- Thu, April 04 2013
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
Today I’m answering a question from reader Deirdre, who asks:
“As an organization with a mission that is a bit more abstract than, say, feeding hungry children or saving whales, we often struggle to make our work concrete. Are there any resources out there that are especially useful for organizations dedicated to civic engagement and/or research?”
I get this question - or variations on it - often. If you’re not an organization helping puppies and babies, how do you make your cause clear and compelling?
Here are my three tips.
1. Describe your mission as a destination. Don’t talk about your process or philosophy. Talk about your outcomes. Let me give you an example. Dan and Chip Heath, authors of Switch and Decisive, provide a great example from a breast care clinic as envisioned by Laura Esserman. She could have described her mission in ways that focused on the building or the philosophy. For example: “We are going to revolutionize the way breast cancer is treated and create a prototype of the next-generation breast cancer clinic.” Another poor choice: “We are going to reposition radiology as an internal, rather than external, wing of the clinic, and we will reconfigure our space to make that possible.” These all fall into the customary trap of talking about HOW your approach your work rather than WHAT the end result will be. (They also make the mistake of having no people in the description of their cause, but that’s the second point below.) What would be better? The Heaths nail it: “A clinic with everything under one roof—a woman could come in for a mammogram in the morning and, if the test discovered a growth, she could leave with a treatment plan the same day.” You can see the destination clear as day.
2. Give your mission a pulse. You have to talk about what you do in a way that makes clear its effect on people or animals. If you don’t have a heartbeat to your message, no one will care about your cause. Suppose you are advocating for quality schools. Don’t get so lost in descriptions of quality education and advocacy techniques that you forget to talk about kids! This is one of the most common mistakes I see. Always answer the question, “at the end of the day, whose life is better for what we do?” I like how Jumpstart talks about their work in early childhood education. They put it this way: “Working toward the day every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed.”
3. Speak in story. Last, make sure you are describing what you do through story, not just facts and jargon. Stories make a cause relatable, tangible and touching. Remember, a good story has a passionate storyteller (you), clear stakes and a tale of transformation at its core. The NRDC - which is an organization focused largely on process and the work of lawyers and scientists - does an amazing job with storytelling all over its home page. There are heroes with a heartbeat to show every dimension of their work in story.
Photo via BigStockPhoto.
- Wed, April 03 2013
- Filed under: Social networking and web 2.0
Today I answer another reader question. David asks:
As an advocacy based non-profit, should we acknowledge or address negative and untrue comments about our organization and our positions? Some of the Board want to ignore the comments and others want to respond to the comments.
Here’s my advice on handling negative comments.
1. Listen for them. Be sure you monitor what people are saying about your organization online.
2. When you find something negative or wrong, assess who is saying it and who is listening. Is this one crazy person with no audience? You might want to just watch and wait. Or is it someone who talks to people in your audience? Even one noisy person can be a problem if he or she has or can rapidly build a following with people who matter to you. I generally err on the side of judging someone worth responding to rather than ignoring negative remarks. Remember, people are speaking out online because they want to be heard. It’s wise to show you are listening to them.
3. Act fast on the site where it started. If you need to respond, do it as soon as you can calmly answer (never when you’re still annoyed), in the venue where the situation started. Things move at lightning speed online, and you don’t want something to spiral out of control before you get in a response. It’s OK if you don’t have all the answers or every piece of needed information — just be transparent about it. “Thanks for sharing your view - I am looking into your concern” is better than radio silence. “I’m concerned about what you reported about our policy and am finding out what happened so I can give you the response you deserve” is better than nothing. But do that on Twitter if the negative comment was a Tweet. Respond on LinkedIn if it happened on LinkedIn. No need to issue a press release over a Facebook comment. Respond on Facebook.
4. Be honest, transparent, friendly and open. This is key. If there is misinformation out there, correct it in a helpful, noncombative way. My organization’s own crisis communications plan (hope you have one, too) sets out the following principles:
Never delete negative comments unless they are profane or hate speech.
Thank people for expressing their opinion. They need to know we are listening. If they feel we are not, they will only get louder. Reflect back to them their feelings.
Be sincerely apologetic if we’ve done wrong. Take responsibility and say what we’re doing to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Err on the side of open, frequent communication.
Be absolutely honest.
Ensure what we say is accurate — if we’re not sure, say we’re not sure.
5. If you’re dealing with incorrect facts, don’t repeat them when you graciously correct the record! Why waste words repeating what isn’t true? It could reinforce the falsehood. A couple of years back, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tried to combat myths about the flu vaccine by listing commonly held views and labeling them either “true” or “false.” Examples of myths were, “The side effects are worse than the flu” and “Only older people need flu vaccine.” University of Michigan social psychologist Norbert Schwarz found that after reading the flier, the target audience incorrectly recalled 28 percent of the false statements as true. And three days later, they remembered 40 percent of the myths as factual. If you are trying to overcome a falsehood, you’re doing yourself no favors by repeating it—even if only to debunk it. Repeating myths perpetuates them.
6. Remember, what you’re in is not a debate - it’s a conversation. This isn’t a monologue by the critic or by you. Nor is it a war. It’s a conversation. When you respond, be open to reactions, and answer questions. Speak as a human being, not a press release. People are watching how you handle that conversation, so be at your best. You can’t post one response and call it a day; you need to keep tabs on the situation and participate in the ongoing conversation. But don’t descend into tit for tat.
The bottom line? Breathe deeply until you find yourself able to type the words, “I’m so glad you took the time to share your view.” Then respond, graciously, from there. As long as the person isn’t a troll, he or she deserves to feel heard, acknowledged and understood. Most sane people are genuinely nice when you make that effort to grasp their side and share your own. If you get venom in response, let it go. You tried, and the other people watching the exchange will see who took the high road. You may not win over the commenter, but you may win over the people reading the exchange.
- Tue, April 02 2013
- Filed under: Nonprofit leadership
The Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) has released its annual State of the Sector survey, and it shows nonprofits like yours are struggling with a tough funding environment and increasing need for the services you provide. This is requiring tough choices - and changing the way you do business, according to the survey.
Here’s a summary of the report from the NFF. Does it capture your situation? Are you better or worse off than your peers?
According to NFF:
Nonprofits need new funding sources and models:
• 42% of survey respondents report that they do not have the right mix of financial resources to thrive and be effective in the next 3 years.
• 1 in 4 nonprofits has 30 days or less cash-on-hand.
• Over the next twelve months, 39% plan to change the main ways they raise and spend money.
• 23% will seek funding other than grants or contracts, such as loans or investments.
Nonprofits that receive government funding face particular challenges:
• Only 14% of nonprofits receiving state and local funding are paid for the full cost of services; just 17% of federal fund recipients receive full reimbursement. Partial reimbursements require additional funding to cover the growing gap as nonprofits serve more people.
• Government is late to pay: Among those with state or local funding, just over 60% reported overdue government payments; over 50% reported late payments from the federal government.
Under these challenging conditions, many nonprofits are unable to meet growing need in their communities:
• For the first time in the five years of the survey, more than half (52%) of respondents were unable to meet demand over the last year; 54% say they won’t be able to meet demand this year.
• This represents a worrying trend; in 2009, 44% of nonprofits said they were unable to meet demand.
• Jobs (59%) and housing (51%) continue to be top concerns for those in low-income communities.
• 90% of respondents say financial conditions are as hard or harder than last year for their clients; this is actually a slight improvement from prior years’ outlook.
Nonprofits are changing the way they do business to adapt to the new reality. In the past 12 months:
• 49% have added or expanded programs or services; 17 percent reduced or eliminated programs or services.
• 39% have collaborated with another organization to improve or increase services.
• 39% have upgraded technology to improve organizational efficiency.
• 36% engaged more closely with their board.
For more on the survey and detailed data, go here.
- Mon, April 01 2013
- Filed under: Nonprofit leadership
For the month of April, I’m hosting the nonprofit blog carnival. What that means is not cotton candy (sorry) but rather a mix of contributions from bloggers and readers on a shared theme, highlighted right here on my blog, at the end of the month. (You can view last month’s carnival hosted by Allyson Kapin here.)
The theme is “best advice” - what was the one, best piece of professional advice you ever got and why? How has it transformed your work? You can also share your own best single piece of advice for people who work at nonprofits.
- Fri, March 29 2013
- Filed under: Fun stuff
When we think about what motivates people at work, some cliches come out. Money? Maybe. Power? Perhaps. But as someone working for a mission you know it’s something else—altruism.
But what may surprise you is this isn’t just a truism in the nonprofit sector. It works in most places.
This past Sunday, the New York Times had a fascinating magazine profile of Adam Grant, the youngest-tenured and highest rated professor at Wharton. Grant focuses on workplace psychology and the effects of altruism in your career. His research shows generosity at work is a strong motivator that spurs increased productivity and creativity. Helping others, it seems, helps ourselves. (As a person, Grant is radically generous, spending hours a day helping students, colleagues and strangers for the sake of being useful to others.)
Early in his career, Grant worked with a demoralized call center to show the positive effects of altruism. Since one of the center’s purposes was funding scholarships, Grant had a student who benefited from the fundraising efforts speak to the telemarketers for ten minutes. The student told the callers how the scholarship had changed his life - and how he was headed off to work for Teach for America. A month later, the call center reported workers were on the phone 142 percent more and raising 171 more. A follow up found revenues had rocketed up 400 percent. Grant concludes the greatest untapped source of motivation is service to others. This reminds me of Daniel Pink’s writing on a higher purpose being a powerful professional motivator.
Maybe that’s why there is research suggesting that the first instinct of humans is to contribute to the greater good at their own expense. We’re wired to do what motivates us to do our best.
In my own work at Network for Good, where we not only support nonprofits like yours but also seek to help companies bring philanthropy into the workplace, we find these ideas hold true. Allowing employees to do good for others builds loyalty, increases job satisfaction and boosts morale. Giving rewards to employees like charity vouchers have been documented to make people happier and more satisfied with their jobs.
We know giving makes us happy. Maybe it makes all of us more motivated - and successful - too.
- Thu, March 28 2013
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
M+R Strategic Services & NTEN just released their annual online benchmark study for nonprofits, and they found online fundraising continues to grow - as does the social network reach of nonprofits. (The study is based on analysis of 55 large nonprofits, including the American Red Cross, Sierra Club, American Lung Association, AARP and Human Rights Campaign.)
That’s the good news. The bad news is that email response rates are declining. Possible explanations are that electoral campaigns or (for international organizations) a lack of a major international humanitarian crisis in the news may have hurt response rates. But the cause also could be our own fundraising practices. The study notes: “The lower response rates are also part of a long-term trend: in the years we have produced this study, we have never seen fundraising response rates increase from year to year. This long-term trend may be driven in part by a practice common to many email fundraising programs: continuing to send fundraising messages to unresponsive email addresses over long periods.”
What does all this mean to your organization? I posed that question to Will Valverde, Vice President of Creative Development at M+R Strategic Services and co-author of this year’s Benchmarks study. He said:
“Email remains a critically important piece of the puzzle for most nonprofits, but declines in fundraising email response rates show the importance of connecting with donors through more than one channel. Successful nonprofits are responding to this reality by securing more and more revenue from monthly donors, and by rapidly expanding their audiences not just for email, but on social media as well.”
Key findings of the study shared by M+R are:
● A 21 percent increase in online revenue overall from 2011, with only International groups seeing a decline in online giving.
● A sharp decline in certain key email metrics – such as a 14 percent decline in click-through rates for advocacy messages and 27 percent decline for fundraising messages. This trend was driven mostly by the decline in click-through rates among Rights and International groups. Advocacy messages sent on behalf of Environmental groups performed best.
● Since 2011, online monthly giving grew by 43 percent – more than twice as fast as one-time giving. Although still a small percentage of overall giving, sustaining gifts now account for 18 percent of revenue for International groups.
● Email list sizes continue to grow for all sectors and sizes, up 15 percent in 2012. This trend was greatest for Wildlife and Animal Welfare groups, which grew their email lists by 32 percent from 2011.
● The growth of social media audiences outpaced email lists in 2012, growing an average of 46 percent on Facebook and 264 percent on Twitter. However, Facebook continues to be king for connecting with supporters on social media, reaching 149 Facebook fans for every 1,000 email subscribers.
You can review the full study here.
If you have trouble viewing the above infographic, go here.
- Wed, March 27 2013
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
The Chronicle of Philanthropy has a great quick video from “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” host Peter Sagal on telling powerful stories that connect with donors. (Can’t see it? View it here.)
The bottom line? Make giving joyful. Let people enjoy the experience. Tell an amazing story. Doing good should feel good - or else we’re doing something wrong. (Running in your underwear is optional.)
- Tue, March 26 2013
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
Today, I’m answering another reader question:
What are your suggestions for approaching corporations about giving to our non-profit? The ones with grants have specific request methods. Others give to charities, but it often seems sort of a random process, such as who has the ear of the president this week. What’s the best way to handle this?
Here are four quick thoughts for Judy. For more thoughts, read what Wal-Mart and other companies had to say on this topic here.
1. Know the company - do they have a formal grant process with clear objectives for social good or is it more ad hoc? Do your homework on the corporation and frame your issue according to what you learn about the company’s top philanthropic and business agendas. What can you find out about the individual you are approaching? How does your cause speak to what the company or individual cares about?
2. Get to the heart of your cause and why it matters to people. It’s important to reach the heart not just the mind. Tell stories and use examples of the difference the company could make - just don’t forget to tie that message back to #1!
3. Talk about how the cause drives business interests in addition to social good. Is your cause a way for the company to draw a distinction from competitors, a way to build employee engagement or a means to boost the brand in your community?
4. Start small if you’re hitting a wall. Propose a simple, small grant for a pilot project. That will be easier to get approved - and once you show the impact, you can use that success to ask for more.
- Mon, March 25 2013
- Filed under: Nonprofit leadership
One of the worst things we can do when making decisions is to frame them too narrowly. This can lead us to the wrong thought process - and false choices.
As Dan Heath puts it in his new book, “The first villain of decision making, narrow framing, is the tendency to define our choices too narrowly, to see them in binary terms. We ask, ‘Should I break up with my partner or not?’ instead of ‘What are the ways I could make this relationship better?’ We ask ourselves, ‘Should I buy a new car or not?’ instead of ‘What’s the best way I could spend some money to make my family better off?’”
Or - to put this in nonprofit terms - we ask, “Should we have an event or not? Should we blog or not? Should we get rid of that board member or not?”
Dan’s new book Decisive is all about this kind of problem. Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work provides practical ways to beat narrow framing and other villains of decision making. Here are two of his tips (and I quote):
1. Consider opportunity cost. If you are considering an investment of time or money, ask yourself, “What is the next best way I could spend this time/money?” If you can’t come up with any other combination that seems enticing, you should feel more confident that you’re making the right investment.
2. Multitrack your options. Always try to think AND not OR. Can you avoid choosing among your options and try several at once? For instance, if you’re deciding whether to invest time in Spanish lessons or ballroom dancing classes, do both for a while until one of them “wins.” Or, rather than hire one employee out of three candidates, could you give all three a 2-week consulting project so that you can compare their work on a real-world assignment?
For more tips, join a free Network for Good webinar with Dan today at 1 pm Eastern. Register here.
PS for fun, here is one of Dan’s great teaching videos on giving better presentations. It draws on his book, Made to Stick.
- Fri, March 22 2013
- Filed under: Social networking and web 2.0
Yesterday, the team here at Network for Good had a fantastic webinar with technology guru Guy Kawasaki. He provided his top ten social media tips for nonprofits. They are well worth sharing.
If you want to listen to the whole webinar (recommended), simply register here. (It’s free.)
In the meantime, here’s a quick summary of the wisdom he shared.
1. Start Yesterday: Begin soliciting support through social media action immediately. The day you have an idea is when you should start with a tweet or blog.
2. Segment by Service: People use social networks for different reasons. Match your agenda and your efforts to the outlet. Guy identified five “Ps”—
People - Facebook. People go to Facebook to connect with people they know. It’s about pre-existing relationships.
Perceptions - Twitter. Twitter is about sharing perceptions about what’s around us with the world.
Passion - Google+. Guy believes people don’t go to Google+ for the same reason as Facebook - it’s less about who you know and more about sharing your passions widely.
Pinning: Pinterest is for posting visuals. It’s about the medium more than the people.
Pimping: LinkedIn. Guy apologized for the word choice but says he feels LinkedIn is for business connections and finding jobs.
You can have success on any of these platforms, but you need to approach each with an understanding of its culture and purpose.
3. Make a Great Profile: Spend as much time as you can spare developing your nonprofit’s profile, finding great pictures for your avatar (person affected by your cause or an awesome high-res version of your organization’s logo) and generally establishing a compelling, attractive and interesting presence.
4. Curate and Link: You don’t have to do all the work of creating content! Curate and find links to other people’s interesting articles, video and photos that position your cause well. 90% of your posts should pertain to interesting things related to your cause - not simply self-produced self-promotion or self-serving calls to action.
5. Act Like NPR: Guy is a huge NPR fan (and was recently on Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, a dream of his). He says that’s why he doesn’t mind their pledge drives. He says if your nonprofit provides great content every day, people won’t mind when it’s time to promote your organization on social media to solicit funds, volunteers, etc. Your nonprofit will have “earned the right” to ask for help. People may even be happy to give!
6. Restrain Yourself: Limit self-promotion to 5% of what you say - the other 95% should be great content. This approach will yield more fans.
7. Add Bling: On every post, include a picture or video (that is properly credited to the person who created it). Visuals matter.
8. Respond: Commenting on what your followers say and joining conversations will take your nonprofit’s social media presence from interesting to passionate.
9. Stay Positive or Stay Silent: Remain positive or at the least neutral. Once negativity is introduced, your social media credibility will diminish. Avoid “trolls” (hecklers and contrarians). Stay relentlessly constructive and don’t go round after round to argue points.
10. Repeat: If the content is truly superior, don’t be afraid to repost and repurpose. People rarely see everything you say or do, so it’s okay to circle back on something special.
I hope these are helpful. And if you have time, I hope you can listen to the webinar. It’s great practical advice on how to take your nonprofit’s social media presence to the next level.
- Thu, March 21 2013
- Filed under: Social networking and web 2.0
Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication and Waggener Edstrom Worldwide just released a new study that delves into the perceptions, behavior and motivations for cause support (locally and globally) among digitally engaged American adults.
Here are some of the most interesting findings.
Passion and pride drive people to post on causes: People who talk about causes online mostly (76%) do so to recruit others to their passion. Looking like a nice or smart person were distant seconds to the desire to influence others in general, but when it came to Facebook users (see bottom of this post), the desire to publicly display support of a cause came in first.
Conversations about causes are occurring primarily online, whether people choose to support the cause online or off. Social media is a go-to source of cause information, especially for global and faith-based causes. More than 8 in 10 respondents agreed that social media is effective in getting people talking about causes and issues. Animals and children topped the list of popular causes on social media (of course - puppies and babies win every time!).
People are compelled to action by social media - but nonprofits shouldn’t ask for too much. More than half of survey respondents (55%) who engaged with causes via social media have been inspired to take further action. The most common next steps are: donating money (68%), donating personal items or food (52%), attending or participating in an event (43%), and volunteering (53%). But before you plaster your Facebook wall with constant requests for help, keep in mind that leading reasons people stop liking a charity on Facebook are the charity posts too often or only asks for money.
As usual, good stories are your best case for support. What does work for charity is when people read a story that makes them want to do more. The majority of respondents said that factor most influenced them.
People are skeptical about causes, so instill trust. The biggest barrier to nonprofits realizing the full potential of social media is the skepticism people reported feeling about the legitimacy of causes they discover online. Most people verify the legitimacy of a cause by researching online - which goes to show how critical it is for your cause to build a trustworthy, transparent web presence that details how you use support and your impact on the world.
- Wed, March 20 2013
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
Today, I’m answering another reader question. Beth asks:
Can you provide a basic (simple) framework to create a fundraising plan (or resources to do so) - for a brand new nonprofit and their completely new to fundraising staff? Thanks!
Here’s what Network for Good recommends in our Fundraising Campaign in a Box. (You can get the whole free kit here. It has worksheets, templates, etc.)
1. Figure out what you’re trying to accomplish.
Any campaign worth its salt is about getting results. What results are you and your organization looking to achieve? When you’re planning your outreach, remember these three tips:
There is no such thing as “the general public”...
Instead, you need to segment your communications to be effective and targeted.
Some audiences are more important than others. Think about your goals and who holds the key to your success. Lack of participation from primary groups can cause your campaign to falter or fail.
2. Determine how you’re going to accomplish your goals (tell a great story).
So - you have groups of people and actions you want them to take. How are you going to tell your story in a compelling manner? What themes, messages and ideas are you going to take from your arsenal of content to encourage action? Need inspiration? Read How to Tap into the Heart and Soul of Your Organization When You Write.
3. Determine which communications channels you’ll use.
There are a variety of online and offline channels that you can use to send the right message to the right audiences. Examples of online channels include your website, search marketing, email marketing and social networking. Offline channels include things like direct mail, paid advertising and public relations.
4. Decide which resources you need to get the job done.
Ensure that you have all of your tools and resources in place to make your job-and the jobs of your audience(s)-as easy, effective and cost-effective as possible.
Is email an important part of your plan, but you’re still communicating with supporters via Outlook? (eek! Stop what you’re doing and read 5 Steps to Choosing the Ideal Email Service Provider)
Is your website well-branded and easy to use, with a clear way to donate?
Is your website set up to take safe, secure online donations? (I of course recommend Network for Good!)
5. Determine who will execute your campaign steps.
Accountability will make or break the success of a campaign. As much fun as it is to pass the buck, now is as good a time as any to decide which members of your organization, board or volunteers are responsible for the different portions of your campaign.
6. Lay out how you will measure your success.
In the case of holiday fundraising, this could be as simple as a dollar sign with a number after it. But take a moment to consider what other goals you may have. Wow your organization’s Board and leadership with conversation rates, list-building, website traffic and any other number results into which they can sink their teeth.
7. Set your timeline and benchmarks.
One of the defining features of a campaign is that it has a defined start and end. Now that you have planned out the ‘who, what and why’ questions of your campaigns, it’s time to determine the when. Continue to build your campaign plan by setting ownership and deadlines for the associated activities. Begin with the end in mind - if your campaign will run from 11/1 - 12/31, work backwards to be sure that all activities will happen in a smooth manner. Don’t use magical thinking to set deadlines! Run activities in parallel if you are worried about compression time-wise.
Network for Good has two amazing webinars coming up - and (as usual) they are free with registration.*
Nonprofit 911: How to Get More Followers on Social Media w/ Guy Kawasaki
Thursday, March 21 at 1 p.m. Eastern
Why isn’t your hashtag everywhere? When’s the best time for a Facebook status update? What does it mean when someone +1’s you on Google +? How come no one liked your picture, story, update, tweet, share, friendship, etc? You might be caught a social media slump!
Tune in Thursday, March 21 at 1 p.m. Eastern to hear tech and social media expert Guy Kawasaki lead a free presentation giving nonprofits the insider scoop on garnering support via the most popular social media platforms.
Nonprofit 911: The Decisive Organization: Building a Culture of Better Decision-Making
Monday, March 25 at 1 p.m. Eastern
Best-selling Switch author Dan Heath’s done it again! Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work hits shelves next week. He’s going to stop by and pre-release the most helpful decision-making practices to the Network for Good audience via a Nonprofit 911 webinar on Monday, the 25th at 1 p.m. Eastern. Join Dan Heath as he makes it easier for your organization to make that sound decision. Bonus: Dan will be giving away a free copy of his new book to 10 lucky nonprofits on the call.
*If you can’t make the date for Guy Kawasaki, sign up anyway. You will get a recording of the webinar afterward! Dan Heath’s session is live only, so we won’t be sending recordings.
- Mon, March 18 2013
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
This is the question recently posed* by Slate’s Seth Stevenson in reference to the case of Karen Klein, the bullied bus monitor in upstate New York. Students called her horrible names and brought her to tears. When video of her torment was posted online, a groundswell of appalled people donated more than $700,000 to a spontaneous campaign on IndieGoGo. (Klein accepted the money, retired and put $100,000 of the sum toward an anti-bullying cause she created.)
As Stevenson notes, campaigns to help suffering individuals crop up online everyday - including for people in life and death situations - but they rarely spark the scale of reaction to Karen Klein. What was it about this particular situation that prompted a response from 32,000 donors?
Stevenson asked Stephen Reicher, a psychology professor at Scotland’s University of St Andrews, and Reicher cited the following factors - which should be familiar to those of us who enjoy reading about behavioral economics!
1. A tangible cause: As Reicher told Stevenson, “To say lots of people are suffering is an abstract concept. To see this one woman suffering, and be able to help her, is more concrete.” This is the identifiable victim or singularity effect I’ve often cited on this blog.
2. Archetypal elements: Reicher talked about how the video causes us to flash back to our own childhoods on the school bus, which is powerful. It also inverts roles - the children are bullying the adult, which seemed to evoke strong emotions. This reminds me of the Story Wars idea—that basic universal themes unite audiences around causes.
3. Online dynamics: The network effects of the Internet encourage piling on - and can guide our actions. We see this in fundraising all the time - collective action begets more collective action. We join the crowd.
Bottom line? What we know works, worked in a big way because of Karen Klein’s story. Remember that, above all, is always the root of every movement. There is someone who stood for something - or meant something to us - and everything grows from that.
*Hat tip to Clam Lorenz for sending me this article!
- Fri, March 15 2013
- Filed under: Mobile
The team here at Network for Good has been working on our new mobile-friendly donation services lately so I thought I’d pass on our tips for making your site more mobile friendly. Don’t worry - you can start with baby steps. You don’t need a special mobile version of your site or an custom-built app to improve how mobile visitors experience your site overall. With a few simple design tweaks, you can make your nonprofit website much more usable on a mobile device – and improve your visitors’ experience across all platforms.
Try these best practices from my colleague Caryn Stein to help optimize your nonprofit website for mobile use and make your pages smartphone friendly:
1. Make it snappy.
Keep your website’s page load times under 5 seconds – under 3 seconds is even better for mobile delivery. Remove anything that makes your pages stall or fail to load.
2. Minimize data entry.
Whether it’s on a donation form or a newsletter sign-up box, try to minimize the amount of typing your visitors will have to do. It’s already a best practice on a desktop (they’ll be more likely to fill out your form or complete the action they’re trying to take), and it’s absolutely critical for mobile users, since typing in a lot of information can quickly become a drag on even the smartest of phones.
3. Your copy must be short and sweet.
Remember: online visitors don’t read, they skim. Reduce the amount of text you have on each page and break up longer blocks of text with headings. Use an easy-to-read font size and type. Choose shorter sentences and clear calls to action over long paragraphs.
4. Focus on one high-quality image.
Images can help quickly communicate a story or call to action, but make it your mission to focus on one high-quality photo rather than using multiple images on a page. More images will take longer to load and they won’t look good on a smaller screen.
5. Remove the roadblocks.
6. Keep relevant content front and center.
Don’t force mobile users to scroll across three columns and all four corners of your site to find what they’re looking for. Make it easy to access the key pages of your site by placing them prominently near the top and center of your page.
7. Make links and buttons easy to use.
Review your links and buttons: are they large enough to click on from small screens without zooming? Be sure to provide enough space between links or buttons to prevent a wayward thumb from clicking on something by accident.
8. Keep it simple.
A simple, clean design is a good idea for any site, whether it’s accessed on a desktop browser, tablet or smartphone. Embrace the use of white space, clear the clutter and narrow your visitor’s focus to one or two clear calls to action. This not only improves the usability of your website, but it will improve your conversion rates by removing unnecessary distractions.