Capitalize on The Big Give: 4 Ways to Work it via Nonprofit Marketing

Capitalize on The Big Give -- 4 Ways to Work it Via Nonprofit MarketingOprah’s Big Give premiered Sunday evening March 2nd to record audiences (15.6 million, according to Nielsen ratings). Now that’s a huge number of folks paying attention to giving; many of whom are likely to have little experience with nonprofits, donating or volunteering.

The show works like this: Ten contestants, ordinary people who auditioned in different cities like “American Idol” aspirants, are paired into teams and assigned a person who needs help. The team that raises most money — and presents the most moving case — wins. Each week the lowest-scoring contestant gets sent home.

Despite the fact that critics have panned the show as a venue for product placement, not good will; as a fraud and so far worse than a show that doesn’t claim to do good, The Big Give is clearly a dream for ABC and its advertisers. I see it as a dream come true for nonprofit marketers.

Here are four low-cost/effort, high-return ways to put those 31 million eyeballs (and millions more who are reading about the show) to work for your nonprofit:

  1. Harvest volunteers, while interest is hot. Register today with VolunteerMatch. Oprah has wisely partnered with experts on this front — VolunteerMatch is shepherding folks into volunteering, a service featured on the show home page. Make sure you’re volunteer ops are listed in the VolunteerMatch database. Here’s how.
  2. Make it easy for folks to give via Network for Good, even if you’re already using another online giving strategy. Oprah has partnered with online giving service Network for Good on the donation side. Sign up today so you don’t lose these viewers.
  3. Invite supporters to throw Big Give parties for your org, and simplify the process by providing a downloadable party kit with e-invite text, stories of other giving parties, a party hotline, etc. Oprah offers tips for format and food here.
  4. Sponsor or launch a local “Big Give” knock off in your community. Here’s info on Big Give Houston, which is a great model for your community.

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Nancy Schwartz on March 4, 2008 in Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications, Special Opportunities, Volunteers | 7 comments

  • Thank you, Nancy. We definitely appreciate this reminder to your readers.
    Although ‘Big Give’ is the big topic this week, VolunteerMatch is so much more than just our public Web site, And we’re always looking for new partners who can help us extend our platform of volunteer recruitment to new arenas.
    For example, this winter alone we’re doing great work with HGTV, REI, Country Music Television, and even Pedigree — all helping to promote volunteering to their audiences.
    And this is not to mention our employee volunteer work with HP, Target, Dell, and 60 more corporate leaders.
    Big brands aside, the goal is always the same: to help nonprofits connect with like-minded individuals who can help them grow and thrive.
    Thanks again,
    Robert Rosenthal
    Director, Communications
    VolunteerMatch Team

  • Denise Graveline

    Timely advice, Nancy! From the PR side, I’d advise nonprofits to pitch an op-ed in their community newspaper highlighting how they’d make a “Big Give” locally; offer themselves to local reporters for comments on the show (particularly affiliates of the show’s network); and post on their blogs and websites their own “Big Give Wish List,” or how they’d spend a big give if they were lucky enough to get one. They’re all ways to draw attention to your issue and capitalize on the show in ways that move locals. Look forward to hearing more ideas here.

  • Great ideas, Nancy!

  • Erika Dankovits

    Nancy, thanks for this information! We’ve been using for years, but now we’re also seriously considering using Network for Good. It saves money for small nonprofits who don’t have a huge budget and aren’t set up to receive credit card payments.

  • I facilitate advocacy/transition workshops for high school students with classified disabilities in Essex and Passaic Counties of NJ.on behalf of DIAL, center for independent living. We are a non-profit and I have introduced volunteermatch to the students and staff. I am also partnering with another organization called TAFA turn a fround around foundation. The mission is to wipe out loneliness in this lifetime. A staggering 50-60% of nursing home residents and 75% of patients in mental hospitals die every year from loneliness. I have been enlisting young adults to volunteer and try to reduce these alarming statistics by making a forever friend connection. Students ,seniors and those who suffer mental illness all can relate to social outcasting, loneliness,isolation and difficulty making ,keeping or having friends. Drew Horn CEO and co-founder wants to establish departments of visitation, smile stations where volunteers can visit and establish the forever friendship connection. I would love to capitalize on the Big Give! this post re-enforced my ideas and now I am grateful and excited. call

  • Marc A. Pitman

    Nancy, just catching up on my blogs.
    GREAT post! Thank you!
    I’m amazed at how many are critizing and how few are thinking of ways to capitalize on this!
    I asked a LinkedIn question last week and still got overwhelmingly negative comments! Visceral ones.

  • Linda Carol Berry

    Thanks so much Nancy. We can always count on you for great ideas and support.
    BraveHeart Foundation has launched a project in conjunction the St. Bernard Project, working to restore homes for New Orleans families who are still living in “temporary” housing almost three years after Katrina rendered their homes unlivable.
    We are riding the wave of Oprah’s contagious generosity, and have raised funds for the restoration of at least ten homes.
    Inspired action is welcomed at
    A Big Give Thank You to you all!
    Linda Carol Berry

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