Wed, June 24 2015
Filed under: Fun stuff •
A great story puts your kid to bed at night and makes you watch that next episode as you confirm, bleary-eyed, with Netflix that, yes, you are indeed still watching. Stories are what connect us to other people and, most important, motivate us to act. As a nonprofit, stories are the best tool in your arsenal to connect with supporters and empower them to act.
We see it time and again that the organizations raising money and finding new donors are the ones that have mastered the art of storytelling. The winners of our Recurring Giving Challenge proved this with unique stories and a commitment to telling them authentically.
Take a look at the great stories three challenge winners used:
Wildlife SOS: Perhaps the most famous story from our leaderboard is that of Raju. Last July, Wildlife SOS made international headlines when it rescued Raju the elephant. The videos of the Raju rescue went viral, and Wildlife SOS saw a huge influx of interest and supporters. Donations remained strong during our challenge period, which resulted in Wildlife SOS bringing in the most new monthly donors!
VETPAW: The only organization to place on both of our leaderboards, VETPAW tells the story of its founder and his dual passions for animal conservation and national service. With equal commitments to providing meaningful employment for U.S. veterans and conserving critically endangered wildlife in East Africa, VETPAW has the challenge of telling two stories—that of Ryan Tate, the organization’s founder, who witnessed his fellow veterans being underemployed after their service, and the story of rangers in East Africa who risk life and limb to protect wildlife. These two powerful stories are not immediately similar, but they shine when linked by the founder’s passion and the organization’s ability to tell them in compelling ways.
Friends of Refugees: Join the story. That’s the simple call to action from Friends of Refugees. The simple conceit is that refugees are not statistics—they’re people with stories; people who, when empowered with opportunities, become so much more than numbers in a news report. By telling the organization’s story powerfully and visually, Friends of Refugees gives a face to masses of international refugees and empowers donors who are far removed from the mission to see their role in the renewal of these refugee communities. Take a look at their simple yet powerful video asking supporters to join the story.
Need some inspiration to tell your organization’s story? Download our Storytelling Guide now!
Thu, June 18 2015
Isn’t the Internet a magical place? We sure think so. And it just got even more magical thanks to #seriousbaby, a new campaign recently launched by Smile Train.
In the campaign, you meet baby Walter. Walter is standing in solidarity with kids who have unrepaired clefts and can’t smile. He’s serious about not smiling. And Walter’s call to action is clear: Donate to Smile Train. Do it. He’s serious.
I had the opportunity to find out more about this campaign from Shari Mason, senior director of integrated marketing at Smile Train.
What was the motivation to launch a new campaign for Smile Train?
Shari Mason: Smile Train is always exploring new, out-of-the-box ways to convey the importance of our cleft repair work and engage new and current supporters alike. We launch awareness campaigns at regular intervals throughout the year to enhance engagement with our donors and maintain momentum for the cause.
As we approached this newest campaign, we had the idea to depart from traditionally “serious” charity tactics and, instead, use humor as a tool for driving awareness around the serious condition of cleft lip and palate. The use of video and visual memes allowed us to tap into the sharing culture that defines the social and digital Web and bring our global vision to new, younger audiences.
Cleft is far more than a cosmetic issue: It also impacts eating, breathing, and speaking; leads to social isolation; and can prevent a child from leading a full and productive life. Baby Walter, the nine-month-old protagonist of the campaign, emerged as a humorous, relatable voice for reinforcing the severe impact of cleft on affected children and rallying audiences to help share smiles across the world.
I noticed there isn’t any Smile Train branding on seriousbaby.org. Why is that?
SM: We decided not to include branding on the campaign site to create as organic and seamless an engagement experience as possible. Our goal was to put the campaign and call to action around our life-changing cleft repair work front and center.
How have current donors responded to #seriousbaby?
SM: We have received nothing but positive feedback from our donors so far. The catchy, humor-driven approach to awareness, combined with the use of sharable videos and memes, has enabled our donors to substantively engage with the campaign and maximize sharing across their own platforms. Our donors have been wonderful advocates for the campaign and continue to positively engage with the seriousbaby.org landing page and share campaign assets far and wide. In particular, we’ve noticed that our younger supporters, including members of Students for Smile Train and our Young Leadership Circle, have strongly embraced the campaign—a testament to its success in engaging millennials around the cause.
How are you promoting the video?
SM: To promote the video and drive audience views, we are continuing to widely share the Tumblr campaign page across Smile Train platforms, spanning Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and have seen a ripple effect of sharing and posting via our supporter networks. In addition, we have featured the campaign and a link to our donation landing page on the home pages of our global websites and have employed digital banner ads to garner eyes across the Web. We have supplemented social tactics with direct outreach and email communications to our donors and supporters.
Our integrated approach to communications has touched all channels, enabling us to maximize outreach to current and prospective donors around the campaign’s call to action in support of cleft-affected children worldwide.
How are you measuring success for this campaign? Do you have a goal for views, clicks, new donors?
SM: Our goals for the campaign are twofold: 1) Engage existing and new audiences with shareable content, and 2) test out-of-the-box ways to raise donations. To measure success as it relates to both goals, we are focusing on the following metrics:
- Video views
- Site visits
- Content shares
- Campaign mentions
- Social reach
We are thrilled with the positive engagement Serious Baby has inspired so far and cannot wait to see how many new smiles—and transformed lives—Walter’s “Smile Strike” and call to action help create for children in need.
Thanks for the insights into your newest campaign, Shari! I hope the video continues to reach a wide audience and that #seriousbaby inspires donors to give big!
Fri, June 05 2015
Filed under: Fun stuff •
What are your fundraising pet peeves? Joe from the Fundraising Authority has three big ones. My pet peeve has more to do with word usage than fundraising: I have a co-worker who insists on calling monthly gifts “reoccurring” donations. I correct him from across the office, “It’s recurring!” One day he’ll say it right!
Boost the reach of your Twitter posts by using hashtags. Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog has a list of hashtags you can use every day of the week. #allthehashtags #thankskivi
Your website can be a fundraising machine. Even little changes can bring in more donations for your cause. Let our own Caryn Stein show you how in next week’s webinar: Speed Consulting: Nonprofit Website Hotline. Caryn will teach you donation page and website best practices, and then review a few lucky attendees’ websites live! Register now! (As always, we record our webinars and send the archived version to all registrants. Can’t make it on June 9? No worries. Register anyway and you can view the recording at any time.)
I’m sure you’ve heard the news surrounding an investigation by NPR and ProPublica into the Red Cross’ spending of money raised for earthquake relief in Haiti. Marc Pitman wants you to use this news as a wake-up call: Be ready to answer tough questions about where your donors’ dollars are going.
Jeff Brooks suggests that you trash your nonprofit’s general brochure. He thinks they’re a waste of time, money, ink, and paper. What do you think?
Fundraiser Grrl Rory Green takes a break from cheeky, funny posts on life in the nonprofit sector and shares some advice for new fundraisers.
We’re stoked that Farra Trompeter will be presenting another Nonprofit911 webinar with us later this month! This time she’s talking about brandraising. You should definitely register now, and then do some homework by reading up on brandraising best practices before June 17.
Because it’s Friday, you should relax and watch some cat videos. You should always be sure to watch said cat videos on our customer’s website: Cats vs Cancer! The more traffic and views their site gets, the more dollars raised for their cancer charity of the month.
Have a great weekend!
Wed, May 27 2015
Like many of your organizations, my business is basically a tiny shop. There’s never enough time and everything to do. Plus, as a working mom (and daughter of a 92-year-old), I’m multitasking day and night and always have too much on my plate. I think you see what I mean.
We all need help to keep things organized, timely, and moving forward. Here are some of the greatest helpers I know.
Right-now top tool: Google Developers Mobile-Friendly Test (free)
Fess up! When you’re looking for that specific resource or quote, you Google it. Everybody does it.
But Google just changed its search algorithm to emphasize the value of mobile friendliness. And that might mean trouble for folks trying to find your organization’s website.
If your organization’s website is mobile friendly, and you take the other steps necessary to improve your placement in Google’s search results (great guidance here), your site will turn up somewhere in those listings.
However, if your site is not mobile friendly, you’ll want to turn things around pronto.
Use Google’s free tool to find out. Simply plug in your website address, and Google will tell you the good (or bad) news. Test it, then create a doable, step-by-step plan based on what turns up in your results.
By the way, this is a tool to use both right now and periodically.
Keeps stuff keeping on: Asana (mobile app; free for up to 15 users)
A blend of to-do list and project manager, Web-based Asana saves me time and again. We all have too much going on to do it all, and that’s not even counting the unexpected to-dos that constantly crop up in the course of every single workday.
Asana helps you juggle it all—individually and with our teams—and be assured that nothing is falling through the cracks. Here’s what I suggest:
Dig into the details of three unique ways Asana can help your personal and team workflow—and your mental health.
Put it to work, first personally, and then, if it works for you, with your team.
A smart email assistant: Boomerang (available for Gmail or Outlook users only; free and paid versions)
Shhh, don’t tell my husband: I’m in love with Boomerang. It makes my life easier and ups the probability with connecting. Here’s how:
It lets me work when I need to work. Believe me, that can be midday Saturday or Thursday at midnight.
It delivers my emails to people when they’re most likely to read it and act. You write an email at your convenience and schedule it to be sent automatically at the right time.
It reminds me to follow up on specific messages I’ve sent, so nothing falls through the cracks. I can set Boomerang to let me know if an email hasn’t been opened within a certain time frame or to nudge me to follow up if it has been opened.
When I can’t dig into important incoming email, I can select messages to be boomeranged back to me at a better time.
Let’s say I’m head down on creating a slide deck and want to work undisturbed. But life goes on, and I see a few important emails come in during that time. Instead of interrupting myself to review and respond, I can schedule them to be boomeranged back to me at a time when I’m able to digest them and respond.
I think you see what I mean. But still, don’t tell my husband.
What tools do you use to make your life easier, make sure things don’t fall through the cracks, or keep things moving forward despite the craziness?
Please share your favorites in the comments section, including name, price, and the value it delivers to you. Thanks so much. Always looking for new helpers.
Fri, May 08 2015
Filed under: Fun stuff •
It’s the weekend, y’all! Here’s a sampling of the links and resources that caught our eye this week at the NFG corral.
Do you have an over-active editing committee when it comes to your donor outreach? Mary Cahalane offers her advice on how to respond when they challenge your fundraising appeal.
Nice to see our friend and NTEN CEO Amy Sample Ward featured in this NPR piece: Crowdfunded Campaigns For Nepal Are Huge. Is That A Good Way To Give?
At Network for Good, we’ve enabled nearly $1M in giving for Nepal Earthquake relief efforts. Jeff Brooks shares how you can nudge disaster responders become committed donors.
The 2nd Give Local America! day is in the books and nonprofits across the country raised over $68 million dollars on May 5! Wow! What do you do now? Here are 5 things to do after your big giving day.
Donor Relations Guru Lynne Wester takes a closer look at the latest research from Ablia and gives a good overview of how nonprofits can align their strategy with donor preferences.
What does it really mean to be an engaged donor? Derrick Feldmann shares his take on the PND Blog.
Are you including the beneficiaries of your work in your donor thank you plan? University of Minnesota’s student athletes participated in a thank-a-thon to underscore the human impact of the university’s supporters. Talk about a rewarding event for all involved!
What’s the State of the Nonprofit Sector? Nell Edgington offers a great summary of Nonprofit Finance Fund’s recently released 7th annual State of the Sector survey. Key takeaway: sustainable funding continues to be a huge challenge for many organizations.
Finally, Claire Axelrad gave nonprofits a huge gift this week with her post, 6 Secrets to Getting Your Donor Thank You Out in 48 Hours.
That’s it for this week. Have a post or favorite resource you love? Share it with us in the comments below!