Friday, August 26, 2011

Direct Mail is still King

A fact that I was reminded of at the very good DMA Nonprofit Federation conference in NY this week.

However, I also sensed the respect for the Online channel is growing, especially in the realm of integration - there were several sessions that discussed it. So with that in mind, lets talk about one tactic you can utilize to integrate your offline and online channels from a marketing and communication perspective - using online to enlarge and refine your House File.

There are two unique things about online in my opinion - its trackable and the user has control. Our job as marketers is to make our users feel comfortable and empowered enough to sign up for an event, donate or do whatever your objective is.

It ain't easy and as you've seen in my prior posts, there is a lot we need to do to get them in that frame of mind to convert. However, once we do, we will have valuable information that we can marry to our house file and market to them effectively offline. The trackable portion of online not only gives us their email, age and mailing address, but it allows us the visibility to see what interests the user and what causes she feels most passionately about, allowing for better segmentation opportunities.

Using a combination of your website to gather donation information, as well as social media tools such as Facebook to get people to sign up for special events is a good start. And while donors are obviously more "valuable" now, don't disregard the passion of people who sacrificed their time to be part of your event. You can build a good "warm mailing" list that can beat many "cold mailing" lists that are bought via brokers by dozens of the same organizations.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Are you better than your Competition?

With the down economy - and uncertainty on the horizon - it's important for non-profits to understand their competition, find points of differentiation and effectively communicate it to prospects to maximize their success.

The donor pie to fund nonprofit programs is stagnating, or in some cases decreasing, but donors expectations are higher than ever. Because of this, the competition for those limited dollars are heating up.

So if I ask you what separates you from other organizations can you answer?

Maybe it's efficiency, or the amount of people you service, or personal care, or any of a number of reasons. That’s a good start, but knowing what separates you from the rest is only half the battle, next you need to effectively communicate it in a language that appeals to your market.

For instance if you are efficient use language such as "your investment goes to those in need like [insert a person who it will help] to get x, y and z" (as long as it’s true). What that does is personalize the contribution so that the donor knows exactly what will happen with her hard earned money.

You can then underscore this with an image from an official source (like charity navigator) that shows your high efficiency compared to other organizations - which gives a sense of trust and authority that your competition cannot easily match.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Facebook App Spotlight - Causes App

The Causes application is a free Facebook add-on that allows you to raise funds directly from your page.

See the screenshot below from Amnesty International. What I like about this page is that people who view it are shown other Facebook users who already donated. This gives a strong incentive to donate too. It's called social proof, if others are doing it then it must be good.

You can get the causes app here:

Once you get to the page click on the "add to my page" link on the lower left hand corner. From there the set up is pretty easy.

One thing to keep in mind:

Since the ability to collect donations through this app is done via "Network for Good", they take a 4.75% transaction fee from the donation amount.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

An example of how to advertise online - from the ASPCA

I was on the NY Post website when I was served up the ad below - I put a blue box around it. I clicked on it and I was sent to a donation "splash page".

I will explain splash page in a moment, first I would like you to focus on the ad itself - notice the picture of the Dog, a cute one to boot. If you love animals, this ad jumps at you in a heartbeat. Next, notice the headline, it says "Guardian for $18 a month", you know exactly how much it costs and it also symbolizes the way it will make you feel - like a Guardian.

Last two things - under the picture of the dog is a caption that says it was a rescue, personalizes the story. And lastly, there is a call to action in the form of a button that says "make a monthly gift".

Now the site, its a splash page, meaning that it is a page that is not normally part of the ASPCA website. It was made specifically to convert people who saw the ad. See the page here

Notice it is just one page - good - a process too long will cause people to abandon. Notice also that it has stories of other animals that has been helped by other Guardians - also good, driving home the point.

One Caveat - ASPCA is obviously a big brand. You know who they are when you see the name. For the rest of us, our splash page will need more benefit and offer driven info in there as well so that the person understands who we are and how we benefit them and the cause.