May 30, 2019 – I was at a conference today filled with around 500 attendees from small to large not-for profit organizations. The conference, called Fundraising Day and appropriately themed “The Fabric of Fundraising” in celebration of its 25th year, was organized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Greater Toronto Chapter. I made remarks at one of the sessions at the conference about the importance for fundraisers to understand the changing fabric of Canada.
Canada now has over 40,000 immigrants every year and 7.1 million Canadians’ mother tongue is neither English nor French. By 2036, 34% of Canadians will be multicultural consumers. Charities and not-for-profit organizations have to understand that their current and future donations, sponsorships, volunteers and employees will come from these immigrants. Fundraisers need to adapt their fundraising and marketing strategies to the fast changing demographics. With that being said, I wonder how many of them have hit some roadblocks along the way before they realized they need a different approach to this unique audience segment.
The Chinese, for example, are known for their charitable giving and generosity, but they are not keen to give just because you have a good cause. With so many good causes, how can you push the right buttons to get results? Many organizations make the mistake of asking before the right relationships have been built. From my own personal history and experience, I have learned that doing business with the Chinese requires building positive relationships and trust. This same principle applies to fundraising in the Chinese community (and in the sector at large). While immigrant Chinese are trying to integrate into the Canadian culture, it is important to keep in mind that most were brought up with a very different set of values, which still shape how they think and behave.
So, how do we embrace these values and diversity in our fundraising?
Content is your main tool for informing the audience about the cause. Whether it comes in the form of articles, infographics, or videos, it has to be distributed in one way or another.
Without proper content distribution, even the most brilliant content wouldn’t make a difference. But with well-planned distribution, you’ll greatly improve your marketing strategy.
Let’s see: what are the best strategies for distributing content in 2019?
The Website Takes the Lead
Social media and email work well as content distribution channels. But you need a base for that content, and that base is the official website or blog of the nonprofit organization. Without it, your message would get lost in a plethora of email messages and social media updates.
This brings us to an important point: the website content has to be extraordinary. There are great services that offer homework help in Canada. If you need high-quality content, you can hire a writer there. They will follow your instructions to deliver powerful articles that can raise awareness.
When an influencer speaks about your organization or cause, they instantly spread awareness. They have the power to connect with a massive audience. People trust their word.
But since influencers are targeted by big brands, it becomes difficult for nonprofits to develop collaboration with them. You can try, but you shouldn’t expect too much. It’s their job to promote products and services, and big influencers usually charge big money for doing so.
Micro-influencers are a better target for small organizations. These social media users have smaller following when compared to big influencers. Still, they have huge potential to elevate engagement. In fact, they are 6.7 times more effective in engaging people when compared to influencers with massive following.
Your nonprofit’s content is a key element to your marketing. It drives traffic and spreads awareness, helping to increase donations and spread your cause to the world.
But visual content takes all that to the next level. It’s more effective than just written content, and it’s surprisingly easy to implement too. Read on for your handy guide to the what, why, and how of visual content marketing for nonprofits.
You likely already know about content marketing. Put simply, it is the practice by brands, charities, and organizations of marketing through the creation and propagation of digital content such as blogs, videos, images, and so on.
Content marketing isn’t strictly advertorial in nature, but instead seeks to engage your audience through interesting, educational, or useful material. Visual content marketing capitalizes on the growing popularity of video, photography, infographics, interactive assets, and so on to better reach audiences.
Why use visual content marketing?
In a mobile-first age, visual content is convenient and digestible. Its aesthetic nature makes it more engaging than reams of copy, and gives marketers the freedom to deliver their message in a variety of creative ways. And the stats back it up: people can recall 65% of visual content up to three days after first viewing it, compared with just 10% for written content. This makes visual content more impactful with audiences, conveying your message with clarity.
In the same vein, visual content is more shareable than copy too. Articles with one image for every 75-100 words are shared almost twice as much as articles with fewer or no images. Consequently, your message can reach a much wider audience if it’s delivered in a visual style. While visual content shouldn’t replace your written posts, it should complement them. A diverse content strategy is more effective, seeing higher engagement and boosting awareness of your nonprofit as a result. Read more »
Charities have a harder job than most when it comes to their marketing. While most brands offer their customers something in return for their custom, charities have to appeal to their donors’ generosity to see donations — easier said than done.
Charities need to up their game to see results. As a consequence, their marketing campaigns are often creative, innovative, and truly inspiring. Here are four of the best (and what you can learn from them).
Back in 2014, the UK-based charity Save The Children partnered with creative agency Don’t Panic to arguably create the most hard-hitting marketing campaign on this list. Titled If London Were Syria (or Most Shocking Second a Day on YouTube), the first ad followed the life of a London schoolgirl whose life is turned upside-down when a civil war erupts in the UK. Created to bring the plight of Syrian child refugees to an otherwise distant audience, the ad was followed up two years later by another video following the same girl as she continues to survive in a war-torn UK.
What you can learn from it: charities often work with terrible events or situations that seem unimaginable to western audiences.
War, genocide, and even domestic issues such as homelessness are incomprehensible to most donors. But by making these things relatable to your audience, even by forcing them to painfully confront these issues as Save The Children did, you’ll create an effective and impactful marketing campaign. Read more »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »