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Stand for Rights. Stand for Freedom.

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So the last couple of weeks have been a bit of an Open America whirlwind.

 

It began with a meeting at the end of February with a group of big shot TV producers who had the big idea to ask their A-list celebrity friends (the likes of Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey and Tom Hanks), to take part in a telethon to raise money for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

 

It was going to be the first major telethon to be broadcast on Facebook using Facebook Live and it was going to be the first telethon that used brand new Facebook Donate functionality, that’s currently only available in the USA.

 

Plus they wanted to do it quickly. The live date was fixed for four weeks later on March 31st.

 

While the producers and writers are brilliant at comedy and putting on a live show, they recognised that they needed some help with the fundraising. That’s where Open America came in. A team of Open staff, (Fiona, Ali, James Dawe and me) travelled to New York and set up base in the studio where the telethon was going to be hosted.

 

I asked a friend who works in TV for advice before we left. She said “show no fear” and “anything is possible”. How right she was. In the ten days between landing and the show starting the team achieved an incredible amount.

 

  • We rebranded the event.
  • We created the fundraising proposition.
  • We wrote all of the on screen calls to action.
  • We created and executed a social media strategy.
  • We planned and managed the deployment of all the payments methods used.
  • We created and executed a celebrity outreach strategy.
  • We planned a series of post event journeys to transition telethon donors to ACLU supporters.
  • We were the first to fuse Facebook Live and Facebook Donate in a major telethon.

 

But that’s just a list. What we actually did was..

 

  • Created a fundraising proposition that without edit became the framework that the writers wrapped the comedy around.
  • Worked with Facebook, the Huffington Post, Donor Services Group, the Mobile Giving Foundation and a bunch of other partners to make the fundraising real.
  • Wrote tweets and status updates for Tom Hanks, Usher, Katy Perry and so many more…
  • Wrote all the calls to action for all the A-list talent to deliver – hearing James Briggs’ words being read by Tom Hanks will live with me for a long time.
  • Conceived, produced, executed and optimised all paid social activity for the week (but actually achieved incredible amounts through organic sharing).
  • Managed the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter communities.
  • Grew the Facebook page from 1,000 likes to 26,000 likes in days – getting a reach of over 4 million people.
  • Directed the fundraising when the show was live in terms of what to ask for and when, responding in real time to the show and fundraising results.
  • Learnt a huge amount about the potential for Facebook Live as a fundraising tool and not just for a telethon – the experience in NYC opened all our eyes to the phenomenal tool that Facebook have created.
  • Got experience in using Facebook Donate. The version live in the USA and coming to Europe at some point in the future is incredible. The user experience is amazing, the possibilities are endless – fusing Donate with Live felt like a real fundraising privilege.

 

But the main thing I learned is that if you put the right team together, and give them the accountability and responsibility required to deliver, they will deliver a high volume of high quality work that gets results. And it will be a lot of fun.

 

We’re convinced that we’ll be doing more campaigns that fuse community building and fundraising over the coming months. So if you want to know more about what we did, what we learnt and how we can apply our learnings in the UK, let me know.

 

Paul de Gregorio

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