Action happens when your cause is personalized

No matter how extravagant your landing page looks, it won’t be successful if your content is not personalized and worthy of donation. Move past “small talk” and create meaningful conversations. In other words, move past the notion of simply reTweeting, answering questions, and posting gratitude on your Facebook Page. Appeal to your audience and build substance in your words while creating a relationship. In order to do this, brainstorm a content strategy.

“A picture speaks a thousand words”
Make the picture meaningful and back it up!

Here are seven ways to transform your brainstorm effective content into content attainment:

  1. Understand why they donate. The real reason. The one that has nothing to do with price or even product. For example, “I donate to because my best friend has contracted HIV.”
  2. Collaborate with your employees. What’s the real reason you work hard for our brand? Think beyond the paycheck and benefits and tap into their emotions.
  3. Polarize. Can you really sincerely speak about your beliefs to an extremist? Think of balance and genuineness. Think Greenpeace and the GOP.
  4. Plan. Initiate conversation within your business about the brand. Listen to each other and map our why these conversations matter.
  5. Be resourceful. Find bloggers who are already passionate about the brand. Find out how they are engaging with other constituents. Learn from each other.
  6. Be aware of what it is that’s engaging the customers of your competition. “What are they doing effectively that we aren’t?”
  7. Listen and be sincere. Customers like to feel cared about and spoken to with integrity. Be truthful, transparent, and genuine.

The American Cancer Society has done more than simply talking; it has created a successful content strategy. It has engaged in meaningful conversation that has made an impact. They have created conversation about “creating a world with more birthdays and are continually building an entire community around this notion. This conversation encourages reflection of gratitude, and to celebrate one more happy year.

Share Our Strength, the leading national organization working to end childhood hunger in America, is another passionate community of employees and donors. It got personal with constituents and hosted a world-class fundraising dinner in DC, featuring some of the nation’s top chefs. Share Our Strength’s A Tasteful Pursuit® traveling dinner series, the dinner honored the Obama Administration’s goal of ending childhood hunger in America by 2015, proved the organization to be heartfelt and personal.

When creating a content strategy, ask yourself:

  • What are we about?
  • Why are we relevant?
  • Why should they care about us?
  • How can we personalize our cause? How can we make viewers feel something?

Learn from James Eberhard: Get familiar with mobile giving

In a generation where nearly 290 million people in the United States are using cell phones, it is important to keep in mind that mobile devices are a great way to reach your audience. James Eberhard, founder of Mobile Accord, helped establish an easy gateway to donate to nonprofits via mobile devices. The mGive platform, which launched for 10 seconds of TV time during the 2008 Super Bowl, has helped collect $41 million for Haiti. Although your ad may not make it on TV during the Super Bowl, it is essential to start engaging in mobile donation and more importantly to get familiar with it. By just adding a donation application for your nonprofit, you will reach an untapped audience of millions.

How does a text campaign or “mobile giving” work? Rosita Cortez explains the concept in her Mobile Giving blog for nonprofits. People donate funds via their cell phone by sending a text message to a specific number (provided by mGive). Donors don’t have to visit a particular website to fill out personal or financial forms to make a small donation. All they have to do is send a short text code to the given number. mGive then manages everything from sending confirmation text messages to tax receipts to aggregating the carrier’s payments. mGive’s transaction fee is similar to that of a credit card transaction fee. mGive charges 70 cents for a $10 donation. Their pledge then appears on their next cell phone bill.

In the case of Haiti, all people had to do was text the word HAITI to the number 90999 to make a $10 donation. Several million people then did so—raising over $40 million. It’s fast. It’s simple. It’s effective.

Eberhard, who has been named “Fundraising Professional of the Year” by FundRaising Success magazine, helps nonprofits, universities and private foundations develop mobile connection and content for fund raising purposes. His company has managed to bring cell phone companies on board while agreeing to pass 100 percent of the donations to nonprofits. This influence serves as an important victory because cell phone companies usually claim up to 50% of donations to cover billing costs.

Many organizations are jumping onto this mobile bandwagon. Some organizations that are taking advantage of it include United Way, the ASPCA, Feed the Children, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Keep a Child Alive. Keep a Child Alive, specifically, found glory in this donation strategy, raising $450,000 in just three minutes.

Combining mobile devices with social media is essentially a powerful way to reach people quickly and effectively. Eberhard believes this mobile donation platform is here to stay for nonprofit organizations.

Designing a donor-friendly homepage

More and more donors are giving to non-profits via internet these days. In fact, 4 out of 5 donors make a donation online, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy on Rosita Cortez’s professional blog. These statistics supports the trend in online giving. In 1997, online donations in the United States accounted for $300,000. By 2007, online donations totaled $314 billion. For many large nonprofits online gifts account for more than 30% of their new revenue. It is simple and easy: all you need is your computer screen, your credit card, and your generosity. However, it is vital that your website is designed donor friendly, meaning, your website must be easy to use by a donor.

Below are ten useful strategies to rebuild an effective website geared at donors.

  • Establish basic contact information. Your website needs to state what your organization does, where it’s located and ways to get in touch with development staff. Your organization’s full name, address, telephone and email address should be displayed on your website’s contact page and at the bottom of every page.
  • Donation information. Provide a “how to donate” section on your website. Don’t make them search your page for it. It is only a matter of seconds that users will enter and leave your site. Users want to find information quickly.Designing Your Website to Draw in Donors
  • Tell where the money goes. Donors want to know how their money is spent. Provide a “donor update” every month or so.
  • Provide a call-to-action. Reminder: the goal is to convert visitors into supporters and donors. Insert subtle cues throughout your content and give visitors incentives to make that initial contact to give.
  • Increase donor confidence: Place your “Charity Navigator” and “Better Business Bureau badges” distinctively on your homepage and donation pages.
  • Integrate your online giving with other marketing channels. E-mail marketing still works. E-mail (e-newsletters) can feature content on your website. Always leverage offline promotion to compliment what you are doing online.
  • Freshness. Provide fresh and up-to-date content.
  • Use social technology. Provide social media tools for your visitors to share what they see. An easy and inexpensive way to do this is to include Twitter and Facebook buttons. There are also free “Tell a Friend” scripts that you can integrate on your website. Statistics show that word of mouth is still one of the most powerful marketing tools. People react positively to recommendations from their friends and colleagues. If you don’t have an RSS feed yet, consider getting one.
  • Acknowledge your donors. Find a space on your website to publicly thank your donors. Say thank-you.
  • Track users. The only way to improve your pages is by knowing your user’s preferences. Use a tracking tool to know where viewers go within the site and know how successfully you are leading them to donation or involvement options.
  • Face it, your organization needs an updated Facebook page.

    Aside from Google, Facebook is the newest, largest online trend of the decade.

    The purpose of having a Facebook page for your non-profit organization is to promote your organization, gain feedback, and most importantly develop fans. Having a Facebook page dismantles a barrier between your organization and your audience. It enables two-way conversation that is a valuable strategy to sustain lifelong supporters.


    In such an innovative, evolving world, it is important to keep up with the changes in technology. In order to engage fans and convert casual visitors into fans, you must create an attractive page. Facebook gets “face lifts” nearly every month, and it is essential that you keep up with such adaptations to maintain your sites attractiveness to followers.

    The newest update: Facebook pages are now LIVE. The Nonprofit Organizations’ Facebook Page and the Brooklyn Museum’s Facebook Page exemplify the newest design.

    According to Nonprofit Tech 2.0: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits, as of February 2011, there are an additional 5 updates to the Facebook page:

    • The ability to feature your favorite photos across the top of your Page
    • The ability to receive email notifications of activity on your Page
    • The ability to feature five “Favorites” on your Page
    • The ability to feature Page Owners. Administrators can switch between speaking as the page’s brand and as an individual. A box shows the brand and an option to comment under the administrator’s own name.

    Navigation tags are now at the left-hand, below your profile image. This means that Pages and Profiles now have the same layout. This is a significant change in the user interface that many businesses are not happy with it. Essentially, the ability of nonprofits to present clear tabbed options at the top of the page, the same way websites present navigation, has been replaced with a less prominent listing of page sections in the left column. In other words, if you make tabs more visible, it will make them seem more important. You can make them seem more important 3 different ways.

    First, keep your profile picture to under 200 px in height. This will make your tabs stand out. Second, reorder your tabs in the navigation so the most important ones are first. You can do this by clicking the “More-Edit” feature, then click and drag each section to the desired order. *Note: Wall and Info always come first! Lastly, keep your navigation concise. Include only the essential sections and get rid of the less-useful tabs. You can remove and restore tabs whenever you’d like through the “More-Edit” navigation.

    One more useful tip to fulfill an outstanding Facebook page:

    • DON’T let users open the page to your wall. When users land on your wall initially, you lose control of the information they gather at their first impression. Although it most likely will show positive interaction between your brand and its followers, you want each user to see the company’s vision first. Instead, set your Page up so that users land on an About Us page, exposing the brand’s mission as well as providing navigation to Join Us.

    Tweeting is in.

    It is essential that your nonprofit keeps up with the ever-evolving world of social technology. Remember, the internet is where your audience is.
    If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, it is time to create a Twitter for your non-profit. Tweeting is in.
    Twitter is a currently popular microblogging (social) network. It allows users to send out a brief status of 140 characters to all of its followers. When users update their status, it is called a tweet. Twitter allows for hashtags, retweeting, and tweeting @ another user.
    Rosita Cortez, founder and professional blogger of Social Media 4 Nonprofits, provides a useful slideshow that was used for Blackbaud‘s Conference for Nonprofits in Charleston, NC. This presentation includes 50 intermediate level tactics to create a successful Twitter in order to better engage your audience, deliver your mission, and inspire action.
    Of the 50 tactics, some key tactics include:
    • Use to connect with the top 50 tweeters in your city.
    • Build real relationships by replying, retweeting, and joining discussions.
    • Make your Tweets retweetable (Username + 6)
    • Promote an event, campaign, movement with Twitter hashtags (#beatcancer, #memorywalk)
    • Use TwitPic to share photos from your organization’s events
    • Use to mashup Google Analytics with Twitter visitors

    Follow up on this advice by following Chad Norman on Twitter.

    Dr. David Risely, founder and professional blogger of Confessions of Six Figure Professional Blogger, exposes the power of retweeting. Retweeting allows users to forward tweets they get from their users. This can become a viral conduit. If people find your tweet intriguing, they’ll pass it on -making it their status so their friends/followers can see the information. This chain of reaction will turn viral and you will reach more crowds on Twitter. In order to give your tweets the most viral potential, Risely provides 4 ideas to accomplish that.

    1. Ask for the retweet. Simply adding “please RT” onto your message will result in a lot of people doing it. Like any form of online marketing, there needs to be a call to action. And you just tell them what to do.
    2. Make it retweet worthy. People want to retweet things which are interesting or valuable. Being limited to 140 characters, chances are the real value of a tweet is going to be in linking to something with more information. So, link to something good and you’ll get more people retweeting the information you want to share.
    3. Be different. In order for your tweet to be noticed, you need a tweet which interrupts the pattern and stands out. Don’t be afraid to be provocative. Some of the most retweeted messages have a catchy headline that just begs them to click the link. When writing a sales letter or a blog post, the purpose of the headline is to get the person to keep reading. Evoke curiosity in your follower, and you’ll invite action as well.
    4. Watch the clock. Timing is everything. Not everybody has Twitter open all day long. Expecting to get some retweets at 5AM on a Sunday isn’t the best strategy. Doing it so that it is out there in time for the lunch break (12-1pm) might work a lot better. You’re probably going to see the most retweets during the work week and from mid-morning through lunch time.


    So, jump into Twitter with a creative mindset. Your tweet could go viral in seconds and attract new donors.

    Are you listening to your audience?

    We have already established a key audience for nonprofits-donors. We also know where we can find them -the web! After we have targeted our audience, it is essential to build a relationship with our audience. In order to build a relationship with your audiences, you must get to know them. Think of your audience as your significant other. Treat them the way you want to be treated. Share ideas. Create a two-way conversation by talking and listening to them, and never, never neglect them. Know what they like, dislike, where they are on the web during their free time. Do they have a smart phone, Twitter or Facebook account? Are they annual donors? Do they donate the same, stagnant monetary gift every year? Have they moved to another mailing address? Get to know them on a personal level. Most importantly, LISTEN. Kay Sprinkel Grace, renowned speaker and writer in the field of philanthropy is highlighted on Rosita Cortez’s Blog on Social Media 4 Non-Profits stating that people do not give time and money to organizations because organizations have needs, but rather, because  organizations meet needs. Fundraising is not all about generating money to your nonprofit. It’s about relationships.

    Raiser’s Edge Fundraising and Donor Management Systems provides six basic ideas to cultivate a relationship with your supporter:

    1. See a complete view of your relationship by recording every contact you have with prospects and donors
    2. Access extensive biographical and demographic information such as employment history, educational background, interests, and affliliations
    3. Store relevant documents, such as Microsoft® Word or Microsoft® Excel files, scanned photographs and newspaper articles, and even websites, right on the constituent record
    4. Ensure each touch is helping the cultivation process by easily monitoring staff and donor interaction
    5. Identify what works in major donor cultivation, including solicitor assignments, actions, and marketing messages
    6. Communicate easily and quickly with donors by synchronizing your database with existing tools, such as Microsoft® Word or Microsoft® Outlook.

    Why is social media important NOW for non-profits?

    What is social media?

    In written terms, social media describes the online tools that facilitate 2-way conversation between organizations and their constituents, and people-to-people. These participants share content, profiles, opinions, insights, experiences, perspectives and more. The tools include blogs, message boards, podcasts, wikis, bookmarks, social networking -to name a very few. A few prominent examples include: Wikipedia, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Digg, Flickr, Ustream, and -again, some you may have heard of.

    Non-profits thrive on the attention from the generous public. Without ongoing support and donations from its mass public, non-profits deteriorate. In a world that is constantly connected through cell phones, email, Twitter, Facebook, Linknd, and more, what better place to reach your public than through social media channel? It is daunting, yet factual that people spend over 700 billion minutes on Facebook per month, and the average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events. Social networks such as these are not only available, but easy to access. Social media is one of the most vital tactics to create relationships with your constituents -whether it be investors, donors, volunteers, or prospective employees.

    Statistics  of Social Media Networking Sites

    Rosita Cortez, founder and blogger of Social Media 4 Non-Profits relates social media to the concept making friendships. Social media is a way to make connections, maintain past connections, and spread news through “word of mouth.” How do you launch such goals? It’s simple -and free (mostly). All you need is internet access. Cortez explains that your organization must establish “real estate,” or a page, on the web for your nonprofit. After you build your page, you begin sharing information to your Facebook fans or followers on Twitter. This process serves as a chain of reactions, thus spreading word of mouth about your organization. For example, your fans will share your page to their friends, and so forth. You will start to see your organization being talked about by a larger, perhaps exponential web of constituents.

    Being engaged in everyday “2-way conversation” with your target audience, will help your organization learn what consumers really want, how to strengthen your cause, and how to sustain a strong community.

    Throughout this blog, I will explore and analyze social media strategies that non-profits are currently using as well as provide tips from experts.