What do Lukewarm Tapioca and Molten Chocolate Cake have to do with Fundraising?

molten chocolate cake 300x199 What do Lukewarm Tapioca and Molten Chocolate Cake have to do with Fundraising?

Does this get your attention? Is this a heart you could wrap your heart around? Make you want a taste?

Or… What Your Donors Won’t Tell You about Your Nonprofit Messaging.

At first blush, tepid tapioca and gooey hot chocolate might appear to have nothing whatsoever to do with securing vital resources to further your mission. Blush again.

Blush hard. Think of all the good things you could accomplish were you to more effectively master the art and science of fundraising. Feel the warm pink tinge beginning to creep up your neck as you embrace the errors of your ways over the past year. Or two. Or 10. Or even more.

Are you still doing things like it was 1985? 2000? 2008? If so, you should probably be embarrassed. Because I know very few organizations who are succeeding today using yesterday’s strategies.Continue Reading

A Baker’s Dozen of Nonprofit Blogging Do’s and Don’ts – Pt.2

baker2 A Baker’s Dozen of Nonprofit Blogging Do’s and Don’ts – Pt.2

I’ve baked up 7 more nonprofit blogging tips for you — so now you’ve got a full Baker’s Dozen!

Last week, in part 1 of this post, I encouraged you to begin blogging if you’re not doing so already. And, if you are, to do so more effectively. Make your blog the hub of your content marketing. It will simplify your life in so many ways, and become the anchor for your marketing communications and organizational branding.

Today, let’s continue with seven more “do’s and don’ts” to round out our baker’s dozen of nonprofit blogging tips:

Don’t 7: You don’t give credit where it is due.

It’s fine to derive inspiration from another source, but don’t claim the prose as your own.

Do 7:  When you cite other sources, attribute them.

If you quote someone, put quotation marks around their prose and state their name. If you want to be extra nice, include a hyperlink to their website or suggest to folks that they follow this person on one or more social media sites. I derived inspiration for this post from two articles on Hubspot by Nathan Yerian and Ginny Sosky. You can see them here and here.

Don’t 8: You don’t take time to edit your post.

This is one of my pet peeves, and it’s a real rookie mistake. Why put all that time into creating a great useful post that will draw readers to you, when you then repel them by including a bunch of typos and run-on sentences? It’s sloppy and stupid.

Do 8: Come back to your post the next day and edit it.

Remove redundancies. Eliminate jargon. Take out excess adverbs and adjectives. Run spell check. Break up big chunks of text. Use sub-heads, bold-face, color and images to draw the reader’s eye to your main points and make it easier to scan. Do it the next day, when you’re fresh and can look at your post from a different perspective.

Don’t 9: You let great get in the way of good.

This used to be a big problem for me. I’m a perfectionist by nature. It was hard for me to hit the “publish” button. Please learn from my mistakes and don’t obsess! If you’ve followed all of the “Do’s” outlined above, your post will be ready for prime time.

Do 9: Hit the “publish” button once you’ve done your due diligence.

Make yourself a checklist and post it next to your computer. Go through it after you’ve finished writing. Once you’re done, publish your post!

Don’t 10: You publish erratically.

Consistency is key if you want to build a following for your blog.

Do 10: Develop a content editorial calendar and stick to your publishing schedule.

It’s been said that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. A content editorial calendar keeps you organized and on track. You commit to your blog having a consistent presence, so your audience can commit to looking for you and reading you.  You don’t become one of those TV shows we all stopped watching because their schedule became so erratic we couldn’t remember when/where to find them. By planning ahead, you drive perseverance.

Don’t 11: You fail to include an image.

It’s often said that a picture is worth 1,000 words. When it comes to blog articles this is true in spades! Our culture is increasingly visual to the point where articles with images get 94% more views! Marketers who are embracing visual content are seeing huge returns in terms of more readers, leads, customers and revenue.

Do 11: Include at least one image in your blog post.

This should be a no-brainer based on the research cited above (and all over the internet). Your blog posts have a purpose. You want them to engage folks. Visual content is a huge driver of engagement. You can afford it, because there are plenty of online sites offering free image downloads today. Just search for them and pick one.  And check out Jeff Bullas’ The Ultimate Guide to Using Images in Social Media. He’ll give you all sorts of tips and tricks for using images to their greatest effect. Enough said.

Don’t 12: You fail to include a call to action as a next step.

Once you’ve published your post you want folks who read it to do something.   What is that? How will your readers know what you want them to do? Too often blog posts end with a whimper. The reader gets all the way to the end, only to be left with that lead balloon feeling of “so what?

Do 12: Include a clear call to action.

This will increase your conversion rate (i.e., turning first-time readers into subscribers; turning ongoing readers into donors) and improve the return on investment for the time you put into crafting and publishing your post. Simple calls to action include:

  • Subscribe to our blog.
  • Comment on this post.
  • Share this post.
  • Please donate.

For more on creating effective calls to action, read this free guide from Hubspot.

Don’t 13: You fail to build relationships.

When you ignore people who do as you’ve asked, it’s just plain rude. It discourages them. It can even anger them. Conversely, when you interact with folks it can encourage others to interact as well. Creating a dialogue is one of the primary benefits of a blog, enabling you to get to know your constituents in ways that were previously cost-prohibitive. Don’t waste your opportunities.

Do 13: Respond to folks who take the time to interact with you through your blog.

If they comment on your post, reply back to them. If they share your post on social media or via email, thank them. If one of your active constituents has their own blog, go to their site and make a comment or share their post. If you see they have a large following, ask them nicely if they would consider sharing your post with their network. And so forth.

binderlayingopen 550x634 1 e1405302761651 A Baker’s Dozen of Nonprofit Blogging Do’s and Don’ts – Pt.2

Discover How a Blog Can Drive Donor Acquisition, Retention and Support

If you found this post useful, you may be interested in my brand new  Nonprofit Blogging Playbook.

Get as many Guides as you want or need (if you buy all four, I offer a “Bundle Bargain” discount). A great blog is one of the best investments you can make in acquiring and retaining more donors. Learn how with this 4-volume set that will teach you (1) blog fundamentals; (2) content folks will want to read; (3) how to use your content to engage folks, and (4) how to promote your blog so it builds momentum and drives more potential supporters to your website. Plus, I stand by all my Clairification products.  If you’re not happy, there’s a no questions asked full refund policy. The only way to lose is by doing nothing. Don’t be a loser! 

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

8 Secrets to Building Online Relationships with People Who Matter – Part 2

Pizza delivery 199x300 8 Secrets to Building Online Relationships with People Who Matter – Part 2

Here’s your pizza! I sensed you wanted it, even though you didn’t order it.

In Part 1 I covered how quality trumps quantity when it comes to networking with your supporter base. It’s not so much about counting fans as it is about developing fans you can count on. In this two-parter I’m offering 8 ways to reframe your nonprofit marketing and fundraising stewardship objectives so you actually get something out of them — beyond counting. Click here for the first 4 ways, with accompanying ACTION TIPS.

4 More Relationship Building Secrets + ACTION TIPS

5. Be intriguing.

Don’t just do what people expect. If you want to make a connection with a new contact, especially a very busy one, the quickest way to arouse that person’s curiosity is with something unexpected. You can borrow a page from Disneyland when it comes to thinking about ways to “wow” your supporters.

ACTION TIP: Brainstorm 10 things you might do to delight your supporters in the weeks ahead. They do say ‘it’s the thought that counts’ – so think about what you might do. Another way to frame this is by taking a page from customer experience guru John Goodman, author of Strategic Customer Service, who talks about delivering “Psychic Pizza.” What if someone showed up right now with an unexpected gift of pizza? Or what if you did something really unexpected, like sending out a non-appeal headlined “Don’t send us money!” Then you could simply enclose a brief survey asking for feedback/advice on your programs. What a nice way to simultaneously demonstrate you care about folks for more than their wallets and also get them directly engaged.

6. Think people, not positions.

“Everyone reading this knows people who are smart, ambitious, motivated, and interesting,” Sobel says. “Some of those people, in eight or 10 years, are going to be influencers. They may even be CEOs.” Don’t just think about the obvious, established philanthropists and influencers in your community. Those folks are harder to reach and connect with than would have been the case 20 years earlier.

ACTION TIP: Make a list of folks you know who seem to be up-and-comers. Make connections with them now, early in their careers, before others catch on to them. If you do, this will pay dividends down the road.

7. Give before you ask.

Sobel tells the story of a business school classmate he hadn’t heard from in 30 years – until he received a long email asking him to invest in a new venture. He hadn’t invested first in building a relationship. Sobel ignored him.

ACTION TIP: If you don’t want your donors and/or influencers to ignore your requests, develop and implement a relationship-building plan first. Call them up on the phone. Get to know them as people. Don’t keep everything at arms length; then expect a hands-on response to your request.

8. Be generous.

This takes you back to the “attitude of gratitude” I encouraged you to adopt in Part 1, #4. Another way to think about this is simply as instilling an organization-wide culture of customer service. “You can’t operate with the thought of reciprocity in mind,” Sobel cautions. “You have to have a generous spirit. The greatest networkers I know genuinely like to help others. They’re always doing it. And if they ever do need anything, people will fall over themselves to help them.

ACTION TIP: Make engaging with your ‘customers’ everyone’s job. Don’t silo relationship building to development or marketing staff. Never underestimate the power of your constituents to make or break you. If you’re generous with them, just as a matter of course, they’ll be generous with you.

Always keep in mind that no one has to help you.

You can’t make people do anything for you. The way to make your supporters count is to join them, not browbeat them. As John Haydon notes in 5 Mind Shifts That Boost Social Sharing: “Become one of them… find the people who are already talking about your cause, and join their conversations. Quite naturally, on their own terms, they’ll accept you as one of their own.”

Ready to build your army of influencers and donors and make them count?  What’s one thing you’ll do differently starting next week? Please share.

For More Online Relationship Building Tips…

Get my updated  ‘Hop on Board’ Nonprofit Social Media Guide. You’ll get 27  full pages with more than 100 tips, resources and tools to help you with your resolve to fully embrace social media for your nonprofit.  Get started today!

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Why Your Nonprofit Communications are a Waste of Time: 10 Easy Fixes

checklist 300x225 Why Your Nonprofit Communications are a Waste of Time: 10 Easy Fixes

Don’t create communications simply to check them off your list as “done.”

I know you’re strapped for time. But that’s no excuse for slapping your communications together with the sole purpose of “getting them out there.” Why bother? Checking this task off your list (and maybe reporting to your boss and/or board that you did so) may make you feel a bit better. But it won’t help your readers (and potential supporters) feel good.

If you want to get gifts you must give them. Consider your communications a gift to your supporters. Don’t give something generic. Give something your recipient will appreciate.  Ask yourself…Continue Reading

What Nonprofits Can Learn About Donor Retention from David Letterman

David Letterman and Justin Bieber 300x202 What Nonprofits Can Learn About Donor Retention from David Letterman

Are you the last kid on your nonprofit block to adopt social media as a tool to build relationships?

If you’re not using social media to get and retain more donors, be afraid. Be very afraid.

Social media has ceased to be a nice little “toy.”  An “add on thing.”  It’s the thing. If you’re not hanging out where the majority of your constituents are getting their information, you may as well fold up your tent and go home.  David Letterman didn’t “do social media.”    ( See “Do you use the Twitter device?” ).  He’s going home.

Letterman  may be ready to go off into the sunset. But you shouldn’t be. You can learn new tricks!Continue Reading

WARNING: Your Fundraising Communications are Too Pretty

Storyteller thumbs up 198x300 WARNING: Your Fundraising Communications are Too PrettyCreative is great. I see lots of beautiful newsletters, web pages and email appeals. They have great design, colors, photos and even videos. But they have a problem.Continue Reading

Creating a Donor Communications Plan to Woo Your Supporters: Part 1

Blowing hearts to donors 291x300 Creating a Donor Communications Plan to Woo Your Supporters: Part 1

How do you show donors you love them?

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 Continue Reading

Nonprofit Social Media Alert: If You Do This You’re Monkeying Around

Chimp does Hamlet 300x260 Nonprofit Social Media Alert: If You Do This Youre Monkeying Around

To thine own self, and thy users’ selves, be true.

Monkey see, monkey do is not a social media strategy.

It tends to lead to trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Huh?  Bear with me. We’ll get there. First… before embarking on a social media strategy, do you ask:

  • What keeps our constituents up at night? How can we help them sleep better?
  • What makes our constituents sad? How can we help them feel better?
  • What makes our constituents smile? How can we bring them joy?
  • And how can we do all these things without compromising our own well-being and authentic self?Continue Reading

Breaking News about Your Nonprofit’s Social Media Strategy: It Doesn’t Measure Up

Breaking News large Breaking News about Your Nonprofit’s Social Media Strategy: It Doesnt Measure Up

Many nonprofits post on Twitter throughout the day to keep constituents up to date

XTRA! XTRA: NEWS YOU CAN’T USE

This just in: Many nonprofits post on Twitter throughout the day to keep constituents up to date.”  Woo-hoo! I’m jumping for joy! Over the moon! Popping champagne corks! I’m….

Wait just a dog-gone minute…  Is this really a news story? What does this really tell me? How does this help me? Well, perhaps if I read the story I’ll…

Learn more.

What story?  Oh… this is a real headline, sent to me by my friend Jimmy (a really smart marketing guy who works in the business sector), for an article that appeared in eMarketer which claims to provide “the world’s top brands, agencies and media companies with the most complete view of digital marketing available.”  Yet really all the article does is report on a study by Vertical Response showing that nonprofits were more likely to be present on social media channels than small businesses surveyed in a similar study.

So, great.  We’ve got some data on how nonprofits are behaving digitally.  They’re putting up Facebook pages and starting Twitter accounts. Whoop-de-do.

What we do not have is a fully fleshed out narrative that tells us why nonprofits are behaving this way, who they’re targeting with their social conversations or what they’re getting out of it. We have no knowledge of their engagement plan or their engagement metrics. As I told my friend Jimmy, the fact that nonprofits are doing incrementally more on social media doesn’t really tell much of a story.Continue Reading

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

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

You might miss out! How do you feel about that?

In 1984 Robert Cialdini wrote a groundbreaking book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, outlining principles of influence that affect human behaviors. A new infographic visually makes the point that, while technology advances, human triggers remain constant.

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