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 »

Posted by & filed under Analytics, Annual Giving, Donor Centric, Donor communications, Fundraising.

By Penelope Burk originally posted on Burk’s Blog.

Ah…my annual indulgence that I eagerly share with you. Please enjoy this selection of comments from donors who have already taken part in the 2018 Burk Donor Survey. Included are a number of comments about giving during natural disasters, which is one of our survey’s special themes this year.

As always, my special thanks to dozens of not-for-profits who are reaching out to their donors in April and May to invite them to participate in The Burk Donor Survey. These wonderful organizations are united by their belief that evidence from donors should inform decisions about fundraising. And, of course, my deepest gratitude goes to those thousands of donors who, for a little while, have put their busy lives on hold in order to talk about what philanthropy means to them and how their giving is changing in a world full of challenges and opportunities. Read more »

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

Are you stuck in your fundraising?  Overwhelmed? Dissatisfied?  Need a reset?

Or maybe your organization is just starting to get serious about building a strong fundraising program and you’re wondering how to get going.

When I see fundraisers struggling with any of these situations, I always ask them to stop everything they are doing, take a deep breath and then focus completely on the donor relationship and making every single one of your donors into a LLL-Donor: Loyal, Loving and Long-term.

The path to success become clear and the steps are fewer than you’d imagine:

  1. Set your sights on finding donors that are as interested and passionate about your mission as you are (you are interested and passionate about your mission, right?!)
  1. Offer donors reasons to support your mission
  1. Share how donors are achieving the mission
  1. Repeat

When you make the shift to a LLL-Donor strategy, you no longer think: “I have to write a direct mail letter”.  Instead you’ll say: “I have to tell my donor about this horrible problem and the solution we have.”

A stewardship report is not a burdensome exercise in dragging information out of your programs people to regurgitate to donors. It’s now a labour of love to show donors how their generosity is making measurable improvements in our community, country and/or planet.

Even rubber-chicken silent auction events will be elevated above a formulaic dinner and silent auctions.  Instead, your gala will become a LLL-donor recruitment event, where you have the opportunity to emotionally engage 100, 300 or 1000 attendees with the life-changing work your charity performs.  Play your cards right and you will bring a good number of them into your donor-fold, motivated by true philanthropy.

Your fundraising calendar no longer looks like a spreadsheet related to your accountant’s work plan for your fiscal year. It’s now a plan to build loving relationships with new donors and sustain the fire for your cause with your long-term donors.

Sending notes, having conversations, making donors feel special and appreciated…sharing your deepest dreams and feelings and reminding them of how good it feels take on the world together.

Sound mushy and irrational?

That’s when you know you are on the right path.

David Kravinchuk is passionate about prescribing annual giving and bequest marketing solutions, David opened Fundraising Pharmacy to dispense name-brand advice (at generic prices!) for Canadian charities including St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation, New Democratic Party (MB), Community Living Toronto and international clients like Outward Bound New Zealand and University of Queensland. Follow David on Twitter @DavidKravinchuk and sign up for his regular dose of advice, RE:Phil.