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Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Save the Endangered Corporate Sponsor!

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Imagine for a moment that your annual office holiday party was in the same restaurant each year.  In exchange for this promotion, patronage, signage & acknowledgment during the event, food was free and there was a cash bar.

Now, after many years of having this relationship, suppose that, as the restaurant owner, I have decided to change the terms of the agreement.  This year, I’ve decided I want instead:

•     All attendees at the party to wear my restaurant logo t-shirt
•     All attendees to make their own creative “Why I love the restaurant” slogan design on their t-shirt, prior to the party
•   A contest for the best designed t-shirt.  Participants need to post photos of their t-shirts on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, etc, with my restaurant name during the three weeks prior to the party.
•     A three drink minimum for guests at the party
•     The chance to go through each guest’s wallet or purse as they enter
•   I’ll announce the t-shirt winners at the party and pay for their meals.  I’m no longer paying for everyone’s food – just the top five t-shirt designers.

If you were in charge of arranging the office holiday party, what would your reaction be?  Would you capitulate . . . or find another sponsor?  This seems like a lot of extra hoops to jump through – for a lot less in return, doesn’t it?

Yet, I speak to so many nonprofit development officers on a regular basis who have signed up for similar deals.  The chance to have a chance at something!  Does it have to do with the mission of the organization?  Nothing whatsoever.  Does it ask your constituents to engage in repetitive – and meaningless – activity?  Absolutely.  And who comes out ahead?  The so-called “sponsor.”

The reason I mention “going through the wallet or purse” in my analogy is to emphasize that you’re not just wasting your supporters’ time (and spending social capital on frivolity), but all of these social media campaigns obtain permission online to get followers’ personal and private data.  This doesn’t just include such things as DOB, gender, etc., but most often pulls all of their friends’ information, too.  It is essentially going through their wallet.  Many are unaware of how much data they’re handing over when they click [I agree], but not all.

What’s more damaging beyond using your supporters to further the agenda of some unrelated corporate mission, however, is that with every one of these campaigns that nonprofits engage in, we are essentially telling corporations – encouraging them – to continue doing business with us this way in the future.

The more we fight like dozens of dogs in a pit over the same, single piece of meat, the less likely corporations will be in the future to stick to the previous model of sponsoring a single event – either as the lead sponsor, or one of several, for a nonprofit.  Why should they bother?

Consider the future of sponsorship overall – both local, regional and national – when you contemplat engaging in one of these contests.  The more you validate them, the more likely they are to become the single representation of what corporate sponsorship means in the future . . . and wouldn’t that be sad indeed?

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

As you assess which portions of your campaign have been more successful than the others, no doubt you are considering which parts to eliminate or start anew.  It can be tempting to see what the trends are and mimic them.

It’s more important, though, to discern which parts of your campaigns your constituents are most responsive to, and keep those going strong, while adding and/or improving on others.

For example, you may be considering adding Pinterest this coming year, which might be a good fit with your demographic, but first consider carefully if you’re responding to media hype or what your constituents really prefer.  A recent study shows that people would prefer more videos than many other social media channels.

Social Media Sites Used

If you do add videos, make certain they are valuable ones that get searched and viewed . . . otherwise, you’ve spent a great deal of time in production for nothing.

Another social media change you might consider is adding GooglePlus, due to Facebook’s altered analytics and essential demand that you purchase ads, if you want your content to be viewed.  This doesn’t show signs of going away in 2013, since “stock prices” of FB keep making the news.  (Nearly all nonprofits – large and small – have seen a vast drop in their Facebook viewership, likes and shares this year.)

Direct mail is still a crucial part of your overall campaign, but it’s imperative to treat it as a multichannel appeal, which has a better overall response rate:

•     Do you include a direct hyperlink in mailings?
•     Do you include your social media channel logos prominently?

When sending email appeals, do you test your emails on various screens before sending – particularly mobile?  What about the links within the email . . . particularly your online giving form(s)?  How many clicks, scrolling and/or pop-ups is the mobile user subjected to?

It is going to be necessary to enhance and upgrade your mobile features, accessibilities for the coming year – and beyond.  There’s no doubt.  More and more users are accessing the web via mobile.  This figure is only going to increase.

You’ve got five seconds, BTW.  Has it loaded yet?  Oops.  I’ve moved on.  Try again, please.  (Think of the donors you might have gotten if you’d have tested this first.)

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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The Devil is in the Details

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Fundraisers are concerned about 2012 year-end giving. Not only has philanthropic giving been slugging along, but Hurricane Sandy’s impact may well further diminish what is typically the most crucial giving season of the year.

Although everyone hopes for a game changer in their campaigns that will lead to a windfall, it’s more realistic to look for areas that can be tweaked and improved, which can lead to various increases and bumps in appeals over time.

Various annual giving professionals have offered a chance to look over their shoulder at tweaks they’ve made which have bolstered different campaigns for them:

Calvin*

I wanted to highlight a specific suggested ask amount on our reply card with one of those red circles, but it wasn’t in my printing budget.  So, instead, I designed it with that particular ask amount in a font size that was one point larger than the others.  Not grossly obvious, but it stood out a tad more.  Our average gift increased with that campaign.

Daisy*

We were sending more traffic to donate online, via multiple campaigns, and wanted it to be as easy and convenient as possible.  This included redesigning our home page so that there was a [one click] option, which would take donors from the [Donate Now] button, straight to the donation eform.  We still had a page which explained why donors should give, what their donation would accomplish and multiple options of giving (e.g., mail, phone, United Way, etc.), who to contact with questions, but wanted an immediate option to give for those donors in a hurry to do so.  Our online giving – both # of gifts and overall amount – increased in the first year.

Elvis*

Just as we have our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & YouTube icons on our website, we have added these on all direct mail pieces as well, to remind supporters that they can engage with us on the social media channels of their choice.

Even though these are not clickable links via mail, the marketing of the channels is important in all touches, including mail – even solicitations.

Fifi*

We include a direct hyperlink in all mail solicitations, to encourage online giving – and distinguish it from our [Donate Now] eform, for tracking purposes.  We make it memorable & marketable, such as Nonprofit.org/donate

Gunther*

After learning which types of gifts are typically larger (online), we redesigned our reply card to encourage these gifts above others, by promoting an online giving response more prominently, followed by credit card giving via mail, and a donation of check last.  Our average gift, overall income and online giving all increased.

Hortense*

We redesigned – and reprioritized – our reply card, keeping in mind that Annual Giving is focused on the “here and now” of giving.  While other, longer-term investments are important, they don’t make funds for this campaign, and belong on the back of the reply card (while “right now” data belongs on the front).

Among fields we moved to the front of the card:

–     Credit card information
–     Joint donor name
–     Email address

Data we moved to the back of the reply card:

–     Matching gift
–     Gifts of stock
–     Change of address
–     Planned giving options

Igor*

I inherited a bunch of appeals that talked mainly about deadlines and tax deductions, which I found to be very short-lived.  While some donors do care about these things, they aren’t the ones who will keep coming back year after year.

I changed our letters and emails so that they were much more mission related.  We began focusing on telling our supporters what their gifts would accomplish and who will be helped because they gave.  This tactic saw a lot more repeat donors . . . and a lot less focus on fake deadlines, fiscal years – or tax deductions.

Jessie*

I discovered that we didn’t have an account set up with the post office to forward our mail to the newest addresses.  We had been getting too much of it returned, and I was horrified to learn that nobody in the office did anything with the returns.  This meant that we were repeatedly mailing to outdated addresses!

I got us a postal account and marked our third class mail with Address Service Requested, which forwarded most of the mail to their new addresses and notified us with the data . . . which I made certain got entered into our system!

Although this meant extra postage costs in the beginning, after several mailing cycles, management saw that it was worth it.  Only the really older addresses would be returned with the original pieces of mail.  As we consistently updated our records, our mail became much more efficient – and the return on our direct mail costs improved greatly.

What tactics have you used to improve your fundraising techniques and campaigns – and which new ones will you implement to try and boost your 2012 appeals?

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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(How) Have You Handled Fundraising During a Scandal?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

These days, fundraising is a great challenge.  Stumbling blocks appear virtually everywhere.  Our donors have less to give, our mail campaigns cost more (and earn less) and there are more channels than ever to keep track of.

Only about half of US donors feel that nonprofits are doing “a good job” or better.  If we start out barely mediocre in the eyes of our supporters, there’s a long way to fall, then, when something goes wrong.

Just recently, several nonprofit and governmental organizations made national headlines for various scandals:  Komen, Penn State and the Secret Service, to name a few.

Not all scandals get an enormous amount of viral publicity, but since you are merely a participant in social media – and no longer control what information is disbursed – it is essential to have a plan in place.  And not just a plan that a few key people in leadership are aware of, but something specific known to everyone on staff.

The Trust Report demonstrates some unflattering figures about how the US public feels toward the ethical conduct of charities, such as “26% of Americans admit . . . they don’t trust charities.”  The report goes on to say that “the majority (57%) explained that this was because they did not know how donation money is spent.”

Unfortunately, stories that make the news contribute to this lack of trust:

•   California State parks hid $54 million surplus, while trying to close 70 parks & asked for budget increase

•   Fake nonprofit is a shell corporation for “Chinese Luxury Market”

•   Healthcare company preys upon the uninsured, injured with undercover debt collectors in ERs

The Trust Report points out that communication with constituents is essential, however.  The more that people feel knowledgeable about what your organization does, the less likely they are to feel taken advantage of after having made a gift.  Transparency is key.

Certainly, even when there is no wrongdoing, such as theft, embezzlement, etc., a scandal – and backlash – can occur, simply because of a communication breakdown.

This is what happened with the Red Cross shortly after September 11, in 2001.  Scores of people offered an unprecedented outpouring of generosity, intending to help the victims of 9-11 and their families.

What happened after those donations were made was that the Red Cross diverted some of the funds toward other disaster relief, as they have often done in the past.  (High profile disasters often get more contributions than those in lesser known or less populated areas, but they still need funds, too.)

The response to this was extremely negative, however, and the Red Cross had a great deal of back pedaling, explaining, and, eventually, bookkeeping to do.  They moved the funds back, due to the public response.

In fact, the Red Cross hadn’t intended to be dishonest, misleading – or even change their policy – but they weren’t transparent enough ahead of time so that everyone understood what was going to happen.  Therefore, people felt betrayed, or somehow cheated.

Filling out your organization’s profile as completely as possible on Guidestar and/or Charity Navigator is advisable, because independent ratings and assessments are looked upon favorably.  Many donors will search these types of sites when deciding whether – and how much – to give.

It’s not enough to be listed, but make certain that what you post on your site and others can be easily understood.  Nobody wants to pore over an hour of documentation, or click incessantly, just to find a few things.  (What does my gift of $X help accomplish?)

If you have put these things in place ahead of time, then when (if) a scandal does strike, it might sting less and last a shorter while because you were prepared with a battle plan.  The worst thing to do is nothing.  Pretending it doesn’t exist and hoping it will go away only confirms the suspicion that your organization is terribly unprofessional.

And, once in a while, there is the rare occasion that a great fundraiser can be borne out of a scandal.  This is definitely an example of making lemonade out of lemons!

Do you have any stories of how you handled a crisis at your organization?  Feel free to share in the comments below.

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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Does Phonathon Make Money For Your Nonprofit?

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Some nonprofits hire companies to manage their ongoing, year-long phonathons, which seem to run like well-oiled machines.  But if you can’t afford that, do you have to abandon this event altogether? No – not by a long shot.

Although it can be a boon to your campaign to have year-around calling, many nonprofits benefit from periodic volunteer phonathon events, both for the fundraising, but also as an opportunity to bring supporters together and teach them to be ambassadors for their organizations.

Make no mistake:  All events are avenues for volunteers to shine and show their potential!  As you train your callers, reviewing the script, goals, prizes, etc. for the evening, make a point to circulate and listen.  In the beginning, all callers should start out with small donors’ names, as they practice.

While you’re listening, however, you’ll be able to discern between volunteers who can’t get beyond reading a script and those who are truly conversing with – and charming – your donors.  These people need to be upgraded immediately to calling your larger donors, since they know how to ask for larger gifts.

After your phonathon is over, these same outstanding volunteers can be recruited for other committees, or perhaps your board.

It’s essential to make your event – wherever it’s held – feel welcoming and festive to your volunteers.  This means including plenty of food, drinks and snacks.  If your organization can afford it, you may want to have a decorative theme.

Remember that social media can be useful before, during and after your phonathon:  Promoting the event and recruiting volunteers online prior to the phonathon will gain you additional workers.  Posting highlights of your progress throughout the event helps keep your momentum going – and remember to take plenty of pictures!  When the event is over, share the celebration and gratitude with everyone on all social media channels – as well as more photos.  (Remember to get permission to tag people.  Better yet, invite them to tag themselves in the pictures.)

Prizes for various levels of performance are important – although it’s a good idea to keep your goals in mind, too.  For example, if reaching a high percentage of credit card gifts is vital to your organization, don’t give prizes for pledges – only credit card payments . . . but vary the prizes based upon this theme, such as the first credit card gift each hour, the largest credit card gift of the evening, etc.

With caller ID, where you’re calling from is a careful consideration to make.  If your nonprofit opts to be identified – and has enough phones – it might make sense to have your volunteers work from your offices during the evening, using employees’ desks after hours.

On the other hand, depending upon your call list and volunteers, you might choose to have your callers each use their own cell phones.  Particularly if your call location is less likely to be identified with your organization (on caller ID), this might be a better alternative.

Although some would argue that each volunteer can simply make such calls in their own home – on their own time – with a list and their cell phone, this doesn’t lead to the camaraderie that is felt when people come together and share an evening of helping an organization they care about.

It also doesn’t allow staff to handpick their new talent from eyewitness experience.  Additionally, when supporters are called, they may have specific questions for volunteers that only a staff member can respond to.  It’s best to have such a person on standby.

Because people’s schedules are so full, it will take a lot of work to arrange a phonathon – and a lot of work to convince people that it was worth it . . . so that they will do it again in the future.

However – done well – a phonathon can still pay off as a worthwhile investment: in funds, goodwill ambassadors, and future officers for your organization.

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

 

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