Fri, October 05 2007

You are NOT a “not”

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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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.

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Thu, October 04 2007

Tips for Google Checkout, YouTube freebies

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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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!

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Tue, October 02 2007

Millennials think corporations need a conscience

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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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.

PS - Read more about reaching Millenials here.  (Thanks Mark for the head’s up.)

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Fri, September 28 2007

Campaigns to emulate: Tips from Ploughshares

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Katya’s note:  Blog reader Michael Stein wrote me recently to ask me my thoughts on his online fundraising campaign for Ploughshares Fund:  I liked it, and so I asked him to tell us what he learned in running the campaign that would help us.  Happily, he obliged.  Here is a very helpful guest post from Michael. 

By Michael Stein

Ploughshares Fund in San Francisco is conducting an innovative online fundraising campaign in conjunction with its 25th anniversary with a project called  Twelve nonprofit organizations working on peace and human security issues were selected by Ploughshares to be in the running to win a $100,000 grant to amplify their message during the 2008 elections.  Each selected organization has to campaign online and offline for votes, one dollar equals one vote and the organization with the most votes by Oct 31 wins the grant.  Each organization also gets to keep the money they’ve raised throughout the two month campaign.

A few things we’ve learned so far running this campaign:

1) The biggest factor in driving donations and votes for has been the email campaigns conducted by the twelve selected organizations.  On average, the organizations are emailing their constituents every two weeks during the two month campaign.  Email fundraising is alive and well.

2) “Matching gift” fundraising campaigns are excellent for motivating donors to make online gifts in a short period of time.

3) Collaborative fundraising campaigns (where several nonprofits band together to raise money) offer a fresh approach to reaching out to an online and offline constituency, which could apply to any type of advocacy coalition.

4) Facebook has helped us reach out to colleagues and friends online, and our Google Analytics show a strong ability for this to drive traffic to  The personal nature of Facebook communications is useful to draw attention to a cause.

The twelve nominees are: American Friends Service Committee, The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, Citizens for Global Solutions, Faithful Security, Genocide Intervention Network, Global Green USA, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Peace Demands Action, Refugees International, True Majority, Union of Concerned Scientists, Women’s Action for New Directions. 

Please vote

Michael Stein is an Internet strategist based in Berkeley, California.  Read his blog here.


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Thu, September 27 2007

The fundraising good, the bad and the ugly

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

First, the ugly.  Last week, I woke up one morning to find my face had swollen like a balloon due to a mysterious allergic reaction.  It was horrible, uncomfortable and disfiguring, and it lasted six days.  It’s gone now, but I’m still not over the experience - my children found me scary and when I looked in the mirror, I did not recognize myself.

Enough of the self pity.  My point is, it doesn’t feel good to look at something that should reflect you and not see yourself.

Now, the bad.  My alma mater, Haverford College, earlier this year sent me a bad emailed appeal.  I lamented this poorly led, “all about us” missive.  Here’s what it said:

January 1 is New Year’s Day, according to the Gregorian calendar.  Sometime between January 21 and February 21 is the Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year.  Many cultures celebrate the New Year on the day of the vernal equinox, which is also when the ancient Babylonians used to celebrate it. April is the month of the Nepali, Thai, and Cambodian New Year’s celebrations, among others. And at Haverford, when the calendar hits July 1, it is the new fiscal year!

The last fiscal year was one of unprecedented success for the Haverford Fund, with 52% of our generous and loyal alumni contributing $4.2 million dollars!

The 2007-2008 fiscal year promises to be an exciting year on campus, with the arrival and inauguration of Steve Emerson ‘74 as president. We hope to show him how committed the alumni body is to the current life of the College by sustaining and improving upon last year’s great success by increasing our participation to 53%!

Why do I care about these dates, the fiscal year or the development department?  What does this have to do with me?  I looked at this appeal and I did not see myself.  I did not recognize the do-gooder, warm institution I remember.

Now the good:  Haverford sent me a fantastic mailed appeal this week that is gold-standard marketing.  I looked at this and I saw myself.  Literally.


You can almost see the line over to Katya ‘89, who is marketing for good.  Open it up and it says, “Haverfordians make a difference in the world through their support.”  And it asks me to support the education of people like them.  It’s about me, people I can help, and the difference we all make.  I love this appeal because it connects to the reader literally and emotionally.  It’s like looking in the mirror and seeing a reflection of myself - and my aspirations.

What’s good: focusing on the donor.  What’s bad: focusing on yourself.  What’s ugly: allergic reactions!

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