Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Fundraising Break Up: A New Video from Network for Good

Network for Good has done it again with this great parody of Microsoft's video "The Break Up" Check it out!

I sincerely hope you're not "that fundraising guy or gal" who:

1) starts every appeal with the mission statement - BORING
2) only sends updates to your donors once a year to ask for the next check - RUDE
3) doesn't connect with your donors as individuals - INSINCERE
4) forgets to say "thank you" - UNTHINKABLE


Monday, March 30, 2009

Social Media 101 for the Arts

Here is the presentation I gave yesterday to a neat group of arts students at American University. Check it out!

A caveat: I stole the "how do you shop and learn" exercise from Hubspot. The social media bandwagon photo in the preso is by MattHamm via Flickr.

My takeaways:

1) Arts orgs seem to be insulated from the broader tech community. As Erica Bonderav, formerly of Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, put it. "We don't get out much, we like to attend our own conferences and sometimes it feels like we're talking to ourselves."

2) Arts orgs have killer content. (I know all you social service orgs out there are jealous!) All they do all day long is create content - music, poetry, dance, etc. - which can easily be re-purposed via the social web.

3) Successful marketing is the lifeblood of these orgs and some of them know it. No awareness, no web visitors, no ticket purchases. Period.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Will Social Media Kill the Radio Star?

This fantastic photo is by Matt Hamm.

Check out this thought provoking article in Email Insider “Will Social Media Kill the Email Star?”

The short answer is, no. The long answer is, maybe.

Social media has fundamentally changed email communications forever. Here’s why:

  • Because of our experience with social media, which is highly personal in tone and relevance, we now expect commercial/organizational emailers to follow suit. As the author says, “batch and blast” just doesn’t measure up.
  • Many organizational emails aren’t RELEVANT, i.e. they don’t speak to me as an individual and they don’t add VALUE to my day.
  • Many organizational emails are driven by brands while social media is driven by people. You can't talk to a brand. You can talk to a person.

What to do?
  • Give your email a human voice. Who is your most enthusiastic employee? Ask them to collaborate on your content.
  • Use data on your stakeholders to create and deliver communications which will speak to ME. This is such a no-brainer but does take time and effort. You’ve simply got to figure out who your online stakeholders are and what they want from you.
  • Finally, do something different with your email. Embed a video, hold a contest, DON’T ask for a donation. In short, mix up your messaging and see what happens.

This post is also archived on Triplex Interactive.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Millenial Philanthropy - An Oxymoron or the Real Deal

Meet Rosetta Thurman.

In case you haven't read it yet, check out my March column in Fundraising Success, Millennial Philanthropy: An Oxymoron or the Real Deal it features an interview with Qui Diaz, keeper of the Alltop blog Evangelist and Director of Strategy for Livingston Communications.

As we all know, a great way to learn a new subject is to get it straight from the proverbial "horse's mouth" so I'm going to continue this conversation on the ins and outs of Millennial philanthropy by interviewing more Millennials! Next up, Rosetta Thurman, another Alltop blogger - Perspectives from the Pipeline - and Director of Development from the Nonprofit Roundtable. I hope you'll take a look.

Want to learn more about engaging the 75 million Gen Y'ers in your cause? Visit Social Citizens and read the paper or add your thoughts here. And stay tuned for more thoughts on Millennial Philanthropy from some of the most thoughtful, passionate and smart young people I know!



Me: Rosetta, do you see yourself as a donor or philanthropist? What do these terms mean to you?

Rosetta: I wouldn’t call myself either. To me, both words connote just giving dollars, while I also volunteer and advocate on behalf of nonprofits as well. I actually prefer the term “social entrepreneur” because it indicates that you do more than give money away, you actually work for social change instead of just throwing money at a problem. Social entrepreneurs donate their money, time, expertise, and voice to a cause that is bigger than just one organization.

Me: Why do you donate?

Rosetta: I was raised by a single mother and we depended on nonprofits to help us make ends meet. That experience called me to begin volunteering at nonprofits and make a career in this sector. So I may be predisposed to donating my money to nonprofits since I have worked in this field for almost seven years…in fundraising no less. I’ve always felt it important to contribute according to my values – whether I'm paying a $5 cover to get into a poetry reading, membership dues to the NAACP, or giving to the organizations where I volunteer and serve as a board member.

To be honest, 2007 was the first year I pulled out my credit card and checkbook to make what were, for me, significant donations to some of my favorite charities. It’s not that I’d been a stingy Scrooge all these years, but as a young professional it was really the first time that I’d earned enough money in my nonprofit job to consider giving a chunk of it to any cause other than my own survival.

Me: What causes are you drawn to and why?

Rosetta: Before I joined a nonprofit board, I went through a process where I thought about which causes I was passionate about outside of the organization where I work. In the Washington DC area, there are over 4,000 nonprofits. I came up with a short list of criteria that fit my personal mission. They include: 1) working in populations of high poverty and 2) serving communities of color. In terms of causes, there are so many I am committed to: homelessness, youth and education, the arts, advocacy, civil rights, and women’s issues. These causes mean the most to me because I have personal experiences with these issues.

Me: How do you make donations (via web, mobile, check, etc.)

Rosetta: I prefer making donations online, but if the charity doesn't have the capacity to accept online contributions, I will send a check.

Me: Are there any particular times of the year that you are more or less motivated to give?

Rosetta: I am always motivated to give and volunteer more at the end of the year around Thanksgiving and Christmas. I feel so blessed with abundance surrounded by family, friends, a roof over my head that my heart hurts especially for those who have none of the things that I often take for granted.

However, this year I felt intense responsibility to my community on Inauguration Day as I listened to President Barack Obama’s speech on the Capitol. It was as if I was in a brand new America. An America where any individual can live their wildest dreams and where our collective action can make a positive difference.

Me: What 1 piece of advice would you give to a nonprofit that wants to attract more Millennial donors?

Rosetta: Please add a “donate now” button to your website! It is the preferred method for me and my peers to make financial transactions of all kinds. Give us a way to engage with your organization if we so desire – let us know about volunteer opportunities and openings on your board of directors. Don’t be afraid to ask us to get our friends involved – we love doing stuff with our friends! And don’t underestimate the power of our networks. We may not know older rich people, but Generation Y knows A LOT of people.

For example, I asked my friends via my blog, Twitter & Facebook to donate $26 in honor of my birthday last year and raised over $600 in a few days for 2 of my favorite charities. I personally did not have $600 to give, but collectively, I was able to raise it from my friends.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Be Channel Agnostic

I received this email last week from Sarah Waters, Director of Communications for The Hearing and Speech Agency.

Hi Jocelyn,

I have a simple, boring question...but it means a lot to a small non-profit:

Do we keep spending $500 to $1,000 on yellow pages ads? I think "no way" (Last time I cracked open a Yellow Pages was back in the 90s on a road trip away from my computer). But my Executive Director is afraid to let go.
Do you have any thoughts?

I love this question because I suspect that (while we won't admit it) most of us are wedded to a particular marketing tactic or technique. Whether it's advertising via the Yellow Pages, sponsoring a local event for the 10th year in a row, or sending out a monthly e-news, we've all been guilty of choosing the channel over the results.

Here is my advice to Sarah.
Be channel agnostic! Don't advertise to advertise. Don't send an annual report by mail just because that's what you've always done. Let your marketing be driven by research and results.

How? Track the number of "leads" you get from each of your outreach tactics for a month. Better yet, encourage everyone in your organization to ask new clients, donors and members, "how did you hear about us?" And, log this information in your database.
By doing this research, you will gain valuable insight regarding how to best reach your stakeholders and you'll have the empirical data to show your Executive Director whether the Yellow Pages work or not!
1 caveat: If the goal of your marketing is brand awareness vs. lead generation then you may want to do some general awareness advertising. However, it's still your responsibility to steward your donor's resources wisely. So even if brand awareness is your end game you should develop some metrics to determine if you're achieving your goals.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Story of Stuff

I came across this video today and was blown away. It is a 1 minute teaser (trailer if you will) for a longer production by Annie Leonard called The Story of Stuff which explores how much it really costs to produce all of the stuff we consume and "calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world." It was designed by the super-creative folks at Free Range Studios.

Here is why it's so damned impressive:

  1. Leonard makes a very complex subject - the social and economics realities of extraction, production, distribution, consumption and disposal of packaged goods - simple.

  2. She also tackles the issues in a straightforward yet non-preachy way.

  3. She uses metaphor INSTEAD of facts and figures to engage.

  4. Her narrative is supported by a stellar piece of creative.

While I'm not suggesting that you create a comic strip to tell your story (although this is an extremely creative technique). I am suggesting that you apply the principles above and below to ALL of your communications efforts going forward.

  • Break your mission into bite-sized pieces - literally. It's an excellent idea to chart your course via a series of emails, videos or direct mail. In other words, don't feed it to me all at once. Give me the time and ability to digest it piece by piece.

  • Don't be Debby Downer. I know your mission is very important but being too serious can also make me feel overwhelmed (even paralyzed) vs. motivated to help.

  • Tell me your story in pictures, sounds and words and if possible help me understand the points you are trying to make by using an analogy.

  • For godsakes, do something different. Kill the talking head. Ask your uncle to write and deliver the script. Introduce me to your neighbor. Anything to break up the monotony.

Don't be fooled, marketing via new media and fresh creative is not a gimmick. It takes bold, interesting and smart marketing to make me stop and think and tell my friends to change the world. The world is waiting. We've got to do better.


P.S. Thanks go to Rick Christ at NPAdvisors for turning me on to Free Range Studios.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Step Up Your Email Marketing - Register Today!

I've been slogging away (not really) for the past 2 days to create the perfect deck for my portion of Step Up Your Email Marketing - a 4-part webinar series - I am curating (not my word) for NTEN Nonprofit Technology Network. It starts this week!

After all this blood, sweat and tears, I hope you'll register today and attend.

OK, seriously... we've lined up some pretty awesome speakers including Alia McKee from Sea Change Strategies and Thomas Gensemer from Blue State Digital (also known as the geniuses behind Obama for America) and yours truly to share strategy and tactics on how you can take your email marketing to the next level.

The best part (shouldn't this be at the top of the email?) is that the cost for this 4 hours of fabulousness is a mere $100 if you register using now using this code "emailforimpact."

See ya' Thursday!


Speaking of Giving Your Best Stuff Away...

Social Networking Primer_2.24.09

Here is a new primer from my company - Triplex Interactive - on how you can use social data - information about where you stakeholders "live" online - to power your online programs. Thanks to The Nature Conservancy; RAINN Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network; and Humane Society of the United States for providing the inspiration!

How are you using the social web to connect with your stakeholders online? Drop me a line at jocelyn.harmon (at) emailforimpact.com or comment on the blog today!



Monday, March 9, 2009

Technology is Just a Tool: Don't Fall Prey to Shiny Object Syndrome

If you get a chance, check out the first 4 minutes of this video. It's an overview of social media for the National Park Service by Geoff Livingston, Principal, Livingston Communication.

Geoff does a nice job of putting social media into perspective, i.e. reminding us that blogs and Twitter and all the sundry social media tools out here are just tools, i.e. they are a means to an end, not the end itself.

As communicators and marketers the end is always looking for opportunities to CONNECT with our stakeholders and build lasting, loyal and fruitful relationships.

In short, don't be seduced (or intimidated) by the tools. Instead, spend the bulk of your time worrying about how to enhance your RELATIONSHIPS with donors, members, volunteers, employees, investors, partners, etc. Once you know who you're talking to and what your trying to say the tactics will fall into place.


CARE Gets the $5K!

Hi all,

Sorry to be so slow on the draw with results of CARE's recent Tweet-A-Thon but in case you haven't heard, CARE didn't get 10,000 tweets but did get $5K anyway from their sponsor NCM Fathom Events.

This campaign is a success story on my book. Look for more Twitter fund and awareness raising events to come your way.



Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Still Skeptical About Social Media? Watch CARE's Campaign in Action!

CARE is running a Tweet-a-Thon - a fundraising contest via Twitter. It started on March 2 and will end on March 5.

Here's the skinny...

All you have to do is Tweet (Twitter's word for post) this phrase #apowerfulnoise before March 5 and NCF Fathom will donate 50 cents per tweet up to 10,000 tweets to CARE. (Quick math - that's $5,000!)


CARE is so smart because not only are they raising money to fund their mission to raise women out of poverty, they are also connecting with 10,000 people who can continue to be evangelists for their cause. When is the last time you got 10,000 donors together to learn more about your mission?

I'm excited to watch this event unfold. Tune in to my blog on Friday or tune into Twitter #apowerfulnoise to see the results.


P.S. Never heard of/not on Twitter yet? Watch this great video from the folks at Common Craft to learn more about this powerful tool and then set up your own FREE account here.

Be Charitable - Give Away Your Best Stuff

This beautiful photo is by Pensiero.
"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." Quote by Howard Aiken from Rules for Revolutionaries: The Capitalist Manifesto for Creating and Marketing New Products and Services by Guy Kawasaki
If you're awake at all these days, you'll notice that the Web is FULL of all sorts of FREE PowerPoint decks, white papers, articles, blog posts, Twitter feeds and video about social media, marketing, communications, fundraising, etc. On top of that there is a HUGE collection of FREE services - Google, Technorati, Alltop, Digg, Scribd, SlideShare, and (of course) YouTube - to help organize and find this content. The Web is a virtual treasure trove of information - much of it good!

Why is it then, that I still hear this refrain from so many? "We can't just give our stuff away, people will steal our ideas."

Hmmm. I think hidden in this comment is arrogance and also ignorance about how the world works in the Connected Age. Don't get caught in the stingy trap.

1. Your ideas are not your ideas unless you have a patent pending. Do you really think you're that unique?

2. Adding value is the currency of the Web and is one of the best ways to market yourself - maybe the only way. People are inured of advertising and sales pitches.

3. Giving your best stuff away shows folks that you know your craft. This should make them MORE rather than LESS interesting in working with you.

4. Being charitable just feels better. Hoarding information takes lots of time and energy and drains your spirit.

OK. There is always an exception to the rule, i.e. those select few who will engage in copyright infringement, steal and go behind your back.

But don't run your business based on the values of the worst of us, attune to the best in humanity.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Love This Good Promo From Ann Taylor Loft

Love this promo that I got today from Ann Taylor Loft. Apparently they've teamed up with Goodwill on this new cause marketing effort. Here's the skinny. I bring in one of my old pair of jeans and I get $15 off a new pair from the Loft. What a great idea - and look - now I'm now an evangelist for the company!

Everyone wants the 2-for-1 in an economy like this. And what's better than being able to do good and shop? My only criticism is that the e-alert doesn't direct me to a website/landing page to learn more about the promotion.

Call your corporate partners today. See if you can work together to create a similar offer. Everyone is looking for creative ways to partner these days.