The Bob Woodruff Foundation, a nonprofit supporting wounded soldiers that had raised money and awareness mainly through an annual comedy event, has a new -- and ambitious -- goal: To raise $1.65 million, or $1 for every American soldier who has served in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11 through a Twitter campaign.
To do so, the foundation is joining an increasing number of brands -- including Target and Kraft -- which are using social media to raise money.
When the effort launched in early May, the plan was to focus on Twitter with a Memorial Day weekend initiative called "TweetToRemind." (The name is a play on the foundation's "ReMind" branding campaign that launched in November 2008 with pro-bono help from JWT's Atlanta office.) As the holiday approached, however, it became clear that other platforms would be needed-and the Memorial Day weekend deadline was extended to July 4.
Twitter "is an awesome way to get the impulsive donor and the repeat small donor," says Marian Salzman, partner and CMO of Porter Novelli, who was working at JWT when she introduced agency CEO Bob Jeffrey to Bob and Lee Woodruff. "It's also a terrific tool for education and message reinforcement. [But] we didn't get some of our folks on Twitter just because of demographics -- [they were] too young [teens] and too old [boomers]. ... We moved across platforms."
Lee Woodruff, co-founder of the foundation with her husband Bob, the ABC anchor and journalist who suffered a near-fatal brain injury while covering the war in Iraq, says of the Twitter initiative, "[President] Obama [and his online campaign] ... changed the game. We thought, 'Why not bring that to fundraising ... make it also something younger folks can get their arms around?'" But while Twitter is "a hot medium," she adds, she found that many of the people she interacted with on her book tours and at foundation events were not Twitter users. "We still needed to use regular media, Facebook, YouTube, the Web site and e-mail. We needed to round it out," she says.
To help engage teens, two of the Woodruff's four children, Mack, 17, and Cathryn, 15, led a group of 525 teens called the Tweet Team. Each member pledged $5.25 and worked to raise $100 over the weekend by recruiting 100 of their friends. They also sent at least one tweet each day to ensure that wounded veterans would remain in Americans' thoughts.
Over the holiday the organization raised more than $75,000, with $45,000 coming from the TweetToRemind site and $30,000 from ReMind.org. Three days after Memorial Day, the donations reached over $100,000.
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