Fri, November 16 2007

13 Secrets of Holiday Fundraising Online

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

If you’re a procrastinator and are only just revving up your online fundraising, don’t worry.  The best is yet to come!  Most people do their online giving at the end of December, so you still have time for success.

I’d like to point you to the Procrastinator’s Guide to Year-End Fundraising by Sea Change Strategies and Care2.  You should definitely read the whole thing, but in the meantime, here are their ten steps to better online fundraising, PLUS my own three additions.  What I love about the list from Sea Change is that it doesn’t just tell you how to get a gift - it shows you how to keep the donor in a lasting relationship with you.

1. Inspire your donors.  Re-connect them with the passion and vision that inspired them to give in the first place.
2. Blaze trails to your donate page.  Make it easy for donors to give by making it easy to find your site and your Donate button.
3. Optimize your donate form.  Make it short, simple, easy, safe and inspiring.
4. Test drive your online donation process.  Sit down a few friends and watch them try to give.  Learn.  Fix problems.
5. Create a “Why Donate” page that makes a case for why someone should care - and explains what happens when someone gives.  Endorsements and ratings are good.
6. Thank your donor at least three times - when they complete a donation, when they get your email receipt and when they get your full thank-you via email a few days later.
7. Provide a warm welcome - an orientation email is a nice idea!
8. Launch a cultivation plan.  Re-inspire your donors monthly and listen to waht they say.  Build a relationship through conversation, not appeals.
9. Measure and test throughout the year. 
10. Avoid procrastinating next year!  Have a plan.  (Yeah, right.)

Katya’s three bonus tips:

Last night, I asked a group of folks in the MarketingProfs Book Club a question: When is the last time you gave?  The answers revealed three important themes to include in your fundraising thinking:

1. People want vivid examples of how their donations will be used.

So if your audience has given before, tell them all the great things they’ve done - then all the wonderful additional things more support will bring.

  As one MarketingProf member pointed out, “I give money regularly to groups where I have been able to see what they accomplish. I’m not impressed by marketing appeals, what interests me is being able to see the impact in action.”

2. Emotion motivates. People are more inclined to give if the cause is local or if they know the person asking for help.

This holiday, ask some of your biggest supporters to invite their friends and family to support you.  The passion they feel for your cause is incredibly compelling to their circles of influence.

  Bloggers may be a good target.  Says one MarketingProf member: “One of the things that I enjoy about blogging is that as the readership and influence of my blog grows, I have a greater ability to help promote ideas and causes. I’ve noticed that many of the blogs I read also make a point to promote their favorite causes and charities from time to time.  This of course costs us nothing, but I think it greatly benefits charities and causes, many of which aren’t very social-media savvy.”

3. Trust is sacred.  Be honest and transparent about your programs, your spending, your impact—everything.  As SeaChange advises,

show exactly where the money goes and what the donor’s investment will do.  And then report back on that investment, again and again






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Tue, November 13 2007

Craig’s List: Marketing rules to live by

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

Last week, I participated in a very interesting series of presentations and discussions on social marketing, organized by Craig Lefebvre from one of my favorite nonprofits - PSI.


The main point of my presentation was that all nonprofits need to apply social marketing to everything they do - not just programs or outreach but also partner relationships, training trainers, media relations and of course fundraising.

So what is “social marketing?”  Well, Craig provided the best list I’ve seen in a long time about what should define this field.  I’m going to share this list in the interests of encouraging us all (myself included) to strive toward these principles in whatever we do in the philanthropic sector.

Here is “Craig’s List”of social marketing principles:

Focusing on audiences, their wants and needs, aspirations, lifestyle, freedom of choice. And not just those audiences identified by our epi friends as having the greatest need, or by our pr colleagues as the low hanging fruit, but the people who are crucial to the success of our programs - the volunteers, business leaders, distributors, partner organizations, media representatives and policy makers to name a few.

Targeting aggregated behavior change – priority segments of the population, not individuals, are the focus of programs. Social marketing must be based on theoretical models that guide the selection of the most relevant determinants, priority audiences, objectives, interventions and evaluations for population-based behavior change such as theories of diffusion of innovations, social networks, community assets, political economics and social capital. My belief is that the major reason we cannot achieve public health impact for many of our interventions like HIV prevention is that we do not design interventions for scale, we design them with models of behavior change that are most effective with individuals.

Designing behaviors that fit their reality. We need to bring to behavior change the same insight, thought and rigor that designers bring to their work in developing products, services and experiences. If more social marketers thought like designers, and didn’t act as technicians plugging the latest scientific finding into their ‘message machine or wheel’ my hunch is we’d be more successful - and sleep better. Behaviors, not just messages, need to be tailored for people’s real lives - not the one we imagine or theorize they have, if we think about them at all.

Rebalancing incentives and costs for maintaining or changing behaviors. Though you might say ‘gotcha! back to pros and cons’ it’s a bigger idea than that. Rebalancing doesn’t mean convincing a person to use a new set of weights in their personal equation to calculate risks and benefits of acting in certain ways. People LEARN new behaviors and what I am mystified by is how complex theories are dragged out to explain and try to modify behaviors when simple learning principles like what gets associated with what and what gets rewarded and punished (or not) are often the elegantly simple solution.  Rebalancing also means adjusting the environment, policies and marketplace whenever possible to shift power to the individual to have freedom to choose and basic human rights. We need to start asking ourselves questions like: where do inequities in health status stem from? Is income generation a prerequisite for health improvement in impoverished communities? How do we allow markets to work for the poor and vulnerable?

Creating opportunities and access to try, practice and sustain behaviors. We must take distribution systems, in all their forms and expressions, as seriously - if not more so - as the messages and creative products we produce. People do not think or choose their way to new behaviors - they must have access to the information they need to make informed choices (in ways, places and times that literacy, cultural and other considerations should inherently inform: relevance should never be an after thought in social marketing). And they must have the opportunities to try new behaviors, practice them and then be able to sustain them. Behavior change is not a one-off proposition.

Communicating these behaviors, incentives and opportunities to priority audiences and letting people experience them. ALL social marketing programs are mired in the last century when it comes to models of communication. The reflexive urge to continue with top down, command and control techniques will continue for awhile (aka Source - Message - Channel - Receiver or inoculation models). I hold out that the technological revolutions we are experiencing in communications will lead to the adoption of modern communication models to frame our thinking and activities - even if many have to change while kicking and screaming or longing for ‘the good ol’ days.’ And then there are the questions we started asking 5 years about how do we apply what we know about positioning and brands to develop powerful and sustained behavior change programs, and not just logos and tag lines or ... mission statements.

Thanks Craig!


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Tue, November 13 2007

What do you think about Robin Hood?

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Fun stuff •

In an act of shameless and irresistible self-promotion, I simply must share the following photos sent by MarketingProfs book club members.  After the very challenging labor of love of writing the book, it’s a delight to see marketers holding it… and smiling.  (As opposed to less enthusiastic poses.)  Seriously.  Thank you Mario Vellandi and Mark Goren for making my year!  And thank you to book club host CK for sharing the pictures.  You are the best.



Whether you smile or not at Robin Hood Marketing, I’d like to know!  Air your honest opinion and share your marketing insights.  Discussion begins tomorrow (Tuesday) and I’d love to hear from you.  Join us tomorrow and comment at MarketingProfs.

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Sun, November 11 2007

Network for Good’s Website Makeover

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Websites and web usability •

By Jono Smith

A few months ago, Network for Good invited
Mark Rovner to present a session called “Website 101 for Fundraisers” as part of our Nonprofit 911 free training series. Mark had some great advice, and we decided to give it a try on our own website at Here’s the before picture:


So what’s wrong with this page? Where should I start?

•  First of all, there’s no evidence of what Network for Good does—“build strong relationships with supporters”—what does that mean?
•  As you can see, there are four calls to action, but none of them are very compelling: get started, fundraise, communicate, & strategize.  Are you getting sleepy?
•  There’s also a bland image that is the essence of bad stock photography. Do these two people look like they have anything to do with a nonprofit?

Here’s the refresh. And while it’s only been live for less than a month, we’ve already seen a substantial increase in lead generation and conversion.


•  The first improvement you will notice is our positioning: “Affordable & Easy Online Fundraising.” It couldn’t be more clear what we do.
•  We’ve also improved the calls-to-action.  While we increased the size of the “Get Started” button, more importantly we crafted a teaser “Average Online Gift…” that is generating higher click-through rates on the button than in the previous version.
•  The other three calls-to-action: free trial, get fundraising tips, and next steps help us appeal to a wide range of audiences, whether you are looking for a demo, a free trial, training, a newsletter, etc.

All in all, with just a few hours of work, we’ve given our website a makeover that is paying huge dividends.

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Thu, November 08 2007

It’s Miller Time for Giving

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Social Media •


In my book, I talk a lot about open-minded moments.  What’s an open-minded moment?  It’s a time, place or state of mind when people are most likely to hear your message, find it relevant and act upon it.  April is an open-minded month for TurboTax marketers, for example.  Miller cleverly realized 5 pm is an open-minded moment for potential beer drinkers, so they branded happy hour as Miller Time.  “Welcome to Miller Time,” the beer maker said to the cattle ranchers, the stock brokers, the welders, the paper pushers.

Guess what? It’s now Miller Time for the fundraisers among us.  This is our open-minded time of year, because up to half of all charitable giving for most nonprofits is going to happen in the coming weeks.  People are feeling the spirit of the season AND the need to get that tax deduction in 2007.  This is the open-minded moment when it’s easiest to convert someone to a gift.  It’s when we should spend the most time, effort and money getting our message out, because it’s far easier to ask when people want to give than when they’re not even thinking about giving.

AND WE HAVE A WHOLE NEW WAY TO DO IT this year - via social media.

I’ve been asked via Britt and NetSquared, how does the “social web” that’s exploded in the past year figure into your giving season?  How can nonprofits use web 2.0 to reach and inspire donors?

My answer is this: it all comes back to that Miller Time factor.  Not only is now the right time of year to be asking, social media gives us the right PLACE to be asking—especially if we get someone else to carry our message.  Getting our message into the mouths of supporters talking to their friends and family on the social networks, blogs, etc. where they congregate is creating an open-minded moment within an open-minded moment:  We give when people we know ask us to, and we’re most likely to give in December. I just finished a whole White Paper on this topic with my colleague Stacie Mann, and here are three suggestions from that paper:

1. You need to do all your normal outreach (mail, email, etc.)  in the coming weeks and then do a final big burst of fundraising online the very last week of the year.  The heaviest giving days online are December 30 and 31.  I say this because while social media outreach is important, it cannot and should not replace other fundraising.

2. Ask your most ardent supporters to spread the word about you in their social networks.  Make it easy for your supporters to integrate your cause into MySpace, and Facebook because people are more likely to act this time of year. 

3. Create a section of your website that cultivates these activists, invites them to create campaigns on your behalf, and explains how to spread the word.

4. Identify the bloggers who are talking about your issues and research their posts. Send them customized emails about their writing and explain why your organization’s campaign is relevant or compelling to them - and their readers.

5. Keep listening for unexpected open-minded moments online.  Set up a Google alert for your issue or organization so that if people start talking about you, you can immediately reply with a way for them to take action, wherever they are online.


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