Fri, February 08 2008

4 Nifty Tips for Building a List

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Katya’s note: This guest post is by my talented colleague Rebecca Ruby at Network for Good.  I want to share it because I often get asked, how do I build an email list?


By Rebecca Ruby

A philosophical question: If an e-newsletter is powerful enough to move someone to action, but no one’s around to read it, does it make an impact? 

If not particularly mind-bending, this inquiry does bring up a valuable (seemingly obvious) point: You can craft a fabulous e-newsletter, send it out just the right number of times per year and impart some really powerful information, but you need to create an email contact list (an audience) at your organization to be effective. 

Here are four tips to get you started on the road to contact-information glory:

1.  Make it easy, compelling and cool for your website visitors to give you their email addresses (yes, it can be cool). The majority of people visiting your organization’s website is there on purpose-they may have been searching for your organization in particular or simply shopping around for a nonprofit with your mission. Make the sign-up button easy-to-spot, put it “above the fold,” and make your form brief yet informative (you risk form abandonment if you require or ask for too many pieces of information).

2.  Include “join our email list” everywhere you can. Once you have your online form, send people there from all directions: your homepage, the signature at the bottom of your email (your everyday contacts may opt in), and other places you have content sprinkled around the Internet such as blogs and social networking pages.

3.  Use the “people love free stuff” principle. Incentivize. You’re asking people to give you something (information), and they’re going to wonder what’s in it for them:
Set up a drawing.
•Offer prizes to the first X people who sign up for your new e-newsletter or who sign up by Y date.
Show people that they’re making a difference and/or joining a community.

4. Make it easy for your current subscribers to hook their friends. Promote your newsletter and gain new subscribers by asking current subscribers to forward your message along; consider including a “forward to a friend” link in your message. Keep in mind that you should always include a subscribe link in your newsletter so people who do receive a forwarded copy have an easy way to get their own copy in the future.

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Mon, February 04 2008

What’s your appeal—fear, hope or love?

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

Seth Godin has a superlative blog entry today.  In the unlikely event you haven’t heard of Seth, he’s author of the classic Purple Cow, the new Meatball Sundae and one of my favorite writers on marketing.  He says:

People take action (mostly) based on one of three emotions:


Every successful marketer (including politicians) takes advantage of at least one of these basic needs.

Forbes Magazine, for example, is for people who hope to make more money.

Rudy Giuliani was the fear candidate. He tried to turn fear into love, but failed.

Few products or services succeed out of love. People are too selfish for an emotion that selfless, most of the time.

It’s interesting to think about the way certain categories gravitate to various emotions. Doctors selling check ups, of course, are in the fear business (while oncologists certainly sell hope). Restaurants have had a hard time selling fear (healthy places don’t do so well). Singles bars certainly thrive on selling hope.

Google, amazingly quickly, became a beloved brand, something many people see as bigger than themselves, something bigger than hope. Apple lives in this arena as well. I think if you deliver hope for a long time (and deliver on it sometimes) you can graduate to love.

Very interesting.

I think fear is not a great motivator for good causes, unless you can also pair fear with a way to resolve the situation that is terrifying.  This is why health scares often work to get people to change their health behaviors.  Too much fear and negativity will make people feel helpless or perceive that your issue is intractable.  Fear often prompts a person to cower or take cover.  Give people the feeling that they have the power to help or change a situation. 

By contrast, hope can make you commit.  Hope is a big winner for us.  Everyone wants to feel hope, and we are all about hope in our field.  I hope you are making hope a big part of the way you talk about your programs.

Love is possible for us.  If Google - a search engine - evokes that kind of emotion, we damn well can too.  IF we do a good job fulfilling our mission.  IF we do a great job telling our story.  IF we do a better job reporting back to donors what they’ve done for others.  IF we build lasting, two-way relationships with the people who support us.  Do people love your organization?  They will if you do these things.  I hope you do!

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Sun, February 03 2008

What does this have to do with marketing?

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Fun stuff •

Not a whole lot.  But it’s amusing.  This is my cousin Justin’s band’s video.  Give me an excuse for having displayed it!  I pledge a free copy of Robin Hood Marketing to the first person who can connect this video to the topic of nonprofit marketing.  No astroturfing from pickle or hotdog companies, please.

UPDATE:  Wow, well done, readers!  You were SO inspired that I’m awarding two books—one for the first entry below by Cindi AND everyone else who replies by midnight tonight gets entered into a lottery for an additional book.  I’ll announce the winner tomorrow.

UPDATE #2: The lottery winner is Jennifer!

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Fri, February 01 2008

A scarcity mentality leads to scarcity

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

I was having lunch with some of my favorite web designers the other day, and we got to talking about the scarcity mentality. They were especially irritated with unethical web designers that create websites that nonprofits can’t access themselves, so they could generate more business for their firms in perpetuity. They told the story of one nonprofit that hired them saying their last designer wouldn’t even give them high-resolution electronic files of the logo they’d designed—so the firm could charge the nonprofit each time it needed to do something with their logo. It had never occurred to that nonprofit to beware of that in their contract. While this made the firm money in the short term, the nonprofit was so irate they hired a new designer (my friends) and doubtlessly spread lots of bad word of mouth about that awful firm.

Hoarding, secrecy and a spirit of scarcity are not good strategies.

Then I saw this excellent point made by blogger Terri:

The non-profit universe is set up so that everyone must compete for the same money. This prevents a lot of networking, partnering and coalition-building. I think this is a shame. Just as it is possible for me to invite you over for dinner without giving you my house, it must be possible for agencies and others to connect and interact in ways that increase the visibility, credibility and effectiveness of everyone.

I love the dinner/house analogy, Terri. Well said.

In addition to funding fears curtailing collaboration in our sector, I see information-hoarding as another bad phenomenon. I’m appalled by some funders, nonprofits and companies that serve our sector refusing to freely share what they know and learn.

They don’t get that scarcity mentalities lead to more scarcity.

I believe in giving away everything you can, in sharing information freely and in collaborating openly with others. While this sounds scary in a competitive world, it actually gets you more resources at the end of the day. When you’re generous with others, they usually end up reciprocating. You get absolutely amazing word of mouth and massive amounts of goodwill. When you join forces with worthy partners, you usually get more visibility and resources for both parties. When you act with integrity, you get more business. Really.

I’m not saying there isn’t competition in this world. I’m saying how we react to it is critical to our success. We can fight over the same small patches of territory or we can try to band together for a bigger land grab. The rare disease organizations have done this with great success with federal funding. Newspapers have done this to great success, making online content free - they then get more traffic and therefore more ad revenue. Network for Good does this too with our Learning Center and free calls - we share everything we know about fundraising. And we’ve ended up with more nonprofits using our services, which has led to more revenue.

Generosity has an excellent ROI.

Parsimony pays back accordingly.


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Fri, February 01 2008

5 Tips for Diving into Social Networking

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Social Media •

Today at Network for Good’s Six Degrees site, we wrapped up our part of America’s Giving Challenge, a campaign by Parade and the Case Foundation.  We saw amazing performances by our wired fundraisers, and though the results aren’t yet final we can say they were incredible - many individuals raised tens of thousands of dollars for their causes.

To celebrate their achievements, I want to share this week’s tips from Network for Good on this topic, authored by my talented colleague Rebecca Ruby.  Here’s what she says:

If you’re sitting at your computer hugging your organization’s mission statement, branding guide and/or special event brochure (the one that was approved by everyone in your office, your board, your babysitter, etc. etc.), it’s time to take a deep breath-this idea might scare you.

It’s time to turn your message over to your constituents.

That’s right: let your fundraisers spread the word for you, outside of your direct reach. People are most likely to donate to a cause if asked by someone they know. Unless you personally know everyone in your town, city, state, country, etc., you need to call in the big guns: your wired fundraisers.

Wired fundraisers come in two varieties: passionate fundraisers who happen to use social networking (also known as Web 2.0) tools and people who use these tools who have turned into fundraisers. In order to take full advantage of social networking opportunities, you need to develop a plan to find your wired fundraisers (and capture their email addresses), empower them with your message and let them use their social networking tools to fly solo.

Here are a few steps to get you started:

Pick one social networking channel in which to get involved. Try, Facebook or MySpace. Or set up a blog. But most importantly, don’t try to tackle everything that’s out there. It’s better to have a strong presence in one network than to spread your organization too thin across Web 2.0.
Search for potential supporters. Search the network, Facebook Causes or MySpace pages for a nonprofit with a similar mission as yours. See who their “friends” are and invite them to your cause once you’re up and running. Here are some examples:

TransFair USA on
Grassroots International on MySpace
Campaign for Cancer Prevention on Facebook

Make it easy for supporters to find you. As proactive as you’ll want to be in terms of reigning in new supporters, they’re going to look for you-make it easy for them to do so! Name your social networking page exactly as your organization is named. Again, have a strong presence in one channel rather than all of them. (Better a potential volunteer or donor can find your blog than miss your pages scattered across many networks.)

Build your house file. Once supporters of your cause have found you, make sure you give them a strong call to action to supply their email address to you so you can contact them later.

Encourage your new supporters to do your work for you (you know what I mean). Having Facebook friends isn’t enough. Now that you’ve started to cultivate relationships with these Internet superstars, empower them to share your charity with others: ask them to recruit friends to volunteer for you, create a charity badge and invite them to post it on their own blogs and social networking sites.

Learn more about wired fundraisers by reading Network for Good’s white paper The Wired Fundraiser: How Technology is Making Fundraising “Good to Go.”
For more information about social networking, check out transcripts from the two Nonprofit 911 conference calls on Network for Good’s Learning Center - many of these tips come from them!

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