Fri, September 05 2008
Filed under: Social Media •
No. Unless they really, really want to.
•It takes a huge amount of energy and time to blog. You have to be really enthusiastic about the medium, or it’s really not going to work.
•Your CEO may not be your best spokesperson. Perhaps you have a volunteer, another staffer or a constituent that can speak better to what you’re attempting to accomplish through this mode of communications.
•You’re welcome to blog yourself, but others may be doing it already! If you don’t want to start a blog yourself, what bloggers in your community are talking about your issue that you could reach out to and engage so they’re spreading the word on your behalf?
It really comes down to the commitment and the purpose behind the blog. You need someone who will continually contribute and enjoy the process as it’s happening. And, it’s a great opportunity to think about whom you have helped, or what other champions or advocates you have who could blog to advance your mission.
Tue, September 02 2008
This is my new column for Fundraising Success.
Soon after I was divorced, I heard a story on NPR that really got to me.
I was driving home from work, half-listening to a profile of East St. Louis. It was about the area’s extreme poverty and the efforts of some extraordinary people to rise above their circumstances and make better lives for themselves and their families.
The details are long lost, but I remember one person from the story perfectly. She seized my complete attention. She was a single mother working long hours to support her two daughters. She’d cobbled together the funds to send them to a good school, and she was doing all she could for their future. She kept going, against all odds, for those girls.
As the single working mother of two daughters myself, I was amazed and humbled by this woman. Though my life is far easier than hers, I did have an inkling of just how much strength it took to do what she did.
When I got to work, I tracked down the NPR reporter, emailed him, thanked him for the story and asked him to put me in touch with the woman. After he got her permission, he gave me her contact information. I told the woman how much I admired her and thanked her for inspiring me, and then I sent a small check to support her daughters’ education.
While technically I was the donor in this relationship, there is no question that she did more for me than I could ever do for her. She gave me faith that the job of raising two daughters alone could be done, even in the hardest of circumstances.
I tell this story because it illustrates something so important: that giving and receiving go hand in hand. Fundraising is not simply about what you ask of people, it’s about what they get in return. You don’t have an empty, outstretched hand. You have a lot to offer donors, and you should frame your ask accordingly.
In crass marketing terms, we call this the benefit exchange. It is the answer to the question, what do I get for my money? If I’m manufacturing pricey anti-wrinkle cream, the benefit exchange might involve $100 as the price for hope I can regain my youth. If I’m fundraising, there are many possible benefit exchanges I can offer to my donors – faith in themselves, inspiration, a feeling of accomplishment, or – on a more mundane level—a plastic wristband or logo-laden coffee mug.
Think about this formula the next time you ask for money. Remind donors of the returns of giving, which are precious indeed.
Here are a few qualities of a great benefit exchange:
IMMEDIATE: What will people get right away in exchange for doing what you ask, whether you want them to give money, volunteer or quit smoking? Some good causes deal with the immediacy challenge with a gift like a t-shirt, hat or wristband. These offerings provide the person that donated money or took some action with an instant benefit, for example, recognition. Other options? Show how someone can save a life RIGHT NOW. Demonstrate they can feel good by making a difference THIS SECOND. And above all, make it incredibly EASY to act, so people will believe they will get the benefit exchange pronto.
PERSONAL: Our audience members need to believe from our message that the reward we’re offering for taking action will make something better for them personally. The private sector understands the importance of making rewards personal. They don’t sell you a car by explaining the way the engine is built; they tell you the car is reliable, safe, or fast, depending on who you are and your personal priorities. They take the attributes of their product and translate them into personally desirable benefits. That translation is easy to make for most products. It’s harder for good causes because we get swept up in the huge scope of what we want to accomplish. But remember, at the end of the day, it is always the personal connection, not the grand concept, that grabs our attention.
RELEVANT: We can’t easily change what our audiences believe, but by plugging into their existing mind-set we unleash great power behind our benefit exchange and our message. The values of our audience may have nothing to do with our cause, but we can still use them. A famous, frequently cited example of the value-based principle at work in social advertising is the successful Don’t Mess with Texas campaign. The phrase has become so famous that many people outside Texas don’t even realize that this is not a state slogan but rather a long-running marketing effort to get people to stop littering. The young Texan men who were the target of the campaign didn’t care about littering, but they did care about their macho image, and no one doubted the fierce pride they had for their home state. By tapping into these powerful feelings with the Don’t Mess with Texas concept, which didn’t have a thing to do with trash, the ad agency that created the campaign (GSD&M) drastically reduced roadside litter.
The bottom line? Doing good is not a one-way transaction. It’s an exchange – I give your cause support or dollars, and you give me some thing or some feeling that I want and value, right away. In my case, I gave to a woman in East St. Louis because she gave me faith in myself. And that is a benefit that not only compels a donation, it is also most certainly priceless.
Wed, August 27 2008
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
On NPR this morning, I heard an unusual story about New Orleans - it chronicled the way people’s lives and life outlooks are improving there on this anniversary of Katrina. The relatively rare reporting of good news was probably great news to people in New Orleans:
After hearing so many of the positive changes and innovative projects post-Katrina, we’ve decided enough is enough. It’s time to put an end to the negative press in mainstream media. We know that the levees broke. We know that our city is dysfunctional. We know that. But do you know about Prospect.1? Or about the influx of young professionals into New Orleans? The world needs to know about the NEW New Orleans. And to quote Brad Pitt, “If you’re going to rebuild something, why not rebuild it right?” Amen brother.
This is the sentiment behind New Orleans 100, an effort to highlight the most innovative and world-changing ideas to take root in the city since Katrina. All Day Buffet, which is leading the effort, is working via social media to spread the word about these ideas and to “combat top-down media during the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.”
Here’s what I like about this effort:
-It’s a list (and lists are always good, sticky ideas)
-It’s collaborative and celebrates many organizations
-It’s specific and tangible
-They did a nice pitch to me as a blogger
While we’re on the topic of Katrina, if you’ve never read it, check out the White Paper we did here at Network for Good on disaster giving. It shows how it fast - and fleetingly - people give in response to a crisis.
P.S.: I hope Gustav stays away.
Wed, August 27 2008
Filed under: Social Media •
Disclaimer: These results are not typical. This story is the fundraising equivalent of the bikini-clad woman in the Slimfast ad - a special success story.
Okay, so you may not have hundreds of Twittering friends at the ready or even know what the heck is a Gnomedexer, but there are some lessons here.
The messenger is everything. If you want to raise money, get people who like you to ask their friends and family for funds on your behalf. When Beth reached out to her community - in person and online - people responded.
Well-networked messengers are gold. When those fans of yours have extensive online networks, they can touch an amazing number of people.
The simpler and easier the ask, the bigger the conversion. Asking people to make a $10 with a few clicks is not a big request, and so it’s hard to say no to it.
People are total conformists. Once people see their peers doing something, they’ll follow. Beth got a bunch of technically inclined people to reach out to their networks in public, and that’s peer pressure on steroids. Social norms, meet social networks.
Tangibility is key. Beth didn’t raise money for “girl’s education in Cambodia.” She asked people to help a specific young woman with her college education. That makes a big difference.
Transparency is essential. A ticker with real-time results measured against a tangible goal makes people feel trusting - and compelled toa ct.
Thank-yous are appreciated. Beth is great at thanking people, recognizing them and celebrating what their donations accomplished. That kind of gratitude is the happy ending to a fabulous fundraising campaign.
Thanks Beth for the inspiration. And for all you do for Cambodia, a place very close to my heart.
Mon, August 25 2008
Filed under: Fun stuff •
Thanks to the AMA for having me on the show!