Social Media Case Study

Effective Social Media Marketing in Development:
A New Nonprofit Fundraising Model for a 501c3

The Challenge

Amid one of the worst recessionary climates, a long-standing and respected non-profit organization was experiencing difficulties in meeting payroll and upholding the quality and delivery of its client services. They challenged themselves, and us, to create a repeatable and sustainable income model different from their own traditional funding models to relieve their long-term dependency on individual donor dollars. They only had a five-month window to design, build and execute the program.

The Solution

Together with the CEO, we made the decision to focus on an inaugural professionally-run competitive race. However, in a radical departure from other charitable competitive races, we determined that the nonprofit should not become the race sponsor or host, but rather serve as the silent event organizer and race producer. This enabled our client to focus on its broader charitable cause and coalition-building by inviting all similarly cause-driven nonprofits to create their own fundraising program and team for the event. This had important implications for securing race registrants, financial sponsorships, celebrity participation, citywide support and post-race visibility and recognition.

Despite the time crunch, IntraLink Global and the non-profit's CEO propelled influential relationships and fortified key platforms to pave a successful path for the race event. To execute the race, we established a relationship with an experienced race operator, who helped us secure well-known athletes. Together, we also secured political figures to promote and attend the race, and engaged the entire local non-profit community centered on the same issue to take part in fundraising and promotion for the issue and event. For a digital platform, IntraLink Global designed, built and executed an SEO-optimized race website, which included an online registration and payment process; a multilayered charitable team-giving platform that allowed all participating nonprofits to create individual charitable donor pages; and live tracking features for total dollars raised. The website was also a central hub for IntraLink Global’s social media efforts through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and a blog—which encouraged hundreds of runners, walkers, volunteers and homelessness advocates to participate in running and organizing the race and leveraged their efforts--and ours.

The Result

Launching a mere two months prior to the race, IntraLink Global's website became the central hub of communication for all racing activities and funneled nearly 20-times more pageviews than the number of runners on race day. And as a testament to the quality and influence of IntraLink Global's social media content, the combined Twitter and Facebook accounts generated over 750,000 impressions and directly inspired runners, walkers and volunteers to participate in the race. In the end, the race encompassed nearly four times the number of runners expected for an inaugural race and received a race rating of 3.5 out of 5—an exceptional number for an inaugural race and substantiation of the event’s success! It also securely established the model as the earned-income producer the nonprofit had hoped to create.

The Benefit

IntraLink Global's hand in the creation of the race website and implementation of the social media campaign set the foundation for many more successful races to come, and will afford this particular non-profit the tools necessary to continue hosting their race aimed at ending homelessness. For next year’s race, the organization now has access to a toolbox of instruments to organize and promote the event, including: a reusable website; a proven race registration platform; established connections with other non-profit organizations; authority within established running communities; strong ties with local athletes and political figures; and a large number of past participants--both as volunteers and runners-- to attest to the success and satisfaction of the previous race. In addition, the organization will be able to leverage its social media profiles as the focal point between all parties involved to generate buzz and excitement for future races to come.