videos to their own Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ friends and followers, which meant they were doing a lot of the publicity for us.


Friends, family members, and colleagues of everyone who submitted a video followed the Fathers.com Facebook page (and gave us their contact details) to see who was winning the contest.


4) At the same time, we also incorporated our free book into the Fathers.com main website. This time, we used a “lightbox” that popped up from the home page. The lightbox promotes the book and asks for contact details or visitors.


It bears noting that the book is actually an ebook that is mailed to the recipient’s inbox. As a result, we are building the Fathers.com list of future donors without adding cost.


In the meantime, the Fathers.com website was exploding with activity … and with drama. One entrant accused another of cheating; wives were defending their husbands; and children were promoting their dads. It was the stuff soap operas are made of, and it kept people engaged and excited.


In my next post, I’ll share the results of the campaign.


In the meantime, please post comments or questions below.


P.S. Let us know how you use social networking sites to build your business.