Wed, October 31 2012

Your gut is more generous than your brain

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

The Science of Generosity has shared some interesting new research from Harvard that says our gut instinct is to be generous. 

The first instinct of humans is to contribute to the greater good at their own expense.  It’s only when we stop and reflect that we become greedy.

According the Boston Globe, which covered the research originally published in Nature, “The research lays bare a sort of tug-of-war that takes place in our minds between two cognitive systems: one that is quick and intuitive and spurs us to cooperate, and another that is slower, rational, and leads us to act self-interested.”

Researcher David Rand said people participating in a series of experiments were most generous when making snap decisions about how much to give or when they were asked beforehand to remember times when emotion had guided them to a good decision.

When people were given more time to think - and to reflect on times when emotional decisions weren’t good ones - they gave less.

This is just the latest research which shows the more you make people think, the less they give.

In fact, researchers have tried to figure out if you can strip emotion and parochialism from donation decision making and get people to think more objectively.  Michaela Huber, Leaf Van Boven and Peter McGraw have looked into whether you can get people to stop being ruled by impulse and stop identifying with individual victims.  After all, many people say they want to be objective and focus their help on the severity of suffering rather than emotional reactions.  But can they?  The researchers tried a bunch of things to shift giving from the heart to the head, including a “cooling off” period before donors give and asking people to be more mindful of the influence of their personal beliefs.  None had earth-shattering results – and these acts tended to lower giving.

As researcher Daniel Oppenheimer has told me before: “Crafting solicitations that appeal to human psychology can feel manipulative at times, which is why it’s important to remember people really do want to give.  They like giving; it makes them happy; it provides meaning.  When we help people give, we’re not just assisting charities and the causes that receive the money—we’re also helping the donors.”

So ask people to help.  And make it snappy!

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Tue, October 30 2012

Coping with Sandy’s wrath and aftermath

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

As I write this, my family is fortunate enough to have weathered Sandy okay here in Washington, but so much of the East Coast has not been so fortunate.  I hope everyone reading this is safe.

If you’d like to help those who are coping with Sandy’s wrath and aftermath, visit Network for Good to help or text SANDY to 80888 to make a $10 donation to Network for Good’s Hurricane Relief Fund.

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Mon, October 29 2012

Remember that you are an interruption

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

If you work in marketing or fundraising, like me, it’s really important to remember that we are interrupting people.

No one is sitting around with nothing to do, just waiting for our email or letter or ad.  They are busy.  Then along we come, asking them to pay attention to what we have to say.  We are doing the equivalent of tapping them on the shoulder and asking, “Do you have a second?”

So we had better have something valuable to say.  Look at what you were about to send out this week.  Is it worthy of interrupting someone?  Is it fascinating or does it provide some real value to others?  Does it make someone feel great or tie into their passions?  If not, go back and make it better.  Make it worthy of a shoulder-tap and a request for attention.  From the very first words.

We can’t forget that people have many options for how to spend the precious time given in this short life.  We should feel an obligation to have a very good reason for requesting their attention. If we don’t have one, then we should leave them alone.  Interruption should be reserved for things that other people - not ourselves -  deem important.

Cartoon by Tom Fishburne aka The Marketoonist

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Fri, October 26 2012

7 steps to measuring what you’re doing with social media

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Social Media •

I hosted a panel last night with Beth Kanter and KD Paine, authors of Measuring the Networked Nonprofit.  They offered seven important steps to creating a social media plan that drives results you can actually measure:

1. Set a goal.  What are you actually trying to do with social media to advance your mission? 

2. Define your stakeholders.  Who are the people you want to help or stand in the way of change?  Know who you need to engage.

Don’t skip #1 and #2!  How else can you measure your impact on the people that matter?

3. Decide the investment you have to make.

4. Define your benchmarks.  As you get results, what are you comparing them to?  Peer organizations?  Last year?  Direct mail results?

5. Pick a tool that makes sense to use.  Don’t skip to this step before you work through the first four.

6. Look at your results.

7. Figure out what is and is not working for you and adjust accordingly.

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Thu, October 25 2012

Why 107 is a scary number - and what to do about it

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

There was a pretty incredible piece of news this week in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. 

Apparently, for every $100 charities raised last year, $100 was lost as donors stopped giving or donated less.  Analysis by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Urban Institute also shows that for every 100 donors that nonprofits recruited in 2011, they lost 107.


Clearly, we have problem.  But do we know we have a problem?  How many nonprofits are paying attention to their donors in this way?  Do you know who donated – but also who stopped? 

The Agitator currently has an excellent series on donor acquisition – how much it costs you to get a donor and how you monitor that investment over time. 

The folks at Agitator encourage you to examine the lifetime value of a donor.  It’s relatively easy to compute:

[Gross income from donor over whatever period of years you choose MINUS the cost of Acquisition + the per donor costs of file maintenance, overhead, cultivation, appeals and renewal = Lifetime Value]

They note you can use Harvard University’s free calculator or the free spreadsheet from the Database Marketing Institute to do this for yourself.

Agitator rightly urges us to work smarter.  Know who is a steady donor and who has deserted you.  Focus on testing strategies to improve the lifetime value of a donor by tracking the benefits and costs of various strategies and see what it does to the formula.

For more, check out The Agitator and its in-depth analysis.  Because we can’t afford to keep gaining 100 only to lose 107!

Cartoon by The Dunvegan Group

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