Photo from Star-Tribune c/o Netflix

Unless you’ve been living in the Upside-Down, it’s hard to miss the ubiquitous appeal of Stranger Things. Since the second season was just released on Netflix, the buzz across social media has been huge, and for good reason – it looks to be a hit.

Internet buzz also helped bring attention to a specific hoodie that one of the characters was wearing – a retro purple brontosaurus-skeleton hoodie sported by Dustin, promoting the Science Museum of Minnesota. That museum is a real place (and a nonprofit at that!), and they soon found themselves flooded with requests for the out-of-print hoodie.

According to the Star-Tribune, the demand was so crazy that the physical store at the museum sold out immediately, while the online store had to work to keep up with orders from around the world. But the truly good part was that sales from the hoodie went to the Science Museum of Minnesota’s mission to “inspire learning, inform policy and improve lives.” Plus, awareness for the museum has gone through the roof, and hopefully leading to even more visitors – and more lifelong fans of science.

Here’s what your charity can learn from the Stranger Things phenomenon – and how you can capture lightning in a bottle if this happens to you!

Listen to your fanbase

Has something related to your charity popped up in an unexpected medium? Have you suddenly become pop-culture popular? Then there’s no better time to ride the wave – as long as you catch it in time. Make sure you’re listening to what your fanbase – AKA potential supporters! – are saying in the digital world. (This goes for negative feedback as well – it’s important to pay attention!)

Move fast to stay relevant

The term “lightning in a bottle” is extra accurate here, because one day you could be on top of the world and then next you could fall out of relevance. So be ready to capitalize quickly on any instant popularity your cause may receive, because by tomorrow you may literally be yesterday’s news. Utilize your social media to its fullest extent, and be ready to start conversations with new fans.

Have a secure online platform

As reported, the museum’s physical store sold $400,000 worth of hoodies within hours, with many sizes completely sold out. However, Stranger Things fans didn’t need to be in Minnesota to make a grab for a hoodie – the museum has an online shop as well, and it too quickly got swamped. A number of website errors and logistical problems soon arose, though, which goes to show that your online platforms – whether a webstore or an online donation form – need to be secure and ready to handle an influx of traffic. Do regular testing to make sure they’re working properly!

No matter how it happens or where it comes from, your nonprofit should be ready for sudden viral fame, so take notes from the success of the Science Museum of Minnesota! (Just don’t sell your soul to the Demogorgon in exchange for quick fame.)

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