Every non-profit organization that depends on private individual or corporate philanthropy is looking for new and more effective ways of tapping their donor network.

​Old techniques – direct mail solicitation letters, telemarketing, – don’t have the impact they once did. They’re drowned out in the crush and clutter of multiple appeals from scores of good causes. Even personal outreach is limited:  non-profit leaders can’t access the broad array of existing and new donors they need to reach in a timely, cost-effective manner.

And ‘donor fatigue’ is real:  givers  are barraged with multiple requests from an army of worthy causes, making them resistant to the same old ‘ask’ advanced in the same old way.

So what about identifying new donors who haven’t established a giving history with your organization? Well, finding these elusive sources of new revenue is as difficult as locating the proverbial needle in a haystack.

That’s where the power of social media and video storytelling married together can create new impact for your non-profit:  grabbing the attention of your longtime base and powerfully connecting with potential new givers.

The ‘magic’ here is using your own ‘influencers’ to tell the unique story of your organization – and do it in video.  See this example from The Guest House of Milwaukee, the city’s preeminent shelter for homeless men:

 Attorney Patrick O. Dunphy, board chair of The Guest House, creates a compelling rationale for contributors. As an ‘influencer,’  Dunphy is well-known within the Milwaukee community. The segment is brief; The production quality of the piece is high, and there is a strong call-to-action that links to a microsite containing contact information and ‘how to give’ specifics.

The series included testimonials from board members and from funding ‘influencers’ who believe In the Guest House mission, and support it.


These brief video segments were pushed to a wider audience by leveraging the organization’s own internal network. Board members took this and the 10 other segments in the series and pushed them out to their social friends, associates and acquaintances. For a very cost-effective technique, The Guest House achieved maximum exposure for their message.

Guest House’s organic reach was supplemented with a targeted paid Facebook campaign. This included the use of ‘SmartBoost’, – a proprietary technology that optimizes Facebook reach and engagement. The results:

  • 800K paid and organic impressions
  • Video view rate of 42%, compared to a benchmark of 22%
  • Cost per thousand impressions of $6.02, 30.5% better than the average Facebook CPM
  • Cost per engagement of $0.26, 50% better than the average CPE

Better yet – the campaign was an outstanding success.  Guest House private donation grew dramatically.

“Our Influencer campaign launched in November last year, and since that time we have achieved an impressive 61% increase in donor contributions… which was one of our key goals”, said Cindy Krahenbuhl, executive director. “Our board, staff, volunteers and other key partners have been excited to share the new content to help tell our story – obviously it’s working! It’s a simple formula – but complex when it comes to blending compelling stories, powerful production values, pinpointed social media outreach and the engagement of a willing Board.

We’d like to help you harness the power of your own Smart Influencers campaign to drive new philanthropy for your non-profit organization.

Contact Will Ruch, principal at Versant, ‘wruch@versantsolutions.com’ for more information.