How to Create an Ice Bucket-type Challenge for Your Nonprofit: A Formula for Success

fallon ice bucket hed 2014 How to Create an Ice Bucket type Challenge for Your Nonprofit: A Formula for Success

Jimmy Fallon and friends prepare to take the Ice Bucket Challenge

Are you wringing your hands because your boss or board wants you to come up with a viral social campaign to rival the “Ice Bucket Challenge?” Oy!

I was first introduced to this phenomenon one evening as I was watching the Jimmy Fallon show on t.v. Jimmy, some of his crew and his band all dumped buckets of ice water on their heads; then challenged the New York Jets to do so as well (Jimmy had been challenged by Justin Timberlake). I had no idea why they were doing it or what the “Ice Bucket Challenge” was about.Continue Reading

It’s Not That Hard: 6 Secrets to Succeeding with Online Fundraising

6 spheres 300x225 It’s Not That Hard: 6 Secrets to Succeeding with Online Fundraising

The biggest secret? Everything works TOGETHER. No silos.

Julia C. Campbell and I were clearly separated at birth, and I’ve told her as much. Because I tend to agree – in spades – with everything she writes.  [Plus, her middle name is Claire, so what further proof is needed?]  Her recent article, 6 Ways Nonprofits Are Getting Online Fundraising All Wrong, is no exception.

Here are Julia’s 6 tips, to which I’ve added a few of my own thoughts (although they’re really not my own because there are no new ideas – and Julia and I think the same)!

1) Online fundraising does not work in a silo.

Julia reminds you that no fundraising or marketing effort works in a silo. This is SO important! Just building it isn’t enough. Whatever it may be. A blog. A Facebook page. A Twitter profile. A donation landing page. You name it. Sorry. They won’t call.  They won’t write.  They won’t wax on rhapsodically about your finer qualities. The most they might do is notice you out of the corner of their eye; then move on.

ACTION TIP: Convene a multi-disciplinary communications team. It’s on you to work it – together – as a full organization invested in engaging those folks who share your values. Whatever you do online must be supported by what you do offline. And vice-versa.

2) Online fundraising does not work if your website sucks.

And, by the way, these days if your website isn’t optimized for mobile it sucks. Because I’m willing to bet that a huge percentage of those who intentionally search for you, encounter you serendipitously or open email from you do so via mobile devices. And you’re losing them because…  you’re just so user-unfriendly. Also, if you only have one generic landing page, your website sucks. Folks want to give for the purpose/campaign that moved them. If you don’t reassure them – right away on the landing page – that this is how their gift will be allocated, then they’re going to jump ship. “Your gift reduces economic inequality” is not the same as “Yes! I want to send a kid to college today.” The average donation made through a branded checkout page is 38% larger than the average donation made through a generic page.

ACTION TIP: Check out this edition of the nonprofit blog carnival. It’s all about how to build, maintain and evaluate a great nonprofit website.

3) Online fundraising does not work if it is not easy.

Make your donation landing pages inviting, easy to navigate and persuasive. Research has indicated that websites lose 40% of visitors with every click – so make sure yours count! In fact, make your entire website a nice tasty treat for folks!  “What’s the nicest thing your website does for your constituents” is a question I sometimes pose to my clients. It turns out that one of the nicest things you can do for folks is make it really easy for them to have a conversation and give/receive feedback. Your website can be a way you collect/consolidate what is happening in multiple media channels so that constituents who wish to can find everything from a single portal.

ACTION TIP: Hubspot offers a free Nonprofit Guide to Calls to Action and Landing Pages to help you turn strangers into supporters.

4) Online fundraising does not work if no one knows about it.

This is a variation on just building it isn’t enough. You’ve got to work from a plan. Every chance you get, let folks know where to find you online.

ACTION TIP: Telling a great story in your e-news, blog, mailed newsletter, fundraising letter, web page or Facebook post? Include a “Donate!” link. Never waste the dose of inspiration you’ve provided. Don’t just leave would-be donors wishing they could give the story a happy ending. Take them by the hand and SHOW them how to do it!

5) Online fundraising is not a substitute for a major gifts program, planned giving program or annual campaign.

Online tools are a complement to nonprofit donor moves management. You’d be silly not to use them. But don’t abuse them. Just because you can doesn’t always mean you should. If your mail campaign is not as effective as you wish it were, throwing it out in favor of an email campaign is probably not the answer. My hunch is that you’d be better off going back to basics and clarifying your messaging. Get crystal clear on why your mission matters, and what’s in it for the donor if they join you.

ACTION TIP: Become a consummate “drip” story teller. Your donors want an ongoing tale. A little today. A little next week. And so forth. There’s no better delivery mechanism for “drip” storytelling than social media. And don’t get hung up on thinking it’s just Facebook or Twitter. It’s lots of things… email; texting; LinkedIn (where a lot of professionals, aka donors, are); Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, Yelp… if you start to ask, you’ll be surprised to find out what your donors are doing digitally.

6) Online fundraising does not work if you do not communicate your impact to your donors.

You can’t raise money if no one knows what you do. You really must integrate and adapt your marketing to support your fundraising. Don’t leave marketing staff, or your executive management and program staff either, to their own devices.  They’re apt to wax on and on about how wonderful you are, your newest Board member, and your years of service to the community. Readers will be exposed to graphs and pie charts and all sorts of impressive statistics designed to impress people and engage their rational minds. No, NO, no. That’s not going to serve your fundraising purposes. More and more the research reveals that people give from the heart, not the head. From emotion, not reason.

ACTION TIP: Develop a storytelling culture. Stop a minute to consider what you’ve got to “sell.” Your “program” or “service.” Right? But you’ve got to make it about more than that. Those are commodities. You’ve got to make it about hope, or ego or fear or empathy. Something emotional. The best nonprofit stories spin a tale of misfortune, struggle or conflict; depict a protagonist you come to care about, and then show your donor how to be the hero who creates the happy ending.

Year End Appeals Course 2014 cover 11 266x300 It’s Not That Hard: 6 Secrets to Succeeding with Online Fundraising

Back to School means Back to Giving Season

Speaking of showing your donors what’s in it for them…

One of the best ways to rock your annual appeal is to fill it with content that rewards your donor for acting. Learn how to do this — and much, much more — in my upcoming 5-week E-Course: Your Ultimate Guide to Successful Year-End Appeals. Typically nonprofits raise as much as 50 to 80% of their annual income at the end of the calendar year. Learn to take advantage of this time when donors are feeling most generous. Your annual appeal is a terrible thing to waste! Check out the curriculum here or grab the Early Bird deal and register here.  Full satisfaction guaranteed — or your money back.

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Yes, The Donor Pyramid is Really Dead

dinosaur 300x300 Yes, The Donor Pyramid is Really Dead

When it’s our time to go, we all gotta go — dinosaurs and pyramids alike!

An Open Letter to Andrea Kihlstedt — Part 1

[I am responding to Andrea Kihlstedt’s Open Letter to me, Is The Donor Pyramid Really Dead, in the Guidestar blog. She was responding to my recent posts on the death of the Donor Pyramid in Fundraising Success Magazine: R.I.P. Donor Pyramid? and Maximize Social Business Blog How Social Media Toppled the Donor Pyramid – What that Means for Nonprofits.]

First, let me say this is a great dialogue to be having. The donor pyramid is a sacred dinosaur, and it’s good to challenge old assumptions from time to time. After all, the dinosaurs had a very good run, but even they became extinct.

Andrea says “no, the pyramid is alive and well,” making the case that (especially in capital campaigns) not all donors are equal. She also finds use for the pyramid in other campaigns, noting a Kickstarter campaign she recently worked on in which the biggest gifts came from donors who were approached face-to-face rather than via online strategies.Continue Reading

If it’s Broke, Better Fix it: Two Disarming Truths

broken arm xray 247x300 If its Broke, Better Fix it: Two Disarming Truths

What’s wrong with this picture?

Truths: Today, there are two things broken from my perspective: (1) my arm, and (2) the donor pyramid.

Yup! I’m really not much of a camper, but had a momentary lapse in judgement over the week-end. Kaboom!

Luckily, I managed to type up an article about the sad state of the donor pyramid prior to being reduced to a one-handed hunter/pecker (because this method is SLOW, baby)! That article, “R.I.P.Donor Pyramid,  is gracing the cover of the May/June Fundraising Success Magazine, so I hope you’ll check it out over there and let me know what you think. Here’s my bottom line: Continue Reading

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

How to Tap Into the Power of Social Media to Find Nonprofit Donors

binoculars woman 198x300 How to Tap Into the Power of Social Media to Find Nonprofit Donors

Are you still using yesterday’s tools to find today’s donors?

Where do you go to look for new donors to support your nonprofit in 2014?

If you’ve not yet tapped into the power of electronic communication to find new supporters – social, mobile, email, crowd funding, online donating — read my recent post on Maximize Social Business: The Answer to Finding Nonprofit Donors: Social Media.

While this is in no way a slam dunk, neither is any type of lead generation strategy a magic bullet to converting leads into donors. You still have to do the hard work of building relationships with these folks. Yet… Continue Reading

Why Your Nonprofit Fundraising and Marketing is Outdated

 

change same buttons 300x225 Why Your Nonprofit Fundraising and Marketing is Outdated

Fundraising and marketing have changed more in the past 5 years than the previous 50.

Philanthropy, Not Fundraising

For too many nonprofits something isn’t working. Change is happening at a rapid pace while people try to employ yesterday’s ‘best practices,’ seeming to work harder and harder to make do with less — while needing to serve more.

Before the digital revolution, an information imbalance existed.  This facilitated a one-way ‘push’ model of marketing/fundraising. We could define our own brand and sell it.  Guess what? Continue Reading

Engagement Comes Before Marriage: Build Sustained Nonprofit Relationships Using Social Media

Engagement 300x300 Engagement Comes Before Marriage: Build Sustained Nonprofit Relationships Using Social Media

Do you have the kind of relationship with your supporters that leads to real engagement?

First comes love… then comes marriage…

Are your supporters showing you they love you? Are you showing your supporters you love them? And finally — do you love your supporters?

It’s a long way from “I like you” to the altar.

Too many nonprofits forget this.  And frankly, it’s hard to fall in love with someone you’ve barely met.  So if all you have are solitary transactions with folks Continue Reading

What’s ‘Like’ Got to Do with It? 5 Ways to Inspire Nonprofit Engagement Through Social Media

Facebook like Whats Like Got to Do with It? 5 Ways to Inspire Nonprofit Engagement Through Social Media

I like you, casually.

Stop counting likes and follows. If your work plan has “increase FB likes from X to Y or increase Twitter follows from Y to Z” as an objective, delete, delete, delete!  Your objective must relate to your “why;” it can’t just be a “what.”

Who cares how many “friends” you have if none of them are engaging with you?  Liking is passive.  Engaging is active. What do you want folks to feel/think/do?  You simply won’t get there by wishing and hoping.  You get there by inspiring.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