In Part 1 we covered 5 steps to woo your donors with a communications strategy. Today we’ll look more closely at 9 key communications tools you can use effectively to build closer relationships with your supporters. Some are extraordinarily simple. It’s just that many nonprofits fail to use these tools consistently, or well. If you make a practice of doing so, you’ll be well ahead of the game.
You want to be the favorite child, don’t you?
Did you know that half of donors give 2/3rds of their annual giving to a single charity. That’s why you want to become the “favorite.” Wouldn’t it be terrific if your donors adopted you and thought of you as a member of their family?
Truly, that’s how important you want to become to your supporters. But it won’t happen just because you’re a “good cause.” There are oodles of great causes out there. Oodles. It will happen only when
Mixed bag today. From funny and unusual to serious and thought-proving. You’ll definitely find something of interest here. Take a lo! Finding Donors Click-It: Low Hanging Fruit. This cartoon from Hugh MacLeod at Gaping Void made me wonder. How might this apply to your donor cultivation strategy? Maybe the reason you’re not finding donors…
Earlier this year I posted on the ONE big thing nonprofits absolutely must do in 2014: Adopt an integrated (fundraising combined with communications – no more silos, please!) inbound marketing strategy.
Well… it seems like a lot of folks didn’t know what I meant. Or if they did know, they had a whole bunch of reasons why they thought they couldn’t or shouldn’t do it.
Apparently I have some ‘splainin’ to do!
What’s a blog, really? A blog is just a super-charged, dynamic website that will bring you many more visitors – and a lot more engagement — than your website does now. Doesn’t that sound like a tool that might help your fundraising?
Did you know that 70% of visitors to the average website never visit again? Done well, a blog drives traffic to you naturally… brings folks back for more… and even gets folks to share stuff you post on your blog with their own networks. It’s a hugely powerful tool for finding and engaging with people – your donors and potential supporters – and I’m not the only one who thinks so.
Of all the killer social engagement tools out there, none beats the blog. Still… some of you are dubious. Or your leaders are dubious. So if one of these 10 excuses is stopping you, read on to see how to overcome them.
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.”
“Because we want to educate them about what we do.”
“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:
Love Your Donors
Some special valentines today for you, and for your donors. Got that loving feeling? Don’t keep it to yourself. Share.
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.
(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?
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.
Here are some great posts, plus a bit of personal advice, to set you up for success in the coming year. It’s going to be a busy one, so may as well figure out what you should – and should not – be doing. It will make your life a lot easier and more fulfilling. Let’s get right to it!
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!
In a year-end frenzy? While putting final touches on everything, consider one last thing to make your supporters – all of them – happy. What can you do? And set yourself up for success next year too. Pick one thing you’ll do differently or better. Why the heck not? To your success!
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,
Today 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:
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.
When they turn into a sweetly warbled tune.
If you want birds to visit your window ledge on a daily basis you must woo them patiently and feed them. Only after you’ve satisfied their needs will they return on a regular basis and, on occasion, reward your persistence by trilling a sweet song.
It’s the same with donors and social media.
Last week I wrote about what nonprofits can learn about why we stopped building pyramids. The digital revolution has crumbled that baby – today’s ‘donor pyramid’ is nothing but an empty frame. Our donors no longer fit inside of it. So… what’s a nonprofit to do?
My guest post yesterday on Maximize Social Business detailed precisely How Social Media Toppled the Donor Pyramid – and what that means for nonprofits. Nothing is neat, orderly and linear anymore. Supporters are here, there and everywhere – all at once!
Today, electronic communications – social, mobile, email, crowd funding, online donating — have permanently disrupted the traditional donor-engagement process.
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.
This week’s links include some thought-provoking stuff. And a reminder of what you need to do to prepare for Halloween!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
You’ve no doubt heard folks bandying about the latest buzzword: “content marketing.” There’s a reason it’s buzz-worthy. Without content, you’ve got nothing. You’re just a box with nothing inside. Kids like to play with boxes; most folks — when they grow up — are looking for something of value inside the box. At the same time…
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.
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.
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!
Wouldn’t you know I’d leave the trenches just when things got Pinteresting? I missed out, but I’m here to tell you… YOU don’t have to!
If we know anything about human beings, we know these two things: (1) they love a story, and (2) a picture is worth 1,000 words. A new guide to visual storytelling practices reveals that when information is presented orally, people tested 72 hours later remember only about 10%. That jumps to 65% when pictures are added! Pinterest is a dream come true for nonprofits wanting to engage constituents with their mission.
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.
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:
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 Engagement. Did 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.
I randomly checked out some nonprofit mission statements yesterday. I was going to check a few more, but… YAWN… I fell asleep.
I’m not kidding.
I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but
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.
Whatever you did in the past is relevant, but it doesn’t mean it’s exactly what you should be doing today. Relevant means pertaining to or connected to. Your history is always connected with you in some manner. But it’s not always germane (central) or apropos (to the point and opportune).
If you say…
That’s not the way we do things.
We tried that; it doesn’t work.
We don’t need research; we know what our audience cares about.
In case you don’t know, troglodytes are hermits who live in caves. There are 3 ways I’ve found that folks in the development profession fit this description. Are you a cave dweller? If so, here’s how to get out more.
- Get out from behind your desk.
- Begin to embrace social media.
- Think outside the cave.
Philanthropy, Not Fundraising
I’m going to go out on a limb here and make an assumption. Here goes: Your goal is to attract supporters and invest in long-term relationships that will sustain your mission. If your goal is different, read no further. Otherwise… carry on.
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.
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.
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).
“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?
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…
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?
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.
Philanthropy; Not Fundraising: Why Online Marketing Revolution Demands Nonprofits End Business as Usual
Once upon a time I knew what I was doing. I attended The Fundraising School, discovered a host of tried-and-true techniques, mastered the art and science of fundraising transactions and went forth to apply the tools at my disposal. Money was raised.
Fast forward several decades, to sometime about five years ago. I had a dawning realization. I no longer knew what I was doing. I had somehow entered “wing and a prayer” territory. The culprit? Revolutionary and disruptive technology that, simply put, has ended “business as usual.”
What can you think of that has been done the same way for 50 years? For too many nonprofits the answer is fundraising and marketing (aka “development”). And it’s beyond time for a change. In fact, a sea change. It turns out Bob Dylan got it right.
In 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:
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.
6 Ways to Get Others to Promote Your Nonprofit Blog for You: Happy Talk – S.S.T.S. Series, Part IIIb
Talking is what builds your reputation and develops relationships with those who share the values your organization enacts. Talking is central to your blog – and entire social media – strategy. So… let’s talk!
In the first part of this two-part post about how to get others to promote your blog we discussed how to find your natural “sharers” – those folks willing to be spokespersons on your behalf, whether they be influencers or advocates. Today we’re going to talk about how to get these boosters to spread your good word through digital word-of-mouth.
6 TIPS FOR GETTING YOUR TALKERS TALKING:
To make your blog worth the effort, it’s got to be shared. And that’s what we discussed in Part I: Share and Part II: Shareable of this S.S.T.S. Series. Great! But how do you get folks to really TALK about you, rather than just shooting out one-shot shares?
You begin with content, of course. No one is going to share crap, no matter how easy you make it for them to do so. In the C.P.A. Series we talked about getting folks to open and read your post. Done! In the R.C.A. Series we discussed giving folks something engaging to talk about – relevant, constituent-centered and actionable content. Done and done.
Now that you’ve got the good stuff, you need to get folks walking your talk!
You want more than short-term share transactions. You want shares that drive desired action responses; you want transformation!
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.
Still a bridesmaid? Or have you gotten engaged? The R.C.A. Series is all about engagement. It’s the middle part of a three-part series. We move from values (philanthropy)… to shared values (development)… to action (fundraising). Every tip in the series (as well as in the preceding C.P.A. Series and the upcoming S.S.T.S. Series) also pertains to just about everything else you do in your nonprofit work. So read this even if you don’t have a blog. Yet.
Blogging is not a one-trick pony. It’s a way of life that expresses who you are, why you’re of value, and how you and your ‘stakeholders’ — those who have a stake in the outcomes you produce — can work together to create positive change. (If this sounds a lot like the “case statement” of yore, that’s because it is!) Think of your blog as your content hub; the place from which all messaging emanates.
Blogging is a three-part proposition. In fact, so is your entire marketing strategy. And your fundraising strategy. And your program strategy. Arguably, your entire modus operandi is a three-part proposition:
R.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?