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Creative Fundraising and Audience Engagement

February 27, 2013

In these tough times of shrinking budgets and attention spans, we are forced to think of creative ways to raise funds and keep our audience engaged. Here’s how I found one unique avenue, right when I least expected.

Intuitive Technology

I had my virgin flight with Virgin America Airlines recently, and while I was impressed by the sleek plane design and cheeky safety announcements, I noticed something in front of me that I’d never seen on any other airline – a touch screen monitor. On it were instructions on how to use the touch screen navigation bar to watch movies on demand, free tv, and even order food.

touch screen menu on board virgin america airplane

Hungry? All I had to do was browse through their selection of snacks and beverages (options for the health-conscious included), add them to my cart, swipe my credit card through the built-in slot, and voila! The flight attendant brings my order to me in a matter of seconds. It felt just like shopping on Amazon.

Applied To Do Good

So I thought to myself… what if this same technology could be engaged to ask for donations? On board an aircraft, you have a captive audience, most with time to spare. How about making it such that a passenger could watch my documentary for free, and then at the end, be shown an easy way he/she could take action and support the cause on the spot?

Inspired, I dug around their menus a little deeper and stumbled upon an example that came quite close! Thanks to Virgin Group founder Richard Branson‘s participation in the Stand Up 2 Cancer movement, the entire fundraising show was available for viewing on board for free. And true enough, there was a line in the show description that said that if I wanted to donate to Stand Up 2 Cancer, I could simply navigate to the online store to do so.

Almost perfect! The down side was it was a little challenging to find my way from the entertainment section to the store section, and then to the section where a few non-profit organizations were listed and people could donate to their chosen cause. Because it’s so difficult to keep an audience member engaged, we always want to minimize the number of clicks a person has to make before completing a transaction. I’m looking forward to the day when the technology enables us to make the donation on the spot right at the end of the show/movie.

That said, big kudos to Virgin for making the ability to support great organizations on board your planes available. I haven’t seen the ability to do this anywhere else… yet! And this whole experience makes me wonder… what if we could implement similar technology in other places where people tend to sit for a period of time… like a movie theatre? How would that change the way we raise money and engage audiences? What other innovative methods have you seen in your community? Share your thoughts below!

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