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I’m part of a Social Networking Roundtable for Non-Profits tomorrow, and in preparing for it one of the big recent highlights was how we used Social Networking for the Adventure Rabbi organization to boost attendance by nearly 900%.

Last year, we had about 25 people attend Kol Nidre services. This year, we had 215 people show up.

What was the secret?

First, we restructured the price of the event, so it was more palatable: $36 / person.

Second, we got the word out using personalized email campaigns, posting and messaging on Facebook, as well as the home-grown social networking site on the Adventure Rabbi site (http://www.adventurerabbi.org/groups).

The event was on a Sunday, and we had rented a space that could comfortably fit about 85 people. We could squeeze in about 110 people.

On the Friday morning before, we had 80 people signed up. Throughout the day, we had another 25 people sign up.

Saturday morning, we decided to move the location. And that’s when the fun started.

First, we needed to find a bigger location. Which we did.

Second, we needed to contact and confirm with the people who had already signed up that the location had changed, so that they would go to the new location.

I called each person personally, emailed, texted, used Facebook, etc to get the word out.

But we were still worried that people might go to the older, smaller location, so third, we sent out an email message letting everyone know that the location had changed due to the huge response. We also messaged everyone through Facebook, and posted information on the Adventure Rabbi blog (http://www.AdventureRabbi.org/blog/).

I also sent a press release to the local newspapers and TV stations, asking them to announce the location change. (One organization also sent out a reporter to cover the event.)

This created a huge buzz. That we had the biggest, most exciting event in town, and fueled more and more interest.

We waived the late registration fee… so that it was the same price for people to just show up. (We were going to raise the late reg. fee to $48 from $36, but we decided to not do this to bring in more people.)

Nothing succeeds like success. People want to follow what is (perceived) as successful… and people kept coming in. We had 35 people walk in to the event with a check or credit card.

Many of the people thanked us for all of the emails, messages, blog posts, Facebook group messages, etc…

Non-profit social networking on a shoe-string budget is possible.

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