Viral campaigns and material for nonprofits

When information about your nonprofit goes viral, your message extends to potentially millions of individuals. The Internet has provided a unique opportunity to increase the likelihood of your nonprofit's cause going viral and it actually serves as an online fundraising tool. 

Techniques to produce potentially viral material
Social networking gives individuals the ability to share causes and opinions about various issues. Giving donors the ability to repost or create posts regarding a specific message or campaign gets your nonprofit's mission out faster. The Fundraising Authority suggests to market to individuals that share posts and have an extensive network. Make it simple for interested donors that see those posts to give and ensure you are also able to accept online donations

Referencing Jonah Berger's novel, "Contagious", Media Cause suggests creating buzzwords or specific hashtags for your campaign to draw attention from the public. Select a word or phrase that summarizes your nonprofit and represents your intentions well. Providing highly emotional content can invest the interest of many individuals. High-arousal emotions include anger, amusement, humor and excitement. It is important to encourage the drive to act and contribute to a specific cause.

Stories are also incredibly effective. Providing the public with something they can easily read, remember and repeat to others is a good way to raise awareness and ultimately encourage participation  in your cause. 

Be creative when developing a campaign. You want original and engaging material for your nonprofit's message. Titles and introductions should also be compelling and interesting. This can encourage individuals to click on your material and ultimately share it. 

The Nonprofit Times reported that timing is an additional key factor in creating a viral campaign. It increases the urgency to act. 

Another way to connect and relate with potential users is to use popular culture. 

The Nonprofit Times also emphasized the importance of recognizing that viral campaigns and material may develop into something you did not initially anticipate. You may need to give up some control and allow your work to grow. Remember the cause is more important than any material you and your staff have developed. They serve as a vehicle and if someone uses it differently it does not really matter as long as they are getting to the desired destination.

Types of viral material 
There are a few different types of viral material that have been developed. The Ice Bucket Challenge​ last summer was one example of involving the public, incorporating social media and raising awareness for a cause. 

Another example of a type of viral material occurred when the U.S. Supreme Court was about to rule on both California's Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage as well as the Defense of Marriage Act. More than 10 million Facebook users changed their profile pictures to a red equal sign. This was a successful movement instigated by the Human Rights Campaign and an example of how something simple has the ability to make a huge impact.  

Viral videos are another great way to raise awareness and support for a cause. Water for Life's viral video took #firstworldproblems and turned it into a successful and truly moving campaign. The short film instigates an emotional response as well as a call to action.  

Viral material has the capability to be especially beneficial for nonprofits. Provide your nonprofit with a chance to grow and tap into the opportunities provided by the internet and create content that has the potential to truly blossom. 

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