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Blog Posts

Content Management

3 Ways to Get Creative About List-Building

Posted by Jennifer Atkins at May 29, 2012 09:08 AM CDT
Categories: Content Management, Email Marketing, Fundraising, NPtech, Social Media

Keeping your email list alive and kicking is one of the keys to a successful online marketing program. It's critical to develop a sound strategy for growing and maturing your house file and to always incorporate best practices in your day-to-day management. But attrition is inevitable, so I want to share a few creative tricks to give your list building an extra boost.

Here are three types of campaigns that will not only keep your constituents engaged, but encourage them to generate new supporters from their own network of family and friends.

1. Pledge or Petition Campaign

Constituents and prospects show their support by signing a pledge or petition and then forwarding information about the campaign to their family and friends. To sign the pledge, request that they complete a simple online registration form, providing your organization with contact information and the opportunity to continue the dialog.

2. Social Fundraising

With the integrated social tools now available through modern fundraising solutions such as Convio Common Ground®, your supporters are empowered to tap into their networks to raise awareness for your cause, start conversations, fundraise through sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn and even promote peer-to-peer fundraising events. Donations and sign-ups are automatically captured into your house file.

3. Download Campaigns

An email with a downloadable offer, such as a tip sheet, research report, resource guide or case study, offers the reader something of value in exchange for their contact information.

For more house file tips and best practices, download our Grow Your House File with a List-Building Campaign tip sheet.

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The Imperfect Storm

Posted by Guest Blogger at May 23, 2012 01:21 PM CDT
Categories: Advocacy, Constituent Empowerment, Content Management, Nonprofit Trends, NPtech

This post was written by Marc Chardon and Hal Williams. It was orginally featured on The Huffington Post, May 18, 2012.

The storm, for nonprofit organizations, is fully brewed. The demand for services is up; contributions have barely regained their pre-recession levels; government funding is way off; and expenses are rising. We are tempted to call this a perfect storm.

This turmoil, however, is actually imperfect. Although it's tempting to blame the economic downturn for all that ails nonprofits and charitable giving, the reality is that the current uncertainty is the new normal.

There are five key shifts affecting the environment for nonprofits that have co-mingled with the economy to create the potential for continued rough times if organizations don't change:

Donors are dramatically changing what they want from philanthropy. The fundraising appeals that used to bring in record donations no longer work, even in a stronger economy. Smart nonprofits want the check writer, not just the check.

Contributors increasingly shift from funding programs to investing in results. They are less interested in how many are served, than in how many are improved. Soon, information on nonprofit effectiveness will trump information on efficiency and even sustainability.

Many donors have moved from a desire to support multiple groups working on a single issue to investing more in the specific organization that produces the strongest result. Blending in for nonprofits is now less useful than standing out.

Donors want to see data, not just hear a few stories. Donors want to see data showing impact beyond the few stories that can be told. They will use the same business sense that they used to make their money in deciding how to give it away.

Execution of programs no longer defines the results. The shift is from the program to the participants and how these individuals make progress toward improving their lives and conditions. A great predictor of success lays in the extent to which a person engages in his or her own achievement.

Nonprofits cannot ride out this storm. They have to find a way to succeed within it. Put differently, we are not interested in how groups manage in tough times. Too often, that is about staying afloat. We are focused, instead, on how these groups thrive in a new reality, which is defined as both having a destination and reaching it.

So we begin the conversation, and we hope you'll join in. In the posts that follow, we'll dive deeper into our take on how to navigate the imperfect storm, organizing our thoughts as a response to the five shifts noted above. In all cases, our responses share one premise: that loosening up is better than hunkering down.





Marc Chardon is CEO of Blackbaud, Inc., a global software and services provider for nonprofits.





Hal Williams is the former CEO of The Rensselaerville Institute and currently an Outcome Guide who has helped foundations and nonprofits both large and small use an outcome-based approach.



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Keep your eyes on the KPIs

Posted by Alissa Ruehl at May 23, 2012 06:17 AM CDT
Categories: Content Management, Fundraising, NPtech, Productivity

Last month I pointed out a few of the ways you can use Google analytics, or other web analytics tools, to gain a better understanding of your audience. The next step is to keep track of changes to audience and audience behavior. Your audience can change over time, or change behaviors as they adapt to new technology. Adjustments to your website can affect your visitor behavior as well.

One great way to keep track of these elements without getting bogged down in all of the data in a web analytics tool is to set goals around online Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These are simply measurable data points that give insight into your online success. Some common examples are:

  • Number of visitors
  • Visit frequency
  • Time spent on site
  • Page views per visitor
  • Percent of new visits and percent of repeat visits
  • Percent of visits from your target geography
  • Mailing list signups
  • Event registrations
  • Donations
Sometimes you will want to make your KPIs more granular. Rather than simply “donations” you might choose to track general donations and donations to a special fun separately, giving you 2 different donation KPIs.

You will always want to focus on more than KPI, because one data point will never tell you the whole picture. However, too many will just be overwhelming. Typically, you’ll want to get started with 4-6 KPIs.

KPIFor each data point you will want to ask yourself “How does this affect my organization’s success?” If there is a clear connection, for example “an increase in visitors means more people are reading about this issue we want to generate awareness around”, then you have found a good metric. Sometimes you might find your answer references another data point, like “more visitors means more people will sign up for our event.” In that case you should skip straight to the important metric and use event signups as a KPI instead.

Finally, create a process to track your KPIs, starting with your initial benchmark and then focusing on any movements up and down over time. Monthly reporting is sufficient for most organizations, although some prefer weekly. Another alternative is to track before and after snapshots when any major events happen, such as changes to the website, an acquisition campaign, or a direct mail drop intended to drive traffic to the website.

Industry benchmarks around your KPIs can be helpful for understanding what you need to improve, but the best insight comes from looking at the changes over time of your own KPIs, both in the short term and over quarters and years.

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Prepared for Change

Posted by Danielle Johnson-Vermenton at May 21, 2012 10:13 AM CDT
Categories: Content Management, Data Integration, NPtech, Productivity

As we join the Blackbaud team, many things are staying constant. For example, our continued commitment to our clients. However other things are naturally changing and will continue to evolve as we form our new team. These last few weeks I’ve taken time to pause and reflect. How am I prepared for change? Can I be nimble and adjust?

When thinking about your organization are you prepared for the unexpected? Do you have a change management plan? Too often development and marketing professionals are focused on getting the gift, pitching the story, making a call, but we need to step back and assess our readiness for change.

  • Are staff cross trained? Is the Online Philanthropy Manager the only one who knows how to create and send an email? How are statistics being pulled for Foundation reports?
  • Are policies and procedures written down? Who knows the coding structure in your donor database? What is the procedure for acknowledgement letters?
  • Is the annual plan written down? Is there a chart that outlines drop dates for print publications? Launch dates for online campaigns?
  • How is donor stewardship handled? Is there a matrix that lists giving levels and activities?
  • What is the communication plan for a major change in leadership? If the Vice President of Development leaves, how will that be communicated? What donors will need to be contacted immediately?

So many questions, but if you spend time now outlining the plans, procedures and details you will be prepared and save time when change does happen. And saving time on details like this will ultimately save money, create stability and enable you to concentrate on the mission.

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Seven Deadly Mobile Myths

Posted by Lacey Kruger at May 14, 2012 01:10 PM CDT
Categories: Content Management, NPtech, Technology, Usability

Mobile MythsWhen you think about someone accessing your nonprofit website from a mobile device, how do you picture them? I can imagine you’re thinking of someone who is in a hurry, maybe standing in line somewhere, at the airport or in a car. While that’s probably the case with a lot of your mobile audience, it’s not always true.

I heard a great talk at the IA Summit a few weeks ago that debunked many ideas and assumptions we’ve made about mobile context. As a designer of mobile experiences, I too am guilty of these assumptions. Josh Clark, the presenter, defined the 7 Deadly Mobile Myths as follows. You can also download the slides from his presentation here.

  1. Mobile users are rushed and distracted

    Per my illustration above, it’s easy to think of mobile users as always on-the-go but the reality is that people access the mobile web in many contexts like when they’re lying on the couch or trying to kill time on a 3 hour travel layover. Josh cited a statistic that 28% of mobile users in the US are “mostly mobile” users meaning they rarely use a laptop or desktop computer.

  2. Mobile = Less

    Because users are not always rushed and distracted, they also don’t need a “lite” or dumbed-down experience from their mobile phone. Another statistic cited was that 85% of users expect your mobile site to be “at least as good” as your desktop site. Josh argued that users don’t like the “View Full Site” option and would rather be able to access all of your content in a mobile-friendly format. He said that omitting certain content on your mobile site is like an author leaving out chapters in a book!

  3. Complexity is a dirty word

    So we’re now challenged with providing the entirety of what could be a very complex nonprofit site in a mobile format that still feels uncomplicated and easy to use. Making the complicated seem uncomplicated. The nice thing for most of you reading this is that you can leave this challenge up to your designers. For the mobile designers out there, the next myth is really good news…

  4. Extra taps and clicks are evil

    When you’re dealing with such a small screen, the best approach is to use progressive disclosure. This means showing the user a little, and then having them click or tap to see more. We use this principle with navigation on a desktop website and it’s even more imperative with mobile. Josh said that the quality of the click or tap is far more important than the quantity.

  5. Gotta have a mobile website

    Let’s clarify here… you don’t need a separate mobile website. You still need to offer your constituents a mobile experience but Josh argued the best approach is to make your existing content mobile-friendly. Thanks to Convio CMS and other content management systems, this is not difficult. It does mean that you may have to start thinking a little differently when you create new content though. Perhaps there are additional fields you might need to add for each content item to make your mobile display work better.

  6. Mobile is about apps

    Josh stated that app vs. mobile website vs. desktop website are all just containers we use to present content. So apps definitely have a place in the mobile landscape but they’re not the end-all be-all. He played this NFL commercial to illustrate that users expect to access the same content across multiple devices. Again, this boils down to making sure your content is adaptable to all of these devices.

  7. CMS and APIs are for database nerds

    Going back to what I mentioned above, content management systems and APIs are the tools that we need to make our content adapt to all devices. Not just the devices we use today but the devices that we’ll be using in the future too. All we need to do is learn how to write content that will scale across multiple screen sizes and then rely on the CMS and API technology to control the display.

Do you agree or disagree with these mobile myths? What are some things you can start doing today to make sure your content is truly future-proof and adaptable to different devices?

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