Keys to Successful Online Fundraising

This past March, launched a successful online fundraiser dubbed Twit Relief. The organization teamed up with over 100 celebrities, including Piers Morgan, Bear Grylls , and Leona Lewis, to raise money to help people living incredibly harsh lives across the UK and Africa.  The celebrities agreed to follow the winning bidder of an eBay auction on Twitter for 90 days.  In addition to the “Super Follow”, many of the celebrities offered other enticing goodies to boost their auction.

Twit Relief took it’s  cues from the TwitChange playbook, which has also seen remarkable success by auctioning off a “Super Follow” from celebrities such as Eva Longoria, Troy Polamalu, and Justin Bieber.  After the devastation that struck Haiti after the earthquake in 2010, TwitChange managed to raise over $500,000 to build a school for children with special needs.

It would appear that the involvement of a celebrity provides the Midas touch when it comes to online fundraising.  However, last December’s Digital Death fundraiser by Keep A Child Alive seemed to stumble out of the starting gates.  The organization finally reached its goal, but only due to the fact that a few individuals stepped up with large checks to avoid seeing the campaign fail.

In the end, all of these charities received money they desperately needed to make a difference.  But, what have these examples shown us in terms of what makes a successful online fundraiser?


Unfortunately, the satisfaction of simply donating to a good cause is not always enough to make a fundraiser successful.  Although a celebrity’s followers enjoy seeing them post their thoughts on Twitter, the Digital Death campaign found that people don’t associate a high monetary value with the daily tweets.

Twit Relief and TwitChange offered something truly valuable to the person donating.  Everyone wants more followers on Twitter, and these auctions provide the opportunity to have your name exposed to potentially millions of people.  From 15 year old high school kids to the CEO of a major organization, everyone can find value in this prize.


TwitChange gave an excellent proof of concept that Twit Relief was able to weave into it’s integrated approach. Red Nose Day has played out as an annual staple on BBC for years.  It has involved a tremendous effort of off and online communication strategies, peer-to-peer giving challenges, and the culmination of a huge night of comic television on England’s primary television network.  While TwitChange set the bar high as a campaign based entirely in twitter, the integrated approach evidently brought lift to all the giving channels.