Turns to Facebook
to Seek Holiday Gifts
GIVING ON SOCIAL NETWORKS has taken a new step forward for the holidays: The World Wildlife
Fund is now making it easy for people on Facebook to
“adopt” a polar bear, a tiger, or other animal in honor
of a friend, relative, or colleague. Like dozens of other
charities, World Wildlife Fund has long distributed a
holiday catalog in print and online.
But this year the fund is also reproducing a version
of its four-year-old holiday gift catalog on Facebook,
the popular social-networking site.
The charity’s officials say that the catalog, which
allows people to “adopt” more than 100 types of animals by making a contribution, works well with
Facebook’s mission of connecting people.
Already such adoptions promoted in the holiday
catalog account for a large portion of the money
raised online by the World Wildlife Fund, and about
70 percent of donations to adopt animals come in
during the holiday season.
Now people who “like” an animal in the catalog
or who adopt a species by making a donation can
alert their Facebook friends, leave a note about their
experience in supporting a species, and send electronic cards to those in whose honor they have donated.
The wildlife fund hopes that those online activities
will help the charity reach large numbers of donors’
Giving Surveys Offer
for Holiday Season
World Wildlife Fund is offering its year-end
giving catalog on Facebook in the hopes that
people will tell their friends to give.
friends online—and spark new donations from some
of the 500 million people around the world who now
“I received a sea turtle,” wrote one Facebook user
who left a comment in the catalog. “I really appreciate it as a gift because it’s one of my all-time favorite
animals and because it’s helping W WF work toward
preserving the species. It is really two gifts in one.”
By Holly Hall
HOW MUCH will Americans give during the holi- day season? Press release after press release issued by
big charities and companies trumpet surveys showing
that most Americans plan to give this year, despite the
But few of the studies offer much consolation for
charities hoping for a big year-end lift. In fact, they
offer a pretty gloomy window into giving trends.
More than a third of charities have seen giving drop
in the first nine months of the year, according to a new
survey to be released this week, and 22 percent expect
giving to decline in the final three months of 2010.
That is disturbing given that many charities struggled
greatly to raise money last year and in many cases
brought in less than in 2008.
The study of more than 2,500 charities by the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy and five other
groups found that 20 percent of organizations expect
to cut their budgets next year, and 7 percent said they
are at risk of closing.
Wikipedia Shuns Professional Fund-Raising Advice
and Unleashes the Power of Its Volunteers
WIKIPEDIA has finally started running its fund- raising appeal much the same way it compiles
its online encyclopedia, relying mostly on volunteers
and getting professionals out of the way.
The Wikimedia Foundation, which raises money for the popular online encyclopedia and related
projects, has an ambitious goal for its year-end online fund-raising campaign. Despite tough economic times, it hopes to double what it raised last year
and bring in $16-million in November and December—mostly in small gifts of about $30—from among
nearly 400 million monthly readers of the online encyclopedia.
Instead of hiring a fund-raising consultant to call
the shots, as it has in the past, this year’s appeal
has involved about 900 individuals from around the
world who edit and use the site, which now includes
some 17 million entries in more than 270 languages
compiled by volunteer editors.
To come up with this year’s campaign, volunteers
participated in online planning sessions over the
past five months. They submitted and tested online
banners and tinkered with donation amounts and
other campaign messages in weekly, then daily, sessions. Campaign communications that got the best
test results are being used until year’s end.
“Group collaboration is the future of fund raising,”
says Philippe Beaudette, a former volunteer who is
now a Wikimedia Foundation staff member overseeing the campaign.
“Organizations are going to have to work harder
for donor dollars, and the ones that will be success-
ful will be the ones that do not involve professional
fund raisers,” Mr. Beaudette says. “Professional fund
raisers are sometimes limited by history and afraid
to think outside the box. It is going to take new, cre-
ative ideas, and the best way to get that is to have a
huge number of people thinking.”
The volunteer planners have challenged Mr. Beau-
dette and others at Wikimedia to think in new ways.
For example, Wikimedia officials assumed that a
message from Jimmy Wales, the founder of the orga-
nization, would do better than a solicitation from an-
other spokesman. But, says Mr. Beaudette, “we test-
ed another banner from a young woman in Jakarta,
This appeal from a Wikipedia volunteer
in Indonesia did nearly as well in generating
gifts as one featuring the charity’s founder.
More Are Not Giving at All
Perhaps most troubling as the economy continues to
stagger is the growing number of Americans who give
nothing to charity at all. The share of Americans who
report making no charitable contributions doubled in
an online survey of more than 2,600 adults released
in November by Harris Interactive. Twelve percent of
Americans said that the economy has caused them to
stop giving to charity altogether—double the portion
who said so in 2009.
Meanwhile, nearly a third of more than 1,000 adults
interviewed in late October for the American Red
Cross said that they were not making any charitable
donations during the holidays this year; more than
half of the people who aren’t giving said they just don’t
have enough money.
Similarly, 26 percent of American adults in another
survey for the fund-raising software company Convio
said they do not plan to give this holiday season.
Indonesia, and her banner did almost as well. She
had one memorable line, ‘If you have knowledge, you
must share it,’” which proved to be compelling.
Volunteers have also been essential in making sure
campaign messages are relevant in dozens of countries where the encyclopedia has avid readers.
“I wouldn’t know how to ask for money in Zimba-
bwe, but now I know where to find the volunteers
who can ask for money in Zimbabwe,” he says. “The
cultural influence and diversity that have come to-
gether to support this fund raiser are overwhelming.
There is no question in my mind that we are better
off together than alone.”
Despite the seemingly unwieldy number of partici-
pants, many of whom had conflicting ideas, Mr. Beau-
dette says, planning for the campaign was smooth,
largely because the foundation set out clear rules for
participation from the start, and everyone knew that
the fund-raising drive would adopt the ideas that did
the best in testing.
Even in its first days, the campaign was outpacing
last year’s. In just four days, it raised close to $2-mil-
lion, a total that took 29 days to achieve last year.
GET MORE IDEAS
You can find many more ideas, techniques, and
tactics from other charities experimenting with
new year-end approaches on our Web site. Go to: