Social media helps Wildcat Sanctuary cash in on Give to the Max Day

By | November 17, 2012 at 3:06 pm | No comments | TWS in the News

Leaderboard Medium Final 2012For the Wildcat Sanctuary, Thursday was reason to celebrate.

The nonprofit big cat refuge in Sandstone raised $88,629 from the annual Give to the Max Day, or about 14 percent of the $600,000 they expect to make this year. It also was a $24,000 increase from what the Sanctuary raised on Give to the Max Day in 2011.

“This was a huge, huge day for us,” said Tammy Thies, founder and director of the Sanctuary, which raised more than any other Northland-area nonprofit.

Statewide, nonprofits and schools raised a record $16.4 million from Give to the Max, a jump from the $13.4 million raised last year.

But the Northland didn’t see that type of increase, seeing about the same amount raised this year as last year, about $260,000.

The annual event is organized by GiveMN, which gives bonus gifts to nonprofits and schools that make their way onto leaderboards in various

categories.

Marshall School was one of the few Northland groups to make it into the top 100 leaderboard by placing 74th, even though it saw a nearly $20,000 drop from what the school raised in 2011. The school’s director of development, Trisha Skajewski, said the money will still be a huge boost to the school, contributing toward scholarships and programming.

“Our community very much believes in the mission of the school,” Skajewski said. “Any good nonprofit that effectively communicates its mission, good things will come.”

It’s also likely that nonprofits based in the Twin Cities will funnel money from Give to the Max to Duluth-area charities with which they have connections. The Minneapolis-based Courage Center, a rehabilitation and resource center for people with disabilities, will send some of the $84,000 it raised to the Duluth campus, spokesman Ryan Hoffman said.

“We’re not sure how much of that it will be,” Hoffman said. “It all depends on programming needs.”

Social media was often the key for Northland groups that saw an increase in their fundraising. The College of St. Scholastica raised about $4,000 more than last year, which Shannon Hoffman, the school’s director of annual fund, partially attributed to Facebook and Twitter updates.

Hoffman said the school also relied on old-school marketing, such as sending postcards to previous donors who hadn’t given yet.

“The truth is that it was a community effort,” Hoffman said.

The key to the Wildcat Sanctuary’s success, said Thies, was to utilize the more than 13,000 people who follow the nonprofit on Facebook to help spread the group’s message. The Sanctuary updated its Facebook page every half-hour to hour and encouraged its users to share that content on their pages, along with giving requests.

“It was all through social media,” Thies said. “Versus trying to drive funds, it was about trying to drive relationships.”

The Sanctuary did so well that it made its way onto the leaderboard against other charities, earning prizes from GiveMN.

It was the biggest fundraising day of the year for the Sanctuary, and relatively easy to accomplish compared to a black-tie event that Quist said takes months to prepare for and brings in about $60,000.

By: Brandon Stahl, Duluth News Tribune  Published November 17, 2012, 12:00 AM

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/250121/

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