Posted by & filed under Career Development, Congress, Fundraising Day, Marketing/Communications, Networking.

By Mo Waja

 

AFP Congress has come and gone but Fundraising Day 2019 seems just around the corner and there are many other conferences on the horizon. Conferences, broadly, are an exciting opportunity to learn and grow through the shared wisdom and thought leadership of speakers, to discover new opportunities through networking, to make new friends with other professionals in the space, and to grow your personal brand as a professional and thought leader within your field.

 

But conferences can also be challenging, and a lot of that comes down to scale. Yes, you are in this focused microcosm of your industry filled with people of, presumably, like mind and like interest, yet you are also one of perhaps over 1,000 delegates, all of whom are looking for new opportunities and new connections. With that being the case, it can seem a daunting task to cut through the noise and have your voice heard amid the many others all pushing for airtime. Tools like social media have made this interesting because, now, most conferences will have a #hashtag of some kind along with a twitter handle, and so for the days of the conference you’ll see a flood of tweets as people capture images, quotes, and key messages that simultaneously express their interest and broadcast their presence at the conference. The thing is, if your goal is to stand out from the crowd, tweeting along in the same way as everyone else still leaves you lost in the crowd. What you need is a way to differentiate yourself so that, whether delegate or speaker, people can tune out a bit of the noise and tune in to you, specifically.

 

To do this well, I would suggest a 5-step process:

  1. Choose a theme for your conference
  2. Start talking about it early (2-3 weeks before it happens)
  3. Produce conference content
  4. Make friends and be places
  5. Keep talking about it (1-2 weeks after it happens)

 

  1. Choose a Theme for Your Conference 

Throughout a conference you will have many conversations. These conversations can take place in person, during workshops, or through the posts you put out via social media. Choosing a theme for your conference means choosing the subject matter that you want to focus on during those conversations, workshops, and posts. This process is very intentional, and the easiest way to understand why is to consider Twitter.

 

Over the course of the conference, there will be a lot of tweets flying around. The challenge is that if everyone is tweeting scattershot and talking about everything, simultaneously, it’s very easy for your voice to get drowned out. One way to cut through the noise is to have a few focused subjects that you choose to talk about. For example, if you, like me, are fascinated by nonprofit storytelling, attend sessions that speak to that and then tweet about them. Doing this consistently positions you as someone who cares about storytelling (or, otherwise, marketing, donor relations, planned giving, etc., depending on your chosen theme) to the conference at large. This makes it easier to connect with people both within and beyond conference attendees who are either of like mind or looking to learn more about your chosen subject. Taking this outside social media, your chosen theme should echo through all your conversations so that every interaction you have at the conference intentionally positions you as a person who cares about a certain relevant subject and knows things about that subject.

 

The beauty of choosing a theme for your conference is that, even if you aren’t a speaker, you can still position yourself as an authority on a subject by adding in your own thoughts and opinions and producing related content.

Read more »

Posted by & filed under Campaign, Congress, Donor Centric, Donor communications, Inspiration, Marketing/Communications, Special Events.

By John Paul de Silva – originally published on the Social Focus Consulting blog.

 

Where all my social impact peeps at?!? What! What! I’m still hyped up over attending the astronomically amazing 2018 Association of Fundraising Professionals Congress which had the theme “DISRUPT Philanthropy.”

 

Why do we need to disrupt this sector? Caroline Riseboro, plenary speaker and President and CEO of Plan Canada, summed it up nicely, “A hyper-focus on major gifts is disguising the problem that we have an erosion of donors in the Canadian market. Philanthropy as a whole is on a decline.” And it’s no wonder given the challenge to get people’s attention, nevermind donations. We see 10,000 marketing messages a day while having an eight second attention span, according to Vanessa Landry, Director of Client Services at Fundraising Direct. That’s why we need disruption. We need new ideas, new ways of doing things, to advance the sector and keep being socially impactful.

 

Then, how do we become disruptive? We do it by delighting donors and through leadership. Delighting donors involves giving them an experience they can’t stop talking about, according to Jen Love, Partner at Agents of Good. When donors can’t stop talking about a positive experience, that leads to engagement, repeat donations, referrals to others, and ultimately growth for charities.

 

This first part of a two-part blog will cover how to delight donors. Based on my takeaways from attending some of the sessions and engaging with the #AFPCongress2018 feed, there are three main opportunities to delight donors: personalized communications, experiential events, and frictionless webpage design. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Congress, Donor communications, Marketing/Communications, Speakers, Special Events.

By Mo Waja

 

For many nonprofits, ‘marketing’ has been­ — and remains — a support tool for fundraising; its purpose, mainly to serve as a medium to get the fundraising message out there to as many prospective donors as possible, via social media or otherwise. But this limited use fails to capitalize on the opportunity of marketing. For nonprofits making more robust use of marketing and communications, the act of ‘marketing’ becomes everything from a branding exercise to a recruitment tool, to a way to connect with key stakeholders, to community engagement, to profile building, to storytelling.

 

But it’s that last, storytelling, that sits at the core of good marketing. No matter what message your organization is looking to put out into the world, the story you tell is the heart of how you express the need of your population, how you connect with your community of supporters, and how you show the continuous positive impact your organization has. The question is, how do you tell that story well?

 

 

The thing is, ‘telling a story well’ encompasses more than simply telling a good story that (hopefully) raises fundraising dollars. Why? Because every charitable organization owes a duty of care to the population they serve that goes beyond the good work provided.

 

This, how to market, advertise, or tell a nonprofit story well, has been a topic of much debate. While, broadly, we can agree that tapping into empathy and, from that, compassion, is a key component of generating giving behaviour through storytelling, the real question is how do we get there. One common way is the use of ‘shock’ campaigns depicting imagery of people in desperate circumstances. Yet this strategy has been used so frequently that it has almost become a cliché, while simultaneously becoming an unfortunate standard by which many fundraising campaigns are set, particularly those for international aid (think your classic imagery of impoverished, starving Africa). While, even today, these shock campaigns — often more harshly labeled ‘poverty porn’ — can undoubtedly be effective in soliciting short-term donations, the problems with this approach are multifold. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Donor communications, Marketing/Communications, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

By Freddie Tubbs

 

How you ask for donations often makes a big difference. You are asking people to donate their money and you have to be compelling when doing this. You also have to be transparent.

Asking in person is difficult, but what may be even harder is writing effective fundraising e-mails. You only get that one chance to make a good online impression and to ask for a donation from your potential donor. There isn’t much space either so you have to be concise.

Here are just a few tips on how to write effective fundraising e-mails:

 

Tell a good story

In order to get the emotional response you want, you have to tell a really interesting story. Of course, it has to be relevant to your cause. Start your e-mail with a few sentences describing the problem at hand, but in a way that will immerse readers. You’ll probably have to rewrite this section a few times, but it will be worth it when it comes to getting readers to take the next actionable step.

Another thing you should do is be as specific as possible. This means adding real numbers and percentages into your story to make it even more realistic and compelling.

 

Make it short

Your fundraising e-mail can’t be long. You need to say what you have to say quickly, without flowery prose or elaborating the issue for too long. Dedicate the first few sentences to telling your story, another few sentences to what is being done at the moment to help the cause, and a few more to explain where the money is going. Then, finish strong with a polite, yet compelling call to action. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Donor communications, Inspiration, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications.

By Mo Waja

With AFP Congress arriving in a short 2 months, burgeoning and tenured thought leaders alike are preparing themselves and their talks to bring new, ambitious, and exciting ideas to the world of fundraising. But ‘thought leadership’ as a marketing activity isn’t something done just once a year or even once a month. It is not exclusive to large scale speaking events or even to a single guest blog post. Thought leadership as an activity or, more accurately, as a result is something that individuals and organizations commit to as a regular piece of their marketing mix.

 

Now, the idea of thought leadership is not new. In fact, ‘thought leadership’ as a marketing strategy has been in vogue for a number of years now. The challenge is that many individuals and organizations, particularly smaller organizations, can find the concept of taking on thought leadership daunting, particularly in the face of many larger organizations or more tenured leaders out there leveraging their much more developed content machines to pump out a near-continuous stream of articles, interviews, blogs, podcasts, and talks.

 

The first step is to recognize that ‘thought leadership’ or becoming a ‘thought leader’ is not a strategy. It’s not even a tactic. It is the result of consistent, quality content that is useful to your audience. To become a thought leader and create thought leadership content is to become an authority on a certain subject, within a certain field. Just as not everyone who picks up an instrument is a musician, not everyone who puts fingers to keyboard (feet to stage, voice to podcast, etc.) is a thought leader.

 

Thought leadership is something that must be established, not simply done. While one talk, interview, or piece of writing might put you on the map – it’s the cumulative work, experience, and expertise that brought you there that builds your foundation as a thought leader. For an organization seeking to become a thought leader in their industry, that becomes the collective work, experience, and expertise of all of your contributors. Read more »

Posted by & filed under Donor communications, Marketing/Communications, Stewardship/Donor Relations.

By Mo Waja

Telling your story is harder for some nonprofit organizations than others, particularly when you, the nonprofit, are working with a vulnerable population.

 

Why? Because, depending upon the specific characteristics of the population in question, there are often strict ethical, and sometimes legal, guidelines we must adhere to that dictate how a story can (and should) be told – for instance, in the case of an organization working with children. In other cases, perhaps the population that your nonprofit serves cannot be shown in media at all – for instance, when taking into account the safety and security needs of survivors of domestic abuse.

 

Through the lens of an organization working with a vulnerable population, marketing can seem at best difficult and at worst an insurmountable challenge; for how can you market the good your organization does when you cannot show the positive impact you have on the population you serve? How can you market the good without showing the good? Read more »

Posted by & filed under Campaign, Donor communications, Marketing/Communications.

Going Beyond the One-Story-Fits-All Approach

By Mo Waja

 

Storytelling to drive “giving” or donations can feel a little repetitive. A common example is the classic profile piece featuring someone whom the nonprofit has impacted. This is the written, video, or audio piece that introduces an individual, describes a barrier, and then states how the organization helped that person to overcome the barrier. It’s straightforward, it’s easy, and it’s a tempting format to gravitate towards. What this generates is a one-story-fits-all approach where the central character may change, but the general storyline remains the same.

 

The challenge with this approach is twofold. Firstly, on the donor side of the equation, this format speaks only to a specific, results focused donor and often fails to resonate with or impact emotionally focused or outcomes driven donors. Secondly, swapping out the face behind a repetitive storyline fails to embrace what is unique about each story or to illustrate the full breadth of your programs’ impact.

 

When you’re selling a product, displaying your value proposition by way of a consistent story that showcases the scale of your impact (the number of people that your product helps or has helped) in the most efficient way possible is certainly a strategy that works; however, when it comes to your nonprofit story you’re not simply selling a product. Similar as systems like monthly giving may seem, you’re not even selling a subscription service. What you’re selling is an outcome and the emotion that goes along with it. So, for people to really connect with your organization, empathize with your population, and commit to giving, they need (and want) to understand the full scope of your positive impact – not solely on the direct beneficiaries of your organization’s mission, what we can call your primary population, but on all the people that surround and are connected to them. Read more »