Fri, August 08 2014
When I asked nonprofit experts in a range of fields, from fundraising to programs, to share their summer reading lists, I had no idea what to expect.
I was thrilled to hear so many passionate stories about books that have made (or are likely to make) a huge difference in these folks’ lives. I’m sure that you’re reading all the time—blogs, Facebook, e-newsletters—but my colleagues told me that, for them, reading a book is something different. The process of immersing oneself in a work that is longer, richer, and typically experienced in a distinct format, be that hard copy or on an e-reader, is a unique experience. This immersion outside the day-to-day is highly engaging, energizing, and refreshing on the creative and intellectual fronts.
With that potential in mind, consider these top picks for your end-of-summer reading list. One of them could change your life:
Auto Biography: A Classic Car, an Outlaw Motorhead, and 57 Years of the American Dream, Earl Swift
Sally Kirby Hartman, vice president of communications at the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, adored this pleasure read about a ’57 Chevy and its various owners. Sally’s a superstar communicator and extracted a valuable marketing insight: “Auto Biography is a great reminder that a good observer can bring any topic to life by writing about real people,” she said.
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell
If you know the work of fundraising scribe Tom Ahern, you won’t be surprised by the passion he brings to this recommendation. When Tom likes something, he really likes it. So when he told me that Blink was “blowing his mind,” I had to know why.
“Try this one,” said Tom. “A psychologist administers a test to college students. There are 10 questions. Scattered through the questions are words such as ‘worried,’ ‘Florida,’ ‘old,’ ‘lonely,’ ‘gray,’ ‘bingo,’ and ‘wrinkle.’ When the students arrive to take the test, they act their age. When they leave after taking the test, they act old, walking slowly. What you read when taking the test affected the way you behaved.
“OMG, Nancy,” exclaimed Tom. “The great unknown for copywriters (me) is the human mind and how it actually works, not how we guess it works. That’s why Blink is blowing my mind: it’s all about recent psychological research, as told by a fabulous journalist.”
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, Nir Eyal
Nonprofit Web mastermind Seth Giammanco, of ModLab, is digging into Nir Eyal’s model that can be used to help products stand out in a world of constant competition for attention. He outlines that model here. It’s useful guidance and great inspiration for shaping your programs and services and positioning your organization’s fundraising and marketing campaigns for the strongest results.
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World, Gary Vaynerchuk
Kevin Martone, technology program manager at the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, is just digging into this one now. It’s the latest (maybe greatest?) from social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk, who shares secrets on connecting strongly with customers—donors and other supporters to us. Sounds worth a read!
To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, Dan Pink
In his breakthrough book, A Whole New Mind, Dan Pink broke through traditional perceptions on success drivers, suggesting that right-brain skills are a huge success factor. Celeste Wroblewski, vice president of public relations at Chicago Symphony Orchestra, is eager to read his latest. Celeste, I’ve read To Sell Is Human, and you’re in for a treat.
Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, Arianna Huffington
What’s heading your end-of-summer reading list, or what book tops the list of those you’ve already finished? Share your picks in the comments below!
Mon, July 14 2014
(Part two in our series on the Millennial Impact Project)
Millennials: A powerful force for change.
Earlier this month, I shared my perspectives on the 2014 Millennial Impact Report and MCON14. Hopefully, that post got you thinking about how Millennials are shaping our culture and social sector in profound new ways.
As a refresher, this is a summary from Derrick Feldmann, President of Achieve, on the growing significance and power of Millennials:
Approximately 80 million Millennials live in the U.S. today. Collectively, they spend about $300 billion annually on consumer discretionary goods. And by the year 2020, they will make up 50% of the workforce.
Soon, Millennials will no longer be the “next generation;” rather, they will be the majority of your co-workers and employees. [And I’d add, the majority of your donors and supporters.]
Millennials are building a culture that knows how it feels to contribute to a cause and attempt to solve social issues…It is not overstating to say that a big part of the nonprofit sector’s future relies on its ability to respond to these young people’s charitable inclinations.
Invite them. Inspire them. Seven steps to get started.
How do you begin to engage Millennials? Here are seven ways you can bring Millennial energy, innovation and advocacy to your organization.
1. Bring Millennials onto your team. Hire Millennials. Invite one or two to join your board. Even if you have a give/get for board members, encourage Millennials to run a race or do a crowdfunding campaign as a way to fulfill their commitment. They’re worth it. With their robust social networks, youthful passion and idealism, they can contribute in ways that are more important than money. Think of Millennial team members as beacons that can shine a light on your organization with huge networks of friends, family and colleagues.
2. Inspire with images and video. Shift your marketing focus from facts and data to people and impact stories. Check out how our client, the United Way of Central Maryland uses a beautiful image and video to present a clear, simple fundraising message. Click here for a guide to using visuals effectively.
3. Enlist with emotion on social channels. Inspire young supporters to share your mission by capturing their attention in your social channels with emotion: empathy, humor, pain, triumph. Investments in photography and video can pay big dividends, as inspiring content is more likely to be shared. The campaign of actress Lauren Luke, Don’t Cover it Up, inspired women, especially Millennials, to confront partner violence, not to “cover it up.”
4. Empower them to get involved, not just to give. Inspire Millennials to volunteer based on their top motivators for getting involved: Passion (79%); Meeting people (56%); Gaining expertise (46%). Get them involved through activism, professional groups, and leadership opportunities. The United Way of Central Maryland has built a passionate base of Millennial supporters with its Emerging Leaders United program, by focusing on these motivations.
5. Focus on your website. Meet Millennials where they are: online (and on their phones). With the rise of social media, many organizations focus their online outreach, updates, and photos on these platforms, often neglecting their core website. Your website is the center of your online universe - the sun to your orbiting social media planets. And leaving out of date or generic information on a website is a major turn-off for Millennials, and everyone else!.
Also, your website has to be mobile-friendly. 87% of Millennials are carrying smartphones everyday. A mobile-friendly online environment will keep mobile users engaged and enable impulsive action from an impulsive generation.
6. Launch a monthly giving program. One of the hottest trends in philanthropy mirrors a trend we see in consumer purchasing: the growth in subscription giving. According to the report, 52% of Millennials are interested in giving monthly. A small monthly gift can really add up over months and years. Here are some recommendations on how to start your monthly giving program.
7. Move them to action by ASKING. You’re changing lives every day. And everyday you need support. Millennials want to be inspired, to inspire others, and to make a big impact with their actions and generosity. Tell them how they can help: start a fundraising page, sign a petition, recruit volunteers, host an event, join your leadership. It starts with an ask.
Tue, July 01 2014
Filed under: Nonprofit leadership •
Editor’s note: I’m pleased to introduce Network for Good’s Chief Giving Officer, Jamie McDonald, as a contributor to The Nonprofit Marketing Blog. Jamie will be sharing her insight on philanthropy and trends in giving, as well as updates from the field.
During this year’s Millennial Impact Forum (also known as MCON), thousands of leaders in philanthropy, social enterprise, and technology joined together for two days of inspiration from our next generation of leaders. MCON takes place on the heels of the release of the Millennial Impact Report, an annual look at the Millennial generation and the ground they are staking out as they mature into adulthood.
Derrick Feldmann, President of Achieve, the researchers behind the Millennial Impact Project, said in his opening remarks, “We don’t study Millennials because they’re a part of the culture. We study them because they’re defining the culture.”
Here are a few juicy facts from the report:
- By the year 2020, Millennials will make up 50% of the workforce
- 91% of the female Millennials surveyed donated money to charities, and 84% of the male Millennials had donated
- Nearly half (47%) of the Millennials surveyed had volunteered for a cause or nonprofit in the past month.
- 22% of Millennials surveyed gave more than $500 to nonprofits in 2013 and 12% gave more than $1,000.
Transforming the Nonprofit Culture
During MCON, transformational young leaders shared their perspectives on giving—and living meaningfully—in a connected world. The conference centered on the key lessons learned since launching the research in 2010:
1. Millennials engage with causes to help other people, not institutions. And, they prefer to perform smaller actions before fully committing to a cause.
2. Millennials are influenced by the decisions and behaviors of their peers. Peer influence plays an important role in motivating Millennials to volunteer, attend events, participate in programs, and give.
3. Millennials treat their time, money, and assets as having equal value. Millennials view both their network and their voice as two additional types of assets they can offer a cause. Aided by technology, an individual who donates his or her voice may still give skills, time, and money.
4. Millennials need to experience a cause’s work without having to be on site. In 2013, more than 60% of respondents said they felt most invested in a cause when the nonprofit shared a compelling story about successful projects or the people it helps.
Throughout the conference, I noted three other key themes that should get you thinking:
- Millennials are seeking authenticity, and they are skeptical of ‘press-release’ good news, without human stories and data to back it up.
- They believe in the power of technology to drive real community change.
- Millennials do not see boundaries between work/play/family. As Jean Case related from a recent conversation with a Millennial, “I want to bring my full self to everything I’m about.” So employers, nonprofits, brands and Millennials are joined together in a cycle of engagement that unifies them in a way that did not exist in prior generations.
The Future of the Social Sector
As a nonprofit leader, why should you focus on Millennials, whose resources are small relative to their older counterparts? It’s simple. They have the power to generate passion, engagement and donations for your cause. (And, in less than 5 years, the oldest among them will be moving into major donor income levels.)
The strategies for engaging Millennials are no longer just preferences. They have become the norm for effective communication with all ages. As Derrick Feldmann puts it, “It is not overstating to say that a big part of the nonprofit sector’s future relies on its ability to respond to these young people’s charitable inclinations.”
Ready to recruit and engage Millennial talent for your organization? Download our free guide.
Tue, April 15 2014
Filed under: Nonprofit leadership •
The Nonprofit Finance Fund’s 2014 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey is out and the report has some sobering insight on how nonprofits have fared during the economic recovery. While 80% of respondents reported an increase in demand for services, 56% of those surveyed were unable to meet demand in 2013. Nearly half of these groups also reported a 5-year decline in government funding.
The good news is that as some funding sources change or dry up, many organizations are exploring new ways to support their programs. According to the survey, in the next 12 months:
- 31% will change the main ways in which they raise and spend money
- 26% will pursue an earned income model
- 20% will seek funding other than grants & contracts
These organizations are also exploring new partnerships and investing in resources to help them survive:
- 49% collaborated with another organization to improve or increase services.
- 48% invested money or time in professional development.
- 40% upgraded hardware or software to improve organizational efficiency.
Still, with over a quarter of nonprofits surveyed reporting a deficit in 2013, there is still a lot of work to be done. Do these challenges sound familiar? Check out the full report to see how your experiences compare.
If you’re facing tough times, here are some critical steps to consider:
Perform a reality check.
Take a hard look at your situation and make sure everyone in your organization understands the issues you’re facing. Assess your existing revenue streams, your projected funding, and your true cost of operation.
Doing things the way you’ve always done them isn’t going to get you any further than where you are now. Explore new ways to diversify your income and collaborate with other organizations and businesses in your community.
Tap your champions.
Now is the time to reach out to your most ardent supporters. Not only are they likely your organization’s best advocates, they are a rich source of feedback. Work with them to expand your network and empower them to fundraise on your behalf.
Invest in your resources.
It may seem counterintuitive, but without well-trained staff and the right infrastructure, you’re putting your organization at further risk to lose talent. You’ll also miss opportunities to take advantage of new technology and gain efficiencies. Ensure your team has the right tools and training to get the job done.
Thu, February 20 2014
If you’re a fundraiser who is struggling to get your executive director or board to understand why you should launch an online fundraising program or invest more in online giving tools, try these talking points to help plead your case.
Online giving boosts individual giving.
You might have experienced push back on launching online fundraising because your leaders want to focus more on grants and major gifts from foundations. Remind them that individual giving is the biggest slice of the fundraising pie, and online fundraising is a key way to help diversify your funding. Having an online presence (and a way to give online) will help you recruit and retain donors who are likely shifting away from writing checks.
Online giving allows you to interact with your donors where they are—online.
Are your board members questioning how many of your target donors are really online? Send them these statistics from Pew Research:
· 85% of American adults use the Internet
· 61% of Internet users bank online
· 73% of American adults use social media
When potential donors find your nonprofit on social media or through a Google search, you’ll miss out on gifts without an easy online donation option. If you don’t make it simple for donors to support your mission, they may think you don’t need help!
You don’t have to set up a merchant account.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to set up a merchant account, payment gateway, or other fancy money-processing component to accept online donations—and you don’t have to be a tech whiz, either. In 2001, Network for Good made it easy for donors to give to any registered 501(c)3 online. Thirteen years and $1 billion dollars later, we still make it easy! You can get up and running with a branded donation page over your lunch hour.
It’s not just a fad.
Every year online giving continues to grow. Organizations like Crowdrise and Causes have leveraged the power of social networks to help encourage peer-to-peer giving. National giving campaigns like Giving Tuesday and Give Local America are here to stay. Wonder how areas affected by natural disaster get the instant funds they need? The answer: through online giving disaster relief campaigns.
Consider these four conversation starters the next time you bring up online fundraising with your board. What other things do you want to teach your board about online fundraising? Do you have advice for those who are still trying to convince their leaders? Share your thoughts in the comments section.