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Spreading the Word – Solidarity is Good for You!
Posted on 23 August 2012 by
The FONTILLES Team:
Photo © FONTILLES
In their newsletter ILEP Member, Fontilles, had been announcing for some time participation in a nationwide campaign under the slogan SOMOS (“We are”) along with 24 other non-governmental organisations in Spain. SOMOS Day on Friday 8th June 2012, I subsequently learnt from Yolanda Sanchis, saw the participation of all these NGOs, their donors and 34 celebrities and attracted widespread coverage in traditional media and a broad social media following with “#SOMOSASI” trending twice.
Referring to the idea to harness the happiness of those who have given to causes to motivate others to make donations and contribute towards making the world a better place: what or who was the inspiration for this Campaign?
Our donors support us because they want to make the world a better place. But we told them something more: that human beings are naturally good and help make us happier. This theory was shared by Elsa Punset, philosopher and writer, during the XI Congress of Fundraising held in Madrid in September 2011.
More and more governments are increasingly interested in the happiness quotient of their populations and how that contributes to their wellbeing, which is founded on an array of elements besides development including psychological well-being, relations in the community, health, time use and so on as has been shown by the gross national happiness index in Bhutan. Was the Campaign tapping into this? Or was the thinking more about people as social beings who can do something to help others who are facing inequalities and injustices?
The campaign focused on people who help others and in the power we have to change things we do not like. NGOs can join together and harness the energy of all these people to achieve more than their organisations can do alone. Governments cannot respond to every need, and even less so during the current crisis. So now more than ever we need to mobilise people to support our causes.
When did Fontilles become involved?
Fontilles is member of the Spanish Association of Fundraising (AEFR) which promoted this campaign. Two years ago we started talking about the need to do something to increase society's support to NGOs. In December 2011 it was decided to run a campaign and we began working on it.
How were current donors and supporters thanked?
One of the primary objectives of this first year was to thank our donors. We wanted them to know how important they are in helping to create a better and happier world, so we gave them a leading role in the campaign and in celebrating SOMOS Day. We asked our donors to help us prove the theory that human beings are naturally good and contribute to our happiness by taking part in a survey conducted by Elsa Punset’s team. In this way, they felt an active part of the campaign. Plus, we were asking them to do something other than give money. This role was highlighted when the media launched this campaign publicising the results of Elsa Punset’s survey; this was also an opportunity for our supporters and donors to be thanked publicly. Supporters views on the campaign were sought during its development and some of them featured in the campaign video, anonymously, with famous people. Each organisation also thanked all of its donors individually by mail and e-mail and in their newsletters.
What type of things did supporters of causes do to persuade others of the joys of giving to, and supporting, a cause/specific NGO?
For two weeks they made themselves visible, took to the streets and engaged in social networks (Facebook, twitter…) to spread the word that they are our supporters and why they are doing so. They referred to the ad on TV and indicated which NGO they are supporting. They forwarded messages, photos and videos of the campaign. Most of them had never spoken about this before - even to their friends. During the campaign they themselves encouraged their families and friends to do as they do, and choose a cause to support and become an active supporter.
On June 8th, we met as flashmobs in train stations in several cities to arouse interest in the subject of this campaign. We asked them to bring along with them an item of clothing that had been reversed (a jacket, a shirt, a watch ...) to show that we can change things and that they are already contributing to change.
To what extent would you say that social media contributed towards the success of the first SOMOS campaign?
Since we had a limited budget, from the very beginning we had thought of communicating via social networks (Facebook, twitter…) to spread awareness and information about the campaign. Although in the end the traditional media coverage was very wide (more than 30 media ran a free advertising campaign: with 1,500 spots on different TV channels, 230 radio spots and 50 advertisements in the press. SOMOS also got hundreds of interviews and mentions on radio and TV…), the role of the social media was crucial for the rapidity with which the campaign was spread and its reach that saw “#SOMOSASI” trending twice, 600,000 views of the campaign video on YouTube and 22,000 new fans on Facebook in two weeks.
Of the famous persons involved, who in your opinion, most exemplifies the spirit and values of the SOMOS Campaign?
Special care was taken in selecting the 34 celebrities for this campaign. All of them are existing donors of one of the NGOs involved in the campaign, as it was vital that they could speak about and share their own experiences. Of different ages and different professions, they exemplified the spirit of this campaign: that everyone can make a difference.
What is the current situation of giving and supporting charities in Spain?
In Spain there are currently about three million donors. These regular donors contribute more than 500 million euros a year to NGOs, and are the primary source of revenue for the third sector. They are of increasing importance as public contributions are decreasing with the current global economic crisis. The contribution from partners this year could reach 40% of the total funds for the social economy.
The average contribution of Spanish donors is about 190 euros a year, a figure that has been increasing in recent years despite the crisis; the increase has been about 15 euros per donor since 2006.
However, among European countries, Spain has the lowest percentage of the population that makes donations to NGOs. In our country, 8% of the population donates. This is far from the average of others which stands at 40% of the population. (In Austria and Sweden 60% of the population donates; 56% in United Kingdom...).
Although the donors have a very positive view of the work of the NGOs they are supporting, they tend not speak about this with their partner, family or friends.
How do you hope SOMOS will change this?
SOMOS wants to demonstrate the value of being supportive and to thank its partners for actively collaborating with NGOs. We want our partners to show their pride in belonging and in recommending that their acquaintances also co-operate with the causes that promote NGOs.
On the campaign website and in press releases we had information about the results of the work of our NGOs and about our beneficiaries, so our current donors as well as potential donors could see that their help generates happiness and helps many people. Because the main reason they donate is to help other people, not to feel better.
What is the future for SOMOS? What will be the theme of the next SOMOS Day?
We want to celebrate SOMOS DAY every year on the first Friday in June so as to extend the solidarity culture in Spain. This is a long-term strategy. The main goal this year was to thank our current donors. Next year we have to go a step further to attract new donors. We are already working on that campaign.
What was the most memorable moment during the Campaign of this year for you and your colleagues?
After many weeks of work the beginning of the campaign with the press conference was an exciting time. There were more than 25 media, which, given the current state of the media in Spain, was fantastic.
SOMOS Day on 8th June was very special too. We received lot of photos from donors, schools, companies, families,… One of our colleagues came into the office wearing all of their clothes inside out! That was a memorable moment too.
Fundraising and Communications Department, Fontilles