Posts Tagged ‘member_moves’

Social Media and Fundraising: The Florida Aquarium

September 4, 2012

Mark Haney

Continuing my pursuit of how social media can be used to raise cold hard cash – or not – I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Haney, Vice President of Advancement at The Florida Aquarium. I will admit to being distracted by the stingrays entertaining visitors in front of us, but it made me aware of what a picture-intense, storytelling powerhouse opportunity the Aquarium has in social media. So what are they doing?

Tweeting It Up

A couple of years ago the aquarium hosted a Tweet-up event. They invited all of their Twitter followers and some hand-picked bloggers to join them at the Aquarium for free. The friend-of-friend reach was fantastic. Their Facebook page, which had fewer than a hundred friends a few years ago, as of this writing has 25,537 likes with 1,086 people talking about them. The objective was to raise awareness – and the Tweet-up did a great job of it!

Asking for Cash Gifts+

This growth in social media activity is important for the Aquarium because direct mail is a small percentage of their fundraised dollars. Especially through Facebook, Mark tells me they have been very successful promoting their special events. But they have also been able to use social media to raise cash gifts.

Remember the cold Florida winter of 2009-2010? More than 4,000 sea turtles were distressed by the cold and needed help. The Florida Aquarium sent the message out through Facebook and Twitter asking for all kinds of help, including cash gifts. The Aquarium raised $5,000 in less than a week! It was a time-sensitive, specific ask – and it worked. Social media is extremely low cost compared to traditional direct mail.

Mark mentioned a relative newcomer to social media platforms – Pinterest. The Aquarium hasn’t made a plan yet, but the picture appeal of animals is transparent. How to raise money from Pinterest is not clear, but I’m confident they will figure it out!

About Those Major Gifts

But what about major gifts? Is the Aquarium using social media in their major gifts program? Mark told me that they have been successful at getting traditional media coverage of their major gifts. Now they are piggybacking on this success and using social media to expand the reach of those messages. As we were wrapping up our conversation on the subject, Mark took me to see the Aquarium’s donor recognition board.

The Florida Aquarium Donor Recognition Board

Wow! We couldn’t get close and play around with it because there was a mom and her son engrossed in a digital game just beneath it. The Florida Aquarium has a digital donor recognition board made up of four panels. As you can see from the picture, the left panel currently has the various gift levels which also line the tops and bottoms of the other panels. Because it is digital it can be completely changed at any time.

The truly exciting bit is that coverage of major gifts could be used in all sorts of ways with the digital display. Major donors could be interviewed, benefits touted and pictures displayed. Mark couldn’t resist another benefit of the digital donor recognition board – revenue! When the Aquarium hosts events the board can be rented out. Plug and play makes it all possible.

Coming up next…

Visiting The Florida Aquarium is always a fun time and Mark took me out the long way, showing me the new animals. My next member interview is with an entirely different kind of organization. Justine Burke and Jim Alexander from Metropolitan Ministries share how they use social media to raise more gifts. Their tactics may surprise you.

Other Posts of Interest

Social Media and Fundraising: Tampa Metropolitan YMCA

About the Author, Jen Filla

Jen Filla is a roving reporter on the AFP Suncoast Communications Committee. She is president of Aspire Research Group LLC where she uses her direct fundraising experience to help you close major gifts, translating your donor information into actions you can take to raise more money now!

Bart Cobb Trains to Swim English Channel

July 20, 2012

by Sara Leonard.

My fellow fundraisers are some of the most interesting people I know and here is the proof. AFP Suncoast Chapter board member Bart Cobb made headlines this week in the Tampa Tribune and will be making waves (pun intended) in the English Channel.

Bart and Arnie Bellini have been training about 20 months to swim across the English Channel, a 21-mile trip from England to France. They are scheduled to complete the swim this week. Gale force winds in Dover have delayed the swim but Bart says they are scheduled to begin on Friday morning. Their swim will be certified and observed by the Channel Swimming and Piloting Federation.

In addition to his full schedule as Director of Advancement of Tampa Catholic High School, Bart serves as the chair of Youth in Philanthropy for the Suncoast Chapter. To read the full story on click here: Tampa Men Plan to Swim English Channel.

Moving members

September 16, 2009

This month we really do have some members moving. Brett Hagerman is moving in and I am moving about. If you’ve changed jobs or been promoted, send me an email! Here’s what we know is happening:

I had the pleasure of talking with Brett Hagerman, Regional Director of Development with the Indiana State Foundation. I asked him the big three questions:

Brett Hagerman

Brett Hagerman

What is your reason for joining?
Brett is already an AFP member and is transferring to the Suncoast chapter. Indiana State is working with Brett to see if it makes more sense to have him resident in Florida to cultivate alums. It sounds like a good plan to me!

Describe an ideal day in your life.
A beach, a sunset and a cigar.

What was your favorite vacation ever and what made it so good?
Brett and his wife and two children spent 10 years living in Spain. Just before they came back to the U.S. they took a vacation on the beautiful beaches of Portugal and Spain. It was a great way to make the transition.

Jen Filla (yes, that’s me!) is happy to announce that she has been elected as president-elect of the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement  (APRA) – Florida chapter in 2009-2010. In this position I am working to bring more prospect research continuing education to Tampa Bay. Save the date October 16th and visit for more info!