Combining Her Interests at DonorsChoose
Katie is the Chief Marketing Officer for DonorsChoose.org, a non-profit organization that helps classrooms in need. It ensures all teachers have the essentials they need to teach. Through crowdfunding platforms, teachers can request donations for items needed in the classroom, which are shipped by DonorsChoose. After donating to their cause of choice, donors receive photos and thank you notes from the class using the donated items.
Consumer marketing and making a social impact are two of Katie’s main interests. Having now spent nine years at DonorsChoose, she has made a career of combining them.
Recurring Themes Leading to Long-Term Goals
In each of Katie’s past roles, a thread connected her work to her passions—even if she didn’t know it at the time. At a market research firm, she looked into how marketing impacted corporate clients, and also conducted political polling for elections that made a social impact. In hindsight, it became clear how each role with her two passions led to the next step in her career.
Social Media and Getting the Word Out as a Non-Profit
How does social media help a non-profit company? The same way it helps a for-profit company.
“Raising awareness for our cause and acquiring people to give is very much like a retail company getting people to come onto their site and buy a pair of shoes,” Katie explains. “Except on our site, it’s getting people to come to our site and make a donation to a classroom.
“The big difference is that when you give, you don’t get anything in return. You don’t get a pair of shoes in the mail. You need to have a really emotional heart-tugging reason to come and give, and we need to make it incredibly personal to them.”
For charities, it is critical to use word-of-mouth. This helps attract both first-time and returning website visitors, since people are more likely to donate to a cause when their friends already have. Social media is the key to arming fans with information and compelling them to get the word out in their network.
Successful Drivers on Social
Katie noticed a trend in individuals who donate to causes. Most of the people who donate know the teacher who created the campaign. This led to DonorsChoose creating newsletters and information geared towards teachers, and guiding them through the process of creating a campaign and promoting it on social media.
Linking DonorsChoose projects with Facebook accounts is highly recommended for teachers. Milestones are automatically posted to their Facebook wall throughout the fundraising process, and whenever a teacher makes a request for money, a donation is made towards the project. Also, when the project is fully funded, a post goes up automatically on their behalf.
This means of pushing out content is a great way of connecting DonorsChoose projects with their most likely donors. It’s an annual driver of millions of dollars each school year.