Tue, June 30 2015

No Kitties or Puppies. HELP! (Step Two)

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Social Fundraising • Social Media •

Review Step One

Okay, your organization is one of many that can’t use kitty or puppy photos to raise money or recruit volunteers. So what can you do to quickly and effectively connect with the emotions of prospects and supporters?

In Step One of this two-part post, I shared my take on why this type of emotional candy works so well to raise money or recruit volunteers. I cited a reliable litmus test for photo impact—would you share it with your own family and friends, and would they “like” or share it?

Step 2: Make emotional connections and compelling content—if not candy—even without the supercute.

If your organization is not an animal rescue or somehow directly related to puppies, kitties, or babies, these alternatives will be far more effective in helping you forge connections and motivate giving. Most important, they are authentic, relevant expressions, rather than manipulative clickbait.

Here are some recommendations, with examples:

For all causes and organizations: Highlight the similarities between your audiences and your organization’s clients, participants, or beneficiaries.

What sweet moments, when the kids at the Shelter get one of the adults to whisk them away into a book. Among many other...

Posted by Findlay Hope House on Wednesday, June 3, 2015
  • Findlay Hope House does a great job of this on its Facebook page time and time again. Consider the post above, showing kids without homes living in Hope House’s transitional housing.

  • Clearly, we never want anyone to be homeless, much less our own family. The cause has the potential to scare off supporters because of their fear that it could happen to them. Stigma!

  • However, by photographing an older resident (like your grandma or mine) reading to a couple of kids, Hope House busts through and connects us with the residents in a positive way. (I remember when my grandma read to me.)

For policy and intermediary organizations: Connect the dots between your work and the people who are the ultimate beneficiaries.

Have you visited the Children's Museum of Findlay yet? BIG NEWS! The Community Foundation just approved a two-year grant totaling $35,000 to fund a museum educator.

Posted by The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation on Friday, May 22, 2015

Organizations like yours have it even harder when building relationships and motivating action, be it giving or something else. That’s because your work is indirect.

You’re working on legislation related to a cause or supporting other cause organizations. This makes it challenging for prospects to connect emotionally. It takes your audience time and thought to make the connection between your impact and people, which is always a deterrent.

But there is a great method of speeding that vital connection—make the message for your prospects and supporters. Connect the dots between your organization’s work and impact and your ultimate beneficiaries, even if there are layers in between.

  • The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation does a great job of this on its Facebook page, as shown in the post above. Here, the foundation makes it easy to make the connection between its work and the individuals who benefit from its grants for a real “aha!” moment.

  • Get detailed and personal in words and/or photos. The close-up (bottom left) of the little girl focused on drawing is compelling!

  • The details are what sticks (or doesn’t) and make your story memorable and more likely to be shared.

How do you make your organization’s content compelling—beyond kitties, puppies, or babies? Please share your recommendations in the comments!

Review Step One


With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at GettingAttention.org.

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Fri, June 26 2015

Why Your Donors Want to Remain Anonymous

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

It never fails.

When there is a large scale natural disaster, such as the Nepal earthquake, or an event that inspires charitable giving, my media alerts for Network for Good go through the roof. Many donors come to Network for Good’s giving portal to search for nonprofits and quickly make donations online, and reporters often list Network for Good as a way to easily give to charities responding to crises on the ground. We’re proud to facilitate giving to nonprofits across the country, including $1 million in donations for Nepal earthquake relief efforts.

In some cases, though, the press also features our giving portal as a good option for donors who wish to remain anonymous. Of course, there are many reasons a donor might want to remain anonymous, but the reason most cited in these articles is because these donors want to avoid getting on a nonprofit’s email list and being “spammed” by the organization, or worse, by other organizations who have purchased the list.

Ugh.

Friends, if this is a primary reason for our donors’ anonymity, we’re doing it wrong.

As you collect, grow, and manage your donor list, think about how you communicate with your donors. Are you welcoming them into a personal relationship with your organization or causing them to run and hide?

Let donors choose how and how often they hear from you. Give your supporters control over how they get information from you and the frequency of those communications. Many times, the fact that you are offering this control will make donors more likely to want to be on your list. And yes, if they decide to opt out or remain anonymous, you must respect that decision.

Let them know what to expect. When donors give or when supporters sign up for your newsletter, let them know what’s in it for them and what they can expect from your organization. These are important pieces of your nonprofit’s brand promise and will affect how people feel about your organization.

Have a strategic communication plan.  Many nonprofits make communications missteps because they haven’t taken the time to think through their strategy for reaching out to their constituents. Before you send another email, sit down and figure out your organization’s rules around communication frequency, content, and segmentation. If it doesn’t meet your criteria, don’t send it.

Be mindful of your thank to ask ratio.  This should also be part of your outreach strategy. Lynne Wester, The Donor Relations Guru, has a smart post about this very concept.

Keep donor information sacred. It’s not just good list hygiene and, in most cases, the law—it’s the right thing to do. Do unto others’ email addresses as you would have them do unto yours.

Being transparent and respectful in your communications will encourage more of your supporters to share more of themselves with you. Plus, you’ll help the rest of us look good, as well.

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Wed, June 24 2015

Recurring Giving Challenge Lessons Learned: Storytelling Wins

Annika Pettitt's avatar

Customer Success Manager, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fun stuff •

A great story puts your kid to bed at night and makes you watch that next episode as you confirm, bleary-eyed, with Netflix that, yes, you are indeed still watching. Stories are what connect us to other people and, most important, motivate us to act. As a nonprofit, stories are the best tool in your arsenal to connect with supporters and empower them to act.

We see it time and again that the organizations raising money and finding new donors are the ones that have mastered the art of storytelling. The winners of our Recurring Giving Challenge proved this with unique stories and a commitment to telling them authentically.

Take a look at the great stories three challenge winners used:

Raju the elephant

Wildlife SOS: Perhaps the most famous story from our leaderboard is that of Raju. Last July, Wildlife SOS made international headlines when it rescued Raju the elephant. The videos of the Raju rescue went viral, and Wildlife SOS saw a huge influx of interest and supporters. Donations remained strong during our challenge period, which resulted in Wildlife SOS bringing in the most new monthly donors!

VETPAW

VETPAW: The only organization to place on both of our leaderboards, VETPAW tells the story of its founder and his dual passions for animal conservation and national service. With equal commitments to providing meaningful employment for U.S. veterans and conserving critically endangered wildlife in East Africa, VETPAW has the challenge of telling two stories—that of Ryan Tate, the organization’s founder, who witnessed his fellow veterans being underemployed after their service, and the story of rangers in East Africa who risk life and limb to protect wildlife. These two powerful stories are not immediately similar, but they shine when linked by the founder’s passion and the organization’s ability to tell them in compelling ways.

Friends of Refugees

Friends of Refugees: Join the story. That’s the simple call to action from Friends of Refugees. The simple conceit is that refugees are not statistics—they’re people with stories; people who, when empowered with opportunities, become so much more than numbers in a news report. By telling the organization’s story powerfully and visually, Friends of Refugees gives a face to masses of international refugees and empowers donors who are far removed from the mission to see their role in the renewal of these refugee communities. Take a look at their simple yet powerful video asking supporters to join the story.

Need some inspiration to tell your organization’s story? Download our Storytelling Guide now!

Storytelling eGuide
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Tue, June 23 2015

No Kitties or Puppies. HELP! (Step One)

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Social Fundraising • Social Media •

cats

View Step Two

Ooh! Aah! Who can resist the cuteness of kitty or puppy photos like this one?

Don’t feel silly for loving them. It’s human nature. In fact, photos like the one on this page are such tasty emotional candy that every bite takes folks one step closer to a donation.

But if your organization can’t rely on kitty, puppy or baby photos most of the time (and that’s most of us), what can you do?

Here are two practical, proven steps:

Step 1: Consider what makes kitty and puppy photos so delicious and so effective for nonprofits.

I’m no psychologist, so I turned to the Interwebs for the answer—and I learned absolutely nothing. That’s right. I couldn’t find any definitive research behind the why.

What I do know is this:

People share photos of their pets. It’s just what we do, the same way we share photos of our kids or gardens.

  • We’ve been sharing these photos for a long time, way before Facebook and Instagram.
  • Our families and friends share the same kind of photos with us.

Even if you don’t have pets or kids, it’s easy to appreciate the cuteness of someone else’s. These images are upbeat and nonthreatening.

Which leads me to this why-didn’t-I-think-of-it litmus test for compelling content from ActionSprout founder and CEO Drew Barnard:

“Before you post anything, ask yourself, ‘Would I share this? Would I want this piece of content associated with my Facebook persona?’ If the answer is no, go back to the well and create or curate something new.”

So, make sure your photos are something you’d share with your family and personal friends. And put this at the top of your “compelling content” checklist!

View Step Two


With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at GettingAttention.org.

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Mon, June 22 2015

5 Ways to Recruit Passionate Fundraisers

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Social Fundraising •

Giving is social.

Study after study shows that people are more likely to give when asked by someone they know. Social connections and personal ties are strong drivers of behavior, and charitable giving is no exception. So how do you inspire your supporters to spread the word and raise funds on your behalf? Try these five ideas for recruiting passionate fundraisers who will help you reach new donors and bring in more donations.

Tap into your board. Help your board fulfill their give or get commitment by making it easy for them to launch their own personal fundraising page. Your board members are passionate about your work, and they likely have the most influence over a larger network.

Leverage your volunteers. Ask your volunteers to help you spread your message via social media and their personal connections. Their dedication to your work is the kind of inspiration that will make others want to join in.

Let donors do more. Once a donor gives, invite them to share your work with others and encourage them to create a personal fundraising page to help reach your goals. In most cases, the contributions they bring in will far eclipse their original donation. The trick is to make it super simple for them to do.

Turn your events into challenges. Whether you host a large annual event, an open house, or are just celebrating a milestone, give event attendees the ability to raise funds before and during the event. Everyone likes a little healthy competition: offer special incentives, recognition, or access to those who bring in the most dollars or donors.

Encourage personal stories. Most of your supporters have a personal connection to the work you do. Offer the opportunity for them to share what your cause means to them with a personalized fundraising page. These stories are likely more powerful than your existing marketing materials and will go a long way in breaking through the noise in a crowded inbox or Facebook feed.

Ready to put these ideas into action? I’ll help you make sure you have a solid plan in place in this week’s free webinar. Tomorrow, I’ll share more tips on creating an effective social fundraising campaign that will help you turn your donors into fundraisers. 

Register now to join the session. (Can’t attend? No worries. Register anyway and I’ll make sure you get the slides and the recording.)

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