NonProfit using Social Media: Goodwill of Greater Washington

I’m always on the look-out for non-profits that are doing a great job of using the web to engage their customer.

In this post, I wanted to highlight Goodwill of Greater Washington, who uses a blog, a virtual runway and E-bay/MissionFish powered fashion show & auction, and a pretty cool dialogue with the vintage clothing industry to engage their customers. They promote all of this with a facebook profile, MySpace page, they joined the DC Fashionist Meetup Group.

You should spend some time watching the fashion show. It’s taking a page from Project Runway. What an innovative way to change the perception of the quality of clothing that you can find in a Goodwill Store! You can buy many of the items on Ebay, so you can buy right from your computer – supporting Goodwill’s training and work placement programs for people with disadvantages and disabilities.

How has this strategy worked for them? Months after launching the program, the effort receives more than 1000 unique visitors weekly and its shopper conversion rate is 4.5%. Even better, national media outlets like CNN, Good Morning America and the Washington Post have discovered Goodwill’s online fashion show, turning it into a national phenomenon. (from Ylan Mui, Washington Post, “Goodwill’s New Look: Cheap Can Also Be Chic,” October 29, 2007)

There are also snippets from Brendan Hurley, Goodwill’s VP of Marketing from his interview on the Diva Marketing blog that I had to share:

It was Geoff (Geoff Livingston of Livingston Communications) that taught me that we had to treat the blog just like any other product with a mission statement, logo, positioning statement, etc. Doing so has helped us stay focused and forced us to maintain product integrity so that the blog doesn’t become another blatant advertisement that will simply turn off any half educated reader. The content has value and I believe that is what keeps readers coming back.

There are valuable tidbits to learn from how Goodwill has approached using social media:

1. They realize that the blog & online fashion show are branded products that have a distinct mission and need feed, care and promotion to be succcessful.

2. They invested resources in this effort. By having an employee dedicated to managing the pieces they were able to be more successful.

3. They joined existing social groups (Meetup) within their passion to promote their mission, and are using existing tested tools (Ebay/MissionFish) to execute their strategy instead of creating something from scratch.

4. They are tracking their end results with Google Analytics to be able to highlight their success.


3 Responses

  1. I believe Brendan’s integrated approach towards social media marketing is why his strategy works so well. Brilliant execution also .. proving that social media has to be nurtured to be successful. Thanks for the shout out to Diva Marketing.

  2. Katherine, Interestingly enough, this post has given me cause to think that truly the social divide, pun intended, is slowly closing between your typical and stereotypical if you will, social media user. i.e the 18-25 year old.

    I am always concerned that running a social media campaign was always a crapshoot when aimed at boomers for instance. Alas, boomers now comprise almost 45% all facebook users and the average age of the Linkedin user is 41!

    Myspace is becoming the Netscape of Social media!


  3. I totally agree. Anyone who thinks that social media is only for youth should use to look up the demographics of the social media site that you’re looking at. Or even more interestingly, Forrester Research’s newest data about MySpace and Facebook users:

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