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If you’re still not sure what your organization should be doing with social media, it would be a good idea to figure it out soon. As social media use continues to grow, this channel is becoming even more important to online donors as a way to connect with causes and find news and information.
Here are some social media fun facts:
Want some help with your nonprofit’s social media strategy? Nonprofit communication expert Farra Trompeter of Big Duck will join us on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 1pm EDT for a free Network for Good webinar. Farra is a seasoned fundraising and nonprofit marketing professional who has helped hundreds of nonprofits create amazing campaigns and communicate more effectively via social channels. This is a perfect opportunity to learn from one of the best. Registration is free and I hope you can join us. (Note: If you can’t attend the live stream, we’ll send you the presentation so you can review it on demand.)
Develop Your Social Media Strategy
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013 1 pm EDT
Recently MarketingProfs reported that Q2 email open rates decreased 8.3% from Q1 levels. Click through rates also dropped slightly. While the referenced study from Epsilon looked at e-commerce email performance, it’s no secret that it’s getting tougher to break through the noise and ensure readers are opening and acting on your emails. Fortunately, there are things you can do to build a stronger email relationship with your supporters now so that you will have better success when you send those December appeals. Try these tips:
If your emails look like every other message in your supporter’s inbox, you’re making it easy for readers to ignore you. Spend as much time designing your emails for your readers’ inboxes as you spend writing the contents of your email. Create subject lines that make them want to open and read your message, and think about what shows up in the preview pane and from whom your email is sent. No one wants to get an email from “email@example.com”.
Give them something they can count on.
Can your donors count on you for interesting, useful information and updates? Condition your readers to expect amazing stories and new insights about your cause so they’ll look forward to receiving—and reading— your emails.
One surefire way to bore your supporters to death is to send them all the same, generic emails every month. Your emails must be personally relevant to the reader to grab their attention. In addition to personalizing emails with your reader’s name in the subject line or greeting, segment and tailor your emails to align with their experience with your organization. Treat recurring donors different from those who haven’t given. Send program-specific information to those supporters who have indicated a passion for a particular part of your mission.
Make it mobile friendly.
Over 40% of email is now being opened on mobile devices, so be sure to simplify your outreach, increase font sizes, and make your buttons and calls to action easy to click with a fingertip or thumb. Applying mobile friendly design principles to your emails will make your organization’s messages easier to read and act on, no matter how they’re being read. This will also improve the readability of your emails for older eyes.
Bonus tip: Our friends at Constant Contact have shared some excellent advice on educating your readers about the new Gmail tabs, which some worry may affect open rates. Ryan Pinkham, Constant Contact’s Content Developer, offers sample email copy for you to customize and share with your supporters, along with a pre-designed email template for those of you using Constant Contact.
What is the one problem you’d like to solve in 2014? What would happen if your organization could effectively tackle its biggest challenge? How much good would come from your organization reaching its most ambitious goal?
This probably sounds very exciting and a little terrifying, but a few lucky nonprofits will have an amazing opportunity to achieve more with help from one of the best champions for social good: Dan Heath. Heath is the co-author of Made to Stick, Switch, and Decisive, and is a Senior Fellow at Duke University’s CASE center, which supports social entrepreneurs. Dan is looking for motivated teams from nonprofits and for-profit social ventures to apply for The Duke CASE Change Academy, an amazing program that will run from January to July 2014.
The Change Academy program is a one-of-a-kind coaching experience tailored to help you conquer one of your biggest goals. Your organization’s team will learn how to identify the best strategies for tackling your challenge, how to lead change, how to communicate your plan, and how to create a framework for solving even the toughest problems. The program combines in-person training sessions with real-world organizational challenges that attendees will work on back at home. Like most worthwhile efforts, the Change Academy will involve a lot of hard work and passion—two things readers of this blog have in abundance.
I urge you to find out more about the Duke CASE Change Academy and apply by the November 1, 2013 deadline to be considered for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Only six organizations will be accepted to this inaugural Change Academy session. We can’t wait to hear the results!
In my recent interview with Jay Baer on his book Youtility, we explored how companies and nonprofits can use social concepts to make their marketing focused more on helping people, and less about hyping a product or cause.
Here’s an excerpt from that conversation:
AM: One of my favorite parts of the book is when you describe the relationship between the youtility concept and social media. “If [your brand is] interesting and useful and helpful, your supporters and prospects will do more of your marketing for you, helping your organization work less arduously and expensively on interruption marketing in its various guises.” What are some baby steps to help those well versed in push marketing move to more of a listening role?
JB: Thank you. Indeed, content (youtility) is fire, and social media is gasoline. The best first step in that process is to make sure that your employees/volunteers/donors fully understand and appreciate your useful content. Almost every organization has their target audiences for content upside down. You should be marketing from the inside out. If your existing volunteers don’t know about and love your useful content, why should brand new people?
Why this is relevant for nonprofits:
1) Marketing from within can inform your donor retention strategy.
2) This type of marketing will give your audience the tools to communicate your message.
3) Ultimately, this will further your mission by helping you raise more money online.
How to do “inside out” marketing:
For more social good and cause marketing news, follow Allison on Twitter.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a powerful opportunity for nonprofit fundraisers because it allows you to tap into a much broader network than you currently have access to, through people’s most trusted sources of information: their friends. Here are some tips for implementing a successful peer-to-peer fundraising program for your nonprofit:
1) Make it easy.
Give your supporters simple tools so they can quickly spread your message and raise funds without a lot of effort. The easier it is to do, the more likely your fans are to take up your cause and promote it to their social networks. Give them charity badges, fundraising pages, and simple social media sharing buttons. Once you have the tools in place, don’t forget to give your fundraising army all of the information they’ll need to promote your mission, including suggested social media updates, email templates, and information on how donations are being used.
2) Be proactive.
In addition to featuring peer-to-peer fundraising tools on your website, make this donation tool a regular part of communication with your donors. Reach out to your biggest fans to invite them to start a fundraiser of their own. Create a friendly competition among your volunteers or community advocates to inspire and motivate them to share the opportunity to give to your organization.
3) Celebrate your champions.
Create a plan to recognize your peer-to-peer fundraisers. They’re some of your most valuable supporters, so find ways to keep them close to your organization and celebrate their achievements. Mention your fundraisers in your nonprofit newsletter, create a special appreciation page on your blog or website, or host an exclusive thank you event for your online evangelists.
4) Cultivate your crowdsourced donors.
Those who donate through a friend’s campaign will require a different type of donor retention strategy. Remember, they likely gave because a friend asked them to, not because they have an affinity for your cause. This doesn’t mean you can’t retain them as ongoing supporters, but they will need more education on your organization, why your work matters, and how they are a part of your success story.
For a complete introduction to using the power of crowdfunding and social media for fundraising, join our free webinar tomorrow, October 8 at 1pm EDT. The peer-to-peer fundraising experts from Crowdrise will be on hand to answer your questions and show you how to use their platform to raise more money online. If you’re not able to attend the live session, go ahead and register to receive a copy of the presentation and recording.
Where does the time go? There are just ninety days left until the end of the year. This means that you’re probably putting the final touches on your year-end fundraising plans and have a solid campaign ready to go.
Not so much?
First, don’t panic. There’s still plenty of time to create a solid plan and get the most out of the year-end giving season. Take a deep breath, then carve out some time to review your goals and start honing your campaign materials. Here at Network for Good, we recently published two free fundraising guides that can help you plan your marketing efforts and create a great appeal. You can download them here (registration required):
Second, surround yourself with inspiration and smart advice. Our goal is to supply both with this blog, and here are a few of our favorites to add to your list:
Future Fundraising Now: No-nonsense practical advice from Jeff Brooks, one of our favorite fundraising gurus.
Sasha Dichter’s Blog: Big thoughts on giving from the mastermind behind Generosity Day.
Sea Change Strategies: Alia and Mark offer simply brilliant thoughts on nonprofit storytelling, effective appeals, strategic planning, and everything in between.
Fundraiser Grrl: When you need a laugh, Fundraiser Grrl totally gets it.
For more inspiration, check out the Nonprofit Boot Camp and Social Media for Nonprofits conference happening on October 10 & 11 in San Francisco. Our friends at Social Media for Nonprofits have put together some great workshops to help your organization be the best it can be. There’s still time to register, and you can save $20 off with the code “N4G”.
In Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits, branding and design maven Debbie Millman rounds up thoughts on brands, culture, and marketing from smart folks such as Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Pink, and Virginia Postrel. This collection of interviews is a fascinating read for anyone who is in the business of communication and sharing ideas. Two key qualities of brands appear throughout these conversations between Millman and friends. These two qualities can help you focus your fundraising and marketing to clearly communicate your nonprofit’s unique viewpoint to donors and potential supporters.
Your nonprofit’s brand is much more than your visual identity or carefully crafted slogans. The way your organization portrays itself to the world happens at a deeper level. The passion that fuels your mission, the people on the front lines, and the stories of those you serve— these are more powerful representations of who you are and what you do. Interestingly enough, your brand’s identity can take on a more personal meaning for your audience. When they become donors or volunteers for your cause, supporters take pride in owning the qualities of your organization and make it part of their identity, too.
Questions to consider: How is your nonprofit’s true identity portrayed? Is it different than the one you’re publishing in your marketing material? How would supporters of your organization identify themselves as part of your tribe?
Brands can explicitly or implicitly offer promises to their audience—in most cases they do both (whether intended or not). Beyond the explicit promises you make to your donors in your fundraising appeals or in your annual report (we are good stewards of your gift, we will use 90% of funds for program activities), your nonprofit’s brand becomes a promise in itself, implying certain values each time someone encounters your organization. This is why your work to maintain trust and transparency with your donors is vital. Of course when you’re making promises, it’s important to keep them! It’s extremely difficult for an organization to rebound from broken promises in the eyes of their fans.
Questions to consider: What promises are you making to your community of supporters? What promise does your brand convey? Do these match what your donors would say?
In The Generosity Network, authors Jennifer McCrea and Jeffrey C. Walker stress that “[t]rue generosity is rooted in relatedness.” To be a better fundraiser, you have to connect with people and build authentic relationships. Build your Generosity Network by taking action in these 5 areas:
1. Know Yourself
Your personal attitude toward money and giving can impact your fundraising appeal and how you relate to donors.
2. Know Others
Think about your donor-organization-fundraiser dynamic. (Donors are not walking checkbooks!)
3. Know How to Ask
An ask is just an invitation to invest resources in a cause that matters.
4. Create your powerful story
Stories have unique powers that forge connections between people and bring ideas to life.
5. Cultivate your relationships
Make the leap from an exchange of words to an authentic relationship.
Need more inspiration? Get advice directly from Jennifer and Jeffrey in our free webinar on Tuesday. This is an amazing opportunity to learn how to build your own Generosity Network, plus you’ll have a chance to win a free copy of the book! Register now.
Smart cookie Alia McKee of Sea Change Strategies shared some brilliant ideas on “breaking the fourth wall” for your donors. Here are her suggestions for sharing more personality and giving supporters a new perspective:
—Create a candid “making of” video for a campaign you are launching.
—Take a tip from Wikipedia and live broadcast the results of your campaigns and decisions you are making based on those results.
—Develop a “Why I Do This Work” video series that shows why your staff have dedicated their lives the cause.
—Create a fun photo board of staff desks — including those in both exotic and not-so-exotic locations.
Showing supporters what’s behind the scenes of your organization reinforces trust and transparency, helping them to feel good about giving to your cause. An insider’s view lets donors become part of the team. Give them something more than the standard lines and form-letter appeals to make your organization stand out.
How are you breaking the fourth wall for your audience?
In The Generosity Network, philanthropist Jeffrey Walker and fundraising expert Jennifer McCrea team up to show how a shift from transactional to transformational philanthropy can help your nonprofit accomplish even bigger goals. The book is a deeply inspirational instruction manual for forging connections that can move your mission forward. Beyond inspiration, this dream team of social good offers plenty of practical advice for fundraisers looking to build meaningful relationships with donors and partners.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is the focus on understanding the emotional roots of relationship building and learning to create true partnerships with major donors and community leaders through trust. As you might expect, transparency is paramount.
From The Generosity Network:
“Today’s best nonprofits recognize this truth. They welcome two-way transparency, even when it’s difficult or stressful—and that includes being willing to entertain tough questions and challenges from well-intentioned supporters. Painful conversations, they’ve found, can be a path to discovery, learning, and growth.”
To fully embrace the idea of transparency, Jeffrey and Jennifer say that nonprofits need to first understand the vulnerabilities of donors and partners, including:
—the importance of personal or public recognition. Some donors want public recognition, others prefer to stay out of the spotlight.
—the intensely personal reasons for giving. Each donor’s motivation for giving will be unique.
—how much connection the donor wants with your organization. Some donors may consider their gift connection enough, while other donors crave ongoing involvement.
—the experience your charity represents in the donor’s life. Has there been a life-changing experience that drives them to give to your cause?
—any concerns the donor may have about giving, such as how the money will be spent or how much of a difference can be made.
Of course, it’s still critically important for organizations to practice openness when forging partnerships and bringing on new donors. You can show your commitment to transparency by being open about these three factors:
Your mistakes and missteps. Be as open about your failures as you are your successes. Show what you’ve learned and how you’re improving. Don’t try to hide mistakes—as we have seen all too often, this usually backfires.
How your strategy has evolved. Changing course isn’t something to be ashamed of, it shows how your organization is growing and adapting along with changing circumstances.
Your areas of uncertainty. Be upfront about what you don’t know or areas of weakness. This can help you identify strategic alliances, but also lets partners know you are a real organization, with imperfections like all others.
The book is officially available today, and you can learn how to create your own Generosity Network in our free webinar on October 1 at 1pm EDT. Jeff and Jennifer will be our guests and will share their insights to help you build a network of partners that will create lasting results for your organization. Register now to reserve your spot.
We often talk about the way stories bring your mission to life for supporters and inspire donors to give. Storytelling champion Andy Goodman reminds us that stories can also work within our organizations to inspire and build stronger teams. In a recent Q&A with The Bridgespan Group, Goodman shares Why Nonprofits Need to Be Storytellers and offers three types of stories that can strengthen your cause from the inside.
Simply put, these are the stories that tell the story of how and why your organization was founded. Creation stories often involve someone overcoming adversity, a vision for a different future, or transformation. These stories help root people in the culture of your nonprofit, motivate staff, and set expectations for your ongoing work.
Andy says: If you work for an organization, you should be able to answer the question, “Where did this organization come from? Who started it? When? Why?”
These stories illustrate the key qualities of your organization, what you stand for, and why you’re so passionate about what you do. Many organizations may have similar core values—justice, determination, diversity—but the way these values are expressed should be unique to each group. These values become tangible when they’re illustrated through storytelling. Value stories help your staff and volunteers identify with your organization on a personal level, and provide a common ground that can improve collaboration among co-workers and increase loyalty to your cause.
Andy says: What I ask organizations is, “Tell me stories of your people living and expressing those values in their work.” Have these stories ready so that when people ask you about your organization’s values, you can respond not with a list, but with stories.
Striving to improve stories
These stories reinforce the resiliency of your organization and show that you’re evolving and improving. Telling stories about a mistake or other lessons learned helps others benefit from your shared knowledge and fosters an environment of exploration, acceptance, and camaraderie.
Andy says: I think [striving to improve stories] are extremely healthy to have, because invariably when someone does screw up, you want to be able to throw your arm around his or her shoulder and say, “You know what? It happens. Carole made a similar mistake. Let me tell you the story about the mistake she made, how she learned from it, and how she did better next time because that’s how we do it here.”
The whole interview is full of a-ha moments and worth a careful read. Check it out, then post a comment below to share an example of a story you’re telling in your organization. I’ll select a few of the best ones to feature in an upcoming post.
(Thanks to Mark Rovner of Sea Change Strategies for alerting us to this fabulous piece.)
How many of your first-time donors go on to give again? What kind of impact would it have on your fundraising if you could retain more donors each year? We’ve asked two of the best fundraising experts to share their secrets. Join our free webinar on Tuesday, September 24 at 1pm EDT to learn from Jay Love and Tom Ahern as they show you how to create a communication plan that will help you retain more donors and raise more money. Register here.
If you’d like to see more long-term benefits from your year-end fundraising and donor acquisition efforts, you do not want to miss this session.
Turn First-Time Donors Into Repeat Donors
Tuesday, September 24th 2013 1 pm EDT
Pumpkin spice lattes are back and we’ve been experiencing cool, fall-like mornings here in Washington, DC, two signs that year-end fundraising season is almost here. It’s tempting to put off your planning for a few more weeks, but don’t give in to procrastination. Proper planning now is like insurance for a strong fundraising finish in 2013. Take a moment this week to assess your progress toward your year-end campaign plans. Here are five ways to make sure you’re ready:
1) Review your results.
Figure out what’s working for your nonprofit—and what’s not. Take a close look at response rates from this year, and revisit last year’s December giving patterns. Which messages performed best? Which groups gave more? Spend time analyzing your data so you can build on what works for your audience, and make improvements on the rest.
2) Set a goal.
Decide what you’re trying to accomplish this year. Be specific and make sure everyone in your organization is on board. Post your goal in a prominent place to help keep everyone moving in the same direction. Remember, for goals to be useful, they must be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Check out these tips for setting a fundraising goal.
3) Create a plan.
As the saying goes, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” There are a lot of pieces that go into a fundraising campaign, and you’ll be more successful with a detailed marketing plan that includes a timeline, budget, and assigned responsibilities for each action item. Network for Good just published a new nonprofit marketing guide that will help you organize your outreach strategy and clarify your message.
4) Craft your key messages.
More than any other time of year, your giving season fundraising appeals will need to stand out and inspire. You can’t wait until the last minute and hope a well-written, effective message will come to you in a dream. Begin mapping out your messages now and refine your story, calls to action, and images. There’s still time to collect testimonials and success stories that will illustrate your impact and prompt donors to give. (Need help making the case for giving? We have a step-by-step guide to crafting a compelling appeal.)
5) Test your process.
Now is the time to put yourself in your donor’s shoes and thoroughly test your donation process, website, emails, and any other donor-facing elements. Identify any pain points and fix them now while you have some time. None of the above steps will matter if your supporters get hung up on your donation page, are stymied by your website, or can’t reach a real person when they attempt to contact you. A few hours of user testing now will save you a lot of time—and lost donations—come December.
I’d love to hear where are you in your year-end fundraising planning process. Share your progress in the comments!
In the latest Fundraising is Beautiful podcast, fundraising veterans Jeff Brooks and Steven Screen answer the question, “How many appeals should you send?” They highlight the importance of not only the number of appeals you send, but what those appeals contain. Here are the two key elements:
1) Frequency: Nonprofits are often afraid to send too many appeals, but the more you send, the more you raise. While there is likely a threshold of how many is “too many” for your audience, it’s unlikely that your organization is anywhere close to that point.
2) Relevancy: Instead of blasting your supporters with the same message on repeat, take the time to optimize your appeals to speak to the reasons why donors are giving to your cause. Segment your list into key groups, then personalize your message to fit each. This is especially important when reaching out to those who have already given to your cause—the message they receive should be different than the one you’re sending to a brand-new contact.
For more insight on the right way to reach out to your donors, listen to the full podcast for tips from Jeff and Steven.
How many appeals do you typically send during your year-end fundraising campaigns? Do you plan to increase that this year?
I’m a huge fan of case studies. They’re an incredible tool to showcase your nonprofit’s work, demonstrate social proof, and gain more supporters. Jay Baer’s Youtility explains the power of case studies in greater detail, but here are a few ways you can use this approach to support your fundraising and marketing efforts:
1) Get testimonials. Tell the story of why people support your organization. Ask questions such as:
Why are you passionate about this issue?
When did you start learning about this issue?
Why do you choose to support our organization?
By gathering this information, you’ll not only have endorsements for your cause, but you can also use responses to inform your marketing and donor recruitment strategies.
2) Document how you spent money. Did you dedicate a large portion of funds to operational expenses? Why? What impact did it have? Once you explain that to donors, they’ll better understand how you fulfill your mission, and why it’s important to have operational expenses. Every penny of your budget doesn’t have to go to on-the-ground work, but you do have to demonstrate how operations are vital to ensuring the services you provide are making a positive change.
3) Survey those you help. Ask your constituency how they’ve found your services. Do they see your nonprofit as a vital member of their community? Would they be able to get where they are without you?
If those answers affirm your work, ask respondents if you can use a quote in your case study. Most will be happy to help. In some cases, if you provide them with links and social media messages, they’ll share the study with their network, too. If the answers bring up questions or poke holes in your work, pay attention to that. That’s a great opportunity to take feedback and turn it into something positive.
Have you created a case study before? What were the results? How did you share it with supporters?
When you’re making the case for giving, a powerful story is hard to top. At the same time, putting together a vivid and compelling story is typically more difficult than it sounds. The good news is, the results are well worth the work.
To help you get your storytelling mojo working in time for year-end fundraising season, you can learn from the same storytelling masters that brought you Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Up. The talented folks at PBJ Publishing created this wonderful infographic of Pixar’s storytelling rules.
These are all great guidelines to keep in mind for any writing or storytelling project, but I think #11 is my favorite: “Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.”
What’s your favorite storytelling tip?
This week Marketing Profs published “The Inbox Is a Battlefield,” an infographic from ReturnPath that underscores the importance of standing out with email. According to this research, email subscribers receive an average of 416 commercial messages per month! That’s a mountain of messages to sift through, and doesn’t include personal or work emails. It’s no wonder many use the delete button as the default way to deal with email. It’s a matter of survival.
Unfortunately, it’s a matter of survival for nonprofit fundraisers as well. As we head into year-end fundraising season, just when you need your messages to stand out the most, do you think there will be more competition for your donors’ attention or less?
The good news is that there is a lot you can do to improve your odds of capturing your donor’s attention and inspiring action with your email campaigns. Now is the time to polish your email strategy and optimize your messages. The testing and optimization you do in September and October will pay off in spades when it’s time to put those emails to work in December.
Experts from Constant Contact and Network for Good will be on hand on Tuesday, September 10 at 1pm EDT to show you how to create nonprofit email campaigns that stand out and get results. Register for this free webinar to get advice on making the most of emails for your year-end fundraising campaign. If you can’t attend the live session, it’s worthwhile to still register so you can receive the recording and slide presentation.
Nonprofit Emails that Get Results
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 at 1pm EDT
What are your biggest email challenges? Post your questions in the comments and we’ll answer them in upcoming posts.
It’s no secret that mobile is quickly becoming the platform of choice for many, but these stats really drive the point home. Nonprofit marketers should heed these trends and factor mobile into their communication and fundraising strategies to effectively attract and connect with donors in the coming years.
Need some help thinking about how to incorporate mobile into your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy? Download this free whitepaper from Network for Good and PayPal, Why Mobile Matters: A Guide to the Mobile Web.
During Labor Day weekend, my husband and I were exploring the Virginia countryside, which included a visit to the Graffiti House. The Graffiti House was used as a field hospital during the Civil War and still houses fascinating graffiti from the soldiers of that time. The building is also the headquarters of the Brandy Station Foundation and serves as a museum and visitor’s center for the nearby Brandy Station Battlefield.
While Helen, the volunteer guide, showed us around the main floor of the house, I noticed that instead of having just one central donation jar, there were other donation jars placed around the exhibits and in various rooms. The jars were located in areas where visitors would be the most engaged: in the library where a short film was shown, next to binders where history buffs could research individual names, and near the “Wall of Honor” where visitors could leave their own signatures. I found this to be a good source of inspiration we can all use as year-end fundraising season rapidly approaches.
Whether you’re collecting donations through your online fundraising campaigns, at an event, or even with Costco-sized pickle jars, it’s essential to provide easy pathways to give at the point of inspiration. Enable donors to give when they are in the moment of feeling the impact of your work. Don’t assume that someone will be moved to donate and then go on a mad hunt to find a way to give you their money.
Some ways to make this work…
On your website: Don’t just plop a big, juicy donate button at the top of your website and call it a day. Do that, and then also add links to donate from your blog, success stories, and photo galleries.
In your fundraising appeals: Pause for a breath in your next fundraising email and offer direct links to your donation page at strategic points in your story.
At your fundraising events: Make it easy to sign up to be a recurring donor on the spot and offer mobile giving options for donors who are in a generous mood, but no longer carry a checkbook.
How are you making it easy for donors to give at the moments they are inspired by your work?
Jay Baer’s Youtility truly puts smart marketing to the test.
The book’s premise is that marketing should be ‘about help not hype.’ Instead of the now-antiquated push marketing (Think: The earth is polluted! Children are starving! Our nonprofit is remedying these problems!), Baer argues the collaborative economy and nature of social media leaves consumers wanting help from nonprofit and corporate brands, not more marketing speak.
Your cause is important. If it’s important enough to dedicate a staff to, it’s important enough for people to support your cause. It’s entirely reasonable—and advisable—to share all the great work you’re doing with current and potential donors.
That said, there are certain factors worth considering as you’re crafting any external communication (either to gain new supporters, or retain past donors).
To do that, ask yourself and your team, what is the audience you want to cultivate?
When you have an answer, consider Baer’s three questions below, and apply them to your marketing efforts.
1) How does your audience discover information? Are they using a search engine? Personal referrals? Perhaps they rely on social networks?
Focus your marketing in the areas in which your audience already resides. There’s no need to create communities if yours already exists somewhere! Tap into those networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to share relevant, timely, and helpful information.
2) What are their preferences for communication? Are they big on personalized communication? Use the preferred tools to connect deeply with your audience.
Let’s say your audience prefers personalized emails. If your staff doesn’t have the bandwidth to drop their day-to-day work and e-penning notes, consider dedicating one hour a week to meeting your targets’ preferred communication needs. When you connect with a prospective audience in the way they want to hear from you, you open up the possibility of transforming passive supporters into active cause ambassadors.
3) What motivates them to take action? It’s likely something personal. If your audience doesn’t have a personal connection to your cause, how can you make it personal? Can you relate it to a local event?
A deluge of images relating to your cause may not be the best way to communicate your cause. Consider getting more personal, and explain how individuals can get involved to make a true difference. Demonstrate the impact of donations—you may be surprised at how compelling of a case you’ve now made!
Question for discussion: When have you used a personal appeal successfully? Did it surprise you?