There are many versions of the story of Stone Soup, but most people have heard one or another. The point, of course, is that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. I tend to view all of the soup ingredients as the various aspects needed for a good “Annual Giving recipe” these days.
While one could certainly make a meal out of a basic chicken broth and noodles (e.g., a couple of direct mail pieces and an occasional phone call), that really isn’t a very fancy “soup,” when you consider the plethora of ingredients available on the market these days: email, Facebook, Twitter, blogging, video, text messaging, and so on.
Although not every non profit is equipped to do as much as the next, this year-end giving season is the perfect time to seize the opportunity to learn and do more with your Annual Giving plan. Particularly with projections looking less favorable for donors to increase their giving, non profits will need to find new and creative ways to compensate.
Several organizations have already seen their increased social media efforts pay off – many of them in substantial ways, either with publicity efforts, volunteer support, or outright fund raising.
Recent studies released show results not only how much the four most frequently used social media sites are being used by various age groups, but also additional details on their frequency of using social media, texting and much more. It’s clear that, while the Millennials are the technology leaders, they are by no means the only demographic consuming social media, videos or using their cell phones for internet or texting.
It’s important to take notes from other successful sites and see what you can do at this time. One such organization is the ASPCA. While your site may not be as sophisticated as theirs, it’s worth viewing the wide variety of social media interfaces on their Get Involved page and general Online Activism center. For example, perhaps you could provide instructional videos or PSAs about your mission or services – or, conversely, you might invite your constituents to submit their own videos about how they are involved in lobbying, serving, or otherwise supporting your cause.
Whichever segment(s) you choose to add or modify to your campaign, though, it’s important to track and/or segment what you do. Keeping up with industry research is vital to planning, but tracking the reality of how your organization’s data actually performs is crucial to your follow up. In many cases, it will follow industry standards, but not always. It pays to prepare your data ahead of time.
It will depend on the parameters of your data, but several segments that many organizations typically segment and measure may include current donors, LYBUNTs, SYBUNTs, lapsed, lower-level, mid-level, upper-level (however this is defined at your organization), and also perhaps certain membership levels (duration, geography, age range, etc.).
Additional tests are useful, such as days of the week for electronic communications, as well as various wording of subject lines or calls to action. For direct mail, testing results take longer to receive, but are worth doing to continuously improve results. These include letter length, enclosures, envelope design, size, etc.
If you believe that campaigning in social media is going to be too difficult to accomplish in your organization because of persuading those in charge, one way to broach the subject may be to suggest testing. Try Group A with what you have typically done with your campaign, but supplement Group B with a social media conversation about what you are doing, and why donations are so meaningful, what will be accomplished (that is meaningful to them), etc.
Just as Boomers have come to the social media party late – but they have finally arrived – so, too, it would seem have many executives. A great deal more are beginning to realize the value of social media. They have even become participants in larger numbers recently. Some still have their concerns, of course, so tracking and proof can help to alleviate such anxieties.
Just as in the story of Stone Soup, the more buy-in you can get for adding additional ingredients, the better the final product will be.
Keep the base of the pyramid strong