Continuing on the Thanksgiving theme of gratitude, here’s a wonderful thanks to donors from the Humane Society. (Hat tip to Alia McKee for sending it to me!)This is a great model to follow! Click on the image below or go here for the full experience.
I recently hosted a guest post by Jay Love on the great donor exodus. He covered how to determine how many donors you are keeping – and losing. Today, he’s back with another guest post to discuss WHY they leave. Please share this post, because understanding why donors quit is the first step to getting them to stay. The author, Jay Love, is the former CEO of eTapestry. He is currently CEO of Bloomerang and SVP of Avectra while serving on numerous local and national nonprofit boards. By Jay LoveWith the extreme importance of the topic my title introduces, you would think there would be a large amount of research and hundreds of articles about it. Unfortunately, that is not the case.The cornerstone of support and funding of most charity causes around the world is a dedicated group of loyal supporters. For smaller charities, this may be less than 100 people including the board of directors. Larger charities rely on the support of thousands of multi-year supporters from various channels. How in the world then could this phenomenon of “loyalty to a cause” not be studied as much, if not more so, than the fuel economy in vehicles or weather patterns in Antarctica? Should not every charity in the world know what causes sudden or the not so sudden departure of its loyal supporters and design methods or systems to alleviate those causes? My previous guest blog post for Katya outlined how even a small 10% improvement in donor retention could double the lifetime revenue stemming from your donors in your database. Therefore, the incentive should be there!As I did in my previous post, I am going to compare research pulled from the commercial sector. In this case, we will look at why a commercial customer leaves. Are there parallels to the reasons why donors leave? Can the immense amount of research compiled by commercial business on this topic and more importantly the systems designed to reduce the likelihood of those reasons happening be copied in some manner? My answer is yes! Notice the comparison of reasons in the Nonprofit Donor Loyalty Primer below. (Problems viewing this infographic? Go here.)The research is pulled from our chief scientist Adrian Sargeant and from The Rockefeller Corporation Although both sides of the image show why the customers or donors are heading to the exit, there is a higher percentage based upon the ability to financially afford on the donor departure side. This is not surprising since supporting a nonprofit is discretionary compared with purchasing food or paying for lodging, transportation, clothing, etc. The biggest lesson for nonprofits, which rely on donor support for all or some portion of their operating budget, is how vital proper communication processes and messages are. Notice how the following items add up to 53% of the reasons why donors leave:1. Thought the charity did not need them 5%2. No information on how monies were used 8%3. No memory of supporting 9%4. Never thanked for donating 13%5. Poor service or communication 18%Just imagine what a solid communication plan built upon a top notch CRM/Database solution could do for each item above. Since loyalty is based upon strong relationships and relationships grow via proper and regular communications, efforts in this area can provide huge upward surges in loyalty and financial support! What do you think is it worth the extra effort here?
It’s been a long week, so a short thought today.Have you ever noticed how very young kids’ drawings usually don’t feature a person’s neck? Have you wondered why?My theory is that if you’re two or three years old and your perspective is low to the ground, you don’t see people’s necks when you look up. You see a head sitting on arms.I can’t think of a better analogy for marketing. Marketing mandates that we look at the world through the eyes of our audience and communicate from that perspective. The process of pushing into a foreign frame of reference can be hard, but when we do it, we find its value. Everything looks wildly different from that perspective. And our work must meld to its crazy contours. This is the mind-bending fun that is our profession.
I continue to work my way through the many great reader questions! Thanks for all of them.Today’s question: I’d like to create copy for the subject line for emails that will encourage people to open them. Amazing Results .. Update .. News .. doesn’t seem to work well, especially when trying to reach potential donors. The space is very limited so there’s no room for an explanation of what’s in the email. Any suggestions?Here are some ideas for better subject lines.1. TEST: Before you send out an email blast, test two different subject lines with a smaller subset of your list. Do this always,so you get smarter all the time. 2. PERSONALIZE: Use something personally relevant to the reader to grab attention.3. BE INTERESTING: Make your subject line oddly short, long or different. Above all, make it interesting. My friend Kivi Leroux Miller talks about bad subject lines being a wrapper (example: September Diabetes eNews) and good subject lines being the candy in the wrapper (example: 6 ways to manage your diabetes). Make it interesting, so people open the message in the first place.4. BE FRESH: Don’t say “update” or “news” each time. Focus on what’s actually new!5. BE BRIEF: Put key information right up front since subject lines get cut off. 6. INSTILL URGENCY: Make it clear why your email matters now — “three days left to give”7. BANISH SPAMINESS: Run it through a content-checker, avoid all caps and shun exclamation points.If I had to choose just one of these to convey, I would think it’s #3. My best advice for building a following is to create wonderful content and reflect it in the subject line. People open the emails they know will contain something of value. Provide that value. The rest will follow!For further advice, I recommend Copyblogger’s tips for better email. You can find that here.
Today, I’m answering another reader question:What are your suggestions for approaching corporations about giving to our non-profit? The ones with grants have specific request methods. Others give to charities, but it often seems sort of a random process, such as who has the ear of the president this week. What’s the best way to handle this?Here are four quick thoughts for Judy. For more thoughts, read what Wal-Mart and other companies had to say on this topic here.1. Know the company – do they have a formal grant process with clear objectives for social good or is it more ad hoc? Do your homework on the corporation and frame your issue according to what you learn about the company’s top philanthropic and business agendas. What can you find out about the individual you are approaching? How does your cause speak to what the company or individual cares about?2. Get to the heart of your cause and why it matters to people. It’s important to reach the heart not just the mind. Tell stories and use examples of the difference the company could make – just don’t forget to tie that message back to #1!3. Talk about how the cause drives business interests in addition to social good. Is your cause a way for the company to draw a distinction from competitors, a way to build employee engagement or a means to boost the brand in your community?4. Start small if you’re hitting a wall. Propose a simple, small grant for a pilot project. That will be easier to get approved – and once you show the impact, you can use that success to ask for more.
Image via the Traditional Fundraiser’s Coloring BookBecause I’ve been posting a lot about the state of the fundraising field – and the critical role of boards in bettering it – I wanted to invite you to a free Network for Good webinar, Building a Strong Board for Fundraising Success. It’s next Tuesday, April 30 at 1 p.m. Eastern. (If you can’t make that time, register anyway, and we’ll send you a recording after the event.)Here’s a description of what we have in store.Nonprofits everywhere are challenged to engage board members to solicit support and donations but let’s be real, that’s a really hard thing to do! Arming your board with the right tools can make all the difference: clear understanding of the fundraising expectation, knowledge about your organization’s cause and mission, and the confidence to pull-off “the ask.”Board “whisperer,” Dick Walker, will join Network for Good for a Nonprofit 911 webinar to present resources and practices that will help you shape your board into a rockstar fundraising resource for your organization.Be sure to tune in to this free event on Tuesday, April 30th at 1 p.m. Eastern; you don’t want to miss this! Register now.
I co-presented a session at the Nonprofit Technology Conference, “Creating Habits for Social Good: Use Behavioral Insights to Get Your Audience Hooked on Your Web Experience.” If you missed it, now is your chance to hear it! I’m re-presenting it as a free webinar on May 14.Here is the description:The bar is higher. As a cause website, it’s no longer enough to just be informative. You have to engage and delight your users throughout their web experience. By applying insights from social psychology and neuroscience, companies like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook have created addictive user experiences and you can do the same. See3’s Allan Burstyn will join Network for Good’s Katya Andresen and together, they’ll explore these concepts and how they can be applied to your organization’s online efforts. They’ll cover how your organization can harness the hardwiring of the brain to achieve social good. If you’ve ever been stymied by unresponsive online constituents, this session is for you!Register here.
HyperlinksWhat should I hyperlink to?In addition to keywords, you’ll also want to include three to five hyperlinks in your press release. Good places to link to include your home page or about page, related websites, a landing page for a contest or event, and your social media pages.Where should I put them?Spread out your hyperlinks throughout your press release with no more than one per paragraph. Watch out for using too many hyperlinks! Otherwise, search engines may flag your release, making it less likely to appear in search engine results.Can I hyperlink my keywords?Unfortunately, hyperlinking keywords won’t earn you extra points because hyperlinks and keywords do the same thing-they encourage your press release to move up the list of search results. By hyperlinking a set of keywords, you’re creating a redundancy that could actually lower your search engine ranking.To learn more about PR tactics for your nonprofit, access the archived presentation of Nonprofit 911: Free PR Help for Your Nonprofit. KeywordsWhat are they?Keywords are the most relevant single words or phrases that are commonly searched for in top search engines. Outside of the headline or subheadline, the use of keywords is the most important aspect of your press release, so spend time on it to make sure your press release gets the attention you desire.Why are they important? The tough thing about modern press releases is that they must be written to appeal not just to people-but also to search engines. If a search engine doesn’t notice it, then a human won’t find it, and if it doesn’t appeal to a human, then no one will read it. The first step in making your press release search engine friendly is to use appropriate keywords.How can I choose mine?Google Adwords is a useful free tool for helping you choose keywords. You can search for the keyword that will be the most effective for you and see those that are competing with it. For example, if you search for a keyword and only three articles come up, your keyword might be too narrow. But if 500,000 appear, you might need to make your keyword more specific. Avoid generic terms such as “nonprofit organization,” because on any given day, 600 press releases might go out from nonprofit organizations. Great keywords can also involve your cause and location.How do I use them? Find two or three keyword phrases that apply to your press release and use those a few times throughout. A good rule of thumb is to put the first keyword in your headline, put your second in the subheadline, and alternate them throughout the body of your press release. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting a website’s visibility to search engines, but how can you actually make your press release appear first in search results? Jessica Pajak and Tyler Ragghianti of PR NewsChannel share some tips on how to use keywords and hyperlinks to elevate your press releases.
In The Generosity Network, philanthropist Jeffrey Walker and fundraising expert Jennifer McCrea team up to show how a shift from transactional to transformational philanthropy can help your nonprofit accomplish even bigger goals. The book is a deeply inspirational instruction manual for forging connections that can move your mission forward. Beyond inspiration, this dream team of social good offers plenty of practical advice for fundraisers looking to build meaningful relationships with donors and partners. One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is the focus on understanding the emotional roots of relationship building and learning to create true partnerships with major donors and community leaders through trust. As you might expect, transparency is paramount.From The Generosity Network:“Today’s best nonprofits recognize this truth. They welcome two-way transparency, even when it’s difficult or stressful—and that includes being willing to entertain tough questions and challenges from well-intentioned supporters. Painful conversations, they’ve found, can be a path to discovery, learning, and growth.”To fully embrace the idea of transparency, Jeffrey and Jennifer say that nonprofits need to first understand the vulnerabilities of donors and partners, including:— the importance of personal or public recognition. Some donors want public recognition, others prefer to stay out of the spotlight.— the intensely personal reasons for giving. Each donor’s motivation for giving will be unique.— how much connection the donor wants with your organization. Some donors may consider their gift connection enough, while other donors crave ongoing involvement.— the experience your charity represents in the donor’s life. Has there been a life-changing experience that drives them to give to your cause?— any concerns the donor may have about giving, such as how the money will be spent or how much of a difference can be made.Of course, it’s still critically important for organizations to practice openness when forging partnerships and bringing on new donors. You can show your commitment to transparency by being open about these three factors:Your mistakes and missteps. Be as open about your failures as you are your successes. Show what you’ve learned and how you’re improving. Don’t try to hide mistakes—as we have seen all too often, this usually backfires.How your strategy has evolved. Changing course isn’t something to be ashamed of, it shows how your organization is growing and adapting along with changing circumstances.Your areas of uncertainty. Be upfront about what you don’t know or areas of weakness. This can help you identify strategic alliances, but also lets partners know you are a real organization, with imperfections like all others.The book is officially available today, and you can learn how to create your own Generosity Network in our free webinar on October 1 at 1pm EDT. Jeff and Jennifer will be our guests and will share their insights to help you build a network of partners that will create lasting results for your organization. Register now to reserve your spot.
Credit: Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection If a supporter donates on your website, does she see the same call to action when she visits your Facebook page? If your messaging doesn’t match, your potential donor may be confused and second-guess giving to your nonprofit. Help your fans keep giving with these four tips to consistent donor communication! 1. Keep your colors cohesive …When someone visits your virtual house—Twitter page, website, donation page, landing page, etc.—does he have one user-friendly experience, or does each “room” look like it has a different personality? Keep your colors and branding consistent across every single web site, social media outlet, and print document you share with others. If your email is purple but your landing page is yellow, your donor might feel lost and immediately leave your page.2. … Except for your Donate button!Is your donate button or call to action easy to find? If not, your button might be blending in. Your donate button shouldn’t clash, but it should be bright, bold, and easily noticeable. Try looking across the color wheel to find a good color; for example, if your page is mostly blue, use the opposite color (orange) for your button.3. Make your messaging match … 4. … Especially for your Donate button! When you’re running a campaign, make sure the landing page for your donate button reflects that. For instance, if you’re asking supporters to give to your year-end campaign in your November emails, put that message on your donation page. You want supporters to think, “Great, I can’t wait to donate to their year-end campaign!” And not: “Is this how I donate for year-end???”Using uniform appeals across all of your emails, websites, and social media will help your supporters recognize your nonprofit and encourage them to donate. If you need help creating a branded donation page or need a new page for your next campaign, contact Network for Good for help. Does your email say, “Download a free brochure on AIDS prevention,” but your landing page reads: “Learn more about AIDS”? In this case, visitors could wonder, “What about my brochure?” To get your fans to take action, choose one message or story and use it everywhere: your home page, landing page, emails, and social media. Make it extremely clear what you want and what your visitor can expect to avoid any confusion.