May 1, 2012 at 12:19 pm EDT | by Phil Reese
Twitter fundraiser aids N.C. amendment fight

Activists fighting the anti-gay ballot measure in North Carolina this week teamed up with stars of the Twitter and LGBT blog world to help raise awareness and money to keep the campaign’s ads on television.

“We actually raised $43,000 online yesterday,” said Nation Hahn, director of online engagement for the Coalition to Protect NC Families. Hahn said the effort succeeded in raising both money and visibility for the issue. “I think that both the Twitter and blog fundraising and then the match that was extended by a donor combined to bring in our highest total in one day of fundraising.”

Hahn and the Coalition are fighting to derail Amendment One, a ballot initiative to be voted on May 8 that would amend the state constitution to bar any recognition of any couple that is not a married heterosexual couple. Early voting and absentee voting has already begun. Opponents of the measure say it will affect unmarried opposite-sex couples, as well as those same-sex couples that have legally wed in other states.

On Monday, more than 50 bloggers and Twitter users from across the country organized the fundraiser. Bloggers Joe Sudbay, Pam Spaulding, Jeremy Hooper and Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead pledged to donate $1 for every new follower on Twitter over a 24-hour period. The participants asked their followers to re-Tweet their pledge as much as possible, generating attention and buzz. Several of the participants were able to also recruit generous donors to match their donations. The collective reach of all of the players was estimated by Courage Campaign’s director of online programs Adam Bink as “several hundred thousand.”

“It’s a little bit different than an ask for a specific purpose,” Bink said. “This one is a little more personally engaging for the person taking the action. The reason that more people can do it is because it costs one person a little bit — it costs me $25 — but the people making it possible by re-Tweeting the ask, it costs nothing. It costs a mouse click.”

“You can help the campaign without opening your wallet,” Bink added.

“This is something that’s very simple to do, and shows the power of online activism,” blogger and North Carolina native and resident Pam Spaulding told the Blade. “People take for granted that you can do damage on Twitter — people have had their careers ruined on Twitter. But you can also do positive good.”

Winstead alone donated $467 — making hers one of the most successful efforts. All the bloggers and personalities who participated, however, saw an uptick in their follower count.

“A rising tide lifts all boats, so find something that helps the cause and the person participating — which is the blogger or the Twitter personality,” said Bink, who came up with the idea for the pledge drive. “So, for example, for  me, I’ve had around 15 new followers today, which is great for me because it helps me get out more gay rights activism to more people, and it helps the campaign.”

Bink told the Blade that just from the first 20 bloggers who initiated the drive, $2,401 had been raised, with more coming from those that joined the effort later.

“The fundraiser started out as a simple pitch by Adam and the others and it turned into a significant event,” said Courage Campaign blogger Scottie Thomaston. “We had 40-50 people signing on to help us fight against Amendment One. The HRC helped, Tennessee Equality Project contributed, even straight allies dug into their wallets for this.”

“It was an awesome thing to witness,” Thomaston added.

Hahn — who said that online fundraising has been crucial to the campaign — said the money raised will go toward a combination of expanding direct mail, expanding television ad buys and online advertising.

“We’ve raised over $760,000 online from over 6,500 donors from all over the country — although 70 percent or more are from North Carolina,” Hahn told the Blade. “We believe that it sets the record for the state of North Carolina in terms of money raised for a state-wide campaign.”


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