Tue, July 07 2015

Make ONE—and Only ONE—Call to Action (Case Study)

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Marketing essentials •

Remember when you were 15 and your mother would tell you to clean up your room, call your grandmother, and come down to dinner all within the same five minutes?

Remember how frustrating that was? How even if you wanted to do everything your mom asked—not every teen’s desire, for sure—there was no way you could, so you just didn’t do anything at all.

I was thrown back there when someone handed me this card during a recent visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I think you’ll see what I mean:

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Count the calls to action featured on this small postcard:

  1. Share your memories and photos online, tagged with #Met145. Or is it @metmuseum?
  2. Celebrate with a 145th anniversary cocktail, dessert, or menu.
  3. Donate at this extremely long URL to build the future of the Met.

By presenting three calls to action and two ways to approach one of them, the Met confuses us—or at least me—rather than spurring us to act. And it’s frustrating! Assuming we want to support the museum’s mission, we don’t know which action is the priority.

As much as I admire the Met’s marketing finesse and programmatic commitment and love visiting its provocative, refreshing galleries and special exhibits, this card campaign could be easily improved by reducing it to just one call to action.

Most important, I urge you to use this example as motivation to review your organization’s calls to action. Ask people to take just one action at a time, because that’s all any of us can take. Put these individual calls to action together in a series, like steps in a staircase, to create the bigger action your organization wants. It works!

What are your challenges in crafting calls to action that engage your people and motivate them to act? Please share them in the comments section and I’ll respond. Thank you.

Thu, July 02 2015

Peer Pressure for Good

Liz Ragland's avatar

Senior Content and Marketing Associate, Network for Good

Filed under:   Social Fundraising •

After I read this article in Chronicle of Philanthropy and this one in the Huffington Post, I couldn’t get this song out of my head. “Under pressure…” Queen’s lyrics aren’t really describing the type of pressure featured in either of these articles, but the main theme is clear: Pressure changes things—it makes action happen.

What kind of pressure does a fundraiser need to use? Peer pressure. Peer pressure can make action happen. Here’s how: We are strongly influenced by our family, friends, and networks. When someone we know makes it clear that they support an organization or when we see them volunteering or donating, we are more likely to do so too.

The Millennial Impact Study found evidence of this in its research, specifically in how peer pressure affects workplace giving. Younger donors are more likely to be influenced to give by their colleagues and peers and not by those in leadership.

“Nearly half of the young people surveyed for the 2015 Millennial Impact Report said they were likely to donate if a coworker asked them to, while only a fifth said they’d probably do so at the request of their companies’ chief executives. Sixty-five percent of millennials said they were more likely to volunteer if their coworkers participated, while 44 percent said they were more likely to if their supervisor participated.”

A study featured in the June 2015 issue of the Economic Journal found that the average donation on a social fundraising page pressures donors to align their gifts with what seems to be the norm.

“[C]ontributors were more likely to give bigger sums when the average donation spiked, and their decisions had little to do with their feelings about the cause.”

How can fundraising professionals leverage peer pressure for good? Here are a few ways:

  • Try social fundraising. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to host an event to launch a social fundraising campaign. Social fundraising is simply empowering your supporter base to fundraise on your behalf. Social fundraising is also known as peer-to-peer fundraising, P2P, or personal fundraising. When you equip your supporters to raise money on your behalf, you’ll not only expand your donor base, you’ll also create a deeper bond with those who serve as social fundraisers. Win-win!

  • Be sure your donation pages include a sharing feature. Make it easy for donors to spread the word about your organization. After donors give through Network for Good donation pages, nonprofits can draft suggested tweets, email text, and more, and all the donor has to do is hit “share.”

The Secrets of Social Fundraising Success

Wed, July 01 2015

The Two Absolute Requirements for #GivingTuesday Success

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

Filed under:   Big Thoughts on Giving • Fundraising essentials • Giving Days •

When I’m not wearing heels, I’m all of 5’1” tall. I like to think of myself as “small but mighty” and I have developed a bit of an independent streak. (This might also be due to the fact that I was born on the 4th of July.) I feel this urge to prove to myself and the world that I am capable of tackling even the most herculean tasks … all by myself. Dragging an area rug into the office for an upcoming conference? Easy. Loading a U-Haul van full of furniture and a big screen television? No sweat. (Ok, maybe a little sweat.)

I’m mostly proud of my independent nature, but it all comes down to balance. By being a DIYer, I sometimes miss the opportunity to tap into the rich support and expertise that I have in my network of friends and colleagues.

Unfortunately, this is also what many organizations fail to do when planning events or considering new initiatives. But tapping into your network and empowering your people is how the magic happens (especially with big fundraising events like #GivingTuesday). Even if you are a small and mighty nonprofit who is used to doing things on your own, let’s agree to do it differently this year. It might feel a little uncomfortable, but it’s time to get out of your comfort zone. There are two things you absolutely must do for a truly successful #GivingTuesday campaign:

Identify your team and activate your community.

Even if you are the smallest organization, it is so important to consider the collective impact of your network and the expertise you can tap. A strong team with a dedicated leader will help you organize your efforts and move your campaign forward. These champions may be your staff, or they may be volunteers, board members, or other partners. And, without a passionate and active community, the energy and contagious enthusiasm of a great #GivingTuesday campaign is quickly lost. Beyond technology, your marketing message, or your fundraising goal, you simply cannot succeed without these two key pieces.

There are 153 days until #GivingTuesday. Now is the time to create a plan for identifying your team and activating your community. Need some help? Download the Guide to a Successful Giving Day, then register for our free webinar later this month, where I’ll help you think through your strategy for #GivingTuesday, from assembling your team to writing effective appeals.

Tue, June 30 2015

No Kitties or Puppies. HELP! (Step Two)

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

Filed under:   Social Fundraising • Social Media •

Review Step One

Okay, your organization is one of many that can’t use kitty or puppy photos to raise money or recruit volunteers. So what can you do to quickly and effectively connect with the emotions of prospects and supporters?

In Step One of this two-part post, I shared my take on why this type of emotional candy works so well to raise money or recruit volunteers. I cited a reliable litmus test for photo impact—would you share it with your own family and friends, and would they “like” or share it?

Step 2: Make emotional connections and compelling content—if not candy—even without the supercute.

If your organization is not an animal rescue or somehow directly related to puppies, kitties, or babies, these alternatives will be far more effective in helping you forge connections and motivate giving. Most important, they are authentic, relevant expressions, rather than manipulative clickbait.

Here are some recommendations, with examples:

For all causes and organizations: Highlight the similarities between your audiences and your organization’s clients, participants, or beneficiaries.

What sweet moments, when the kids at the Shelter get one of the adults to whisk them away into a book. Among many other...

Posted by Findlay Hope House on Wednesday, June 3, 2015
  • Findlay Hope House does a great job of this on its Facebook page time and time again. Consider the post above, showing kids without homes living in Hope House’s transitional housing.

  • Clearly, we never want anyone to be homeless, much less our own family. The cause has the potential to scare off supporters because of their fear that it could happen to them. Stigma!

  • However, by photographing an older resident (like your grandma or mine) reading to a couple of kids, Hope House busts through and connects us with the residents in a positive way. (I remember when my grandma read to me.)

For policy and intermediary organizations: Connect the dots between your work and the people who are the ultimate beneficiaries.

Have you visited the Children's Museum of Findlay yet? BIG NEWS! The Community Foundation just approved a two-year grant totaling $35,000 to fund a museum educator.

Posted by The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation on Friday, May 22, 2015

Organizations like yours have it even harder when building relationships and motivating action, be it giving or something else. That’s because your work is indirect.

You’re working on legislation related to a cause or supporting other cause organizations. This makes it challenging for prospects to connect emotionally. It takes your audience time and thought to make the connection between your impact and people, which is always a deterrent.

But there is a great method of speeding that vital connection—make the message for your prospects and supporters. Connect the dots between your organization’s work and impact and your ultimate beneficiaries, even if there are layers in between.

  • The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation does a great job of this on its Facebook page, as shown in the post above. Here, the foundation makes it easy to make the connection between its work and the individuals who benefit from its grants for a real “aha!” moment.

  • Get detailed and personal in words and/or photos. The close-up (bottom left) of the little girl focused on drawing is compelling!

  • The details are what sticks (or doesn’t) and make your story memorable and more likely to be shared.

How do you make your organization’s content compelling—beyond kitties, puppies, or babies? Please share your recommendations in the comments!

Review Step One


With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at GettingAttention.org.

Fri, June 26 2015

Why Your Donors Want to Remain Anonymous

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

It never fails.

When there is a large scale natural disaster, such as the Nepal earthquake, or an event that inspires charitable giving, my media alerts for Network for Good go through the roof. Many donors come to Network for Good’s giving portal to search for nonprofits and quickly make donations online, and reporters often list Network for Good as a way to easily give to charities responding to crises on the ground. We’re proud to facilitate giving to nonprofits across the country, including $1 million in donations for Nepal earthquake relief efforts.

In some cases, though, the press also features our giving portal as a good option for donors who wish to remain anonymous. Of course, there are many reasons a donor might want to remain anonymous, but the reason most cited in these articles is because these donors want to avoid getting on a nonprofit’s email list and being “spammed” by the organization, or worse, by other organizations who have purchased the list.

Ugh.

Friends, if this is a primary reason for our donors’ anonymity, we’re doing it wrong.

As you collect, grow, and manage your donor list, think about how you communicate with your donors. Are you welcoming them into a personal relationship with your organization or causing them to run and hide?

Let donors choose how and how often they hear from you. Give your supporters control over how they get information from you and the frequency of those communications. Many times, the fact that you are offering this control will make donors more likely to want to be on your list. And yes, if they decide to opt out or remain anonymous, you must respect that decision.

Let them know what to expect. When donors give or when supporters sign up for your newsletter, let them know what’s in it for them and what they can expect from your organization. These are important pieces of your nonprofit’s brand promise and will affect how people feel about your organization.

Have a strategic communication plan.  Many nonprofits make communications missteps because they haven’t taken the time to think through their strategy for reaching out to their constituents. Before you send another email, sit down and figure out your organization’s rules around communication frequency, content, and segmentation. If it doesn’t meet your criteria, don’t send it.

Be mindful of your thank to ask ratio.  This should also be part of your outreach strategy. Lynne Wester, The Donor Relations Guru, has a smart post about this very concept.

Keep donor information sacred. It’s not just good list hygiene and, in most cases, the law—it’s the right thing to do. Do unto others’ email addresses as you would have them do unto yours.

Being transparent and respectful in your communications will encourage more of your supporters to share more of themselves with you. Plus, you’ll help the rest of us look good, as well.

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