Amplify Your Mission on Social Media with charity: water’s Cubby Graham

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This episode is presented by Fundraise Up, a technology company unlocking the world’s generosity potential by optimizing the way people give. The company’s donation platform helps nonprofits engage more supporters and grow revenue by providing easy ways to increase conversion, enable modern payment methods, and personalize the giving experience for every donor. Fundraise Up is the partner of choice for UNICEF USA, The Salvation Army UK, American Heart Association, and other impactful organizations across the globe. For more information, visit fundraiseup.com/generosity

Great storytelling has the power to change the world, and this is exactly what Cubby Graham has been doing at charity: water for the last 9 years as their social media lead.

Cubby and I get into what truly makes a great story, where to find great storytellers, how their incredible World Water Day campaign came to life (including a successful cold pitch to Pantone), and how they retain 70,000 members in their monthly giving program, The Spring.

Are you fired up yet? I know you’re going to hear so many mic drop moments on this episode.

How charity: water builds trust on social media and recognizes their smaller, recurring donors

Charity: water does a fantastic job of making every single donor feel valued, whether they donated $10 or $10,000. A lot of times though, individuals making large donations get all the focus and attention, while lower recurring donors will eventually tap out. Contributing to an organization for over a year, the donations certainly add up as the months go on, but oftentimes the communication is so minimal.

This all builds into a common narrative Cubby has seen firsthand: one of the biggest barriers for nonprofits is trust. People don’t trust charities!

At the heart of it, people want to make a difference in the world and see the impact they’re making. Using social media, organizations can break down some of those barriers and build trust while leaning into transparency and vulnerability.

You never know who is following you or seeing your Instagram posts. Every follower could become one of your most generous supporters or potential brand partners. charity: water values their “earned impressions” more than anything, and strives to make each and every person who engages with them feel seen and appreciated.

The power of color and the World Water Day campaign

World Water Day is a perfect opportunity for charity:water to build awareness, reach new audiences, and own a share of what’s being talked about. 

The most recent campaign took place on March 22nd in partnership with Pantone. Landing on color as a theme made so much sense. People connect with color, and water comes in so many colors all over the world: from green, brown, orange, white – they’ve seen everything. As Cubby says, “if you were to isolate these colors onto a little paint chip that you would find at a hardware store, it’d be really beautiful. The world is full of beautiful colors, but they’re only beautiful if you don’t have to drink them, right?”

They kept coming back to this one important question: how do we make this shareable?

Connecting with brand partners who wanted to be involved made their vision come to life. And Pantone was successfully cold pitched on Instagram!

Making space for creativity and content planning was part of what made this so successful for charity: water. They have an “Ideas” channel on Slack, meet for monthly content marketing meetings, and share ideas of what they’re seeing out in the world in a group DM on Instagram. Ideas come from everywhere and the most important thing you can do is create space for them.


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A post shared by charity: water (@charitywater)

Creating a monthly giving experience with over 70,000 donors

About 7 years ago, charity: water sat down and asked themselves, “what would a monthly giving experience look like?”

Having a sustained giving program has been a game changer for them as an organization. And they always come back to value. How can they constantly give value to this group of donors?

Chances are, if someone is part of your recurring donor program, they also follow you on social media, so they frame a lot of their strategy around social. Of course, they also send exclusive emails, invites to events, and video content, but from a retention standpoint, the most important element is keeping this group engaged, inspired, and connected to their work.

Social media is also the best platform for experimentation. If your brand hasn’t done a reel before or an Instagram Live, just do it. Rip off the bandaid. Connect to your audience through transparency. As Cubby says, “enjoy the process and the journey, and being on that journey with others.”

Cubby’s Ask

If you are doing anything creative in the Web3 space or with NFTs that have a social good component, Cubby wants to connect.

Notable Quotes from Cubby

“At the heart of it, people want to make a difference in the world. They want to contribute, they want to see the world a better place, but there’s that barrier of not knowing where their money is going or the stories of that impact.”


“The past couple of years, the world has changed and transformed, but how special it is when you connect one human to another human. There’s something so powerful about feeling connected to others, and the way that you do that is through transparency and just being really genuine and authentic with people. And that’s my tip – be yourself, don’t try too hard, don’t take it too seriously. Enjoy the process and the journey and being on that journey with others.”

Resources & Links

Find out how your organization can gain more donors, grow revenue, and extend its impact by visiting fundraiseup.com/generosity

For help onboarding Fundraise Up visit: https://positiveequation.com/fundraise-up-onboarding

Connect with Cubby on Instagram at @cubbygraham and consider joining charity: water’s monthly donor program, The Spring, where you can support their mission to end the water crisis. Follow @charitywater on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Cubby recommends we all follow @storybrand. They are master storytellers and distill what they share on their podcast into bite-sized pieces on social media. Also, @goodgoodgoodco takes difficult topics and tragic events happening in the world, and translates those into hope.

Check out Lisa Mayer’s work with NFTs at @lisamayer.

Check out my NEW $27 mini course, Visible Reach In A Week. In 30 minutes, you’ll learn how to create a $3 a day ad campaign that will drive brand awareness with your supporters.

Want to make Missions to Movements even better? Take a screenshot of this episode and share it on Instagram. Be sure to tag @positivequation so I can connect with you. 

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