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Raise More Money with Less by Embracing Self-Organized ‘Swarms’

Resource Center - Foundation

By Scott Henderson

(March 9, 2009) What happens when companies and individuals take it upon themselves to organize their own efforts to raise awareness and money for your cause? What do you do?  How do you control the message? How do you protect your donors?

The simple answer is: embrace them. Doing so can help you harness and focus their excitement and help you do more without straining your limited resources.

Share Our Strength and Capital Area Food Bank of Texas are finding that working with a self-organized "swarm" helps them raise more money, get more exposure, and form new, invaluable relationships.

An Unfolding Example: Pledge to End Hunger Campaign

An immediate case of the good that is possible is the recently launched Pledge to End Hunger campaign. This is a unique collaboration MediaSauce, a digital marketing firm, organized with Share Our Strength, Tyson Foods and others.

By signing an online pledge to act, a visitor triggers a 35 lb. donation of food from Tyson Foods. One click feeds 140 kids. More than just making a person feel good, this website is also intended to connect the visitor to a local food bank to volunteer, offers educational resources to learn more about the problem and a chance to donate to the organization Share Our Strength.

Because of the ease of action and the compelling story told, 1,000 pledges were generated in the first 28 hours. This milestone means a semi-truck fully loaded with food will be delivered on March 16 to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas in Austin, Texas, during the South by Southwest music, film, and interactive festivals. That is enough food for 140,000 meals for children in need.

A Great Idea From the Swarm

This was a simple concept to help address the complex problem of childhood hunger, and it all started with a well-conceived plan. What’s more interesting is that this idea didn’t come from either nonprofit organization. It was something conceived by the companies supporting it.

Childhood hunger is a very real problem in America affecting us all. Each of our companies brings different strengths to the table and we wanted to band together to do something meaningful. Our partners at Share Our Strength and Capital Area Food Bank of Texas have been marvelous to work with, even if it sounded a bit too good to be true at first.

The tangible result is a website that draws attention to childhood hunger in America and makes it easy to help do something about it—all of which is possible with what digital and social media offers today.

More Good to Come

In the coming two weeks, The Pledge is launching the next phase, which will deliver two more Tyson semi-truck loads to food banks in the two states generating the most pledges by Friday, March 20. This phase will include email sends, press releases, Twitter, Facebook causes, and more companies, individuals, and nonprofits helping.

You can experience it for yourself by taking the online pledge at the Pledge to End Hunger site. We hope you will help us spread the word and witness firsthand how to use digital and social media to change the world.

Got a Question?

Learn more at There you can download a presentation entitled “Authentic Advocacy: How Companies and Nonprofits Can Work Together to Change the World.”

Scott Henderson is a cause marketing director at MediaSauce, an Indiana-based company that focuses on Internet strategy and audience-driven web development. He and his colleague, Mitch Maxson, will be speaking at the upcoming AFP International Conference in New Orleans, La. Their session is on Monday, March 30 from 1:15 pm - 2:30 pm (MKT2:  Connecting with Your Donors: How to Balance New and Traditional Media).

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