- Tue, July 26 2011
- Filed under: Nonprofit leadership
Later today (at 1 pm ET), Network for Good has a free webinar by Brian Reich: How to Adapt When Everything Around You is Changing - A Nonprofit Organization Survival Guide. (If you’re busy today, have no fear - just register anyway and after the call you’ll get a link to the recording to view whenever you want!)
It’s based on his soon to be released book, Shift and Reset, and it will cover our constantly changing times. How we communicate, get and share information, and engage each other online and offline is different than it was just a few short years ago. Information moves faster, people are more closely connected, and the level of interest and commitment that people have when it comes to the organizations they engage, the transactions they make, the issues they care about and the causes they support has never been greater. Brian will talk about how to shift your perspective and reset the operations of your organization to thrive in a connected society. Register here.
I wrote a small section of the book on how nonprofits can shift and reset online. Here’s an excerpt from my writing with seven tips:
1. Put the donor at the center. Reorganize your organization around the donor. Tear down the walls around your technology, marketing, fund-raising, and communications departments, and rebuild the organization in a way that creates a completely supporter-centric experience.
2. Approach fund-raising as giving, not getting. You should be approaching your donor, and your life, from a place of abundance. Good fund-raising is about giving—an experience, a chance to change the world, gratitude—not extracting. It’s about conversation, not monologue. Give credit to your supporters instead of yourself. Listen and follow more than you talk and recruit. When people retweet your content or spread the word, profusely thank and highlight them. Spend more time pointing to the work of others and celebrating what they say than you do talking about yourself. Rather than pontificating on a topic, share the thoughts of another person and praise their insight. The more you do this, the easier your job and the more popular you become. It sounds paradoxical, but it works.
3. Think of technology as an embrace. Use technology to build a new intimacy with your community. Start with the basics. Your web site should be architected according to the interests of its various visitors. Your donation page should be as emotionally engaging as your cause. Every e-mail campaign should be segmented according to the interests of your supporters. Then graduate to more: give your community a voice and presence in all you do online (see #4).
4. Be the progress bar of your cause. When we download something, we see a progress bar inching toward an outcome. What is your progress bar? Which events, stories, or experiences can make a donor feel that she’s walking a road with you, toward a destination that is near? I’ve always wished I could give to a community cause online, know that Gail from the accounting department logged my donation, watch Jane add another family to their community outreach plan because of my support, and then see the difference I made in someone’s life. Think that’s impossible? Check out donorschoose.org or kiva.org. They already take a progress-bar approach. People expect tangibility, so give it to them.
5. Make your community part of the solution. By now, we all know we can’t control our message. We should also recognize we should not be our only messengers. So let others speak for you. Have you noticed that the Donors Choose home page often features quotes from people who gave minutes ago, on why they gave? Let supporters write your appeals. Give them the tools to take your message around the Internet. They are better fund-raisers than you, so ensure that all you do online is portable—anything compelling should be grab and go. Make it easier for your supporters to find and connect with each other. That means putting great content within the social networks where they congregate.
6. Cultivate according to who and where the donor is. As all the changes described here start to unfold, you’ll find that people come to your cause with varying degrees of familiarity with it, and keeping their attention in a world where there are more and more ways to give can be a challenge. They may have come to you not because of you, but because of a friend. That means you have extra work to do. Your engagement needs to be tailor-made to how they came to support you, and it needs to hold their interests over time.
7. Tell old stories in new ways. The best way to connect to someone has always been—and will always be—stories. It’s how we come to know and love those around us, and it’s how we deepen our understanding and commitment to a cause. Technology is an amazing storytelling vehicle. You can make a supporter part of a story, transport them around the world with videos and front-line blogging, or enable them to experience the changes they make with maps, pictures, and firsthand accounts. Use the new tools to do the best old thing: share a story that has a soul. That is what our donors want, after all—a fellow being with soul and a shared purpose.