Fri, February 06 2015
You might forget to call your mom, but you’d better not neglect to call your donors. A recent study found that thank-you calls increased subsequent giving and gift amounts. via Nonprofit Times
Social media. Storytelling. Two of our favorite things combined together. It’s better than a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. (Ok, almost.) Learn 8 ways to become a better storyteller through social media. via Adweek
Gail Perry shares 5 Ideas that Make Asking Much Easier and More Successful. via Fundraising Success
Does your online experience work well for your donors over 65? Check out this detailed read on 7 things to know about designing technology for older people. via Smashing
“The work non-profits do is too important to be afraid of failure, and their work is too urgent to honor every sacred cow.” Seth Godin outlines some important lessons from DoSomething.org. via Seth’s Blog
That’s it for this week! What’s your must-read resource? Share it in the comments below!
Fri, January 30 2015
Filed under: Social Media •
Clicks. Likes. Shares.
Image: Cone Communications
It’s easy to write off the small online actions of “slacktivists” as passive behavior that won’t make much of a difference, but digital activists can turn into donors, advocates, and major supporters over time. Late last year, Cone Communications released their Digital Activism Study which reveals insights on digital consumer behavior when it comes to supporting causes online. A few nuggets:
- 58% of Americans believe sharing information about a cause online is an effective form of advocacy.
- 52% use social media to discuss issues they care about and believe their online activity makes a meaningful difference.
- Of those surveyed who made a donation in the last 12 months, more people gave online (27%) than regular mail (23%).
- Americans are most willing to take online actions that have a direct impact on an issue – such as voting (71%), signing petitions (70%) and learning about changes they can make in their everyday lives (70%).
But do all of these micro-actions really add up to anything meaningful for your cause or do they simply replace more significant contributions?
Change.org founder Ben Rattray recently challenged organizations to look to results before dismissing online activity as slacktivism.
“I think the measure of the effectiveness of online action isn’t whether it’s easy to do, it’s whether it actually accomplishes a specific goal,” Rattray observed.
Cone’s study revealed that 63% of Americans they are more inclined to donate or support a cause in other ways after learning about the issue online. While these initial online gifts may not be large ones, consider that small dollar serial sharers are often able to influence others to contribute a cumulative total that goes well beyond the individual act. This multiplier effect is why peer-to-peer fundraising can be so powerful.
So, how do you make the most of these digital do-gooders?
Open the door.
Embrace and enable these so-called slacktivists by lowering the barrier of entry to participate in your cause. This means making actions easy to understand, easy to do, and easy to afford. Remember: these supporters are not likely to be your high-dollar donors—yet. Offer ubiquitous opportunities to get involved and make it easy by giving your fans prepared tweets, Facebook updates, and email copy to use.
Hoist your billboard.
Cone’s research did find that there can be a gap between intent and action when it comes to supporting causes online. Organizations need to adapt their calls to action to match digital expectations. To do this, make your ask bold, concrete, and compelling. Your messages should clearly underscore a sense of urgency and illustrate the impact a donor can have. You’ll have better luck capitalizing on the desire to help when you script the actions you want people to take.
Clear a path.
Supporters who take a small action are more likely to take additional, larger actions over time—but it’s up to you to clear a path for them to do so. This means organizations should have a plan to build relationships with these digital activist and encourage them to take the next step to more involvement with your cause. Remember: depending on how they came to your organization, these donors, petition signers, or social media warriors may need an additional introduction to your work and why their support matters.
Wed, January 21 2015
Filed under: Social Media •
The folks at the Pew Research Center recently published updates to their Social Media Report. Here are a few highlights:
Facebook still reigns supreme. It comes as no surprise that 71% of all online adults are on Facebook, which also sees 70% of users engaging with the site at least daily.
More older adults adopting social networks. But they’re mostly on Facebook. 56% of all online adults 65 and older now use Facebook, which equals 31% of all seniors. That said, all networks featured in the report saw significant jumps in the number of 65+ users.
Visual platforms continue to emerge as key networks, especially with younger users. Over half of young adults (ages 18-29) online use Instagram. Nearly half of all Instagram users use the site daily.
You can download the full report from the Pew website.
So what does this mean for your nonprofit marketing plans?
Know your audience.
Take the time to define the audience you’re trying to reach and understand where they’re spending their time. If your goal is to activate Boomers, assess your Facebook outreach and create content that appeals to their sense of identity and need for transparency. If you’re looking to mobilize younger supporters, consider documenting your work and the impact of donors via Instagram photos.
Resist the urge to be everywhere.
The Pew researchers found that 52% of online adults use multiple social media sites, which is an increase from 2013. For most nonprofits, though, it’s probably not advisable or realistic to spread resources too thin across multiple outlets. Your best bet, especially if you’re still establishing your social media strategy, is to focus on regular quality engagement on one platform. Measure your results and keep an eye on relevant activity on other networks before expanding. Remember: your social efforts need to reinforce your marketing efforts in other channels.
Be realistic about your goals for social.
We know that donors are engaging with nonprofits and each other on social, but most online dollars are coming in through non-social. Focus on using social as a listening and engagement platform, rather than expecting Twitter or Facebook to become your organization’s magic money machine. Think of social as a tool for understanding what interests your supporters and use your outreach to develop relationships with them.
Carefully measure your ROI.
Although Facebook is the most widely used social media site with the most engaged users, keep in mind that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to break through the noise (and the Facebook algorithm) and fully reach your audience through the platform. On the Care2 blog, Allyson Kapin recently outlined why it’s getting harder to see a return from Facebook advertising.
Even if you’re not paying for social media advertising, weigh the time and attention your staff spends on social media with the results you see and progress to your goals. To get the most out social, you do need to commit to posting quality content and spending time building your presence and the relationships that result.
Is social media on your 2015 list of priorities? Share your thoughts below and let us know how you’re incorporating Facebook, Twitter, and others into your nonprofit marketing strategy.
Wed, October 08 2014
#GivingTuesday – what for many will be the launch of the December giving season – is now just 7 weeks away. Gulp.
Your year-end campaigns are just about ready to go, but making the most of December is probably in the back of your mind all the time. Perhaps you’re asking yourself if there is anything else you can put into motion today that can move the needle at year end.
Yes! Try a peer fundraising campaign.
The Power of Peer Fundraising
Social, Personal, P2P or team fundraising are all names for the same concept: harnessing the power of your supporters and their networks to scale your impact.
At their best, peer fundraising campaigns center around a passionate desire to make an impact on a problem or cause, and then “recruit” supporters based on a shared interest in the cause or in honor of the friendship with the original project sponsor.
Once in a while, peer fundraising campaigns catch fire. That was the case this summer with the Ice Bucket challenge. It started when 29 year-old Pete Frates, stricken with ALS, sought to bring attention to the disease, and to inspire others to support research toward a cure. He challenged friends to dump ice on their heads, and Pete’s network sparked into action. His friends took the challenge and in weeks it was everywhere on social media.
From June to August, more than 3 million donors gave more than $100 million dollars to the ALS Association.
Your superheroes – no cape required.
Campaigns like the Ice Bucket challenge are the exception for sure, but their lessons are transferable to every peer fundraising initiative. They’re effective because supporters, who often reside in the background of your fundraising, move front and center, and become the heroes of the story. We want to root for their success.
And when combined with a few key elements, peer fundraising leverages your team’s limited resources, spreads your story, and attracts new supporters.
What does It take? Sponsors with genuine passion for your cause, plus…
· A little creativity
· An authentic need
· A personal appeal
· Social sharing
Make it easy for peer fundraisers
Empower your supporters to get going, now.
1. Suggest a theme and goal for your supporters. Use your #GivingTuesday campaign to frame a peer-to-peer campaign that is appealing and easy to launch for your supporters. If you’re still lacking a focus for year-end, here is a post that can help you plan a great campaign. Then break your campaign into a target for your peer fundraisers in $500-$1000 range.
2. Make it fun! Encourage your peer fundraisers to focus on opportunity, not obligation, in their outreach to friends and family. Give them tools to keep the excitement high with regular email updates tracking the progress of the campaign.
3. Focus on impact. Be sure that fundraisers and their supporters understand how their dollars will impact those you serve, specifically.
4. Keep it short: a month or less. Use the excitement of #GivingTuesday to keep momentum high and the time commitment low for your peer fundraisers. A timeframe of about a month is just about right. Encourage your fundraisers to launch on November 1st, build excitement toward Thanksgiving and end on December 2.
Make P2P work for you: three paths to success.
1. For small or leanly staffed organizations: Start where you are.
The simplest way to start a peer fundraising campaign is to focus on the tools you already have. You have your inspiring mission, more than a few enthusiastic supporters (think staff, board, volunteers, clients), and services that need support. Define a campaign, enlist peer fundraisers, educate them on the basics above, and let them run with it.
Then, optimize your online giving page with proven software, like DonateNow. With DonateNow, your site will be branded, mobile-ready, and easy for your donors to navigate.
Then simply provide your fundraisers with sample emails, or let them create their own, and drive people to your main online giving page. Ask them to acknowledge the fundraiser they’re supporting in your dedication field.
This is not the most sophisticated method, but a functional, quick-to-launch approach.
And organizations using DonateNow for #GivingTuesday will automatically receive matching funds!
2. For organizations with more staff capacity: take advantage of a P2P platform.
Nonprofits can set up a campaign by creating a “team” page on a peer-to-peer giving platform. Check out our partner site, CrowdRise, the best P2P site out there!
With CrowdRise, you can create a page with your colors and logo and enable your peer fundraisers to set up sub-pages for their individual campaigns. They’ll be able to set an individual goal, see their progress, donor scrolls, and where they stand relative to other fundraisers. Here’s an example.
You can create challenges and competitions among team members that add an extra fun element to the campaign. And you’ll see the overall results of everyone’s fundraising with clean, comprehensive reports.
You can then manage the messaging, the updates, and progress of the campaign. This approach is a great way to give your staff greater control of the whole initiative while also making it easy for your fundraisers to get their pages set up and launched.
CrowdRise will also be holding its Epic Annual Holiday Challenge, including a major campaign on #GivingTuesday, to be revealed soon!
3. For larger organizations or those planning to use peer fundraising as an ongoing strategy: have your own P2P site.
Some organizations are naturally suited to peer and project-based fundraising. These include animal support, disaster relief, schools, health care, disease, and many others. Organizations like these can equip themselves to host peer fundraising and crowdfunding campaigns all year round with GiveCorps, our private label peer fundraising platform.
With GiveCorps, not only can you run a great #GivingTuesday P2P campaign, but you can do race fundraising, birthday fundraisers, crowdfunding campaigns, project based fundraising, and annual giving campaigns.
A GiveCorps site is yours, closely mirroring the look and feel of your main website. Take a look at how the Community Coalition for Haiti uses GiveCorps for personal and project-based fundraisers.
Want to learn more about how GiveCorps can work for you? Request a demo and get started, just in time to get ready for #GivingTuesday.
Fri, August 15 2014
Are your social networks full of friends being doused in icy water? You’ve witnessed the #IceBucketChallenge.
The “Ice Bucket Challenge” has taken the world by storm, prompting people across the nation to take note of, promote, and donate in support of research and assistance for those diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). Challengers throw down the gauntlet to their peers: dump a bucket of ice water on your head or donate to support the ALS Association. It’s an unusual request that has a lot of people taking notice. Ethel Kennedy even challenged President Obama to join in, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has dared Bill Gates to do the same.
How has any of this helped the charity? The ALS Association shares how this viral hit has helped to grow their audience—and their donation totals (over $4M so far). This represents a 1,000% spike in donations compared to the same time period last year.
So, why do campaigns like this take off? How do they tap into the part of us that shares, supports, and acts? Here are seven basic reasons why the Ice Bucket Challenge is so successful. (Note: These factors can also help make your next campaign more effective.)
It’s social. We’re social creatures, and we tend to do what other people are doing, whether we want to admit it or not. It’s who we are. We look to social norms to guide us. It’s peer pressure…for good.
It’s personal. There’s just something about hearing and seeing your family, friends, colleagues, and public figures speak and take action. This powerful personal trigger combines with social norms to inspire action. It wouldn’t have the same effect if a complete stranger (or an organization) asked you to take the challenge.
It’s simple. The ask is pretty clear: dump a bucket of water on your head or give. That’s the choice. There’s not too much to think about there, which is the hallmark of an effective marketing message. Some may argue that an even simpler choice would limit the option to only one: give. In this case, the ask is important, for sure, but the reason this has spread so quickly (and, in turn, raised so much money for ALS) is due to the stunt. Your ask may be easy, important, and necessary, but remember that it still needs a vehicle to reach your audience.
It’s slightly irrational. Sometimes we are more likely to give when a stunt is more unusual, painful, or downright weird. Want proof? Look to Christopher Olivola’s experiments from The Science of Giving.
It’s direct. Instead of issuing a blanket plea, the challenge is built around publicly calling people out. By name. When you want people to pay attention and take action, it makes a difference when you identify an individual vs. asking “everyone” to help.
It’s consistent. Instead of deviating from the script, each participant in the Ice Bucket Challenge focuses on the same challenge and specifically supports the ALS Association. This provides a common experience and goal, which helps build momentum and community. The same wouldn’t be true if the actions or causes were randomly selected.
It’s different. Let’s face it. It’s hard to stand out on social media, but we know that photos and videos of our friends make us linger for more than a few seconds. And people doing silly things like dumping freezing water on themselves? America’s Funniest Home Videos can’t even compare!
With all of these things going for it, the challenge does have some critics who say the stunt is merely slacktivism and doesn’t represent a real avenue for fundraising. I’m glad to see some good conversations around this, as I think it’s important for fundraisers and marketers to understand the opportunities—and the limits—of these types of campaigns. That said, as Justin Ware (The Social Side of Giving) points out, if an effort leads to 7-figure fundraising results, it’s difficult to dismiss this example of “slacktivism” as a dead-end street. Justin also smartly clues in on the real opportunity: being able to further engage and retain these new supporters. In his recent Selfish Giving newsletter, Joe Waters underscores the importance of leading with engagement before making the ask. This is where these types of social campaigns really shine.
What do you think of the Ice Bucket Challenge? Love it, hate it, or getting your bucket ready while you’re reading this? Chime in below and share your thoughts!