ChildFund International, a child sponsorship charity that works in 31 countries, faced those questions and came up with a solution that appealed to some of its biggest supporters.
“What would really connect people with the sponsorship experience?” said Cynthia Price, director of communications at the organization. “Everyone who travels to the field is always amazed and overwhelmed.”
So the charity’s “Experience of a Lifetime” contest, which ends July 31, will give one person the chance to travel and meet the child he or she sponsors through ChildFund’s programs.
More than 800 people have entered the contest. The charity’s Facebook page has grown from 11,000 to more than 16,800 fans since the contest began on May 31. The percentage of fans who comment or like items on the page has risen from about 50 percent to 91 percent, with a 135-percent increase in the number of those actions in the same time period.
All of that helps the charity’s ranking in Facebook’s news feed, meaning its content will more likely pop up in front of supporters, Ms. Price said.
In the first phase, entrants were asked to get 10 friends to like ChildFund’s page on Facebook. If they reached that goal, they were entered into a random drawing to be selected as a finalist. The charity’s supporters also received one extra entry into the drawing for every new fans they recruited after meeting the 10-person requirement.
“We had some people getting 40 or 50 supporters,” Ms. Price said.
In the second phase, happening now, finalists were asked to write an essay about why they should win. Other ChildFund fans on Facebook are now voting on who they think should win.
The campaign did cost the charity money beyond the travel costs for the winner. The organization built a custom page for the contest to support voting and entries, which cost between $5,000 and $10,000, Ms. Price said.
“We felt strongly about being able to give back to the Facebook community that’s been active there for some time,” Ms. Price said. “It’s much less expensive than, say, another publication.”
Ms. Price said the contest has taken a lot of planning by staff members. They meet weekly and keep a seven-page spreadsheet to make sure they hit deadlines for promoting the competition. And running the contest does take a considerable amount of time, especially for ChildFund’s community manager Virginia Sowers.
The organization is adding new features to the page to keep the new fans involved, like a “sponsor of the week” feature and more photo albums of the children and community it serves.