Shared vision is largely absent from a twenty-four-hour blogging event to raise money for charity, which could be why it wasn't more successful. And the winner was online editor for a newspaper in Midland, Texas, who blogged from a 30-foot Genie scissors lift in a grocery store parking lot (isn't that cheating?)
Old media and an old fashioned stunt carried the day with the Blogathon 2007, a marathon blog-for-charity event held the last weekend of July for bloggers who solicited sponsors/donors as they posted every thirty minutes for twenty-four hours. The event drew 355 bloggers and collected $123,782.42 for some 252 charities.
Naturally, I analyzed the results and pass on some of my observations.
- The winner, it turns out, works for a newspaper in Midland, Texas. Jimmy Patterson, the newspaper's online editor, decided to blog atop a scissors lift in the parking lot of an H-E-B grocery store. He raised $6,173 in pledges for a transitional housing program called Midland Fair Havens (EIN 75-2627746 Form 990), which relies almost exclusively on contributions (about $664,000 in 2006). I guess it's no secret that many successful charity campaigns rely on people who do fund raising while they at their day jobs.
- There were only two bloggers who raised over $5,000. Most of the blogs received aggregate pledges in the $100 to $1,000 range, accounting for about three-fifths of the bloggers and about two-thirds of the total pledges.
- Most bloggers (210 out of 355) raised money for a cause unique to them, and they raised 84% of the total pledges. This kind of result appears to confirm the so-called Long Tail phenomenon, where (supposedly, according to the Wikipedia entry) the aggregation of infrequent events can constitute the majority of the total activity.
- But this may be related to the fact that the Blogathon has stopped growing. It doubled in size from $20,000 in 2001 to $50,000 in its second year and from $50,000 to $100,000 in 2003, but then it took a year off and remains stuck near the $100,000 level. It seems to me that exponential growth most likely could only be maintained if some of the large fundraising operations like the disease organizations (Heart, Kidney, MD, CF, Cancer, Diabetes, Alzheimer's etc.) embraced the concept with armies of bloggers for their causes, and the apparent long tail would lose its impact.
If you want to look at the data yourself, I have it here in a text (comma-delimited) format that you can upload into a spreadsheet program like MS Excel and do your own analysis.
I heard about Blogathon from Trent Stamp's Take (he has the advantage of having a paid staff). But only WMN offers you the actual results.