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Stop Boring Folks with Your Nonprofit Website. Wake ‘em Up with a Blog!

Keep telling yourself you need a better website to build greater awareness for your cause?

You can certainly do this.  But are you asking the more important question?

Why the heck do you want greater awareness?  And why would anyone want to be aware of you? Those are the questions too many nonprofits fail to ask.  So ask.  Seriously. Take a moment.  I’ll wait.

Because we want more people to know about us.”

WHY?

Because we want to educate them about what we do.

WHY?

Because we want more people to support us.

AHA!  Now you’re getting somewhere.

Now ask yourself how getting a better website is going to get you more support.  Chances are it won’t. Not really. Because folks are on a journey towards you that builds – from awareness… to interest… to engagement… to investment. And the kicker is that the latter two are where all the action happens. Awareness and interest alone are passive. They won’t get you the active investment you need to sustain your mission.

Engagement precedes investment!

Sadly, most nonprofit websites are lousy engagement vehicles. They’re especially lousy when compared with a blog.

Let’s look at 4 reasons why blogs trump websites for creating engagement:

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ONE BIG THING Your Nonprofit Must Do TODAY to Succeed in 2014

Adopt an integrated inbound marketing and fundraising strategy.

If you don’t know what that means, you’re in trouble. Read on.

If you do know, are you really doing it?

It’s time to stop pussy footing around this.

Here’s why:

(1) Nonprofit marketing and fundraising have changed more in the past five years than the preceding 50. I’m not kidding!  The digital revolution ended business as usual.

(2) Fundraising and marketing must be seamlessly integrated. They cannot be separate silos any longer.

Have you caught up with reality?

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7 Proven Keys to Get Nonprofit Board Members to Give

My first year as a nonprofit fundraiser was before social media, cell phones, email, computers and even FAX machines. I had never heard the term “information overload,” and I wasn’t distracted by interruptions every five minutes.  Why do I mention this?

Because in today’s fast-paced world we are often so bombarded with bells, whistles and flashing lights that we lose sight of the basics. We lose focus.

Back in the day, I focused.

My number one focus was our board of directors. I knew that before we could get others to give, the board needed to give. Passionately.

Clairity Click-it: Best of 2013, Move Forward, Never Apologize for Asking

 

Have you made your new year’s resolutions and picked at least one thing you’ll do differently or better in 2014? Here are some great posts to set yourself up for success in the coming year.

TOP 5 Clairification articles from 2013: In case you missed any of these, here are the five articles that generated the most interest and readers over the past 12 months.  Enjoy!

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3 Keys to Rethink Fundraising Risk and Reward in 2014

When should you take risks with fundraising? When you’re ready. Here’s what I mean:

You Can’t Riff Without a Guitar. News flash: You’ve got to do the basics before you improvise.

What’s on your playlist for 2014?  The rewarding gold standards like prospecting, asking and stewarding? Or riskier new events? Special campaigns? Extra social media?  You’re to be congratulated if you’ve got innovative ideas. It shows you haven’t lost your creative spark, and you’ve got gusto and passion for what you do. Bravo! But… wait… hold on a minute…

Before you get lost in the creative process,

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It’s Not All about Major Gifts: 10 Ways to Succeed with Small Gift Fundraising

Small giftsToday I went to research something online and ended up viewing the first entry Google gave me – which was on Wikipedia. To my delight, I ran into an awesome fundraising campaign (this is an occupational hazard with fundraisers – we actually like and admire things like pledge breaks when they’re done well)!

Here’s what I found superimposed at the top of the screen:

Clairity Click-it: Compel, Kvell, Sell – Your 3 Keys to Year-End Fundraising Success

This week it’s about the three things that will boost your year-end giving: (1) social media done well will drive awareness of your cause and the current opportunity to make an impact; (2) creative, compelling content presented in the form of a story will trigger emotions that inspire philanthropy, and (3) your user-friendly, up-to-date website will make it easy for would-be donors to connect with you, donate and then continue to stay connected – and feel good about it – over time. This week’s links will give you food for thought – plus actionable tips.

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Why We Stopped Building Pyramids: What Nonprofits Can Learn

 

Philanthropy, Not Fundraising

The pyramids were built in Egypt. On the backs of slaves.  It took a very, very long time. The cost, in human terms, was untenable and unsustainable.

That’s why you don’t see many pyramids being built these days.

Except in nonprofits.

Where building the donor pyramid is still the holy grail.  Get ‘em in. Move ‘em up. Acquire through direct mail. Convert to monthly donor or sustainer. Acquire through events. Convert to mail. Up, up, up…. to the pinnacle of major and planned gifts!

Except for one tiny thing.

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5 Things your Board and CEO Don’t Get about Fundraising and Donors

Donors feel good when they give. There’s plenty of research  showing  philanthropic giving is good for people. It makes folks happier, healthier and even more successful. So there is no need to apologize when asking for support where the need is authentic. In fact, asking others to participate in philanthropy is a great gift. Just don’t forget to thank them personally and promptly when they do, so they also experience the joy of having made the right decision.

Donors respond to sizzle, not steak.

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October Nonprofit Blog Carnival Call for Submissions: Tricks or Treats – How Do You Get and Sustain Major Gifts?

I’m majorly S C R E A M I N G with delight to be hosting this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival!

So majorly, in fact, that the subject this month is TRICKS or TREATS – How Do You Get and Sustain Major Gifts?

Tell us your tricks – the ones that work! Do you HAUNT prospects through a series of managed ‘moves’?  Do you fly in on a BROOMSTICK and just drop in spontaneously? How do you put them under your SPELL?

Tell us some treats – ways you wow your donors! Smile like a JACK-O-LANTERN every time you think of them; then figure out a way to let them know? Give them lots of virtual CANDY (seriously, do you use social media for any part of your major gifts strategy)?

Weekly Clairity Click-it: Corporate Partnerships, Street Fundraising, Fall Fundraising, Online/Young Donors, Major Gifts, Email Fundraising

Such great links this week. Let’s get started!

Corporate Partnerships

Click-It: Safeway Foundation: 6 Tips on How to “Partner” with a Corporation Thanks to the folks at Third Sector and guest blogger Christy Duncan Anderson, E.D. of The Safeway Foundation for this great insider perspective on the sometimes mysterious business of securing business sponsors.

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What Sherpas Can Teach Fundraisers

Earlier this week I posted an article talking about how fundraising professionals need to become Engagement Journey Guides. One of my readers, Amy K., suggested that was a mouthful and offered up the term “Engagement Sherpa.”  That got me thinking, so I looked up the word. Sherpa means “a member of a people noted for providing assistance to mountaineers… [and who] have achieved world renown as expert guides.” Hmmn. I really like that!

Think of your donors as mountaineers.  They’re on an ascent. It’s not just towards the top of your donor pyramid.

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How the ‘Diva of Dollars’ became the ‘Engagement Journey Guide’

 

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It’s about the journey, not the money.

Philanthropy, Not Fundraising

Here’s a true story.  Some years ago, while working for a family service agency, we became involved in a discussion about job titles.  Should folks stay as directors or become v.p’s? Should my title remain ‘Director of Development’ or switch to ‘Advancement’ or ‘External Relations’? I researched titles elsewhere. Yada, yada, yada.  I finally said I really didn’t care.  Just call me ‘Maven of Money’ or ‘Diva of Dollars.’

I didn’t get it.

Weekly Clairity Click-it: Productivity, Psychology of Virality, Major Gifts, Leadership and Organizational Growth, Getting Email Opened

Here’s my return-from-vacation Clairity Click-it – and I’ve got some stuff that’s a little outside the box of your basic fundraising and marketing advice. Why? It’s good to take a little trip away from the usual every now and then! So… here come some easy-to-“click-it” links to posts I’ve found thought provoking. With, of course, a few comments of my own.

Let’s begin:

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Declare Your Independence Day – Information Overload Be Gone!

It’s the new plague. And a highly contagious epidemic, from which no one is immune.

Are you showing any symptoms? I feel like:

  • I’m working all the time, but not getting that much accomplished.
  • I’m working on 10 projects at once, but none get finished.
  • My ‘to-do’ list never gets completed.
  • I’m in meetings all day and don’t have time to work.
  • I bring my laptop to meetings and pretend to take notes while surfing the web.
  • I’m answering email all day and don’t have time to work.
  • I answer email during conference calls and in meetings.
  • I have less and less time to plan, not to mention free time.
  • I have less and less time to learn, not to mention creative time.
  • I can never get to things quickly enough.
  • I sit down at my computer and end up doing something different than I planned.
  • I am eating lunch at my desk, mired in my virtual inbox.
  • I make calls while driving, and even send the occasional text, even though I know I shouldn’t.

Informationoverloaditis.

If you checked off three or more, you’ve got the disease. 8 or more and we need to rush you to an unplugged vacation. All of the above and you need a sabbatical!

This Week's Clairity Click-it: Competitive Advantage, Nonprofit Management, Decisionmaking, Online Content, Measuring Performance and The Overhead Myth

Here’s this week’s Clairity Click-it, the most intriguing and thought-provoking of the more than 100 articles I seem to read every week – all in an easy-to-“click-it” format with links to posts in fundraising, marketing, social media, leadership, change and all sorts of good stuff. I aim for an eclectic array, often sourced from more than one discipline, as I believe we can learn a lot from our colleagues in other sectors.  Of course, I add in a few comments of my own.

Let’s begin:

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5 Secrets of Psychologists: How to Get Donors to Say “Yes”

In 1984 Robert Cialdini wrote a groundbreaking book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, outlining principles of influence that affect human behaviors.

These principles are well documented, and can be incredibly useful to fundraisers.

Even someone inclined to support your cause may not give unless you push the right buttons.

A new infographic visually makes the point that, while technology advances, human triggers remain constant.

Here are five triggers — with a few suggested strategies (I’m sure you can come up with more) —  to use these principles in your offline and online relationship building with prospective supporters:

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Top 10 Checklist to Simplify Nonprofit Blogging

I really want you to blog. Did you know that Social Media Examiner’s 2013 State of Social Media Report puts blogging #1 at the list of the top 14 social media channels you should be exploring? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Your blog is the hub of your content strategy (or it should be).  Build a blog and rock it. You’ll simultaneously put in place a content  strategy that will enable you to easily share relevant content across every communication channel you use.  Online and offline. There’s no better way to offer your constituents meaningful engagement.  So… what are you waiting for?

BTW: You can learn a lot more if you download my free webinar,The Keys to Nonprofit Blogging that Drives EngagementDid I mention it’s free?
Here are 10 tips to get you started, or to help you simplify the process so you can focus and deliver.

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For Whom the Bell Tolls: Major Gifts Officers Will Lose Their Jobs in 2 Years

Unless… they reinvent themselves.

I know this sounds harsh. But check out Seth Godin’s Tried and false where he bluntly tells the truth about the tried and true: “In times of change… most of the tried is in fact, false. False because what used to work, doesn’t, at least not any longer.”

You may have been the best major gift officer on the planet five years ago.  But that was then. This is now. The buying/giving market has fundamentally changed. And, yes, the culprit is the digital revolution. That’s how revolutions work. It’s truly the end of business as usual.

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7 Ways to Build Rapport with Donors Using Creative ‘Thank You’s

To build authentic rapport with folks you must show them you care.  And the simplest way to demonstrate affection is through a heartfelt ‘Thank You.’ It can be in person, in writing, over the phone, through a text, via video or any which way you choose.  The key is to make it personal and prompt.

Here’s a personal example.  Recently my son found he’d have an unexpected layover in San Francisco.  I jumped at the opportunity to join him for dinner, though it meant cancelling plans with my friends.  The next morning, as he was getting on the plane, he texted them: “Thanks for changing your plans so I could see my Mom. I appreciate it.”  You may be thinking ‘no big deal.’ But it is a big deal. He showed my friends he saw their flexibility as a gift. And someone (who?) taught him to always send a thank you for a gift. My friends were touched. Mama was proud.

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What App Developers Can Teach Content Marketers: 5 Tips to Energize Your Brand

Find a need and fill it. That’s Marketing 101.   Well, today some of the folks most clued in to what people want are the apps developers. Why not piggyback on their insight and research to enrich your content marketing strategy?  The key is to tie it to your brand promise (i.e., why you’re on this planet and what folks perceive your value to be to them). Find an angle that makes the trend relevant to your business.

End your constituents’ pain.  This is simply another way to think of taking the consumer-oriented approach that means the difference between failure and success. What’s bothering your community?  What keeps them up at night? How can you help? This is how app developers – and inventors, and successful business start-ups – think. 

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6 Things Matchmakers Can Teach Fundraisers in an Era of Digital Darwinism

Philanthropy; Not Fundraising

In many ways, what’s new is old and what’s old is new.  I read a lot of Brian Solis who speaks persuasively about The End of Business as Usual in an era where technology is advancing more rapidly than our ability to adapt. Yet we must adapt, or die. How do we do this, and what does this mean for fundraisers? I found food for thought in Solis’ recent article, The 9 Laws of Affinity in an Era of Digital Darwinism.

Rapid change can be dizzying. Ground yourself by remembering that though technology has changed, people have not. We have the same drives… needs… yearnings as prehistoric tribes.  It’s not just about survival. Darwin wrote about survival of the most empathic. We long for connection and meaning. In other words, it’s not just about the “fittest” but about the “fitting.”  Philanthropy provides that “fit opportunity” in spades (or, more aptly, in hearts).

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Earth Day: What the World Needs Now – 7 Ways to Influence Change

We want help solving our problems, both significant and commonplace. We want help improving our lives. We want help making sense out of world fraught with uncertainty.” — Jay Bear, Convince and Convert

It’s a day for thinking about the planet, and how to repair our world.  There are many different ways.  Sometimes it’s just hard to get started. The problems seem so insurmountable… it’s hard to envision making a difference.

Your job, as a nonprofit fundraiser and marketer, is to help folks see how they can influence the outcome. Then, you must help them to do it. Guide them towards being the change they want to see in the world. Persuade them that your cause is a fantastic way to achieve this change. Your cause may be one cause among many picked by your constituents; that’s fine. Your task is simply to (1) engage them to act, and (2) entice them to choose your organization to facilitate that action.

How do you turn thoughts into action that improves lives?

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Show Me That You Know Me — 5 Things You Must Do To Sustain Donor Relationships

My recent post about showing your donors you know them* through personalization struck a big chord.  Folks have asked for more tips on the subject of building and sustaining meaningful, loyal relationships, so I’ve taken the liberty of sharing this article originally published in The Bridge. The 5 tips are towards the bottom, so scroll down if you’re impatient. Okay…

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Philanthropy, Not Fundraising: How to Win Over Donors in One Word

What’s the number one thing you strive for in your marketing and fundraising strategy? Challenge yourself to think about this for a moment. Really think. Trust me; you’ll remember it better if you think first. Don’t skip ahead.

Got a word?

There’s one word that should come to mind. This word should become your mantra. It should underscore everything you do. Your annual appeal writing. Your special events. Your newsletters. Your blog posts. Your proposals. Your reports. Your social media.

If you take this one word to heart, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. Moreover, this is the one word that can set you apart. That can help you build relationships like nothing else. Ready?

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Philanthropy; Not Fundraising: How Inbound Marketing Enhances Opportunity for Human Connection

Dylan Lyrics to Times they are a changin'In my last post I channeled Bob Dylan, calling for a change in the way we do fundraising. Because the times truly are a changin’…

Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command, your old road is rapidly agin’…

When I grew up in fundraising I had a shoe box as my database.  I wrote grant proposals on yellow legal pads.  When we got our first FAX machine I complained that now folks expected us to mail and FAX them (so double the work).  When email came on the scene I complained that now folks wanted us to mail and FAX and email (so triple the work). But it was still the same old road of outbound marketing.  At least I understood what it was all about.

Now we’re on a new road entirely.  Because folks are coming to us.  They’re telling us what they want.  They’re defining our brand.  And they’re doing so in real time via a multitude of online channels and using a multitude of Web-connected devices. Opportunity is knocking.

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How Google Works for Your Nonprofit Blog -Easy SEO and Search – S.S.T.S. Series Part IV

Share, Shareable, Talk, SearchIn Part I: Share, Part II: Shareable  and Part III: Talk of this S.S.S.T. Series we covered the importance of sharing your blog, making it shareable by others and getting folks to talk about you with their online networks.  But there’s one important component of your super-sonic blog promotion strategy that we’ve missed.  Here it is:

SEARCH

Let’s begin with why it’s important to talk about search. Because you want more readers for your blog, right? Well, the people who are your friends, plus the people who are their friends, are not all the people in the world.  They’re not even all the people who may be interested in what you do!  Search is how most people find you.  Search is the most common online activity after email, and that fact cuts across generations.

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4 Reasons Your Blog Promotion Strategy Sucks, and How to Fix It – S.S.T.S. Series, Part I

Photo of SST Concorde NoseWe’ve talked CONTENT (C.P.A. Series).   We’ve talked ENGAGEMENT (R.C.A. Series).  Now we’ve got to talk PROMOTION (S.S.T.S Series).

 S.S.T.S.  That’s the four things. You need a super sonic transport system that will enable all your brand messaging – across multiple channels – to emanate from your blog.  Yes. We’ve talked about this before.  Your blog is your content hub.  It’s the essence of you and what you do.  But it’s not something that has meaning separate from the rest of your marketing communications efforts. It won’t get you anywhere if you don’t put the wheels in motion.  And since things are fast, fast, fast these days — let’s get you in motion super sonically!

You must promote your blog. (Tweet this). I’ve just engaged in a lengthy discussion with folks in the “Marketing Professionals” group on Linkedin about what’s more important: content, engagement or promotion.  Content seems to be winning. But I just can’t agree.  Not that I don’t’ think it’s super important.  Who cares about promoting dreck?  But all three must work together.  They’re three legs of a three-legged stool; unstable if any one leg is missing. Without promotion your super-de-duper content just sits there. Dead. In. The. Water. That’s just sad.

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4 Ways to Turn Your Nonprofit Blog Into Action – RCA Series Part III

Call to Action SignR.C.A. is about getting folks walking; not just talking.  It’s about good content and conversation that leads to your desired action. It refers to Relatable, Part I, Conversational, Part II, and Actionable. You remember this acronym by thinking about an RCA Victrola – that old-fashioned phonograph contraption that helped transport your grandparents and great-grandparents — and fire their imaginations — through the music that inspired them.

You want to transport your constituents with inspiring values and stories in the same way.  The reason you want to transport them?  So their inspiration will lead to engagement — action that helps to further your mission. So, today that’s what we’re going to talk about!  Ready for action?

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3 Ways to Build a Nonprofit Blog Worth Sharing – RCA Series Part I

 

R.C.A.  That’s the three things.  Yup.  When building a blog that’s not only worth reading but also worth sharing, you’ve got to think like an RCA Victrola and record.  A great recording captures our attention.  It transports us.  It carries us away.  It brings us into the music/story in an easy flow.  It gets us tapping our toes and up on our feet dancing. Woo-hoo… it’s a party!

And don’t you just want to share a party?  To get your readers to share your party you’ve got to make sure your blog posts are Relatable (they find common ground with your readers); Conversational (you speak directly to your readers), and Actionable(you achieve your blog post’s purpose).

Once you understand the three principles of R.C.A. you’ll be well on your way towards having a blog your readers will share with their networks. Today, let’s begin with the first principle:  how to put the ‘R’ in R.C.A.

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Get Wise to What Your Nonprofit Blog Readers Want – Coda to the C.P.A. Series

Listen, listenThey want you to show them that you know them. And we do this best by listening.

I’m compelled to add this coda to the C.P.A. series because there’s some breaking news that pertains to what was one of my favorite listening tools. In Part I we covered the fact that key to writing a post  folks will want to read is first finding out what folks want to hear! One of those tools, sadly, just kicked the proverbial bucket.  Yet I’ve also discovered a host of new tools that may be extremely useful to you in your research. Yup, the universe taketh away; the universe giveth.