Thu, June 25 2009

14 ways to build your email list

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   How to improve emails and newsletters •

This is one of the most common questions I get asked: How do I build by email list?  Here are 14 ways courtesy of Kivi Leroux Miller, queen of email knowledge, and Network for Good.  Nonprofits marketing friends, this is a must-read!

If you want more, please join our free training with Kivi this week.  Register here for:

7 Steps to Better Email Fundraising & Communications

Do you want to grow/build your email list? Do you know if anyone is reading your emails? Does your email outreach need a design or copywriting upgrade?

Free Teleconference
Special Day & Time:
Thursday, June 25 at 4 p.m. (eastern)

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Wed, June 24 2009

Secrets to social media campaigns: New Case Foundation report

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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A little over a year ago, the Case Foundation, together with partners Network for Good, Causes on Facebook and Global Giving, and corporate partner Parade Magazine, encouraged thousands of individuals to compete online for donors, donations, and matching awards for their favorite charitable causes as part of the Foundation’s first-ever Giving Challenge. Nearly $2 million was raised for charities.  It was one of the earliest and largest experiments encouraging everyday people to become champions of their causes - and fundraisers - using social networks.

Now the Foundation, together with two venerable social media gurus Allison Fine and Beth Kanter, have put out a report summarizing what they learned.  You can read the full report here

The key findings are actually no secret at all.  But we tend to forget their truth, which is why we need to mind them closely.  Allison Fine summed up the findings on her blog yesterday, and I liked what one of the commenters said: that the main findings are what’s been true for at least 200 years, long before computers.  Namely, says commenter Kristina Carlson, “People give to people they know and trust; and a sense of urgency is critical to success.”  Allison agreed, and I do too.  Technology does not change the basic truth that we give for emotional reasons in a moment of generous impulse.  It just makes this phenomenon happen more easily, faster, and on a larger scale.  It also allows individual people or very small organizations to be catalysts for broader giving.  Most of the top fundraisers were not from large organizations. One person can do much by reaching out to their inner circle, which then connects to a greater community.  Take it from two participants:

“We had 40 volunteers who did the work of 4,000 volunteers. They emailed their address book of friends. They asked their friends to ask their friends to donate. It is fascinating. The last day of the contest you’ve never seen 40 people more on edge. We were shocked by the numbers. By the end of the day, we got 700 donations in one day. Took years off our lives!” – Linda Shiller and Mary Parente, 11th Hour Rescue

Here are the main findings:

*Four key elements contributed to the success of the 2007-2008 Giving Challenge: its competitive structure, the limited timeframe, the leaderboard allowing participants to track their progress, and the incentive to receive additional award funds.

*Personal connections were critical in activating the viral effect of successful cause efforts - by large margins (between 61-74%), cause champions reported reaching out for donations and outreach assistance to people they knew personally, including known supporters, family, friends and colleagues first to spread the word and encourage participation in the Challenge.

*Smaller organizations & all-volunteer efforts experienced significant success - 11 of the 16 Giving Challenge award recipients interviewed were for causes with annual organizational budgets of less than $1M

*Individuals and nonprofits learned how to use new tools and technologies to encourage participation and give new significance to small donors - while some participants were more comfortable with using social networking and other tools such as microblogging, other more novice users turned to their networks for advice and technical support, and immersed themselves in learning how to use these tools.

To succeed online, you need to remember all of these things: keep the focus on the audience (not the tools), because people are what make things go viral.  A deadline never hurt, either!

Thanks to the Case Foundation, Allison and Beth for your findings.

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Wed, June 17 2009

Attention nonprofits: this is how to tell a story

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

I’m getting ready to move house today and tomorrow.  I’ve been feeling a little stressed about it all.  Then I got an email from Mark Horvath, a formerly homeless person who now chronicles the lives of the homeless.  And I got perspective (I’m lucky to have a home).  And I got inspired.

THIS is how you tell an amazing story. 

A few words, a few pictures, a transformative experience.  All we need now is a call to action.  One would be to hire Mark, who is funding his efforts out of his own pocket while unemployed!  Follow him on Twitter!

Just yesterday, I was lamenting a lame piece on homelessness on the radio.  That what the “what not to do.”  Today, we get the “how-to.”

I always like to call a good story three-way communication.  Old nonprofit marketing is one-way - we talk at people.  New nonprofit marketing is two-way - it is a conversation.  Stories are three-way - they include the story teller and the audience both in the experience and transport them both to a third place, a shared experience, together. 

Please, do that as much as you can.


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Mon, June 15 2009

Two blown fundraising opportunities

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

I know I’ve been working too much when I can’t take off my nonprofit marketing and fundraising hats.

But I can’t, so I thought I’d reflect on two blown opportunities I recently noticed.

One was a long commentary on the need to support the homeless, which aired on my local NPR affiliate.  It took a compelling topic and wrung out all the humanity.  Not a single person or story made a cameo.  Just mind-numbing stats and policy jargon.  Tragic.

The second was my daughter’s school cafeteria.  They sent home a memo asking how to refund unused money in her account.  I wanted to donate it to kids who forget their lunch or to support the cafeteria, but that was not an option they gave.

Make it irresistable and easy to give.  One amazing story on NPR or one checkbox on the school lunch form could have prompted an act of charity.  Instead, they were lost opportunities.

I spend so much time saying things like this - common sense, plain and simple.  But I’m afraid I’ll keep saying them, because somehow we forget the fundamentals all too often. Look at your existing marketing and materials, and make sure you aren’t missing the obvious.  You don’t necessarily need something new and shiny.  You may simply need something old and proven.

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Tue, June 09 2009

Are your nonprofit’s stories winners or snoozers?  Learn here.

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Mike Grenville, Flickr:

Today Mark Rovner of SeaChange did a great talk on storytelling for Network for Good. This is an important topic, because we all have amazing stories—but we don’t always tell them. Or tell them well. Why? Mark says nonprofits want to seem smart and on top of things, so we load our stories with facts and data. But too much kills the heart of a story: emotion.

In other words, too many facts and too much data in your stories are the equivalent of emotional Novocain, says Mark.

So what belongs in a story? Character, desire and conflict.

The character is the protagonist. Who is the main character? It needs to be a person, not your organization. A good protagonist is human, attractive, funny, good-hearted and up against a serious challenge.

Desire is what the character wants and pursues.

Conflict is the active opposition to the protagonist achieving his/her goals. Conflict is very important: You need high stakes, long odds and maybe even a villain.

Here’s how it works together: You introduce a character, then an inciting event that changes the protagonist’s life. (Disney usually kills off a parent!) Then the character faces obstacles and conflicts to getting to a goal. This is the real meat of the story, when your character is struggling to get a law passed, a visa for a refuge, emergency surgery for an animal. It’s not clear if the character will prevail. Then the character prevails or fails. There is a moral and call to action at the end.

Mark says not every story needs to have a perfect ending. And definitely don’t make your characters perfect. It’s more interesting if they are real.

Here are some things to AVOID:

1. Fear of emotion
2. Bad casting (like making your hero an organization rather than a real person we care about)
3. Too wide a focus (individual people are better than many)
4. Numbers and data
5. Only happy endings
6. No moral

How are you doing on storytelling? Here’s a checklist: Try it out!

Handouts from the talk are here.

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