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Posts Tagged ‘social networking’

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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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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Please Support Us In the Most Meaningless Way of All

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Most nonprofits are still struggling to get back to their pre-recession levels of support.  While some have made it through unscathed, it hasn’t been easy. They can tell you that commitment to mission and donors is essential.

This is why I get so frustrated when I see corporations taking advantage of the nonprofits that are having more difficulties by offering funds to them in various “contests” that serve only as publicity stunts for the companies, really.

What started out as a national trend has already expanded to local companies, making the same types of offers to the very small – and desperate – local nonprofits as well.

These set ups remind me of various “Are you in debt?” commercials, offering distressed consumers options they might not otherwise take for high interest loans, credit cards, etc.  In other words, easy money.

A nonprofit that hasn’t yet made its goal has a pot of gold dangled in front of its eyes, and “all it has to do” is chant the chosen mantra of the corporation of the month that is throwing this particular bone into the pit of desperation.

Of course, it’s not enough that the nonprofit itself blather the company slogan on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, GooglePlus, and anywhere, everywhere else that the company is tracking it.  No, the organization must use all available venues to reach its constituents to nag, beg and cajole them to do the same . . . for the good of the organization(?)

Never mind that the bank, life insurance company, software developer, etc. has nothing whatever to do with the mission of the organization.

“Please, PLEASE text/post ‘Get 2 Free Boxes of Checks with a Bank ABC Checking Account!’ on every channel – once a day, until [deadline], so we can win the $XX,000!”

Like all scams, the easy money only appears easy.  Not only does staff become consumed with constant reminders to all supporters, then someone has to keep track of where the organization stands each day of the contest.  (“We’ve fallen to 2nd place!  Please remember to keep posting daily!”)

The saturation point of supporters will likely cost you in terms of loyalty down the road, even if your organization does win the contest, not to mention the fact that you’ve disconnected your supporters substantially from your mission.  A great deal will have to be rebuilt in the future.

And, if you plan on “winning” such contests as an ongoing part of your budget, both your staff and supporters will become exhausted and burned out, which means your churn rate will go through the roof.  Additionally, you’ll support the corporate notion that this is an acceptable way to support nonprofits, rather than directly via grants and sponsorships.  (Bad idea.)

Research has shown that the best way to gain long term support for your organization is through telling a compelling story about what you do by who benefits from your work.

Chanting some company slogan couldn’t be much farther off point than this, and is probably working to alienate your supporters more than just about any other activity you could be doing, short of a scandal.

The next time you’re tempted to participate in an easy money scheme, think about the story it tells.  If it doesn’t further your mission, toss it aside.  You’re wasting time and money pursuing it, not to mention constituent loyalty.

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

 

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Video Is Becoming More Important Than Ever Before!

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

I recently attended a presentation by Chip Dizárd, on the importance of video – good video – to the overall nonprofit campaign.  Chip teaches video techniques to Baltimore City school students, often working with nonprofits.

Not only are videos being shared in greater numbers than ever before

but the types of videos that are among those being viewed most directly relate to nonprofit fundraising:

According to Pew Research, nearly ¾ of online adults are using video sharing sites, and more than 1/3 are now looking for their news in the form of online videos.  Will your organization be there to provide any of the information that people are seeking in this medium . . . or will your competition supply it instead?

These days, it’s not enough simply to have a phone and shoot an amateur video, Chip explained.  It’s essential to have a plan, for one thing.  What are you intending to shoot?  What story are you telling?  What do you hope that viewers will do once they are finished viewing your video?  Donate? Volunteer? Sign a petition?  Understand your organization better?  If you don’t know, it’s not time to hit the [RECORD] button yet.

Consider your audience and the story they want and need to hear about your organization and what you’ve been accomplishing.  You’ll do much better telling a story about – and from! – the people you’re serving, rather than the executive director making a speech for ten minutes.  (“That’s what my donations pay for?!”)

It’s also crucial to consider the quality of the video itself, Chip explained.  The competition for viewing eyes is much greater, so if you post something with poor lighting, sound, etc., you can forget having others share it.  Your wonderful script and passionate speaker will have been for naught.

Of course, nonprofits can’t afford the best equipment in the industry, but a good executive director understands that prioritizing enough to invest in some good enough equipment to get the job done is essential.  A decision will have to be made about how important quality online representation is to the organization.

Some very high quality video production can be farmed out, but quite a bit can be done in-house with relatively little investment initially.

Also, there are many intern programs, such as Chip’s, where students who are learning in the classroom are willing to apply it in the organization and company offices.  Chip suggests searching on Twitter, for example, and laments, “People aren’t using social media to its full advantage,” when it comes to networking and finding one another.

An additional important component that nonprofits should add to their video campaign goals is applying for a YouTube Nonprofit account, which allows for additional features, including a clickable link directly within the video.  This can take the viewer outside of YouTube, to a donation page, a petition, or other actionable web page related to your campaign.

How do you plan to bolster video for your campaign in the coming year?

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Keep the base of the pyramid strong

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