advertising billboardTired of the daily barrage of advertising trying to sell you things you don’t need? Especially when nonprofits and their important causes rarely have the budget to benefit from smart, well-placed ads? Now, through the magic of crowdfunding and clicktivism, there’s a way to harness the power of advertising for the greater good.

LoudSauce has set out to be Kickstarter for good causes. They help nonprofits design ads for any medium—billboard, transit, print, broadcast, online—then serve as a platform to raise the funds to run the campaign.

“Our vision is to transform the medium of advertising from one that primarily drives consumption to one of civic participation. What if we had more power to shape which messages were promoted on our streets? What if our billboards inspired us toward a future we actually wanted?”—LoudSauce website

Case Study: Uniting NC

LightBox team member Heath Wickline helped Uniting NC use LoudSauce to promote the message that North Carolina respects and values immigrants.

“The success we had with the Uniting NC campaign really demonstrated for me how well the platform can work as a way of turning goodwill into concrete support. Uniting NC was able to run a statewide billboard campaign that they just wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.” —Heath Wickline

Social Media Fueled

To encourage contributions, Uniting NC used a short video that appeared on their LoudSauce page. Simple and moving, it shows people holding up signs about why they value diversity and immigrants, including:

“A doctor from India saved my life.”

“Without Latinas, I wouldn’t have learned to dance!”

“Because diversity is the spice of life.”

LoudSauce is deeply grounded in social media: when you give, your Facebook avatar shows up on the campaign page, and you can easily share the campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Those contributing $100 to Uniting NC could even have their thumbnail photos appear along the bottom of the billboard itself—since new media drove the creation of the “old media” billboard.

When is it the Right Strategy?

Of course, neither advertising nor crowdfunding are right for every organization or campaign. For ads to be effective, you have know who you’re trying to reach and have clear and realistic goals for what the ad campaign can accomplish. And what it can’t. Advertising is only effective when deployed as one tactic of a carefully planned strategy. For example, you might use an ad to gain media attention, boost a lobbying effort, launch a new initiative, or make a small organization or campaign appear bigger than it is.

For crowdfunding to work, you have to have a crowd who wants to give you their funds. Social media is not something an organization can simply jump into expecting immediate success. It takes time to build relationships with your supporters. They have to trust you before they will want to publicly associate themselves with your campaign or organization.

LoudSauce is an exciting new way to raise the big bucks advertising requires. What great ad campaigns have you dreamed of running if you only had the budget?

(Image courtesy inneractive.)

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Holly Minch is LightBox Collaborative’s chief engineer and founder and is excited by the evolution of crowd power.