Thu, December 11 2014
When I saw this Facebook post from the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless (ECHH), my smile spread like wildfire.
You see, we’ve been working with the ECHH team on year-end fundraising campaigns for a few years, and among the countless things I was surprised to learn when we started is just how many of the individuals and families they serve are working full-time (or more, holding multiple jobs) but still can’t make ends meet—68%!
Sixty-eight percent is a huge segment—almost two-thirds of those served by ECHH. These folks aren’t alone. Unfortunately, the “working poor” population is growing fast, but many people are still unaware of that critical detail.
In fact, there’s a common misperception that people without homes bring it on themselves through laziness (like not working or not trying to find a job), addiction, or other issues. Even though that’s untrue for so many of ECHH’s clients and for other families who have lost their homes, widespread misperceptions like this one often become so entrenched that they seem like facts.
Kudos to ECHH for opening eyes and minds to this crucial fact across its communication channels, including Facebook. It’s a potential game-changer and is likely to move some prospects from no to maybe or yes on the donate meter.
ECHH strives to correct misperceptions that stand in the way of a donation with stories that highlight the efforts those served are putting in to take care of their families. Similar stories that engage readers through likeable protagonists just like themselves were featured in a recent campaign letter:
We helped Jeannie find extra work to supplement her salary from her full-time job (and build up some savings) and to get the full allotment of food stamps the family deserved.
With Martha and Renee now back to their happy selves and Jack busy in college, Jeannie is once again beginning to feel that her family is secure.
Your organization has stories and stats that are equally vital but unknown. Discover what your secrets are and unmask them asap! They may be the tipping point for your year-end fundraising campaign.
Tue, June 24 2014
As someone with a common name that’s spelled a bit differently, I’m all too aware of the confusion and errors that happen because of a unique moniker. When people are expecting Karen with a K, I’m forever spelling out C-a-r-y-n. For me, this typically only causes minor inconvenience and some interesting conversations about names. For your organization, though, an unusual name, unconventional spelling, or indistinguishable acronym could negatively affect your marketing efforts.
The same can be said for your nonprofit’s domain name. Having an easy-to-remember (and difficult to mess up) domain name can help supporters quickly find your organization online and reduce confusion when you’re telling folks about your nonprofit on the phone, in person, or in print.
1. Keep it simple. Make sure it’s easy to remember and understand, especially when saying it out loud.
2. Avoid numbers when possible. When you substitute numbers for words, it’s more difficult for your supporters to remember if your web address contains the numeral or the number spelled out.
3. Also register variants of your name. If there are common misspellings or typos that might lead your supporters astray, consider registering those domains as well, so you can point those visitors in the right direction.
4. Get the .com, and other extensions. Most organizations will want to get the .org of their chosen domain name, but cover your bases and register other extensions of the same domain name. Soon, you’ll also be able to register .ngo and .ong thanks to the folks at Public Internet Registry.
Network for Good is partnering with Public Interest Registry to help get the word out about the new .ngo and .ong domains. These domains will give nonprofits and other non-governmental organizations worldwide an opportunity to secure a new top-level web address. Since Public Interest Registry will manage a validation process to ensure that only genuine NGOs are granted these new domains, having an .ngo or .ong address will help organizations reinforce trust and credibility.
The new domains will be available early next year. So, what can you do now? Sign up to submit your Expression of Interest—you’ll receive updates about these new domains and be the first to know when .ngo and .ong are available. For more details on submitting your Expression of Interest and to sign up, visit www.globalngo.org
Do you plan to secure an .ngo/.ong domain name for your organization? Share your domain name questions and experiences in the comments below to join the conversation.
Tue, April 29 2014
During an NPR pledge drive in February, a Philadelphia-area radio host (apologies that I haven’t been able to find him) mentioned an online debate over the origin of the term crowdfunding. According to Social Media Week and Fundable, modern-day crowdfunding began around 1997 when a British rock band raised funds online for a tour. (Wikipedia takes us back to 1884!) But our local radio host had a different opinion, saying that thanks to pledge drives, NPR had been crowdfunding long before that.
When I picture a pledge drive, I see people manning the phones. But when I picture crowdfunding, I see the Internet and cool causes.
So what’s going on here?
The answer is simple: Sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and CrowdRise have rebranded “pledge drives” to be more fun and cutting edge, and with that came a new name. The truth is, simply changing a name is a great way to develop a new brand identity and connect more successfully with a target audience. Have you heard of Quantum Computer Services or BackRub? That’s AOL and Google, respectively. (Can you imagine “BackRubbing” last night’s final Jeopardy question?)
Is the name of your nonprofit hard to pronounce? Do you have trouble getting it all out in one breath? Does it only mean something to the people within your organization? If the answer is yes, consider how you can tweak it to fit the work, personality, and impact of your nonprofit.
Don’t like the terms? Change them!
Perhaps changing your name is going too far. Maybe you love your name and have a great reputation, but you can’t get anyone to come to the “Saturday Morning Cleanup.” Try repackaging events to focus on the fun aspect, such as the “Reservoir Preservation Walk” on Saturday mornings, when volunteers relax with each other and beautify the local reservoir.
Think about the terms you use to identify your nonprofit and your programs. Making some smart updates can significantly improve your marketing efforts and refresh your branding.
Have you implemented a name change to breathe new life into an initiative or make a program feel more inviting? Share your experiences in the comments below!
Fri, April 11 2014
Most organizations go to great lengths to carefully craft a mission statement, outline a vision, and develop a tagline to clarify their place in the world. But it’s important to remember that these elements aren’t meant to be stored away as archived material in your annual report. These core beliefs should be an everyday yardstick for all of your communications.
As you work to react to changes in your community, crises, and fundraising ups and downs, it can be tempting to try anything to see what may stick. Something similar happens when there’s a marketing trend or a new channel to explore, like a new social network. When you feel this urge, it’s important to think about how you answer these four questions:
1. Who are you?
2. What is your purpose?
3. How do you accomplish your work?
4. What are your values?
Answering these four key questions will ultimately help you answer a fifth: are your actions and outreach consistent with your organization’s core identity? If not, it’s time to take a step back to ensure everyone in your organization knows and understands your brand—and how you bring it to life.
Mon, March 24 2014
Do you know how supporters feel about your organization? What are people saying about your cause online?
All too often organizations are so busy promoting their next campaign or event they fail to pay attention to managing their reputation. If you’re not actively monitoring and managing how your nonprofit’s brand is perceived, your fundraising and marketing efforts will suffer.
This week, we have a must-see webinar for anyone working in the sector. Dr. Dionne Clemons, nonprofit communications expert, will join us for a free webinar all about understanding and managing your nonprofit’s reputation. She’ll show you how to create a plan for actively managing and safeguarding your brand. If you need some help planning for crisis communication, brand monitoring, public relations, or social campaigns, you will not want to miss this.
Take Charge of Your Nonprofit’s Reputation
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 1pm ET
(If you can’t attend the live session, go ahead and register so you can get the recording and slides delivered shortly after the event.)