The Value of "Influentials" to Your Nonprofit

The “influentials” model—that a select minority of people can disproportionately influence others to adopt behaviors or purchase products— has increasingly come into focus following the publication of Malcolm Gladwell‘s The Tipping Point and Edward Keller and Jonathan Berry’s The Influentials. However, does the “influentials” model imply that your nonprofit should abandon broad-based marketing efforts and instead examine your donor rolls, volunteers, and management to identify “influentials?” Not necessarily.

Professor Jonah Berger of the Wharton School, notes that the “influentials" model is dependent on four assumptions: 1) “We can identify people who 2) will influence more people to buy our product than a randomly selected person and 3) get them to talk about our product and 4) it is cost-effective to target them.”

Citing significant research, Berger argues that these assumptions have significant weaknesses. In terms of identifying “influentials,” (#1) Berger cites a few major problems, including: (A) people typically overestimate their own influence; and (B) an individual’s influence is situation specific and can change form topic to topic.

With regards to whether certain people have a disproportionate influence (#2), Berger cites several counterpoints. In a May 2010 eMarketer survey, 55% of individuals stated the recommendations of friends or similar people most influenced purchase decisions compared to 51% for experts and 26% for influential bloggers. Berger also cites a study that found that Facebook likes stayed nearly constant for a post (around 40), even as friend size increased from 400 to 1,500.

Professor Berger notes that even if the first two assumptions of the model hold, identifying and then compelling an “influential” to talk about one’s product (#4) is likely to be prohibitively expensive. For example, brands pay Kim Kardashian $10,000 per “sponsored” tweet.

Professor Berger’s conclusion is to “Ignore ‘influentials.’ Craft contagious content.” For the nonprofit sector this suggests that, while certain individuals might generate disproportionate levels of word of mouth awareness and donations for your organization, the difficulty of cost-effectively identifying and then quantifying these individuals’ impact outweigh the benefits. That is, your organization should focus on a broad-based marketing effort whose messages are both sticky and contagious, and which naturally encourage broad dissemination without relying upon the “messenger’s” influence.

In a future blog post, we will discuss how to craft sticky and contagious messages that encourage word of mouth.

Questions or comments on the content? Email us at or or add a comment below.

Yeah, I think I’m gonna stop now.

I wasn’t too successful - next time I’ll do achievements by the hour or maybe just 1 drawing at a time

Also, CONGRATS TO MISHA’S MINIONS FOR BREAKING DOWN THE PLEDGE4GOOD WEBSITE (not that that’s really a good thing though!).

We should TOTALLY get an award for being the fans who’re the most likely to break down a website trying to do random acts of kindness.

Foursquare Teams Up With Starbucks for Charity
Starbucks and Foursquare have teamed up for an innovative campaign in the fight against AIDS. From June 1-10 the coffee giant will donate $1 to the (RED) AIDS cause for every unique Starbucks check-in.

This move is similar to micro-donation philanthropy sites like Pledge4Good.  We could see a lot more collaborations between brands and social media platforms raising money for charity moving forward as popularity of crowdfunding platforms (i.e. Kickstarter) continue to gain more traction.
Article via The Next Web
Thoughts from Successful Nonprofits and Fundraisers on Online Philanthropy

pledge4good co-founder Lenny Fishman recently moderated a panel on social online fundraising at the Wharton BizTech Conference with Brian Fujito (CTO, Razoo), Patty Huber (Director, GroupOn’s G-Team), Missy Sherburne (Chief Partnership Officer, DonorsChoose), and Alec Rieger (Director of Communications & Transparency, Pencils of Promise). Although we were live tweeting—see @pledge4good—during the conference, we are providing some brief highlights here on our blog.  As the panel covered multiple topics, there is no common theme to this post other than that it highlights online fundraising strategies of two successful nonprofits—Pencils and DonorsChoose—and two highly successful fundraising platforms—Razoo and GroupOn’s GTeam deals. 

  • Donor activation: Brian Fujito noted that Razoo has seen significant growth in new donors on their platform by leveraging content such as “giving days” and by offering “story telling” profiles for nonprofits to explain exactly where donations are going
  • Donor demographics through social fundraising: 75% of donors on DonorsChoose are women and over 50% of these women have children. 80% of donors on Razoo during recent “giving days” were women, the majority over the age of 40
  • Interplay between corporate and individual donations: Missy Sherburne noted that corporate grants significantly influence individual donor decisions, as the validation a nonprofit receives from the corporate halo influences employees of that corporation and other individuals to give. Alec Rieger noted that he views Charity Water’s fundraising effectiveness as arising out of Charity Water communicating to donors that 100% of donations go to water-related causes since all Charity Water administrative expenses are funded by corporate donors
  • Moderating content social fundraising portals: Pencils has not found the need to moderate content on social networks or through social giving sites, though DonorsChoose and GroupOn did note that they moderate community content
  • e-commerce merchants integrating philanthropy into checkout: Patty Huber noted that 25% of those that bought a GTeam deal never purchased from GroupOn previously, implying that integrating philanthropy into e-commerce can actually enhance revenues and profit (!)

Questions or comments on the content? Email us at or or add a comment below.

10 Feeds Every Nonprofit Should Follow on Twitter

Building a strong social network is vital to nonprofit success. As such, for our friends who are “socially-oriented” in both meanings of the word, we compiled this quick list of feeds to follow.  These accounts will not only help you expand your network, but provide cogent advice for nonprofits and the socially-conscious on twitter.  As Confucius said, “When you see a worthy person, endeavor to emulate him.”

1)  @Kanter

With over 400,000 followers, Beth Kanter takes the top spot on our list.  Simply stated: every nonprofit stands to benefit from reading her blog, “How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media.”  Beth’s blog posts will certainly help jumpstart any organization’s social media strategy.  Additionally, she regularly tweets engaging content about her travels and work with nonprofits (she is currently documenting her time in Cambodia with some great pictures!).

Follow @Kanter

2)  @NonprofitOrgs

While Beth can help you get acquainted with the social media world, following Nonprofit Orgs is a great way to connect with other charities. In keeping with their mission is “to serve as a portal to all nonprofit organizations on Twitter,” they only follow nonprofits and nonprofit employees, forming a rich network of third sector streams.   

Follow @NonprofitOrgs

3)  @Philanthropy

The Chronicle of Philanthropy is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in nonprofit work, and the same can be said for their twitter stream.  Some claim that Twitter’s greatest gift is real time news, and @philanthropy makes it easy for your nonprofit to keep up with headlines affecting the sector.

Follow @Philanthropy

4)  @TwitCause

TwitCause is dedicated to helping nonprofits on twitter—a noble aim that may convince you to follow them.  If that isn’t enough, every Thursday TwitCause highlights a nonprofit and works to promote them through their growing network.

Follow @TwitCause

5)  @npquarterly

As with The Chronicle of Philanthropy, following @npquarterly ensures you stay up to date on important nonprofit sector news.

Follow @npquarterly

6)  @Successdotorg

This is the twitter account of Bill Fitzpatrick, founder of the nonprofit American Success Institute.  While his profile may seem quirky, he delivers solid advice and interesting commentary on a regular basis to his large following.

Follow @Successdotorg

7)  @Network4Good

The importance of online donating cannot be stressed enough (which is why we built pledge4good!).  Network for Good provides “practical, free fundraising trainings for nonprofits, and resources and software that make it as easy to donate online as it is to shop online.” As online donations increase, you need to stay up to date.

Follow @Network4Good

8)  @gatesfoundation

The Gates Foundation does philanthropy right.  With a huge war chest and tireless effort, the foundation has not only improved the lives of millions across the globe, but also changed the nonprofit sector in America by focusing on sustainable development. In short, we find it important to keep an eye out for nuggets of wisdom from this feed.

Follow @gatesfoundation

8a)  @billgates

While we won’t include him in the top ten, Bill Gates (and Melinda Gates) both have personal Twitter feeds that many nonprofits will find useful.  Presently, Bill seems to tweet much more on his work with the foundation than with Microsoft, so he is definitely worth a follow.

Follow @billgates

9)  @charitywater

Charity:water may be the strongest nonprofit account on twitter. They have well over 1.3 million followers, and they are constantly pushing out engaging content.  Following @charitywater is a great way to gauge best practices for how a nonprofit should operate their Twitter account.

Follow @charitywater

10)  @livestrong

Beautiful. Livestrong regularly tweets fantastic content, but they made the top ten because of their wonderful style. Any nonprofit trying to make a name on Twitter should take a moment to look at Livestrong’s profile.  Their distinctive colors and polished look are certainly to be admired by those looking to better brand themselves. 

Follow @livestrong

11)  Shameless plug: @pledge4good

Sorry! We had to give ourselves just a little mention.  We constantly tweet nonprofit related news, fundraising tips, social media tips and other useful information.  We also spotlight nonprofits and the socially-conscious on a regular basis.  Give us a follow if you like!

Follow @pledge4good


Wow, this took WAAAYYY longer than I expected. Also, my hand is kinda cramping right now. Maybe next time I should pledge by the hour instead of by the number of drawings? That would probably be a good idea.

Anyways, I’m going to continue making more drawings now. If you want to pledge, well you can’t because the pledge4good website is down (way to go Misha!). But I’ll probably post the link again once the site is working.

Introducing the pledge4good web widget

We’re thrilled to introduce the pledge4good website widget, which allows you to embed information about your favorite pledges onto your website or blog. 

Simply visit, search for the pledge that you would like to embed in your site. The results will provide 2 (!) lines of code that you can copy and paste into your website or blog. You can also click “embed this pledge” on the right hand menu of your favorite pledge and get the embed code right there.

For those techies out there, you can even fully customize the look of the widget using CSS.

You can see a preview of the pledge4good widget in action below (searching for the term “half marathon”).  We can’t wait to see the great pledges that you’re creating be even more effective fundraisers for your favorite nonprofit.

half marathon

Happy fundraising,

Vik and Lenny

Be one of the first to use new features on pledge4good!

A few months ago, we introduced you to our new mascot, Forgee. Well, we are pleased to announce today that Forgee was only the first step in revamping pledge4good to make the site more intuitive, simple, and, yes, more visually appealing.  Our goal has always been to make pledge4good the most effective website to fundraise with friends, and we think pledge4good 2.0 is a significant step towards achieving that goal. Coming back to the redesigned, you’ll find:

  • An improved user dashboard, from which you can easily manage and view statistics about all pledges you started or joined
  • Simpler and shorter forms, with refined helpers (hover over a “?” in a form) to guide you along the way
  • An enhanced mobile website and Android app (iOs coming soon), built in HTML5, with all the functionality of pledge4good on your home computer
  • An advanced Facebook, Twitter, and email messaging system, making it easier than ever to send fun, effective, and fully personalized fundraising messages to your friends
  • Greater multimedia capabilities, including the ability to upload photos to your fundraising pledges

These are only a few of the changes that we have implemented on over the past few months. We hope you visit us soon and let us know what you think. Email us thoughts, comments or questions at

Happy fundraising!

Vik and Lenny

$13.5K+ Raised from 11K (!) Miles: A Case Study of Baltimore/DC Runs

Overview: Back on My Feet is a national nonprofit organization focused on building self-sufficiency within the homeless population through a combination of running and educational, job training, and employment opportunities. The Baltimore/DC chapter of Back on My Feet (“BoMF B/D”) came to pledge4good in March of 2012 looking for a unique online solution to engage its extensive base of volunteers and “Member” beneficiaries, recruit new donors, and spread information regarding their unique poverty alleviation and homeless empowerment efforts in the Beltway area.  Together, pledge4good and BoMF B/D developed a plan that took advantage of pledge4good’s unique pledge technology to build an organizational fundraiser around the everyday running of BoMF BD’s volunteers and Members. As described below, the BoMF B/D greatly exceeded its fundraising goal, as supporters ran ~11,000 miles and raised $13,500 due to motivation provided by pledge4good’s goal-based framework. BoMF B/D’s Communications Director Jackie Truncellito noted: “[v]olunteers are more receptive to messages from peers,” and pledge4good provided a platform which engaged volunteers as “people got that pledges correlated to miles run was a bit more fun than just donating.”

Baltimore and DC Runs Description: For the month of June, each member of the entire BoMF B/D chapter was asked to track how many miles he or she ran. Goals of 6,000 miles and 2,000 miles were set, respectively, for the Baltimore and DC sections of the chapter, respectively. As illustrated below, some supporters joined the Pledge created by BoMF B/D to donate for every 100 miles the chapter ran during June, while others created pledges tied to their own individual running efforts, with all of this activity easily viewed on a single Campaign page. Both the Pledge ( and Campaign  ( pages provided the ability to easily donate, share on social media, track fundraising progress, as well as post multimedia and comments.

The Result: BoMF B/D surpassed its fundraising goals:

  • The BoMF B/D community ran ~11,000 miles and raised $13,500
  •  179 donors pledged $1.00-$10.00 per 100 miles run by their section or mile run by a friend
  • 90% of donors opting into providing their contact information to Back on My Feet

Your organization can sign up for pledge4good at

Introducing pledge4good's Mascot: Forgee

Hello, my name is… Forgee. Chant with me, For-gee! For-gee For-gee!… If you visited last week, you might have noticed my chip-chirpy face welcoming you across the site. I wanted to introduce myself. But, since I have no Klout, can’t code, Skype, QQ, or even wink, I had to wait for my caring colleagues at pledge4good to introduce me. Wait? This is the blog? Ugh, so much for caring colleagues. Anyway, let me tell you a little bit about myself: 

  • Hometown: South Phoenix
  • Most embarrassing moment: I tripped and fell while running on to the set of “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?” during a live taping
  • Childhood dream: Subway Sandwich Artist
  • Favorite word: Ricochet
  • Things you wouldn’t have guessed about me: Discovered in a long abandoned storage unit in Bakersfield, California and sold to Julian Bongiorno for $40
  • Favorite holidays: I love National High FiveDay (Third Thursday in April), Movember, National Random Act of Kindness Day (February 17), Ground Hog Day (February 2)
  • Weaknesses: Thumb wars, ice skating, Marco Polo
  • Guilty pleasures: Storage Wars, Polish food
  • Arch Nemesis: Clippy (the Microsoft talking Paperclip)

If you would like to meet for an Arnold Palmer, go for a bike ride, or team up to dominate the American Museum of Natural History scavenger hunt, email me at!

A Deep Dive into Pledge Sponsorship

As we noted in a recent blog post, pledge4good has rolled out a new Group Sponsorship feature (you can see an example here:! With this new tool, groups of friends and colleagues can collectively support an organization’s beneficiary, such as:

  • Education: a child, teacher, or classroom
  • International development: a village or well
  • Animals: an endangered animal or shelter pet
  • Health: an expectant mother or surgery recipient
  • Athletics: a Little League, High School or University sports team

Similar to our Pledge feature, pledge4good’s Group Sponsorship capabilities take advantage of:

  1. Enabling friends and colleagues to share the responsibility of a $20+ monthly or $100+ sponsorship (donors can give as little as $1) so as to make the sponsorship accessible to a wider audience
  2. Incentivizing supporters to advocate for the nonprofit and invite friends to join the Group Sponsorship via email, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks
  3. Providing nonprofits with an easy-to-use online platform to communicate updates with their sponsors

Join organizations such as the Nanubhai Education Foundation—whose existing Group Sponsorships of classrooms and students can be found in the “Sponsorship” tab on their profile ( — and contact pledge4good co-founder Lenny Fishman ( to learn more.

What's new at

Our efforts to improve our easy-to-use donation tools continue! We wanted to share with you some of the exciting new features that make donating through pledge4good even more fun, casual, and social, including: 

  • New Pledge Parameters (by popular request) allows you to create a Pledge without personally committing a donation, but that still allows you to invite friends to donate to your Pledge
  • Group Sponsorship capabilities (see: permit groups of friends to collectively sponsor an organizational beneficiary—e.g. a child, a classroom, etc.—with each individual contributing an amount within her budget
  • Campaign Functionality (see: permits companies, sports teams, and School groups to centralize related-Pledges on a single community page with leaderboards, progress indicators and a posting wall
  • Enhanced Mobile Site (viewable from your phone by visiting that supports all platform functionality (iOS and Android apps coming soon…)

We hope that you take the time to explore pledge4good’s new features, create a new pledge, or join a friend’s pledge. If you have a favorite nonprofit that you think might benefit from the tools that we are building, please email us the organization’s name and let them know about Thanks again for using pledge4good and please keep the feedback coming!

Questions or comments on the content? Email us at or or add a comment below.