Wed, October 10 2007
Filed under: Writing •
Ernest Hemingway said in the Paris Review once, “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof shit detector.” I love Ernest Hemingway. His writing is so clean and authentic, it gleams.
We should all strive to have this essential gift so we can be good communicators. It’s oh-so-easy to fall into jargon, foundationspeak and meaningless blather. In fact, a professional I shall not name said a write-up I just gave him was “MBA B.S.” because it lacked the usual zest. I guess he has one of those detectors. It seems to have a very sensitive instrument panel.
I’ve got BS on the mind as I read a most hilarious book on marketing and corporate culture—Martin Lukes: Who Moved My Blackberry? of Financial Times fame. If you’re not familiar with this gem, it lampoons my profession in fine style. The fictional Martin works for a company that spends a fortune on rebranding from A&B Global to the absurdly umlaut-adorned a-b glÃ¶bÃ¢l and hires firms like !Eureka!Wow! which is a “one-stop talent shop to leverage solutions that excite clients.” Martin is so full of BS and yet so close to the mark in his satirical BS, marketing “blue sky, out of box” thinking that I burst out laughing - and blush for my whole profession.
My point is, I fall into BS - albeit generally by accident, not intention - and so do most marketers. So do many fundraisers. The trick is to have a built-in detector, or to know someone with one, that can keep you honest, hype-free and therefore more compelling as a communicator. Someone who notices the jargon and calls foul at cliches. You ESPECIALLY need this person if you have to write a lot of grant proposals to foundations AND appeals to donors. The foundation world will create some bad habits - you’ll fall into words that work for foundations but flop with donors.
Here are some words that should set off your detector: synergy, leverage, empowerment, participatory, unrestricted. When I worked at CARE and got information from the program department, I regularly had to pencil through “lactating women” in favor of “nursing mothers.”
Here is a helpful detector to keep jargon away: Nonprofit jargon finder
Do you know others? Please share them.
Tue, October 09 2007
Filed under: Fun stuff •
I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that my book Robin Hood Marketing has been selected for the MarketingProfs Book Club! I can’t wait to discuss and debate the Robin Hood Rules with you and all the MarketingProfs out there. We’ll be answering questions like, “What do mattresses have to do with social change?” “How can the Marlboro Man help charities?” And, “How do you get donors to ‘Just Do It?’”
I have to confess, I feel a bit like the physics fan who comes to every Stephen Hawking lecture, only to have Stephen one day shout down from the stage, “Why don’t you come up and tell us what you think?” Marketing maven and Book Club leader CK was the one who called me up to talk, and I’m very flattered by the invitation as well as excited to learn from the great discussion that should ensue from the sharp thinkers in the MarketingProfs community. Thanks CK for putting this together!
If you’re interested in discussing the book, I invite you to join the Book Club and start getting active in the MarketingProfs community. I regularly read all the blogs and tips there, and I think they are worth your time. A little incentive is that MarketingProfs is giving 50 of the Book Club members my book free – you can be eligible by signing up by Friday, October 12 at 5pm PST. Details are here.
But wait! That’s not all…
***BONUS FOR YOU: Social marketer extraordinaire Nedra Klein Weinreich is offering you a great Quick Guide to Changing the World as part of this edition of the Book Club. You can download that right now at the Book Club.***
Fri, October 05 2007
Filed under: Fundraising essentials •
Just for a second, don’t think of yourself as a “NOT.”
Don’t define yourself by what you are NOT, or by what you ARE, but by what you DO for your audience.
If you do this, you will be a better marketer.
You are more than a “not for profit.”
This kind of clear thinking comes from Nick Fellers, a smart guy I met at a conference a few months ago. (The link behind his name includes his whole treatise!) I like the cocktail napkin picture he uses on his materials.
He likes to say that impact drives income - NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.
The way I put it is: Don’t talk about the money you need. Focus on what the donor can accomplish. Banish the NOTs.
Thu, October 04 2007
Filed under: Fundraising essentials •
There have been two great pieces of news for the charitable sector in the past week:
1. Google Checkout for Nonprofits: Google is offering its transaction processing service (the Internet giant’s answer to PayPal) for free to nonprofits through 2008. No fees come out of donations they process for your nonprofit until 2009, when they say rates will be $.20 + 2% per transaction.
2. YouTube for Nonprofits: Google-owned YouTube is introducing a new nonprofit service called Broadcast Your Cause that provides your organization with a page for posting videos, viewer comments,—and, of course, a Google Checkout button for donations. In the coming months, nonprofit channels will get a centralized location on YouTube for added exposure.
It’s extremely welcome to see a major for-profit player waiving fees for nonprofits - I sure wish the credit card companies would do the same. In addition to being a community service, the waived fees are a shrewd customer acquisition strategy for Google, which wants to increase the relatively modest adoption rates of Google Checkout. As part of this effort, they have offered Checkout free to everyone - not just nonprofits - through the end of this year. It’s also terrific to see YouTube making it easier for donors and potential supporters to react to the nonprofit videos with its Broadcast Yourself program.
So should you take the Google Checkout plunge and whip out your videocamera in search of YouTube stardom? Yes—with some caveats. Here are some tips for playing with these great new - and free - tools. But before I share them, I want to remind you that I am VP of Marketing at Network for Good, a nonprofit which also offers donation processing for nonprofits. And our services aren’t free of all processing fees - but they do some important things that Google Checkout does not. So I’m not unbiased. But I’m wearing my blogger hat right now, not my day-job hat, and here’s what I’m thinking:
1. You should try Google Checkout.
Heck, you can’t do better than free. If you have the time, test it. But if you add Google Checkout to your website or on your YouTube page, I recommend doing two things.
First, swiftly and warmly thank all the donors for which you receive contact information. (Google passes on the contact information of donors who agree to hear from you; otherwise, you don’t receive it as far as I can tell.) This is really important, because the Google Checkout process is fairly sterile - the experience is exactly like buying something. So you want to follow up with a warm-fuzzy message that assures them you received the donation and reminds people they made a wonderful gift that will accomplish great things.
Second, and please note not everyone agrees with me on this, I recommend you look into registering in all of the states where you have donors. It’s the safe thing to do. This is one small downside of the program - Google does not do that for you. [Nonprofit donation processors that have the status of donor-advised funds (like Network for Good and Just Give) do.]
2. You should not only offer Google Checkout.
Why? Because you want an alternative for donors seeking some of the following options.
-You need to give donors the option to make recurring donations, which you can’t do via Checkout. You want as many donors as possible giving to you every month on their credit cards - it’s convenient for them, it’s a steady source of money for you, and everyone’s happy because you’re spending your time thanking people rather than repeatedly asking them for more money. People also tend to give more over a year with this kind of program.
-It’s good to have a donation solution that allows people to make gifts in honor of other people - we find about 20-40% of donors choose to do this (it’s highest in December).
-You want to offer donors who aren’t lovers of Google or holders of Google IDs (which you need in order to use Checkout) another way to give. Without offering two things side-by-side, you have no way of knowing if you’re scaring off people. Here’s some information on who uses Checkout and their satisfaction levels.
-If you’re getting any serious donation volume, you want to have a least one branded flow (it looks more professional and is a warmer experience) that allows you to own the relationship with the donor—and their contact information.
3. You need to manage expectations about “overhead.”
When you position Google Checkout on your site, it’s great to highlight that the option saves you money and encourage its use. But don’t go so far in pushing it that you start setting up donor expectations that there are no administrative fees involved in running your charity. There is no “free” in the nonprofit world. We all face this problem - we need money to keep the lights on, to fundraise, to pay staff, etc., but donors often want all of their money to go direct to beneficiaries. I think we should be efficient with overhead - and show our efficiency - but not create a false impression that we have no overhead. It could come back to bite us later.
4. Play around with YouTube if you have already covered the online basics.
I’m often asked by nonprofits if they should start a blog or play around with YouTube. My answer is usually yes, if you have already covered the basics. First things first - do you have a great page on your site that makes a compelling case for giving (you’ll need that for links on YouTube and elsehwere)? Are you collecting donations? Are you emailing donors with thanks and updates? Do you do outreach to existing bloggers and videographers? If you’re doing that, you’re ready for more ambitious things like video. And you’re ready for this wonderful primer from a bunch of bloggers on how to use video, courtesy of Getting Attention. Read ALL of this advice and then go play!
Tue, October 02 2007
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
At Network for Good, we were recently trying to figure out what to call a new section of our site that will help nonprofits navigate the world of social networks. We bandied about terms like “social networking,” “social media,” Web 2.0.” We were stuck because we think most people don’t say any of this. They say things like “Facebook and YouTube” or “what people younger (than I) are doing online.” And they say it with awe and confusion. I understand the awe and confusion. We nonprofits think in terms of the people using social networks, and we think of them as people other than us. They acquire a certain scary mystique that stumps our marketing minds.
Cone has some slightly old but still valid research about these younguns - aka “millenials” - that is worth sharing. Millenials include “teens” (13-17), “college” (18-22) and “young adults” (22-25) in Cone’s online survey. Cone’s main finding was this is a very socially conscious group of people - far more focused on causes at a young age than my aimless Generation X, and they reflect those values when buying things. As a firm involved in cause-related marketing, Cone has an interest in doing this type of study and showing this kind of result, but that shouldn’t detract from these findings, which seem very solid to me. Thanks Cone for sharing them. You can read more here.
1. Millenials are skeptical of marketers. They will not respond to products or services that don’t seem genuine.
2. A way to gain their trust as a corporate marketer is to align with good causes, but few companies do so. 61% of millenials are worried about the world and want to make a difference, and 81% volunteered in the past year. 70% of millenials believe companies don’t do enough to support good causes.
3. To reach these consumers, traditional marketing needs to evolve. Companies need to create a new generation of fiercely loyal customers passionate about working with corporations to change the world. 83% say they will trust a company more if it is socially and environmentally responsible. 69% say they consider a company’s social and environmental commitment when deciding where to shop, and 89% would switch brands if price and quality were the same if the second brand was associated with a good cause.
So what does this mean to us?
Bring this research to your next appointment with a corporate partner. It can help make the case for why a company should support you.
If you do get a new corporate partner, don’t forget #1—these millenials are skeptical. Cause-related marketing needs to be genuine, and in your partnership, you need to be clear about EXACTLY HOW the corporate partner supports you and how much of a purchase benefits your cause. Cause-related marketing can be a boon or backfire depending on your degree of honesty and transparency.