July 29, 2011

A Food Bank Turns Corporate Support Into New Followers

If Daniel Buckley, senior online communications manager at the Food Bank for New York City, had his organization's February Facebook campaign to do over again, he would change one thing.

"I would maybe go for a higher goal," he says.

The successful campaign could be a model for other organizations attempting similar "like" drives.

For every person who "liked" the Food Bank's Facebook page, FedEx would donate five meals, up to a limit of 5,000 new "likes," or 25,000 meals. The organization gave its supporters a full month to meet the goal.

It took them nine days. About 3,500 new fans showed up in the first 24 hours. The Food Bank's Facebook page also received 46 wall posts and 29 comments from supporters.

Its corporate sponsor was very happy.

"Our results were amazing and surprising, and that was the really big takeaway, that [social media] can be such a useful tool in getting the word out," said Matthew Rebholz, senior communications specialist for FedEx.

Mr. Buckley says the campaign succeeded in part because fans knew what their "like" would do.

"What people were providing when they are 'liking' the Food Bank is so tangible and so direct," Mr. Buckley said. "Just by clicking a button, they were putting food in the hands of New Yorkers."

The organization also created a logo for the campaign and spread the word through other social media as well as its Web site and e-mail.

The organization also pushed its existing supporters to ask their friends to join, and a tweet of support from Emeril Lagasse, the celebrity chef, didn't hurt.

Mr. Buckley said the charity continues to get attention as a result of the campaign.

"We get consistent 'likes,'" he said. "Fairly consistent comments. We don't see the same people posting all of the time."

Mr. Rebholz and FedEx plan to sponsor another social-media campaign with the Food Bank this fall.

For more examples of how companies are supporting charities, visit our corporate giving survey.