Piggyback On What’s Top Of Mind— 9 Valentine’s Victories

Email Subject LinesGuest blogger, Kerri Karvetski, owner of Company K Media, helps nonprofits communicate online.

How did nonprofits share the love on Valentine’s Day 2013? Let us count the ways.

But this superstar technique isn’t limited to Valentine’s Day. Get brainstorming now to connect your cause with days coming up—St. Patrick’s Day, April Fool’s Day and Earth Day. It’s a proven way to connect with supporters and move them to give, donate, volunteer or spread the word. Here’s how:

From furry to funny, snarky to sincere, nonprofits used the Feast of Saint Valentine, Feb. 14, as an opportunity to connect with supporters, raise awareness for their causes and projects, and motivate members to act in the spirit of love.

We cataloged their campaigns on the 2013 Valentine’s Day Nonprofit Campaigns Pinterest board and hope you find inspiration in their efforts.

monterey bay aquariumHallmark’s got nothing on nonprofits when it comes to cards, e-cards that is. Appealing to the last-minute gifter in us all, e-cards can be playful and fun, and lets nonprofits show their lighter side.

Why I love it: E-cards touch at least two people, sender and receiver. And they are quite flexible – create sets for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and other holidays.

Who did it: Monterey Bay Aquarium, Canine Companions for Independence, World Wildlife Fund, New York Public Library, Mercy Corps, It Gets Better Project, Women for Women International, American Lung Association.


penguinswebSeveral nonprofits sought to harness good cheer by asking for a donation, from gifts in honor of a loved one to symbolic gifts like adoptions or school supplies.

My thoughts: Valentine’s Day fundraising campaigns rarely knock it out of the park, but they can bring in a respectable amount. Bottom line – get creative; go thick on the love and thin on the heart-wrench. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are heavy hitters here.

Who did it: National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife, Heifer International, North Carolina League of Conservation Voters, WaterAid in America, International Rescue Committee.


playgroundHere’s a tactic that not only makes supporters feel great, but also generates lots of content for your blog or social media outlets. Nonprofits asked supporters to share what they loved via photos, stories and Tweets.

Why try this? It taps supporters’ generosity in creative ways and is a delightful way to engage fans on social media. The content you receive might even inspire future campaigns and communications.

Who did it: Kaboom, NARAL Pro-Choice America’s Choice Out Loud Campaign, Global Zero, TechSoup.


Some nonprofits were just not feeling the love, and asked supporters to target a decision maker and ask for specific change—restore funding, investigate injustice or just stop doing really bad things.

Love makes the world go round, why not advocacy campaigns? Public displays of [dis]affection on Twitter and Facebook can sometimes help you advance an advocacy agenda, but you need a built-in audience to pull it off. And you have to be confident of their perspective, e.g. how they receive your love-me-not.

Who did it: Amnesty International USA, One Campaign, Center for Media Justice, RESULTS.


Nothing says, “Will you be my Valentine?” like a good Facebook graphic. A compelling photo with text, and a call to share, and you have love in the age of social media.

Easiest. Tactic. Ever. If you do one thing next Valentine’s Day or next holiday or other top-of-mind moment, make it this one.

Who did it: F*^% Cancer, American Cancer Society, Tobacco Free Florida, LA Quits, NTEN: Nonprofit Technology Network, Earth Justice, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, American Federation of Teachers.


puffsFriends with benefits!

Download an app. Use our hashtag on social networks. Send a virtual kiss. Companies embraced their philanthropic sides with mobile and social campaigns that raised funds for charity partners.

Obviously, this takes planning. A sweet opportunity for the right partnership, applicable at any top-of-mind moment.

Who did it: KillSwitch for American Heart Association of NY, Macy’s for American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women, Puffs Facial Tissues for Dress for Success.


Two words – mood music. Whether you’re all “Separate Ways” or “I Will Always Love You,” video can give your Valentine’s Day campaign a little e-motion.

You don’t have to sing. Talking is OK. So is holding up signs. (Also, go try Animoto for a Cause.)

Who did it: Charity: Water, Unite Here Local 11.


trustforpubliclandIn this category falls my favorite Valentine’s Day email subject line, “Pucker up! Best places to steal a kiss.” Bravo, The Trust for Public Land. Bravo.

A picture is worth a 1,000 words. Still, add some keyword-rich text to your slideshows (Google’s still got this thing for text).

Who did it: The Trust for Public Land, The Nature Conservancy, Fellowship of Reconciliation.


OnebillionrisingFrom breakup parties to global movements, nonprofit events show that V-Day is a good day to come together for a cause.

Online + events = a match made in heaven. Pick a hashtag and ask event-goers to tag status updates, Tweets and photos with it so you can track event buzz.

Who did it: One Billion Rising, Divest McGill.

Now that you’ve seen what other nonprofits have done, what are you going to do to piggyback on  upcoming holidays, season (spring, summer, back-to-school?) or news event?

Please share your piggybacking experiences, ideas and questions here.

MORE Piggybacking Guidance
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