Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Want Better Fundraising Results? Build Better Relationships.

  • Are you ready to make a significant change in the way that you communicate, cultivate and collaborate with donors this year?  
  • Want tips on how to get closer to your donors?
  • Ready to lose those 10 extra pounds?  (OK, just checking to see if you're paying attention.)
Start the New Year off right, by joining my friend - the fabulous Katya Andresen - and me for a FREE webinar on Tuesday, January 11 at 1:00 EST called How Strong Relationships Can Increase Fundraising Results in 2011.

Katya will review findings from Network for Good's landmark Online Giving Study.  (For a sneak peak, check out my review of the study here.)  We'll also be talking about the Lost Art of Donor Engagement.  Hopefully you'll get some good ideas on how you can reinvigorate your fundraising in 2011 by building strong relationships.

A formal description of the webinar is below.  Register now!


How Strong Relationships Can Increase Fundraising Results in 2011

Network for Good's landmark Online Giving Study examined nearly $400M in donations to 66,470 different nonprofits to identify trends in online giving across nonprofits' websites, donations portals and social networks.  The key finding?  It's all about relationships! 

Join Katya Andresen from Network for Good and Jocelyn Harmon from Care2 as they discuss nonprofit online outreach and fundraising in 2011.  In addition to presenting the study's findings, they'll address:
  • How to strengthen relationships with your current donors
  • Ways to identify and cultivate new supporters
  • Where (and when) to focus your online activities

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Seth Godin on Why It's Bad to Run Your Nonprofit Like a Business

Watch this.  It will only take 4 minutes out of your day.
  • Are you in business to feed an institution or solve a real problem?
  • Do you have opportunities to innovate and thus, sometimes fail miserably at work?
  • Are you ready and willing to go out of business once your issue is solved?
  • Do you often collaborate with other nonprofits because doing so is the best way to achieve a shared vision?
Interesting food for thought.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Oxfam Collection

I LOVE this end of year campaign by Oxfam America.  Check it out for yourself.

What are you doing to create, fun, engaging appeals this holiday season?


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The 4 Forever Facts About Fundraising

It's that time of year when predictions abound. Top 10 lists are on everyone's lips.  Whether it's improving work/life balance, getting over your ex or losing weight, it seems there's a prediction for how everything will or won't change next year.  Even my barista is giving me advice on the economy.  He warned me away from giving him a tip.

"You'll want to keep those pennies in your pocket," he said.  "Things aren't looking good out here.  Better to set something aside for Christmas."

But really, no one knows what's going to happen today, let alone tomorrow.  So, I'm eschewing my list of predictions for 2011. Instead, I'm serving up the four "forever facts" about fundraising. Enjoy!

1. Fundraising is a peer-to-peer sport

Remember those thermometers from the United Way campaigns? Every time a new department or individual gave money the "mercury" would rise closer to the top. As annoying as those were, they actually worked. Why? We all like to know that we're not alone, and conversely, no one wants to be the ONLY ONE who didn't give. Call it groupthink; call it shallow. But people want social proof that others donate too. They also want the reassurance and good feelings that come with knowing that they are part of the club.

What does this mean for you as a fundraiser? Continue to recognize your donors publicly. (Unless, of course, they have asked to remain anonymous.)  Also, encourage donors to share their stories with their friends and family members. This will help you bring new folks into the fold. You can do this online via some great peer-to-peer fundraising tools.

2. Fundraising is not a one-night stand

You've met your goals. Actually, you've exceeded them. Your boss is really happy because you've managed to accomplish so much in a down economy. Here's the rub. You're stewardship stinks. In fact, you don't even have a plan for keeping your newly minted fans in the fold. You're a one-trick pony. Someone forgot to send out the thank-yous.

Fundraising is about being in it for the long haul. It's more akin to a marriage than a one-night stand. Spend as much money (or more) on cultivating your current donors, i.e., the folks who already love you, as you do acquiring new leads.



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Get Ready! Year-End is No Joke for Nonprofits.

My husband and I are ready to make our year-end donations.  We are pouring over hundreds of mail pieces and gift catalogs we’ve stored up over the past few months. We’re also paying more attention to current email solicitations.  The result of our research and discussion will be 2 – 3 major gifts and some smaller gifts in honor of friends and families.

The good news is we’re not alone. 

According to 2010 Holiday Giving: Research and Insights into the Most Charitable Time of the Year by Convio and Edge Research, seventy-four (74) percent of adults plan to give this holiday season a total of $48 billion in donations. This includes $6 billion from online donations, an increase of more than 30% over last year.   

With cash like this at stake, nonprofits (that means you!) need to get ready, and fast! Year-end is no joke for charitable organizations.  Some nonprofits are projected to raise 30 – 40% of their entire budgets in the final 4 weeks of the year!

Here are Convio’s tips for getting ready to capitalize on the generosity of consumers around the holiday season.  My advice is also sprinkled in!

  • Use all your channels.  Year-end is NOT a time to be operating in silos.  Donors don’t care if you work for the online, telemarketing, or direct mail department.  Instead of being channel-centric, be donor-centric.  In short, put the egos aside, fire on all cylinders and provide your donors with myriad ways to give.  This will help you attract more cash!  According to the Convio study, “72% of donors say that they will give through two or more channels.”  
  • Ask for big gifts online.  Repeat after me.  “Online is not just for small-dollar gifts.”  Don’t underestimate your donors.  Instead, be sure to provide ask strings that allow for and encourage “major,” i.e. $500, $1,000 gifts.  According to the Convio study, “high-dollar donors are as likely to give online (25% vs. 21% overall).  Online donors also intend to donate more than the average holiday giver ($378 vs. $281.).” For more information on cashing in on major gifts online, read The Wired Wealthy: Using the Internet to Connect with Middle and Major Donors by Convio, Edge Research and SeaChange Strategies.
  •  Be emotional.   Be sure to include photos in your appeals and write copy that is compelling and emotional. Regardless of what channels you use, crappy copy is crappy copy.  Thus, it’s critical to invest the time and effort to tell the most compelling stories about your work.  This means LOSING THE STATISTICS and instead, telling one story (per email) about an individual or furry friend who has benefitted from your work.  According to the Convio’s research, “donors say they are moved by appeals that focus on humans, animals or places in need of help.” 
  • Don’t call in sick on December 28th, 29th, 30th or 31st According to Marc Cannon, VP of Services for Convio, “In reviewing giving data and patterns for 2009, we found that response rates for email sent on December 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st of 2009 were virtually equivalent. The data shows that reaching out to people driven by the year-end deadline is effective at any point in the last four days of the year. In short, don’t give up on year-end too early.  Also, be sure to send your appeals during office hours; people give at work.  In fact, try to be in the in-box first thing in the morning when folks are still enjoying that first cup of coffee.
Want more tactical advice on what you can do NOW to get ready for year-end?  Register today for Care2’s FREE webinar – The Procrastinator’s Guide to 2010 Year-End Fundraising on December 9th from 2:00 – 3:00pm.

Good luck!


Monday, November 29, 2010

Forget Cyber Monday. Buy Green Gifts Today!

Green Gift Monday

If you're like most Americans, you'll spend at least a portion of your day at work today (Admit it.  I know you do it too!) scanning the Internet for holiday gifts.  It's Cyber Monday - one of the busiest shopping days of the year for online retailers. In fact, last year it's estimated that consumers spent $890 million online.  Yikes!

I'm all for fueling the economy, but do we have to do it with junk?  The folks at The Nature Conservancy say, "Heck no!"  And, they've come up with some great gifts ideas that are bound to spread joy and cheer this season without ending up in a landfill.  Check out their new site Green Gift Monday for ideas.

I'm partial to giving donations to friends and family members in lieu of gifts.  But if you've got to have something in your stocking, how about gifts made from recycled materials?  Buying experiences is another option.  One of the best gifts I ever received was a night out on the town with my hubby!

Another great way to "green" your holiday season is to send FREE e-cards instead of paper.  (Check out the options we offer at Care2.)  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans send 1.9 billion Christmas cards each year.  I love beautiful cards too, but again it's important to think of the environmental cost of all that paper waste!

Check out The Nature Conservancy's Green Gift Monday Guide for more ideas on how to "green" your holiday season.

What's your best green gift?


Monday, November 22, 2010

Lose the Statistics: Take 2

Last week, I wrote this post about the importance of NOT including statistics in your year-end appeals (and for that matter your year-round appeals) if your goal is to raise more money.

The main point I made is this.  According to research in behavioral economics, statistics actually depress giving by making us go into an analytical vs. empathic state of mind. 

However, I left out an important part of the research.  Please see below.
"A study by researchers Deborah Small, George Lowenstein and Paul Slovic examined the impact difference types of appeals had on charitable giving to a hunger relief organization. 
The first appeal asked donors to help Rokia, a young girl from Mali who was very poor and who faced starvation. 
The second appeal presented facts and statistics about the millions of hungry children facing starvation in African countries. 
The third appeal included BOTH (my emphasis) the personal story and the facts about widespread starvation.

People shown the personal story donated twice as much money overall as those given the facts and figures. 
The third appeal - the combination of the personal story and statistics - worked only slightly better than the facts-only appeal."
Again, we know that statistics alone are BAD, BAD, BAD for fundraising.  Phrases like - "925 million people are going hungry" DO NOT MOVE PEOPLE TO ACTION. 


LOSE THE STATISTICS!  Focus on one story about one individual.  See what happens.



P.S.  For more on behavioral economics and what it means for your fundraising program, check out this FREE e-book, Homer Simpson for Nonprofits: The Truth About What People Really Think and What it Means for Promoting Your Cause by my friends Katya Andresen of Network for Good, and Alia McKee and Mark Rovner of Sea Change Strategies.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Want to Raise More Money This Holiday Season? Lose the Statistics.

  • 6 million children die of hunger each year.
  • 200 million people around the world could be displaced by more intense droughts, sea level rise and flooding by 2080.
  • 77% of students say that they have been bullied.
These are just a a few examples of the types of statistics that you can find on most nonprofit websites. 

Facts like these are the backbone of many a "case for support."  The problem is that research shows that, contrary to popular belief, statistics like these DON'T MOVE PEOPLE TO ACTION.  Instead, they actually DEPRESS fundraising results.

A new book, Change of Heart: What Psychology Can Teach Us About Spreading Social Change by Nick Cooney, documents research which shows why statistics don't work.  Namely, statistics lead us to think analytically and "thinking analytically actually reduces people's generosity." 

"A study by researchers Deborah Small, George Lowenstein and Paul Slovic examined the impact different types of appeals had on charitable giving to a hunger relief organization. 
The first appeal asked donors to help Rokia, a young girl from Mail who was very poor and who faced starvation. 
The second appeal presented facts and statistics about the millions of hungry children facing starvation in African countries. 
The third appeal included both the personal story and the facts about widespread starvation. 
Which of these three ads would you guess generated the largest amount of donations from study participants?

People shown the personal story donated twice as much money overall as those given the facts and figures.  The third appeal - the combination of the personal story and statistics - worked only slightly bettern than the facts-only appeal...

If our minds worked logically then learning the statistics on how millions of children are starving should make us give more than learning about the plight of one individual child, yet the opposite results were found... Thinking analytically reduces most people's generosity (Small, Lowenstein and Slovic 2005)."
The other problem is that people don't trust numbers.  You've heard the saying, "Figures don't lie.  But liars figure."

So what's a nonprofit to do? 

You've heard this before, but according to the research above, the best way to motivate people to give more money is to appeal to their EMOTIONS vs. their REASON. One way to do this is to tell a story about ONE person, animal, etc. and lose the statistics.

CARE is good at this.  Check out this appeal that I received in my inbox today.

By focusing on one mother - Hasana - CARE tells a powerful story about the impact of poverty on one human being.  According to the study above, this appeal should outperform others which focus on the collective impact of poverty and hunger.  

Another way to appeal to people's emotions vs. reason is to use lots of images in your fundraising materials.  For example, I love the way that Vital Voices (literally) highlights the women it serves.  These photos speak louder than words and help connect me to their work.

Have you done a similar analysis of fundraising appeals in your organization?  

Got any examples of nonprofits that do a particularly good job of telling stories about how INDIVIDUALS are impacted by their work?  Please comment below or send them my way.

Happy fundraising!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Women Rule the Philanthropic Roost!

“I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again”
Remember this little ditty by Helen Reddy?  I know; I’m dating myself. 

I started humming it after reading Women Give 2010, a new study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. 

It shows – what many us already know – women rule the philanthropic roost!
According to the study, “women at every income level give to charity more often than men do.  What’s more, at almost every income level, the amount women gave exceeded that of men in comparable circumstances. For example, women who earn $23,509 or less gave an average of $540 per year to charity, while men in that income bracket with similar life circumstances (such as education and number of children) gave $281. Women who earn more than $103,000 annually gave $1,910 to charity, while their male counterparts gave $984.”  You can check out the study here.
What this means for you as a fundraiser. 

If you don’t already have a strategy for connecting with women, you need one!
“If you do not pay attention to women, you will lose out on a huge audience. This trend will continue as women continue to gain income, education, and wealth. Women also outlive men, so you really have to pay attention to women as donors,” said Debra Mesch, the study’s author.
A strategy for reaching out to women should include an understanding of why women give, when, where, and how.  It should also include a plan for recruiting more women to your organization or cause.

Care2 (my company) can help!

75% of our 14 million + members are women! 

In addition, we have a great Women’s Rights Cause Channel, where you can guest blog for FREE!

Finally, when you run a campaign with Care2, we promote it via some great women’s sites, including CafĂ© Mom, and Ms.Magazine.  Check out the Care2 widget below.

Sing it with me…
“I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman!”

Monday, November 1, 2010

How WHOLE is Your Heart?

  • Are you afraid to speak up?
  • Do you worry that you are not enough?
  • Do you pretend to be dumber or smarter than you are?
  • Are you hiding for fear of people finding out the truth about you?
This inspiring TED talk by Brene Brown confirms what many of us forget but already know.  Having an open and WHOLE heart means being vulnerable.  It means showing the parts that hurt and being willing to risk embarrassment, fear and shame.

Vulnerability or "the state of being exposed" is not comfortable.  In fact it can make you feel anxious, sleepless and tense.  But that is not the point.  The point is that it being vulnerable is the bridge to get us to the other side.  To enable us to commune with each other. 

Every time you risk loving someone who doesn't love you back.  Every day you say "hello" first.  Every minute you listen deeply instead of talking.  You sow the seeds of trust.  You also exercise your own emotional muscles.

Tell the truth about who you are, where you stand, and what you believe.  Live with compassion.

Warmest regards,


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Apply for a $15,000 Youtopia Grant!

Contests are springing up all over the Web!  I blogged about the Discovery Communications Creating Change initiative below.  This one comes from the super-creative folks at FreeRange Studio, of The Meatrix and The Story of Stuff, fame. 

Apply today for their 2010 Youtopia Grant.  You may win $15,000 worth of design and/or strategic communications services in the areas of:
  • strategic consulting;
  • identity design;
  • web design;
  • print design; and,
  • online movies (super cool!)
Learn more about the grant and apply todayDeadline is October 15.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Discovery Communications Provides FREE Marketing Support to Nonprofits in DC

Awareness is the first step in the engagement funnel.  That's a basic marketing concept.  But talk ain't cheap!  There are those banner ads to produce and those creative types to hire.  What's a nonprofit to do?

Discovery Communications has launched Creating Change, a 12-hour marathon to help as many nonprofits as possible fulfill some of their marketing and communications needs.

Here’s how the pro-bono project works. 
  1. Nonprofits based in or with offices in DC (that’s you!) apply for assistance on one or several of the projects below.  Deadline to apply is October 22. 
  2. Winning organizations will be notified in November.  
  3. Discovery Communications will match its’ creative employees with nonprofits in need.
  4. The 12-hour marathon will be held on December 14.  All projects will wrap by December 15.
Eager to produce that gorgeous new piece of collateral?  Ready to FINALLY finalize that video spot?  

Apply today!  Good luck.

  • Print Advertising Design: Full-page print ad design (that can be applied to magazine, newspaper ad insertions, event-related programs, etc.)
  • On-Air/Video: PSAs :15 or :30, Short Web Video
  • Collateral: Logos, Brochures, Posters, Letterhead
  • Event Support: Event Concepting, Event Collateral
  • Online: Banner Ads, Electronic Press Kits, Evite/Email Design, Website Design, Widget
  • PR/Media Support: Press Release, Fact Sheets, Mission Statement, Media Training, Crisis Communications
  • Expertise: Social Media Tutorial/Set-up, Internal Communications  

Friday, October 1, 2010

Content, Content, Content

I just read a great post by my dear friend, Katya Andresen, author of Nonprofit Marketing Blog, which provides a great overview of ComScore's new study on how people are using the Internet in Canada. 

After giving us some great stats, she concludes that bad content is still a deal breaker. 
"These tools only work well when they are used to share amazing content.  Nonprofits take heed:  the tools are cool but if you use them to transmit tired message, they won’t do you much good."
I couldn't agree more.  It's such an important message but one that is clearly hard to INTERNALIZE for many.  (You know who you are!)

So I thought I'd create a list of my top 5 resources for helping you to create better content.  Any resources that you love that I missed?


1. Copyblogger is hands down the best blog for learning to write (you guessed it) COPY for the Web.  I read it everyday.  You should too!

2. Andy Goodman is still one of my favorite storytellers and has some great FREE resources for helping nonprofits perfect the art of storytelling via PowerPoint, in particular.

3. Storycorps "provides Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our times."  NPR broadcasts many of their stories.  You can also listen to them via the Storycorps website.  They will inspire you to seek out, record, and share the PERSONAL stories of the PEOPLE attached to your cause, including your own!

4. TED.com, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design is a website which hosts "riveting talks by remarkable people."  Again, check out TED to get inspired to create your own great narratives.  Start with the talk below.

Annie Lennox: Why I am an HIV/AIDS activist

5. The Mercifully Brief Real World Guide to Raising Thousands (if Not Tens of Thousands) of Dollars with Email by Madeline Stanionis, CEO and Co-Founder of Watershed gives you exactly what it promises - a BRIEF and PRACTICAL overview of how to succeed with email marketing.  As you know, email is still the key driver of online giving.  (You know this, right?)  Be sure to master Chapter 5 - Compose Yourself.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Last Day to Vote for Your Favorite NTEN Session!

Are you attending the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) in March 2011?  If so, be sure to vote for your favorite sessions TODAY.  There are HUNDREDS to choose from.

Also, please vote for the sessions below that will feature ME!  To vote, go to the links below and click on the appropriate star.  (Think 5 = Double Rainbow)


To Diversify and Beyond: Engagement, Accountability and Nonprofits

Yes, I'm still talking about diversity!  :) What it is.  Why nonprofits need to think about it and how to do it.

Miss Manners @ NTC: Online Communication Etiquette 

You're online. What now?  And, where are you manners?  Be sure that you are communicating effectively and with the utmost care with all of your supporters.  This session will include my brilliant frolleagues Sarah Durham, Prinicipal and Founder of Big Duck and Katya Andresen, Chief Operating Officer of Network for Good.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Apply for a FREE Website Makeover Today!

If you've been reading the blog lately, you know that I've been writing a LOT about websites - the good, the bad and the ugly.

You're probably sick of hearing it, but your website is your window to the world. 
Like it or not, to survive in this competitive client, you've simply got to beef up your website.

Lucky for you there is a new contest you can enter today to win a website makeover!

1st Prize includes:
  • A 10 page website:
  • 10 logo concepts; and
  • Unlimited revisions
Don't wait.  Nominate your favorite nonprofit (including your own) today! Nominations will be accepted until October 31st.  From 11/1 - 11/15, visitors to the contest will vote for the top three nonprofits to win the prize packages.  

Good luck!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Nonprofits SERIOUSLY Need to Get Serious About Diversity

This spring, the Urban Institute and the Racial Diversity Collaborative released a study called, Measuring Racial-Ethnic Diversity in the Baltimore-Washington Region's Nonprofit Sector. The study found, like others, that “nonprofit sector leadership lags population diversity.”

Specifically, while people of color comprise 49% of the population in the region, they make up only 22% of nonprofit leaders. In addition, the study found that Executive Directors of Color mostly lead local or regional, not national organizations. “Nearly all (92 percent) national organizations are led by non-Hispanic white executive directors.”

This week, a new study from the Chronicle of Philanthropy, called Women and Minorities Lag in Appointments to Top Fundraising Jobs, shows that only 7% of Chief Development Officers at the Top 400 nonprofits are people of color.

As a black woman, I found these studies VERY DISCOURAGING. Still, I can’t say that the findings are “news.”


Attend any nonprofit conference and peruse the staff and board pages of most nonprofit websites and you will discover this truth. The nonprofit sector is really white.

For the record, there is nothing wrong with being white! There are lots of amazing white people in the world doing important, world-changing work. The problem is that there are a disproportionate number of white folks running charitable organizations. This means that similarly talented, amazing people of color are squeezed out. It also means that our movements and organizations suffer from a lack of diverse perspectives and donors.

The lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the nonprofit sector - especially at the highest levels of leadership - needs to be addressed and soon!  This disparity exists in stark contrast to a country that is changing rapidly. Specifically, by 2042, the Census Bureau estimates that the majority of Americans will be people of color.

While new research to address gender and age stratification in charities is being released, the discussion of racial and ethnic stratification in the nonprofit sector continues to stall. This needs to CHANGE.

Here are my top 3 reasons that nonprofits SERIOUSLY need to GET SERIOUS about diversity, now!
  • No diversity = No new donors. Donors are people too and they need to see themselves represented on the boards and staff of organizations they support. They also need to feel like the organization they invest in are engaged with and support their communities. Seems like a no-brainer to me. Want more new donors of color? Hire diverse staff.
  • No diversity = No new perspectives. While it's true that simply being African America, Asian American or a Latina doesn't make you an authority on all things related to race and class, there is a good chance that by having a diverse staff and diverse constituents, you will bring new ideas and programmatic solutions to the table.
  • No diversity = No differentiation. Call me manipulative, but look around. Are other nonprofits in your space, i.e. your competitors and collaborators, reaching out to people of color? If the answer is "NO," then building bridges to people of color may give you a competitive advantage. Just as for-profits scrambled to connect with the "women's market" 10 years ago, smart nonprofit will start connecting with new donors of color, now!
For more resources on diversity (or lack thereof) in nonprofits, check out this post by me on Web of Change.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Don't Miss Women Who Tech Teleconference TOMORROW!

My brilliant frolleague, Allyson Kapin, is hosting the 3rd Annual Telesummit for Women in Technology TOMORROW - September 15 from 11am - 6pm EDT.  Don't miss it! 

Are you a woman (or man) who is passionate about the role that women are playing in technology?  Then you can't afford to miss this very affordable event.  (It's only $20!)

Register now!

I'm particularly excited about these sessions with Beth Kanter, Clay Shirky and Elisa Camahort Page, respectively.

Social Media ROI - 2:00pm - 3:00pm EDT
Self Promotion: Is This Really a Rant About Gender? - 3:30pm - 4:30pm EDT
Female Ferocity: How Tapping Your Own Alpha Bitch Can Be a Good Thing!  - 5:00pm - 6:00pm EDT

Check out all of the panels and the awesome women speaking

Hope to hear you there!


P.S. Can't make it tomorrow?  Be sure to check out Frogloop, Care2's nonprofit online marketing blog next week.  We'll summarize some of the sessions.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New Donors are Looking for You Online

Heart of the Donor, a new study by Russ Reid, provides some very good information on who gives to nonprofits, why, and how.

For example, according to the report:
  • Men and women are equally likely to be donors.
  • People who give to a place of worship are far more generous than people who don't give to a place of worship. 
  • Parental involvement is one of the strongest predictors of charitable behavior, i.e. parents who don't volunteer or donate have less charitable children than parents who are involved with nonprofits.
If you're looking for hard data on giving behavior, I encourage you to download the full study here.

In reviewing the report, I was intrigued by the analysis (see below) of how people learn about organizations they've never heard of before.  After all, knowing how, when and where people find us is a key marketing challenge.  By knowing how new "leads" come into the organization, we can determine how to best spend our marketing dollars.

This study confirms what I've long suspected. Websites are THE key source of information about charities that are new to prospective donors.  Thus, websites are important - not just because they enable online donations - but because people use them to research charities they've never heard of before.

What does this mean for your nonprofit?

You've got to get your website into shape!  There are TONS of resources out here to help you; simply search for "nonprofit website design."  Please do it now before the new neighbors come over. :)

Also, take heed of your reputation online.  Sign up for Google Alerts so that you receive updates every time your organization shows up on the Web.  And, consider blogging so that you can control what is said about you and your cause.

New donors are hard to find.  Don't make the mistake of turning them off when they discover you.  Instead, transform your website into a warm and welcoming place and invite folks over to stay!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Guilt Free Sushi!

Story month is over but this great educational video comes from the folks at Living Oceans.  Who doesn't LOVE the idea of guilt free sushi?

I was particularly moved by Chef Hajime Sato's quote below.
"One or two or three or five sushi bars that's sustainable is not going to really change the world...BUT  if I can convince enough people to change JUST A LITTLE BIT - it MAKES a HUGE DIFFERENCE."

P.S.  Want to learn more about sustainable seafood?  Check out SeaChoice.

Monday, August 16, 2010

My Bionic Hand

Lanie, Alex, and Eric Jones

One of my fondest memories of childhood is listening to my grandmother read aloud.  On long road trips, she would dive into detailed descriptions of Narnia or wow me with the latest detective work of Nancy Drew.  I can still remember vivid descriptions of Edward and Lucy being trapped in the wardrobe. And, I can hear Nancy "getting her man" and solving the case.

While it's not exactly the same experience, it is possible to listen to stories via the Internet.  Podcasting now makes it possible to record, share and replay conversations from just about anywhere.  It's yet another medium for sharing our messy, musical lives with one another.

Click on the link above to hear a short conversation between Eric Jones and his children Lanie and Alex.  In this piece, we get a glimpse into what it's like to have a father with a bionic hand. 

This true narrative comes from StoryCorps, an ambitious and beautiful project, to "provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives."  Could there be a better mission?!

Consider including audio podcasts in your storytelling repertoire, especially if you work with people who struggle with the written word.   (Literally) giving voice to your cause is another way to connect people to the soul of your work.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Story of the Day: Why Not?

As I mentioned earlier this week, August is officially story month on the blog.  

Why Not? encapsulated in a 438 word-count email by Jeremy Ben-Ami, President of J Street touched me because of its' personal and inspiring tone. 

Note:  It's not a story about a client or donor.  Instead, it's a PERSONAL REFLECTION by an organizational leader.

We don't hear enough authentic writing from leaders, which is part of the reason that this email breaks through the clutter.  Kudos to Ben-Ami for writing a thoughtful and emotional piece.

When is the last time you or your Executive Director wrote a reflective communication?  Try it.  It may re-energize YOU and your constituents.



P.S.  I found this story on Progressive Exchange, an online community to aid the online efforts of progressive causes, campaigns, and organizations.  It was posted by Michael Hoffman of See3 Communications.

Asked to write a short piece on the topic of beginning again recently, I reflected on the possibility of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians re-starting in the coming days and weeks.

I wrote that - when it comes to trying something again - there's often a little too much "can't" in the world, and not enough "why not?"
It's just my nature, but I find little else as frustrating as being told a problem isn't solvable, or a goal unattainable. 
I never understood why, in law school, professors rewarded students for spotting issues and problems - rather than for coming up with solutions.
Nor do I understand why bold, new thinking so often meets out-of-hand rejection.  I just point to my friend who pitched several companies fifteen years ago with the design of a slim machine on which you could read books without paper.  They laughed.
Coming up with reasons not to take chances is easy. Passing the buck, pinning the blame on someone else, saying you can't - all easy.
But, in my book, trying and failing is no excuse for not starting again. 
We tell our children to get back in the saddle when they fall off a bike and to get back in the batter's box when they swing and miss. 
Why do we accept anything less as adults - in matters as important as life and death, war and peace?
Sure, we've all heard why Middle East peace can't happen.  How there are no partners.  How everything was tried ten years ago and it failed.  We've been told that those of us who believe are few and far between and that our limited power can't have an impact.
But why not?
That's my thought for Mahmoud Abbas this weekend as he ponders whether to say yes or no to starting direct talks with Israel. Click here to read J Street's statement from last week urging Abbas to enter direct negotiations.
Beginning anew means refusing to accept things as they are.  It means believing that, with effort, the power of good, of hope and of peace can and will overcome the daunting power of the status quo. 
New beginnings demand that we dream a better future and relentlessly ask why not.
Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will require President Abbas, Prime Minister Netanyahu and, yes, President Obama to lead, to take risks, to defy the naysayers ... and to begin again.
Why not?
Shabbat Shalom, and have a great weekend, 
- Jeremy 
Jeremy Ben-Ami
, President
, J Street
, August 13, 2010

J Street is the political home of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I keep coming across WONDERFUL stories on the web this week.  So, I've decided that August will be "story month" on the blog. Keep checking back our subscribe today (enter your email address on the left side bar) to see the stories that are inspiring me.

Want me to feature your organizational story or video on Marketing for Nonprofits? Contact me at jocelyn_harmon (at) yahoo (dot) com.

This short video features Marcus a young boy living at Union Rescue Mission, an organization working to end homelessness in Los Angeles. He takes us on a short journey through his daily life at the Mission.

Video is such a powerful medium.  But don't take my word for it, watch it!  Then buy a Flip Video Camera today and start interviewing your clients, donors and volunteers.  Ask them why they work with you.  Next, upload these videos to You Tube (they have a nonprofit channel) or another video site, like Vimeo.  Finally, start sharing your works of art via all your marketing channels - e-newsletter, website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.

It's a great way to SHOWcase your mission!


P.S.  This video could be even stronger with a specific call to action at the end, like "GIVE to Union Rescue Mission now and help young boys like Marcus find a way home."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Gulf Coast and You!

Regardless of what you read in the news, it's clear that the damage from the BP oil DISASTER is not over.  Just five years after Katrina, Gulf Coast residents are now confronted with polluted water, endangered marine life, and a seriously damaged economy.

My colleague, Geoff Livingston and his partners at Zoetica are hoping to do something about this disastrous state of affairs by organizing (along with a number of other partners) the CitizenGulf National Day of Action on August 25th Their goal are threefold:
  1. To raise $100,000 for Catholic Charities of New Orleans through social media driven events and donations.
  2. To get 10,000 people to take action to help the Gulf by attending a CitizenGulf meet up, donating, or voting for this Good Gulf Idea in the Pepsi Refresh contest
  3. To get 1% of all the people taking actions to build their own CitizenGulf projects with a target of 100 new projects.
You can learn more about the initiative here.

This ambitious event is a very interesting exercise in crowdsourcing - "the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to a large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call."

Similar events have been done before with stellar and mediocre results.  Let's be honest, there is a LOT of heavy lifting that has to be done to motivate an unpaid crowd. This work is usually done by a small, committed group of employees or volunteers.  However, when crowdsourcing works, it can be a tremendous boon to nonprofits who save time and money and (perhaps most important) build strong ties with their constituents.  Also, by giving everyday people (like you and me!) ways to make a difference and lead our own change efforts, we all become EMPOWERED ACTORS vs. passive observers of our world.  

I hope you'll take action to help our brothers and sisters in the Gulf recover from this most recent storm.  I also hope you'll follow CitizenGulf as it unfolds.  It may give you ideas about how you can use crowdsourcing to advance your cause.


Sunday, August 8, 2010


Will you like me if I whine and worry and wail?

What if I blather on? And, take too long to make my point?

Will you hate me if I curse? If I lie just a little.

What if it's obvious that I'm S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G The Truth?

Will you feel annoyed if I ask too much?  If the words I use are not my own?

Does my voice make you cry and sigh and cringe? Do I say too much?  Or too little?

Do I make you want to STOP listening?


Please be patient with me.

My voice is my life.  It BREATHES.  It carries me forward.

Let me learn it.  Let me use it.  I don't want to be afraid of my own stories.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Want a Better Website? Put it to the Test!

My new friend

After viewing the photo, I looked for the email sign-up box.  Full disclosure: My job is to help nonprofits succeed at list-building and email marketing so this is an important feature that I always look for on websites.

Unfortunately, there is no sign-up box on Lets Give Them Hope.  Bad news.  Why?  It means that there is no way for me to ENGAGE with this organization unless I make a donation, which I'd never do on a first date!

Rule #3:  Turn your website into a list-building tool by putting an email sign-up box on EVERY page of your website.  This will enable you to build your database, stay in touch with constituents, and convert them into donors over time.


We are a Christian non-profit organization building Care points of hope in vulnerable communities across sub-Saharan Africa where HIV/AIDS, poverty and numbers of orphans are highest and support structures are very low. Our ministry is aimed in skill building and raising up talent which can be used in the future.
Rule #4:  In ALL of your marketing materials (this means your website too), use words and images that make your mission concrete.  Stay away from buzz words and phrases that are well understood by organizational insiders but mysterious to outsiders. Remember: I am totally new to your organization!

Finally, I clicked on the Donate button.

Unfortunately, this part of the website is not complete.  Still, here are some tips for ensuring that "your site as a whole is a machine which generates financial support."  (This great quote is from Measure Everything by Shabbir  Imber Safdar.)

Rule #5: Make your donate button BIG And BOLD so that people can find it!  And, put it on every page of your site.

Rule #6: Streamline your donation form.  Only ask for critical information.  This will reduce donation form abandonment.

Rule #7: Put a link to your privacy policy on your donation form to assure people that their credit card information is safe.

For more advice on building and optimizing donation pages on your site, see The 2010 Overachiever's Guide to Year-End Fundraising

Thursday, August 5, 2010


This is an example of the pure, potent power of story telling.  After watching this, don't you want to learn more about Vital Voices?  Don't you want to learn more about Kakenya?

Please watch!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Two New Free Fundraising e-Books for You!

Can you believe that summer is almost over?!  Before you know it we'll be deep into year-end fundraising.

The bad news is that play days are nearly done. The good news is that there are two new FREE fundraising e-books that will help you get energized and ready for the huge influx of donations that will (hopefully) come your way this holiday season. :)

The first is The 2010 Overachiever's Guide to Year-End Fundraising by my frolleagues, Alia McKee of SeaChange Strategies and Eric Rardin of Care2.

The Guide outlines the 9 steps you can take today to get your "fundraising on." To read more about these tips, check out this post on Frogloop.  You can also download the FREE whitepaper here.

The second is How to Raise a Lot More Money Now: 50 Great Ideas from 11 Top Experts.  It includes advice from Katya Andresen of Network for Good, Marc Rovner of SeaChange Strategies, Kivi Leroux Miller of Nonprofit Marketing Guide and me!

Here are 3 of my favorite tips.
  •  "Overdo it.  Be too dramatic.  Too emotional.  Too strong.  It's a lot easier to tone it down than it is to pump up weak and underdone copy."  - Jeff Brooks, True Sense Marketing
  • "Take pictures of your clients holding signs that say Thank You and share them with your supporters on your website, in email, and via social media."  - Kivi Leroux Miller, Nonprofit Marketing Guide
  • "7 Reasons Why: Craft seven reasons why prospects should support your organization - give each one a headline with two to three sentences expanding the point - and build a mini campaign around it. Put a link on your home page, add to your navigation, feature in your e-news and more... People crave lists like this." - Nancy Schwartz, Getting Attention

You can download the e-book for FREE here.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Want to Build Community Online? Become a Bridge Builder.

This magnificent photograph is from Giorgo's photostream on Flickr.

In her new book, The Nonprofit Marketing Guide: High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Build Support for Your Good Cause, Kivi Leroux Miller asserts that in the "Connected Age" marketers have to learn to become community managers vs. mass marketers. 
"The nonprofits that are best at building supportive communities around their causes that they can tap into over time -- not just for money, but for everything from favors that open the right door to got-your-back moral support -- will ultimately be more successful in achieving their missions than those who forgo community in favor of the traditional mailing list approach to managing relationships."
 I agree!  In fact, I've been thinking about this a lot.

Marketing online, in particular, is much more than putting up a static website to announce your gala or ask people to volunteer.  It's about having a CONVERSATION with people who care about your work and can help you reach your goals.

OK, you've heard this before.  But the real question is, HOW do you become a community manager and/or how do you find the right person for the job?  What is the skill set you should be looking for?

According to Fever Bee - The Online Community Guide, there are 5 roles you need to fill when building an online community team and/or hiring an online community manager.  Note: It may be hard to find all these roles in one person.  I've lifted this list directly from their site.
  1. The friend: engages people individually. (S)He participates in an online community, he messages lots of people to get them involved, he takes the time to cultivate loosely interested members into regulars.
  2. The recruiter: persuades people to join the online community. (S)He finds people that have something to contribute and builds relationships with them to join and invite others to do the same. He ensures steady supply of members to replace those that leave.
  3. The enforcer: The enforcer keeps things clean. (S)He removes the naughty posts, scolds the bad members and ensures nothing gets in the way of members participating in the online community.
  4. The editor: Implements much of the community strategy. (S)He solicits content, decides who/what matters. He has the power to shine a spotlight on members of the community and reward positive actions. Whenever you want the community to do something, he motivates them to do it.
  5. The entrepreneur: is to an online community what a business development manager is to a business. He looks for opportunities to add value to the community. Creates alliances, advocates on behalf of the community and generates the income.
I would add a sixth role to the list - the bridge builder.

The bridge builder: is a person with a large and diverse network, who is adept at connecting with people across "borders."  (S)he seeks out people with different cultural experiences, ethnic identities, worries, competencies, and concerns and revels in engaging with people who have different identities and points of view.

Why do we need more bridge builders?  We live in a DIVERSE world!

For example, the Census Bureau estimates that by 2042, the U.S. be a "majority-minority" nation.  In fact, in four states - California, New Mexico, Texas and Hawaii - "minorities" already comprise a majority of the population.  And, in Maryland, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, New York and Mississippi, the percentage of non-Hispanic white residents has fallen below 60%.

Being responsive to the changing demographics of our communities and our nation can only serve to enhance our work by helping us:
  • design programs that work for more people;
  • make our communications resonate;
  • raise more money; and
  • win more advocacy battles.
In short, it's good for the "bottom line(s)." 

So, here are some questions for you.  I'd sincerely appreciate any insight you have re: bridge building at your nonprofit.  Please leave your feedback in the comments!
  • How are you reaching out to diverse constituents online?
  • Do you know key demographics (i.e, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious persuasion, age, etc.) of the people you serve and the people who give to your organization?  If so, how did you discover this information?
  • Does your staff, particularly your key leadership, reflect the community that you serve? If so, how have you been successful at recruiting and retaining a diverse staff?

Friday, July 16, 2010

No (Social Media) Soup for You!

I had the privilege of talking with about twenty grassroots nonprofits last week.  The topic?  Social media.

I presented an overview of social media.  What it is.  What it isn't.  Why anyone should care.  Then I talked about developing a social media strategy before diving in.

I've given this presentation about a dozen times and the more I give it, the more I realize that most small nonprofits are NOT READY for social media. (There - I said it!)

In order to do social media well it has to be INTEGRATED with other channels like your website and email.  You also have to have a writer on staff, i.e. someone who can create interesting, relevant content that people will want to read, comment on, and share.

Most small nonprofits simply do not have the technological infrastructure (a functional Content Management System, Email Services Provider or Donation Processing Tool) in place to do online communications well.  They're also lacking the staff capacity and talent to create compelling content.

Instead of alleviating their communications problems, a foray into social media land (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube), just makes matters worse. Small organizations simply ensure that their limited resources will be spread even THINNNNNNNER.

Here's my advice:

1. Build an email list
2. Fix your website
3. Learn to write

Nail the basics first.  Then you can have some soup!


Monday, July 12, 2010

Are You a Relationship Wrecker?

This is an excerpt from my July column in Fundraising Success. Check it out!

There is a lot of talk these days about the importance of relationship building for successful fundraising, marketing and communications — especially in the online world.

But what if you're a terrible relationship builder? What if you're actually better at alienating prospects and supporters than you are at drawing them into your orbit? Here are seven signs that you're a relationship wrecker.

1. You're slow to respond online
We're all overwhelmed by the sheer volume of messages in our Twitter streams, fan pages and inboxes. But that doesn't mean we should ignore online correspondence. Like it or not, responding quickly is part of the culture of online media and ultimately helps build trust. Completely overwhelmed by online messaging? Create an auto-responder to let folks know that you'll e-mail them within 24 hours. Create an editorial calendar to get your content publishing schedule under control. Get more people in your organization blogging, tweeting and updating your Facebook page to share the workload.

2. You take more than you give
Relationships are a quid pro quo. While I'm not suggesting that you keep a scorecard after each event, meeting or phone call with a new partner, be sure to give at least as much as you take. For example, if a colleague offers to retweet an article on your behalf, be sure to reciprocate with a link or comment on her blog next week.