In round 2 of Miriam's whirlwind weekend of conferences, we turn to the Nonprofit Social Networking Symposium hosted by the ePhilanthropy Foundation on Saturday in NYC. First, a shoutout to the organizers-Great Job girls!
This was a truly amazing experience-I was so encouraged to see hundreds of nonprofit professionals, from charities of all sizes, eager to learn about social networking and how to use it to drive their organizational objectives.
There were great sessions led by people who clearly knew what they were talking about, but my favorite session was Philp King's session: "The Search for Sneezers." Philip is President and CEO of Artez, and online fundraising and tech company for nonprofits (if you haven't heard of Canadian-based Artez, I'd strongly encourage you to peruse their site).
So what is a sneezer? A highly infectious person-one sneeze, and everyone around him/her is infected. Sure, in terms of avian flu, no one wants a sneezer anywhere near them, but in terms of spreading the word, raising money, getting people engaged, any NGO would do well, Philip told us, to recruit as many sneezers as possible.
Now that I've had a few days to think about it, I realize that Sneezers are everywhere. They are the ones who forward the hilarious YouTube video, introduce us to cool new web tools, get everyone they know to sign up for Facebook, get all their friends to use Netflix...these are people who find something to be excited about and then, more importantly, get everyone they know excited about it too.
Sneezers are a fundraiser's best friend. As Philip's presentation emphasized, for anyone fundraising online, the ultimate goal should not be to get a donor, but someone who become your very own personal fundraising machine. Who better to get money out of people than someone who actually knows them and can guilt them for not giving? Who better to inspire people to give than someone who intimately knows what inspires them?
Coincidentally, Philip's company has developed a cool tool that allows nonprofits to empower fundraising sneezers by giving them the tools they need to infect everyone around them-personal, customized fundraising pages, team pages, stats that show competing teams' results and encourage competition. I think most of us have been contacted by someone doing a walk, or a bike ride, only to end up on their personal donation page that tracked who had donated, how much, how much that person had left to reach his/her goal and before we knew it, there we were, entering our CC info....
This is all really cool, but even more exciting for me was the realization that Gen Yers are the superbug of sneezers! We are sneezing on steroids. We LOVE to share with our friends and networks. While some might wonder about the privacy issues of constantly telling people where you are and what you are doing, we think nothing of constantly posting "status updates" on all our social networks. If not for my sneezer friends, who knows when I would have found out about Netflix, may never have joined "Causes" on Facebook and god knows how many fewers acres of rainforest I might have saved if not for the ultimate sneezing application-the (lil) Green Patch on Facebook.
Give us something interesting to share, and we will! Get us involved in your cause, turn us into a fundraiser, and we will become a lean, (maybe not so mean), fundraising machine (just ask Mr. Obama). And we will spread the word by every avenue available to us-your nonprofit will now be statused on Facebook, Twittered and Friendfed, texted in endless mobile messages, and who knows what else.
Just imagine of all that time we spend "updating" anyone who will listen about the minutiae of our lives could be harnessed for good!
P.S. And in the spirit of being an infectious sneezer, I'd like to draw everyone's attention to a really neat NGO I learned about at the Symposium- The Karma Krew.
P.P.S. And just in case anyone needs a good laugh, here is a completely unGenY-related article from the BBC: "50 Office Speak Phrases You Love to Hate," which of course I found out about through a friend who sneezed it onto her entire Facebook network.