Responding to our post, Give Your Donors A Voice, Ayumi Stubbs shares with The Agitator the success of the ASPCA with inviting supporters to submit their own content for ASPCA's website:

“Last year we started a simple cat photo contest that we promoted to our weekly newsletter subscribers (ASPCA News Alert). Our expectations were low – we just wanted something fun to offer our readers to participate in, to celebrate Adopt-a-Shelter Cat month. The response was overwhelming – we received thousands of photos.

Then we picked ten winners and announced them in our newsletter, linking back to our website. The response to the winning photos also surprised us – the open rate shot up 25% – and the winning photos instantly became one of the most popular sections of the website – and remained so for quite awhile because our readers forwarded it on to so many of their friends. We were also able to take advantage of the high traffic and promote donation opportunities to our readers and new visitors.

We learned a great lesson from this contest about how much our newsletter subscribers love to submit their own content. We had a dog photo contest later that year, and we plan to continue the photo contests this year. It's so simple, no fancy shmancy web 2.0 stuff involved – just a good old-fashioned contest for our newsletter subscribers!”

Ayumi Stubbs
Manager of Internet Communications, ASPCA

Ayumi, you and the ASPCA team deserve a raise!

Admittedly, it's hard to imagine a deeper vein to tap than people's affection for their cats and dogs! But the point stands … the ease of sharing digital content opens terrific opportunities to engage your supporters. Here's another example …

Over at Environmental Defense, the internet team has invited e-activists to help compose a Declaration of New Patriotism, prompted by the group's effort to cast stopping global warming as a patriotic challenge.

Arguably, this is a bit more cerebral than inviting supporters to send a photo of Fluffy or Fido, and perhaps not as likely to take off virally. But still, Environmental Defense has received over 1,000 responses after a few days.

In both cases, we'll bet the content creators donate more, renew more than the non-responders. We can't claim causality here (i.e., arguably the supporters already most committed are the ones who participate by submitting content). But smart test design would permit the proposition to be examined.

Meantime, don't wait … there's no downside to offering digital participation to your members, donors and activists.

Roger & Tom

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