How A Nonprofit In Venezuela Got 6,799 People To Take Action

Alejandra Abilahoud and her nonprofit team won a top spot in GlobalGiving’s 2018 Photo Contest. In this Q+A, Alejandra shares her top social media and marketing tips with you.


Each year GlobalGiving hosts an annual Photo Contest to visually showcase the impact of our nonprofit partners all over the world. Fundación Madre Maria Luisa Casar, which provides a balanced meal to children in Venezuela, earned one of 2018’s top spots.

In total, 6,799 people voted for their photo to win the contest. I asked the organization’s project leader, Alejandra Abilahoud, to share her top tips for success:

Q: What is your No. 1 tip to nonprofits participating in a contest—or trying to achieve another marketing or fundraising goal?

A: An organized plan is essential to succeed! It will bring structure and stability to your effort and everyone involved. Before the campaign starts, we recommend you to sit down with 2-3 people from the organization and draft a plan. It should include:

  • A summary of key information about the contest or goal.
  • Your main goal along with bunch of ideas to obtain it.
  • Names and contact information of team members that will help you reach your goal.
  • Description of your audience.
  • Publication drafts that align with your goals and your audience.
  • Distribution lists (e.g. advocate list, donor list, and potential new donor list)
  • Thank you note drafts for your supporters (and supporting team).

An organized plan makes the campaign or contest easy to follow and to adapt if necessary. For the GlobalGiving Photo Contest, my team developed a day-by-day plan.

Q: You relied on social media to inspire people to vote for your photo in the contest. What can others learn from your success?

A: If social media is part of your strategy, I have several key recommendations:

  1. Prepare your social media posts in advance: We created different posts for every day of the contest, using our contest photo as the main element.
  2. Keep the same theme and color palette in every post to create a unified campaign that is recognizable to your target audience.
  3. Have your posts optimized for your distribution channel (e.g., Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and email).
  4. Create posts that are easy-to-read, fun, and colorful.
  5. Identify social media influencers: We identified and contacted social media influencers that know our cause and shared our campaign with their followers. We gave them the ready-to-post materials.
  6. Be flexible: We adjusted some posts to adapt them to what is really happening during the contest in order to engage more supporters.
  7. Keep your team and target audience informed: Every day, we shared the ranking with our team and audience to motivate them to reach or keep the 1st place of the contest.
  8. Be clear about what you’re asking your audience to do and keep your call-to-action messages short.
  9. Use powerful, engaging, high resolution images that align with your goals, message, and audience.

Q: After the contest, how did you create meaningful, long-lasting relationships with your new supporters?

A: Express gratitude and share the benefits of their action! We expressed our gratitude on social media, on the chat groups that support us, and to everyone we could individually. Also, we have shared the benefits of participating in the photo contest.

Q: Is there anything you wish you had done differently in this particular campaign?

A: Yes, the next time we would like to share the campaign in a live event. For example, in a presentation in a theater, the speaker could ask the audience to participate in the campaign.

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Featured Photo: A Daily Meal for 400 Deprived Kids by Fundacion Madre Maria Luisa Casar
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