2 min Read
January 15, 2010

1 vote can equal $1 million

Today is the first day people can vote in the final round of the Chase Community Giving contest on Facebook. Between now and January 22, people who add the application can vote up to five times for five individual charities.

A friendly reminder to vote at the ATM

Much has been written criticizing the contest and the initial selection of 100 charities who already received $25,000 and are now vying for the grand prize of $1,000,000. But, despite the controversy in the first round of results, I think there are some positive lessons that can be learned for nonprofits of all sizes.

1. What’s your big idea?

The top 100 charities each have a page where you can vote for them. On that page the nonprofit organization is given a forum to first explain their issue and their mission. In just a few sentences, they have to plead their case to millions of people who may not have ever heard of them before.

2. Why should someone support you?

The next section asks the competing charities to rationalize why they should win the big prize. All nonprofits need to ask for financial support. The ones that do it best build a donor’s trust when they can explain how they’d use the funds given to them. I know I’m personally much more likely to give to an organization when I think they not only need my support, but will use it well.

3. What is your ultimate vision for success?

The last part of each organization’s write-up is about the outcome their organization hopes to achieve–the change they want to see in the world. If an organization or donor were about to give you $1 million could you tell them what you’d do with it? If a program participant was questioning whether they should sign up with your org or another, how would you convince them to join you? The more you might hesitate to have an answer, the less you might be to get their support or involvement.

4. What is your story and how do you tell it?

Organizations in the contest are also able to post videos and pictures of their work–and their community–in action. The power of storytelling can help nonprofits not only communicate their mission generally, but it can help raise awareness, engage activists, and generate support. Do you have a short and sweet video or set of pictures that could motivate someone to connect with you?
Here’s the video that one of our client’s Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy produced for the contest. The messaging is strong and the visuals are compelling–all boys and families from their community (no stock photos here!) They use the video to reinforce their mission and the need for support: to end Duchenne, a rare but devastating genetic disorder that robs the lives of at least two boys and young men each day.

Whether you or your favorite organization made it to round two, consider what your page would say if it did. Good luck to all the organizations participating in the contest. Now, go vote!