Non-profit inside-the-box thinking: Sell-Sell-Sell ! ! !

As promised in last Friday’s post, I dedicated Tuesday, yesterday and today to challenging proponents of “outside-the-box thinking” and examining various “inside-the-box thinking” principles. This week’s posts were determined by DonorDreams blog subscribers who took the time to voice their opinions via a poll last Friday. Thank you to those of you who voted. Additionally, the foundation of these posts are rooted in Kirk Cheyfitz’s book “Thinking Insider The Box: The 12 Timeless Rules for Managing a Successful Business.” 

DonorDreams blog subscribers voted to hear more about chapter six of Cheyfitz’s book, which is titled “The Marketing Box: Unifying the Whole Business”.

I love how the author starts each chapter with a short sentence that serves as “food for thought”.  The following is how chapter six started:

You should be selling all the time.”

This is a complex chapter and a little mind-bending because the author contends that the average person’s idea about marketing is all wrong. Most people equate marketing with advertising, when in reality it is much bigger. He says in the book:

“Economists, academics, and marketing professionals have come to see marketing this way — as the single discipline that embraces and unites virtually every aspect of business activity. Marketing: Guides production . . . Governs distribution . . . Controls advertising, promotion and all marketing communications . . . Peter Drucker has written that business’s only purpose is “to create a customer,” and because of that, “marketing and innovation” are the two basic functions of business”.

Well . . . WOW! In a nutshell, Cheyfitz is saying:

Marketing is everything and

successful businesses do it all the time!

As I said in yesterday’s post, this concept is a little difficult to apply to non-profit corporations because the word “customer” usually conjures up images of clients and donors (or both) depending on which chair you sit in. Unlike yesterday, I won’t limit today’s blog to just talking about donors. I will attempt to GO GLOBAL.

I could probably write pages and pages on this topic because there is a lot of ground to cover. Instead, I will start a laundry list of examples and hand-off the baton to you so you can continue it in the comment section.

The following are just a few examples of  marketing (and you will see how it unifies everything we do):

  • How your program staff talks to and treats clients is marketing because it shapes the perceptions of your brand in the community among volunteers, donors, potential staff, prospective donors and future board members.
  • The decision to create a new program and write a big grant to get it off the ground is marketing. You are sending messages to people around you about what is important and what is a priority. These messages get picked up by volunteers, staff, clients, and donors. They in turn amplify these messages throughout the community. These actions and messages will even impact the long-term sustainability of your new program depending on donor perceptions.
  • Sticking with the creation of new programming from the last bullet point . . . talking with clients and prospective clients before making the decision to offer that new service is marketing. If your new program doesn’t fill a community need and your actual or potential clients, then it is your initiative will likely failure (which will likely have a ripple effect among donors, etc).
  • How and what the executive director says to or does with their staff is marketing. When they tell co-workers that the agency has challenges, it impacts staff turnover and in turn affects program quality and how the donor community’s perceptions of their investments.
  • Talking to volunteers and donors before developing another special event fundraiser is marketing. You need to determine if people will support this new idea before investing time and money into developing it.
  • What an executive director includes in the board packet and says in the boardroom is marketing. All of those messages get amplified by your community ambassadors (aka board volunteers) on the street when they’re networking.

Cheyfitz tells us that marketing happens pre-production, during production, and definitely after production. In non-profit terms, it happens before the donor writes the check, during the solicitation process, and in-between gifts for the duration of your relationship with that donor. More specifically, marketing happens during every waking moment of a non-profit professional’s life in their dealing with staff, volunteers, clients, board members, donors, and the community-at-large.

At the end of this chapter, Cheyfitz offers six different tips on how to build your organization’s box rather as opposed to thinking outside of it. I won’t ruin the surprise (because you should buy this book and read it), but I will share two of his tips to whet your appetite:

  1. Marketing (in other words everything you do) must unify every aspect of a business around one purpose: creating a customer.
  2. Every time a company touches a customer, there is an opportunity to win or lose that customer. These opportunities must be maximized, not avoided.

How does your organization see and approach “marketing”? Are you trying to thread the idea of marketing throughout everything you do? If so, can you share a few examples? How do you prepare others (e.g. staff, board members, etc) to communicate and demonstrate what your agency is all about? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Is your fundraising program failing? Good!

I opened an email from a dear, old friend this morning. His name is Jim Chambers. We’ve known each other for 20-years and worked together at two different non-profit organizations. The email was titled “Something for you.” The message was equally simple and said, “Hope you are well.  I thought you may like this video.

Needless to say, I couldn’t resist clicking on the YouTube link at 7:00 am this morning.

At the other end of that link, I saw this title:

Innovation Keynote Speaker Jeremy Gutsche –
30 Minute Speech

I then realized that the YouTube video was 28:49 minutes in length. OMG!!!!!! It is 7:00 am in the morning. Are you kidding, Jim?

However, I knew in my heart that Jim knows me better than most people, and there must be a reason he sent me this video. So, I grabbed a cup of coffee and clicked on the link.

I’m glad I trusted Jim this morning because 28:49 minutes later I have more non-profit thoughts running through my head than I’ve had in a long time.  So, I thought I’d take the next few minutes to dump those thoughts out into a bullet point list for your enjoyment and see if it sparks and discussion. Enjoy . . .

  • In times of tremendous economic crisis, chaos and upheaval, history has shown us that opportunity is abundant if you just open your eyes and look for it. What is your non-profit organization doing to take advantage of the chaos? Are you re-inventing your resource development plan? Are you approaching and engaging donors differently? Are you broadening your message or changing your services?
  • Companies that succeed and get stronger during crisis do a lot of experimenting. With this comes a lot of failure, which is what inspired today’s blog headline. What are you doing different? What are you failing at? Does your organization embrace failure and celebrate it with regards to your fundraising efforts?
  • We’re all focused on emotionally connecting with the customer, and fundraising professionals pursue this same connection with donors. However, there is something much more powerful — a “cultural connection“.  Does your fundraising program make this distinction and even try to make this connection? I suspect that the fundraising thought-leader who figures this one out will de-throne Penelope Burk and her “Donor-Centered Fundraising” philosophies as the hottest new thing.
  • Does your fundraising case for support connect with donors or is something just connects with you and your volunteers? The speaker says that messages that connect with people travel faster than your competitors messaging. Are people buzzing about your agency? Is your fundraising message being talked about around the water cooler? Are people echoing your mission and fundraising messaging on social media?
  • When your mission and vision as well as your fundraising activities are just “average,” then that is all it will ever be. What are you doing that is fun, exceptional, and buzz-worthy. How are you communicating that? How do you get your clients, volunteers, and donors excited about anything?
  • Can you define in “7 words or less” what you do? Are you “obsessed” with your story? Is it simple? Is it direct? Is it supercharged?

I am willing to bet that I could go back to that 28:49 minute video, watch it again, and wring another six bullet points out of it, but there has to be at least one thing I shared with you or questions that I posed that has you scratching your head this morning. If that is the case, then please scroll down to the comment box and share your question, answer, or interesting thought.

If you have a little bit of time today, I really urge you to watch Jeremy Gutsche’s video about innovation. It is really awesome and thought-provoking. Here it is:


Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Email is the foundation of your non-profit resource development program

A few days ago, while vacationing in Michigan for the Labor Day weekend, I started reading “The Social Media Bible” by Lon Safko. As the pages turned and I read about marketing within a social media framework (including tactics, tools and strategies), I can’t tell you how many “ah-ha” and “hmmmm” fundraising moments that I experienced. On Tuesday, the book inspired me to post about the costs associated with bad word of mouth and how this should evolve into a “generative question” around which to organize your board meetings. Yesterday, the book had me wondering how many of your donors are “lurkers”.  Today, we end this week’s series with a tip of the hat to the importance of email.

Safko reminds readers on page 62 that email is a lot older than you may remember. Sure, the first email was sent “around 7:00 pm in the autumn of 1971 as a test . . .”  However, when you stop to think about it, many of us have actively and heavily been using email as an information tool (and many times inappropriately as a communication tool) for two decades.

On page 63, Safro shares a chart comparing direct mail to email marketing. I’ve tried to re-create that chart for you below:

Table 3.1

Direct Mail versus E-Mail Marketing

(Source: The Social Media Bible 3rd edition, page 63)
Measurement Direct Mail E-Mail
Development Time 3 to 6 weeks 2 days
Cost per Unit $1.25 $0.10
Response Rate 0.1 to 2 percent 5 to 15 percent

In the table underneath this one (table 3.2), Safro lists a number of primary goals that businesses reported in a benchmark survey on

Can you guess which primary goal topped the list for companies email marketing programs?

If you guessed “Build relationships with existing customers,” then you are correct!

So, I suggested in today’s blog post title that email is really the cornerstone of most non-profit organization’s resource development programs. I came to this conclusion (kind of like those old forehead slapping V8 commercials) after reading the last few data points. Let’s do the math . . .

  • It takes less time to develop a stewardship piece that you email compared to the one you drop-off at the post office.
  • Communicating ROI to donors via email is significantly cheaper than a paper newsletter or mail piece.
  • More people will read your email piece; whereas, your letter or newsletter is likely bound for the shredder before it is even opened.
  • Our for-profit cousins (who have all of the money and calculate every ROI angle) have determined that email marketing programs are great for “building relationships”.

As I think back to my days on the front line, I start counting how many emails and html email documents I sent donors compared to stewardship letters and paper newsletters. From a pure “tally ’em up” perspective, it is now obvious to me how important email has become to most non-profit organization’s resource development programs.

So, here is the kicker . . .

When I speak to the average small non-profit organization about how many email addresses they have in their donor database and the size of  their email house file, it is typically very small.

  • Are you asking donors to provide their email addresses on your annual campaign pledge cards? Maybe.
  • Are you including an email field on your special event registration forms? Not typically.
  • Are you asking donors to provide their email as part of an eNewsletter request on your website. No.
  • Do you use online donor surveys as a way to capture donor email addresses? Huh?
  • Do you run online contests to secure donor email addresses? Never.
  • Do you flat-out just ask donors to provide their email address to you? No.

If email marketing is a relationship development tool according to the for-profit industry, then non-profits need to focus their efforts and start catching up.

In fact, email is more than just a cornerstone for your organization’s resource development program . . . it forms the foundation of your agency’s social media strategy (which is the funnel you need to get donors to the info on your website and that coveted “Donate Now” button).

Before some of you burn me at the stake for this blog post, please understand that I am not advocating elimination of your more traditional marketing and mail strategies. I am suggesting that the future is all about cross-channel communication and putting the decision-making into the hands of donors. THAT is what I call being “donor-centered”!!!

How many email addresses does your organization have in its house file or donor database? How did you acquire them? What strategies worked better than others? Have you tracked and compare your donor retention rates between donors who receive ROI info via email versus other traditional methods? Do you see a difference?

Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

What’s in your mailbox? Part 3

We started a conversation on Tuesday about direct mail and dissected a fundraising letter from Michelle Obama. Yesterday, we changed course by looking at a newsletter from my state senator. Today, we’re going to my mailbox and pulling out a few postcards that I recently received from a few different charities in my hometown.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been receiving more and more postcards from charitie,s and I have a theory about that.

As you know, the first rule in direct mail is not creating your letter or even developing the stuff that goes into the envelope. The very first thing you need to think about is designing the outer envelope in a way that entices people to open the letter.

This is where postcards are genius. There is nothing to open. The information that you want your supporters to read is readily visible.

Larkin Center

The first postcard in my stack of mail this morning is from a behavioral health non-profit organization in Elgin, Illinois called Larkin center.

One side of this small postcard has a four-color photograph of renowned pianist and composer Emily Bear. The few words on this side of the postcard simply inform me that she is playing a concert that will benefit Larkin Center.

When I flip the postcard over, there is also very little information; however, it is everything I might need if I want to learn more about this event or register:

  • Date/time of the event
  • Location of the event
  • Where can I purchase tickets (e.g. website, phone, fax, box office hours, etc)
  • Ticket pricing

This is short and sweet and to the point. Whoever designed this postcard understood that most people spend just a few seconds with each piece of mail.

Open Door Clinic

The second postcard in my stack of mail this morning is from an AIDS treatment non-profit organization in Elgin, Illinois called Open Door.

One side of this small postcard simply has my address, their return address, the non-profit permit indicia, a barcode for postal automation, and big words that say “SAVE THE DATE”.

When you flip the piece over, you see a four-color picture that divides the postcard into two parts. One side of the postcard sports a graphics for the Chicago AIDS Run & Walk. There is one simple sentence that says:

“Join Open Door Clinic’s AIDS Walk Team & help us reach our goal by joining our team or donating at”

The other side of the post card has a beautiful picture of chocolates and encourages readers to “save the date” for their All Things Chocolate special event fundraiser on April 20, 2013.

You read that right . . . this non-profit organization has the wherewithal to tell its donors to plan for something in the next calendar year. Wow! I guess someone prides themselves on being organized and well-planned. LOL

University of Illinois Urbana Champaign College of Fine & Applied Arts

The final postcard in my stack of mail this morning is from my college alma mater.

As some of you know, I graduated from the University of Illinois in 1992 with a BA in Urban Planning and in 1994 with a Masters in Urbana Planning. For the last 18 years, I have been trying to hide from those fundraising professionals. Regardless of where I move or how many times I’ve changed my phone number, they keep finding me.

It is impressive. And the postcard they sent me is equally impressive.

he message is simple and to the point . . . we want your email address. However, they go about asking for it in a very cleaver way. Here is how they asked:

“We are gathering current email address from our alumni to start a conversation about how your education shaped your professional and life experiences. Your experiences and ideas will assist us in shaping arts education for future students. To share your address with us, please visit:”

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard my  non-profit friends talk about how hard it is get more in-depth information (e.g. email addresses, birthdays, etc) out of donors, but it has been often. I just love the approach that my alma mater is taking.

So, what can we learn from these three postcards:

  1. K.I.S.S. — the information you want your supporters to see must be simple and easily digestible in a few seconds.
  2. Four-color — Reader surveys seem to indicate that people’s eyes are attracted and drawn into pictures and graphics that are vibrant and full color.
  3. Postal automation — Using a mail house to certify your mailing lists allows them to add a barcode to address label. This saves the post office money, and in turn saves you money.
  4. Not just for events — The most common use of postcards seems to be advertising an event or asking donors to save a date for an event. However, the University of Illinois example illustrates that we can be more creative with this direct mail tool if we put our minds to it.

Does your non-profit agency use postcards? If so, what for? Have you measured the effectiveness of this strategy (e.g. increased event attendance, etc)? If so, what did you find? Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts because we can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

What’s in your mailbox? Part 2

We started a conversation yesterday about direct mail when I posted “What’s in your mailbox? Part 1“. We looked at a political fundraising piece that showed up in my mailbox from Michelle Obama and dissected it. Today, we’re going to my mailbox and pulling out a newsletter that I recently received from Michael Noland, who is my state senator.

As I said yesterday, I believe “the average American can become educated about what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to direct mail if they only pay attention to what is being sent to them, what they are opening (or not opening), and how and what they’re reading (or not reading).”

So, let’s open this newsletter and see what we’ve got.

The front page is actually quite simple. It contains a two paragraph letter from the senator explaining that the legislative session that just ended was busy. It essentially invites me to open the newsletter for an update on “what’s happened, the legislation he sponsored, and what he’s done to fight for me.”

Hmmm . . . the feel and tone of the letter makes this newsletter seem more like campaign literature. To be honest, I am hesitant to turn to page two; however, I will do so for you, my dear reader.  😉

This is a four page newsletter. So, when I turn the page I am looking at the middle of the newsletter — pages two and three. Here is what I am starting to notice:

  • Lots of pictures (four to be exact)
  • 18 point font headlines and 14 point news copy
  • Headlines are in color

I suspect the senator is concerned about senior citizens not being able to read his newsletter, which is why everything is so big.

You’ve heard it a million times . . . a picture is worth a thousand words. All of the pictures are of the senator doing something. He is talking to a concerned older couple. He is delivering the commencement speech at Elgin Community College (ECC). Since most people won’t spend more than as few seconds with this mail piece, pictures become very important in conveying quick information. In this instance, the senator obviously is trying to send the message that he is working hard on your behalf.

In a previous life, when I ran a weekly newspaper, we learned from reader surveys that big pictures and headlines were the first thing to which people paid attention. If the picture or headline was interesting, then they would make the decision to read the article. It is obvious that this newsletter is designed with thatsame principle in mind.

I don’t believe people read much anymore, which is an ironic observation for a blogger like myself to make. What I do believe is that people skim, and I suspect the senator believes the same thing when I look at his newsletter copy.

There are seven mini-articles with topics ranging from public employee pension costs and healthcare to child welfare and veterans. Nothing is more than one paragraph in length. It is written in the first person and very action oriented with phrases like:

  • “I co-sponsored . . .”
  • “I fought . . .”
  • “I believe . . .”

To translate all of this into non-profit terms, the senator is demonstrating to the voting public the return on investment for your vote. This is simply the senator stewarding voters in much the same way you steward your donors. The only difference is that you want your donors to renew their financial support and the senator wants people to vote for him again.

Let’s turn the page and look at the back of the newsletter.

I am invited to stay informed and encouraged to routinely visit the senator’s webpage for updates, news and email access. There is a monstrously large QR code on the page that I can scan with my cell phone, and it will take me to his website instantly.

Here are a few best practices that we can take away from our dissection of the senator’s newsletter today:

  1. Be mindful of font size, especially if your donors are older.
  2. Use lots of pictures to communicate information quickly.
  3. Use color and big headlines to make things pop off the page and generate interest in reading the newsletter copy.
  4. People skim . . . so keep stgories short and snappy. Short sentences and very few paragraphs.
  5. Cross-channel marketing . . . use the newsletter to drive people to your website where you can spend more time with them and go into more detail.

Personally speaking, I really dislike newsletters like this one. I believe that the typical slick/glossy, one color, four page newsletter is a thing of the past. I really liked the previous piece sent out by the senator. It was a one page bulletin that looked like what Penelope Burk describes in her book “Donor Centered Fundraising“.

If you are interested in learning more about what donor bulletins looks like and why they are more preferred by your donors, then I suggest that you go back and read the following three blog posts from last year:

If you want to see a copy of Senator Noland’s most recent newsletter so that you can compare it to what you read in these three donor-centered newsletter posts, then click here.

Does your non-profit organization use a newsletter to steward supporters and donors? Are you happy with it? What have you found in your experience works or doesn’t work? Please use the comment box below to share with your fellow non-profit professionals.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

What’s in your mailbox? Part 1

I oftentimes get asked about direct mail as a fundraising vehicle by non-profit friends. My typical response is that direct mail is both an art and a science. I point them to experts like Mal Warwick and Tom Ahern, but they are always surprised when I point them to their own mailbox.

I have always said that the average American can become educated about what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to direct mail if they only pay attention to what is being sent to them, what they are opening (or not opening), and how and what they’re reading (or not reading). It is with this in mind that I’ve decided to focus this week’s blog posts on my personal mailbox.

As you can imagine, I get a lot of fundraising appeals — local non-profits, national charities, advocacy groups, and politicians. Today, we’re taking a closer look at my new BFF — Michelle Obama — who can’t seem to stop sending me mail.

Let’s open one of the three letters that my household recently received and see what we have:

It is a three page letter written on double-sided paper that looks like Michelle’s personal stationary (which it obviously isn’t).

I read the salutation first. “Dear Mr. Anderson”. I immediately frown and think to myself “why is she calling ‘mister’ when I am younger than her .” Nevertheless, I trudge on and keep reading.

I read the first paragraph. It is two sentences long and doesn’t capture my attention. It says something about doctor bills and mortgages and blah blah blah.

So, I start skimming and notice that she uses my name a lot throughout the body of letter. Here are a few examples:

  • “Erik, I’m writing to ask you to . . .”
  • “Erik, that is why he is challenging us to think . . .”
  • “Erik, that is what’s at stake in 2012.”
  • “And Erik, we’re also counting on you to . . .”

I also notice that there is a lot of emotion and values language laced throughout the letter. The following are just a few of the words and phrases that catch my attention as I skim:

  • persevere
  • struggles
  • fundamental American promise
  • my brother’s keeper
  • sustained by the relationships we build

Phew . . . that was a lot of skimming. In approximately three to five seconds, as I worked my way from the salutation to the signature, I was able to pick out those key words and phrases. I now see that Michelle (or should I say “Mrs. Obama” since we obviously have a formal relationship) has signed the letter.

Yes, it was a machine signature, but it isn’t a script font. It really looks like a signature. Thank goodness for autopen machine technology because nothing kills a nice, warm, emotional letter like a script font signature.

Just when I’m done and ready to shred the letter, Ron Popeil screams out from the bottom of the letter, “But wait, there’s more!”

That’s right. There is a postscript, and I find myself reading the whole thing. It contains two short paragraphs, and the sentences are super short. The verbiage is very emotional, and it is hard not get drawn in. Here is exactly what it said:

P.S. I’m not going to kid you. This journey is going to be long. And it’s going to be hard. But the truth is, that’s how change always happens in this country. We know in our hearts that if we keep fighting the good fight, doing what we know is right, then we eventually get there. Because we always do.

As Barack has said many times, “Ordinary people can do extraordinary things. That’s what our campaign is all about. Now the obstacles are even taller and the stakes are even higher — which is exactly why Barack and I need you more than ever. Thank you.

Sigh … the hook is set, and I turn back to page one. I start reading and stop skimming.

While there is a lot more to learn about direct mail (and we will talk about some of it over the next few days), we did learn the following valuable lessons from reading just one professionally written direct mail fundraising appeal:

  1. Many people skim direct mail.
  2. The first thing people read and pass judgement on is the salutation (isn’t that right, Mrs. Obama?)
  3. People will pick-up key words and phrases as they quickly work their way from salutation to signature.
  4. Good letters appear are very personal, emotional and focused on action and engagement. They are written in a first person voice, and passive voice language is avoided.
  5. A signature (even if scanned) is always better than a script font, but a real signature is the icing on the cake for any personal letter.
  6. The postscript can be the key to the entire letter. Everyone seems to read it, and a good one sucks the reader back in and can send them back to the beginning.

Tune in again tomorrow and we’ll do something similar with another piece of mail. In the meantime, I encourage you to go to your mailbox and go through this same exercise. In no time, you will feel much better about what you’re trying to do with your non-profit organization’s direct mail program.

How do you read junk mail . . . errrr, I mean . . . direct mail? Does your agency have a direct mail program? What does it look like? What have been your successes? What are your challenges? Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and questions.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Social media ROI — Non-profits shouldn’t make it difficult

At the end of Tuesday’s post titled “Are non-profits yelling at their donors using social media?” I promised that I’d share a few revelations from a social media conference that Marissa and I attended last week hosted by SkillPath Seminars. Yesterday, I posted “Answers to the two most popular social media questions asked by non-profits,” and today we’re talking about that thing that for-profit companies are obsessed with and non-profits seem to struggle with . . . RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI).

“43% of current social media marketers haven’t measured ROI.”

This number was shared with Marissa and me by our lovely  SkillPath Seminars trainers at last week’s social media conference. They cited this information from King Fish Media in 2010.

Well, if I were a betting man, I would guess that this number is much, much higher when you just look at non-profit organizations using social media.

Let’s be honest. Most non-profit organizations are stretched too thin. So, asking employees to track a lot of stuff as it relates to your social media presence just doesn’t make a lot of sense. Right?  However, it is important to measure something. Right? After all, resources are tight and you are dedicating time and resources to this thing called social media. If the ROI is very poor, then you probably have 101 ways to better spend those hours and dollars.

Additionally, keeping an eye on certain metrics also helps you evolve your social media presence and approach because when you see that something isn’t working then you stop and when you see something is working you do more of it.

This brings us to the big question . . . “What can non-profits easily measure and how should they do it?”

Looking across the fence at our for-profit cousins, I can tell you that they start by asking “What is most important to the success of the company?” It usually boils down into one of four things: conversion rates, generating sales leads, increased site traffic/number of new customers, and brand awareness.

Once they narrow their focus, they then pay a visit to their social media analytics buffet and look around at all of the yummy things that you can track including:

  • web traffic
  • viral video activity
  • bounce rate
  • page views
  • comments
  • social bookmarks
  • inbound links to your website
  • ratings
  • number of new followers
  • comments / mentions
  • leads generated
  • downloads
  • uploads
  • engagement activity

As we discussed in yesterday’s post — “Answers to the two most popular social media questions asked by non-profits“–  your organization probably uses different social media platforms to achieve different objectives in your resource development plan (e.g. Facebook = stewardship; Twitter = cultivation; etc). So, it makes sense that what you measure might look a little different for each of the platforms your agency uses.

If I were using Facebook to steward donors and didn’t have enough time or money, then I would simply track: 1) how many Friends does my Facebook page have (and how did that number change in the last year), 2) how many “likes” and comments did my posted content generate, and 3) how many Facebook friends remained a donor to my agency in the last year (e.g. donor database loyalty report cross referenced to Facebook Friends list)?

If I were using Twitter to introduce and cultivate new prospective donors, then I would track: 1) how many Followers does my Twitter account have (and how did that number change in the last year), 2) what is my Klout score and level of online influence with my Twitter followers, and 3) how much traffic back to the agency’s website comes from Twitter (e.g. Google analytics from your website will tell you this number and much more).

As I’ve just done in the last two paragraphs, I suggest you do the same for each of your social media platforms: 1) determine your target audience and main objective for each platform and 2) select a small handful of metrics from your analytics program (e.g. Facebook Insights, Google analytics, etc) that make the most sense for what you’re trying to accomplish.

But wait . . . there’s more!

Measuring data for the sake of measuring data is a waste of time. You need to turn your data into something “actionable“. Here are just a few thoughts:

  • include it an annual performance plan for the employee who is responsible for managing your social media communities
  • build a social media dashboard and share with your marketing or resource development committee every month
  • place it on committee meeting and staff meeting agendas and facilitate conversations around the questions: “What does the data tell you?” and “What should we do differently with our content?”

Here are a few links that you might also want to read on this subject from me, Marissa or others:

Keep it simple. Don’t go overboard. And whatever you do, make sure you use the data.

Does your agency use social media? Are you measuring stuff? What are you measuring? Why are you measuring it? What are you doing with it? Has it made a difference in anything you do online or offline? Please scroll down and share answers to these questions or whatever else is on your mind in the comment box. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Survey Says? We can all learn a lot from top non-profit brands!

When I think about opinion polls and surveys, the first thing I think of are the folks at Harris Interactive, who are widely known for The Harris Poll. Sure, there are lots of people in America who are in the business of knowing your opinion, but Harris is the granddaddy of them all. So, when Harris released the results from their 2012 Non-Profit EquiTrend study, I decided to click-through and see which non-profit brands average Americans recognize most, trust and value.

The following is how Harris describes this project:

“The 2012 Harris Poll Non-Profit EquiTrend (EQ) study measures the brand health of 87 non-profit brands across seven important categories, including Youth Interest, Animal Welfare, Health, Social Service, Disability, International Aid, and Environmental. Harris Poll EquiTrend provides the insight our communities, corporate sponsors, and non-profit organizations require to make informed decisions about donations and overall support.”

I must admit that I was a little confused when I first read the webpage that described their findings, and I had to go back and re-read everything a second time. Click here to see that page and read more about this project. I think the confusion resulted from Harris dividing their findings into seven different categories, and it was difficult to figure out which agencies were at the top of the “collective” non-profit branding survey. For example, the Girl Scouts were at the top of the EquiTrend Youth Interest Non-Profit Brand survey, but they weren’t one of the “overall” top four brands when you combined all seven categories into one comprehensive list.

The following are the top four non-profit brands in 2012 according to what people told Harris:

  1. American Red Cross
  2. Habitat for Humanity
  3. Salvation Army
  4. Feeding America

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know that I regularly say: “We can all learn from each other.” I think this expression comes from a deep-rooted belief that re-inventing the wheel is a waste of time. With this in mind, I decided to share with you this morning YouTube videos from each of these top non-profit brands. Please take a brief moment and click-through these videos.

When you’re done (and it will take only a few minutes), please use the comment box below to share some of your thoughts and observations. What do you see these well-recognized non-profit brands telling people about what they do? Why do you think their messaging is so effective? Why does it resonate and stick with people?

American Red Cross

Habitat for Humanity

Salvation Army

Feeding America

So, what did you think about what these four top non-profit brands had to say? Did you have any “big ideas” about your agency’s branding efforts while watching these videos? If so, please share that thought with us in the comment box below.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Marketing your organization’s volunteer program

This morning I woke up to a very nice email in my inbox from Helene Schmidt. She had read the three-part blog series on non-profit degrees and certifications, liked what she read, asked me to read an article that recent published titled “12 Reasons Community Service Should Be Required in Schools” and share it with the DonorDreams online community.

So, I did read the article and can honestly say it is very good. As you can see, I’ve already shared the link in the first paragraph and you should totally go read it.

I didn’t decided to share this post on “why volunteerism should be required in school” because I agree with the policy position. Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’m not for it. I’m not against it. However, I do think that making volunteerism “required” feels antithetical to the entire idea of volunteerism.

The reason I am sharing this article is because after reading it I thought, “Wow! These are all great selling points for any non-profit organization’s volunteer program.”

You might want to incorporate some of the “12 reasons” offered in the  article in your volunteer marketing materials.

Speaking of volunteer program marketing materials . . . you do have marketing materials for your volunteer program, right?

Uh-oh. Well, if you are like many of the organizations with whom I’ve worked, then you have volunteer opportunities and not-so-actively “hope” volunteers walk through your doors. Many of the programs I’ve seen lack structure such as:

  • volunteer coordinator
  • written volunteer plan
  • written volunteer job descriptions
  • orientation and training opportunities
  • evaluation opportunities

I just haven’t seen many agencies actively marketing their volunteer program. Perhaps, your agency is different; however, have you looked closely at who and who you are marketing your volunteer opportunities?

I’ve read a lot recently about how the retiring Baby Boom generation is looking for volunteer opportunities. I’ve also read a lot about how the Millennial generation is really into volunteerism.

It doesn’t take a marketing professional to conclude that what motivates a 20-something-year-old to volunteer is probably very different from what motivates a Baby Boomer. So, targeting your marketing message might increase your effectiveness and bring many more volunteers through your agency’s front doors.

If the recent economy has your non-profit organization turning to volunteers to fill gaps and get things done, then you will need to do more than cross your fingers and hope volunteers find you. You need to invest in a volunteer program.

One such investment will be in how you market your volunteer opportunities. The article that I shared at the beginning of this post provides 12 great selling points that you might want to share with young people. Click here if you want to read more about how to more effectively market your volunteer opportunities to Baby Boomers.

Does your agency have a volunteer program? If so, what investments have you recently made and have they paid off? How do you market these opportunities and recruit volunteer? Please use the comment box to share your experiences. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

FREE fundraising movies every Monday morning? Sign me up!

“Going viral” . . .   It is something that every non-profit organization wishes and hopes that their ePhilanthropy efforts will do. For those of you still trying to find your “cyber-sea-legs,” let me give you a quick little example:

Johanna Wicklund is the Director of Program Development & Evaluation at Boys & Girls Club of Green Bay. She sees this awesome thing on the internet advertising free movie clips every Monday focused on fundraising and non-profit best practices. She signs up and forwards the information to her fundraising BFF who is Anne Lemke, the Grants Coordinator at Boys & Girls Club of Oshkosh. Anne looks it over, signs up and forwards it to one of her favorite non-profit bloggers . . . which is ME, of course. I look it over and get excited. I sign-up for the free “Monday Movies for Development Directors” program and decide to blog about it.

Ta-da! This is what is meant by “going viral” with an idea, product or fundraising campaign. It feels very similar to a snowball rolling downhill, gaining speed and size.

Let me backtrack and talk a little bit about “Monday Movies for Development Directors“. This is a free service provided by Chris Davenport over at 501 Videos. Click the link I just provided, scroll down to the bottom of their landing page, give them your contact information, and every Monday they will send you a short clip of a fundraising interview focused on any number of resource development topics including (but not limited to):

  • finding donors
  • special events
  • social media
  • major gifts

The list literally goes on and on.

As Ron Popeil used to say, “BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!”

The free clips you receive on Mondays are what people in the industry call “teasers”. You get some valuable information, but you are left wanting more because what you just tasted was so darn yummy! Of course, there is always more to consume, but it isn’t free anymore . . . you can have to pay a small price for it. In this instance, 501 Videos seems to be selling a number of different products including:

  • Movie Mondays Pro (online access to more detailed videos related to your Monday movie clips)
  • DVDs including “Top 10 Best Movies for Helping Board Members”
  • Movie making services to produce a marketing video focused on your non-profit and its services

Please don’t misinterpret the Ron Popeil reference. I am not being snarky or critical of Chris Davenport or 501 Services. “Sampling” is a common practice (heck, it is a best practice) when it comes to marketing. Chris’ heart even seems to be in the right place if you read about his story on his webpage.

Yes, I’ve signed up for Chris’ “Monday Movies for Development Directors”. So far, I like what I see . . . I might even purchase a few DVDs if I continue liking what washes into my inbox every Monday.

If you want to see a little sneak preview, click here and you’ll see a short clip titled “Strengthening Donor Relationships with Questions”. It really is quite good.

I’d like to thank both Johanna and Anne for directing this viral snowball in my direction. If you like what you see and want others to catch what you’ve caught, then post this blog to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest accounts. In addition to Chris getting some business out of it, perhaps I can get a few more people to subscribe to my blog.  😉

Does your non-profit access other FREE fundraising resources? If so, please use the comment box below and share that information with your fellow fundraising and non-profit professionals. Come on . . . pay it forwards! You’ll feel after sharing, which is what philanthropy is all about.

Here’s to your health!  ACHOO . . . I think I’m catching a virus!?!? (Yes, this last link is to a funny YouTube video about sneezing. Enjoy!)

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847