Thursday, December 18, 2014

BIG Changes are coming to Facebook in January 2015 - and it effects Relayers - MUST READ INFO!

I know that everyone is winding down for the holidays, but I came across something this week that I need to share with you in order to help you make 2015 a successful fundraising year for you!  As we gear up for 2015, a lot of you will be getting ready to ask for some serious donations.  I'm here to share some major changes Facebook is making to how news feeds work, and to tell you how to adjust to make sure you are still getting much needed donation to find a cure for cancer.

To put it in a nutshell (and without boring or confusing you with Facebook algorithms and how they work), I have seen dramatic decreases in the amount of engagement in Relay related Facebook posts over the last several months- including ones made by Relay For Life pages for events (so, not just my personal page or the Cancer Man Page).  This has resulted in a massive decrease in donors via Facebook (and will continue to).  You see before now, I would tell you to go home, personalize your Relay page, and post links on Facebook to get your donations going.  Unfortunately folks, it looks like Facebook isn't going to be your gold mine for donations the way it once was.

Starting January 1st, Facebook will be making a change to what goes into individual news feeds.  They have already been rolling this out and testing it, which explains my massive decrease in results.  The goal is to 1) Make sure FB users are seeing the content they want to see (and not feel like it is all page advertisements, or in our case, asking for donations), and 2) to make sure that businesses that want to be seen are PAYING to be seen.  The reason that is such a big problem is, of course, we are non profit, and are not going to spend millions of dollars on advertising when we could be curing cancer (and also, in my personal opinion they are a big fat waste of money- see here-

In other words, because of Facebook algorithms going into place, something like a picture of my Christmas card will easily get to the top of news feeds, and get a lot of likes and comments (and, I do have an awesome card, but wait until you see the difference between the two posts).

However, a post I make about needing a donation for Relay For Life may only be seen by a few people, and chances are the people who do see it are going to be fellow volunteers, not potential new donors.
Shout out to my boy Russell Keeler for the like!

The worst part is, these posts are from now- in January it will get worse. 

If you would like to read the full release by Facebook you can read it here:

It is CRITICAL to our success that I get this information out to my fellow volunteers!  If we go into meetings and say, "YEAH!  Just post it on Facebook, everyone will donate!" volunteers are going to experience failure and be very frustrated right off the bat.  If it frustrated me, I know it's going to frustrate you.

Here's what you CAN do to increase your chances for success with personal donations in 2015.

-SEND SNAIL MAIL asking for donations this year.

Why snail mail?  The image above says it all!  How excited were you to get Christmas cards in the mail this year?  Mailed donation requests should go out to everyone you have an address for- and then call your parents and ask to borrow their address book to.  Hey, no shame- not going to apologize for curing cancer.  If you send snail mail, it is at least going to get opened.  With an email it may be automatically deleted, and on Facebook/Twitter/IG- scrolled through.

AND, if you are going to take the time to mail out the letters, then take the time to make your letter personal.  The pre-made ones are great, but they don't tell YOUR story.  If you want some letter ideas, I've got a blog post for that!

-Face to face interactions.  I know, I know- who does that anymore?  But guess what?  Its time to bring it back baby!  Have coffee with a friend and make an ask, ask your co-workers, ask your boss- TO THEIR FACE. 

-Instead of posting your Relay link on Facebook, and just saying, please help me cure cancer!  Post a video of you asking people to donate and telling your story.  Why do you Relay?  What services do we offer?  Talk from the heart! 

-Use Facebook to redirect an ask.  For example, someone like me who has a blog would make the ask in a blog post.  Then post a link to the blog on Facebook with a catchy title like-Why I will not apologize for curing cancer (with a picture!!!)

-When you do make an ask on Facebook, you need to make it CREATIVE. Don't use a meme (a picture with text overlay like my warm fuzzy above will be buried with the new algorithm.) Remember the purple mustache challenge?  That worked!  It was creative and different, and got a lot of views and donations!

-If you see another Relayer posting about a fundraiser, asking for donations, etc, like and comment on it.  This will tell the FB algorithm that the content is interesting, and release it to more news feeds.  You guys all wonder why I am always commenting on your stuff, right?  Well now you know that I am not ACTUALLY a stalker, I just want you to be successful!

Now, I know you are thinking- holy crapola- what will work and what won't? Kevan Lee does a great job of explaining what the algorithm likes, and what it doesn't.  Now, keep in mind, this may be much stricter come January, but it is a great starting point for those of you more interested in wrapping your head around this entire concept. See it here :)

I don't want you guys thinking that posting on Facebook for donations isn't worth it anymore- IT CAN BE, if you do it the right way.  After all, even a small amount of donations is better than NO donations at all.

That being said, I DO want you guys to go into 2015 prepared.  Be ready to do things a little differently than you have in the past, and be open to new ideas!  We were amazing fundraisers BEFORE Facebook, and we can still be amazing fundraisers now. 

So, let's open up this blog post for conversation.  What has been working for you?  Do you have any creative ideas?  Share below so we can all benefit! 

With Hope,

Monday, December 15, 2014

Not every fundraiser is a smashing success, and that's ok!

So Cancer Man and I came up with the best fundraising idea ever for Christmas time (not the Poo-pourri, I am talking about the OTHER genius idea)

What do you get someone for Christmas that has EVERYTHING?

A Warm Fuzzy!

This idea came from a story Wes' friend Sheri Ingham told him in kindergarten.  It goes like this:

The Warm Fuzzy Story (adapted from Claude Steiner’s original tale)

Many years ago, on a little island, lived a bunch of happy people. They loved their
friendly little island with its beautiful trees, water, and sand. The islanders had a special
tradition of trading warm fuzzies with each other. Warm fuzzies were like little balls of pure
love that made everyone feel good all over.

People would offer warm fuzzies freely, and if you needed one all you had to do was
ask. Even people you didn’t know would reach into their pockets and pull out a warm fuzzy,
and just give it to you! Every warm fuzzy was like a big hug from a friend. And there were
always plenty of warm fuzzies to go around.

Everyone felt safe and loved and they all helped each other to feel safe and loved.
But one day a grouchy, grumbly, mumbly tourist came to visit the island. He didn’t
understand what everyone was doing but he was sure he didn’t like it. He kept cold prickles
in his pockets and warm fuzzies didn’t make any sense to him. So he decided that he would
tell a lie to the islanders, to convince them to stop with all that warm fuzzy business.

The grouchy tourist told the islanders that their warm fuzzies were the most precious
things in the world. He told them that instead of sharing them, they should be keeping them.
What if the world supply of warm fuzzies ran out? What would they do then?
All of a sudden the islanders began worrying and acting selfishly, keeping their warm
fuzzies to themselves. And a funny thing happened. When people stopped sharing their
warm fuzzies, people stopped receiving warm fuzzies. Instead of everyone feeling warm and
fuzzy inside, they started to feel cold and prickly inside. This made everyone kind of sad,
everyone except for that grouchy tourist that is.

Thank goodness something nice happened next. You see, one of the islanders had left
for college. She came home to visit and brought her warm fuzzies with her. When she
arrived home, she started giving warm fuzzies to everyone she saw. The islanders started to
realize what they were missing and that they had made a mistake. Holding onto their warm
fuzzies didn’t make them happier, it made them miserable. They figured out that giving their
warm fuzzies away not only made their friends happy, it made them happy too.

The good news is that we can be just like those islanders! We can give warm fuzzies,
like these cute little pom poms. But we can also give warm fuzzies that are sparkly, little,
fluffy, imaginary balls of happy. You see, when we offer a kind word or help someone to feel
better, that’s the best kind of warm fuzzy there is.

So, last year Cancer Man kept bringing up this idea, but we just couldn't find poof-balls big enough.  This year, we revisited the idea, but with a more creative outlook- how can we MAKE them big enough?  We ended up buying roll after roll of yarn, googly eyes, and testing out different methods until we found one that worked!  The final product was about 6" in diameter!

Then we posted on Facebook: 

THIS FRIDAY, SATURDAY, AND SUNDAY ONLY! Make a donation of $25 or more to Cancer Man at and Cancer Man will ship a gift wrapped Warm Fuzzy to a gift recipient (or you!), with a note saying you donated to Relay For Life on their behalf for Christmas. Cancer Man makes all of these himself! Give someone a gift with some major love in it that will help us support cancer patients, and help us find a cure for cancer!

Simply leave the name and address of the person you want it sent to in the "private note for the person you are supporting" section on the donate page, and we will do the rest! Thank you all for your support!

We thought SURELY we would have so many donors that we would be making warm fuzzies up until the last day we could ship them for Christmas delivery (and I know $25 is high, but I needed them to be substantial enough donations for me to cover the shipping costs out of my pocket).

Guess how many donors we had?

Yup, that's right, not a one.  The good news is we have something REALLY cute to take cancer patients when we go visit them.  Plus, we can always revisit the idea in the future, and I had a great time crafting with my favorite super hero :)

So, why am I telling you about our fail?  Because, it is important for me to show you guys that even the big fundraisers stumble sometimes.  Not every fundraiser is a smashing success.  What matters is, we learn from it, find the good, and move on to the next thing.  After all, you will never know what is going to work, and what isn't going to work unless you get out there and try SOMETHING.

So get out there and do it- #relaybig

With hope,