Saturday, October 29, 2011

    Something Wicked This Way Comes

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    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    SMS / Mobile giving case study

    (from my original post at Marts & Lundy)

    In a recent discussion at the CASE Social Media & Community conference, the discussion entitled Future Trends in Social Media identified mobile/text/SMS giving was identified as the topic likely to gain the most in attention and importance before next year’s conference. In the course of the discussion, ideas were considered for how this might work within higher education, but actual examples are difficult to find.

    In order to provide a concrete example, I contacted my colleague Howard Heevner at the University of California, Santa Cruz, with whom I have worked on numerous occasions. This past February, while Howard was director of annual giving there, Penn State embarked on its first SMS campaign for its Dance Marathon event. “THON” is the world’s largest student-run philanthropy and raises significant funds to fight pediatric cancer and support those impacted by the disease. The 2011 edition generated over $9.5M in gifts.

    So how did the SMS portion of the fundraising perform? Download the full report in our special reports section.

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    1 Month = 6,000 Donors = 17% of Those Solicited. Really?

    (from a post by Kathy Howrigan @ my firm, Marts & Lundy)

    Really. In a recent #fundchat Twitter chat, the topic of multi-channel marketing came up. I mentioned that when I was at Dartmouth College, we did a “challenge” integrating messages from direct mail, phonathon, e-mails, volunteer managers, and anyone else who would talk about it. It was hugely successful, totally exceeding our expectations, so Dan Blakemore asked me to elaborate a little bit — hence my first guest blog post. (We are republishing the blog here in case you missed it at

    Sylvia Racca, Executive Director of the Dartmouth College Fund, and I designed the challenge (but it was her idea). I debated sharing the theme and messaging we used for the challenge in this blog post, but as I worked through it, I realized it would be way too long. Anyone who is interested should feel free to contact me for more information.


    The goal: The Dartmouth College Fund’s participation goal for fiscal year 2006 was 50 percent. In February, we realized that we were behind the curve to hit 50%, especially in bringing lapsed donors back on board. To reach this milestone, the Fund needed to increase the number of lapsed donors significantly in the months of April, May and June over previous years. To help achieve our goal, we created “The April Challenge.” More specifically, our goal was to get 4,000 alumni to give in the month of April (note that the record at the time for April donors was less than 2,400).


    The strategy: A “challenge.” Find some leadership donors who would offer to give X dollars per Y donors – no matter the size of the gift.


    The plan: Four alumni challenged the Dartmouth College Fund to bring in gifts from 4,000 donors in April. At each 1,000 donor benchmark, each donor would give the Fund $25,000 (up to $100,000 each).

    Because we were concerned that the challenge would only cause regular donors to give earlier in the year – in April and not June (which would get us to our challenge goal but not to 50 percent), we wanted to develop a segmentation strategy for lapsed donors. We knew we needed to do well in these categories. We set goals by solicitation strategy (direct mail, phonathon and volunteer solicitation) and by giving segment (last year donors, one year lapsed, two year lapsed, three year lapsed, four year lapsed, five year plus lapsed and never givers), and used these goals to develop the marketing plan. These goals were applied specifically to each channel as well, and closely monitored all month.
    The marketing plan included a direct mail piece sent to 33,424 non-donors, inserts for pledge reminders distributed during April, customized scripts for the student phonathon callers, five e-mail solicitations directing non-donors to our website to make an online gift, and communication with our volunteers. A special webpage, which included a “thermometer” tracking progress towards the challenge goal, was created and promoted through the e-mails, student callers, and on the main webpage.


    The results: The April Challenge final cash donor count for April 2006 was 6,031 donors. The previous record for the month of April was 2,379 donors.

    • In the end, we did well in all segments, including LYBUNTs, but it was recapturing lapsed donors that pushed us over the top.

    • 1,199 alumni made a gift for the first time in several years and 370 were first-time donors.

    • The student phonathon brought in a total of 2,058 donors, 121 percent of our goal.

    • Volunteer teams and direct mail donors equaled 3,973, 192 percent of our goal.

    • The DCF online giving site saw tremendous activity during the month of April. The number of online gifts increased with each e-mail solicitation sent. The first e-mail solicitation sent on April 4 resulted in 92 gifts in one day, while the last e-mail sent on Friday, April 28 resulted in a total of 555 gifts from Friday – Sunday.

    • Including the challengers, the April Challenge raised more than 3.8 million dollars.

    The Dartmouth College Fund achieved its ultimate goal of 50 percent participation with a final result of 50.8 percent alumni participation. The success of the April Challenge enabled us to reach this milestone.


    Most surprising finding: I was most surprised by the e-mail responses — keep in mind that we were e-mailing the SAME PEOPLE! So the 260 donors on April 28th were replying to their FIFTH e-mail solicitation.


    Why I think The April Challenge was successful:

    • It was metric-driven, with desired metrics informing the strategies.

    • Clear and consistent messaging across all channels.

    • The use of all channels – one direct mail piece and two e-mails would not have been enough.

    • We provided feedback via callers, volunteers and in e-mails on a regular basis.

    • There was a clear deadline.

    Notice that I didn’t list the challenge funds as one of the factors that made the challenge successful. While this is obviously critical for any challenge, finding donor/s willing to make a significant gift is not enough. The key is to be thoughtful, strategic, integrated and purposeful in how to use that generous contribution.

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    How Google+ Save The World!

    Please excuse the sensationalism embedded in the title of this post. However, it is done so with good intention. Since Google+ became the latest and greatest (and shiniest!) new toy in social media, various blog postings and articles are eager to tout what's great about the platform, what's wrong with it and - of course - who is most important and popular on the network. Here's a sampling (though I encourage you to only skim these with an eye toward realizing how over-the-top and knee-jerk these posts may be):
    So what does this mean for your nonprofit? And why is the title of this post just as sensational? Well... the title was to get your attention. Hopefully I still have it. I don't want to mislead you, but rather I want to get your attention and - hopefully - keep you from making the mistake many will make with every new platform: Diving in way too fast.

    What this all means for your nonprofit is... Take a deep breath. Learn about the platform. Listen to those using it. Play around as an individual and learn what works and what doesn't. Don't - don't! - make super quick decisions on how to use it.

    G+ just may be Google's successful foray into social media (finally... remember Wave? Buzz?). But focus your resources on learning before you dive into the deep end. If you need further motivation to slow down on Google+, Google has announced they'll gradually be deleting non-human accounts (nonprofits, businesses, etc.) until they roll out business profiles at a later date. So if you do too much, it may be for nothing.

    To recap - What are the most important things to do in the meantime?

    1) Listen & Learn

    2) Continue to do well on the other platforms (For example, you should really take a second and like my firm on Facebook) :)

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    Planning Ahead - April & May Holidays Your #Nonprofit Can Use

    As many of you know, there is a page on this blog dedicated to holidays nonprofit organizations may be able to use for creative awareness or fundraising campaigns or internal management - such as getting your volunteers and team behind National Volunteer Week (April 10-16). Or you could get your staff to take part in National Card and Letter Writing Month, writing to donors. And I'd love to see an organization embrace National Inspirational News Week as a way to kickoff a program that regularly illustrates the positive impact the organization has.

    In May, highlights include Donate-A-Day's-Wages Day, International Museum Day, National New Friends, Old Friends Week (Good for using on Facebook?) and Teacher Appreciation Week. If you have any doubts about that last one, make sure you watch this video recently shared with me by Heidi Ketrosey Massey:

    So here are some April & May holidays you can use. If you're interested in planning further ahead or reviewing some of the guidelines on making these holiday campaigns successful for your organization, make sure to visit the original page.

    Here's a quick snapshot of some of April's holidays you may be able to use:

    Adult Autism Day
    April Fools or All Fools Day
    Arbor Day
    Autism Awareness Month
    Cancer Control Month
    Child Abuse Prevention Month
    Earth Day
    Every Day is Earth Day
    Global Child Nutrition Month
    Golden Rule Week
    Jazz Appreciation Month
    National & Global Youth Service Days
    National Card and Letter Writing Month
    National Child Abuse Prevention Month
    National Environmental Week
    National Garden Month
    National Go Birding Day
    National Inspirational News Week
    National Love Our Children Day
    National Networking Week
    National Park Week
    National Parkinson's Awareness Month
    National Public Health Week
    National Sexual Assault Awareness Month
    National Volunteer Week
    National Week of the Ocean
    Physical Wellness Month
    Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month
    School Library Media Month
    Testicular Cancer Awareness Week
    World Autism Day
    World Habitat Awareness Month
    World Health Day
    World Hemophilia Day
    World Parkinson's Disease Day

    And here's a look at some of May's holidays you may be able to use:

    ALS Awareness Month
    American Wetlands Month
    Arthritis Awareness Month
    Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month
    Be Kind To Animals Week
    Birthmother's Day (Saturday before Mother's Day)
    Brain Tumor Awareness Month
    Childhood Depression Awareness Day
    Children's Book Week
    Children's Mental Health Awareness Day
    Children's Mental Health Week
    Clean Air Month
    Donate A Day's Wages To Charity
    Drinking Water Week
    EcoDriving Month
    Fibromyalgia Education and Awareness Month
    Go Fetch! Food Drive for Homeless Animals Month
    Heal the Children Month
    International Day of Families
    International Jazz Day
    International Migratory Bird Day
    International Museum Day
    Letter Carrier's Food Drive Day
    Loyalty Day
    Lupus Awareness Month
    Memorial Day
    Mother Ocean Day
    Mother's Day
    National Allergy/Asthma Awareness Month
    National Anxiety & Depression Awareness Week
    National Bike to Work Day
    National Bike to Work Week
    National Dance Day
    National Endangered Species Day
    National Family Week
    National Hepatitis Awareness Month
    National Hug Holiday Week
    National Mental Health Month
    National New Friends, Old Friends Week
    National Pet Week
    National Photo Month
    National Physical Fitness & Sports Month
    National Preservation Month
    National Smile Month
    National Stroke Awareness Month
    National Teacher Day
    National Wildflower Week
    National Women's Health Week
    Neighbor Day
    Personal History Month
    Reading is Fun Week
    Teacher Appreciation Week
    Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month
    Women's Health Care Month
    World Asthma Day
    World Fair Trade Day
    World Hypertension Day
    World Turtle Day
    Young Achievers of Tomorrow Month

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    Pros & Cons

    • I've joined an incredible team at Marts & Lundy as a consultant.
    • The work and opportunities have come quickly and are keeping me quite busy.
    • Did I mention how great the team is at M&L? Incredible collection of experience, but also genuinely good people. I'm loving it.

    • Being busy with everything else has taken a toll on the production level of this blog. I hope to add more soon... really soon.
    • Any specific topics y'all are interested in?

    Enjoy the weekend!

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

    Free Webinar 2/22: Common Social Media Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

    Quick heads up on a webinar I'm giving on Feb 22 @ 1:00 Eastern:

    Common Social Media Mistakes, Misconceptions & Missed Opportunites:

    This one-hour (including Q&A session) webinar will examine 5 mistakes, 5 misconceptions & 5 missed opportunities for nonprofits' work with social media AND how to turn these around into positive aspects of your social strategy. Not only would I welcome your attendance, I encourage feedback, questions, etc. - If you have any best practice with your institution you would like included in the highlights or follow-up material, let me know. There's quite a bit in the presentation already, but I'm always happy to add more as appropriate.

    For more visit:

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Love For Nonprofits

    Just a friendly reminder to show some love to your favorite nonprofits... and to find some new ones to love. Nonprofit organizations make a huge impact on our world and the local communities within. I certainly [heart] nonprofits and hope you do too!

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Kenneth Cole Illustrates How Not To Use Social Media

    Wow. Using a tragedy or conflict like what we're seeing in Egypt is no way to promote one's company. This is exactly how not to use Twitter or any other social platform. While Kenneth Cole has tweeted an apology, I'm quite surprised that this was posted in the first place. Kenneth Cole has also posted this apology on Facebook (screenshot below). Make note of the consumer feedback.

    This clearly doesn't have to do directly with fundraising, but it should be a reminder for nonprofits to be sensitive in all communications - particularly social media where controversy can spread like wildfire.

    Shout-out: Thanks to Lisa Byrne (@lisabyrne) for bringing this to my attention.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Save The Children's Groupon Experiment

    In December, Save The Children (web / Facebook / Twitter / Flickr / YouTube) took the concept of a challenge match for giving on to a new platform for an appeal - the fast-growing Groupon. In case you have missed the explosion of Groupon, it is a deal-a-day site based on harnessing collective buying power for a lower price. For example, Widgets, Inc. may offer to sell their 2011 Widget for $14, when it is normally $20. However, they will only offer the discount if they get 125 people to sign-up for the deal. In theory, this is a win-win... consumers get a price break on something they desire and businesses know that they will only be offering the lower price if they can make up for it in sales volume.

    Back to Save The Children... STC had a group willing to fund a challenge gift and agreed to match up to $225,000 of gifts. Rather than send a typical email or mailing about the challenge or ramp up phone calls, STC partnered with Groupon to offer a "discount" on giving - You "make" a gift of $30 for only $15. In order for the deal to kick-in, 200 people had to sign up for the gift. They easily surpassed that total and secured 1,953 pledges to give.

    While in many ways, you can consider this campaign a success for the exposure Save The Children received, I was curious whether or not STC considered this a success. Particularly when you consider fulfillment. If 100% of the pledges were fulfilled, which is obviously unlikely, only $29,295 of the potential $225,000 (13%) would be secured. So with my curiosity piqued, I reached out to STC with a few brief interview questions. I am very grateful to Brian Beirne, STC's senior director for internet marketing and communications for taking the time to respond and discuss the Groupon campaign. Here are my questions to STC with Brian's response below:

    1) When & how did the idea for partnering with Groupon come along?
    2) How did you market the opportunity?
    3) Will you continue to use Groupon going forward for donor challenge gifts?
    4) Are there any changes you would make if you could redo the campaign?
    5) What are your plans to keep the Groupon donors and increase their giving in the future?

    We are constantly exploring new ways to get our message out and reach new donors. Noting the considerable press coverage Groupon received during the late Summer of 2010, we first reached out to them in October of last year about a possible partnership. Fortunately for us and for children around the world, Groupon is a very philanthropic organization, founded in fact originally to fund charitable projects as a site called The Point.

    In order to offer the discount to Groupon customers, we secured a matching offer from a small group of anonymous donors who agreed to match every dollar raised through the Groupon deal with another dollar. This enabled us to offer a $30 donation for only $15. We communicated the Groupon deal primarily through our social channels, posting it on our Facebook page and Tweeting updates throughout the course of the promotion.

    Groupon customers who participated in this promotion have until March 31, 2011 to register their Groupon with Save the Children and opt in to receive future communications from us. Upon registration, a personalized thank you email is sent to the donor. To date, around 30% of participants have registered, and 90% of those are new donors. The deal was only made available to Groupon’s subscribers based in the US. A full analysis will be performed once the registration period ends, but we are very pleased with the early indicators.

    There are several options we are considering for future promotions to try and build on this success, including a choice of price points and funding for specific projects and programs – we want to be able to offer the donor as much choice and flexibility as possible. Groupon has a very active and engaged user base, which skews younger than our average donor profile. To be able to engage this group in a fun, innovative way, and to give them the opportunity to help create positive change for children in need in the US and around the world, is a win-win for all involved.

    UPDATE: One thing I forgot to mention - Kudos to STC for trying such a unique approach to fundraising!