I hopped the ferry last night and attended the Seattle Twestival! The event was at the Spirtfire Grill in the Belltown neighborhood. The organizers were estimating that there were about 150 there. It was a young crowd and wired crowd. Nearly everyone had their device of choice in hand—my very rough estimate was that iPhones were outnumbered about 2 to 1. And I counted 6 people who didn’t have a laptop or a handheld device.
Live video and chat were streaming on a laptop near the front door. I made my way to a booth near the entrance to enjoy the evening. Wifi was open so I could logon and watch the video and chat. Even tweeted on what was happening.
I met Doug, the event organizer. Doug learned about the event from his friend Mike, did some research and next thing he knew he was putting the Seattle on the tweet-map. Doug was passionate about the charity:water and about tweet-technology.
I found Mike, who started all of this in Seattle. He’s a great guy whose day job is in PR. Like Doug, he believes in the tweet and in helping a good cause. When he heard about it, he knew that Doug had some free time and convinced him to jump in.
I roamed around a bit chatting with my fellow Twestival goers. A found a few who were there with no idea of what charity:water was about. I found a few who are devoted to environmental issues. Not a scientific survey, just visiting with nice people.
Here are some thoughts about the Seattle event:
1. The crowd wasn’t that much different than a dinner or party your organization might pull together. Like other fundraising events, some people were there because their friends were coming, others were there because it was an important cause to them.
2. About $10 per person and around 150 people is about $1,500. We all paid for our own food so there were few expenses for charity:water. I suspect that most of us who have organized events have had times where a $1,500 net income would be great. But (see #6 below) most events like this are relationship builders for the organization. The follow-up from a night like this is where the magic happens.
3. Not unlike other traditional fundraising events, we had the opportunity to learn more about the cause—charity:water and the great need in the world for clean water.
4. The entertainment was good but I was clearly on the upper end of their target demographic’s age range.
5. The chorizo stuffed mushrooms sprinkled with goat cheese were incredible.
6. And as I’ve tried to say from the beginning about these kind of events, “now what?” Is there a conversion strategy in place to move my fellow twestival-goers and me into a closer relationship with charity:water? What was the cost in volunteer time? A year from now, how many of us at the Spirtfire Grill last night will have given a 2nd gift to charity:water? And what is the Long-Term Value on me as a donor to charity:water. Here’s something very, very cool: This is a screen grab from the seattle twestival update page. Notice my name tag—genius personalization. This kind of personalization—”I know you”—technique is powerful.
Twestival is an exciting use of social media. I continue to believe that social media will be a vital tool in the future of fundraising. But most of us—particularly those of us in the Christian nonprofit niche— do not have this figured out. We’re all working on it and experimenting.
Kudos to Doug and Mike: Great party guys and a great cause.
Good for charity:water for being part of such a forward thinking tool.
For the rest of us, we have to sort out how to use new media in ways that make sense for our organizations. Bottomline, we can’t sit on the sidelines and wonder. Neither can we use as boilerplate what the other guys are doing. We have to learn, test, evaluate, strategize and test some more.
So what do you think?
(photo credits: Steve Thomas)