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.
Most of my posts are written for the non-profit audience, but this month, I’m taking a different approach. I’d like to offer some tips to anyone who is (or could be) organizing group volunteering opportunities in their workplace - be it non-profit or for-profit work environment.
This May, Convio will host our 8th annual Convio Cares Days, where employees across the country take time off to support local non-profits. Here in DC we'll be heading out to help American Rivers, The Congressional Cemetery, Food & Friends, and Miriam's Kitchen. It’s a great chance to give back to our community and bond with our colleagues. A small team in the Convio office in DC has been setting everything up and I wanted to offer 5 tips on organizing an office volunteer event.
1. Make it Tangible – Look for volunteer opportunities that offer something tangible. Don’t just say, we’ll help save the earth or feed the hungry. Many people are motivated by before and after pictures of the 6 trees they helped plant or knowing they will serve lunch to 100 people. Find stories of people impacted by the organizations you are planning to serve to help motivate your colleagues.
2. Make it Different – We use our volunteer time in the DC Convio office for everything from bake sales to picking up river litter in a canoe. Not everyone enjoys the same kinds of activities. Make sure to offer a variety of options to help fit people’s interests. A quick survey on survey monkey can help you find out what kind of work people want to do.
3. Ask in Person – Go cubicle to cubicle and ask people to join you one-on-one. They might feel more comfortable asking you questions in a smaller setting and excited to sign up because of the personal ask. Also, don't forget that most people don't like to sign a blank sheet, so make sure to have an early adopter sign up first.
4. Get Organized – I know it’s very basic, but people really like a well-organized activity. Send them an outlook appointment to block the time, organize a carpool to and from the event, tell folks you’ll provide the sunscreen, food prep gloves or other supplies they will need.
5. Celebrate – Last week, we had empanadas and slide show of photos from last year’s efforts to help motivate people to sign up. We were able to fill 16 shifts with the kick off party. In late May, we’ll share photos on flickr and have an ice cream social to share our stories and pictures with each other. Be sure to thank everyone who participates.
Remember, just because your workplace doesn't offer a coordinated event like this right now, doesn't mean you can't get something started. It never hurts to ask!
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.
So you have the perfect idea for the next digital tool you want to create for your organization. Maybe it's a social network for your members. Or maybe it's a mobile app.
You have a goal, an audience, and a thorough understanding of what the tool does. Heck, you're no designer, but you love this thing so much you even took a crack at a mockup. You've got buy-in from your Executive Director, which means money and prioritization.
What more could you need? You know what you want to build and how it's going to work, and you've got the resources to make it happen.
Well, there’s one very important thing to keep in mind: launching a new digital product isn’t the end of a project; it’s the beginning. You’re not buying a sofa. You’re adopting a puppy.
If you're goal is to get a great couch, all the work has to happen up front. You need to know how much they cost and where you get the most comfortable one.
In organizational terms, the equivalent is any project that has a fixed end; writing up the annual report, running an end-of-year fundraising drive, promoting an event. You come up with the idea, plan it out, figure out what it'll cost, and do it. You know you're successful when you've got a comfortable place to sit.
Once you've got the puppy, on the other hand, you're just getting started. And by puppy, I mean any technology product that you're building for users - either internal or external.
You saved up for the puppy and all his shots. But what do you do when it turns out he has a behavioral problem? Or that he has allergies? Or that he's a finicky eater who only likes the most expensive meals?
When we’re first thinking about buying a new pet, our temptation can be to downplay the time and attention it’s going to require to address all of these questions. The same is true with technology.
What do you do when you realize the registration process for your new site is confusing for visitors? Or that your new tool doesn’t integrate well with your CRM? Or that users absolutely love one of the features you've included, but could take or leave the rest? Do you have a product-minded person on staff who can lead the process of adjusting the product to match that, or are you tied to a firm? Do you have the money allocated to dive back in and put that one killer feature more firmly at the center of your product?
Maybe you nail it on the first try, and build exactly what people want. That happens. But more likely you build based on what you know, and then you learn from watching what people actually do.
A product mindset based on learning and iteration is more expensive. And it's scarier to leadership: you essentially have to admit that you don't know exactly where the project is going to end or exactly how much it's going to cost. But if you're looking to create something that people actually use, it's essential.
By Daniel Atwood
Daniel works with organizations in the social sector to craft meaningful experiences for customers and constituents, and to find innovative product, campaign and messaging ideas in unexpected places. He lives, work, bikes and contemplates in Brooklyn, New York, and can be found at danielatwood.com.
Editor's Note: Investing time in learning and adjusting technology to get it just the way you want it is both normal and important. What tips can you offer for successfully launching new technology?
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.
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