Giving Challenges: Children's National Medical Center, Part 2

Submitted by Brett on Wed, 01/16/2008 - 4:41pm

[Ed. Note: As you probably know, the Case Foundation, together with Facebook Causes and Parade magazine, is going to award $750,000 to charity. To help illuminate the process and generate discussion and ideas, the NTEN Connect Blog will be posting occasional updates from actual participants in the Challenges. You may want to read Mark's first post.]

Mark Miller, Children's National Medical Center

Watching the Facebook and Parade challenges unfold has been fascinating.  Because we are doing very well in the Parade challenge, winning that one has become our main focus.  In fact, we have had some success using Facebook to drive people to our charity badge for the Parade challenge.

Last I checked, our charity badge, featuring Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, was a donation or two out of the top 10 leaders.  Among nonprofits focused on children or children’s health, we are first. (I have a dog and generally like animals, but I have to wonder if the current trend will hold up -- three of the top four leaders are nonprofits looking out for our furry friends.)

We’re picking up steam, thanks in part to the Washington Capitals, who have really gotten behind this challenge. They created an ad for their homepage, featured the campaign in their online newsletter, and helped us reach out to bloggers – whose support I can’t say enough about. And owner Ted Leonsis promoted it in his blog.

A few lessons:

  • Getting 500 people to donate $10 seems harder than finding one person to donate $5,000. But this challenge is teaching us a lot as we refine our interactive strategies.

  • Win or lose, these challenges are helping us raise our national awareness and mobilize an online community that will continue past the end of January.

  • Technology is more of an obstacle than I would have thought. Maybe I’ve been surrounded by people who take e-philanthropy for granted, but many people have questioned whether it’s safe to give out their credit card number or have been confused by the process.

  • The most effective outreach has not been email blasts to faceless email addresses, but personal messages to friends and family. For me, people know how important this mission is to my family, because the care my daughter has received is what motivated me to join the team at Children’s National.

If you’re still on the fence about which charity to support, consider the patients and families who are counting on the doctors at Children’s National. If we win, they win.