I recently read a very interesting article from The New York Times about how social science and behavioral economics was used to get out the vote. The article, “Academic Dream Team Helped Obama’s Effort,” details how experts like Robert Cialdini (whom I covered just this past week), formed a consortium that provided research-based ideas on motivating people to take certain actions (especially voting). Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or of any party, the advice the academics provided is very useful to all of us involved in the work of social change. We’re all in the business of compelling people to do things. So I wanted to pass on the most interesting tips.1. People favor candidates – and organizations! – that exhibit a combination of competence and warmth. You want to seem smart but also likable.2. When countering rumors (or myths), it’s a bad idea to repeat them. People may register a denial in the short term, but they only tend to remember the rumor or myth in the long term. Don’t deny or counter something – simply assert your competing notion.3. Use people’s sense of identity to influence behavior. In the election, volunteer canvassers said, “Mr. Jones, we know you’ve voted in the past,” to prompt future voting. We can do the same with volunteers or donors: “Mr. Jones, we know you’ve supported us in the past.” People want to stick to their past behaviors, so this can work well.4. Informal commitments help. Getting people to sign a card promising to vote increases likelihood to vote, for example. Pledging is also useful in fundraising!5. Tell people to make a plan. People are more likely to follow through on a promise if they have a plan, however simple. Ask people to specify when they’ll help you.6. Use social norms. When people were told others in their neighborhood planned to vote, it influenced them. Never forget the power of peer pressure – call out your supporters to inspire others to jump on board.For more fascinating tips on how this worked during the campaign, check out the article here.
Email your supporters now (if you haven’t already) and remind them that today is the last chance to make their tax-deductible gift in 2012. Today is the biggest day of the year for online donations, so don’t miss out.
Network for Good is hosting a free webinar this Thursday, March 14 at 1 p.m. ET on neuromarketing – a topic definitely worth your time!The urge to help and give is hard-wired into the human brain. As a champion for a cause, it’s your task to tap into those recesses by appealing to that urge. The simplest things – images, words, gestures, even type fonts – can have a major effect on the potency of your message. Neuromarketing expert, Roger Dooley, has discovered some brain-science-based tweaks you can make to your print, web, and in-person outreach that will boost the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Join Roger Dooley for this free event as he makes neuromarketing easy for nonprofits. Register here.
Remember: This isn’t a crusade, it’s a learning experience for everyone. Make sure there IS a good case for your initiative and if it does fail, share and learn from what went wrong. There is no shame in gaining knowledge from mistakes – for you, or your boss. 1. Change the subject. If you’re having a debate over the value of social media, you’re having the wrong discussion. The discussion should be about your organization’s goals – with social media being the means, not the end. 2. Make it about what your boss already wants. Don’t position your idea as a social media initiative; frame it as your initiative to support your boss’s goals, in your boss’s language. Is donor retention a big concern for your Executive Director? Highlight how social media can help keep donors engaged. Does your board want more success stories to showcase? Underscore how social media can help make that happen. 3. Make it about the audience. A good way to depersonalize the debate over social media is to make it about your target audience’s preferences rather than a philosophical tug of war between you and said boss. 4. Sign your boss up to listen.Set up Google Alerts and TweetBeep (email alerts for Twitter mentions) for your boss, so she or he can see that there are already many discussions about your organization happening online. Once this apparent, two things are likely to happen. First, it will become clear that your organization no longer controls your message online – so worrying about social media causing a lack of control is not worth fearing. That day is already here. Second, it will be hard not to want to join those conversations online – which is what social engagement is all about. 5. Set some ground rules. Set a social media policy for your organization, so it’s clear how to respond to what you’re hearing – and what types of initiatives have internal support. 6. Start small. If you’re going to start a social media initiative, start small. Pinpoint where your supporters are and branch out from there. You don’t have to be an overnight social media expert – you just need to be a part of the conversations about your cause. 7. Set a clear goal.Just as with any other marketing effort, establish a specific, measurable goal so you can identify success. 8. Measure and report.Once you’ve identified your approach and have set a goal, ensure that you can track and measure your progress. Most social media platforms have built-in analytics and you can also track Web traffic back to your site through Google Analytics. Be sure to tie your results back to your social media efforts where possible with careful tracking. (This could mean using tracking codes on your donation pages, Google campaign tags or landing pages created specifically for your social media outreach.) Share every little bit of progress and give your boss credit for it! It’s clear that social media is an effective channel for establishing your nonprofit’s brand identity, championing your cause and engaging with current and would-be supporters. So, how do you make sure your organization is on board — especially your boss, executive director or board members? Here are eight tips for making the case for your next social media initiative: Photo Source: Big Stock Photo Adapted from Nonprofit Marketing Blog.
If the thought of asking for a donation in person makes you sweat, Network for Good’s next free webinar is for you.Tune in Tuesday, April 16 at 1 p.m. Eastern to hear fundraising expert Jay Frost give nonprofits the insider scoop on garnering support via one of the most powerful methods — the in-person ask.Join us and learn answers to the following: How to ask for donations in a way that is comfortable for youHow to identify your unique asking strengths and best use themWhy asking for gifts doesn’t have to be so scary!Register here.
The following post is a summary of Adam Grant’s presentation on his book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success at the Conference on Volunteering and Service.In Give and Take, Adam Grant’s premise is that there is more to the secret of success than hard work, talent and luck – especially as the world continues to become more hyper-connected. What’s missing is generosity. Givers excel in a collaborative work environment, but can burn out easily if they don’t see the impact of their contributions or don’t learn how to set boundaries. This is especially true for people in helping professions such as nonprofit leadership, cause marketing and social responsibility.Here are Adam’s 4 tips for creating a cultures of successful givers at your organization.1. Get the right people on the bus (a nod to Jim Collins)Weed out the takers and encourage matches to take their cues from the givers. Rewarding giver behavior and helping matchers see the value in reciprocity with a net positive benefit will nudge your culture towards a collaborative, generous workplace.2. Reduce costsThink about the power of 5-minute favors. You don’t have to be Mother Theresa or Gandhi to call yourself a giver. Giver mentality is more about finding efficient ways to make low-cost gestures with high value to the receiver. You’ve heard of micro-volunteering? Think of it as micro-favors. If someone asks you for help and you know you are the best equipped to help and the act will only take you 5 minutes, say yes. Always. If you are not the best equipped to respond, point the person in a new direction to find the help they need.3. Show impactSome givers burn out others are energized by doing favors – why? Givers burn out when they can’t see the value of their impact. Think of ways to have authentic messengers demonstrate the value your staff creates every day. A message from the CEO is nice, but givers are more motivated by a thank you from a program beneficiary or an employee who gave in a personally meaningful way. Showing impact in a tangible way relates to the concept of the ‘identifiable victim’ or ‘singularity effect’ – people are more compassionate when they can relate to one person’s story.4. Encourage help-seekingA whopping 75-90% of helping starts with a request, yet people hesitate to ask for help – especially givers. Givers don’t want to be a burden and often confuse taking and receiving. We need to create work cultures that reward asking for help and make it ok for people to take it. Also, givers to ask for help so other people (namely matchers) have the opportunity to give and so givers know who can benefit from their help and how in the future.Here’s an example of how help-seeking improves results. Appletree Answers, a call center solutions provider, was experiencing 98% staff turnover each year. That’s a huge HR hiring burden to replace your staff every year. The company started internal employee wish program where employees could ask for help fulfilling their dreams and other employees could offer assistance to making those wishes come true. As a result of creating this culture of giving and receiving, staff turnover dropped to 33%.Your organization can create its own Reciprocity Ring. Here’s how.· Invite employees to join the program.· Have everyone participating make a request.· Everyone in the program then tries to help make those requests happen.· Everyone is both a giver and a receiver, so there is no stigma about asking for help.· Everyone gets better understanding of the resources in their network for future giving and receiving. by Kate Olsen, VP of Strategic Projects at Network for Good @Kate4Good
Before: Take the Farm Friends SurveyAfter: Farm Friends Asks: What’s Your Fantasy Meal? Subject lines are more important than you might think. On average, at least 100 emails flood your constituents’ inboxes every single day. That’s a lot of digital noise to shout over, which is why your email subject lines need as much TLC as the content inside. Here’s a simple, four-step makeover to help transform your subject lines from ho-hum to “Oh, wow!” 1. State the ObviousDon’t dance around the point of your email. Talk straight to your recipients about what they’ll find inside. You can be creative and pique curiosity, but for best results, make sure you answer the question, “What’s this email about?” If you make readers think too hard, they may just opt to delete without reading and move on to their next message. For newsletters, highlight the key piece of content you’re sending—a subject line like “Fall 2013 Newsletter” is easy to gloss over in a busy inbox.Before: All the news that’s fit to emailAfter: The Top 10 Women in Science 4. Keep It ShortMake every word count. After you’ve written your subject line, go back and delete words or phrases that don’t add value. Ideally, stick with around 50 characters or less. Some studies have found that the 28- to 39-character range is the sweet spot for maximum open rates.Before: Final reminder to make reservations to attend the Strutting Dog Gala on October 15, 2013!After: Strutting Dog Gala: Last day to RSVP! 3. Avoid the Spam TrapWhy bother with killer content if your subject line gets it caught in the spam filter? Keep your message front and center by avoiding things like cute symbols and special characters—spam filter magnets that attract the wrong kind of attention. Subject lines containing the words help, RE, or FWD are often interpreted as scams.Before: ♥♥♥You will LOVE these PREMIUM GIFTS for your donation!!!♥♥♥After: Cool donor gifts from Heart Healthy Houston! 2. Stand Out from the Crowd In a sea of emails, it helps to be a little different. Add a touch of visual interest with brackets, quotes, a smidge (just a smidge) of all caps, or an exclamation point (just one!). Personalize your subject line with the recipient’s city or state, which typically generate higher open rates than first or last names. Instead of telling people what’s inside, try asking a question that piques their curiosity.Before: SafeSurf loves its volunteersAfter: SafeSurf LOVES its volunteers! Before: Hot dog! Get down and boogie with your beagle!After: Join Long Island Pet Rescue’s Fall Frolic Before: RE: Help a veteran find a homeAfter Homes for Heroes Fall Fundraiser wants you! Revamping your subject lines with these simple tips can make a big difference in your email open rates. You might even see a boost in constituent engagement and giving!Don’t forget:Your email subject lines can show how much you respect your constituents’ busy schedules by telling them exactly what they’ll find inside.It’s okay to add a little visual interest to your subject line, just don’t overdo it and catch the eye of the spam filter instead.Short and sweet is best when it comes to subject lines. Always try to keep them under 50 characters. Before: Books for Kids is Coming to your neighborhoodAfter: Books for Kids is Coming to Newport!
Is it easy to find you on Twitter and Facebook? Include links to your profiles on your website, email newsletters, and staff email signatures. Always include a short description about your organization and a link back to your website in your social media profiles’ “about” section. Think about social media as a way to open the doors of your organization to new guests and friends. But unlike hosting guests at your home for an hour or two, social media is open to guests 24/7. Because of the constant accessibility of social media, keeping profiles tidy all the time is a must. Here are some tips and ideas for social media housekeeping that you can tackle right now:Your social media avatar/profile pictures should mesh with your nonprofit brand and be recognizable to fans of your cause. Consider creating a special page on your nonprofit website that is solely dedicated to visitors from social media. Don’t let replies and comments linger—use them as an opportunity to engage your community. Set up alerts to use social media as a listening platform: @ mentions, hashtags, keywords about your cause, etc. Start tracking and planning your organization’s tweets. Programs such as HootSuite, TweetDeck and Sprout Social can help you plan tweets in advance and monitor replies, mentions, and hashtags. Is your nonprofit’s Facebook profile picture just as good as your cover image? While this may be obvious, it’s worth stating that your Facebook profile picture will be seen more often than your cover image. Be consistent with your hashtags. One small typo could add your tweets to a hashtag conversation that you didn’t intend to join! Don’t forget to post pictures. Photos help your Facebook posts stand out on your fan’s news feeds. Use compelling images to make an emotional connection and engage more supporters with your cause. Encourage more likes, shares, and comments. More likes and shares increase the odds that your post will be seen by friends and friends of friends. Start analyzing the types of posts that get shared the most by exporting your Facebook insights and taking an hour or two to dive into the data.
By tapping into the #tigerblood hashtag, Zachary reported that tons of media outlets picked up on the story, resulting in a modest increase in blood donations.So what’s in it for you? Why should you consider making a meme? 1. Sure, memes can be just plain silly and fun, and but they can also humanize your nonprofit’s public image. Who doesn’t love an organization that embraces its humanity and sense of humor? 2. Memes can create connections and start conversations because of their two-prong premise: A meme is based on an aspect of popular culture and spread from person to person. 3. Memes give supporters an easy way to publicize and promote your cause. Once you create a meme, fans can quickly share it over email, social media, and their own websites.Want to create your own nonprofit meme to help build buzz for your cause? Check out our tips on using memes to spread your nonprofit’s message. (Image credit: National Wildlife Federation, Source: Avi Kaplan) You’ve seen them all over Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, and Pinterest: grumpycats,talking babies, even Ryan Gosling. Entertaining memes have exploded across the Internet. But have you also noticed an uptick in charitable memes, memes that are doing good? Many nonprofits are capitalizing on the popularity of memes to gain visibility and connect with new supporters.Nonprofits aren’t always great at piggybacking on the work of others, but that’s the key for a meme to take off. Senior Strategist Avi Kaplan of RAD Campaign has compiled some tip-top examples of nonprofit memes that worked because they borrowed a cultural phenomena, as did tech writer Zachary Sniderman.One of the best examples of nonprofit meme-jacking came from a 132-year-old organization, the American Red Cross. Capitalizing on Charlie Sheen’s 2011 outburst and proclamation to have drank tiger’s blood, the American Red Cross tweeted:We may not collect #tigerblood, but we know our donors & volunteers have fierce passion for doing good! #RedCrossMonth— American Red Cross (@RedCross)
Is your nonprofit website sending the right message to potential donors? Year-end fundraising season will be here before you know it. Now is the time to clear away the cobwebs and roll out the welcome mat for prospective donors, volunteers, and those who may benefit from your work. If you haven’t updated your site in a while, you might give donors the impression that your organization is no longer active.Worried your site may say “move along” instead of “come on in”? Here are the top issues that can scare visitors away from your nonprofit website (and how to fix them).Broken linksThey’re not just aggravating and confusing for your website visitors, broken links can also be a big red flag for search engines like Google. Having internal links that don’t work or that don’t point to real content can affect how your site shows up in search.How to fix it: Most website platforms and content management systems have reporting that will show you the top pages that are returning an error. Taking a close look at your Google Analytics can help as well. Do some internal testing on your website to make sure all of your links are taking visitors where they should. Stale content Do you still have information about your “upcoming event” on your home page even though the “upcoming event” took place several months ago? Is the last post on your nonprofit’s blog from 2012? This is a surefire sign that no one in your organization is actually looking at your website. To your visitors, it says: we gave up.How to fix it: Make it someone’s responsibility to frequently review your website and do regular housekeeping. If you have a news feed or blog that shows up on your home page, make sure you’re adding new content frequently. If you don’t have a plan to add new items, remove these feeds from your pages. Dated designThis one is somewhat subjective, but there are certain hallmarks of an outdated web design: crazy animations, hard to read text (usually light text on dark background, or a veritable rainbow of font colors), randomly-placed images, to name a few. Geocities is dead. It’s time for your nonprofit website to move on to better things.How to fix it: A complete makeover would be nice, but if that’s not in the cards, focus on fixing the most egregious cosmetic issues within your current design and platform. Start with your key pages and branch out from there. Make it easy to read and remove anything that makes your site look like this. No contact informationThe lights may be on, but without obvious and current contact information, is anyone really home? Your contact details give people an easy way to ask questions and find out more, plus openly listing this information on your website is a sign of trust and transparency. How to fix it: Add your physical address, phone number, and a way to email you to the footer of your website. Place clear links to your “Contact Us” page within your site’s global navigation. No clear way to donateThis is the first thing I look for when I am asked to review an organization’s website, and it’s amazing how many nonprofits still don’t have a prominently placed donation button on every page of their website. Without a clear and highly visible way to donate, you’re effectively telling donors: we don’t need your money. How to fix it: Make your donate button big, bold, and above the fold of your website. Make sure your donate button actually says “Donate Now”, “Donate”, or “Give”. Fuzzy language won’t cut it here. Slow to loadOne Mississippi, two Mississippi … by three Mississippi your website better be finished loading, or most visitors will simply leave. It may not be fair, but people are impatient. They have better things to do than to wait for your carousel of images or Flash presentation to load. How to fix it: Start by confirming there are no technical problems with your website’s platform or hosting service. Then, take a hard look at your website’s key pages and see how you can streamline them by removing extraneous images, code, or other files that are bogging down your site. A reputable web developer can also provide suggestions for other improvements that can speed up your site. (Bonus: Decluttering your site will have a positive effect on potential donors, making it easy for them to figure out what it is you do and why they should care.) Not mobile friendlyWhen your nonprofit website is difficult to load (or completely dead) on a mobile device, you may as well not exist for that smartphone user. 56% of US adults are smartphone users, and they’re becoming more and more likely to read your emails and social media outreach on a mobile device. If your links take them to a site that’s non-functional on their phone, you’ve missed out on another opportunity to connect.How to fix it: You don’t need a complete overhaul to make your website more mobile friendly. Focus on a handful of key pages (think: home page, donation page, contact page, any other pages you point to regularly from emails or social media) and improve them with these 8 tips for making your nonprofit website mobile friendly. (Bonus: Most mobile-friendly website tweaks will improve usability overall.)What are your biggest website challenges? Have you made a recent change to your site that’s made a big difference? Chime in with your thoughts in the comments below.