Fri, August 07 2015

Bring-’Em-Close Welcome Packs

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

I just donated to your organization for the very first time. So what kind of welcome am I going to get?

Will you respond ASAP with a quick, impersonal email and never be heard from again? Or will I receive that generic email or letter a few weeks or even months later, when I’ve totally moved on, and that’s the last I hear from you—until you ask me for more money?

I think you see what I mean.

There’s nothing I hear more of from you than complaints about donor drain. You’re not alone. Donor attrition is a perennial struggle for most nonprofits, despite the fact that retention rates are slowly rising.

But there is a proven, doable path to plugging this deadly donor drain.

Just imagine your organization welcomes me like this:

  • I receive a brief, warm, conversational thank you email within a few hours of my donation. It’s from an individual, who “signs” it.
  • Within the next week or two, I receive a warm, personalized (beyond just my name in the salutation), and in-depth welcome pack.
    • Format is not set in stone, but hard copy can be effective for baby boomers and beyond.
    • Your executive director or a program staffer tells me how my donation is going to make a difference.
    • You also share a clear, easy to remember and repeat story of one or two of the organization’s clients or beneficiaries, and I get to know them a bit more via their photo.
  • I get your organization and start to feel like part of the family.
  • I’m pleased to be appreciated, respected, and making a difference.

You can do it, too!

No matter how small your new donor’s gift, making this early post-thanks communication warm, personal, and motivational (to do more—volunteer, participate, give again—at least in time) is key. It becomes the first step across the bridge to donor retention.

This welcome pack from the Stickley Museum gets five stars.

Stickley Museum Welcome Pack

Take the welcome pack I received following my family’s recent donation experience to the Stickley Museum. The museum is just 30 minutes away and, as the home and workshop of arts and crafts movement designer Gustav Stickley, a place we’d been meaning to visit for years.

We finally got there, arriving just in time for a walking tour (free with admission). We quickly computed that we could join for the price of family admission plus $10 or so. I have to say that both the place and the folks who ran it—mostly volunteers—took us, and we joined.

I thought that was that. I never expected to hear much again from the museum. It’s a tiny organization with just a couple staff members. So I was delighted to receive a juicy welcome pack in the mail a week later. The pack included:

  • A hand-signed thank you/welcome letter from the acting executive director, telling me the difference my donation is going to make. I’m a sucker for real ink.
  • An overview of member benefits, most of which I wasn’t aware of and generated an “a-ha.”
  • A listing of upcoming walking tours on a range of topics I had no idea the museum would address. Who knew this place was even more interesting than I thought?
  • The most recent newsletter, 12 pages in full color. Don’t get stuck there. Yours can be four pages if that’s more doable. The point is to showcase the range of your organization’s impact via words and graphics, and to put varied opportunities for further engagement in front of your new donor.
  • A brief invitation to volunteer with a couple of specific, ultra-short-term opportunities. Finally, an organization that tries to get me more involved at the moment I’m still paying attention. I’m in love!

Take a hard look at the Stickley Museum’s welcome pack components. What’s relevant to your new donors? What else would you add? What’s not a fit?

Shape your welcome pack to your donors’ wants and habits, including format, contents, tone, look, and feel. Do it right, and it’ll feel like a welcoming hug from a newish friend or family member. There’s nothing better!

Tell us: Does your donor welcome pack—traditional or not—bring new donors close? Please share your tips in the comments section.

More on Welcome Packs


With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at GettingAttention.org.

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Tue, July 28 2015

The Millennial Impact Report: Q&A with Derrick Feldmann

Emily Wang's avatar

Senior Communications Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials • Nonprofit leadership •

What inspires Millennials to give and volunteer? How can an organization engage with its Millennials? We’re racking our brains trying to understand the group that’s soon to be the largest living generation in the nation. Fortunately, we’ve got help from Derrick Feldman and his team at Achieve, who recently published the 2015 Millennial Impact Report. If you have the same burning questions, I strongly encourage you to read the report here. Short on time? Read our Q&A with Derrick below:

Network for Good: How can organizations use your research to activate their Millennial donors and volunteers?

Derrick Feldman: One of the most beneficial uses of this research is that it offers an intimate look at how Millennial employees engage in cause-related activities, especially in the workplace. They are passionate supporters of causes that interest them and benefit society! This research can be used as a guide for becoming more acquainted with your Millennial employees. It is a fairly comprehensive account of the attitudes and behaviors of Millennial (and non-Millennial) employees’ approaches to volunteerism and charitable giving within diverse work settings. Many CSR professionals might glean insight into how to effectively harness Millennials’ energy and enthusiasm toward cause-related experiences. For example, the report provides valuable information about using Millennials’ skills, interests, and motivations to create opportunities of value for them as well as to make an impact in their chosen community.

NFG: What are the top three takeaways from the report that would be valuable for an organization’s board and staff?

DF: Here are the three important takeaways:

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask your Millennial employees to give! Nearly a quarter (22%) of Millennial employees and more than half (55%) of Millennial managers who made charitable donations in 2014 indicated that their company solicited these donations. Millennials are charitable, and they want to make a difference in both their local and global community.

  2. Know your employees! Nearly half (45%) of Millennial employees participated in a company-wide volunteer day. While that is impressive participation, there is certainly room to increase involvement. Among those employees who volunteered, 29% did so because they were interested in the cause, and more than three-quarters (77%) said they were more likely to volunteer if they can use their specific skills or expertise. When organizing opportunities for Millennial employees to volunteer, companies should know which causes employees are passionate about, and then leverage the skills and knowledge of those employees to benefit the cause.

  3. Peer influence and relationships matter! Employees (management and nonmanagement) were most highly influenced to participate in cause-related activities by their peers. Sixty-five percent of Millennial employees were more likely to volunteer if a co-worker asked them. Meanwhile, 67% of managers indicated they would be more likely to volunteer if other co-workers, not supervisors, were participating.

NFG: You recommend having a peer-to-peer fundraising model in place to activate Millennial employees. What factors do you think are required for it to be successful?

DF: Companies need to create resources and roles for peer engagement that don’t exist today. This is where companies can take the lead from nonprofits that have been working in the peer-to-peer fundraising space for a while.

Companies should enable peer leaders to step into a leadership role, identify the cause issue they want to address, and define the methods they want to engage their team in performing. This means the company needs to provide resources for the peer to be successful. This includes the education, programming, and financial resources to activate their peers. From toolkits to training programs, companies should activate peer interest into leadership and leadership into organizing.

NFG: What can we look forward to in the next phase of the Millennial Impact Report?

DF: In the next phase of the Millennial Impact Report, we will be moving from attitude and intent to investigating behaviors and factors that impact that behavior. We really want to understand how and why some workplace cultures are successful in cultivating an engaged workforce while others are still struggling to establish successful cause-related initiatives or programs within their companies. We also want to delve more deeply into which relationships, and associated characteristics of those relationships, yield the most engaged employees and how this engagement can be sustained into the future. We plan to release our next update report in October. Stay tuned.

A big thanks to Derrick for chatting with us! For more great research from Derrick, check out our recent webinar with him, Millennial Alumni Study: Key Takeaways for the Nonprofit Sector.

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Fri, July 17 2015

Watch this Brilliant Second-by-Second Storytelling Masterpiece

Liz Ragland's avatar

Senior Content and Marketing Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

After Caryn’s webinar on Tuesday, Storytelling with the Emotional Brain, I came across this video in my Facebook feed. It was posted last year, so you may have already seen it. Watch it now:

Wow. I mean… WOW. Doesn’t it hit you hard? This is storytelling to the max, revealed in one-second intervals. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what’s happening in every shot. I watched it four times before I noticed the news broadcast’s grim report and the newspaper declaring martial law.

This just great storytelling in general, but it also hits the eight essential storytelling ingredients that we recommend nonprofits include in their appeals. Here they are:

Emotion

1. Emotion

Lots of emotions run throughout the entire video. In the beginning, the girl is happy, cheerful, and silly, and then she’s scared, heartbroken, and defeated in the end. I’m sure you’re also scared for her and her family, right?

2. Compelling Opening

It’s a birthday party. Nothing special, but the plainness of the event makes you wonder what’s going to happen. Why is the birthday important?

Compelling Opening
a relatable protagonist

3. A relatable protagonist

This little girl could be your neighbor. Her grandma embarrasses her with cheek pinching. She plays in the park with her dad. Her schoolmate tries to sneak a kiss. She’s practicing her musical instrument. These are all totally relatable experiences for all ages in all pockets of the world.

4. Desire

It’s obvious that her family is trying to get to safety. You can tell they’re motivated to get out of the war zone they have been thrust into.

Desire
Ample conflict

5. Ample conflict

If the gunshots aren’t ample conflict for you, I don’t know what is.

6. Compelling imagery

Since the story is told with the face of a little girl, her experiences (both happy and scary) keep you watching.

Compelling imagery
Real details

7. Real details

There are just enough details in her typical day that we understand this girl lives a happy life and we see where her life takes a huge turn. The level of detail within each second is just enough for us to grasp the situation without making us take in too many ideas at once. The details in her face and in her expressions alone, regardless of the sounds and picture around her, are enough for us to figure out what’s going on.

8. What happens next?

This is where the video is a little unclear. Luckily, there is a call to action box on the YouTube video throughout the video displaying the text-to-give phone numbers.

What happens next?

If you missed this week’s webinar, no worries: Just download the archived version. You’ll get an in-depth explanation of these eight ingredients that were brilliantly illustrated by Save the Children’s video, as well as mistakes to avoid and the science behind storytelling’s impact on our minds (and hearts).

Storytelling for the Emotional Brain
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Mon, July 13 2015

Summertime Shifts: Keep Connecting Through Fireflies, Fireworks, and Family Vacations

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

Summertime Shifts: Keep Connecting Through Fireflies, Fireworks, and Family Vacations

Nothing is more important than crafting content that’s relevant to your readers. But it’s challenging when they’re distracted by the delights of ice cream, the beach, and after-dinner badminton.

Summer is just different. Even though schooldays ended eons ago for most of us, our focus, attitudes, and readiness to act change as the weather warms. Over the years, I’ve heard from many of you that you feel the same, as do your supporters and prospects. And you’ve asked me how to connect in the context of sizzling summer distractions.

Here are three ways to up your summer communications game:

  1. Change timing and/or frequency. A quick poll of nonprofit communicators found this to be the most common summertime shift.
    • No Friday sends.
    • Send less frequently.
  2. Shift your topic, tone, and/or language to make it seasonally relevant and fun.
  3. If you know your people are on email less and Facebook more, follow them where they are. This applies whatever the season.

Here’s more summertime shift guidance from some of the best fundraisers and communicators I know:

  • Make your content more fun, light, active, and short attention span friendly, advises Kivi Leroux Miller from Nonprofit Marketing Guide.

  • Craft your asks to be short, sweet, and personal, like this creative appeal from Food for the Poor, suggests fundraiser Pamela Grow.

  • Be aware that you’re communicating to people who are on or just back from vacation, says John Haydon. That could mean sending an email twice (with a fresh subject line the second time), with round two going to those who didn’t open the first, and extending a campaign period into early fall.

Whatever summertime shifts you consider, it’s ideal to base them on what you know about your people, anecdotally and/or via data on last summer’s responses. If possible, measure before and after each shift, and make only one change at a time so you know what does or doesn’t work.

What summertime shifts do you make in your fundraising campaigns and communications? Please share in the comments section!

More Summer Stuff


With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at GettingAttention.org.

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Tue, July 07 2015

Make ONE—and Only ONE—Call to Action (Case Study)

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Marketing essentials •

Remember when you were 15 and your mother would tell you to clean up your room, call your grandmother, and come down to dinner all within the same five minutes?

Remember how frustrating that was? How even if you wanted to do everything your mom asked—not every teen’s desire, for sure—there was no way you could, so you just didn’t do anything at all.

I was thrown back there when someone handed me this card during a recent visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I think you’ll see what I mean:

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Count the calls to action featured on this small postcard:

  1. Share your memories and photos online, tagged with #Met145. Or is it @metmuseum?
  2. Celebrate with a 145th anniversary cocktail, dessert, or menu.
  3. Donate at this extremely long URL to build the future of the Met.

By presenting three calls to action and two ways to approach one of them, the Met confuses us—or at least me—rather than spurring us to act. And it’s frustrating! Assuming we want to support the museum’s mission, we don’t know which action is the priority.

As much as I admire the Met’s marketing finesse and programmatic commitment and love visiting its provocative, refreshing galleries and special exhibits, this card campaign could be easily improved by reducing it to just one call to action.

Most important, I urge you to use this example as motivation to review your organization’s calls to action. Ask people to take just one action at a time, because that’s all any of us can take. Put these individual calls to action together in a series, like steps in a staircase, to create the bigger action your organization wants. It works!

What are your challenges in crafting calls to action that engage your people and motivate them to act? Please share them in the comments section and I’ll respond. Thank you.

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