Fri, February 28 2014
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
Next week, we have a treat for nonprofit fundraisers and communicators alike. Taylor Corrado, Nonprofit Marketing Manager of HubSpot will join us for a free webinar to talk about the ins and outs of great content for nonprofits. As far as I’m concerned, HubSpot is one of the very best examples of a company who gets it right when it comes to publishing useful resources and delighting their audience. So, what does all of this content business have to do with you? Here are five ways content can help your fundraising efforts:
1. Great content helps you get found. Organizations who regularly post high-quality, relevant content have a better chance of ranking higher in search for keywords that supporters are using to find similar causes.
2. Great content gives your supporters something to talk about. If you want your fans to help you spread the word about your cause and the work you do, you’ll make it a lot easier on them if you’re providing information that is compelling and sharable.
3. Great content helps you illustrate impact. Remember all of those success stories you have tucked away in a file somewhere? Those great nuggets help you show donors exactly what their contribution will do. This helps you make the case for giving and allows you to put a human face on your cause.
4. Great content builds authority. Donors and partners want to know that you know your stuff. Writing pieces that demonstrate your experience and knowledge of your issue area will help you become even more credible. (Bonus: this also helps when reporters are looking for reliable sources for a story, which will help you get more attention.)
5. Great content reinforces trust. Hand in hand with points 3 and 4 above, content helps you show who you are to your prospective donors. This type of transparency boosts trust, which can remove mental roadblocks to giving.
To learn how to make this happen for your organization, join next week’s webinar (details below). Once you’ve registered, share your burning questions about content in the comments. What types of content are you creating?
Free Webinar: How to Use Content to Boost Your Donations
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 | 1pm EST
(Can’t make it for the live session? Go ahead and register—we’ll send you the recording so you can review it at your convenience.)
Thu, February 06 2014
No doubt you’ve seen the string of videos on your Facebook timeline—friends and family sharing their own social media time capsules. Facebook’s “A Look Back” movies offer personalized video montages to celebrate the social network’s 10th birthday. The videos are irresistibly sharable and have even struck a chord with the experts.
Here’s what makes these videos work so well:
They’re not focused on the organization. The folks at Facebook could have created something more focused on their platform and their accomplishments, but they knew that the real way to make us care about their birthday is by talking to us about, well, us.
They tug at our heartstrings. Above all, emotion rules. From the sweet background music to the heavy rotation of photos, the videos capture our attention and pull us in. These videos, while driven by an algorithm, are mirrors of ourselves and heavily feature the things that matter most to us.
They remind us of our progress. In keeping with the birthday theme, the videos allow us to look back and see how far we’ve come, whether we joined Facebook way back when or just last year.
They connect us to something bigger. The shared experience of posting the videos and the highlights they capture help us see how we’re connected to one another. The idea of Mark Zuckerberg and company inviting us to celebrate this big milestone together underscores this feeling of community.
In the process of accomplishing all of these things, these videos endear us more to the whole Facebook experience. Think about how you can emulate these qualities the next time you update your supporters on the progress you’ve made together.
Thu, January 30 2014
The good news is that giving continues to grow. The bad news is that donor retention rates aren’t what they should be. Think about the donors who came into your organization’s ecosystem during the past year. Will they give again?
You can improve the odds of keeping more of your supporters by declaring 2014 the Year of the Donor. What this looks like for your organization may be different than for your nonprofit peers, but here are a few basics to get you started:
1. Have a solid plan.
The biggest way to ensure your donors remain your top priority is to create a well-organized plan for cultivating your organization’s supporters throughout the year.
To do: Create a comprehensive donor stewardship plan that complements your overall marketing strategy and retention goals. Your plan should include a timeline, messaging guidelines, and who will be responsible for each component of your donor outreach. For more planning tips, take a look at Network for Good’s donor stewardship checklist.
2. Send an amazing thank you.
Of course you’re thanking all your donors. Right? (Right?) But are you making it an amazing experience of effusive gratitude? Is your thank you so awesome that donors will tell their friends all about it? Even tell strangers? If not, there’s always room for improvement. Your goal: Express to impress!
To do: Take the time to write a series of really great donor thank you letters. Make them personal, memorable, and full of gratitude. Your thank you letters should reinforce the projected impact of a donor’s gift and open the door for an ongoing relationship. If possible, hire a professional copywriter to polish your thank yous.
3. Keep the conversation going.
Your thank you note is really just the start of a new conversation with your donor. Keep this conversation flowing by updating your supporters on your work and how their gift has helped make it possible. Update supporters on what’s new in your community, your work, and how they can continue to be involved. As you build on this communication, you’ll have earned the opportunity to invite them to give again.
To do: Create an editorial calendar to plan your outreach and news you’d like to share. Use your email marketing tools to segment your lists so you can separate donors from those who’ve yet to give. Communicate to these two groups differently when sending updates to tailor your message to reflect donors’ special status.
4. Clearly articulate your impact.
One of the main reasons donors don’t go on to give a second gift is because they’re not sure how their money was used to create real impact. It’s your job to make sure supporters know exactly how their gift is being used and how it makes a difference. Get in the habit of making this a part of everything you do—from fundraising appeals to your monthly newsletter.
To do: Illustrate a donation’s impact through photos, testimonials, and quantifiable results that are easy for donors to understand. Incorporate these elements in every piece of donor communication you send. Build a collection of stories that are organized by program or locality so you can easily match these with the profiles of your donors.
5. Invite donors for their feedback.
More and more donors don’t want to just give and run—they want to be an active part of your cause. Because they’ve been moved enough to donate, they can offer valuable insight on what went into their decision and how you can continue to reach them and others in their network.
To do: Regularly invite your donors to provide you with feedback. Add this to your donor thank you phone script and conduct periodic donor surveys to collect their input on everything from your newsletter content to how you contact them. Making them feel more invested in your work will bring donors even closer to your organization.
6. Regularly test and improve.
It takes a lot of work to acquire new donors, so it’s crucial that you do everything you can to keep the ones you’ve got. One way to do this is to find and fix any leaks in your process. Once you’ve fixed the obvious problems, optimize your donor retention strategy by testing new messages and acknowledgement techniques.
To do: Track and measure every interaction with your donors. If you don’t have Google Analytics on your nonprofit website or donation form, that’s one place to start. Identify where donors may be falling off by looking at your website bounce rate, form abandonment, and email unsubscribes. Use A/B testing to see which calls to action and content types work best for your audience.
7. Create feel-good moments.
Everyone gives for different reasons, but we all want to feel good about our charitable gifts. To keep this positive vibe flowing, it’s important to create moments of connection and with your donors. Ronald McDonald House Charities does just that with this simple thank you video that puts the donor at the center of the experience and in the embrace of those who feel the impact of their donations every day:
To do: Commit to making your ongoing donor outreach unique and personal. Get creative with photos, video, and perks for your donors to help your cause stay top of mind. Recruit volunteers and beneficiaries to help keep your communications authentic and original. (Want more ideas on using images to stand out? Read these 10 ways nonprofits can use visuals.)
How will you make 2014 the Year of the Donor? I’d love to hear your plans, and I know your donors can’t wait to see what happens next.
Mon, January 27 2014
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
Beyond the usual celebrity antics and costume changes, the acts that stood out at last night’s Grammys were ones that delivered favorite songs in unexpected ways. But what does a musical awards show have to do with marketing your cause?
When you have the opportunity to grab your audience’s attention, it’s important to rise above the background noise and deliver your message in a way that will stand out. How do you express your core mission in a way that people will remember? Here are three lessons from music’s big night.
Try an alternate melody.
One of the best parts about live performances is that you get to hear familiar tunes performed in a unique way. Rare is the musician who will play a song exactly the same way twice. Hearing a favorite song in a new way moves the experience from the background of our minds into focus, challenging us to pay closer attention to understand each nuance.
If your outreach is becoming less effective, it may be time to find new ways to express your key points. To catch the attention of your long-time supporters, avoid sending out carbon copies of the same missives that you send year after year. One easy way to do this is to leverage the different stories from all parts of your organization. Testimonials from staff members, donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries can give you the opportunity to tell your story from different, and often refreshing, angles.
Tap unexpected—yet relevant—partners.
Last night’s show relied on carefully constructed pairings. While longtime singer-songwriter Carole King’s duet with younger counterpart Sara Bareilles felt like an obvious no-brainer, teaming classical pianist Lang Lang with the heavy metal icons of Metallica may have seemed like an odd choice. However, the intensity of the song they performed was a perfect match for shredding guitars and booming piano, creating a memorable mash-up.
To add interest to your next campaign, consider recruiting new spokespeople for your nonprofit outreach. Not just any pairing will do—your messengers still need to make sense in the context of your work and your brand. You’re not aiming for pure novelty or shock value. Potential partners should have a connection to your target audience, cause, and local community.
Deliver it with style.
As usual, the Grammys’ producers took it over the top with pyrotechnics, aerial stunts, and a mass marriage ceremony officiated by Queen Latifah. While these tactics aren’t realistic (or recommended) for your nonprofit outreach, it probably wouldn’t hurt to add a little surprise to your next newsletter or appeal.
Look at your communication plan and identify ways you can change it up a bit. Do you always send an email newsletter? Try creating a short video that includes the same information. Thank you notes printed on your organization’s letterhead are nice, but a note printed on the back of a photo that illustrates your work is more likely to stand out and be shared.
How do you plan to jazz up your nonprofit’s outreach? Share your ideas and keep us posted on the results in the comments or give us a shout on Twitter.
Thu, January 23 2014
It’s probably no surprise that our brains process visual information faster than text. Still, how quickly this takes place is mind boggling. Recent research has found that the human brain can process an image seen for just 13 milliseconds. Online, visual information is typically more memorable and more likely to be shared than other forms of content. It’s said that over 80% of learning occurs visually. Including visuals such as infographics in your communication strategy can be an effective way to communicate with your donors and keep them updated on the impact of your work. These visual cues can also help you stand out and reinforce your nonprofit’s brand.
We have a special treat next week as Joe Cardillo of Visual.ly, a visual content marketplace, joins us for a free Nonprofit 911 webinar all about infographics. If you’ve ever wondered if an infographic is right for your nonprofit communications plan or how to create one, this is the event for you. Joe will answer your questions on creating effective visual content and how to find the right designer.
Free Webinar: Infographics 101: Show Off Your Data
Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 1pm EST
For more fun facts on visual marketing and infographics, here’s an overview from the Visual.ly community: