On Sept. 14, 2017, I joined the Community Foundation of Louisville team for their biggest event of the year, a 24-hour online day of giving titled “Give For Good Louisville,” or #GiveForGoodLou.
By the stroke of midnight, the event had raised more than $4.6 million for more than 500 participating nonprofits in the Kentuckiana area. The day was highlighted by a 90-minute midday nonprofit rally at 4th Street Live! in the heart of the city, where about 200 organizations had informational tables and booths set up. Additionally, nonprofits were encouraged to hold their own events around the community.
Donations were only accepted online through the Community Foundation’s website, which featured a live leaderboard, featuring breakout statistics like “Most Unique Donors,” “Most Total Donations” and much more. Orgs were also competing for “Strategic Prizes” of $1,000 apiece, awarded for criteria like “Most Unique Donors Between 7am - 10am,” or “Most Donations of $250 or More Between 3pm and 5pm.” Every donation through the 24 hours was eligible to be matched with a $1,000 “Golden Ticket,” thanks to a $30,000 grant from Delta Dental. (Six additional tickets were awarded to attendees at the midday rally.)
The intricate juxtaposition of “real-life events” with online-only giving, in a frenzied 24-hour period, made Give For Good Louisville the perfect event for Facebook Live coverage, and the Community Foundation of Louisville came well-prepared.
VP of Marketing and Communications Cara Baribeau drew up a sophisticated, two-pronged, hour-by-hour plan: an itinerary for herself and marketing associate Molly Melia; and one for me and marketing intern Emily Gahafer. (A third document detailed planned appearances for CEO Susan Barry.) Organizations had been informed that if they submitted their events to the official CF calendar, they would be listed on the website and may be highlighted with additional coverage.
The Facebook Live coverage was part of a broader social media plan, most of which was handled by staff at the control center at the CF Louisville office. But fans of the Community Foundation were conditioned to tune in on Facebook; for months, Baribeau had utilized Facebook Live in an ongoing series called “Getting to Know the Good,” where orgs were invited to share their stories in interview-style live videos from the office and around the community.
And on Sept. 14, it was all systems go. We called the day the area’s “Super Bowl,” and decided, given the enormous attention directed our way, that we couldn’t really over-do it. We planned aggressively.
Baribeau led off the Facebook Live coverage from the office at midnight Sept. 14, announcing the first Strategic Prize award while ensuring that all donation systems were operating smoothly. I’d negotiated a good night’s sleep in lieu of an afternoon nap, and made my way to the office at 6:30 am.
From 7 am forward, we’d broadcast at least once hourly, all the way through midnight. After our first joint update at 7:10, Emily and I walked with CEO Susan Barry to an outdoor yoga event, for our 8:10 am update. (She’s pictured below left, in blue.) I hosted the 9:10 update again from the office, and we were off to the proverbial races.
The nonprofit rally was predictably chaotic. Tables were crammed from end to end, buttressing the main stage, where local dignitaries, media representatives and performing groups offered continuous entertainment. With Cara managing the stage activities, and various members of the CF team controlling different aspects of the event, Emily and I were free to roam the rally and broadcast to the world.
The rally was loud — very loud — but my MXL MM-130 mic helped us elicit perfect sound on three Facebook Live broadcasts from the scene. All day long, we stabilized the video with the DJI Osmo and Osmo Mobile, making every mobile broadcast immensely watchable and listenable. I decided to create three broadcasts from the rally: two interviewing the early Golden Ticket winners; and one 37-minute walkthrough of the entire rally, interviewing groups like the YMCA, the Urban League, the Salvation Army and many more.
Throughout each broadcast, viewers were interacting and engaging with us through Facebook comments. I made sure to repeatedly mention the important calls to action, both generally — to donate at GiveForGoodLouisville.org — and specfically, like the criteria to win a specific Strategic Prize, or to use the hashtag #GiveForGoodLou on social media to join the online conversation.
After the rally, the excitement only kicked up a notch. Emily and I had a brief break to charge batteries — our own, and those in my devices — before we set out on a grueling afternoon-evening tour. As Emily chauffeured us around, I recorded some additional non-live video for us to use on other social media channels. I also wove together a 22-minute Snapchat story showing the behind-the-scenes of our day.
The day was a whirlwind, but by the time nightfall arrived, the onus was on us to keep the energy high. After our 9pm appearance at Drepung Gomang — a considerable drive East from downtown — I talked Cara into stopping and doing a 10pm update live from outside of the Big Four Bridge — Louisville’s most iconic landmark. Emily parked her SUV facing us, so we could take advantage of the headlights, and we stacked a handheld spotlight in her off hand.
And when we reached the day’s 24th hour, there was no rest for the weary. We surpassed the previous year’s donation mark of $4.3 million early in the hour, and I urged our captive Facebook Live audience to push to the last possible minute. Positive emotions ran high as the clock struck midnight, and the team broke into applause — live on Facebook, as I exhaustedly signed us off for the night.
After the dust settled, we’d broadcast live on Facebook 23 times in 24 hours. I was on 18 of those broadcasts — plus several other non-live videos, the lengthy Snapchat story, and a couple of quick updates to the CFLouisville Instagram story. The most important figure, of course, was the $4.6 million in donations, but I was also extremely proud of our live video success: over 14,500 views, scores of shares and hundreds of comments.
The organizations that we visited during the day were ecstatic about the additional social media attention we provided. The rally was particularly special, and representatives at almost every table were eager to chat live with us. I can say without a doubt that incorporating Facebook Live coverage added an enormous amount of value to organizations participating in #GiveForGoodLou, both on Sept. 14 and as a permanent documentation of the activities that took place all day.
For its first time using live video in this fashion, the Community Foundation of Louisville did a phenomenal job of showcasing an event that demonstrates the best of its city. For any city holding its own online day of giving, I would very highly recommend incorporating a live video component. Check out all of the Community Foundation’s video efforts on their Facebook page here .
Working with the Community Foundation of Louisville for #GiveForGoodLou was my favorite day of my career, and I am already looking forward to returning to Louisville to help them break more local giving records in 2018. If your city/foundation is planning its own online day of giving, and would like to incorporate a winning plan of action using Facebook Live, contact me today at chrisstrub (at) gmail.com. I would love to work with your team to develop a successful, revenue-generating strategy.
Keep up with me on Twitter, @ChrisStrub , and like my Facebook page for more content from my work and travels. Check out my homepage at TeamStrub.com for more info about my trip to volunteer with youth organizations in all 50 states, to get a copy of my book, ‘50 States, 100 Days: The Book,’ and to access my press kit.