Connexions Blog

"Building stronger communities by sharing inspiration, advice, and best practices that work".



Team Highlight: Bryce’s Buddies, Columbus Buddy Walk®

By Jen Franklin Kearns, ds-connex team member

Like most elements of our usual lives by now, fundraising for our Down syndrome events may look a bit different this year. Team Captains will need to find creative ways to raise money for their local Down syndrome associations, in order to provide support while observing social distancing. I was impressed by an idea I saw recently, posted on Facebook by Tori Whitley, Team Captain of Bryce’s Buddies for the Columbus Buddy Walk®, and we reached out to Tori to ask her to share the details. She generously agreed, as she is happy to help the Down syndrome community any way she can.

   

Tori, a third year Team Captain, shared that she came up with this fundraising idea after thinking of ways to raise money due to the changes surrounding us due to COVID-19. “I knew I had to get creative,” she explained. Tori posted this board on her Facebook page, and her friends are encouraged to choose a number on the board, which corresponds with a donation amount (the 1 square = $1, the 100 square = $100).

“Most of our fundraisers have been restaurant nights or other in-person events. That’s when I realized we needed to do something virtual and my friend’s adoption fundraiser came to mind. I decided to add a little twist though. When people donated by committing to a square, they got to choose me or my husband’s face to go on the board. Once the board was full, the person whose face was on the board the most won. We picked something for each other to do as the loser. This really has enticed people to donate, I think.”

Tori’s most recent update on Facebook shows that it is enticing, indeed!

   

This year, Bryce’s Buddies has a goal of raising $10,000 for the Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio. With this fundraiser, they are well on their way! Tori shared “Not knowing what to expect with our first year and doing absolutely no fundraising, we had over $6,000. Last year we got over $10,000. My goal is to raise as much money as possible, because DSACO has done so much for us since we became part of this wonderful community.”

In addition to this fundraiser, Tori is exploring other options to help her team reach its goal. “I have a friend who has done a Lularoe fundraiser for me. She donates a portion of her sales for an entire month and that’s been pretty successful each year. Last year we did a 50/50 raffle and had a silent auction. We had everything donated for the auction. It was in person but I saw someone do it online once, so I may have to look into that option. Last year that was our biggest fundraiser at almost $2,000.”

No matter what fundraisers her team hosts, it’s important to Tori that she share her “why” behind the efforts. "When family and friends understand why they are giving money it’s easier for them to support,” she explained.

To learn more about Bryce’s Buddies and the 2020 Columbus Buddy Walk®, please visit their Stride fundraising site.

This post is part of our ongoing Walk Team Spotlight blog series, which profiles Down syndrome walk teams by sharing their unique backstories, as well as fundraising, recruitment, and networking tips. Check back for future posts in this series coming soon! Submit your story ideas to: support@ds-connex.org


Team Captains: Using Instagram to Promote Your Down Syndrome Fundraising Team

By Jen Franklin Kearns, ds-connex team member

Key Takeaways

  • You can have more than one Instagram account: one for personal, every day use; one for fundraising.
  • Use bio to post the direct link to your fundraising site.
  • Photos/Captions: post clean, well-lit photos to catch followers’ eyes; include a “hook” in your caption to keep your followers’ attention.
  • Hashtags: leverage hashtags that are relevant to both your local community and the Down syndrome community to reach more people.
  • Instagram Stories: showcase short videos and un-staged photos for behind-the-scenes feel
  • Goal: build awareness around your fundraising and advocacy efforts

Social media has become an important aspect in our lives; we use it to stay connected or reconnect with family and friends, to keep up on important issues and trends, and even to amuse ourselves in our downtime. Did you know that social media can also be a key tool in fundraising for your local Down syndrome organization? In 2019, our data shows that 50% of Stride partners had traffic to their Stride fundraising sites from Instagram, with an average of 231 visits per site. This tells us that Instagram is playing an important role in fundraising! By leveraging your Instagram account to raise awareness about your event, and about Down syndrome in general, you can amplify your support for your local DSA.

Dedicate a Separate Account for Your Fundraising Team

Instagram allows users to have more than one account; this makes it possible to have one account dedicated to your fundraising team and loved one with Down syndrome, while keeping your other posts on a separate account. To establish an account for your team, you simply need another email address. The Instagram app makes it very easy to switch between accounts without logging in and out, which makes it convenient to manage both from your phone. Stride users can also connect their Instagram account right to their fundraising page, which allows your team members and donors to easily connect with your family. We recommend posting several times per week, year round, to your Instagram in order to keep engagement levels up. Besides, your followers will want to know what’s happening in the life of your loved one with Down syndrome!

Use the Space in Your Bio Wisely

When you are establishing your new Instagram, be sure to wisely use the space in your bio. By entering the direct link to your team’s fundraising page on the Stride site, you can easily guide donors and registrants to contribute. Remember, Instagram does not make links clickable in your photo captions, so you need to have a convenient place for supporters to find your site. An easy call-to-action directive for your posts might be “Register and donate for our event; follow the link in our bio!”

Carefully Consider Your Photos and Captions

With so many daily users on Instagram, your posts need to stand out in order to gain the attention of your followers. We recommend using simple, well-lit photos to catch the eyes of those scrolling through their feed. Typically clean, well-lit photos are the most eye-catching on this platform, so you’ll want to take that into consideration when planning your posts. Also, when writing your captions don’t forget that while you have up to 2200 characters, only 125 will show up before the caption is truncated. If you want to include a long caption, make sure there is a “hook” to the message to ensure followers will continue reading, and you may also consider adding your hashtags as a comment on the post to keep the caption brief. 

Hashtags

Speaking of hashtags, definitely include them in your posts! We recommend using a combination of local hashtags as well as those which are related to the Down syndrome community. Some posts will also easily lend themselves to popular hashtags like #ThrowbackThursday, #MondayMotivation, #TheLuckyFew, and countless others. If you are unsure of which hashtags to use, we recommend reviewing accounts that are popular in your greater community, as well as in the Down syndrome community, to see what others are using. This practice will allow more people to view your posts! As another quick tip, we encourage you to use camel case when posting hashtags, to make your posts more accessible to those who use screen readers (because #InclusionMatters!).

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is a very popular feature; there are 500 million daily users of Instagram Stories, making it a worthwhile trend to explore! Content for your Stories can be lighthearted and fun, and it’s a great place to feature short videos of your loved one with Down syndrome! If you’re unsure of what to include in your story, we recommend watching the stories at the top of your feed to see what others are posting. It may take some trial and error to find your groove, but it’s another great way to call attention to your fundraising efforts so we recommend giving it a try! 

Remember, the goal for this Instagram account is to promote your fundraising efforts for your local Down syndrome organization. During your “off-season” from fundraising, use the account to promote any advocacy initiatives you are pursuing, and to just brag about your amazing loved one with Down syndrome. Don’t forget to also link your Instagram account to your Stride fundraising site! 

By leveraging this popular social media tool to share information and seek support from your followers, you will succeed in supporting your local Down syndrome organization and help grow awareness in your community.


Event Organizers: Implementing Instagram into Your Social Media Strategy

By Jen Franklin Kearns, ds-connex team member

Key Takeaways:

  • Bio: include an engaging description and link (Linktree)
  • Photos/Captions: post clean, well-lit photos to catch followers’ eyes; include a "hook" in your caption
  • Hashtags: ensure exposure to your target audience
  • Instagram Stories: showcase your org’s day-to-day activities
  • Goal: consistent content

Social media can play an important role in your organization’s digital marketing strategy, especially in terms of growing awareness for fundraising events. With a carefully planned social media strategy, you can easily increase the number of registrants, donors, and volunteers who participate in your events. Many of our Stride partners have a strong presence on Facebook, but we would encourage you to also explore building a presence on Instagram. In 2019, our data shows that 50% of Stride partners had traffic to their Stride sites from Instagram, with an average of 231 visits per site. By expanding your efforts to include consistent content creation for Instagram, we believe there is a remarkable opportunity to increase traffic to your Stride site and therefore increase participation in several aspects of the event.

We understand that there may be reservations in adding another social platform, resulting in more work, to your already busy schedules. We also recognize that Instagram functions a bit differently than Facebook, which may result in having to learn best practices in order to properly use it. But, with Instagram tripling its users from 2014 to 2019, we strongly believe that incorporating the platform into your strategy is worth the effort, and we are happy to present the following tips and tricks to help you make the most of this important tool.

When you begin planning your strategy of including Instagram into your social presence, it’s important to first become familiar with the basics. If you already have an account, take a look at it and make these housekeeping updates as needed.

Bio

First, review your bio to ensure you have a brief yet engaging description, as well as a link. The link can go directly to your organization’s website, to a specific page on your website (like the donation page, allowing you to include a call to action in your bio), or to a free service that allows you to have more than one link (we use Linktree on the ds-connex Instagram account).

Photos/Captions

Once your bio has been polished, glance over the photos that you’ve already posted (or make notes on what you want to post, if your account is new). Typically clean, well-lit photos are the most eye-catching on this platform, so you’ll want to take that into consideration when planning your posts. Also, when writing your captions don’t forget that while you have up to 2200 characters, only 125 will show up before the caption is truncated. If you want to include a long caption, make sure there is a “hook” to the message to ensure followers will continue reading, and you may also consider adding your hashtags as a comment on the post to keep the caption brief.

Hashtags

Speaking of hashtags, don’t forget to include them! We recommend using a combination of organization-specific hashtags (like those you create for an event, or one used to simply “brand” your posts; ds-connex created #DSConnexUs to brand our posts) as well as community-specific hashtags (check out local accounts to see which hashtags they are using!). Some posts will also easily lend themselves to popular hashtags like #ThrowbackThursday, #MondayMotivation, #TheLuckyFew, and countless others. Again, we recommend reviewing accounts that are popular in your greater community, as well as in the Down syndrome community, to see what is currently being used. This practice will allow more people to view your posts! As another quick tip, we encourage you to use camel case when posting hashtags, to make your posts more accessible to those who use screen readers because #InclusionMatters!

Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is a very popular feature; there are 500 million daily users of Instagram Stories, making it a tool that you’ll want your organization to utilize! Content for your Stories can generally be more casual than content for your main feed; it’s a great space to introduce your team, provide “behind the scenes” info, and even post fun and whimsical content. The best way to become familiar with Stories is to watch what other organizations are putting out there, and then put your own spin on it. Like most social media tactics, there is a trial-and-error component with Stories until you find what works best for your organization. The most important thing is to just try it out and see what works!

Aim for Consistent Content

Once you have the aesthetics down, you’ve determined the best hashtags to employ, and you have a list of fun ideas for your Stories, you’ll want to make sure your followers see consistent content. We recommend posting to your account at least three times per week, and ideally posting once per day, to maintain engagement from your followers. Adding content to your Story will also help engagement on your account; we recommend adding to your Story at least once daily.

While adding another social platform to your strategy, or ramping up your efforts if you already use Instagram, may seem like a daunting task, we believe it is well worth your efforts. Instagram provides us with another easy way to grow awareness around our events, and leveraging this resource can allow you to increase fundraising and engagement as well.

To learn more about the social media support ds-connex offers to Stride partners, please visit our website.  


Share Your Mom Stories during the COVID-19 Quarantine for a Chance to Win One of Five $50 Gift Cards!

By Jen Franklin Kearns, ds-connex team member

These days, it’s difficult to know if we’re doing much of anything right in terms of parenting. Are we good enough teachers during these school-at-home days? Are we allowing too much screen time? When was the last time we served a fruit or vegetable with a meal? Is it bad that bedtimes have gone out the window? These, and many other worries, present themselves on a daily basis. Moms are notorious for being too hard on ourselves, and many are probably convinced that there is so much more we could be doing for our kids right now.

But you know what? We’re all experiencing similar thoughts, and we need to remember that we’re all in this together. To illustrate this, we want to hear from you, Moms! How are you handling these long days of quarantine? Good or bad, we want to hear it all!

Beginning Monday, April 27th, we hope you’ll share your story or the story of another wonderful mom you know and a photo if possible. The photo can be a pic of mom, the kids, entire family, or even artwork created for mom. We will collect submissions through May 7th; please email your photos and stories to contests@ds-connex.org. On Friday, May 8th, we will post all of the entries in an album on our Facebook page, so we can see that we’re truly in this together. We will randomly draw five entries to receive a $50 e-gift card to Target, Amazon, a food delivery service (like DoorDash), or a mom-selected restaurant where e-gift cards are available!

Contest details:

Contest entries should be submitted via email to contests@ds-connex.org, beginning 4/27/20. All submissions should include a brief story (3-4 sentences detailing your experiences as a mother during a pandemic) and a photo if desired. Also include the mom’s name and email. Five winners of a $50 e-gift card will be randomly drawn on 5/8/20 and winners will be notified via email. By submitting an entry, you are granting ds-connex to share your photo and story across our social media channels. Please note that ds-connex may edit your entry for grammar or length.