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/graphics—across channels, so it’s more likely to confuse and annoy recipients than to strengthen loyalty or motivate them to give. Most organizations do reach out to donors via multiple channels.

  • Follow-up appeals via direct mail are frequently implemented, but that second ask can come months after the initial online gift, diminishing its success rate.

  • Sustainer programs (aka monthly giving) provide a strong base of revenue, especially during economic dips, and “new online donors are highly responsive to monthly giving recruitment.” But only one organization integrated its monthly giving ask into mail and email, whereas four didn’t make monthly giving asks at all.

There’s much more to learn in the full report, and I recommend that you download it now. Wherever your organization currently sits on the good, bad, and ugly continuum, there’s always room to do donor communications better.

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.

Rethink how you approach lapsed donors

Conventional wisdom says it’s more cost effective to retain donors than acquire new donors. Of course you should spend a fair amount of your time tending to your active donors, ensuring they’re seeing the impact of their donation and making them a part of your community. In this case, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure. But what do you do if these supporters stop giving? Write them off and move on? 

Not so fast, says donor retention expert, Lisa Sargent. In a recent newsletter, Lisa outlines her perspective, complete with a Monty Python reference. She offers superb examples of what to test with your lapsed and long-lapsed files (especially multiple or long-time lapsed givers), instead of immediately purging or ignoring these former donors.

As you assess your own approach, consider these five things before addressing your lapsed donors:

Lapsed donors probably don’t consider themselves “lapsed.” Be careful how you reach out to these donors—many may consider themselves to still be active givers to your nonprofit. Just because they’re not giving at the frequency you prefer, that doesn’t mean they don’t feel they’re important contributors to your cause. Acknowledge their contributions and make sure to let them know the difference they’ve made. In most cases, your next outreach to this group could be considered an “impact report catch-up.” 

Different segments have different needs. As you build relationships with donors, remember that you have affinity groups who have specific motivations for giving, and give in different ways. Create a cultivation plan with these variances in mind, and do the same for those who have skipped a donation. Preventing a lapse is the best solution, but early intervention can help bring a portion of these donors back from the brink. (Alan Sharpe has a top-notch framework for a ‘win back’ letter.

Engage them with something different. It’s likely these so-called lapsed donors are still interested in supporting your cause in some way. Offer something new to this group, such as surveys, advocacy tools, volunteer opportunities, or event invitations to assess if they’re still interested. These activities will help keep your cause top of mind and communicate the impact of your work, which will allow you to build a case for giving again.

Look in the mirror. Is your donor stewardship model all it could be? Perform an audit of your donor communications from the point of giving throughout the lifespan of that donor. Then, compare that to a timeline of your donor churn rate. These are the critical moments at which you need to prepare compelling, proactive outreach. If you already have communications just before these time periods, it’s time for an overhaul. (Need some help? Listen to our recent webinar with Donor Relations Guru, Lynne Wester.)

Have a conversation. If a long-time or high-dollar donor stops their support, it’s time to pick up the phone and find out more. Use this as an opportunity to reach out and understand if everything is ok—for both your donor and your organization. Is something going on in your donor’s world that interrupted their support, or have they been soured by a miscommunication? Perhaps they’ve outgrown their current relationship with you and are unsure of other opportunities to do more with your cause. Be prepared to embrace any and all feedback—it’s likely to be an eye-opening conversation that could change your understanding of your donors.

So when do you cut them loose? Some fundraising advisors say never, while other experts say to take a hint after one year. I say: it depends. Look at the reasons why donors may stop giving to your organization and your fundraising cycles. Understand those first, then put a process in place to remediate, reactivate, or retire these contacts.

How do you handle your “lapsed” donors? Chime in and share your experiences below!

Key takeaways from the Internet Trends Report

Affectionately known as “Queen of the Net,” Mary Meeker is back with her zeitgeist of digital insight. Meeker, partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, presented the 2014 Internet Trends report during this week’s Code Conference. This annual report is full of useful nuggets, including key stats and opportunities for innovation. As fundraising and nonprofit marketing evolves in an increasingly digital world, this type of insight can help you understand how the landscape is changing and how these changes may affect and inform your efforts to acquire and engage donors over the next few years. A few highlights:

Mobile usage, smartphones, and tablets are still on the rise.

The percent of mobile traffic is growing over 1.5x per year, with this growth expected to continue or accelerate in the coming years. Mobile traffic is currently 25% of all global Internet traffic, a sharp jump from the 14% seen this time last year.

Takeaway:  No surprise: mobile is now a primary way we access information and services online. It’s time to understand how your audiences are using mobile by analyzing your own traffic, then plan accordingly for a mobile-friendly experience.

Smartphone users now make up 30% of all mobile phone users. Meanwhile, tablets are growing more rapidly than PCs ever did, as technology and processing power becomes more inexpensive and portable.

Takeaway:  Test your key online interaction points to ensure they are functional and friendly to smartphone and tablet users. Think about how smartphone and tablet use differs from PC (not just how these devices are used, but also where and when), and leverage the smart interfaces and features that users expect on these devices.

Communication continues to shift from broadcast to targeted conversations.

New social channels and messaging apps (such as WhatsApp) have allowed online communications to shift from large broadcasts of fewer messages to more frequent communications with smaller groups.

Takeaway:  You don’t have to Snapchat with your donors, but think about how more personalized and targeted messages may be more effective for your organization’s most valuable relationships.

Technology requires us to re-imagine content.

Social content distribution is driven more frequently through a few key platforms: Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter now drive nearly 30% of all social traffic referrals. The life cycle is relatively short, though, with an average piece of content reaching half its total social referrals in just 6.5 hours on Twitter or 9 hours on Facebook.

Takeaway:  Find out which channels are referring the most traffic to your site and key content. Offer news and updates that are optimized for social platforms and sharing, then plan your distribution accordingly to take the social “half life” into account.

The ‘visual social web’ has grown rapidly over the past year, with platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Vine providing a powerful intersection of mobile, social, and visual content. Over 1.8 billion photos are uploaded and shared each day, much of that volume being driven by real-time platforms like Snapchat and WhatsApp.

Takeaway:  Beyond engaging your supporters with your own images, encourage them to share photos of your impact and work to help build interest and amplify your reach.

Visual Social Web Growth

Our multi-screen world has unlocked a new age of video consumption, with digital audiences watching more on-demand long form video, as well as short, online. It’s also worth noting that smartphones are now the most viewed/used medium for video in many countries.

Takeaway:  Your best stories can be even more compelling in video form. Consider the video opportunities you already have—event footage, historic clips, testimonials—and make them part of your regular communication with supporters.  For best results, host your videos in such a way that they are mobile-friendly and sharable.

The report also contains keen observations on the shifts in the education and healthcare sectors, and the opportunities of big data.

Check out the full report for more, then chime in below to let us know which stat is most exciting for you and your organization.



Calling All Nonprofit Insomniacs, Survey Results Are Here

In last week’s edition of Tips, Network for Good’s weekly e-newsletter, we wanted to get a feel for what’s going on around the sector, especially in the trenches. So in our first-ever reader survey, we asked, “What’s the one thing about your organization that keeps you up at night?”

Here’s how you responded:

Survey Results

We had a friendly bet going around the department for the #1 reason nonprofit professionals lose sleep and we are astounded and delighted by the results! (Shhh … don’t tell my boss I guessed management—just kidding!) But seriously, fundraising keeps most of you from getting your 8 hours of beauty rest?! Well, we completely understand and fortunately, we’ve got something better than warm milk to cure your insomnia—tons of experience!

With 2014 nearly half over, December will be here before you know it. In the nonprofit world, we recognize year-end as prime fundraising time and too often, it’s met with nonchalance, trepidation, or worse—woeful unpreparedness. After seeing the results of the survey, we’re surer than ever that our next Nonprofit 911 webinar can help.

On Tuesday, June 3rd at 1pm EDT, Network for Good’s own Caryn Stein will lead a lively workshop on How to Create the Ultimate Donation Page. She’ll share some online fundraising best practices and must-do tasks to either create a brand new donation page or maximize your existing page. With just a few tips that can be a breeze to implement, you’ll be well on your way to bringing in the big bucks for the back half of the year.

We’re here to help and we want you to be prepared to get the most out of your online fundraising efforts. Register now! (Even if you can’t attend, go ahead and sign up and you’ll receive a copy of the slides and recording delivered straight to your inbox.)

(Graphic created with Infogr.am.)


Facebook Ads – Are They Right For Your Nonprofit?

Fundraising123 - Thu, 2014-05-29 03:37

Much has been written recently about the changes in Facebook’s algorithm and its pay-to-play philosophy.

Many nonprofits who spent years or months building up an engaged online community on the biggest social network are now seeing a dramatic decline in the number of fans they are able to reach with each post.

If this sounds familiar, you may be wondering if Facebook Ads will help your nonprofit reach more fans and get more bang for your Facebook buck.

At the recent Social Media for Nonprofits Conference in Boston, Cody Damon of Media Cause provided some insightful advice on whether or not a nonprofit should jump into the Facebook Ads ocean.

Before you sit down and purchase a Facebook Ad for your nonprofit, ask yourself these three vital questions:


1. What is my goal?

Without a goal, your ad campaign will mean nothing and you will be simply throwing money away (and trust me, Facebook doesn’t mind taking it). Advertising Objective

A reasonable goal could be an increase in email signups from your website. When you create your ad, this will be called the “advertising objective” – it’s what you want people to do when they encounter your ad.

Cody suggests (and I agree) that you pick a goal much more in depth than simple clicks to your website. Do you want to measure “website conversions”, which means that when people visit your website, they take an action and “convert”?

A successful “conversion” could be signing up for your email newsletter, subscribing to your blog, or making an online donation.


2. Can I measure it?

Whatever the objective, make sure that you can measure it. Just saying “raising awareness for my nonprofit” may not be enough, unless you have specific benchmarks in place to measure your progress.

You need to know what success looks like. What will happen if your Facebook Ad is successful? What will have changed?


3. Can I afford it?


Clients frequently ask me about the price of Facebook Ads. Unlike traditional newspaper ads or billboards, there is no set price for a Facebook Ad.

You can set your daily budget, or “lifetime” budget, and you will need to choose a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) or CPC (cost per click bid). You only pay for the impressions or clicks that your ad receives, and if they are targeted well, this can be very effective.

If this all seems like Greek to you, you are probably not ready to run a Facebook Ad without outside help. Facebook has a great help center on their website, and there are many firms and consultants who can help you set it up and run it.

General best practices for your Facebook Ad:

  • It must be eye-catching and well-written. Do not use your logo and call it “Come to our website!”
  • It must have a photo. For all ads, the best size image to upload is 1200x627 pixels,
  • The photo cannot contain more than 20% text.
  • If it directs to an outside website, it should direct to a specific landing page, rather than just the main home page of your website.

For more on using Facebook Ads to build your online community and engage with your fans, read these great posts by Jon Loomer, John Haydon, Nancy Schwartz and David Serfaty.

Julia Campbell works with nonprofits to help them raise money online, conquer social media, and become content experts. Her blog on nonprofit marketing is at www.jcsocialmarketing.com 

Nonprofit Spotlight: May

Network for Good’s Nonprofit of the Week spotlight gives us the chance to highlight the work of some of the our community’s superstars. In May, we celebrated a diverse group of organizations working hard to better their corner of the world.

Check out the great things these organizations are doing for their communities:

Taproot Foundation seeks to build capacity through pro bono service by uniting skilled professionals with nonprofits in need. By creating these connections between professionals that want to serve and nonprofits that don’t have access to the marketing, strategic planning, human resources, design or technology resources they need to really succeed, Taproot Foundation is furthering the pro bono movement and helping the nonprofit sector grow and innovate.

Homeless Children’s Playtime Project works to nurture the healthy development of children living in temporary housing in Washington DC. Playtime is powered enthusiastic staff and volunteers that believe every child has the right to a safe and fun place for play. By protecting the right to play and advocating for children and their families Playtime seeks to create a city that provides opportunities for success for homeless children.

The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library brings to life the unique culture and history of the Czech and Slovak people through their museum’s displays and community events. Their exhibits allow visitors to interact with the history, language, culture and people of the Czech and Slovak Republics in fun and innovative ways. As a part of Cedar Rapids’ Czech Village, the NCSML plays an important role in preserving Czech and Slovak heritage and culture in the US.

Join us in thanking these amazing causes and keep up with the latest Nonprofit of the Week by following us on Facebook or Twitter.

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