Case Study: #GiveSTLDay Donations Rise 25%, with Corresponding Social Media Spike

May 6, 2019

May 1, 2019 was the sixth annual Give STL Day, hosted by the St. Louis Community Foundation. This year, more than 24,000 donors helped 843 participating nonprofits raise a record-breaking $3 million in just 24 hours.

 

In its six years, Give STL Day, powered by CiviCore, has raised more than $13 million for nonprofits in and around the St. Louis metro area; this year, the St. Louis Community Foundation decided to extensively leverage live-streaming video on Facebook, to further amplify its real-time outreach efforts.

 

Chris Strub, aka the 'Giving Day Guy,' wrapped up a long day of giving for the St. Louis community with a 30+ minute Facebook Live broadcast that showed videos submitted by the participating nonprofits. 

 

Like most online giving days, Give STL Day ran from midnight to 11:59 p.m., and donors had the ability to pre-schedule donations which would be counted on May 1. This allowed the community to get off and running early, and the donation total surpassed $1 million in the mid-morning -- several hours earlier than 2018.

 

NOTE: Want to bring Chris to your giving day in 2019 or 2020? Email chrisstrub [ at ] gmail.com for information on how to make it happen.

 

The day kicked off with a gathering of nonprofits at the St. Louis Community Foundation offices. In years prior, this event -- complete with coffee and pastries, and plenty of cork-board signs -- was designed exclusively for the local television affiliate to come down and broadcast live. KSDK reporter Dana Dean was on the scene for a several-minutes-long TV spot, featuring about 40 nonprofits that came out to be seen.

 

 In our second Facebook Live broadcast from the grounds of the Foundation, I interviewed representatives from Shelter Friends, and numerous other nonprofit organizations.

 

This year, using Facebook Live, we were able to add additional airtime and value to the nonprofits that came out, by creating two lengthy Facebook Live broadcasts that allowed us to speak to most of the nonprofits that were in attendance. Community Foundation staffer Donna Frederick manned a DJI Osmo Mobile camera, and I was joined by my "co-host," her affable 10-year-old son, Sean.

 

The video broadcasts leveraged my extensive suite of live video equipment, most notably a pair of Samson Go Mic Mobile handheld devices, which allowed us to capture broadcast-quality audio. In the first two broadcasts of the day, Sean and I simply walked around the Community Foundation offices, interviewing the nonprofits who were collectively waiting for the television crew to arrive.

 

 At HealthWorks! Kids Museum, Sean took the starring role, demonstrating a lot of the different aspects of the museum's kid-friendly interior, in a personalized tour from Executive Director Shannon Laine.

 

The DJI Osmo Mobile made an enormous difference in our broadcast quality. If you compare our videos to most on-the-go Facebook Live broadcasts, you'll find a much higher watchability factor -- there's no "bouncing," which can cause viewers sudden uneasiness. Using the Osmo to steady the video throughout the day allowed us to move freely through the different places we were visiting, including HealthWorks! Kids Museum St. Louis.

 

The third "secret ingredient" for the giving day broadcasts was Switcher Studio, which I recently wrote about in depth. Switcher Studio allowed me, as the producer, to add real-time lower thirds, calls to action, and even B-roll to the live broadcasts, in real-time. The B-roll aspect of Switcher Studio allowed me to record video at one point during the day, and play it later on, "live" -- I used this to feature a brief video clip of Neosha Franklin from the foundation, explaining the day's prize structure.

 

 Playing recorded videos from key staff members during a giving day is an ideal strategy to make sure that everyone's voices are being heard, even during the chaos of the 24-hour period. Neosha Franklin was able to record a video the morning of Give STL Day that, using Switcher Studio, we were able to play later on during a remote broadcast.

 

I also used Switcher Studio's ability to mirror a MacBook Air screen to show dozens of videos from a shared drive, which allowed us to showcase submitted videos from nonprofits of all sizes and types. This strategy was a big hit in San Antonio for both social media engagement and showcasing the valuable local voices, and it's a strategy I would recommend to every giving day out there to employ moving forward.

 

The most important aspect of the giving day execution was the game plan. Neosha Franklin from the St. Louis Community Foundation laid out a road map of where Donna, Sean and I were to travel throughout the day. After starting the morning with two videos at the Foundation, we hit the road for seven consecutive Facebook Live broadcasts from the road. Neosha had contacted all of those nonprofit organizations in advance, and each one was thrilled to be a part of the social media strategy we had laid out for the day.

 

 Our remote Facebook Live strategy featured an interview with Aimee Wehmeier, the President and CEO of Paraquad, at the Bloom Cafe.

 

Our carefully constructed set of Facebook Live broadcasts all added up to a hugely successful spike in social media activity around the Give STL Day movement. Our Facebook video strategy included 10 Facebook Live videos, earning more than 7,100 views. The St. Louis Community Foundation Facebook page had 4,993 minutes of video viewed on May 1 alone; their 6,900+ minutes viewed from April 29 to May 3 represented an astonishing 873% increase over the prior five-day period.

 

The most-watched video of the 10 Facebook Live broadcasts we created was the remote from Bloom Cafe. This video featured an average watch time of 27 seconds, with 385 views of 10 seconds or more. We also kept a close eye on all the sharing activity that was taking place; we encouraged all the participating organizations to share out our broadcasts. The Brain Injury Foundation of St. Louis shared out our morning broadcast, and their share brought in an average watch time of a whopping 1 minute, 36 seconds.

 

Andrew Gibson, the Executive Director of the Freedom Arts & Education Center, had more than 10 minutes to talk about the organization's mission on a live-streamed broadcast from both outside and inside the center's current location. 

 

What was trickier to quantify was the private sharing and engagement taking place on the broadcasts. But as we drove around the city, Donna continuously fielded text messages from fellow parents and staff members, talking about how they were seeing Sean on the videos and how he was becoming a video star. Even St. Louis Community Foundation President Amelia Bond was sharing the videos out with her colleagues and fellow board members.

 

All of these live-streamed broadcasts were the central piece of a complex social media strategy that also led to hundreds of Instagram posts and stories, Tweets and other assorted social media content on every channel imaginable. By creating these high-quality, longer-form pieces of video content, prospective donors, stakeholders, sponsors and the like have the opportunity to dive deep into whichever cause they are most interested in.

 

It was fascinating for me to recognize the different strengths and needs of the giving day and the staff in real-time. I didn't know until he walked in that Sean, the 10-year-old co-star, would be traveling with us for the day. He ended up being in almost every video, and helped make the content much more watchable. We also traveled more consecutively than I had in San Antonio or Louisville -- which gave us a great opportunity to show off a broad variety of the locations where the nonprofits in St. Louis do their work daily. Every single giving day is different, yet the combination of using live-streaming video, with a carefully constructed toolbox and a manicured schedule, makes for a strong universal strategy that can benefit any giving day in America, regardless of size.

 

At the end of the day, it's challenging to directly correlate the spike in social media activity to the rise in donations. But the wave of conversations taking place on and around this sophisticated live-streaming execution certainly couldn't have hurt. With a 25% increase in donations year-over-year, the St. Louis Community Foundation was proud to declare Give STL Day 2019 a major success.

 

* * * * * * * * * *

 

Chris Strub is the 'Giving Day Guy,' partnering with giving days around the United States to create strategic spikes across social media to raise awareness and drive donations. Want to bring in Chris to work with your giving day? Send him a Tweet, @ChrisStrub, or better yet, email chrisstrub [ at ] gmail. Get your copy of '50 States, 100 Days: The Book' at http://is.gd/50States100Days

 

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