Blogging For A Cause

I've been thinking and writing a lot about earned media and passed links lately. When I think about the ways that marketers can "earn free media" with passed links, I think about four primary channels; email, blogs, twitter, and facebook. We see that these four channels are, to varying degrees, becoming a significant and growing source of traffic for our portfolio companies and many other web services.

This week I attended my first Donors Choose board meeting. Many of you will be familiar with Donors Choose through the two "bloggers challenges" I've done with this blog. In total, this community has raised almost $40,000 for teachers who want new educational equipment for their classrooms and can't get it from their school systems.

Donors Choose is a web marketplace that allows people like you and me to find teachers with projects we like and support them with a donation of any size. Once the project is funded, Donors Choose buys the equipment and/or supplies directly and sends them to the teacher, bypassing the entire school system. Your donations go directly to teachers and their students which I love.

Anyway, this post is not about Donors Choose, it's about earned media and passed links. At the Donors Choose board meeting this week, we learned that a siginificant and increasing amount of Donors Choose traffic (and donations) come from earned media and passed links. While this is not surprising, it's very exciting to me.

It's pretty obvious how Donors Choose incents people to tweet and share their donations and pet projects on Facebook. I did just that this morning. But incenting people to blog about Donors Choose is harder. The bloggers challenge that they do every October is great. But its not "scalable".

One "scalable" way to make this happen is to distribute all the fundable projects out onto the web via RSS and an API. Donors Choose has done that. A service called Social Actions has taken that data and made it available to others, including our portfolio company Zemanta. So now, the almost 30,000 bloggers who use Zemanta will see good causes recommended to them when they post about things that are relevant to those causes. With one click on the Zemanta toolbar, a "passed link" to that cause is inserted directly into the post.

To highlight this new partnership, Zemanta is running a contest this month called "Blogging For A Cause." Anytime you write a blog post and mention your favorite non-profit, you should include this code snippet at the end of your post:

[This blog post is part of Zemanta's "<a href="">Blogging For a Cause</a>" campaign to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that bloggers care about.]

That's all Zemanta needs to find your post and track it. The 5 non-profit organizations that get the most bloggers to endorse
them will get to split $6,000, funded by Zemanta and Weber Shandwick. Zemanta is looking for others to join the sponsorship group and increase the prize.

You can write about as many non-profits as
you want, but they will count one only one per blog post.

Since this post is about Donors Choose, as well as a bunch of other stuff, it should count as one vote for Donors Choose. The contest runs until June 6th. I hope all of you bloggers out there take the time in the next couple weeks to blog about a cause you like and include the code snippet. That's all you have to do to be counted.

This blog post is part of Zemanta's "Blogging For a Cause" campaign to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that bloggers care about.

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#hacking education#VC & Technology#Web/Tech#Weblogs