Fri, April 11 2014

4 questions to help you stay true to your brand

Caryn Stein's avatar

Director of Content Strategy, Network for Good

Filed under:   Branding • Marketing essentials •

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.

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Fri, April 04 2014

What Cap’n Crunch Can Teach You About Fundraising

Caryn Stein's avatar

Director of Content Strategy, Network for Good

Filed under:   Fun stuff • Marketing essentials •

Have you ever felt like you were being watched in the supermarket?

In a new study from Cornell Food and Brand Lab, researchers found that characters featured on kids’ cereal boxes make incidental eye contact with children and cereals aimed at adults make incidental eye contact with adult shoppers. Cereals presumably marketed to children (think Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, Trix) were found on lower shelves, and the gaze of the characters on these cereal boxes look downward at an angle of 9.67 degrees. 

This is probably not too surprising, but they took things a step further. Researchers asked a group of volunteers to rate their feelings about a brand based on the character featured on a cereal box. Study participants were randomly shown one of two versions of a Trix cereal box. One version featured the rabbit looking straight at the individual, in another, the rabbit had a downward gaze. Can you guess what happened?

People expressed a stronger connection to the brand when the rabbit made eye contact. Brand trust was also found to be 16% higher.  Participants even stated they preferred Trix, compared to another cereal, when that silly rabbit made eye contact.

Eyes in the Aisles Cartoon

So what does this have to do with nonprofit fundraising? Here are a few important reminders from the cereal aisle:

Know your target audience.
Think about the people you are trying to reach. Everything about your marketing efforts should speak to their unique experiences and values. One size does not fit all, so if you have multiple audiences, segment and tailor your approach accordingly.

Position yourself in their line of sight.
Are your cereal boxes on the right shelves? Understand the habits of your target audience and how to find them when they’re most likely to take action. If your target audience commutes via carpool each day, placards on the train aren’t going to make much impact. That’s somewhat obvious—the trick is having a deep understanding of where and when to reach your prospects. If you don’t have this intel, make it a priority to get it.

Make eye contact.
Are you looking your donors in the eye? Do this both figuratively and literally with your fundraising materials. In your emails, in advertisements, and on your website and donation pages, feature strong images of faces looking directly into the camera. Strike an emotional chord with your donors and make it easier for them to connect with your campaign.

How are you making eye contact with your donors? Share your ideas in the comments below, and—just for fun, tell us which cereal is your favorite. (Confession:  I’m partial to Apple Jacks as a guilty pleasure.)

Image courtesy of Cornell Food and Brand Lab

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Thu, April 03 2014

How big data can help nonprofits raise more money

Caryn Stein's avatar

Director of Content Strategy, Network for Good

Filed under:   Marketing essentials • Tools •

Over the past few years, there has been a lot of talk about “big data” and how using the plethora of information we now have at our fingertips will help fuel efficiencies and make businesses and causes more successful. But how can data transform a nonprofit’s ability to fundraise more effectively? I recently caught up with Josh Mait, CMO at Relationship Science (RelSci), who offered some intel on how they’re connecting organizations with big data for big results.

Relationship Science offers a “relationship capital platform.” Josh explains, “We help organizations, both for profit and nonprofit figure out how to leverage their ‘relationship capital’ to high-impact donors Basically, how does a nonprofit organization identify and act on all of the 1st and 2nd degree relationships they have access to accomplish what they’re trying to do.”

Josh says that while as individuals we’ve become good networkers, especially thanks to the proliferation of new communication tools like social media, organizations still struggle to make the right connections.

In the nonprofit sector, organizations often face three key challenges that data can help solve:

1) Optimizing the board. 

2) Identifying high-impact donors. 

3) Reducing the length of fundraising cycles. 

By using data about individuals and their relationships, you can keep track of how these relationships may connect you to your next major donor or high-impact board member. For nonprofits wondering how to use their donors, board members, or corporate sponsors more effectively, being armed with the right information can help. The ability to talk to a board member about who they might have a relationship with can be very powerful if used properly. If you’re able to approach someone with a common experience or interest, this gives your request added credibility and social power.

“Relationship capital can help fundraisers identify people who might be good prospective donors,” explains Josh. “By looking at the full picture of your networks, your board’s relationships, your existing donor’s relationships and other people close to the organization,  you can immediately see new opportunities for growing a donor base. With limited resources, you can focus on potential donors who can be high impact. You can focus on those who are more likely prospects and approach them with a warm introduction.”

Relationship Science offers nonprofits a platform that has profiles on over 3 million decision makers throughout various organizations, including public, private and financial companies.The service builds deep dossiers based on publicly available information on these key decision-makers.

“There aren’t salacious or personal details—and no contact information. We simply provide a really easy to digest format for intelligence and insights,” Josh says. “Because we collect all of this information and put it into a usable interface, that encourages action. If I pull up a profile, I can find out if my organization and the individual have anything in common. “

In many cases, the availability and usability of this type of intel can be critical for small organizations, as they are less likely to have someone on staff dedicated to manually compiling and managing this information. The smart use of contact and donor data can create efficiencies and helps organizations make choices. Understanding where to allocate your limited resources might be the difference between meeting your fundraising goals and falling short.

So, will “big data” save us? Not so fast.

Josh says it’s not about the data alone, “If we aren’t smart about our clients’ workflows, if we aren’t smart about the way we interact with the data, then the conversation is meaningless. If people can’t act on data in a meaningful way, we are right where we started.”

Thanks to Josh for sharing his insights. To find out more about how Relationship Science helps causes connect with key contacts, check out this case study on how Interfaith Youth Core to mobilized its national donor and support network.


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Mon, March 24 2014

Free Webinar: Take Charge of Your Nonprofit’s Reputation

Caryn Stein's avatar

Director of Content Strategy, Network for Good

Filed under:   Branding • Marketing essentials •

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
Register now.
(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.)

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Mon, March 17 2014

The Online Fundraising Survival Guide

Caryn Stein's avatar

Director of Content Strategy, Network for Good

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Marketing essentials •

Does your online presence need a little work? Or, could you use some help convincing your boss or board that you need to think about your online strategy sooner, rather than later? Enter the 2014 Online Fundraising Survival Guide. It can help steer you through the digital wilderness.

We’ve compiled nine key elements for mastering online fundraising and marketing, from having a stellar donation page (natch) to figuring out what the heck you’re doing with mobile.  The guide offers a brief overview of each topic with stats, trends, and tips, along with a mini to-do list and recommended resources for you to explore.

Download the guide here for free (registration required). 

Survival Guide cover

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