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Founded by Katya Andresen and Mark Rovner, Characters Magazine is on a mission to showcase amazing stories of and by those seeking to make the world a better place. Each month the magazine will feature stories from the nonprofit sector.
Stories are older than written language. Stories have started wars and built civilizations. They renew and sustain our faith traditions. They teach us what it means to be a good person.
For me, practicing the craft of storytelling is among the most rewarding and humbling parts of my work. Storytelling tests every writer’s mettle. It requires courage and a willingness to expose one’s self in public. And it can always be better. If we want to change the world for the better and further our good causes, we must embrace the power of storytelling and become comfortable speaking in story to attract, inspire and move people to action. We operate in a world in which we trust our heads too much and our hearts too little. Story is the language of heart, it's a language that is well worth mastering.
The stories featured in Characters run the gamut from a clever -- and heartbreaking -- story told in the form of tweets, to a short play about a successful and powerful woman looking for love. The stories share two qualities: they are all terrific and they are written by people who have made a career of trying to make the world a better place.
Inspired to use the power of storytelling to gain support for your cause? Try these tips for crafting amazing stories for your nonprofit:
Sending the most effective emails to your donors doesn't have to be a guessing game. Even the smallest nonprofits can use simple testing methods to uncover the subject lines, content and calls to action that inspire supporters to give.Split Testing Your Emails
If you have a file of 40,000 email addresses or more, it’s pretty easy to create two segments of 5,000 email addresses each. When you want to test something for your entire group -- for example, a subject line -- you can take these two test segments and send the first message with the first subject line, a second message with the second subject line. (Send them on the same day as close to the same moment as possible, because the time of day does impact the results.)
Wait about 24 hours and look at the results. Decide which message worked the best and then mail to the rest of the list.
Some nonprofits won’t have a list that's big enough to do that with. If your list is 5,000 or 10,000 names or less, then you really can’t take two 10% segments. With a small list size, you won't get reliable split testing results that you could extrapolate to the whole list. If that's the case, simply split your list in half and mail one half one of the things you want to test and the other half the other thing you want to test. Again, mail them on the same day and mail them as close to the same time as you can. You will still be able to learn what works best for your nonprofit.
Testing Subject Lines
When testing subject lines, you'll likely find that newspaper headline style subject lines tend to work better than complete sentences or verbs that call to action. So instead of saying, "Help us to fight Congress to get an increase in your social security," a subject line that says, "No increase in social security protected for 2013" will generally get more people to open it. Test to see what style works best for your issues and audience.
You will find that having certain things in your subject line will typically generate a higher open rate. Once they are opened, emails with different subject lines but the same content generally have the same click-through rate. Once people get into an email, whether they get into it from one subject line or the other, they usually read the mail and act on it the same way.
It’s important to structure your subject lines in a way that helps target the people who are going to take the action you ultimately want them to take. If you say "video" in the subject line, more of those people will likely click through to view your video than the people who opened a message without not knowing there’s a video inside.
This is also true if you are sending a survey. Tell people in the subject line that you’re looking for their opinion. You should get the people who really want to offer their opinion, and more of them will click through and fill out the survey.
Keep it Fresh
Even if you get good results with a certain email subject line, don't think that a specific type of message will have the same impact over time. Don't send the video out every month with a subject line that says "video" and expect that the returns are going to continue month after month. People have very short attention spans sometimes online, and they are always looking for something new. Make sure you continue to make an effort to stand out by being very descriptive, and avoid falling into an email rut. Measure your results over time and make changes when your results begin to stall.
Test Your Layout
You can also test the layout of the emails that you are sending. Many nonprofit organizations send terribly unreadable email newsletters. They are cluttered up with HTML and graphics, they are two or three columns. People open it and have no idea what they are supposed to do next.
Keep your emails very simple: preferably one column of links/content, big buttons where you want them to click, not too much background color. Think of how people will read your emails from their computer and from their mobile devices. Test different layouts to find out if you're able to increase the percentage of people who click through to your website to take the action that you need them to.
Don't Forget About Your Landing Page
Some of the most valuable testing that you can do in an email has nothing to do with the email itself and everything to do with the results of the email. This usually means the landing page. If you get people to open an email message because you’ve given them a great subject line, and then you’ve written compelling copy and have some visuals in there to make them click through, but they don’t ever sign the petition, make the gift, buy the book, whatever, it’s probably not the email’s fault. It’s probably the fault of the landing page itself.
Testing provides valuable insight into what works for your campaign and audience. You can be more successful by taking the time to understand what types of emails inspire your supporters to read and act. Even if your email doesn’t get the results you were hoping for, make sure you’re able to learn something each time with careful measurement, then take those results and fine-tune your approach! You will see your nonprofit email outreach become more successful with each try.
Adapted from the webinar presentation: 4 Easy Steps to Better Email: Improve Your Results through Careful Testing by Heather Dixon (Emma) and Rick Christ (Amergent)
Fundraiser's amnesia – that's what happens when fundraisers forget what it's like to be a donor and think about marketing the organization from the inside out rather than from the outside in.
The causes of this form of amnesia:
If you're in the fog of amnesia, snap out of it. Start thinking like your donor and you'll raise more money by creating a message that appeals to their interests – not those of your organization.
How to Think Like Your Donor
Try these three simple tips for thinking more like your donor:
Talk to your donors.
You should be talking to your donors frequently. Survey them once a year to find out what they are most interested in. Engage with them on Facebook. Call them to thank them for their support and ask them more about why they support your organization. What they tell you will give you a good idea of what messages most resonate with them.
Watch their online behavior.
In addition to talking to donors, you can find out what messages resonate best by monitoring what emails and web content your donors interact with. If your donors are clicking on content and responding by taking action or donating, that message is engaging them.
Remember the iceberg metaphor.
Organizations are like icebergs. There's a lot beneath the surface, but only a little visible at the top.
This should mirror your messaging strategy. Donors are usually inspired and interested in a small portion of the work your organization actually does. Make that the focal point of your appeals.
What topic is at the top of the iceberg for your donors? Make sure that's front and center in your messaging.
Pairing your nonprofit storytelling with social media is a smart tactic for engaging supporters and inspiring them to take action. When coupled with a compelling story and an integrated marketing plan, social media is an easy way to promote stories about your cause. Here's why it works:
It's dynamic: Social media makes it easy to combine text, photos, video and interactive elements to tell a richer story than just words alone.
It puts stories front and center: For many, social media is part of a daily routine. Sharing your stories through social channels helps your stay top of mind with supporters.
It's easy to consume: By breaking your stories into snackable sizes -- just right for social media -- your readers can engage with your message quickly, from anywhere they happen to be.
It provides instant feedback: Unlike other channels, social media is optimized for real-time interaction. Get insight on what resonates with your supporters by offering a variety of stories and formats.
It's shareable: Stories that amaze or inspire are irresistibly shareable. Take advantage of the fact that social tools are built to allow people to interact and share. Let your social media fans help you spread the word and attract new supporters.
Now that you're ready to go social, how should you package your stories to really stand out? Think outside the box when presenting your stories via social media. Here are a few creative ways to frame your content:
• Invite your supporters on a journey. Take readers on a journey to your field sites, local outreach events and through video, photos and up-to-the-minute updates. Use a combination of formats to really capture the full experience.
• Curate an exclusive exhibit. Have a collection of artifacts, illustrations or thank you notes from constituents? Show them off and let them speak for you.
• Make them part of the action. Share a play-by-play of live events or behind the scenes activities with a virtual "back stage pass".
• Create a serial drama. Never underestimate the power of a cliffhanger -- tell your story in installments over several days or weeks. Use hashtags, photo albums and landing pages to link the pieces together.
If your organization's messaging isn’t getting through or your nonprofit marketing campaign isn’t making a difference, it is probably due to one (or all) of these three reasons.
1. Falsely assuming that information results in action.
It’s tempting to assume that if people have information, they will act on it. But sadly, information doesn’t equal action. We know it’s healthy to exercise every day - but that doesn’t mean we’re going to do it. Inertia is a strong force. Good causes are forever in conflict with the status quo and business as usual. We can’t just lay out information. We need to create a compelling reason for taking action that beats doing nothing. In marketing terms, we need to improve our reward and lower our price.
2. Forgetting that we’re not the audience.
The messages that appeal to us aren’t the ones that necessarily resonate with others. Every assumption should be suspect until we understand our audiences’ mindsets. When we assume our audience thinks the way we do, we are at odds with the principles of marketing. We must think like the people we want to reach if we want to succeed.
3. Treating marketing as an afterthought.
Marketing and communications are often tacked on to a good causes’s efforts at the last minute. In treating nonprofit marketing as an afterthought, we deprive ourselves of the great benefits that marketing can bring to all our work. A marketing mindset throughout every dimension of our cause can help us design more effective projects, better meet the needs of people we want to help, win us more donations and support, and motivate people to act.
Many nonprofits have trouble making their missions relatable and exciting to potential supporters. I often get questions like this one from Deirdre:
"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. How can organizations dedicated to civic engagement or research create an inspiring story?"
Whatever your issue area, these three tips will make your cause clear and compelling.
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, 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 stories.
One of the most powerful things nonprofits can do is to make the impact of gifts more visible to supporters. If you don't, you are likely to lose your donors and volunteers -- as well as the chance to build morale and excitement among your staff.
Here are three effective ways to show impact:
1. Provide clear and simple information on how money will be used.
The more tangible, the better. For example: "Buy this backpack and our company donates $1 for school supplies for kids who can't afford them." Research shows that specificity boosts giving and purchasing. Vague statements don't work as well -- and they fuel skepticism among consumers.
2. Show, don’t just tell.
It's not enough to talk about the problem you're addressing -- you need to make clear you have a compelling solution that is making positive change. That means you need to show your impact vividly. Tell stories, use images and draw on the power of video to bring to life the difference being made every day.
3. Choose your messengers wisely.
The best way to prove you have a positive impact is to get someone else to say it. Endorsements, ratings, seals of approval and testimonials are great ways to build trust with consumers.
I was pleasantly surprised by a message I received from Arts of Life, a Chicago-based nonprofit I recently "Liked" on Facebook:
Thank you for 'Liking' The Arts of Life!
We do paintings and drawing and we clean up the studio every day of the week! Not only do we clean up the studio but we do yoga, dancing and gardening! The Arts of Life is the best because I like it here. The studio is like the second family we never had. The Arts of Life is a home to live, to work, and to play!
I want to talk about The Arts of Life Band! I was on the front of the Chicago Reader in my soldier outfit! Check it out… http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/arts-of-life-teaches-developmentally-disabled-to-rock/Content?oid=4920488
To receive an original birthday card from The Arts of Life, join our mailing list! https://www.facebook.com/artsoflife/app_100265896690345 Come tour either the Chicago or North Shore Studio to see what it’s like to be an artist …"
The message went on to describe what I might see on a tour of their studios and offered a specific point of contact, with a name, phone number and email address. This welcome note was sent through Facebook from David Krueger, an artist and musician who benefits directly from Arts of Life’s programs.
I’m already a big fan of Arts of Life and what they do, but this surprising touch only helped solidify my warm feelings for them.
Here’s why this works:
In our social media outreach, it’s tempting to want to “set it and forget it”, but for long-term success, nonprofit fundraisers must create an ongoing positive experience for their audiences. Just as you’d welcome a new donor or email subscriber, take time to create a special welcome plan for new social media followers to set the stage for the wonderful experience they’ll have with your organization.
Kudos to Arts of Life for showing us how to get it right!
At the recent Nonprofit Technology Conference, I was asked about donor premiums -- those return address labels, mugs, etc. given to people in exchange for making a donation.
From the research I've seen, premiums can work to boost giving in the short term but also create some problems long term, especially if the premiums are positioned as a quid pro quo for a gift and have limited resonance with the cause. (For more on the deleterious effects of premiums, read the Agitator.) So I’m not a huge fan, because the evidence suggests these trinkets crowd out a deeper, lasting and emotional connection with a cause.
So what approach might be better? The Agitator post has ideas. Here's another one, from Mercy Corps. This nonprofit chose to surprise donors with a gift tightly aligned with their cause, AFTER the donors gave. It was rooted in social, not market norms. The gift delighted donors without crowding out their emotional connection to Mercy Corps. It's an example of excellent cultivation.
Annalise Briggs shares the story: "I ordered handmade rams from a beneficiary in Kyrgyzstan named Batina. Batina struggled to feed and support her family, and so Mercy Corps gave her a microcredit loan that allowed her to turn her hobby of sewing into a small business. She can now support her family and send her children to school. I mail the notecard with her story and the below photo and one of the little rams she sews to monthly donors within the first 90 days to help with retention (no ask, no BRE). The response has been overwhelming! We have sustainers writing and calling us all the time to thank us for the wonderful gift. Below is just one of the emails we’ve received:
"Thank you for the little wool ram & note card about Batina. It has greatly personalized my sterile, monthly donation made through my credit card… and to remind me of why I’m making a monthly donation. The world just became a little smaller."
As you know, it's so important to connect supporters with the mission and this is so much better than any random premium or swag. It directly relates to the field work we are doing. With our mission of working in other countries around the world, this connection is even more critical."
This is a great example of what we should do far better in our sector -- thank donors and give them a vivid sense of the impact they have on real lives.
Pictured: Batina and the ram she sewed. Photos are courtesy of Mercy Corps.
The study, based on analysis of 55 large nonprofits, including the American Red Cross, Sierra Club, American Lung Association, AARP and Human Rights Campaign, examines trends on fundraising response rates, email messaging, social reach and mobile.
Social reach up, email response rates down
Will Valverde, Vice President of Creative Development at M+R Strategic Services offered this insight to the finding that nonprofit email response rates are declining:
“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.”
View the full study by M+R and NTEN here.
So, what does this mean for your organization?
Analyze these insights against your own metrics and see how you compare. Assess what's working for your nonprofit and identify areas for improvement. Here are some ideas:
(This article was adapted from a post that originally appeared on Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog.)
Free eBook: Woo & Wow Donors with Social Media
How do you really stand out on social media? We’ve compiled a short review of best practices for nonprofits on Facebook, Twitter and visual platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. This mini-guide offers ideas to get your organization started and examples of nonprofits who get it right.
Events are a powerful way to grow your community, engage with donors and give supporters a positive experience with your organization. Of course, nonprofit fundraising events can also help you raise more money for your cause. Beyond ticket sales, events are the perfect time for connecting with donors who are feeling inspired and want to make a difference.
Give Attendees the Option to Give More
This sounds painfully obvious, but it’s often overlooked at nonprofit events. Be appreciative of those who have purchased tickets and are attending your event, but recognize that a portion of your attendees will be ready and willing to do even more. Here are four strategies for opening the door to more donations at your next event:
Auctions & Raffles: Auctions, games and raffles are a popular way to raise even more money at your fundraising event. The best raffles and auctions feature items that tie back to your cause or reflect your community’s unique interests.
Mobile Donations: At your event, supporters will feel a strong connection to your cause and are often inspired to do more. Channel their good feelings and generosity into more gifts by reminding them they can give on the spot via their mobile device. (Don’t have a mobile-friendly donation solution? Check out DonateNow’s affordable mobile giving features for donating and pledging via smartphones.)
Recurring Donations and Memberships: Set up a “Donation Station” or membership kiosk that will help your loyal supporters set up a recurring gift or become members of your organization. Be sure to staff your booth to help make this process personal, easy and fun.
Additional Gifts: Make it easy for attendees to not only register for tickets online, but offer them the chance to give an additional gift while you’re at it. These supporters are already excited about your work and will likely be happy to donate, if given the opportunity. Use an online fundraising event management service like EventsNow to sell and manage your event tickets, collect additional donations and allow non-attendees to donate as well. (Bonus: EventsNow powered by givezooks! is now mobile-optimized for your success!)
Illustrate Your Impact
Donors want to know exactly how their gifts are being used and what difference they’re making. When your donors feel like there is a real, tangible benefit as a result of their donation, they’re likely to give again. Let your supporters know your organization is a good steward of their funds by giving them an inside look at the impact they have made possible.
Showcase Your Work: Events offer a unique opportunity to really bring your work to life in the eyes of your community of supporters. Skip the boring speech full of statistics and illuminate your work in other ways, like telling compelling stories, showing live demonstrations or giving hands-on education opportunities.
Feature a Testimonial: Invite those who have been served by your organization to speak at your event. Encourage them to share what difference your work has made in their lives. If you aren’t able to include an in-person testimonial, bring this story to life in other ways, like video, posters and multimedia presentations.
Secure Future Support by Showing Your Appreciation
Loyal donors are happy donors and your loyal donors will give more over time. Donors state the primary reason for ending support to an organization is due to lack of communication or appreciation for their contribution. Events are a perfect venue for improving donor retention – what better way to thank donors for all they do than during a live event?
Showcase Your Donors: Use your event as an opportunity to really highlight your donors and attendees. Feature loyal donors and ask them to share why they support your organization. Their enthusiasm will have a strong social influence on the actions of their peers.
Make Donors the Stars of Your Event: Treat your supporters like the VIPs they are. Think donor wall of fame, or even a red carpet photo booth where your supporters can be treated like the VIPs they are. Bonus: elements like these are infinitely shareable – who doesn’t want to brag about their name in lights?
Don’t Forget Your Sponsors: Most events wouldn’t get off the ground without the generous support from local businesses and other organizations. Pay special attention to how you acknowledge your sponsors in all of your printed material as well as online outreach. Create special ways to feature their involvement by incorporating their sponsorship in all aspects of your event planning. Most businesses are happy to support events and your cause, but just like donors, they want to know their investment is appreciated and that they’re making a difference.
Fundraising events are a great way to cultivate support and attract new donors. But great events take a lot of planning, financial support and hard work. Our ebook is a quick guide on the key steps to having a successful fundraising event, with experts from Network for Good, Givezooks!, Events360 and Elizabeth Rose Consulting.
It's clear that social media is an effective channel for establishing your nonprofit's brand identity, championing your cause and engaging with current and would-be supporters. So, how do you make sure your organization is on board -- especially your boss, executive director or board members? Here are eight tips for making the case for your next social media initiative:
1. Change the subject.
If you’re having a debate over the value of social media, you’re having the wrong discussion. The discussion should be about your organization’s goals – with social media being the means, not the end.
2. Make it about what your boss already wants.
Don’t position your idea as a social media initiative; frame it as your initiative to support your boss’s goals, in your boss’s language. Is donor retention a big concern for your Executive Director? Highlight how social media can help keep donors engaged. Does your board want more success stories to showcase? Underscore how social media can help make that happen.
3. Make it about the audience.
A good way to depersonalize the debate over social media is to make it about your target audience’s preferences rather than a philosophical tug of war between you and said boss.
4. Sign your boss up to listen.
Set up Google Alerts and TweetBeep (email alerts for Twitter mentions) for your boss, so she or he can see that there are already many discussions about your organization happening online. Once this apparent, two things are likely to happen. First, it will become clear that your organization no longer controls your message online – so worrying about social media causing a lack of control is not worth fearing. That day is already here. Second, it will be hard not to want to join those conversations online – which is what social engagement is all about.
5. Set some ground rules.
Set a social media policy for your organization, so it’s clear how to respond to what you’re hearing - and what types of initiatives have internal support.
6. Start small.
If you’re going to start a social media initiative, start small. Pinpoint where your supporters are and branch out from there. You don’t have to be an overnight social media expert – you just need to be a part of the conversations about your cause.
7. Set a clear goal.
Just as with any other marketing effort, establish a specific, measurable goal so you can identify success.
8. Measure and report.
Once you’ve identified your approach and have set a goal, ensure that you can track and measure your progress. Most social media platforms have built-in analytics and you can also track Web traffic back to your site through Google Analytics. Be sure to tie your results back to your social media efforts where possible with careful tracking. (This could mean using tracking codes on your donation pages, Google campaign tags or landing pages created specifically for your social media outreach.) Share every little bit of progress and give your boss credit for it!
Remember: This isn’t a crusade, it’s a learning experience for everyone. Make sure there IS a good case for your initiative and if it does fail, share and learn from what went wrong. There is no shame in gaining knowledge from mistakes – for you, or your boss.
Adapted from Katya’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog.
Nonprofits are reporting that up to a third of their Web traffic is now coming from mobile devices. The mobile Web is rapidly becoming a key way to communicate your message to donors; it’s important that your nonprofit website isn’t giving them a bad impression.
Photo Source: Big Stock Photo
Luckily, 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 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.
The digital fundraising and mobile payment experts at Network for Good and PayPal have outlined the key mobile trends for nonprofits to understand and share steps to prepare to take your nonprofit outreach and giving options mobile.
Do nonprofits have to pay to get their content seen on Facebook? We wanted to get the scoop, so Network for Good’s Katya Andresen turned to Facebook expert, John Haydon. He provided easy-to-understand, practical insight on the most common questions about Promoted Posts on Facebook.
Katya: Do you have to pay to play to have success on Facebook these days? Should you do promoted posts and if so, how?
John: No, you do not have to pay to play to have success on Facebook these days. But you do have to publish awesome content. Again, Edgerank is nothing new for Facebook Pages. Updates from Pages have never reached all of their fans. But Pages with awesome content reach more of their fans, and some even go further than that, like George Tekai’s page.
Promoted posts are certainly an option to reach more fans. However, promoting posts alone will not create success. As you know, you have to do many things right to be truly effective on social media.
As Alison Carlman points out in her experiment on using Promoted Posts, you have to have a goal, and you have to measure what works for your organization. They also learned that Promoted Posts did increase engagement and net revenue on posts they promoted.
How to think about promoted posts
With promoted posts, all you’re paying for is an increase in reach. There is no guarantee that you’ll get more comments, likes and shares, even though that’s what you want for long-term success (the more comments, likes and shares you get on a post, the more you’re leveraging true word of mouth).
So the key to investing your ad dollars wisely, is to ONLY promote posts that are already getting a lot of likes, comments and shares. You do this by ranking your most recent posts by virality within Facebook Insights (the analytics tool every Facebook Page has).
Two benefits to promoting high virality posts
1. You will get more likes, comments and shares from the promotion.
2. You’ll increase organic reach for your Page updates.
An example of how this works
Let’s say you have a post that 20 people have talked about (liked, commented on, shared) among 200 people total who saw that update (reach). If you pay for this update to reach an additional 2000 people, it’s reasonable to expect that the update will receive approximately 200 likes, comments and shares, when adjusted for affinity.
What does "adjusted for affinity" mean?
Many people who see this promoted post have a lower affinity for your Page than people who are see this post organically. This is why they’re not seeing your posts in the first place. When you promote a post, remember that you’re promoting it to fans who haven’t talked about your posts much before (low affinity), and that they’re not as likely to talk about your post as someone who sees it organically (high affinity). In the few pages I’ve analyzed (10 pages), this adjustment seems to be about 20%. Using this adjustment with our example, the total number of likes, comments and shares would be around 160.
People who hate math should just know one thing: if you promote posts that are already getting a higher number of likes, comments and shares, your promotion will yield much more value than if you promoted posts that have a low number of likes, comments and shares. Another way to say this is this: if you promote posts that are not already interesting, you are throwing money out the window.
For more insight, check out John’s video on getting the most out of promoted posts and a blog post on extending your Facebook reach.
(This article was adapted from a post that originally appeared on Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog.)
Nonprofit marketing and fundraising is about motivating people to do something specific - not just to think about your cause. Channel attention into action if you want to change the world.
So how do you get people to act? You should speak to their values and connect to them emotionally, obviously. But it also helps to have a sense of urgency. Don’t just tell them to act, show why they need to act NOW.
Here are five simple tactics for building a sense of urgency in your next fundraising appeal, advocacy campaign or membership drive.
1. Set a deadline.
As any procrastinator knows, nothing concentrates the mind like an imminent deadline. Set a goal and tie it to a date. People will be far more likely to give or take action as the deadline approaches. Make sure to publish this deadline on related landing pages, donation forms and fundraising appeals.
2. Make it close.
When people sense you’re close to the finish line on a goal, they are more inclined to help you cross it. If you’re close to your goal, show how people can put you over the top. It creates tremendous urgency. Illustrate this in your fundraising appeals by using fundraising thermometers or tickers in your emails and on your donation forms.
3. Create scarcity.
When people feel an opportunity is running out, they are more inclined to take action. "Get your tickets now - only ten seats left at our gala!" is better than "attend our gala!" Beyond events, you can create exclusive giving levels or thank you gifts that have limited availability.
4. Be specific.
Think of it this way: it’s easy to say no to something hard and hard to say no to something easy. Make your call to action clear, quick and easy and people are more likely to act now.
5. Build a campaign, or join one.
A coordinated campaign can help supporters feel like they're participating in something bigger. If you don't have a campaign planned, think of how you can leverage seasonal or current events to help create a sense of urgency. Consider joining a giving day or larger organized fundraising event for your region or issue to help rally your community for support and create buzz around your desired action.
Adapted from Katya's Nonprofit Marketing Blog
It's no secret that, just like we do, our supporters get a lot of emails each day. On average, individuals receive over a hundred messages per day, each one clamoring for their attention and competing with your fundraising appeal, nonprofit newsletter or member update. The inbox is a crowded place, so how do you stand out and ensure that your emails are being opened?
Here are seven quick tips for better subject lines:
Before you send out an email to a large portion of your audience, test two different subject lines with a smaller subset of your list. Make this part of your normal process, so you get smarter every time.
Use something personally relevant to the reader to grab their attention.
3. Be interesting.
Make your subject line oddly short, long or different. Above all, make it interesting, so people open the message in the first place.
4. Make it fresh.
Don’t say "update" or "news" each time. Instead, just focus on what’s actually new!
5. Keep it brief.
Subject lines often get cut off in many email programs, put key information right up front.
6. Instill urgency.
Make it clear why your email matters now—"three days left to give."
7. Banish spam-ness.
Run your copy and subject line through a content-checker, avoid all caps and shun exclamation points. The Email Sender and Provider Coalition notes that 69% of subscribers base their decision to send your message to the spam folder on the subject line.
If I had to choose just one of these to convey, I concentrate on #3. My best advice for building a following is to create wonderful content and reflect it in the subject line. People open the emails they know will contain something of value. Provide that value. The rest will follow!
Adapted from http://nonprofitmarketingblog.com/