We've moved!

You will be automatically redirected in 15 seconds or you can click here.

Thank you for visiting Connection Café. We’ve recently relocated to our new home, npENGAGE. You can find our latest content, as well as our full archives, on npengage.com.

Thanks again and we look forward to seeing you on npENGAGE!

Blog Posts

3 Welcome Series Timing Tips

Posted by Jennifer Atkins at Jun 20, 2012 06:16 AM CDT
Categories: Email Marketing, Nonprofit Trends, NPtech

Rather than immediately including new constituents in all your regular online communications and appeals, using an email welcome series gives you additional control over your constituent communications. Below are a few items related to timing that you will need to keep in mind when planning your email welcome series.

  1. Filter your messages. The last thing you want to do is include a new constituent in a fundraising campaign immediately after they signed up to receive emails. Remove new constituents from the regular flow of email communications, and send them several introductory messages in a staggered, or ”drip,” fashion. This approach will enable you to control the timing of your messages, as well as your first ask.
  2. Experiment with timing. You can control the number of days (or weeks) that elapse between messages. Play around with the frequency, and review your metrics to help you determine the optimal timing. Some organizations find that an email welcome series of one message every two weeks for two months is effective, whereas others prefer weekly messages over a period of a month. 
  3. Set it and forget it. Online solutions allow you to create the initial welcome series and automate the rest of the process. This feature saves administrative time and effort. Of course, you can tweak the email message content and images or add new messages as needed. 

After the constituent has received all of the emails in the welcome series, they can be added to your larger list and receive the regular communications sent by your organization.

Read "Creating an Email Welcome Series" for more tips on greeting your new constituents with style.

| | Article Link | Comment

Online 3rd Party Fundraising Done Right

Posted by Robyn Mendez at Jun 14, 2012 10:43 AM CDT
Categories: Content Management, Fundraising, Nonprofit Trends, Usability

In recent weeks, I’ve been hearing more and more interest from event fundraisers on providing online tools to support their third-party or Independent Fundraising Events (IFE.) This topic came up earlier this month at the Run Walk Ride Roundtable discussions in Chicago. You can read more about that discussion along with some tips on how to get your own IFE brand started from my friend Nancy Palo on the Friends Asking Amy blog.

Traditionally, most orgs have only provided support to these types of events using offline channels alone. Typically, the fundraising group signs an agreement, gets permission to use the org’s name/logo in promotional materials and maybe if the event is large enough, maybe a staffer would show up to accept the large check.

As online fundraising has grown in popularity and as traditional run walk ride events have adopted sophisticated online fundraising tools like TeamRaiser or Friends Asking Friends, we’ve seen a trend where third-party fundraisers are now requesting (or demanding) access to similar online fundraising tools to support their independent fundraising event campaigns. When done right, these types of online campaigns can provide a nice complement (and a revenue stream) to your overall peer-to-peer fundraising strategy by providing individuals who are not interested in your traditional staff-driven events with alternative ways to support your organization by hosting their own style of fundraiser. 

With all the talk about IFE’s in the air, I wanted highlight one of my favorite orgs, WaterCan, who is using TeamRaiser to help bring online fundraising to their third party fundraisers.

WaterCan Homepage

WaterCan is a Canadian organization committed to fighting global poverty by providing access to clean water, basic sanitation and hygene education. They worked with Cathexis Partners to develop an extremely visually compelling website that promotes several types of IFEs; highlights include a 25th Anniversary Campaign (pictured), Kilimanjaro Climbing Event, Donate Your Special Day and (my personal favorite) the Board Challenge. If publically displaying a photo of your board members next to their fundraising totals doesn’t motivate them to fundraise, I’m not sure what will.

There are so many things I love about this website that it’s hard to only pick 2-3 to share with you... so I limited myself to 4. 

  1. Stunning Graphic Design– This site is beautiful and easy to navigate. They have successfully used compelling and moving photography paired with limited text to create a positive, easy user experience that communicates their mission in a loving, respectful way.
  2. Smart Use of Fundraising Stats - I love how they have displayed their fundraising statistics to include not only their campaign goals and total campaign fundraising, but also how many people have been helped by that fundraising total. Tying fundraising back to the mission of your organization is smart way to motivate your fundraisers. As if it wasn’t smart enough to connect fundraising to their mission, WaterCan has also created a sense of urgency with these stats by including how many days are remaining in the campaign.
  3. Clear Calls to Action – This site has visually distinguished their calls to action by using bold fonts on yellow buttons/backgrounds. It’s obvious on the screen at a glance where I should click to Donate, Get Involve and Share on Social Media. They use these same visual cues for the secondary calls to action, which appear below the fold and drive me toward the other fundraising opportunities on the site or to an imbedded federal petition.
  4. What? Did she say federal petition?! Oh yes!! - These guys have done a great job of incorporating the spirit their mission into their website by imbedding an advocacy widget into their fundraising website that asks fundraisers if they would like petition the Canadian government to increase funding for Canada’s foreign water projects. Providing your fundraisers with options like this furthers your mission and deepens the relationships that your fundraisers or donors will have to your org leading to more involvement (and fundraising) in the future.  In my eyes, it's a win-win for you and them!  

Interested in learning more about third-party fundraising / Independent Fundraising Events?  Check out our whitepaper on How to Raise More Money with IFEs.

| | Article Link | Comment

Integration for the (quick) win

Posted by Sara Spivey at Jun 12, 2012 08:10 AM CDT
Categories: NPtech, Technology

What are the three most important factors to a successful integration? Speed, speed and speed.

With our heads down and noses to the grindstone, we’ve taken that mantra very seriously for the past month. And we’re finally ready to (briefly) come up for air and share our first results with you.

Our “quick wins” integration initiative is doing exactly what it was intended to do – identify and execute on actions that in extremely short order can improve your ability to serve your mission. Our quick wins include

  • Integrate Raiser’s Edge and Luminate Online to smooth the process, reduce constituent duplicates and improve data quality, for release in Q1 2013.
  • Extend complimentary Data Health Check to Convio products by Q4 2012.
  • Improve data warehousing and reporting offering for large direct marketers in Q3 2012.
  • Enable Blackbaud Merchant Services for Convio customers by Q1 2013.
  • Combine bbcon and Convio Summit for 2012.

Each one is exciting in its own right and I’m sure that list has only whet your curiosity whistle. Hop on over to our product blog, Blackbaud KnowHow, or watch this short video by our Senior VP of Products and Marketing, Jana Eggers, to learn more. And please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below or through the form on our integration web page.

| | Article Link | Comment

Still More Tips for Election Planning

Posted by Sally Heaven at Jun 11, 2012 11:10 AM CDT
Categories: Advocacy, NPtech

Puppies blah blahAmber and Emily gave us Five Tips and then Five More Tips for election year planning efforts.  I'm scampering onto the bandwagon to continue the conversation with a look specifically about making sure your organization can stay relevant between now and Election Day.

An election year in the USA - especially a Presidential election year - always takes up a lot of bandwidth. On TV, in the mail, on the phones, in the inbox, not to mention in your Facebook and Twitter feeds.  And people actually speaking to each other - aka word of mouth. That means your organization is competing for attention, and you’ll have to work even harder to make sure your messages are relevant and engaging. The goal is to be heard above the noise.

Of course, while the entire USA is affected by election seasons and their outcomes, the actual election itself will impact some organizations more than others. Depending on the type of organization you are, your activities will necessarily take one direction or another.  Here's a brief list of the most common types of nonprofit organizations:

  • Political Action Committee (PAC) - Endorse candidates and issue campaigns, give money directly to campaigns. PAC activity and communication about endorsements is governed by the Federal Election Commission, and communication is usually limited to people who are considered “members” of the organization. This is usually defined by a monetary contribution within a specific period of recency. PACs can communicate directly to their members about their endorsements and encourage members to volunteer on behalf of candidates.
  • 501(c)4 - Advocate to Congress, legislative bodies and members to influence decisions on policy issues and bills. 501(c)4 organizations also have a vested interest in what candidates are elected, based on the candidates’ support or opposition to the organization’s key issues and legislation.
  • 501(c)3 Public education with 1/5 time allowed to be spent on direct advocacy. 501(c)3 organizations are often described as Foundations. Their primary purpose is for education, and they can also engage in a limited amount of issue advocacy.

A good resource for more information about the different types of nonprofits is the Alliance for Justice, an organization that works with nonprofits to provide guidance about electoral and lobbying laws.

In general election cycles are becoming longer and longer, and that means the most creative and engaging content delivered at the right time is key to grabbing people's attention. If your issues are front and center and the candidates are talking about them, then you have additional opportunity to engage your constituents. That means you need to be ready to engage in rapid response.

So not only do you need to have engaging and relevant content, but you also need to be able to deploy quickly. Online channels, including email, text messaging and social media, are the best way to respond rapidly to the 24-hour news cycle. Allow me to mix some metaphors:  look before you leap, then grab the bull by the horns and strike while the iron is hot.

How does your organization make sure you're heard above the noise? Tell us in the comments!

| | Article Link | Comment

E-books for Social Strategy

E-books and e-readers are a growing part of the attention ecosystem. Long-form journalism is finding new legs through social recommendation (#longform, #longreads) and time-shifting apps. Nonprofits struggling to communicate complex issues in 140 characters can benefit from deploying e-books and other long-form content as part of a thoughtful mobile and social media strategy.

Who is reading?

Owners of e-reading devices have similar profiles to audiences most nonprofits are trying to reach for fundraising. According to a recent report from the Pew Internet & American Life report, The Rise of E-Reading:

Compared with all Americans 16 and older, “e-reading device owners” are more likely to live in high income households and have more educational experience, and are also much more likely to be more tech-savvy in general… more likely to read in general, and to read a book on a typical day… more avid readers of newspapers and magazines than other Americans, and are more likely to read long-form content of any kind for pleasure. (emphasis mine)

29% of Americans age 18 and older own at least one specialized device for e-book reading – either a tablet or an e-book reader.

Also, it bears stating the obvious: smartphones are also e-readers. Don't think of e-books as being read exclusively by owners of dedicated e-readers like the Kindle or Nook, but instead think of any mobile screen. The audience for an e-book may be larger than you thought. 

What content makes sense?

As chronicled in Forbes.com and elsewhere, long-form writing on the web is making a comeback. Many readers are using time-shifting apps to collect web content and read it later. In addition to purposefully written longer articles on your website, e-books are an opportunity to reach your audience with long-form content. Examples of content that could be produced in e-book format or targeted to long-form readers include:

  • Strategic planning documents (audience: potential board members, funders)
  • Annual reports (audience: board members, major donors, individual donors)
  • How to guides for volunteers
  • Action kits for activists
  • Extended versions of stories you already tell in abbreviated form: people your organization has helped, backstories on issues, extended interviews with volunteers, etc.
  • Compilations of blog articles on a particular topic, such as work in a particular country or region, or stories related to a particular event. See this recent tweet from the White House, linking to a #longform article about the Joplin tornados.

Depending on the organization, other opportunities may present themselves. For example, distributing an exclusive work (or excerpt) by a well-known author in e-book format may be a way to generate donations or signups. Furthermore, new outlets for long-form journalism (Atavist, Longform.org, Longreads, MatterPostDesk (UK), among others), should be part of your media planning.

TheNextWeb.com blogger Alex Wilhelm writes that "Long-form content is headed back to the business model of the pamphlet, with short works selling at low price points and in large quantity." According to Wilhelm, the key success factors for e-books are: locational convenience, formatting, and curation.

"By locational convenience I mean that people [with e-readers] often use them where they lack an Internet connection (the train). Therefore, to have something downloaded and ready to go is a real value. In regards to formatting, most ereading devices have browsing capabilities, but that doesn’t mean that they render pages well, or quickly. A well formatted ebook has none of those issues. Finally, curation means that things are assembled in a very specific way to give a cohesive and user-friendly experience."

An example of this kind of content curation is veteran nonprofit blogger Colin Delany's recent e-book, How Campaigns Can Use the Internet to Win in 2012, available in Kindle-optimized format via Amazon.com, and as a free PDF.

Why is formatting important?

As a consumer (not a standards expert), my experience is that PDF meets only the minimal requirements to be called an e-book, mainly for reasons of usability. While almost every e-reader can display PDFs, the end-user has no control over text size, background color, pagination, and other aspects of the the reading experience that make e-books a compelling medium. This is especially true for smartphones (currently your largest potential e-reader audience), where reading PDFs is possible but very tedious, with each page requiring zooming and scrolling.

How to publish an e-book?

Unfortunately, there isn't one publication standard that works across all e-readers. The major purveyors of e-book platforms (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble) all want to make it easy for you to produce content, and make it sound as easy as uploading HTML or Word Documents. Because Amazon.com has the largest audience of e-readers, many independent publishers with limited time and energy are going the route of publishing in Amazon's Kindle-optimized format. One of the long-form content aggregators mentioned above, Atavist, offers a publication platform that looks promising.

If you are looking for deeper examination of the fragmented state of e-book publication standards, Nick Disabato fires a #longform broadside from A List Apart in two parts: the current state, and a look to the future. Nonprofits with limited resources would certainly benefit from industry adoption of standards as he urges.

Are you already making use of e-books and #longform content? Please let us know in the comments.

| | Article Link | Comment

Items 31 - 35 of 783  Previous12345678910Next




Subscribe to the RSS feed

Subscribe to receive posts via email:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Convio Clients

Get answers to product questions, join "Birds of a Feather" discussions and more. Join the Online Community

Convio on YouTube

Alltop, all the top stories

NTEN member


Blogs We're Following