Signed, Sealed, Delivered
I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a house that really prioritized thank you notes. There were other things that were stressed, but I think writing thank you notes was one of the most important lessons that my mom instilled in us. She made writing thank you notes enjoyable—good note cards, fun pens, festive stamps. And she also saved the particularly nice or well written or beautiful thank you notes she received.
I think there is a great lesson that non-profits can learn from my mom (well, there are many lessons you can learn from her, but this one is particularly fitting). If someone makes a donation of time or money to your organization, you should send a thank you note.
- Consider asking board members to write thank you notes (yes, this is the online marketing and fundraiser in me suggesting handwritten notes sent offline) to major donors, sustaining donors, or first time donors.
- Set aside 20 minutes during your next board meeting and supply the names and mailing addresses of folks who would be a good fit for a handwritten note. I received one from another organization last month and was so pleased that there was no ask in the note, just a plain and simple thank you. This really stuck with me.
- Make sure your donation auto-responder is alive and well. Double check that it is visually pleasing, and provides an overview of what will be done with a donation. Make your overview tangible and very specific (“We’ll serve 71 guests dinner with your gift.”)
- Consider the timeline of your note. Use the one year anniversary of someone becoming a sustaining donor to thank them, or perhaps sending them an e-card thank you note on their birthday.
- Thank people over social media! If an organization gives an in kind gift, tag the group in a photo or tweet. If someone becomes a sustaining donor or a first time donor, ask to tag them and put a real face on the people who are helping to support your organization.
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I wear my Millennial identity on my sleeve.
I’m a proud member of the American generation born between 1980 and 2000, and thus am slightly fascinated by research done on my peers.
The latest chapter in my Millennial research reading spree came in the form of the third annual Millennial Impact Report. In addition to having a very well formatted website and some catchy social media content, the study itself is useful to nonprofits looking to engage those in their 20s and 30s in advocacy and fundraising.
You can download the full report here. You can also participate in a virtual conference (sounds fun since I think you can wear PJs and not be judged) on July 19.
Here’s a few of the stats from the 2012 report and my take on how they’ll impact your online strategy:
- Millennials reported that their biggest pet peeve is not knowing how a gift will make a difference. You can easily prevent this from happening by having clear giving categories on your donation form to inform donors before they donate ($150 will purchase one vaccine, etc.)
- The 2012 report found that 77% of millennials surveyed have smartphones. This is a great reminder to make sure your website is optimized for mobile browsing and your forms look good on a tiny screen.
- 65% of the crowd surveyed report that they like to learn about nonprofits on the web, and 55% say they’re into learning about nonprofits via social media. This is just one more reason to give some TLC to your website and social media strategy. Mobile is important, but don’t leave your website in the dust!
- I was slightly saddened to learn that 40% of millennials surveyed had never been asked to serve on a board. What better way to get inside the brains (and hearts) of the under 35 team by inviting them into a leadership role? Consider bringing on a group of three of four millennials onto your board together so they have buddies (and don’t feel like the token kid invited to sit with the adults).
- And my favorite stat of all: 70% of millennials made donations to non-profits online in 2011. And when asked which method they preferred (online, in person, snail mail), millennials chose the web. So keep reading Connection Café to soak up all this online fundraising goodness…
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5 (More) Election Planning Tips
Did you catch Amber Wobschall’s post about tips for the upcoming election? Since Amber is my inspiration for most things, I thought I’d follow her lead and present five more.
So here are five (additional) tips to help get your strategy ready for election season.
6. Get Engaged. Your constituents are beginning to think about how they can be involved in election season. Publicize volunteer opportunities of all shapes and sizes (including some gigs that don’t require leaving one’s house, such as guest blogging or tweeting) so you can cultivate new leaders in your community. Competition for constituents’ time will just increase as we get closer to November, so move this item to the top of your to-do list.
7. Be Subjective. Make sure your email subject lines set your messages apart from all of the other email they’ll be getting in the coming months. Leverage your status as an organization who will be working on important issues before, during, and after the election to help you stand out.
8. Join Up. Many non-profit organizations choose to devote their electoral resources to participation in a coalition. If you haven’t considered the team approach to election season organization, now’s the time! You’ll get great exposure to like minded people and spread the work out a bit as you share the burden with additional staff. Don’t forget to nail down branding and list sharing details before you get started!
9. Back to Basics. If you play your cards right, you will get some new housefile members through your online activities. Make sure your welcome series is set up so you make the most of your new found fans. This is a good opportunity to check out your donation forms and make sure they’re in good shape, too (remove those unnecessary fields!) and ensure that your housefile opt in button is easy to find (above the fold).
10. Say No. This is not directly related to online strategy, but remember to take care of yourself during the next few months. Schedules will get busy and timelines will be short, but as my college advisor used to say, “When you say no to others, say yes to yourself.” The same goes for organizing around an election—take care of yourself!
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I know, I know. You’re not sure what to put in that big open space at the top of the new Facebook layout.
Well, I’ve come to the rescue. I’ve pulled together three ideas from Convio clients who are rocking and rolling with the new format.
Before I jump in, here’s a quick overview of what the story is with the new format if you have no idea what I’m talking about. Facebook Fan Pages (the format used for non-profit organizations) feature a fancy timeline feature and a wide open space at the top for an image… or a call to action… or a screen shot… or something else! The format became mandatory for all fan pages on March 31. Beth Kanter provided some great information about the change on her blog.
So, this new format presents you with a great opportunity to make your organization’s Facebook page more engaging and visually appealing. Here is what other folks are doing… get inspired!
Oxfam America is using an image from a video they just released as the banner on their Facebook page. How much do you love these animals dining on a fancy dinner? You’re prompted to scroll to their wall to learn more about the video as soon as you see the banner image!
I love the way the image that the San Diego Zoo is using on their banner is seamlessly blended with their profile icon image. Cute, right?
Is it me, or are infographics more hip than significant glasses or unnecessary scarves? The National Partnership for Women and Families has created this handy infographic to kick off their festivities for Equal Pay Day.
Bonus fourth item…
The Sierra Club is using their banner graphic to provide a menu of engagement opportunities atop their Facebook page. Don’t you just want to sign up and have as much fun as that girl with the hard hat? Me too.
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Pathfinder and Pancakes!
Today’s "Behind the Convio Admin Curtain" installment is full of juicy Convio best practices, and even a restaurant recommendation for stellar chocolate chip pancakes right outside Boston. Read on to learn how Jamie-Alexis Fowler pushed fundraising goals to bring in more dollars for Pathfinder International and leveraged the services of Convio’s Strategy team to amplify her organization’s message.
PS—We call ourselves Convions, but I’ll take Convio-ers too!
EG for CC: What’s your elevator pitch about what Pathfinder does?
JAF: Pathfinder provides women, men, and adolescents with a range of quality reproductive health services—from contraception and maternal care to HIV prevention and AIDS care and treatment. Reproductive health is critical to giving people everywhere the ability to make choices about their lives. When a woman has access to reproductive health care, she can make choices about her body and her future—and that leads to more choices about staying in school, starting a business, or perhaps pursuing a role in local government.
EG for CC: How do you describe your role at the organization to friends at parties?
JAF: I handle our public relations and online communications. So pretty much anything online--website, Twitter, email--as well as our outreach to media.
EG for CC: Of Convio’s array of online resources, what have you found most useful?
JAF: Pathfinder has been a Convio client for many years and having worked at Pathfinder for nearly five of those, I've used quite a few of Convio's resources! I've found the survey tool quite useful for Pathfinder's online work, whether for building our 'Contact Us' section of the website, or establishing RSVPs for events. I'm also a fan of the email tools. From setting up an email send, to running reports, to establishing various email series (ie, a Welcome Series), I've always found it pretty easy to use and effective in meeting our needs.
EG for CC: Please share a few random (unrelated to Pathfinder and Convio) facts about yourself (a fave destination in Boston, perhaps?)...
JAF: I absolutely am obsessed with chocolate chip pancakes from the Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown, MA (near Pathfinder's office). Not only have they formed the basis of many post-training run breakfasts, they have also become an integral part of our weekly website overhaul breakfast meeting.
EG for CC: What are you most proud of regarding your use of Convio with Pathfinder?
JAF: Two projects using Convio that I'm most proud of are: Girl2Woman.org, a microsite that we developed on Pagebuilder, and our online fundraising. Girl2Woman.org started as a small idea to raise awareness about the importance of sexual and reproductive health care throughout a woman's life. It turned into our most successful constituent engagement and list-building campaign. Outreach utilizing Girl2Woman.org skyrocketed our organic registration rates drove our Facebook following to record numbers.
In terms of online fundraising, Convio's tools have helped Pathfinder meet goals that a few years ago, many on our team would have thought impossible. For instance, our 2011 end of year online fundraising campaign brought in what we raised over the course of the entire year in 2007. We have a long way to go, since Pathfinder has a smaller individual donor base than other groups of our size, but we're pretty proud of what we've accomplished so far!
EG for CC: Share an anecdote about a project or specific campaign you worked on through Convio that was particularly exciting or interesting or productive.
JAF: We did our first online matching gift campaign, 'Two Months, Twice the Difference,' in 2009 with a goal of reaching $25,000. Some staff were nervous that we had set our goal too high and were worried we wouldn't be able to do it in only two months. We ended up raising nearly $25,000 one month in and raised the goal to $35K! In part, the success of that campaign was due to the great help we had from Convio providing strategy and advice. Based on that initial success, last fall, we held our third online matching gift initiative, raising a whopping $80,000, not to mention that the match was a $2 for $1!
EG for CC: If you had advice to share for a new Convio admin, what would it be?
JAF: Save, save, and save! I learned early working in Convio products that if you're in the midst of something--an email, a page edit, etc--that if a colleague pops by your office, or a Skype chat distracts you for a few minutes, you will likely lose your work! Convio's security is great to protect access to your information, but it can also spell trouble if you don't save early and save often!
EG for CC: One secret tip or trick you’ve picked up along the way related to the Convio platform…
JAF: That Convio staff are among the best. Any time I have ever had a concern, needed help, wanted a new product feature, or am curious about the best way to do something, I know I can always reach an amazing Convio staff person. It is a treat to catch up with Convio-ers (if that's a word!) at the Convio Summit or even just a friendly chat on the phone. Their enthusiasm for helping nonprofits achieve their missions, and their friendliness in helping us all do it, are pretty much unparrallelled in my experience!
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