Feed aggregator

Want your message to spread? Evoke emotion.

We know that emotion is tied directly to giving, but does it matter when it comes to sharing online? This week, Business Insider featured a chart to illustrate the primary emotions evoked by the top 10% of most shared content.

Virality by Emotion

Awe, amusement, and joy are among the top emotions that prompt people to share with their networks. However, the emotions that work to power the viral engine are not necessarily the same ones that drive people to give. You’re not BuzzFeed, after all—your mission is to connect with your donors on a primal level and inspire giving.

Fundraising + Marketing = Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts

Imagine: You’ve worked long and hard to grow a strong relationship with your communications colleagues (or, if you’re on the communications side, with your fundraising colleagues). You all know that working as a team to solicit, gather, and share insights on supporters is the path to strong and lasting relationships that motivate greater giving, plus desired actions on other fronts.

Note: If you haven’t launched this partnership yet, do it right now!

You’ve put in the time and sweat to build this vital partnership within your organization, and you’ve probably seen some payoff already. But all too often, once we get some satisfaction, partners begin to take each other for granted. This happens in the vital fundraising–marketing partnership as well as in love.

Here are four ways to keep the fundraising–marketing partnership alive and productive:


Charitable giving on the rebound, says Giving USA

The latest Giving USA report was released today, showing that total U.S. charitable giving increased for the fourth consecutive year in 2013. Overall giving grew 4.4% last year to an estimated $335.17 billion, with donations from individuals driving much of the growth that sees giving inching closer to pre-recession levels.

Giving USA

Some highlights:

  • Giving by individuals increased by 4.2%, while corporate giving declined by 1.9%.
  • Individual giving made up 72% of total contributions in 2013.
  • Donations to faith-based organizations were the biggest chunk of overall giving (31%) when segmented by organization type, although gifts to this segment were flat compared to 2012.

Individual giving

You can visit Giving USA for a free summary, or to purchase the full data set and reports.

How do these stats line up with your own fundraising results? Chime in below and let us know how you use reports like Giving USA and what other data you’d like to see .


3 basic rules for raising more online

Don’t let the speed and convenience of technology suck the life out of your fundraising. Online or off, you must connect with your donors and inspire them to take action. When creating your online giving strategy, keep these three rules in mind:

1. Keep donors in the moment of giving.
2. Make it easy.
3. Focus on the relationship with the donor.

Here’s a quick slideshow that helps illustrate these key qualities:

Download the full webinar recording and slides, then register for the free Ultimate Donation Page Course to get more in-depth guidance on optimizing your online fundraising.

Mobile Impact: 7 juicy stats + a free webinar

Next week, I will join PayPal’s Tanya Urschel to present a free webinar,  Mobile Impact 301: How to Raise More Money via Mobile. This event is part of the Mobile Impact series offered in conjunction with BetterWorld Wireless and TechSoup.  The session will take place on Thursday, June 19 at 2pm EDT — register now to reserve your spot.

Tanya and I will share the best practices in mobile fundraising to help you optimize your nonprofit’s mobile experience and increase your online results. You’ll get the inside scoop on the latest research on mobile usage, learn how to engage donors in a mobile world, and find out how to take advantage of the rise of smartphones. (Bonus: Network for Good and PayPal will release a new mobile fundraising whitepaper next week, so you’ll get first dibs on your copy by attending the webinar!)

To tide you over, here are 7 juicy stats to help you think about how mobile might affect your nonprofit fundraising and marketing efforts this year:

58% of all American adults are now smartphone adopters. Source: Pew  Tweet this.

How to Measure the Impact of Your Nonprofit Marketing

Fundraising123 - Thu, 2014-06-12 04:42

Ever since super-smart statistician Nate Silver brought presidential campaign data to the headlines in 2012, we’ve become a metrics-obsessed nation. That’s changed the life of most marketers I know, who have been asked (pressured even, in some cases) to harvest and analyze more data than ever before.

This hyperfocus on data parallels nonprofits’ increasing use of social media and mobile communications, whether they jump in whole hog or enter it in experimentation mode. This high-speed ramp-up is a real pressure for us marketers who are already overstretched.

The right marketing measures deliver huge value to your organization…

But you just can’t say no to assessing impact, whether via metrics or anecdotal insights (and marketing measures have to include both types of insights, otherwise you’re getting only half the picture). Without taking the time to define, harvest, analyze, and act on the right insights, you continue with your existing marketing program based on what you think your prospects and supporters care about. And you fail.

The all-about-me/insight-free approach will always be a huge fail. Everything you do nonprofit marketing-wise has to be about your audience if you want to engage and motivate them to give, volunteer, or sign a petition. Data plus other insights is the best way to see how you’re doing.

…And to your marketing team’s resources and reputation.

You know it, and I know it. Many of your colleagues simply have no idea what you do to market the organization and frequently doubt the value of your work.

Marketing ROI (return on investment) is the answer. Concrete insights—harvested, analyzed, and shared in a way that is relevant to your colleagues’ work (for example, there will be no program participants and few donors will become volunteers without effective marketing)—are the most reliable way build understanding and support of and financial investment in your marketing agenda.

Take these three steps to pinpoint up to five marketing insights that really matter to your organization.

(Tip: Use the marketing planning template in our Nonprofit Marketing Plan course to lead you through these steps in detail.)

1. GOALS: Up to three marketing goals for the next year.

How can marketing be used best to move your organization toward its overall goals?

Example: To seed partnerships with two or more other organizations working with children and families in our community.

2. BENCHMARKS: Three to five concrete, specific, and measurable (when possible) steps to complete en route to achieving your marketing goals.

Vague benchmarks will get you nowhere.

Example: Finalize partnerships with two community organizations (for example, PTO, YMCA) to cross-promote new programs for families and children.

3. MEASURES: Up to five metrics or other insights that indicate you are (or aren’t) moving down the right marketing path.

Focus on measures that shed light on one or more of the following:

  • What is working best, so your organization can do more of that?
  • Who is engaged, who acts (fully or partially converts), and which segments do you need to engage differently?
  • What content is most compelling to your base?
  • Which messages generate action, and which fail to motivate?

Establish a baseline measure for each data point or insight over two to three months, and then look for upward trending. Absolute measures are largely irrelevant—who knows what role that same element plays in another organization’s marketing? But upward trending at a good clip shows you’re making progress.

Your options for harvesting insights:

1. Launch periodic online surveys of up to five questions to solicit feedback and test perspectives. Use Survey Monkey (free, SurveyMonkey.com).

2. Form an ad hoc marketing advisory group composed of representatives from all primary groups you hope to motivate to take action.

3. Set up and analyze website and social media impact via Google Analytics.

4. Log the number of incoming email, social media, and phone queries, including the source (how the person found out about your program/campaign/service).

5. Ask donors, program participants, or petition signers how they heard about the program or petition. Ideally, you’ll ask them what was the last campaign they saw before taking that action and what other campaign elements influenced them along the way.

Source is everything.

Pinpoint the right marketing insights today—then harvest, analyze, share, and act on them.

Remember that insights—whether data or anecdotal—are absolutely worthless if you don’t assess and act on them. Just do it!

With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build the strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at GettingAttention.org.  

The psychology of color and what it means for fundraising

Color choicesAre you red hot? Or true blue? It’s no secret that color evokes emotion and is a key visual indicator that communicates meaning. But just how much goes on in our minds when it comes to color? Marketing strategist Gregory Ciotti offers an excellent review of how color can influence brand preference and, in turn, how we feel about the messages we receive.

Some highlights:

  • Up to 90% of first impressions of products can be based on color alone.
  • Both men and women appear to have a strong preference for the color blue, while purple tends to be favored more by women, and shunned by men. (Orange and brown don’t seem to get much love at all from either gender.)
  • Our personal experiences and cultural norms influence the way we interpret color.
  • The perceived “appropriateness” of colors used will affect the perception of a brand’s message. (That is, do we generally expect baby blue to communicate power?)

What does any of this have to do with your fundraising approach? The various ways you use color to communicate with your donors can affect how your brand is remembered, and even affect the likelihood of a donor acting on your next appeal.

Be consistent with your nonprofit’s branding.
Ciotti notes that research has shown our brains tend to prefer recognizable brands. Establish a core set of images and colors for your organization and use them consistently throughout your marketing so potential supporters can immediately recognize you. This helps your audience form an association with your work and your visual identity, and can help build a preference for your organization. (Read how ASPCA made orange its signature color.)

Don’t be afraid to stand out.
People often ask what color they should use for their organization’s donation button. Many feel that a strong color, like red, is always the right answer. The reality is that it depends. If your organization’s marketing materials and website are predominantly red or orange, a contrasting color (such as blue) will likely perform much better. Our brains immediately notice the things that deviate from our surroundings. Use this to your advantage and avoid being too color coordinated. Consider how contrasting colors and bold highlights can help your key points and calls to action be seen by busy readers on the go. (Think about how yellow highlighting or red editorial marks in direct mail pieces effectively lead eyes down the page.)

Color descriptions matter.
People seem to gravitate more to colors that have elaborate or more descriptive names. Think raspberry instead of pink, or mahogany instead of brown. This is likely because these names are more specific and allow us to precisely visualize and remember them. While this fact is probably more important to paint manufacturers and fashion designers, it’s worth noting as you incorporate descriptive elements in your nonprofit storytelling. Replace generic descriptions with richer details to paint a more realistic and vivid picture in your donor’s mind.

How are you using color to communicate your organization’s brand values and personality? Have you tested the use of different colors in your fundraising materials? Chime in below and share your experiences or best examples.


Use the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly to Strengthen Your Donor Communications

Donor communications that connect—that appreciate, energize, and activate your prospects and donors—are the key to fundraising success. But you already know that.

What you may not know, however, is that few organizations do donor communications well. Most have lots of room to improve, as evidenced by the focus on donor communications in conference agendas, e-newsletters, blog content in the field, Facebook chats, Twitter discussions, and more. If that’s your organization, you’re not alone!

Integrated Fundraising Report by DonorDigital

Now, with the release of Integrated Fundraising: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, by Mal Warwick/DonorDigital, we have proof of the ways most donor communications fail and the impact of those failures. If you’ve asked for resources to strengthen donor communications and have been turned down or just haven’t found the time to tackle them, this is the kick in the pants you need.

These striking findings come from a six-month study of donor communications—both online and offline—from 16 large nonprofits, following online contributions to each organization. Since “multichannel donors are more loyal than single-channel donors,” researchers focused on how much and how well outreach is coordinated across channels for a consistent, recognizable, and satisfying donor experience.

What I love about this report is that the researchers share what’s good, bad, and ugly in multiple dimensions so we get an idea of what’s working well (that is, what to strive for and what’s happening in organizations you’re competing with for donor dollars), as well as what’s not. Take a look at these findings:

  • Thank you letters—a reliable cultivation tactic—arrive way too late or not at all. The quickest thank you letter, sent via USPS, arrived in 12 days. The slowest took 28 days. Eight organizations didn’t mail a thank you at all.

  • Most donor communications content is inconsistent—in tone, message, and or/graphi