With Thanksgiving around the corner, non-profits and philanthropies are scurrying to prepare for the third annual #GivingTuesday.
What Black Friday is for retail stores and Cyber Monday is for online sales, #GivingTuesday aims to be for charitable causes. Fundraising on #GivingTuesday has raised millions of dollars.
Because so much of the strategy for publicizing #GivingTuesday (yes, with the hashtag) takes place on social media, it’s not too late to pull together a promotional plan for your organization, and we’ve assembled some resources here.
Not only is email not dead, it’s quietly thriving. That’s what the latest benchmarking survey of nonprofit organizations from Blackbaud showed. Email volume and recipients for nonprofits soared over the last year, while email lists for each of the survey’s 20 cohort sizes saw positive growth of usable email files. You’d think that means open rates would plummet as as result? Not so! Rates actually were flat.
Even though email far from trendy in the digital world, it’s still the lifeblood of innumerable associations, nonprofits, and issue organizations. Keeping the flow of those messages pumping, then, is critical for the advocacy and fundraising functions of those groups.
The use of large email lists for mass communications, however, places any organization at the peril of being labeled a spammer by service providers. Companies that offer email mailboxes are under no obligation to deliver messages to users’ in boxes if they believe the sender is abusing the tool. Because of this voluntary policing aspect of email, groups that email large lists have to weed out inaccurate or shuttered addresses to avoid being labeled a spammer and having good messages and bad rendered undeliverable.
During a recent Salsa webinar, company vice president Christine Schaefer suggested that organizations aggressively segment their email lists to steer clear of spam filters and boost response rates. She suggested that they take out all email recipients who have taken no action with any message sent by a group for the last six months and place them in a separate one that sends out messages much less frequently.
Schaefer also advised webinar listeners to build email lists only through organic means like in person sign-ups at events or via online petitions, not through swapping lists with other organizations. Otherwise, groups put themselves at risk for acquiring a “spam transmitted disease” by relying on others to clean out bad emails and the corresponding spam traps they carry ahead of time.
This advice runs contrary to what others have written endorsing coordinated email swaps as a proven method for email list growth. I’d be curious what others think of the spam-related risk of email swapping – please use the comment section to weigh in.
When a Montana marmot walked up and licked one of its remote cameras, advocacy professionals at Greenpeace first laughed and posted the video to YouTube. When they suddenly realized the clip had received 50,000 views in a few days, they got to work leveraging this bit of video serendipity for a campaign against coal mining on federal lands. The group shares its lessons for turning marmot licks into conversions.
For some lawmakers, the name on the signature might deter responding to a constituent letter. Researchers from the University of Southern California found that Republicans who had sponsored or co-sponsored voter identification laws were less likely even than other Republicans who didn’t to reply to letters from constituents with traditionally Latino last names.
They may be embarrassingly desperate and downright sketchy, but emails from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee certainly are working. Subject headings literally begging donors for money have helped the DCCC raise $41 million more than its Republican rival during this election cycle.
Connectivity editorial advisor David Karpf writes the DCCC’s campaign looks like it’s run by people on crazy pills because it’s being optimized solely to raise as much money as possible. Doing something else, too — like, “improving the standing of the Democratic Party brand amongst supporters” would take a lot more investment in social listening tools and a completely different way of conceiving of metrics.
The latest issue of NTEN: Change, the organization’s e-magazine, is chock full of examples of advocacy organizations and nonprofits using infographics, images, and maps to demonstrate issues clearly and compellingly. This journal is always jam-packed with good material, but this issue (number 15) really is outstanding.
For organizations that rely on web traffic to drive actions or donations, makings sure every web presence is visually accessible is critical. Early this year, two Blackbaud designers surveyed nonprofit donation pages’ accessibility with the help of visually-impaired participants. They found that hyperlink color choices or italicizing grey text can seriously limit the functionality and readability of pages for those with visual impairments.
Crafting high-quality online advocacy strategies, naturally, includes using strong visual content. Often, the best way to develop that content, Connectivity editorial advisor Colin Delany told the latest Salsa FUSE conference this month, is to jump on existing popular internet memes. Video of his full presentation on online advocacy strategy is posted on the Salsa blog.
Like nearly every other industry sector in the country, the nonprofit world is under increasing pressure to quantify elements of the work it does. Many organizations have responded by gathering data on donors, clients, programs, funding, and the other innumerable inputs. What exactly to do with that data, however remains daunting for many.
One of the major ways nonprofits use the data they collect on the problems their advocacy addresses is to use hard evidence in explaining to donors and supporters why they should support a particular action. Of course, reading a call to action that’s nothing but statistics sucks the life out of any campaign. Should nonprofits, then, massage the rigor of their data analysis to produce better storytelling to rally support?
That’s the question Beth Kanter takes on in her latest blog post. Her analysis of the question builds from a conference experience that’s worth considering in its own right. But what really makes this blog post notable is the dozen of high-quality comments others have added to the conversations. It’s a blogger’s dream come true.
On its third birthday, Karpf praises We the People’s developers for prepping a soon-to-be-launched API, which would get the program around a fundamental problem in its design given that, as a government property, it can’t ethically (or politically) capture user signup data for future activist engagement. Releasing the platform for others to gather signatures and then deliver them to the executive office, “could be a very powerful work-around,” he writes.
He’s in less of a festive mood, however, about We the People’s claim that its user survey showed that nearly 80 percent of people who signed a petition on the site would do it again. Looking at the participation data released by the White House, Karpf notes that only 40 percent of users actually had signed more than one petition in three years.
Connectivity editorial advisor Alan Rosenblatt, an irrepressible force on Twitter as well as a blogging dynamo, shares his rules for engagement in social media fights. While he “doesn’t recommend people getting into debates with trolls and haters,” he gives some advice on how to keep it civil with others who disagree with him politically on social media.
Email still drives 35 percent of gifts to nonprofits. Making email as successful as possible as a fundraising tool, however, takes some planning and design skill, particularly as more and more email is read on mobile devices.
Blackbaud strategy consultant Mike Snusz shares his design and content tips for mobile-friendly email, including ideal pixel sizes for headers (100 px high.) and donate buttons (bigger than you think – at least 44px high.)
“While repeating a phrase like ‘content marketing,’ seems crazy,” for nonprofit website design, “SEO has made keyword repetition throughout your content a necessity,” writes The Campaign Workshop’s founder Joe Fuld. Even if a nonprofit’s website isn’t trying to reach Buzzfeed-type readership levels, planning and following through on an SEO strategy is still needed to get content in front of the right audience when they search.
Fuld offers specific writing techniques that can help, as well as the name of his favorite SEO plugin (YOAST).
It’s quite easy for a supporter of a nonprofit to perform three different tasks online that interact with three different department of the organization. If each gathers profile data as a result (as they should), the resulting data duplication may result in serious customer service issues down the road.
Bear Analytics’ Marissa Maybee urges nonprofits to knock down the departmental silos that may send interactions with members and supporters off the rails. The key is to foster good internal communication across teams so that supporters’ information remains current and personalized no matter which part of the nonprofit contacts them. Or as she writes, “personalization is achieved when an organization utilizes the available information to make service efficient and to make members feel valued.”