Don Draper hates Louder, but we love it

At Idealist, we love good ideas of all kinds, but especially those that turn commonly-accepted notions on their heads, get us to confront our beliefs, and (maybe) stir up a little trouble. To honor ideas brave and bold, and inspired by Sydney, Australia’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas, we welcome you to Idealist in Action’s Dangerous Ideas Week.

Traditional advertising channels aren’t always available to nonprofit organizations, even though their messages are important for people to hear. Mainstream media ads, TV commercials, billboards—these are all out of reach for most small- to mid-size and even many large nonprofits.

In recent years, social media has helped nonprofits immensely: they can now reach targeted audiences and engage constituents in meaningful conversations at much lower costs. But nonprofits still have to compete with for-profit businesses for the most precious of resources: the attention of an increasingly distracted public.

Enter Louder

Louder is a new service that puts more advertising power into the hands of regular people. Louder is just getting started, but it has the potential to substantially disrupt traditional advertising models, and, if skillfully leveraged by the nonprofit sector and individuals doing good work, it could make a huge impact in our efforts to reach new audiences.

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Here’s how it works:

  • Anyone can create a Louder campaign, at no cost. Simply choose a url that you want to promote (or “amplify,” in Louder’s parlance).
  • If you like a campaign, you can hit the “make it louder” button and contribute money to get it in front of new faces. A $3 donation is enough to reach about 1,000 people on Facebook. 86.5% of the donations go directly to advertising costs.
  • Much like a Kickstarter campaign, Louder campaigns will work best if they have an existing community of champions to help spread the word.
  • And there you have it: citizen-funded advertisements getting the right content in front of new audiences!

Louder isn’t specifically limited to social impact campaigns, but looking at their list of recent additions, it seems it’s mostly being used in that way. This is great news for anyone frustrated by the number of ads promoting consumerism that come across our screens on any given day.

Now the rest of us can assert a little control, and help our favorite causes get more attention. An idea worth shouting about, no?

What do you think? Is Louder going to be the next big thing to disrupt an entire industry?

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Creative Fundraising Campaigns in Tough Times

This recession has clearly had ravaging effects, but fortunately, it has also sparked a lot of creativity. As nonprofit organizations attempt to carry out their work despite considerably reduced budgets, some are coming up with innovative takes on traditional fundraising and advertising campaigns. Here are two recent examples that we heard about:

The Salvation Army of Northern New England slashed its advertising budget to zero and nonetheless succeeded in rolling out a large, attention-grabbing advertising campaign to raise funds in Portland, Maine. Springwise reports that a local ad agency donated its time to design the ads and coordinate the campaign, and more than 50 local businesses donated various forms of ad space to the nonprofit. As a result, Salvation Army advertisements appeared on everything from store windows to pizza boxes to bathroom mirrors to tennis courts, all around town. Some individuals even scribbled on the dusty back windshields of their cars in order to display the ad.

In New York City, the Queens Museum of Art decided to transform its annual fundraising gala into what they called a NON-GALA in June. Rather than waste any precious donations on a fancy event, the QMA skipped the drinks and dancing in order to put more towards its actual exhibits and programs. The NON-GALA took place online, and it still managed to have most of the other highlights of an annual fundraiser: a welcome from the director, speeches by honorees, a chance to chat, and, of course, an opportunity to donate. There was even an auction conducted via a live streaming video, where participants could obtain the auctioned items for free by making creative, non-monetary bids via phone, email, and Twitter.

If you know of any other recession-friendly fundraising campaigns that nonprofits have tried, please share them in the comments below.

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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