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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cash Follows Contact


Note: You can generally substitute the term "Fundraising Campaign" anywhere I write "Pledge Drive."

I recently Tweeted "Pledge Drive on Facebook? Yes! @KAWC reach up 500% & engagement up 300% during recent pledge drive. #PublicRadio #NPR"

To translate the Twitter-speak, I was saying. "Yes, it's a good idea for Public Radio Stations to include their Pledge Drive activities in their social media activity. One of our clients is KAWC Colorado River Public Media. When we evaluated KAWC's Facebook analytics for the period of their recent Pledge Drive, we saw their "Total Reach" increase by 500% and their community engagement increase by 300%."

That Tweet generated considerable feedback from both the nonprofit and public broadcasting sectors. Common themes were: What did you do differently? What seems to be working? To what degree did you have success turning these followers into donors?"

The short answer to those questions is that a small percentage of KAWC's Social Media followers are donors. But the numbers are comparable to successful direct mail "acquisition rates." Gifts tracked to social media are about 1.0% of followers. An added benefit is that some of those gifts came from friends outside our listening area. They gave to support the team they feel connected to via Social Media. They are a part of our extended community.

What excited me most about the increase in reach and engagement is that it proves that Pledge Drive activity is NOT a turn-off to our social media audience. Last year I presented at both the Public Media Development and Marketing Conference (PMDMC) and National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) conferences. I heard many stations argue that pledge drive is forbidden from being included in their social media communication. I think that is tragically myopic. They believe that pledge drive will drive away online fans, like so many people in Public Radio believe Pledge Drive drives away listeners. Oh, it's true that if ALL you're doing is pitching and/or begging for donations you will drive away listeners and online fans. But if you're creating "good" content and not just constantly asking for support, you can engage your audiences with your appeals.

When Alice Ferris, ACFRE is training new team members at one of our Public Radio clients, she always reminds them that "Pledge Drive IS programming." It should inform, educate and entertain. We're making a case for support that is logical, compelling, personal and genuine. We're frequently greeted by listeners during or after a Pledge Drive who tell us they "love Pledge Drive." They share that it gives them a chance to really get to know the team and hear from other supporters in the community. It's personal to them and it reinforces their connection to the station. 

The key to effective online engagement isn't that different from your other traditional messaging.  Your social media communication should do one or more of three things:

Inform: Provide relevant, meaningful information about your organization, your team, your events, your service and your goals. Be genuine. Communicate in a personal, authentic voice.

Entertain: Provide "Rich content" of interest such as photos, graphics, video, audio, articles, etc. Give them lots of links to click.

Provide Opportunity: Tell them about things they can do, places they can go, how they can learn more and how they can help. Give them lot's of ways to take action. Provide them ways to get involved that don't require giving money. Of course make it easy for them to give money if they're ready to.

How do you measure success? That depends on your goals. Social Media serves different audiences in unique ways. If all you do is increase reach and engagement, that's a good thing. I always say, "Cash follows contact." Social Media gives us a few new ways to keep making meaningful contact and building or deepening relationships with our communities of support.

A note: Don't be discouraged if your Social Media is slow to take off. You may be doing better than you think. Here's a great infographic regarding the reach of various kinds of Facebook pages. 

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Why We Do What We Do

It's a thankless job sometimes, isn't it.

You work long hours, for a typically low nonprofit salary, to raise money for your cause. You finish a major event, and the next day there's more to be done. Or you do everything right, yet the money doesn't come in. Most people who really care about their cause make many, sometimes huge, personal sacrifices for the sake of the organization.

Why?

Over the years we've spoken with many of our colleagues about what keeps them going. Here are a few ways to stay motivated to work in philanthropy:

1. Connect with the cause on a regular basis. I will always hire someone who cares about the mission of an organization and is trainable over a highly trained person who doesn't care. Because sometimes the greatest reward is seeing the mission happen, and if you don't care about that, you won't feel rewarded. I still get a huge kick out of meeting people like Stacy, who told me exactly why public radio was important to her and society at large with such conviction that I put her on the air during pledge drive. Or, overhearing a student who was so excited about class that she said, "I want to be a teacher so I can be just like my professor." Whatever the cause, there's a way to connect, so go do it.

2. Don't beat yourself up too badly if things don't go as planned. Relationships are unpredictable, which makes fundraising, at times, fickle. You may have done everything right but the donor doesn't commit. Your event may have unforeseen complications. You may have just picked the wrong time, the wrong donor, the wrong project. It happens to all of us, and if it's not a pattern, don't beat yourself or your colleagues up about it. Evaluate, correct if you can, and move on.

3. Pay close attention to team connection and cohesiveness. A trustee that I once worked for asked, when hiring a new staff member, "Will they fit in? Because we have to maintain our sense of collegiality above all else." Can you predict who will get along and who won't? Not usually, but you must monitor for cliques and turf wars and cut them off as soon as possible. The nonprofit sector is a very relationship based, so as much as you can minimize the burrs, the better.

4. Pay attention to cause and effect during the good times too! You raise money, then something gets built. Or a program is created or expanded. Or you can keep the doors open for another month! In most nonprofits, there is a pretty clear cause and effect between fundraising effectiveness and program service--it's important to demonstrate this when things are going well, not just when you want to blame someone for a cutback.

5. Do most things with enthusiasm. If you're not excited about stuffing that mailing, that's okay. You're not required. But try to do most everything else with enthusiasm. Your spirit will be contagious and then, in turn, other people's enthusiasm will rub off on you. (And if you're not feeling up to it, fake it.)

6. Show that you care. And I don't mean the obligatory flower arrangement for Administrative Assistant's day or slightly stale pastries in the break room for their birthday. Take time to find out what they really like and recognize them appropriately.

7. Let people celebrate! Nonprofit work can be frustrating, so celebrate every victory that you can. It doesn't necessarily need to be a huge party for every direct mail response that comes in, but at least acknowledge people's (and your own) work on a regular basis.

After finishing our most recent pledge drive at KAWC Colorado River Public Media in Yuma, Arizona, we received an email from the Vice President who oversees our department titled, "Your work is appreciated." That one email to the entire team (addressed to each of us by name) meant a great deal. Simple as that.

Last day at our last staff jobs, March 2007
(Jim did not wheel me out to the parking lot,
but it was close)
Jim Anderson and I both left benefited and salaried positions five years ago to devote ourselves full-time to GoalBusters. We have had many opportunities to return to more lucrative, stable positions, but have chosen not to, because we really love what we do. All our clients keep us motivated, but we wanted to extend a special thank you to the following for playing a pivotal role in the evolution of our practice:

 Thanks for being a part of the adventure.--Alice Ferris, Founding Partner

GoalBusters was founded in March 2001 when Alice was going stir crazy as a stay at home mom. Highlands Center for Natural History was our first client and patiently dealt with the growing pains of both the company and Matthew, who was 3 months old when the company was founded. Jim Anderson joined the firm as partner in May 2006 and reminds Alice on a regular basis that he's obviously not in this for the money since his former expense account was more than what he's making now. But Jim also gets a bonus program--for the record, he prefers potato based vodkas, not grain based. In case you want to contribute. (AF) 

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Alice Ferris, ACFRE LinkedIn Facebook Twitter pinterest Skype alice.ferris
Jim Anderson LinkedIn Facebook Twitter pinterest Skype GoalBustersJim

Social Media - You’re Not Herding Sheep, You’re Tending a Garden



Jim Anderson at GoalBusters Consulting shares key differences between social media and traditional marketing. Here’s a preview of the topic he and Alice Ferris, ACFRE, will explore in depth at AFP’s TechKnow Conference this June in Orlando, Fla.

As we integrate social media into our organizational plans, I think it's important to always remember the word “social” is more important than the word “media.”

Social media is a powerful communication and engagement tool. But successful implementation of these diverse tools requires as much art as science. The tried and true techniques and concepts of marketing, promotion and communication still apply. Of course we need to understand who our fans and followers are (demographics) and why they care about us (interests and values).  But we also want to know why they first made contact online (motivations and lifestyles) so that we might continue to provide them satisfying and meaningful content and the richest possible experience. Understanding who they are and what motivates them allows us to communicate with them more effectively, which empowers us to more successfully predict, encourage and guide action.

But with social media, traditional one-way “push” marketing will never be as effective as interactive, consumer driven “pull” marketing can be. If we only treat fans and followers as a remote audience or a target market we’ll never maximize the potential of social media as a conduit to create and deepen relationships between our online communities and our causes, services and organizations.

Traditional marketing primarily served “us.” Social media marketing requires that we serve our community first. If we serve them in a meaningful way, they’ll become more engaged and deeply connected to us. If they feel as though they are connected, then they care more. If they care more, they will be more likely to take action. And if they’re willing to take action on our behalf, they become more aligned with our issues and interests, which helps achieve our organizational goals and deepen their lifetime connection with us. At this point, we’re no longer a cause they give to. We become a “personal value” that informs who they are.

We’re not wranglers trying to manipulate and prod our “herds.” We don’t “own” our social media. We’re more like gardeners. And we’re trying to grow a social media community which will never sprout if we fail to provide fertile ground and nourishment. It will never thrive, blossom, nor bear fruit if we fail to actively respond to and tend to its unique needs. As responsible social media gardeners, our most important responsibilities are watering the flowers and plucking the weeds.

Jim Anderson and Alice Ferris, ACFRE are partners in GoalBusters Consulting. They’ll co-present “Plug In! Hard-wiring Social Media Relationships” at the AFP TechKnow Conference  in Orlando, Florida (June 4-5, 2012). Register Now for this exceptional education and professional development experience. You’ll learn from industry experts and peer practitioners what the potential offered by new technologies can do to supercharge your fundraising! The early bird deadline for TechKnow is March 13. Act Now for the greatest savings and to secure your seat at this cutting edge conference.

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Alice Ferris, ACFRE LinkedIn Facebook Twitter pinterest Skype alice.ferris
Jim Anderson LinkedIn Facebook Twitter pinterest Skype GoalBustersJim


AFP TechKnow Event Highlights

Don’t miss general session presenter Carlos Dominguez, senior vice president, office of chairman and CEO, Cisco Systems, and also the following distinguished speakers…

Laura Howe, vice president, public relations, American National Red Cross will present “Tale of the Tweet-Using Social Media to Build Motivated Supporters”

Penelope Burk, president, Cygnus Applied Research, Inc., will present “Performance Metrics in Donor-Centered Fundraising”

Adrian Sargeant, Ph.D., international fundraising consultant, will present “Building Donor Loyalty”
Plus, click here to see all the great education sessions that you can attend at TechKnow.

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