Last week, environmental journalism organization Grist ran a 1-hour long fundraising campaign on Twitter, and we all thought it was really cool! I liked it so much that I recapped the whole thing on Storify. Check out my recap below along with my suggestions for what I might have done differently.

Power Hour Fundraising – Grist’s 1-hour Campaign

On Thursday, May 10th, Grist – an environmental journalism organization – ran a 1-hour long fundraising campaign on Twitter. It was a great way to use a small match, generate buzz on social media, and of course, bring in some revenue! Here’s the recap if you missed it.

Storified by Amy Peyrot · Wed, May 16 2012 14:33:47

We need your help! An anonymous donor will give us $5K if 30 people donate in 1hr. Any amount! http://bit.ly/IHoz96 Please RTGrist
Please RT? Plenty of them did! Most even tweeted more personal calls to action than just a retweet. 
I just gave to @Grist. They need 100 gifts this hour to get an extra $5K! http://bit.ly/t5s7ad via @gristMatthew Lewis
They even got some celebrity promotions: Van Jones, co-founder of RebuildTheDream.com (@RebuildDream); and food author and activist Michael Pollan.
Help me support @Grist, a crucial source of green news. They need 30 gifts this hour to earn $5K! http://is.gd/gPYcBGVan Jones
Grist, the excellent online enviro mag with a great food section, is having an internetathon. Worth supporting. http://services.grist.org/give/?refsrc=PollanMichael Pollan
It looks like they reached out to these public figures (and probably many more) and gave them personalized links to Tweet for tracking purposes. Gotta love planning ahead!
Grist was also replying to everyone who tweeted that they gave, so I kept seeing little messages of success in my stream. I thought, “so many people are donating, and Grist is so thankful!”
@mateosfo [High-five!] Thanks so much for pitching in!Grist
All the retweets, celebrity promotions, and thank yous from Grist seemed to work! Within 25 minutes, they were already almost 75% of the way to their (micro)goal…
RT @grist We’re getting so close! Just 8 more donations needed: http://bit.ly/IHoz96 Just $5 could make all the difference!RayBeckerman
They were so close, I just couldn’t let them fail! So I clicked on that link and decided to give. First thing I noticed was the awesome banner on their landing page. This simple graphic really tied together the ask (tweets) with the action (donating) – I bet having that Twitter bird in the banner boosted conversion rates on this page. So I filled out this form and I gave.
Grist 1hr fundaising campaignFeministFeeling

Quick side-note: The welcome email Grist sent me for being a new donor was really great. But you’ll just have to make a donation to find out why! ; )

With my donation, Grist reached their goal of 30 gifts – and with 20 minutes to spare! So what did they do? They doubled down – great idea! (And good thing they were prepared with more match dollars!)
This just in!! We hit our goal so fast the donor wants to double down! Another $5K if we can get another 30 gifts: http://bit.ly/IHoz96Grist
Unfortunately, they didn’t reach their second goal before the end of the hour, but it’s likely that donations trickled in after the deadline as word continued to spread through the Twitterverse. 
Want feedback on why this was awesome, and how it could have been awesomer? Check it out on M+R Resarch Labs: http://labs.mrss.com

Why I loved this

They used a small match. Almost all organizations would blow through a $5,000 match pretty quickly through email, yet would struggle to raise that much through social media. This all-or-nothing match for a number of donors instead of a fundraising amount allowed them to use the match without fear of going over.  
Preparing Twitter celebs to tweet about it beforehand. In a 1-hour campaign, ever minute counts, so getting those tweets out right at the beginning of the hour allowed them time to spread before the deadline.
Having a great landing page. They put Twitter imagery on the landing page because that’s what their campaign was about. It was about Twitter and a race against time, not about their work. When Twitter users got to the landing page, they weren’t surprised by what they actually saw. Plus, you might have caught that Grist had an option to sign up as a monthly donor on that page too – fancy!
Engaging with supporters on Twitter in real time. Since the campaign was only 1 hour, Grist didn’t have a lot of time to turn Twitter followers and donors into ambassadors, but with real-time Twitter conversations thanking people who donated or spread the word, they likely won over the hearts of a lot of people in a way that giving them a #ff mention the next day wouldn’t have.   

What I would have done differently

Create a campaign hashtag. First of all, people love using hashtags, and it could have made the campaign seem a little more cohesive from a streaming view. But I love reporting more than most people love hashtags, so the real reason is that it would make it a lot easier to track how many people were talking about the campaign. It also would have made it even easier to thank people talking about the campaign and engage with them.
More progress updates. When I was watching the campaign unfold, I kept wondering how far they had gotten. And it wasn’t until I knew they were really close that I gave. Tweets about the progress of the campaign may have encouraged more donations, and also would have been really retweetable – a great engagement for people who have already donated (those same people that Grist was already cultivating so well) . A progress meter on the page is also a really nice visual that could help increase conversion rates. 
This model would also likely work for a recruitment campaign. I’ll even give you the launch tweet:  “A donor has promised $5,000 if we get 1,000 pledges to stand up for [your cause]. Sign up today & pls RT!” Now go out, find your matching donor, and get started!