We all have a desire to be connected, to know that what matters to us most is something others also care about. This is especially true in our close relationships, both on a business and personal front.
For those of us passionate about the nonprofit community, being connected, compassionate and caring hold an even deeper meaning. They’re synonymous, and we want those with whom we keep close company, especially our significant others, to selflessly subscribe to our sentiment. What better way of expressing this then when we commune through donating our time and, often more heart-touching, our dollars to those in need.
So, how does this act of caring and sharing apply to you and your organization? Our new research paper, Insights into Integrated Marketing Constituent Behavior, is based on the results of a study Convio conducted with CARE and it reveals that high income, married donors that like dual channels (online and offline) are, indeed, really valuable.
It seems pretty clear to me why you should care. Effectively leveraging integrated, constituent engagement marketing strategies to attract and retain these types of donors pays off, and BIG!
Ask yourself, are you designing and deploying communication efforts that are consciously coordinated, orchestrated and targeted – based on particular audience segments and their individual preferences? Are you engaging in multiple channels, including mobile and social media? Are you actively listening and then clearly responding with what they want to hear?
Because, if you are, imagine all the beautiful music you and your donors can make together. All it takes is perfecting the harmony and keeping rhythm to the same beat.
Fundraising is hard work. From the annual fund to major gift solicitation, there is heavy lifting to do at every step of the process and any help you can get – especially in volunteer form – ultimately makes your efforts more fruitful. The good news – at least for the more technologically savvy organizations – is creating vocal volunteers to advance your communication goals is easier than ever, thanks to the free tools available online. The following examples illustrate some best practices in online communication and how integrating those practices into your operations can lead to the development of online ambassadors who will help spread your message on the Internet and beyond.
Awareness and Providing Value Lead to Online Ambassadors
For every cause, there is an audience of enthusiastic supporters online, waiting to lend a hand in sharing that cause’s message. This is your group of potential online ambassadors. All that they need to move from potential to actual is 1) they need to know your organization exists and 2) they need content about your organization to share with the world and let everyone know how great your organization is. A smart online strategy is the way to deliver both.
To point #1: attractive websites, strategically managed and consistently monitored social media networks, and emails worth reading help get you noticed by those online ambassadors in waiting. And few organizations play this awareness game better than the Humane Society of the United States. For several years now, the HSUS has been implementing and managing a comprehensive online strategy that includes a main Facebook page with more than 1 million followers, plus several other pages that fit niche demographics such as their Farm Animal Protection campaign. The HSUS takes the same approach with Twitter, where they nurture relationships with supporters, and YouTube, where they provide quality content about their mission and activity.
Which leads me to point #2 – online super users are always looking for content to share with their followers. So make life easy on them by providing a study stream of content about your org that they can easily share. Check out what The University of Minnesota has done with its YouTube channel. If you’re an alumnus or general supporter, no matter what it is you like about the U of MN, you can probably find it on their YouTube channel and share it with your friends. This approach of appealing to multiple audiences with a wide array of content has translated into nearly 6 million views of videos on The University of Minnesota’s channel, including one video – The Science of Watchmen – that has won an Emmy.
Finally, once you have the attention of your new online ambassadors, cultivate their sense of connectivity to your organization by keeping them apprised of how their support is making the world a better place. One of my favorite examples of this new online form of stewardship comes from A Child’s Right and their blog “Proving It.” With a focus on providing clean water to children around the world, A Child’s Right goes to great lengths keeping their donors and supporters informed about each project they take on. The good, the bad, and the ugly – nothing is concealed. It’s transparency at its finest and it helps donors – most of whom are thousands of miles away from the people impacted – feel more connected to the cause.
Now that you’ve created an army of online ambassadors, how should you put them to work?
Florida State University’s Great Give – While it might not be the most sexy of online tools, email might still be the most powerful. (And the rise of mobile could lead to an even more prominent role for email.) The Florida State University’s annual giving team discovered this during their 36-hour, online-only campaign in January 2012. The FSU annual giving team easily surpassed their goal raising $186,000, entirely online, in just a day and a half. What might have been even more impressive, was of the 1,100 who gave, 380 were first time donors to FSU.
So where did all these donors come from? Annual giving team members were busy throughout the campaign using social media to promote the event. But they didn’t just send messages out themselves, from FSU accounts. Instead, they connected with their biggest Internet cheerleaders –their online ambassadors – and sent them pre-packaged tweets and Facebook updates.
All the supporters had to do was copy and paste the message into their social networks and hit send. In an instant, dozens of supporters were sharing messages hand-picked by the annual giving team with all their friends and followers in a manner that looked and felt organic to everyone involved. Just one of the many ways email can be used to boost giving, especially in the online realm, when you have an army of online ambassadors ready to lead the fundraising charge.
Justin Ware is the director of social media at Bentz Whaley Flessner where he helps clients develop online strategies for engaging donors and increasing fundraising. Read Justin's complete bio.
I don’t know how many of you have bought a car recently, but have you ever noticed that BEFORE you actually buy the car, you don’t really notice how many are on the road? And then once you own it, it seems as though every car that catches your eye is the very same one you thought was so unique? It’s uncanny.
I’ve noticed the same phenomena occurring when it comes to “Integrated Marketing.” It seemed when we kicked off the idea of this board back in October there were lots of people talking about this topic, but the actual number of good case studies and thoughtful research were few and far between. But seemingly overnight every publication I pick up is featuring great content.
But unlike my car example, when you are depressed realizing that every car looks like yours, I view this as a GREAT development, because we all know there’s no cornering the market on a great, innovative idea and you never get tired of seeing more.
This month's Fundraising Success cover story, "Healthy Fundraising,” features two organizations in the health field that have both seen some amazing results with recent multi channel, integrated marketing campaigns. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m proud to say that CaringBridge is a Convio client, so of course I am thrilled to see their work showcased, knowing that Convio has some small part in powering it. The second organization, HealthConnect One (not a Convio client but now they are on my prospect list) provides an interesting twist on the definition of “channel”-- by viewing their Board of Directors as just that— and putting that channel to work.
Read on to see how both these organizations got spectacular results out of both these multi channel, integrated efforts.
“As it happens, a lot of our volunteers are donors,” says Dora Chan. And she should know – she’s what colleagues refer to as the “database whiz” at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. And in fact, her statement is true of the wider nonprofit sector: a recent study by VolunteerMatch and Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund found that 67% of volunteers also give money to the organizations where they invest time and talent. You might be asking: why should I care?
Well, for one thing, could your team answer this: “To what extent does our own volunteer list overlap with our donor list?” Would it be a major time-sink to go compare two or more lists? Is it possible there’s a population where you could be raising 10x what you’re raising now??
(I imagine there are multiple people at your organization who would care about that last one.)
“When people volunteer, their money is not far behind,” says a trusted fundraising friend. That meets the common-sense sniff-test to me personally. In retrospect, I’m certain it was no coincidence that I just made my first donation to my neighborhood YMCA, just weeks after finishing up a 2-month stint as a volunteer basketball coach. I wasn’t thinking about the two types of involvement when I made the gift, but I certainly was picturing my pee-wee players and their parents and siblings when I considered what the Y’s Partners of Youth Campaign could provide my community. Intimate involvement yielded stronger affinity. Pulling out my credit card wasn’t nearly as challenging as getting up and being enthusiastic and nurturing eight Saturday mornings in a row.
Which leads to my next point: who exactly is recruiting your future donors?
In a brief but smart blog post on Volunteer Manager job qualifications, volunteering guru Jayne Cravens wrote that the ideal role is “not merely the purveyor of free labor” but instead might have responsibilities like:
Jayne really takes a long and wide view regarding volunteers and how to cultivate them. She consults internationally regarding recruiting, training, deploying and retaining today’s skilled and successful volunteers – using especially the new online and social techniques consumers have come to expect. And she’s literally writing the book on online volunteering (due out this year).
We’re very excited that Jayne will be our guest speaker at this month’s free Convio webinar: “Volunteer Management: 5 Trends that Can Improve Your Fundraising Bottom Line.” She’ll share the top 5 trends she’s identified at the local, national, and international level, what’s working best with regards to keeping volunteers engaged, and how to set yourself up for success with community involvement in today’s hectic environment, when every volunteer (and prospective donor) is just a click away from another game of “Angry Birds.”
This stuff matters. 44% of volunteers say that - if an organization cannot take advantage of their specific skills - they will go volunteer elsewhere. And now that we know that these folks give 10x what other donors do, that’s a lot of VIP wallets potentially headed out the door. Everyone should care about that.
P.S. Be sure to save your seat: pre-register now for “Volunteer Management: 5 Trends that Can Improve Your Fundraising Bottom Line” on Tuesday, April 24th, at 11 a.m. Central time.
People engaging in social media are interested in being social, which means they want to establish relationships with the organizations & individuals that they follow. Effective social media campaigns help foster these relationships by engaging followers in two-way communication.
Many organizations mistakenly limit their social media activity to broadcasting information about their events or their organization, thereby cutting the “social” out of “social media.” This critical mistake limits the overall effectiveness of your social media campaigns by removing the opportunities for your followers to build a relationship with your organization. You should think of social media functioning more like a telephone and less like a megaphone.
When social media is done right it builds trust and affinity towards your organization. Your followers will become more invested in your mission, which will lead them to have a sense of ownership over the success of your organization and its fundraising events.
5 Tips to Keep the “Social” in “Social Media”
In the upcoming months, we'll be talking more about how to develop and manage effective social media campaigns in support of your event fundraising. What topics would you be interested in learning more about? Are there areas where your fundraising events are struggling to find thier social footing? Leave me a comment below. I'd love to learn more about your needs!
Learn more about how your fundraising event can use social media by downloading our Quick Start Guide for Socially Savvy P2P Events.
Subscribe to receive posts via email:
Get answers to product questions, join "Birds of a Feather" discussions and more. Join the Online Community
Alltop - Nonprofit
A Small Change
Bob Ottenhoff's Blog
Donor Power Blog
Future Leaders in Philanthropy
Katya's Nonprofit Marketing Blog
Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog
Nonprofit Law Prof
Pamela’s Grant Blog
Sea Change Strategies
Zen and the Art of Nonprofit Technology