Fri, June 26 2015
Filed under: Fundraising essentials •
It never fails.
When there is a large scale natural disaster, such as the Nepal earthquake, or an event that inspires charitable giving, my media alerts for Network for Good go through the roof. Many donors come to Network for Good’s giving portal to search for nonprofits and quickly make donations online, and reporters often list Network for Good as a way to easily give to charities responding to crises on the ground. We’re proud to facilitate giving to nonprofits across the country, including $1 million in donations for Nepal earthquake relief efforts.
In some cases, though, the press also features our giving portal as a good option for donors who wish to remain anonymous. Of course, there are many reasons a donor might want to remain anonymous, but the reason most cited in these articles is because these donors want to avoid getting on a nonprofit’s email list and being “spammed” by the organization, or worse, by other organizations who have purchased the list.
Friends, if this is a primary reason for our donors’ anonymity, we’re doing it wrong.
As you collect, grow, and manage your donor list, think about how you communicate with your donors. Are you welcoming them into a personal relationship with your organization or causing them to run and hide?
Let donors choose how and how often they hear from you. Give your supporters control over how they get information from you and the frequency of those communications. Many times, the fact that you are offering this control will make donors more likely to want to be on your list. And yes, if they decide to opt out or remain anonymous, you must respect that decision.
Let them know what to expect. When donors give or when supporters sign up for your newsletter, let them know what’s in it for them and what they can expect from your organization. These are important pieces of your nonprofit’s brand promise and will affect how people feel about your organization.
Have a strategic communication plan. Many nonprofits make communications missteps because they haven’t taken the time to think through their strategy for reaching out to their constituents. Before you send another email, sit down and figure out your organization’s rules around communication frequency, content, and segmentation. If it doesn’t meet your criteria, don’t send it.
Be mindful of your thank to ask ratio. This should also be part of your outreach strategy. Lynne Wester, The Donor Relations Guru, has a smart post about this very concept.
Keep donor information sacred. It’s not just good list hygiene and, in most cases, the law—it’s the right thing to do. Do unto others’ email addresses as you would have them do unto yours.
Being transparent and respectful in your communications will encourage more of your supporters to share more of themselves with you. Plus, you’ll help the rest of us look good, as well.
Wed, June 24 2015
Filed under: Fun stuff •
A great story puts your kid to bed at night and makes you watch that next episode as you confirm, bleary-eyed, with Netflix that, yes, you are indeed still watching. Stories are what connect us to other people and, most important, motivate us to act. As a nonprofit, stories are the best tool in your arsenal to connect with supporters and empower them to act.
We see it time and again that the organizations raising money and finding new donors are the ones that have mastered the art of storytelling. The winners of our Recurring Giving Challenge proved this with unique stories and a commitment to telling them authentically.
Take a look at the great stories three challenge winners used:
Wildlife SOS: Perhaps the most famous story from our leaderboard is that of Raju. Last July, Wildlife SOS made international headlines when it rescued Raju the elephant. The videos of the Raju rescue went viral, and Wildlife SOS saw a huge influx of interest and supporters. Donations remained strong during our challenge period, which resulted in Wildlife SOS bringing in the most new monthly donors!
VETPAW: The only organization to place on both of our leaderboards, VETPAW tells the story of its founder and his dual passions for animal conservation and national service. With equal commitments to providing meaningful employment for U.S. veterans and conserving critically endangered wildlife in East Africa, VETPAW has the challenge of telling two stories—that of Ryan Tate, the organization’s founder, who witnessed his fellow veterans being underemployed after their service, and the story of rangers in East Africa who risk life and limb to protect wildlife. These two powerful stories are not immediately similar, but they shine when linked by the founder’s passion and the organization’s ability to tell them in compelling ways.
Friends of Refugees: Join the story. That’s the simple call to action from Friends of Refugees. The simple conceit is that refugees are not statistics—they’re people with stories; people who, when empowered with opportunities, become so much more than numbers in a news report. By telling the organization’s story powerfully and visually, Friends of Refugees gives a face to masses of international refugees and empowers donors who are far removed from the mission to see their role in the renewal of these refugee communities. Take a look at their simple yet powerful video asking supporters to join the story.
Need some inspiration to tell your organization’s story? Download our Storytelling Guide now!
Tue, June 23 2015
Ooh! Aah! Who can resist the cuteness of kitty or puppy photos like this one?
Don’t feel silly for loving them. It’s human nature. In fact, photos like the one on this page are such tasty emotional candy that every bite takes folks one step closer to a donation.
But if your organization can’t rely on kitty, puppy or baby photos most of the time (and that’s most of us), what can you do?
Here are two practical, proven steps:
Step 1: Consider what makes kitty and puppy photos so delicious and so effective for nonprofits.
I’m no psychologist, so I turned to the Interwebs for the answer—and I learned absolutely nothing. That’s right. I couldn’t find any definitive research behind the why.
What I do know is this:
People share photos of their pets. It’s just what we do, the same way we share photos of our kids or gardens.
- We’ve been sharing these photos for a long time, way before Facebook and Instagram.
- Our families and friends share the same kind of photos with us.
Even if you don’t have pets or kids, it’s easy to appreciate the cuteness of someone else’s. These images are upbeat and nonthreatening.
Which leads me to this why-didn’t-I-think-of-it litmus test for compelling content from ActionSprout founder and CEO Drew Barnard:
“Before you post anything, ask yourself, ‘Would I share this? Would I want this piece of content associated with my Facebook persona?’ If the answer is no, go back to the well and create or curate something new.”
So, make sure your photos are something you’d share with your family and personal friends. And put this at the top of your “compelling content” checklist!
With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at GettingAttention.org.
Mon, June 22 2015
Giving is social.
Study after study shows that people are more likely to give when asked by someone they know. Social connections and personal ties are strong drivers of behavior, and charitable giving is no exception. So how do you inspire your supporters to spread the word and raise funds on your behalf? Try these five ideas for recruiting passionate fundraisers who will help you reach new donors and bring in more donations.
Tap into your board. Help your board fulfill their give or get commitment by making it easy for them to launch their own personal fundraising page. Your board members are passionate about your work, and they likely have the most influence over a larger network.
Leverage your volunteers. Ask your volunteers to help you spread your message via social media and their personal connections. Their dedication to your work is the kind of inspiration that will make others want to join in.
Let donors do more. Once a donor gives, invite them to share your work with others and encourage them to create a personal fundraising page to help reach your goals. In most cases, the contributions they bring in will far eclipse their original donation. The trick is to make it super simple for them to do.
Turn your events into challenges. Whether you host a large annual event, an open house, or are just celebrating a milestone, give event attendees the ability to raise funds before and during the event. Everyone likes a little healthy competition: offer special incentives, recognition, or access to those who bring in the most dollars or donors.
Encourage personal stories. Most of your supporters have a personal connection to the work you do. Offer the opportunity for them to share what your cause means to them with a personalized fundraising page. These stories are likely more powerful than your existing marketing materials and will go a long way in breaking through the noise in a crowded inbox or Facebook feed.
Ready to put these ideas into action? I’ll help you make sure you have a solid plan in place in this week’s free webinar. Tomorrow, I’ll share more tips on creating an effective social fundraising campaign that will help you turn your donors into fundraisers.
Thu, June 18 2015
Isn’t the Internet a magical place? We sure think so. And it just got even more magical thanks to #seriousbaby, a new campaign recently launched by Smile Train.
In the campaign, you meet baby Walter. Walter is standing in solidarity with kids who have unrepaired clefts and can’t smile. He’s serious about not smiling. And Walter’s call to action is clear: Donate to Smile Train. Do it. He’s serious.
I had the opportunity to find out more about this campaign from Shari Mason, senior director of integrated marketing at Smile Train.
What was the motivation to launch a new campaign for Smile Train?
Shari Mason: Smile Train is always exploring new, out-of-the-box ways to convey the importance of our cleft repair work and engage new and current supporters alike. We launch awareness campaigns at regular intervals throughout the year to enhance engagement with our donors and maintain momentum for the cause.
As we approached this newest campaign, we had the idea to depart from traditionally “serious” charity tactics and, instead, use humor as a tool for driving awareness around the serious condition of cleft lip and palate. The use of video and visual memes allowed us to tap into the sharing culture that defines the social and digital Web and bring our global vision to new, younger audiences.
Cleft is far more than a cosmetic issue: It also impacts eating, breathing, and speaking; leads to social isolation; and can prevent a child from leading a full and productive life. Baby Walter, the nine-month-old protagonist of the campaign, emerged as a humorous, relatable voice for reinforcing the severe impact of cleft on affected children and rallying audiences to help share smiles across the world.
I noticed there isn’t any Smile Train branding on seriousbaby.org. Why is that?
SM: We decided not to include branding on the campaign site to create as organic and seamless an engagement experience as possible. Our goal was to put the campaign and call to action around our life-changing cleft repair work front and center.
How have current donors responded to #seriousbaby?
SM: We have received nothing but positive feedback from our donors so far. The catchy, humor-driven approach to awareness, combined with the use of sharable videos and memes, has enabled our donors to substantively engage with the campaign and maximize sharing across their own platforms. Our donors have been wonderful advocates for the campaign and continue to positively engage with the seriousbaby.org landing page and share campaign assets far and wide. In particular, we’ve noticed that our younger supporters, including members of Students for Smile Train and our Young Leadership Circle, have strongly embraced the campaign—a testament to its success in engaging millennials around the cause.
How are you promoting the video?
SM: To promote the video and drive audience views, we are continuing to widely share the Tumblr campaign page across Smile Train platforms, spanning Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and have seen a ripple effect of sharing and posting via our supporter networks. In addition, we have featured the campaign and a link to our donation landing page on the home pages of our global websites and have employed digital banner ads to garner eyes across the Web. We have supplemented social tactics with direct outreach and email communications to our donors and supporters.
Our integrated approach to communications has touched all channels, enabling us to maximize outreach to current and prospective donors around the campaign’s call to action in support of cleft-affected children worldwide.
How are you measuring success for this campaign? Do you have a goal for views, clicks, new donors?
SM: Our goals for the campaign are twofold: 1) Engage existing and new audiences with shareable content, and 2) test out-of-the-box ways to raise donations. To measure success as it relates to both goals, we are focusing on the following metrics:
- Video views
- Site visits
- Content shares
- Campaign mentions
- Social reach
We are thrilled with the positive engagement Serious Baby has inspired so far and cannot wait to see how many new smiles—and transformed lives—Walter’s “Smile Strike” and call to action help create for children in need.
Thanks for the insights into your newest campaign, Shari! I hope the video continues to reach a wide audience and that #seriousbaby inspires donors to give big!