Tue, September 04 2007
Filed under: Fundraising essentials •
The Washington Post today reports that “exacting donors are reshaping college giving.” The article cites a new generation of college donors that are “savvy, activist and willing to stop giving if they don’t like the way their money is being used.”
Alumni now are far more likely to give to specific projects rather than the operating funds that keep universities running and to expect detailed reports on how the money is spent. Some ask to meet the students who win the scholarships, select the professors who get the chair, scrutinize financial reports, weigh competing construction bids, choose the paintings for the gallery walls.
I agree, but this is not news, and this desire for involvement doesn’t just apply to academia. Donors usually give because they are emotionally involved, and with those feelings comes a desire for:
-Personal attachment to a cause
-Tangible, clear results because of their support
-A sense something changed for the better because of them - that they left a good mark
Alumni want their money to go to what they love (or loved) about their alma mater. People feel deeply emotional about their colleges and universities (just look in the stands at a home game), and they have very clear ideas about how those places should remain or change. Anyone working for a college or university should see this as a positive, not a negative, and communicate accordingly.
And this goes for the rest of us, too. People ultimately will give when they feel something for our cause. We should return the love with the care we would give to any valued relationship. Honor the attachment. Show its effect. Make it stronger. And share how it’s made you better. It works with your significant other, and it works with your donors, too.
Tue, September 04 2007
Filed under: Social Media •
You have a reputation online. What is it? Find out. You need to know what people are saying about you. Then you need to join the conversation.
I’ve already mentioned the 101 basics of monitoring the conversation—go to technorati.com and search for your organization and keywords. Set up google alerts for you, your organization and your issues. And for heaven’s sake, google yourself and your issue regularly. (Here are some shortcuts that can improve your search results.)
If you’ve already done that, then you’re ready for this. It’s a fantastic oldie but goodie resource from Marketing Pilgrim that’s intended for companies but works equally well for nonprofits or educational institutions.
The only thing I’d add is this: when people say bad things, don’t attack (or hire a lawyer) as your first reaction. Listen. Acknowledge. Discuss. Don’t be defensive. Ask questions. Answer questions. Offer to set things right. This usually works very well, unless you’re dealing with a crazy person—and there are some out there.
Oh, and if you’re young and your online reputation extends to some embarassing old MySpace content, here’s a solution to that.
Fri, August 31 2007
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
These are two common questions I hear:
How do I communicate to supporters about my new logo/brand?
How do I launch my new newsletter or website?
My answer is this: Your “new” is not “news.” You should not communicate what is new in your universe. You should communicate what matters to your constituents.
If you have a new logo or brand look-and-feel, that’s nice, but it doesn’t mean a thing to the outside world. What matters to the outside world is how they experience you—an experience that unfolds as the people that work for your cause answer the phone, help others, convey messages, provide services. Think about how to make that new brand come alive as an experience. In other words: show, don’t tell your brand.
If you have a new newsletter or website, figure out what is incredibly interesting IN that newsletter or website. Show what your audience members can they do that they could not before. Think like a person who writes coverlines for a magazine – what is the tantalizing content or promise that will make people want to open the magazine when they see it in the check-out lane? Or in your case, what will make them want to read that newsletter or go to that website? THAT is what you want to communicate, not simply the fact that you made a change.
Tue, August 28 2007
Filed under: Fundraising essentials •
Today SunTrust Bank’s PR agency (Edelman) sent me a summary of a survey the bank conducted in advance of their new charity promotion. SunTrust is giving new checking account customers $100 to donate to the new customer’s favorite charity or a $50 gift card that customers can spend on themselves.
The telephone survey of 2,058 adults over the age of 18 found this:
More than half of respondents (59%) said they would prefer to give the donation to charity rather than get the cash (33%) for themselves.
I asked Edelman the obvious: Now that the charitable promotion, called MyCause, is underway, are that many people really choosing charity over cash? The reason for my question is, people are notoriously bad predictors of their behavior. They tend to answer what they feel they should say rather than what they really think. In my book, I tell the story related by Kristen Grimm about everyone in a focus group claiming how much they’d love a yellow boom box. As they left, they were given a gift of a boom box, and they got to choose the color. Most everyone picked black over yellow. This is a limitation of research that’s probably even more pervasive with charity—we all want to look charitable, after all.
Edelman said it’s too soon to tell, but I look forward to hearing more about the results when they are in. I hope people really are that generous, because I’d like to see giving-related promotions succeed.
SunTrust also asked a bunch of questions about past charitable activities (which is probably more sound than predictive data), and the results are very interesting. I applaud them for sharing this data, so we can learn from it. I also applaud SunTrust for incorporating charity into their promotions.
Here’s the run-down:
-Nine in 10 Americans regularly donate to charitable causes
-Women are more likely than men to give to a charitable cause (93% vs. 87%); women are also more inclined to choose the $100 SunTrust donation over the cash incentive (65% vs. 54%)
-Younger Americans (18-34 year olds) are also more generous with their non-monetary support than older Americans (35+ years old), and are more willing to purchase products to support a cause, volunteer with the organization, attend fundraisers and participate in large-scale events. They are also more likely to wear bracelets or other accessories associated with a cause.
-Respondents were also most likely to support causes relating to their church or other religious organization (53%); to organizations that combat hunger and poverty (50%); or to provide disaster relief from hurricanes and other natural catastrophes (48%). The non-profit organizations least likely to receive donations from survey respondents were those supporting animal causes (32%) [Note: this was pre-Michael Vick]; environmental issues (25%); or the arts and culture (21%).
-The survey also found that most Americans don’t have an “either/or” approach to supporting their favorite causes: Those who had made recent monetary donations to charity are also significantly more likely (94%) to support non-profit organizations in other ways than those who haven’t donated recently (74%).
-On average, Americans spend 4.1% of their annual household income on charitable causes; those over 55 years of age donate the largest percentage (4.6%) versus those 18-34 (3.8%)
-Across gender, age and region, Americans were most motivated to give back for two reasons: It’s the right thing to do (89%) and because they want to help others (88%). Just 26% of respondents say they donate money to receive a tax write-off
-Three-quarters of Americans (76%) prefer to support their charity of choice by giving money instead of by volunteering time
-Southern adults donate the highest proportion (4.5%) of their income to charitable causes, followed by the Midwest (4.2%), the West (4.0%) and the Northeast (3.6%)
-Two in three Americans (63%) give money directly to people in need, such as those on the street or via churches and community organizations
-Seven in 10 Americans are inclined to do business with companies that give back to their communities
For more details about the SunTrust “My Cause” poll or promotion, go here.
Mon, August 27 2007
Filed under: Websites and web usability •
Last week, my frolleague Mark Rover of Sea Change hosted our free Nonprofit 911 call here at Network for Good. It focused on easy fixes to underperforming web sites, and I wanted to share a few gems from him.
First, the FOUR-SECOND RULE:
Anyone should be able to tell in four seconds who you are/what you do.
Eight Things A Nonprofit Home Page Should Have
1. A guessable URL
2. Your postal address (so you look legit and so people can send you a check if they want)
3. Your phone number (shows you’re real, makes you accessible)
4. Email sign-up (so you can cultivate people after they visit)
5. Keyword density (so people will find you via search) - this is so important!
6. Donate Now buttons (on the main part of the page and in the navigation)
7. A pathway for learning more about the organization (a case for why you should donate)
8. Images - strong, emotional ones that are clickable (people expect images to be clickable - send them to your case for giving or your donate form)
What it should NOT have? Too many words. Or any of the qualities of the wretched sites Mark highlights here.
Stay tuned for details on the next Nonprofit 911 call - you’ll be invited.