100,000+ NONPROFITS COUNT ON US.
GENEROSITY UNLEASHED: $830 MILLION IN DONATIONS
In an often-cited study by psychologist Robert Cialdini, various placard messages were tested in hotels that were seeking to be more environmental conscious by encouraging guests to reuse their towels. The messages included:
Message 1 “Reuse your towel to save the environment.”
Message 2 “A majority of guests in this hotel have reused their towels. Join them and help save the environment. ”
Message 3 “A majority of guests in this room have reused their towels. Join them and help save the environment. ”
Message 2 was 18% more effective than the first. And message 3 was 33% more effective than the first.
That’s because when people are deciding whether or not to act, they consider what other people are doing (the social norm). They pay particular attention to the actions of people to whom they relate (like those that stayed in the same hotel room). In other words, peer pressure works. And it can encourage good behavior (as described above) or not so good behavior.
Another study by Cialdini shows the latter scenario. Park officials at the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona were frustrated because tourists were taking souvenir petrified wood samples with them at an alarming rate. Signs throughout the park informed visitors of the problem and asked them not to take the samples, but to no avail.
Cialdini and his team conducted an experiment in which they altered the signs at two-hour intervals. Some signs — such as the ones that were currently displayed in the park — highlighted how bad the problem was, stating, “Many past visitors have removed the petrified wood from the park, changing the natural state of the Petrified Forest.” Other signs emphasized a different norm. “Please don’t remove the petrified wood from the park, in order to preserve the natural state of the Petrified Forest.” The first message reinforced the negative norm of taking the wood — and people did just that. “Heck,” you can just imagine those hikers thinking, “Everyone is doing it.” The latter message — which did not promote a negative norm — was significantly more effective.
So what are the takeaways for cause marketers?
1. When you launch a cause campaign, make it clear that other people are supporting you. If you use tickers or thermometers in your campaigns, don’t show progress until you HAVE progress. An empty thermometer or low number of participants will discourage action.
2. When you highlight people taking action, make them relatable for your audience. People are most influenced by people they deem like themselves.
3. Put the spotlight on positive actions, not negative ones. “Too many people text and drive,” is an example of a message that could backfire. It might make people feel like it’s normal to text and drive! A better example is a recent campaign by AT&T and causes.com that asked people to pledge not to text and drive. It generated proof that many people are against texting – and created the right kind of peer pressure.
At Network for Good, we found online giving once more on the rise in 2012. You can see the data illustrated via the 2012 Digital Giving Index infographic below, but one thing worth noting is this: donations made directly through nonprofit websites with branded giving pages raised six times more dollars than generic giving pages.
Network for Good created the Digital Giving Index to provide insights and information on charitable engagement for both nonprofits seeking to strengthen relationships with donors and companies seeking engage with consumers and employees. This Index builds on data and observations from The Online Giving Study, released in 2010, and is updated quarterly to provide timely snapshots of the state of charitable giving. We’re excited to share the data in a new format—an infographic!
(Trouble viewing the infographic? Go here.)
Cause marketing grew again in 2012. Why are more and more companies embracing good causes? Because it works to drive sales - and do good in the process.
According to Edelman and emarketer, customers are consistently more inclined to buy products from companies aligned with causes.
That said, there is still plenty of research showing consumers are increasingly shrewd about discerning just how caring a company truly is. And they punish those that are not.
If you are doing any cause-related marketing - or working with companies who are - remember these three golden rules.
Does the partnership pass the sniff test for suitability? For example, even if the company donated all of its profits, Hummer would never be a good partner for Greenpeace. Sounds obvious, right? But I’ve seen some partners that seemed poorly suited. You want a fit that makes sense to the consumer. You also want a fit that makes sense to the corporation and the cause, who should look for a deeper win-win. An ideal partnership is one where the cause and company’s objectives reinforce each other.
A close cousin of suitability, authenticity is about the company walking the talk of the cause. Does the company advance the principles of the cause in its own work and products? Or is it a way of countering problems? The latter won’t work. That’s writewashing, greenwashing, or pinkwashing, depending on the cause.
It’s not enough to say, we’re partners and a portion of proceeds benefits xyz charity. Both the company and the charity need to say what amount of money is going where to do what. Very, very clearly - on everything. Put it on price tags, marketing materials, everywhere. Err on the side of openness. The backlash is bitter - especially on social media - if you are not.
If you’re a company, by all means partner with a cause. It will be good for your brand - and your sales. But only if you do it right. And if you’re a nonprofit, make sure your partners are genuine. When they are, you get a healthy bottom line - and a better world in the process.
I recently hosted a guest post by Jay Love on the great donor exodus. He covered how to determine how many donors you are keeping - and losing. Today, he’s back with another guest post to discuss WHY they leave. Please share this post, because understanding why donors quit is the first step to getting them to stay. The author, Jay Love, is the former CEO of eTapestry. He is currently CEO of Bloomerang and SVP of Avectra while serving on numerous local and national nonprofit boards.
By Jay Love
With the extreme importance of the topic my title introduces, you would think there would be a large amount of research and hundreds of articles about it. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
The cornerstone of support and funding of most charity causes around the world is a dedicated group of loyal supporters. For smaller charities, this may be less than 100 people including the board of directors. Larger charities rely on the support of thousands of multi-year supporters from various channels.
How in the world then could this phenomenon of “loyalty to a cause” not be studied as much, if not more so, than the fuel economy in vehicles or weather patterns in Antarctica? Should not every charity in the world know what causes sudden or the not so sudden departure of its loyal supporters and design methods or systems to alleviate those causes? My previous guest blog post for Katya outlined how even a small 10% improvement in donor retention could double the lifetime revenue stemming from your donors in your database. Therefore, the incentive should be there!
As I did in my previous post, I am going to compare research pulled from the commercial sector. In this case, we will look at why a commercial customer leaves. Are there parallels to the reasons why donors leave? Can the immense amount of research compiled by commercial business on this topic and more importantly the systems designed to reduce the likelihood of those reasons happening be copied in some manner? My answer is yes!
Notice the comparison of reasons in the Nonprofit Donor Loyalty Primer below. (Problems viewing this infographic? Go here.)
Although both sides of the image show why the customers or donors are heading to the exit, there is a higher percentage based upon the ability to financially afford on the donor departure side. This is not surprising since supporting a nonprofit is discretionary compared with purchasing food or paying for lodging, transportation, clothing, etc. The biggest lesson for nonprofits, which rely on donor support for all or some portion of their operating budget, is how vital proper communication processes and messages are. Notice how the following items add up to 53% of the reasons why donors leave:
1. Thought the charity did not need them 5%
2. No information on how monies were used 8%
3. No memory of supporting 9%
4. Never thanked for donating 13%
5. Poor service or communication 18%
Just imagine what a solid communication plan built upon a top notch CRM/Database solution could do for each item above. Since loyalty is based upon strong relationships and relationships grow via proper and regular communications, efforts in this area can provide huge upward surges in loyalty and financial support! What do you think is it worth the extra effort here?
A few years ago, Bonny Wolf told a great story on NPR that goes something like this:
In Chicago, a friend cuts off the end of roast beef before she cooks it. She does it because her mother does it. Her mother does it because her grandmother did it. So one day, the friend asks her grandmother why for years she has cut the end off the roast beef. The reason? Her grandmother says, “because my pan is too small.”
I love this story because it tells us so much of how humans think. We often do as we have always done out of tradition or habit or imitation without questioning why. We move within our personal frames of reference, over and over, back and forth, until our ways are ingrained and unquestioned.
Established nonprofits and companies create cultures that inadvertently lock in this dynamic. It is a very hard thing to resist the comfort of checking the same boxes without even asking how they got there.
Each of my children went through a phase where they asked “why?” about every last thing. It has passed. Things get familiar and they don’t feel the need to pose the question.
I think familiarity is one of the biggest barriers to innovation. It’s why we pay for fresh eyes - like consultants. - to ask “why?”
In the spirit of rejecting the familiar frame we’re given, here are four questions to ask yourself before you check the same old box:
1. Why did we start doing this activity?
2. What underlying purpose does this activity serve?
3. If it’s because of problem, is there a way to solve its root cause and prevent even needing to do the activity in the first place?
4.If it’s because of an opportunity, is there a way to go bigger?
The box may not be needed after all. There may be better ways to spend your time.
You’re in the business not only of doing good; you’re in the business of making people feel great. I like to quote the researcher M.A.Strahilevitz on this topic: “Most fundraisers probably don’t think of themselves in the business of selling happiness to donors, but that is ... their job.”
“Research shows that there are many simple activities that reliably make people happier. My favorite is doing acts of kindness. The generous acts don’t have to be random and they don’t have to be a certain kind (e.g, anonymous or social or big, etc.). We have found that almost any types of acts of kindness boost happiness. And two hot-off-the-presses studies reveal even bigger benefits. An experiment we just published in PLOS ONE showed that when 9- to 11-year old kids were asked to do acts of kindness for several weeks, not only did they get happier over time but they became more popular with their peers. And another big intervention we just finished at a company in Spain showed that asking some employees to be generous to a randomly chosen list of colleagues (we called this our “Secret Santa” manipulation) produced huge benefits (for increasing happiness, connectedness, flow, and decreasing depression) not just for the givers, but for the receivers and even for observers. The recipients of kindness “paid the kind acts forward” and even acquaintances of the givers became happier and were inspired to act more generously themselves.”
Smile, you’re in the happiness business.
(This is a post I wrote for LinkedIn and wanted to share!)
A couple of years ago, I was invited to an unusual dinner party. Philanthropist Jeffrey Walker, the host, assembled the dozen or so guests - who mostly did not know each other - and outlined the rules of the intimate gathering. Everyone would explain who they were and what cause they stood for, and then we would take turns discussing as a table a series of challenging questions about philanthropy, a topic close to the hearts of everyone assembled. No side conversations or small talk. We were going to wrestle with ideas.
This was my introduction to the Jeffersonian Dinner. Jeff models them on the real deal: Thomas Jefferson, president, scientist and writer of the Declaration of Independence. The president liked to invite intriguing guests who shared an interest area and then provoke a stimulating evening conversation around that topic.
The event I attended was among the most fascinating (and pleasantly intimidating) evenings I’ve had. I walked away with many new ideas and several new friends that I still see regularly.
I don’t think we do enough of this kind of stretching of our minds or our networks. As I said earlier this year, we have to put our brains on the right diet if we really want to make things happen in our lives and in the world. That means everything from reading something outside our regular experience to organizing a Jeffersonian dinner of people who have insights on a topic that matters deeply to our work.
Ready to have that dinner party? Read Jeff’s post on how to do it. He has specific advice for people who advocate for good causes. But you can hold one on any topic close to your heart or career. The goal is to stretch your mind and your ties beyond their well-traveled patterns. You will be delighted by what territory lies beyond the old places - and how it expands your view on just about everything.
A report on wealthy Next Gen donors from 21/64 and the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy finds that surveying 310 major donors including in-depth interviews with 30 high-net-worth Generation X and Millennial individuals care about impact and want to feel personally tied to the causes they support. Family heavily influences their choices of causes. They are similar to other donors in these ways - but distinct in how serious they are about making real change and how heavily they use technology to engage with causes.
The study found:
• Next generation donors want meaningful, hands-on engagement with the causes that they care about and want to develop close relationships with the organizations they give to, giving their time and talent as well as their treasure.
• Next generation donors are highly networked with their peers, learning about causes from trusted friends and sharing philanthropic experiences with peer networks.
• Next generation donors seek to maintain the difficult balance of respecting the legacy of previous generations and revolutionizing philanthropy for greater impact, aiming to use new, innovative, even risky strategies to make their giving more effective.
• For next generation donors, philanthropy is a part of who they are; it is not just something they do. They start developing their philanthropic identity from an early age by learning through hands-on experiences looking to older generations, and they are eager for new personal experiences that will help them learn to be better philanthropists.
The results were based on a survey of 310 major donors including in-depth interviews with 30 high-net-worth Generation X and Millennial individuals. I find the results quite consistent with other studies I’ve reviewed here, which makes me put stock in them. You can review the whole report here.
I’m going to be speaking at the DMA Non Profit Conference next week. If you’re a Washington, DC-area native or are coming into town for the conference, come say hello.
The DMA has asked me to share these details on the conference: It’s a great opportunity to gain insights into what other organizations like yours are doing in the fundraising world. Topics will include better ways to integrate your fundraising channels, build donor loyalty and improve your fundraising results. I’ll be speaking about what technology can and can’t do for fundraising. And toast and butter.
Technology has enormous potential, but it’s all in how we use it. Technology is at its essence a delivery system. That means what’s being delivered will determine how much good comes of it. Adam Gopnik, a favorite writer of mine, compares technology to toast: “Our thoughts are bigger than the things that deliver them… Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn’t really about the quality of the bread or how it’s sliced or the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It’s about the butter.” He means the content of our ideas—the butter—is more valuable than the delivery vehicle —the toast of technology— that carries them. I’ll be talking about toast, butter and how to use technology in a way that drives more dollars.
More details here.
I recently had drinks with a mentor of mine, and he was remarking on the fact I post so often (here and at my other, LinkedIn blog). I shared with him one of the honest, personal reasons why, and he said, “You should blog about that.” Since one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to venture beyond what’s easy into the territory of what is profoundly uncomfortable (see #3), here goes. Following are the real reasons I am compelled to blog.
1. To think as I could be, not as I am. I post about ways I want to think, ideas I should pursue and how I could do better work. Each post is at its essence personally aspirational. I write to remind myself of all the lessons I should be applying, not because I’ve mastered any of them, but because I want to try. I recently heard Seth Godin tell Mitch Joel that (even he!) shares his wisdom for himself as much as for the rest of us. Blogging at its best is the pursuit of a better self.
2.To step out of my own, tiny experience. Blogging makes me do two important mental exercises. First, it makes me work through my thoughts more fully. It’s one thing to have an idea - it’s much harder to explain it in a post. Or it’s one thing to read a book, quite another to publicly discuss what was important about it. The second mental exercise is that blogging forces me to apply those more fully formed thoughts beyond my little, silly, daily existence. I have to explore the larger significance of a concept, and that in turn broadens and betters my own experience. It helps me combat intellectual laziness.
3. To kick to the curb the shrill critic in my head. There’s an unkind and unimpressed judge who visits my mind, and she is at her most outspoken when I write, brainstorm or develop a daring idea. She tells me what I’m thinking is strange or stupid or shameful. Often, she gets in the way of my work—for example right now as I blog about blogging, which she yells that no one cares about. Perhaps you’ve met her on occasion. I know Brene Brown has met her, as has Anne Lamott, who points to her perfectionist tendencies. As Lamott puts it, “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life… Besides, perfectionism will ruin your writing, blocking inventiveness and playfulness and life force (these are words we are allowed to use in California).” Each time I post something, however simple or small, it involves kicking this inner critic to the curb. It’s creation having to crush fear. Even if the shrill voice is right, if I hit Publish, at least I didn’t listen to her. At least I put something imperfect out there. At least I kept trying. We have to go to battle with this judge as often as we can, with as much force as we can muster. That - as far as I can tell - is the arduous but necessary road to invention.
4. To be in the act of creation. (This reason requires a lot of kicking to the curb.) I believe that if we’re in the act of creating something, we are living most fully in that moment. An act of creation is gloriously affirmative for ourselves and can be a gift to others. I wrote my book when I was going through my divorce from my first husband, and that generative act amid destruction taught me a thing or two about the power of making something. It’s really good for a person. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece and it doesn’t have to be the best thing we ever did. It just has to be something that is our own, that we put out there for others. It might be a book, an idea for a new product or a loaf of bread. As long as creation is happening, we are really living. Blogging makes me create, even at 11 pm when I really don’t feel like it, and that practice makes me more creative in everything else I do.
5. To make it better for someone else. You’ll notice that up to now, this is an entirely selfish list. That’s what makes this a confession. I blog with the dream of being a better person, and I write and share the kinds of things I most want to read. Honestly, that is what gives me the energy to do it every day. And yet… While it’s in many ways about me, it’s about you as well. It seems that when we share with others our aspirations, our interests and our passions, it helps other people connect with their own aspirations, interests and passions. It makes something bigger than just me or just you. I care deeply about that. If I didn’t, I would have a diary instead of a blog. My happiest blogging days aren’t when I’ve written a post I like (and believe me, I don’t have many of those given that judge in #3). They are when I created something that someone else said made a difference to them. Or when someone reacts in a way that advances my ideas in a fresh direction. By doing #1 through #4 in public, that is sometimes possible. And that is what makes thinking out loud, in type, ultimately worthwhile. It’s the hope that I might find a meeting of the minds, in the limitless and inspiring place that is far above and beyond the confines of my own head.