By Pete Deutchsman, Chief Executive Officer
A week or so back, I had the pleasure of speaking and assisting in the presenting of grant funds to eight deserving charities as part of The Festival of Children Foundation’s The Possible Dream program. In this program, charities were challenged to submit their “dream” to a panel of philanthropists, business people and community minded individuals.
As it was recently posted on the Festival of Children Foundation website:
“ Nearly 100 children’s charities from across Orange County, CA submitted their ideas for ways to impact the lives of children in need. To celebrate the end of Orange County Register’s Season of Caring program, eight charities were granted their wishes this month, with funds to help make their dreams come true. The projects were identified through our grant-making program, The Possible Dream. “
I can tell you first hand, not only as an entrepreneur but as a Board member on two non-profits, the last few years have not been easy on anyone. The larger non-profits have had to lay-off and reduce overhead, grant funds have diminished and become exponentially more difficult to obtain due to the economic downturn (not to mention scandals- such as the Maddoff mess). Smaller non-profits have been hit hard too, as volunteers who otherwise would have donated their time and company resources have found themselves unemployed or otherwise unable to provide support.
You can imagine the feeling in the room as administrators from El Viento Foundation, Girls Inc. of Orange County, Kids Konnected, Laguna Beach Community Clinic, New Vista School, Orangewood Children’s Foundation, The Sierra Club Foundation and United Cerebral Palsy, emotionally accepted checks to help fund their dreams.
I was honored to be asked to speak with the administrators and challenge them on how to engage digitally with their supporters, their prospective supporters and the community at large. One of the topics I covered with the group of charity Directors, donors and board members was the importance of digital engagement and more to the point, the relationships they all should be fostering online. I shared a few case studies of brands I have worked with that are in search of the authenticity, authenticity that they as non-profits naturally possess. I challenged each of them to be a “Muse” to brands and foster a long-term relationships with companies searching for their authentic story. By defining their voice online, and aligning themselves with like minded brands and individuals, charities can establish loyal relationships with those who can help accomplish their long-term goals.
That wasn’t the only challenge I provided them with. On behalf of all of the Buddies working at The Buddy Group, we challenged the eight recipients to engage, be authentic and document their dream…digitally. We encouraged the use of blogs, twitter, facebook, linkedin and Youtube as a means of getting their story out there and building relationships with their friends…and their friend’s friends…and their friend’s friend’s friends.
Starting April 1st, we will be closely monitoring all of the charities online. The charity who is the most authentic, documents their dream in the most dynamic and engaging manner and most importantly, creates relationships with those in their community, will receive a Digital Audience Engagement strategy workshop where we will help solidify the voice of the organization, a professionally produced “sizzle” video highlighting their “Possible Dream” and what it accomplished. We will be working with the Orange County Register to publish the video and make sure their story is seen by as many as possible in Orange County. As I said in the presentation, it feels really good to be able to support such deserving groups and give back to the community that my wife and I grew up in.