As we enter into year-end fundraising season, now’s the time to make sure your website is in tip-top shape. Have you ever wondered what should – or shouldn’t – be on your nonprofit website? Can supporters find your donate button? Do you really need to post your address and phone number? Where do you make your case for giving? Join Network for Good’s Nonprofit Team as they give homepage tips and tricks!Attend this webinar on November 27 to learn ways to maximize your website during the holiday fundraising rush and walk away with the following:• An overview of year-end website best practices• 60 second critiques of actual nonprofit websites (submit yours in the registration form!)• Question and answer period to address any nonprofit website issuesRegister now.
You’re in the business not only of doing good; you’re in the business of making people feel great. I like to quote the researcher M.A.Strahilevitz on this topic: “Most fundraisers probably don’t think of themselves in the business of selling happiness to donors, but that is … their job.”In an interview with Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky, Gretchen Rubin quotes Lyubomirsky on why this is the case:“Research shows that there are many simple activities that reliably make people happier. My favorite is doing acts of kindness. The generous acts don’t have to be random and they don’t have to be a certain kind (e.g, anonymous or social or big, etc.). We have found that almost any types of acts of kindness boost happiness. And two hot-off-the-presses studies reveal even bigger benefits. An experiment we just published in PLOS ONE showed that when 9- to 11-year old kids were asked to do acts of kindness for several weeks, not only did they get happier over time but they became more popular with their peers. And another big intervention we just finished at a company in Spain showed that asking some employees to be generous to a randomly chosen list of colleagues (we called this our “Secret Santa” manipulation) produced huge benefits (for increasing happiness, connectedness, flow, and decreasing depression) not just for the givers, but for the receivers and even for observers. The recipients of kindness “paid the kind acts forward” and even acquaintances of the givers became happier and were inspired to act more generously themselves.”Smile, you’re in the happiness business.
If your messaging isn’t getting through or your marketing campaign isn’t making a difference, it is probably for one (or all) of these three reasons. 1. Falsely assuming that information results in action. It’s tempting to assume that if people have information, they will act on it. But sadly, information doesn’t equal action. We know it’s healthy to exercise every day – but that doesn’t mean we’re going to do it. Inertia is a strong force. Good causes are forever in conflict with the status quo and business as usual. We can’t just lay out information. We need to create a compelling reason for taking action that beats doing nothing. In marketing terms, we need to improve our reward and lower our price.2. Forgetting that we’re not the audience. The messages that appeal to us aren’t the ones that necessarily resonate with others. Every assumption should be suspect until we understand our audiences’ mindsets. When we assume our audience thinks the way we do, we are at odds with the principles of marketing. We must think like the people we want to reach if we want to succeed.3. Treating marketing as an afterthought. Marketing and communications are often tacked on to a good causes’s efforts at the last minute. In treating marketing as an afterthought, we deprive ourselves of the great benefits that marketing can bring to all our work. A marketing mindset throughout every dimension of our cause can help us design more effective projects, better meet the needs of people we want to help, win us more resources and support, and motivate people to act.
I’ve shared this before, but it bears repeating: Your organization should dwell in the intersection of this picture, which is a combination of thinking from Jim Collins’ hedgehog concept and BBMG‘s branding thinking. If you don’t know which program to pursue or which message to choose, ask yourself: which reflects all three of these factors?That’s where you focus.
image via the SparkologistAs I’ve often written on this blog, human beings are inherently empathetic. Our brains are hardwired to relate to other people’s experiences. When we witness or imagine someone acting, our neurons fire the same way they would if we were undertaking the same action. That’s why your heart races when your favorite athlete soars toward the basket or why the sight of a mother struggling to save her child from floodwaters causes you pain. When we translate this empathy into helping another person, our brains have another reaction: We’re rewarded with happy feelings, thanks to a dopamine dose to our brain’s pleasure center.That’s powerful stuff for nonprofit marketers.You can read about how the science of giving relates to nonprofit marketing in Network for Good’s eBooks Homer Simpson for Nonprofits and Lisa Simpson for Nonprofits. And now I’ve translated these same learnings for companies looking to engage their customers through cause marketing programs. This new eGuide – The Brainiac’s Guide to Cause Marketing: How People’s Minds Really Work, and What That Means for Your Next Campaign – shows that if we get how people think, we can get them to do.While the findings are geared toward a corporate audience, the lessons still apply to those of us who work in nonprofit marketing. Plus this is a great resource to share with your corporate partners. You can demonstrate true value as a partner in helping companies deepen their engagement with customers through cause initiatives with your organization. The Brainiac’s Guide to Cause Marketing has lots of ideas to do just that.Download your FREE eGuide now!
Love reading this blog? Don’t miss out! For those of you reading this blog via Google Reader: Google Reader will be retired on July 1, 2013, which means you won’t be able to read your blog and news feeds through the Google Reader service after that date. We love our readers and want to make sure you stay in touch!The easiest way to stay updated is to receive the latest posts via email, powered by FeedBlitz. To subscribe to this blog via email, just visit:http://www.nonprofitmarketingblog.com and enter your email address in the subscription sign up box in the left column of the page.To add this blog to another feed reader (we like Feedly), use this RSS URL:http://feeds.feedblitz.com/KatyasNon-ProfitMarketingBlog (For more information on how to export all of your Google Reader information — including this blog’s feed, visit this support page on Google.)Have another feed reader you like? Suggest it in the comments!
Not sure how to include music in your videos without getting into copyright issues? Check out Music Bakery for royalty-free music. With a good story as the foundation for your video, your organization can use YouTube to spread your message and raise money online. Here are some tips for nonprofits venturing into the world of online video:No video camera? No problem. Videos created with still images, audio, and text can be just as powerful as moving images. Programs like Animoto can help you create a powerful video with no need to shoot footage. For a great example of video storytelling without moving images, check out Epic Change’s video featuring a thank you letter from a student in Tanzania. Don’t forget: Tell a story! Give people a reason to watch your video and suggest a clear, simple action they can take to respond to what they just watched.For more on the telling compelling story, check out our on-demand nonprofit storytelling webinar. Is your video missing a call to action? YouTube offers a way for nonprofits to add an overlay message to their video with a clear message. If your organization is struggling to develop video content, consider sharing short pieces (think 30 seconds) with simple storylines and clear call to actions before going all out and creating a 7-minute, year-end campaign video. charity: water uses a call to action overlay that pops up at the end of their YouTube videos.
During Labor Day weekend, my husband and I were exploring the Virginia countryside, which included a visit to the Graffiti House. The Graffiti House was used as a field hospital during the Civil War and still houses fascinating graffiti from the soldiers of that time. The building is also the headquarters of the Brandy Station Foundation and serves as a museum and visitor’s center for the nearby Brandy Station Battlefield. While Helen, the volunteer guide, showed us around the main floor of the house, I noticed that instead of having just one central donation jar, there were other donation jars placed around the exhibits and in various rooms. The jars were located in areas where visitors would be the most engaged: in the library where a short film was shown, next to binders where history buffs could research individual names, and near the “Wall of Honor” where visitors could leave their own signatures. I found this to be a good source of inspiration we can all use as year-end fundraising season rapidly approaches. Whether you’re collecting donations through your online fundraising campaigns, at an event, or even with Costco-sized pickle jars, it’s essential to provide easy pathways to give at the point of inspiration. Enable donors to give when they are in the moment of feeling the impact of your work. Don’t assume that someone will be moved to donate and then go on a mad hunt to find a way to give you their money. Some ways to make this work…On your website: Don’t just plop a big, juicy donate button at the top of your website and call it a day. Do that, and then also add links to donate from your blog, success stories, and photo galleries. In your fundraising appeals: Pause for a breath in your next fundraising email and offer direct links to your donation page at strategic points in your story.At your fundraising events: Make it easy to sign up to be a recurring donor on the spot and offer mobile giving options for donors who are in a generous mood, but no longer carry a checkbook.How are you making it easy for donors to give at the moments they are inspired by your work?
Email is one of the most effective ways to communicate with supporters. But if your emails aren’t reaching inboxes, aren’t sparking interest with a thoughtful subject line, or are too generic, there’s a chance your supporters won’t read them at all. Below are a few tips to help you personalize messages and refine your delivery strategy so that your emails are read (and enjoyed). Customize the “From” fieldThere’s nothing special or memorable about receiving an email from “office” or [email protected] But when you personalize the “From” address to send your campaign from an actual person, such as your executive director or a beneficiary of your work, you’ve taken the first step in creating a relationship with your supporters.Limit your subject line lengthThe perfect subject line length is up for debate. The rule of thumb is a 40 character limit, but some email clients display only the first 25. When in doubt, test across as many email clients as you can, and take a look at your open rates as you test.Perfect subject line copy You’ve got only one chance to make a good first impression. Your email subject lines can show how much you respect your constituents’ busy schedules by telling them exactly what they’ll find inside. Always avoid using ALL CAPS, dollar signs, and exclamation points, all of which will raise flags for spam filters. You should also avoid using words such as “free,” “help,” or “invite.” Try “complimentary,” “assistance,” and “confirm” instead. To increase your email delivery rates further, always use a spam filter test (Constant Contact has a great spam checker!) to scour your email header, subject line, body, and footer.Make it personal Formal salutations like “Dear Sir or Madam” can be appropriate when writing long form letters by hand, but with email, the expectations are less formal. Feel free to address your recipients with a familiar “Hi,” followed by their first name—provided of course that you have followed the email list building best practice of asking for first and last names.Bring it to a closeThe same advice to keep your content personal applies when signing off. Feel free to thank your supporters and be sincere, but remember to sign off with your own name to personalize the email further. Some organizations like to include a small photo of the sender to create an even more personal touch. The email’s closing also provides you with the chance to add one more reminder using a post script (P.S.) to prompt reader action. Be sure to take advantage of this, as it has proven to be one of the most read elements in emails.Test and refineWhen it comes to email marketing to any audience, there is no single proven path to guaranteed success. However, testing and refining your emails will help you better understand your audience and craft messages that raise more money while creating lasting connections.Ready to dive in to professional email marketing? Find out more about Constant Contact and start raising more money for your mission with email marketing. MedSend has raised over half a million online by combiningeffective email marketing with their online fundraising strategy.