Are you uncool and old school? I am, apparently – at least my teenage daughter tells me so.The good news is, sometimes it pays to be un-hip. Especially if you work in marketing. I was reminded of this by Dorie Clark’s recent piece in the Harvard Business Review Blog. As she notes, sometimes the pursuit of shiny new things leads us away from basic marketing principles that work best.She says, ask yourself:1. What is everyone else doing — and how can I do the opposite? Being trendy makes you less of a standout. If every other charity is sending out calendars to thank supporters, buck the trend and give donors personal calls, for example. If everyone is zigging, zag.2. What worked in the past that’s been abandoned — and why? Some old ideas should not come back. Like the below fashion statement which I first saw via Jeffrey Forster. But we often stop effective marketing programs because staff change, people find it dull or someone drops the ball. Take a tour of your past and brush the dust off what worked before. It might work well again.3. What circumstances have changed that might allow for new opportunities? Are there old ideas whose time has come?I’m with Dorie Clark. It’s not a bad thing to eschew the shiny and embrace the dusty. Especially if it’s marketing gold. But not if it’s double denim.
If you want the best response to your outreach this holiday, focus on creating surround sound around your supporters. You want to project the same messages via multiple channels in a well-orchestrated marketing symphony.How do you do that? Roger Craver had some good tips in Fundraising Success that focused on retention. Here are five ways to better orchestrate your messages this holiday, inspired by his thinking.1. Create one message or theme and build on it. You want your outreach via email, direct mail, telephone, social media, mobile, etc. to sound like variations on a theme – not unrelated music. Pick a key idea and reinforce it through each medium through which you contact supporters.2. Contact supporters in multiple ways. The best way to build a relationship with donors is to acknowledge the fact that people like to give in a variety of venues: email, direct mail, Facebook,etc. There are not just pure “online donors” and “mobile donors”and “direct mail” donors – there are donors who choose to mix it up. Research shows donors give the most – and stay the longest – when you take this approach.3. In each form of outreach, reference other ways to connect. Put web addresses for online giving in your direct mail. Put postal addresses on your website. And so on.4. Experiment. Roger notes that some organizations have success when they send text messages to donors the day direct mail hits. Others find better responses by sending emails a little while after a direct mail piece lands. Test different combinations and timing to see what works best for you.5. Plan around the donor. Get all of these pieces playing together by creating a comprehensive plan around the donor (rather than having each department at your organization doing their own thing). You want harmonic sense for your supporters — a lovely set of surround sound rather than a cacophony of ad hoc outreach! So make a calendar from the donor perspective and confirm your supporters are getting the right messages, through the right channels at the right times.
Here are three ways you can improve your work – and your workplace – in the New Year. 1. Know what you’re doing before you worry about how you’ll do it.We jump to thoughts of implementation so often in our work, and that tendency creates several problems. We may not know exactly what we’re implementing, why we’re implementing it or how much is possible. By skipping ahead to the details, we begin work that may not make sense — and we unnecessarily constrain ourselves. This year, be mindful about each idea you’re pursuing and determine its larger purpose before running forward with activities. It’s not about what you’re doing but why you’re doing it.2. Spend at least 15 minutes a day in deliberate thought about something bigger than your to-do list.This is critical. I believe in mornings – but for some people, it works best to do this exercise at the end of the day to prepare for the next morning. What larger purpose defines you right now? One year from now, what will you be glad you did tomorrow? Ten years from now? What are the big things that need to happen to advance those aspirations? I believe the sum of our efforts each year reflects the rigor we apply to these larger questions. Take a few minutes each day to ask them. You may not have every answer, but you’ll make smarter choices along the way – and let the little crap go more easily. For me, five minutes at the start of my workday plus nightly blogging are tools I use in trying to step out of everyday to-do lists and think about what ideas matter most each day. What tools can you put into place to schedule reflection?3. Think about what unites your colleagues rather than what’s in it for you.The best workplaces in the world have something in common: Colleagues embrace a collective vision, and they’d do anything for each other. I’d always prefer to be in that kind of culture than a dog-eat-dog slugfest because it’s better for me and better for my organization. Try to set a course toward that kind of camaraderie. Define what you all want to do together. Along the way, share credit. Recognize the achievements of others. Sacrifice something selfish if it yields a greater good. If you are a manager, you have the chance to transform the experience of those who report to you. Seize it with a spirit of selflessness. In the end, it’s the fastest way to achievement – and happiness – for everyone.
HBR has a nice post this week on quieting your mind – and recharging it. You can check out the whole article here, and I’ve posted a quick summary. Try one or all of these three practices:1. Mini-meditation: For 10 minutes on public transportation each morning, close your eyes and imagine a relaxing scene like a tree or waterfall. Try to focus only on that. If you drive to work, arrive 10 minutes early and do this in the parking lot. Says author Matthew May, “People who meditate show more gray matter in certain regions of the brain, show stronger connections between brain regions and show less age-related brain atrophy.” Sounds like a good reason to try this!2. Pulsing: Take breaks between stretches of 90 minutes of work. You just spent a lot of energy – now recharge for five minutes by doodling, listening to music or taking a brief stroll.3. Daydream walks: Find 20 minutes or so to let your mind wander. A lunchtime walk or morning jog are good times to try. Do not think about work but rather something you like to imagine, like a dream trip. You’re taking care of your creative brain – and the benefits will extend to all of your life.
If you’re familiar with marketing, you know the principle of a benefit exchange: a reward offered in return for taking an action. A benefit exchange answers the question: What’s in it for me?For example: If I buy Nikes, I’ll feel like an athlete. If I go to your meeting, I’ll get some face time with senior staff.Benefit exchanges are useful for all kinds of situations. Like getting someone at work to agree to your proposal, encouraging people to change their habits or inspiring someone to donate to a cause.But we often get the benefit exchange wrong. We don’t offer a strong enough reward – or a sufficiently clear call to action.So here’s a mini-marketing refresh on strengthening the reward part of your benefit exchange. If you’re trying to persuade someone to do something, think about sharpening the “what’s in it for me?” answer with a better reward.A compelling reward has five important attributes: It should be immediate, personal, reflective of your audience’s values, better than competing rewards, and credible.Immediate: The best rewards are available to our audience right away. Few of us take action based on a reward that we expect to receive in the far future. It is human nature to seek instant satisfaction over distant gratification. So think about what your call to action will do for someone in the short term. Eating a hamburger satisfies our hunger, drinking beer makes the ball game more fun, and wearing cologne makes us feel sexier. Donating to charity makes us feel we made a difference for one person, today. How can you show an immediate result may be possible?Personal: The reward needs to make people feel their life will be better as individuals or within their tight circles of friends, family and community. Take the attributes of what you want people to do and sell them as benefits. What will recycling or sidewalks or education policy do for your audience? At the end of the day, the personal connection, not the grand concept, grabs our attention.Grounded in audience values: We can’t easily change what other people believe, but by plugging into their existing mind-set we unleash great power behind our message. Make sure the reward you are offering is something others seek – not just what you want. Those two things are rarely the same, but we often imagine they are!Better than the competition: Think competitively about your reward. Is it better than what people get for doing nothing – or something else? Don’t forget there’s a reason people aren’t taking action. They may be deriving benefits from those behaviors. How can you make your reward better than what people get from maintaining the status quo?Credible: Last, you need to make sure the claim of your benefit is believable. People need to believe they can get the reward. Show other people gaining the promised benefit or telling a good story can bolster your case. Make the promise change credible.If people aren’t doing what you want, you may find out why by reviewing this list. Are you making your offer sufficiently irresistible? Or could you sweeten the reward in one of these areas? It’s worth the effort to consider, because a great benefit exchange makes it far easier (and faster) to get to yes.
The verdict is in: Donors love puppies and babies. But not every organization can use an image of a child or dog to tell their story. So what kind of images can you use if your mission isn’t related to a smiling child or a playful puppy? Here are some ideas to help you create or find compelling images for your nonprofit.Find InspirationLook to other organizations you admire and see how they are using images. Here are a few examples from our Network for Good partners: To recruit volunteers and supporters, the San Francisco-based St. Anthony Foundation used Facebook to showcase a collection of images featuring current volunteers, local famous faces and their clients posing with their dining room’s newly branded cafeteria trays. Your organization’s shared drive is one place where you can keep images. Photos stored on a shared drive are accessible to everyone in your office and, unlike a desktop computer, can be recovered if your organization’s system crashes.An external hard drive is another option for photo storage. External hard drives are portable, reliable, and are a good storage solution for organizations that don’t have a shared drive.If you chose to store images online, consider using a free tool such as Picasa, Flickr, or Dropbox.Sharing Your PhotosBefore you start publishing images online, sharing them with the media, or adding them to your annual report, be sure to have the following:Photographer’s name. (Don’t forget to give credit!)Caption to accompany the image. (Captions are read more often than blocks of copy.)Relevancy. Images need to enhance your story, not distract or confuse.Social media is a great place to share images that you’ve collected.Post an image on Facebook and ask your fans to contribute caption suggestions.Share images on Twitter with a specific call to action (and don’t forget an appropriate hashtag).If your staff members and volunteers have the ability to take pictures with their phones, encourage them to share on Instagram.Be sure to include images in as many communication pieces as possible. Compelling images create a deeper emotional impact than words alone. Include images on your website, newsletter, donor appeal letters, fundraising campaign pieces, brochures, annual report, Holiday greetings, and event invitations.RememberYou don’t have to have puppies and babies in your images to make them appealing to donors.Create an emotional impact with the images you chose.Collecting and capturing images should be part of your regular communications plan.Look for inspiration, don’t be afraid to get started, and continue to build up your nonprofit’s photo collection.When you capture the heart and soul of your mission, iPhone pictures on Instagram can be just as compelling as professional photograph. Google’s Picasa makes it easy to control a photo album’s privacy setting. Gardens for Health International’s website has beautiful images of their work. Most of their images are action shots with a high color contrast that always leave the viewer feeling positive.The St. Anthony Foundation has a great collection of photos from their Willing to Serve campaign (including some famous faces).The St. Bernard Project has wonderful stories and images accompanying their Faces of Katrina campaign.The Arts Council of New Orleans never misses an opportunity to take pictures at community events showcasing the arts in their area.Public radio station 90.7 KSER has a unique way of highlighting their staff members and behind-the-scenes moments with images on their Facebook page.Organize Your IdeasStart a Pinterest board and collect images you admire. When the time comes to work with a photographer, show them the images you’ve collected so that they understand the types of photos you are looking for. Sharing good examples helps set an expectation for the kind of images you want.Think about the work your organization does. How can you capture that in an image? Are there any upcoming events that would serve as good photo opportunities that can help tell your story? Would an on-site photo shoot or a series of pictures of your fieldwork do a good job of illustration your mission?Getting StartedWhen moving beyond inspiration to taking and choosing photos, don’t forget the basics:Use photos to help tell your story.Choose photos that grab the attention of the viewer.Use photos that create an emotional impact. (Human faces are the best.)If you can’t take your own images anytime soon, learn the right way to use stock images.Storing Your PhotosOnce you have a solid collection of photos that represent your work, what do you do with them? Here are suggestions for storing and managing photos.
Has it been a while since you’ve updated your organization’s online donation page? It’s time to get down to business and whip your donation form into shape before the year-end stream of donations begins. Get better online fundraising results by avoiding these donation page mistakes:1. Too much text.Once your donor has landed on your donation page, don’t confuse, overwhelm, or bore them with paragraphs of text. One or two lines of short, compelling copy are plenty. Your goal is to reinforce your call to action and get donors to your donation form as quickly as possible.2. Too many options.Just like too much text, too many options on your online donation page can make donors less likely to complete your form. Get rid of unnecessary fields and remove extraneous navigation that will take donors away from your page.3. Inconsistent branding.When a donor goes to your donation form from your email appeal or website, do they feel like they have been transported to a different planet? A donation page that looks like your other campaign materials and your nonprofit’s website makes your donation experience familiar and seamless.4. Outdated information.This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you have outdated information on your nonprofit donation page, you’re sending a not-so-subtle signal to donors that you may not be the best steward of their gift. Make sure you’re not still touting a matching grant that has expired, a program that has ended, or last year’s fundraising goal.5. Lack of testing.Two types of online donation page testing will help you get better results this year. Usability testing will help you uncover any issues that may derail a donor. A/B testing can help you decide which images, calls to action, and suggested donation amounts perform best. 6. No suggested giving amounts. Make it easy for your donors by offering suggested giving amounts that take the guesswork out of how much to give. Use your average gift as a starting point, and then offer one giving amount that’s slightly lower and two or three higher amounts. Illustrate what each gift level could provide with impact labels to help donors visualize the result of their donation.7. No recurring gift options.If you’re not offering supporters a way to give a recurring gift, you’re missing out on donations. Recurring gifts help donors fit giving into their budgets and allow you to collect more over time. If donors feel like they can’t give enough to make a difference, they may not give at all. Frame your recurring gift options in a way that lets donors know how their regular support will help.
Today is Network for Good’s official Be Your Donor Day. Today is the day all nonprofits should review their digital fundraising channels through their donors’ eyes. Of course, while every day should be Be Your Donor Day at your organization, we want to encourage all fundraisers to devote some time today to experiencing their outreach and donation process from their donor’s perspective. A third of all online giving will happen in December—now is the time to make sure your donors will have an easy giving experience that inspires and delights them. Don’t let your hard work of creating a great year-end fundraising plan go to waste! Make it your mission to find and fix any problems that may trip up your donors before the busiest giving days of the year. So, what can you do to celebrate Be Your Donor Day? Here are some suggestions:— Visit our Be Your Donor Day headquarters for donor-centric fundraising resources, including a Be Your Donor checklist and year-end fundraising guide.— Pledge to set aside time to view your entire fundraising and donation process from your donor’s perspective.— Put on your “donor hat” and make a donation, submit a contact form on your website, and call your main phone line. What happens? Is the process what you’d expect? Is it easy?— Ask a friend or family member (someone not overly familiar with your organization) to help you test your website and donation page.— Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #BeYourDonor.We asked a few of our friends in the nonprofit space to share their suggestions for Be Your Donor Day. Read on and check out their amazing tips:Kivi Leroux Miller wants you to rethink your newsletter strategy. Make it a valuable resource for your donors.Social Media for Nonprofits co-founder Darian Rodriguez Heyman recommends you follow the Burrito Principle when timing your social media posts. Post important updates when your donors and supporters are most likely checking their feeds.Mark Rovner and Alia McKee of Sea Change Strategies encourage fundraisers to consider the appreciation you show your donors. Would your organization pass the Bulls-Eye Test?Joanne Fritz suggests you view your website from the donor perspective. In addition to having a nice, clean layout with a prominent DonateNow button, your website should also strive to answer your donor’s most important questions.Form connections and get to know your donors, supporters and prospects, says Nancy Schwartz. Do donors feel connected to you and your organization?Big Duck’s Farra Trompeter shared this gem from last year’s Be Your Donor Day: make sure your donors love you! Here are 11 ways donors show you they care about your organization. Take the pledge to Be Your Donor and make your emails, donation page, website, and social media more donor friendly!I’d love to hear your ideas — share how you plan to “Be Your Donor” in the comments below.
3. Make your email a part of a conversation.Sending your email from one person, using first-person pronouns, and including contractions will keep your note feeling conversational. If you write, “The Denver Puppy House is pleased to receive your donation,” or, “We used those funds to buy medicine,” you might come across as formal and dull. But if you write, “I am so glad you were able to make a donation to help our puppies,” or “I couldn’t have done it without you,” you’ll sound intimate and chatty. 1. Use a personalized greeting.If your friend sent you a note that said, “Dear Sir or Madam,” you might be a little confused. While you may not individually know all of your supporters, think of them as your nonprofit’s treasured partners and write to each one by name with a friendly greeting. Try saying “Hello there, Matt!” instead of “Dear Matthew.”2. Have a warm tone.Adopt a warm, welcoming tone by using simple sentences and informal language. This will help your email be breezy instead of stiff. Choosing shorter words such as “get” over longer words like “acquired” will make your email read as if from a friend. When your donors feel valued and special, they’re more likely to give again and again. One way to spread the love is by giving your emails a personal touch. Here’s how:
You are the changemakers, the risk takers, the champions, and the power behind great causes that make the world a much better place. On behalf of the team here at Network for Good, thank you for all the good you do in the world. You amaze and inspire us each day and we are grateful to work alongside you. And for those celebrating in the U.S., have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.
Sending thank you notes and providing tax receipts are important steps to building good donor relationships—but they’re just the beginning. Here are three ways you can go above and beyond with your donor appreciation.1. Say happy birthday!Food Finders Food Bank in Lafayette, Indiana, asks a surprising question on its donation page: What is your birth month and day? No, there isn’t a legal age for donating. Food Finders is collecting birthday information so that they can send donors happy birthday ecards in 2014, says Food Finder’s Director of Development Cheryl Precious. Contacting your donors to celebrate lets them know that you care and keeps you in mind.2. Feature their stories in your newsletter or on your website. Each month, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services features a different volunteer. Why should your nonprofit promote its donors? Highlighting the people you support and the people who support you keeps your mission front and center for everyone. “Donors commit their hard-earned money and time to your cause, so emphasizing them says thanks and gives your nonprofit more credibility,” says Network for Good’s Senior Communication and Success Specialist Annika Pettitt.3. Host a special event.Giving donors a behind-the-scenes experience or hosting programs for them is an exclusive experience that shows your gratitude. The Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, hosts donors for a quarterly luncheon and discussion series, as well as special tours. Annika says that unique activities are an extra fun way to encourage a relationship with donors and keep them involved.Image Credit: Shambhu
Is one of your 2014 goals to get your social strategy in order? Here are 10 fun stats on social media that can help you decide how to spend your time.73% of U.S. online adults now use social networking sites. Source: Pew Tweet this.Roughly one-third of the world’s population is now online. Source: We Are Social Tweet this.68% of Instagram’s users are women. Source: Business Insider Tweet this.50% of nonprofit communicators label social media as a “very important” communication tool. Source: Nonprofit Marketing Guide Tweet this.Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks and 150% more retweets. Source: Buffer Tweet this.71% of U.S. online adults are now Facebook users. Source: Pew Tweet this.55% who engaged with causes via social media have been inspired to take further action. Source: Waggener Edstrom Tweet this.In the U.S., users spend 114 billion minutes a month on Facebook. Source: Business Insider Tweet this.70% of YouTube traffic comes from outside of the U.S. Source: 9Clouds Tweet this.40% of Facebook users surveyed say they log in to the social network multiple times per day. Source: Pew Tweet this.Need some help thinking about how to leverage social media for your nonprofit’s outreach strategy? Download this free guide from Network for Good, Social Media Mini Guide for Nonprofits.
If you’re a fundraiser who is struggling to get your executive director or board to understand why you should launch an online fundraising program or invest more in online giving tools, try these talking points to help plead your case.Online giving boosts individual giving.You might have experienced push back on launching online fundraising because your leaders want to focus more on grants and major gifts from foundations. Remind them that individual giving is the biggest slice of the fundraising pie, and online fundraising is a key way to help diversify your funding. Having an online presence (and a way to give online) will help you recruit and retain donors who are likely shifting away from writing checks.Online giving allows you to interact with your donors where they are—online.Are your board members questioning how many of your target donors are really online? Send them these statistics from Pew Research:· 85% of American adults use the Internet· 61% of Internet users bank online · 73% of American adults use social mediaWhen potential donors find your nonprofit on social media or through a Google search, you’ll miss out on gifts without an easy online donation option. If you don’t make it simple for donors to support your mission, they may think you don’t need help! You don’t have to set up a merchant account.Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to set up a merchant account, payment gateway, or other fancy money-processing component to accept online donations—and you don’t have to be a tech whiz, either. In 2001, Network for Good made it easy for donors to give to any registered 501(c)3 online. Thirteen years and $1 billion dollars later, we still make it easy! You can get up and running with a branded donation page over your lunch hour.It’s not just a fad.Every year online giving continues to grow. Organizations like Crowdrise and Causes have leveraged the power of social networks to help encourage peer-to-peer giving. National giving campaigns like Giving Tuesday and Give Local America are here to stay. Wonder how areas affected by natural disaster get the instant funds they need? The answer: through online giving disaster relief campaigns. Consider these four conversation starters the next time you bring up online fundraising with your board. What other things do you want to teach your board about online fundraising? Do you have advice for those who are still trying to convince their leaders? Share your thoughts in the comments section.This post was created as part of this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival. The roundup of February’s submissions will be featured on The Fundraising Coach blog later this month.
No doubt you’ve seen the string of videos on your Facebook timeline—friends and family sharing their own social media time capsules. Facebook’s “A Look Back” movies offer personalized video montages to celebrate the social network’s 10th birthday. The videos are irresistibly sharable and have even struck a chord with the experts. Here’s what makes these videos work so well:They’re not focused on the organization. The folks at Facebook could have created something more focused on their platform and their accomplishments, but they knew that the real way to make us care about their birthday is by talking to us about, well, us.They tug at our heartstrings. Above all, emotion rules. From the sweet background music to the heavy rotation of photos, the videos capture our attention and pull us in. These videos, while driven by an algorithm, are mirrors of ourselves and heavily feature the things that matter most to us. They remind us of our progress. In keeping with the birthday theme, the videos allow us to look back and see how far we’ve come, whether we joined Facebook way back when or just last year. They connect us to something bigger. The shared experience of posting the videos and the highlights they capture help us see how we’re connected to one another. The idea of Mark Zuckerberg and company inviting us to celebrate this big milestone together underscores this feeling of community.In the process of accomplishing all of these things, these videos endear us more to the whole Facebook experience. Think about how you can emulate these qualities the next time you update your supporters on the progress you’ve made together.
As the volunteer coordinator for Gift of Life Michigan, Kim Zasa sent volunteers to church fairs and festivals in the hope that people would want to become organ donors. Although she had 800 volunteers attending countless events, only 11% of Michigan’s residents were organ donors. Today that number is about 33%.So what changed? How did Gift of Life Michigan recruit so many new donors?According to a recent story on NPR, responses changed when Kim convinced the state to have DMV clerks ask customers, “Would you like to be an organ donor?” Putting your ask—and your resources—in the right place at the right time is the key to getting the results you want!1. Determine what’s not working—and be willing to experiment. Kim had an army of volunteers at her disposal who were willing to drive long distances for a cause they believed in. When she didn’t see the results she wanted, she took action. Is there an area of your nonprofit that isn’t seeing the results you’d like? Don’t just assume things will improve. Determine what’s working and what’s not, and then brainstorm about what you can do differently.2. Analyze how you’re using your resources.Instead of sending her volunteers on road trips, Kim put them to work in other ways and employed stationary DMV employees to make the ask. These clerks regularly saw almost the entire adult population of the state, so they were well positioned to speak to more people than Kim’s volunteers were.Are you using the resources you have—both time and money—to their full capacity? Are volunteers solving a pain point for you and helping you in the most beneficial way? If not, how can you modify their tasks to be more effective for your cause?3. Put your question in the right place at the right time.Instead of making the ask in places where people weren’t already making decisions beyond ice cream or cotton candy, Kim combined the ask with an established routine. If someone wanted to become a donor at a festival, they had to take multiple steps and time out of their entertainment to sign up. Making the ask at the DMV made it easy for potential donors to say yes, with no extra action required.Are you positioning your request in the best way possible? Does saying yes require multiple steps that make it less likely you’ll see the result you want? For instance, when you ask for donations online, do your supporters first have to click through multiple pages, or is it simply one click and done? Think about how you can adjust how, when, and where you’re making an ask to better your odds of getting through to your target audience. Have you tried something similar? Share your results and suggestions in the comments below!