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Running Head: MAKE-A-WISH: SOCIAL MEDIA & ENGAGEMENT

Make-A-Wish: Social Media & Engagement

Eastern Kentucky University

Hannah Paragon, Clarissa Baker, Myles Brown, Rachel Knoebel, and LeAnn Tucker

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Purpose and Overview

Make-a-Wish is a non-profit organization, founded in the Spring of 1980 in Arizona.

Make-a-Wish granted its first wish in 1981 and within just a few months, the word spread and

they raised the first $2000 to complete their first wish. ( Make-a-Wish Foundation, 2018). The

following year, word caught on about the good works of Make-a-Wish and NBC sent a reporter

to create a story on these good works. As millions of viewers across the country viewed the NBC

piece, “DPS telephone lines are jammed with calls from people who want to be part of it”

(Make-a-Wish Foundation, 2018).

From that moment on, Make-a-Wish grew into the company that it is today. “In 2017,

more than 285,000 children in the United States and its territories have benefited from the hope,

strength, and joy of experiencing their one heartfelt wish” (Make-a-Wish Foundation, 2018).

These wishes are completed by donations varying from large corporations to people wanting to

make a difference.

With fundraising being such a large portion of success for Make-A-Wish, it is important

for them to focus on their donors' habits. Social media is still considered a new phenomenon for

many companies that have been in existence for over thirty years, this research study will explore

non-profit organizations, like the Make-a-Wish foundation, ability to use social media to engage

with donors and specifically to soliciting donations from them. Developing a basic understanding

of non-profit organizations and their use of social media to engage audiences allowed us to

create a study in which we will explore which social media platforms our donors engage with the

most, as measured by their ability to solicit monetary donations, for Make-a-Wish? From there

we will execute the study, analyze and interpret the data and develop a summary and conclusion.

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Literature Review

This literature review will define a non-profit organization, examine social media

presence among non-profit organizations, specifically, in regard to their audience, the audience’s

demographics, Make-a-Wish supporters and which social media non-profit organizations should

utilize.

A non-profit organization can be best defined as, “a group that is tax-exempt under

Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) as ‘public charities’ because they are formed to provide

‘public benefit" (National Council of Nonprofits, 2018). Once an organization is classified as a

non-profit, they depend on public support and donations for continued funding. Therefore, it is

crucial for nonprofits to maintain public funding by adapting and remaining receptive to new

methods of soliciting monetary donations throughout the lifetime of the organization. Non-profit

organizations solicit for monetary donations in various ways, but the most common advertising

occurs on social media platforms. They utilize social media because it typically, “doubles,

triples, and even quadruples your exposure. It positions your nonprofit for increased awareness

and donations, and it produces results” (Blackwell, 2016). Creating and maintaining a presence

within social media important, but “the key is for nonprofit organizations to find their audience,

begin a conversation with them and empower them to bring others into the dialogue” (Weathers,

2018).

Social media, specifically, for non-profit organizations can be broken in two separate

audiences; current supporters and the current supporters’ network. After breaking the two

audiences down into one of these two categories, there are then “five ways to become involved

with supporting causes; donating money (40 percent), talking to others about the cause (40

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percent), learning more about the cause and its impact (37 percent), donating clothing or other

items (30 percent), and signing petitions (27 percent)” (Weathers, 2018). Current supporters

contribute to the cause by both donating money and by talking with other potential donors about

the organization, effectively contributing to word-of-mouth marketing. These two concepts are

the central ideas behind social media nonprofit campaigns, strengthening the base of support and

hopefully leading to future monetary donations.

On the contrary, when focusing on the current supporters extended social network, “the

organization can turn the role of fundraising into not only an internal function but a role that is

shared by everyone in his or her community” (Weathers, 2018). When current supporters feel

passionate about an organization they will typically try to involve their friends and family if

given quick and easy social media materials to utilize. This again, is why a strong social media

presence is so crucial for non-profit organizations. The ability to spread news of past good deeds,

spread topic awareness, and keep supporters informed about upcoming donation opportunities

helps keep nonprofits afloat in a sea of media oversaturation.

When looking at general social media users and breaking them into active supporters and

their networks, it is important to look at the demographics of those users. According to

Hootsuite, “understanding social media demographics — the different audiences that each

platform has the potential to reach—will help you fine-tune your marketing strategy and reach

the right people with the right message” (Sehl, 2018). Figure 1, analyzes the demographics

behind social media platform users. YouTube leads with the number of users with, 73% of U.S.

adults, with Facebook coming in close second with 68% of U.S. adults using this platform. This

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chart also examines the age range of users, which is beneficial for an organization who has a

target audience specifically with a certain age range. (Sehl, 2018)

audience specifically with a certain age range. (Sehl, 2018) Figure 1 ( ​ Sehl, 2018). When

Figure 1 (Sehl, 2018).

When looking at the existing demographics of social media users, for us, it is also

important to identify the current donors to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Current Make-a-Wish

donors vary from nationally recognized sponsors, like Macy’s and Disney, to average everyday

individuals who want to make a difference. Since 2003, Macy’s alone has raised over “$100

million and granting 13,000 wishes” (Make-a-Wish, 2017). Since the very first wish in 1980,

“Disney and Make-A-Wish have granted more than 120,000 wishes. In 2016, Disney helped

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Make-A-Wish grant nearly 7,800 wishes, transforming the lives of 40,000 wish” (Make-a-Wish,

2017).

When looking at both demographics for general social media users and current supporters

of the Make-a-Wish foundation, they can be categorized in the two audiences previously

discussed, current supporters and supporters’ network. There are various ways to reach both

audiences simultaneously, but it is important to review the message and pick the most

appropriate platform to properly engage with its users. Nonprofits can look to social media as a

way

to

create “meaningful conversation with people who are already engaged with an

organization as a donor, volunteer or member. This strategy creates an environment of

continuous communication that donors demand” (Weathers, 2017). This idea of two-way

meaningful conversation is crucial in making the user feel both welcomed and needed.

While understanding the audience is important to the effective utilization of social media

platforms, it also plays a key role in choosing which platforms to post on. According to a study

performed by, James Young, “the most popular social media platforms being used by HSOs

include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.” When properly understanding the strengths

and weaknesses of each platform and the demographics of the users behind each platform, you

can tailor your message to specifically fit the audience. (Young, 2017, 52)

Young stated in the study that fundraising was, “rated fifth among respondents (66%;

behind recruiting volunteers) as the reason for non-profits to adopt the use of social media. It

seems that community engagement may be slightly more important to HSOs” (Young, 2017, p.

53). This also is something else to consider while researching social media practices and the

potential effect it plays on non-profit organizations. Although fundraising is a major portion of

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non-profit efforts, it is important to understand that, “most nonprofit social media campaigns

focus on three types of posting: Information, Community and Action” (Weathers, 2017).

Overall this research looked to define what a non-profit organization is, examined the

current social media presence among non-profit organizations, and generally identified the user

demographics of prevalent social media platforms. It further suggests probable demographics of

Make-a-Wish supporters and thus which social media platforms should be targeted. With this

background information in mind and the basic understanding of how social media platforms can

be best utilized for non-profit fundraising efforts, the study design will be crafted to further

explore which social media platforms our donors mostly use, and those platforms ability to help

solicit donations.

Study Design & Execution

The first step in designing our study is stating what we want to learn. As stated above, we

want to learn which social media our donors use most frequently and if this use increases the

exposure to our solicitation efforts. The second step is to decide the best possible way to conduct

this research. For the design of this study, we decided to use a convenience-sampling method to

conduct a survey post-donation in order to gather our data. A longitudinal study would also be

useful because it would measure these trends over a period of time.

Our target population for the study would be the people that follow us on social media

and our online presence. For the study’s sampling frame, we would consider those who donated

to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. From this sampling frame, we would determine our sample

size. For statistical reliability, we should collect survey responses monthly and sample 70 percent

of the surveys for an 18-month period. Conducting an online survey such as this will save time

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and money compared to trying to track website traffic by collecting web-browsing cookies

through the use of complicated analytical algorithms.

The survey will be presented to donors post-donation along with a thank you message to

those who contribute to the Make-A-Wish foundation. We would design the website so that after

a donation is made, the user will be rerouted to the survey webpage. The donor then has the

option to take the survey or exit the survey. Using a survey in this way is a great way to collect

original data specifically from donors and to distinguish their attitudes towards varying social

media platforms. Response rates should be relatively high because of the ease of redirection to

the online survey and the donors' predisposition to support the organization. By issuing the

survey this way, we ensure the information will be more representative of the population we are

trying to study.

When drafting the survey, the guidelines for asking good questions need to be closely

followed. Proper use of closed-ended questions would be best suited for a study such as this.

Closed-ended questions require little thought from the respondents, therefore decreasing the time

it takes to complete the survey, and the time it takes to analyze the data. The questions should be

clear and as concise as possible. Avoid double-barreled questions, negative items, any terms that

suggest bias

The formatting of the survey is also a crucial detail to the study. The survey should be

well-organized and spread out. Consistency throughout the survey is also significant, this

eliminates the risk of causing confusion among the respondents. The order of questions asked is

also important because certain questions can influence answers to later questions. Matrix

questions are more difficult to avoid, especially with closed-ended questions. With this study,

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some of the questions do have the same answer choices, but the questions complete their purpose

of providing useful data.

Below is the sample survey to be used by the Make-a-Wish Foundation:

Thank you for your donation to the Make-a-Wish Foundation!

1.

Would you be willing to take a quick survey to explore which social media sites our donors use most frequently and if ads on those sites successfully solicit donations?

 

o

Yes

o

No

2.

Which Social media sites do you use at least one time a week? (mark all that

apply)

 

o

Facebook

o

LinkedIn

o

Twitter

o

YouTube

o

Instagram

o

Other:

o

Snapchat

o

None

3.

Which Social media sites have you seen ads for the Make-a-Wish Foundation on?

(mark all that apply)

o

Facebook

o

LinkedIn

o

Twitter

o

YouTube

o

Instagram

o

Other:

o

Snapchat

o

None

4. Did you see an advertisement to donate to the Make-a-Wish foundation today?

o

o

Yes

No

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5. What inspired you to donate today? (select one)

o

Social-media ad

o

Television ad

o

Other online ad

o

Personal reference

o

Radio ad

o

Other:

6. Would you be willing to recommend a friend to donate to the Make-a-Wish

Foundation?

o

o

Yes

No

7. How likely would you be to share a post about donating to the Make-a-Wish

foundation?

o

Unwilling

o

Not Likely

o

Somewhat Likely

o

Likely

o

Extremely Likely

8. Would you like to create a post sharing with others that you donated today and

inviting your friends to donate also?

o

o

Yes

No

Once responses are gathered, they will be coded and logged into a database. This will

allow the data to be reviewed and interpreted. As information is recorded over the 18 month

period, trends will become more visible, allowing the Make-a-Wish Foundation to determine

where their audience is most prevalent on social media. Indicators will also be present within the

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study, suggesting a high presence of respondents on one social media may indicate the largest

audience presence.

Analysis and Interpretation

To conduct a data analysis for this study, we will begin by analyzing the answers

collected from the survey. Survey answers can be broken down nominally, ordinally, in intervals,

or in ratios. There are examples of both nominal and ordinal questions in our study. Nominal

questions are those that do not involve quantitative data, such as which social media platform

people use weekly. Ordinal questions are those with information that can be rank-ordered, such

as how likely someone would be to share a post about donating to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

The next step in our data analysis is to use coding to then organize survey responses into

a spreadsheet to determine how effective Make-A-Wish’s social media presence is. When this

information is organized, it will then be compared to our original expectations to see if our

hypothesis would be proven or nulled. Our expectations for this study stem from the analysis of

the age of social media users in comparison with the age of people who are most likely to make

monetary donations to charitable organizations. In this scenario, we expect that the social media

platform that will increase website engagement the most, as measured by monetary donations,

will be Facebook.

According to a report done by the Charities Aid Foundation in 2017, “Those aged 55+

were significantly more likely than any other age group to have donated to an NPO/charity (57%

compared to 39% of 18 – 24-year-olds)

The percentage of users on Facebook ages 55+ grew

by 46.4% between 2014 and 2017 (Saul 2017). Because of this, we can hypothesize it will be the

platform with the most significant influence.

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Summary and Conclusion

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a nonprofit organization based out of Arizona and has

been granting wishes for almost 38 years. The goal of our study was to find which social media

platforms our donors use most frequently as measured by survey results and the effectiveness of

these platforms to solicit monetary donations. While there are ways to track engagement by

collecting cookies from each social media platform, our group decided that an electronic survey

would receive both accurate and timely responses, at a lower cost and significant reduction in

difficulty. Immediately post donation, a “thank you” page will appear, asking if donors are

willing to participate in a short, online survey. The disadvantages of this online survey include

that donors can opt-out of participating, or the website request may time out, or people may click

out of the survey without meaning to or leave it open in a window and forget to complete the

survey. The prevailing advantages of this survey include minimal costs and ease of data

gathering.

Over an 18-month period, we would analyze 70 percent of responses to secure statistical

reliability and gauge donors social media engagement. At the end of the 18-month period, we

would be able to infer which platforms generate the highest frequency of monetary donations.

Discovering which social media platforms generate the most donations would provide further

information on which platforms require a new and improved social media strategy in order to

boost further engagement. If we were to go forward and publish the survey, we would predict

that Facebook would host the most interactive users and most donors.

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References

Blackwell, A. (2016). Social Media for Nonprofits: 5 Ways to Increase Donations for

Nonprofits. Retrieved December 4, 2018, from

Hart, T., & Mapstone, M. (2018). Charitable Giving in the USA 2017(p. 7). Alexandria, VA:

Charities Aid Foundation.

National Council of Nonprofits. (2018). What is a nonprofit?. Retrieved December 4, 2018,

Make-A-Wish Foundation. (2018). How it all started. Retrieved December 4, 2018, from

Make-A-Wish Foundation. (2017). Make-A-Wish 2017 annual report. Phoenix, Arizona: Author.

Saul, D. (2017, February 1). The 2017 Facebook Demographics Report. Retrieved December 4,

2018, from

Sehl, K. (2018). 100 plus Social Media Demographics that matter to Marketers. Retrieved

December 4, 2018, from

Weathers, H. (2017, March 21). Social Media’s Purpose in Nonprofit Donor Engagement.

Retrieved December 4, 2018, from

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Young, J. (2017). Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs: The Adoption and Utilization of Social Media

in Nonprofit Human Service Organizations. Human Service Organizations: Management,

Leadership & Governance,41(1), 44–57.