Case Study: Y of N.Y. Uses Social Media to Collect Stories—and Donors (via The Chronicle of Philanthropy)

A story from the YMCA of Greater New York’s timeline project

To celebrate its 160th anniversary, the YMCA of Greater New York is offering free T-shirts to people willing to share their stories of how the Y has made a difference in their lives.

Within 48 hours of issuing the appeal by e-mail and social media, the organization received nearly 300 stories recounting childhood swimming lessons, triathlon training, exercise programs started after injuries, and long-ago summer camps.

The YMCA has organized the stories—some submitted with photographs—by decade and posted them on a digital timeline. All of the stories that are collected will also be buried in a time capsule beneath the organization’s new Coney Island branch, which is under construction and scheduled to open next spring.

From Stories to Gifts

The YMCA of Greater New York hopes to turn many of the people who share their stories into donors.

After people submit their stories, they see a screen that asks for their T-shirt size and mailing address. The next screen gives them the option of sending an e-mail to encourage their friends and relatives to share a Y story.

The organization plans to send participants a follow-up e-mail message asking them to indicate which programs they’re interested in learning more about, such as the Y’s day care and after-school programs, camping, healthy living, and substance-abuse treatment. It will then send a series of cultivation messages tailored to the participants’ interests, which will culminate in a fundraising appeal.

“All roads in philanthropy lead to the ask,” says Anne Bergquist, the organization’s vice president for communications. “The campaign is a filter to get people engaged—or re-engaged—and become more deeply involved with us.”

A story from the 2000′s

Join the conversation – we’d love to hear the creative ways your organizations are using Timeline!

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