Random Thoughts on Life and Work

January 8, 2016

The Effects of Giving

PBS Newshour had an interesting segment during the show on January 7. A University of British Columbia research team conducted a small study on the effects of giving in toddlers and then carried it beyond to college students and adults. In the study, they found that even young toddlers express happiness when giving something to others.

I suspect anyone in fund-raising/fund-development will tell you, “duh” to the concept that it is actually a pleasurable experience to give. One of the interesting (and again, not new) findings in the study is that people who have the opportunity to see and/or experience the impact of their giving are even happier than those who just gave to a general “fund”. However, how often do organizations get caught up in trying to raise funds so that “we can accomplish our mission.”?

You likely saw the UNICEF and/or ASPCA commercials during the holiday season. What struck me about those efforts was the fact that there was no impact of my gift. All I saw was a portrayal of a very negative situation with a statement – help us help them.  I have to confess, I was extremely turned off by the ads finding them very ineffective at telling me how either of these organizations do anything positive. Where were the impact/results pictures?

Watch the PBS segment and then consider your own communications. What are you telling your readers/listeners/site visitors? Are you telling them why they should support you? Or are you telling them that their gift has changed the life of Samuel who now has his own bed or Mary who can go to school because now there is clean water right in her village?


April 22, 2009

Allowing Donors To Be Creative

Okay, so I haven’t posted in “like forever” as my daughter would put it.  Part of that challenge of getting to it.  I just lost all sense of creativity and drive. 

But that’s not the point today.  

Quite a while back, I posted about allowing your donors to tell your story.  Finding ways to facilitate that provide opportunity for them to advocate for you.  Here is an example of what I am talking about:

I am developing a great appreciation for the development of the “friends asking friends” concept and the power that brings to spreading the message.  As I continue to work with individual donors, I hear more and more frequently the desire to let others know about their passion.  

Spread the word.

July 18, 2007

Who Is Telling Your Story?

Or maybe more accurately, who is telling stories about you?

I was recently doing some surfing to find web references to my employer and discovered some interesting things.  Not that this is particularly new to anyone reading this space or other blogs in the list to the right.  If you aren’t telling your story in as many places as possible, it is likely that somebody else will be telling stories about you.  And yes, there is a distinction. 

The information that you post on Wikipedia about your organization may be consistently different than information that is posted about you by someone else.  If you allow another individual to control your story, you may be sorry. 

And what about Facebook?  Same thing.  Allowing others to dictate the interaction may not be what you want.

Now, I am not saying that you bite the hand that feeds you.  Actually, what needs to be done is create a consistent, accurate access point to your organization.  And then let your donors and constituents make use of the information.

Do you have a FaceBook group created?  Maybe you should think about how you might make use of the space to inform, encourage, and motivate your donors.

Do you monitor Wikipedia to see what is being posted on your space.  It is, after all, an encyclopedia that provides information about your organization.  Has someone done a “dump and run” on your space?  Go clean it up.

Is someone posting your media files to places like YouTube, BrightCove or other hosting sites?  Plan a release strategy that beats them to the punch and grabs viewers back to your website.

Hopefully this helps to stimulate some thinking about making use of the spaces that are available to you.  Take the time to search various locations.  You might be surprised at what you find out about yourself.

March 12, 2007

What Message Are You Sending Your Donors?

When was the last time you did an audit of your donor response systems?

Sometimes programs get set up without thinking through the inadvertent message we may be sending.  Take for instance a website where it takes more than 3 clicks to make a donation.  What message does that send to someone who may have been impacted by the email appeal you sent?  “Oh, don’t bother giving.  We don’t really need it.”

Inadvertant Messages

Take for instance this car dealership.  I pass this dealership on my way to and from work each day and have really been puzzled by their perspective.  For some reason, they think that placing cars in the entrance way is good promotion.  The dealership sits on the major highway into town and gets lots of traffic.  But now that they have put the cars in the driveway, you would be hard pressed to find your way into the dealership.  “Don’t bother.  We don’t really want to sell you a car.”

I realize there is some disagreement about the value of postage paid response envelopes vs regular reply envelopes.  However, within your own context, consider the message you send by not including an envelope (or a postage-paid envelope) in your direct mail appeal.  Maybe it is good stewardship.  But then maybe using the entrance to park cars in could be considered good use of available land.

Here are some items to consider:

  1. Do you have a “corporate” e-mail address that donors can use to inquire?
  2. Do you have a toll-free phone number available for callers?
  3. How many clicks does it take to make a gift on  your website?
  4. Do you have special landing pages for e-mail appeals that encourage giving and make it easy to do so?
  5. Do you include envelopes in your direct mail?  Is it postage-paid?
  6. Who answers your main phone?  Person or automated?
  7. How long do you take to respond to e-mail?  1 day?  2? 5?

Take a moment to audit your messages from the viewpoint of the donor.  What are you really saying to them?

February 22, 2007

Internet Collaboration

The Wharton Business School has published an article in their Knowledge@Wharton e-newsletter that is definately thought provoking although I would say, “What took them so long?” 

The key paragraph in this article comes about half way through the article and is something that the non-profit world needs to make sure they take note of.

And I quote:

The defining traits of the Internet since the year 2000 — especially the ability of users to create content and form communities of interest — have created what Williams described as “public squares” in comparison to what he called the “walled gardens” of the pre-2000 web. The changes are driven by young users who are exhilarated by the variety of choices offered by the Internet but who also carefully scrutinize the companies they buy products from. The Wikinomics authors found that 65% of this new generation of online customers wants a two-way relationship with the brands they select, with the ability to provide feedback and direct input.

This issue of the two-way relationship is important and as the mistrust/distrust of the non-profit world continues, it behooves us to find ways to provide for that two way interaction.  Your donors will be more committed to you and indeed will likely become your advocates.

Enjoy the article.  It is a solid read.

January 16, 2007

Enhancing the Donor Experience

I had the privilege last week of presenting with my good friend Foster Chase of MinistryLinq at the annual Christian Stewardship Association conference in Dallas, TX.  The title of our presentation was e-Relationships: Using Internet Technology to Enhance Constituent Relationships.  Our audience was made up of primarily development professionals looking for new ideas on web based development.  (At least that is what we hoped the audience was made up of.)  (more…)

December 7, 2006

Security Update

As an update to the Donation Security post from a couple of days ago, here is a resource that you may find valuable as you evaluate various 3rd party providers.  This document is a list of companies certified by Visa to be in compliance with their credit card processing regulations.  Visa Compliant Companies

December 5, 2006

Donation Security

CRM Magazine had a great articlein their recent e-newsletter concerning online security and the concerns that people have in transacting business on the internet.  According to a Gartner survey quoted in the article, nearly $2 billion in online sales will be lost in 2006.   To quote:

Nearly half of online U.S. adults, or 46 percent of more than 155 million people, say that concerns about theft of information, data breaches, and/or Internet-based attacks have affected their purchasing payment, online transaction, or email behavior.  Of all the behaviors affected, online commerce . . . is suffering the highest toll. 

You can also find the full article here.  But non-profits typically don’t sell items on the internet.  So how does that affect the trust relationship in this context? 


November 15, 2006

How Connected Are You?

One of the arts of non-profit internet management is to evaluate the level of connections that you have with your constituency.  As often as not, the organization does not think beyond their own website and evaluate other opportunities to connect with their constituency.  There are so many tools available now that it takes some cognitive effort and planning to think through the various alternatives.  (more…)

November 13, 2006

What Is In Your Toolbox?

Over the last week or so, I have been wrestling with the question of what tools a non-profit might want to deploy on their website.  Here is a list that might be considered.  Obviously, the overall internet strategy must be considered and not all of these will necessarily apply to every website.  (more…)

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