We are, each and every one of us, consumers. We buy things – products, services, insurance, etc. And every time we make a purchase, we compare our experience to other similar experiences in our life – both consciously and subconsciously. Was my experience at the bank better than my experience at the grocery store? I really like the way my insurance agent lets me know what’s going on with my policy; I sure wish my credit card company would do something similar. We have a myriad of interaction channels to choose from when engaging with company x, y or z – online, direct mail, email, text, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Every interaction a company has with us – good and bad -- can be publicly scrutinized and publicly broadcast, creating whole new levels of accountability in a new digital world. But are the rules any different for nonprofits?
To put it simply, no. As a matter of fact the evolution of the digital world and the growth in multi-channel engagement requires nonprofits to be even more focused on the experience than ever before (and likely even more than their for-profit counterparts). Behavior drives response. When people donate to a cause, volunteer for a charity or advocate on a nonprofit’s behalf, they do so because the mission and the story resonate with a part of their soul. It’s personal. It goes beyond buying a widget or paying a monthly electric bill. People want to feel connected to a cause in which they believe, they want to feel a part of something bigger than themselves, which creates an entirely different set of expectations when simply buying a new TV set (although we all still want to be made to feel like we are human beings even when filling the tank with gas).
So, what should I focus on if I’m a nonprofit?
For the most part, what holds true in the for-profit sector carries over to the nonprofit sector as well – a seamless, integrated engagement experience that feels as though it has been personalized for me. Organizations that do this well are: Amazon.com, Hilton Hotels and Southwest Airlines. Nonprofits could learn quite a bit from these organizations in terms of these new rules of engagement that boil down to:
That’s all well and good, but how do I get there from a practical perspective? Glad you asked. Nonprofits that have any degree of success in creating a unique and memorable experience for the constituent base they engage have spent time, energy and money implementing the right technologies and understanding the right processes that pay significant dividends at the end of the day.
That’s a tremendous amount to absorb in very short article, but the reality is the world has changed for nonprofits. There is a greater need to create a unique and personal interaction in a world in which there are multiple distractions and multiple communication channels. We are all seeking a positive experience we can remember, and the more nonprofits embrace this brave, new world – the more successful they will be.
This post is by Dennis McCarthy, Convio's Vice President of Strategy and Organizational Practice and originally appeared as an article in 1:1 Magazine.
In traditional fundraising, having great name recognition and devoted fans can generate increased awareness and raise funds if a celebrity cares about the cause and invests time. Yet, online celebrity fundraising efforts are hit and miss, and often get outpaced by lesser known web-based personalities - weblebrities - who have deep ties to their communities.
Research across a wide range of PayPal users, from Network for Good and Operation Smile to DonorsChoose.org and TwitChange, reveals three key reasons that weblebrities succeed:
The paper includes multiple stories highlighting this phenomena. From Stephen Colbert’s interaction with the Reddit Community, to Paddy O’Brien’s stunning story that won the UCSF fundraising challenge on Causes.
One thing that stands out from these case studies, are the uncanny similarities that social media fundraising best practices share with traditional fundraising best practices. In fact, recruiting effective social media champions is a lot like recruiting terrific board members or major donors: First and foremost is finding someone who will become truly engaged in your work, and who is deeply connected to a community.
What do you think? Has your organization had experiences with celebrities and social media appeals?
Clam Lorenz manages the nonprofit engagement strategy for Convio partner, PayPal. You can learn more about social media fundraising with PayPal's white paper and by exploring our Common Ground Social Fundraising feature.
It’s always fun to recap the year with great client success stories. We had a lot this year and I wanted to highlight a few throughout 2011 that really stood out ranging from advocacy, social media gone viral, housefile growth to epic multi-channel strategies. Check out the following top 5 client success stories of 2011:
The end is upon us! The end of 2011, that is. Ken Cantu shared an easy-peasy template last week to help you build an End-of-Year-Fundraising email message. And one of the most important things he said was "keep it simple!"
So I'm here to repeat that message, and to encourage you to take an objective look at your organization's homepage. Try to forget for a moment that you work where you do - imagine yourself outside the fishbowl, clicking onto your org's homepage because you're deciding to make a year-end gift. Pretend that it's December 31, and you're feeling the generous holiday spirit, and you're trying to donate quickly before you go out on the town to a New Year's Eve party.
Okay, are you there? Breathe in, breathe out. Now open your eyes and look at the homepage. And answer these questions:
Now let's say you've clicked through to the donation form. Here are a couple more questions:
Or is it too complicated to figure out how to give? If you had only half-decided to give, would you just give up and find another organization to support, one that made it easier to donate online?
If the answer to that question is yes, then don't despair - it's not too late. You still have time to make it easier for donors to give! Just keep this principle in mind - it should be simple!
Happy Holidays, and may you all exceed your End-Of-Year fundraising goals!
What could be better than a fabulous organization getting recognized for the important work they do by the entire Convio community during our recent Convio Summit in Baltimore? Not much else, that’s what. And like overly enthusiastic Convion I am, I stood proudly as the Project on Government Oversight's name was called as the 2011 Innovator Award Winner for best Overall Use of Convio.
I began working with the folks at the Project on government Oversight (or POGO as they’re known by their fans) a few years ago and have continued to be amazed by how their hardworking (yet relatively small) staff strategizes to get the max out of their Convio tools. They’re frequent consumers of Convio’s Community resources and they're are stars of the DC Convio User's Group, too. Team POGO attended the Summit in full force—working to get staff from multiple departments within their office to see the way Convio can enhance the work they do.
When our Connection Café blogging powers that be asked me to profile a member of the POGO team with a little peek behind the Convio admin curtain, I jumped at the chance. Here’s the inside scoop on Bryan Rahija, POGO’s blog editor and self proclaimed jack-of-all-digital-trades….
EG for CC: What’s your elevator pitch about what POGO does?
BR for POGO: POGO exposes systemic problems in the federal government that are related to ethics, accountability, and inefficiency—and then it tries to fix them.
EG for CC: How do you describe your role at the organization to friends at parties?
BR for POGO: More or less a jack-of-all-digital-trades? A Venn diagram of the projects I work on in a given month would include circles for editing, fundraising, advocacy, web production, and journalism.
EG for CC: Of Convio’s array of online resources, what have you found most useful?
BR for POGO: Action alerts! Convio makes it pretty easy to whip up campaigns that empower constituents, expand our network of supporters, and most importantly, catalyze change.
EG for CC: Please share a few facts about yourself.
BR for POGO: If I'm not fighting government corruption, I'm probably making music or roving around the country with my band Bombadil. We just put out our fourth release last month! Curious ears can listen here.
EG for CC: What are you most proud of regarding your use of Convio with POGO?
BR for POGO: In general, I think we try really hard to make sure we're making the most out of the software. A recent example of that might be the SEC Revolving Door Database, which I think is pretty neat both in terms of providing valuable information to the public and using Convio in an interesting way.
The database houses hundreds upon hundreds of post-employment statements filed by former employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission. At first glance, these documents might just look like a big pile of boring government paperwork—but when viewed together, they illustrate a disturbing pattern of government officials leaving the public sector to go work for the industry they once regulated (more on that here).
All that info presented a fun challenge on the Convio side—how to present these documents in a useful way to the public? We ended up partnering with Firefly Partners to build a database of the documents hosted on Convio CMS, which you can search by employee name, former SEC division, and by their new employers (firms like Deloitte & Touche, Ernst & Young, etc.).
EG for CC: Share an anecdote about a project or specific campaign you worked on through Convio that was particularly exciting, interesting, or productive.
BR for POGO: The best anecdote might be our campaign to support Franz Gayl, a Marine Corps science advisor who was retaliated against for blowing the whistle.
This fall, POGO partnered with the Government Accountability Project (GAP) to launch an online campaign in support of Gayl after he lost his security clearance for exposing the need for some lifesaving equipment needed in Iraq. We urged our constituents to contact the Secretary of Defense and voice their concerns. Nearly 4,000 people took action. A few weeks later, the government agency responsible for protecting whistleblowers moved to protect Gayl, and cited the POGO/GAP campaign in a brief that called for a delayed putting Gayl on indefinite suspension without pay.
The intervention by this agency ultimately led the Pentagon to reinstate Gayl's security clearance.
That's a bit of a wonky explanation, but the long and short of it is we played a role in helping reverse the retaliation against a whistleblower whose heroic actions saved the lives of thousands of Marines. This press release has more details and a statement from Gayl thanking GAP and POGO, and here's a link to our action alert.
EG for CC: If you had advice to share for a new Convio admin, what would it be?
BR for POGO: Bite the bullet and take the training courses or watch the videos—better now than when you're up against a deadline of "immediately."
EG for CC: What's one secret tip or trick you’ve picked up along the way related to the Luminate Online or Luminate CRM platform?
BR for POGO: I've become a bit of a query junkie these days. No super amazing tricks in particular to report, but I've been having fun using queries to answer questions like: how many of our constituents have taken action more than three times? What is the biggest "source" for people who wind up unsubscribing? In which congressional district do we have the most supporters? Information like that can help guide our strategy down the road.
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