Last week, we published our Marketing/Communications and Fundraising report, called “The Marketing and Fundraising Rift.”
If you missed that, it’s the result of a 300 person survey of fundraisers and nonprofit marketers. Give it a look!
We asked a range of questions in the original survey, but we left a few out from the final report, just because they didn’t quite fit into the point of the article.
But I was interested in the results of one question in particular that we ended up leaving out of the final report.
It caught my eye because it went against what I expected.
Over the years, much has been said about the best way to craft a direct mail appeal.
The size of the envelope, the audience, the message on the outside, the message on the inside, the response type, to include a gift or not. All these things and more have been debated ad nauseam.
But as more nonprofits incorporate digital elements into their fundraising campaigns, there is an oft-overlooked channel that provides tremendous amounts of value to those who can pull it off successfully.
It is the humble email.
There’s a brand new train station in Lower Manhattan. But it’s more than just any transit station.
It’s the “Oculus.”
With wing-like arms that shoot hundreds of feet in the air, it’s bright white structure causes your eyes to squint on a sunny day.
The Oculus is an impressive structure, no one can doubt that. But the project always manages to elicit grumbles from New Yorkers whenever it gets brought up.
That’s because the train station cost $4 billion. That’s nearly $2 billion MORE than it was supposed to originally cost. It also took 12 years to build.
You see, in all the excitement of building something new, beautiful, and impressive, the most important aspect of a train station was forgotten.
It has to efficiently connect people to trains. You know...it needs to be a train station.
Now before you scratch your head and wonder what the hell has happened to the WeDidIt Fundraising Blog, bear with me a second.
The Oculus station fiasco is not unlike a lot of nonprofit newsletters.
But did anyone stop and ask “Hey...are these affecting the behavior of recipients in anyway?”
Too often, the answer to that is no. Or more accurately, it’s “...you know, I have no clue. I just loved this design.”
Whenever anyone downloads our nonprofit website guide, they get an email from me asking what their biggest wish is for their organization’s website.
It’s fun to see what different organizations are working on, plus it’s a great way to keep a pulse on what’s weighing heavy on nonprofit workers when it comes to their digital fundraising.
And yes, I really do read and reply to all of ‘em!
A recurring theme among the responses goes something like this:
“I wish we had more traffic on our website!”
Not exactly surprising, right? Anyone who’s ever run any kind of website will tell you that they’d love more visitors. Visibility can be a very good thing. If you build up an audience, properly nurture them, then tell them an engaging story, digital fundraising can be a consistent revenue channel for nonprofits.
It’s not the end-all, be-all by any means. Having an audience is far different than having the right audience. But the right audience can be a very powerful force for change.
So if your goal is to increase traffic, who better to learn from than the 10 most visited nonprofit websites in the country?
If you’re not already, it’s time for your nonprofit to pay attention to Snapchat.
The social media network turns 5 years old later this year (that’s 57 in internet years, for those counting at home), but 2016 is shaping up to be it’s pivotal moment where it shifts from a niche teen audience to the larger public (see: old people like us. The truth hurts).
How do I know? Snapchat just announced that their average daily video views have now reached 8 billion per day!
And that just so happens to match Facebook’s average daily video view number.
Snapchat has some built in advantageous that make it a very attractive option for nonprofits, but that still doesn’t mean every single charity needs to be rushing to make an account.
So how can nonprofits use Snapchat? What advantages does it offer? Who should consider trying out the platform?
I’ve always been a huge college football fan. I grew up in Florida in the 90’s; the peak of the UF vs. FSU rivalry. My uncle was a graduate of Florida State, and I could always count on getting some pretty sweet FSU gear for Christmas from him every year. I would watch games every week, cut out newspaper clippings of my favorite players to hang on my wall, and I distinctly remember being heartbroken following a certain loss in 1998.
Despite all that, I hadn’t actually attended a college football game yet. One year my Dad’s alma mater, Georgia Tech, was playing in a New Year’s Day bowl game within a few hours drive of our house. So he bought tickets for our whole family, and off we drove to Jacksonville to watch the Yellow Jackets play.
That’s when I really caught the bug. You see, I got to witness my normally quiet Dad stand up and sing Georgia Tech’s...colorful...fight song. Most kids would be mortified, but I had the opposite reaction. It was awesome. Seeing him be filled with such a huge amount of pride, high fiving strangers just because they were wearing the same logo on their shirt as him, I was in.
I remained a fervent FSU fan all through high school, and when the time came to pick a college, I had the great privilege to attend the my dream school. The school whose logo had adorned my t-shirts since grade school.
I’d be lying if I said football played no role in my decision. It was far from the only factor, but it definitely counted for something. Sports had shaped my identity as a “Florida State Fan”, it was part of who I was. Getting to now also be a Florida State student was a huge draw.
I experienced something similar recently in an interaction with a nonprofit.
I stared blankly at my screen, unable to really comprehend or believe what I was seeing.
Poll after poll had ranked Donald Trump...Donald Trump!...as the front-runner for the Republican nomination for President.
Like many, I assumed this was a flash-in-the-pan lead. As soon as he had another dumb gaff, people would see him for what he is and move on.
But the gaffs came and went, yet his lead remained. It’s...mind-blowing.
What is it about this guy that makes him so impenetrable? He says horrifying things, insults his own party members, and constantly gloats about how rich he is. His fellow candidates do everything they can to tear him down. First they ignored him, then they engaged him, now they’re trying to ignore him again.
Yet he still enjoys a comfortable lead.
Then I figured it out.
Editorial Note: We've got another wonderful podcast from Brooke this week! Too busy to read? Give this blog post a listen on your way to work!
We all know someone who crosses the line. You know, that line. They're all over social media: the oversharers. You think you're having an innocuous conversation about their dog, and suddenly you're hearing about their digestion. Or their marital problems. Or worse. It's as if there's no boundary between them and you. If they experienced it, you're going to know about it.
Nobody wants to be that person, right?
Well, most of the time, keeping some things to yourself is a good idea. But if you're a nonprofit, oversharing is where you want to be. Actually, if you're oversharing, it's probably not enough – the key is to get your organization to radical transparency, well beyond what the law requires. That's one of the most powerful ways to build professional trust and confidence in you. So go ahead and be like your weird auntie Matilda who Facebooks all her conversations with her dogs. It's good for your donors, and it's good for your nonprofit!
The nonprofit fundraising world is filled with storytelling advice, and for good reason. Telling your nonprofit’s story in a powerful way is a far more effective means of cultivating and finding new donors.
But often times, we stop the story telling at the beneficiaries of our organization. Many fundraisers feel that once they’ve told the story of their nonprofit’s mission, there’s no other story to tell.
However, this overlooks what can be one of your most powerful sources of story telling magic (and one that can help you find new donors as well): your donors’ stories.