How to set up your website for maximum online fundraising success

By Julia Campbell

Your nonprofit website is the most important tool in your fundraising, marketing, outreach, and communications toolbox – BY FAR.

Think about how you conduct research on things that interest you and causes that you care about – you Google them, right? And what happens if you end up on a website that is clunky, ugly, takes forever to load, and has tiny text that you can’t read?

You would click away, without even giving it a second thought.

This is the main reason that Google is penalizing websites that are not mobile-friendly, by having them show up lower in their search results. After all, Google wants to provide their users with a productive experience, and a terrible website showing up in search results is not good business for them.

Too many nonprofits want to focus on the next shiny new platform, or tool, or social media site – without taking a good hard look at the damage their website is doing to their marketing and fundraising efforts.

Your website is your first impression to people who do not yet know who you are but want more information. And we all know – you only have ONE CHANCE to make a good first impression.

This is especially true when you are trying to raise money and solicit donations online.

Here are my top 7 tips to set up your website for maximum online fundraising success:

1. Enable one-click donations

Did you know that 65% of nonprofits require three or more clicks to get to the form that allows someone to make a donation?

Website visitors should be able to donate with just one lick of the mouse or tap of a button. This means having a bright DONATE button on the homepage of your website. When visitors click on the DONATE button, bring them directly to the donation form where they can enter the amount and their credit card information.

DO NOT send people to the “Ways to Get Involved” page or any other page on the website.

2. Make your website responsive

Having a responsive website is no longer optional in today’s always-online environment. Your website visitors should be able to easily access your site from any size screen, whether it be their desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Responsive websites shift their content to fit any screen size. Test out your website by pulling it up on a variety of phones and devices to see if it works.

Blackbaud found that responsive nonprofit websites receive a 34% increase in donations! In addition, a responsive website will certainly please those 16.6% of donors that give directly from your email appeal on their mobile device. (More emails are now opened on mobile devices than desktop, so make sure your email appeals change accordingly also.)

3. Less is always more

Eliminate all distractions on the online donation page of your website.

Take off any Facebook and Twitter feeds, remove the “sign up for our email newsletter” box. If you can, use a service like Leadpages.com to make the page completely free of any links – this is often called a “squeeze page” and it is used effectively by businesses of all sizes.

Think about it like this – they pressed the DONATE button. So get right to the credit card information!

You can and should use your logo, colors, and consistent branding so donors will know where they are and not get frightened off. Adding a video/or visual is always good as well (more in the next bullet).

4. Include visuals

When I encourage you to include visuals on your online donation page, I mean one clear photograph or video that showcases your impact. The purpose of this visual aid is to push the donor prospect even closer to pulling the trigger on the donation – or maybe increasing the size of their donation.

Here are two great examples of visually appealing online donation pages:

  • Project C.U.R.E. – photograph, small paragraph telling the donor where the money will go, several donation levels, and the form right underneath
  • Invisible Children – large, colorful photograph and the only option is to enter in a donation amount and click “once” or “monthly”
  • Operation Smile – hard to ignore powerful photograph, compelling ask, gift levels, and the credit card form immediately visible

5. Showcase your best stories

Showcasing the stories of the people you help and the impact you have is the absolute best way to build relationships with existing donors and to convince new people to jump on board.

Housing a diverse selection of impact stories in a particular, dedicated section of your website is also a great idea. Nonprofits that do a fantastic job of collecting and showcasing impact stories on their website include the Harlem Children’s Zone (hcz.org), Denver Rescue Mission (denverrescuemission.org), and Women for Women International (womenforwomen.org).

Remember: Your website exists to educate people about your mission, but it also exists to inspire them to take action on behalf of that mission. Otherwise, why have a website at all? The best way to do this is through compelling visuals and succinct storytelling, threaded throughout the site.

6. Encourage monthly gifts

Monthly online giving has been growing leaps and bounds, and your nonprofit needs to take advantage of this philanthropic trend.

For more on monthly giving programs and for some wonderful advice on how to create monthly giving programs, be sure to check out The Hidden Gem: How to Create an Awesome Monthly Giving Program with Erica Waasdorp.

7. Encourage sharing

Studies have shown that giving to charity is good for your health – but it actually makes you happy too!

When your donors give to you, they are expressing their values, their ethics, and their priorities. Give them a chance to share that they made a gift by including social share buttons on the Thank You page after someone enters their credit card information.

73% of nonprofits do not offer a “share” option after an online donation – and that seems like a serious missed opportunity.

Not everyone will take advantage of this, of course, but my bet is that the younger generations will – thereby giving you free advertising, and showing off that this person felt so strongly about your cause that they were willing to make a financial commitment!

More resources: For a template donation page, visit this infographic that I shared on Pinterest: 6 Elements of An Effective Online Donation Page

What other advice do you have about creating great nonprofit websites for maximum online fundraising success? Share them with us in the comments section of the website or via social media.

Looking for more detailed advice about all things digital marketing, online communications, social media and nonprofits, visit us here!

Join us for How to Create a Strategic  Online Communications Plan for more digital marketing and social media strategies.

About The Author

Julia C. Campbell, Founder of J Campbell Social Marketing, consults and trains nonprofits on the best ways to use digital tools to raise money and awareness for their organizations. Her blog is consistently featured in the list of Top 150 Nonprofit Blogs in the world, and she is currently publishing a book on storytelling and social media with Charity Channel Press. She has helped dozens of nonprofits small and large with their online fundraising and marketing campaigns, raising over $1 million for social causes.  

 

16 Ways To Get More Comments On Your Facebook Page

By John Haydon, Originally Posted Here.

You know that engagement is important, but getting fans to comment on your Facebook updates can feel like an uphill battle.

And it can sometimes be painful watching other nonprofits who seem to make massively engaged fans. What are they doing that you’re not?

Even the most active Facebook Page began from a standing start. And many of them got to where they are today by making it easier for fans to comment on their Page.

16 Ways To Get More Comments on Your Facebook Page:

  1. Ask specific questions – Asking your fans what we can do to cut down carbon emissions might get comments from your biggest fans, but most of them would just skip to the next item in their news feed. Specificity will get more comments
  2. Ask yes or no questions – Yes or no: Are you more likely to answer “yes or no” questions, or open-ended ones that require more time and attention? You get the point.
  3. Ask timely questions – Are you staying home or traveling this weekend? Focusing on your fans interests, and how those intersect with your mission, is a key part of growing an engaged community.
  4. Ask edgy questionsGreen Peace does a great job with this by asking questions like “Do you live near a nuclear power plant?” Adjust the edginess factor to your community, and certainly your mission.
  5. Ask true or false questions – True or false questions work really well for historical societies, whose fans love to show off their knowledge of history. Always begin these questions with “True or False:“. Fans will be more likely to answer if they know that a simple answer is all that’s required.
  6. Ask questions about a photo – Share a photo an ask your fans to comment. For example, an animal rights org could post a photo of animal cruelty and ask “What’s wrong with this picture?”
  7. Ask poll questions – Text updates makes it easy to create polls on your Page. Just make sure you give people the answer choices (A, B, C, etc).
  8. Ask fun questions – Don’t be afraid to go off topic with your fans. It will remind them that you’re just like them, and will establish a more human connection. For example, “What’s your families favorite vacation spot?”
  9. Ask directly – If your Facebook Page is new, or if it’s been dormant for months, getting any kind of response from fans can be difficult. If that’s the case with your Page, try messaging specific fans that you know personally, asking them to comment on a post. Tell them you think they’d offer value and insight around a particular conversation. Be sincere.
  10. Ask preference questions – When you were in college, did you prefer essay questions or multiple choice questions? Exactly.
  11. Ask who’s attending an event – You can pose this question to fans located near an upcoming event. Bonus points if you share a link to your Facebook Event.
  12. Ask those who attended the event to share a favorite moment – If you’re a national organization that help an event in Chicago, you can target an update to those attendees asking to share their impressions. This will mainly get responses from your core fans, but will give less active fans a deeper look at your organization’s culture.
  13. Ask for tips – This one works well if your organization works with families. Asking for tips on how to get kids out of bed earlier would leverage shared experiences among your Facebook fans.
  14. Ask humanistic questions – This works especially well if your organization deals with a disease or syndrome. For example, The Brain Aneurysm Foundation launched their Page simply by asking: “When you were first recovering from a brain aneurysm, what gave you the most hope?”
  15. Ask fill in the blank questions – Another way to make less work for your Facebook fans is to use “fill in the blank” questions. When you ask these, always begin with “Fill in the blank:”. Your fans will be more likely to answer a question if they know what’s expected. And everybody knows how “fill in the blank questions” work.
  16. Reply and pay attentionPeople skills 101 talks about acknowledging when someone answers a question. When your fans answer questions, comment back and deepen the conversation.

Learn more about nonprofit Facebook marketing with John’s next live webinar Create a Vibrant Facebook Community – How to Get More Likes, Comments and Shares on Your Page Updates

5 Reasons Your Nonprofit Needs A Strategic Online Communications Plan

By Julia Campbell

In my work with nonprofits, I often hear the same refrain about nonprofit marketing and communications: People are feeling very overwhelmed and stressed out by their never-shrinking to do lists.

With so many digital marketing and online fundraising tools out there, how can a small nonprofit choose what to focus on, and how can they manage their time and resources effectively?

There are constantly emails to send out, a website to update, a Facebook page and Twitter feed to manage, Instagram and Snapchat to explore, plus phone calls and meetings… how can a small nonprofit get it all done?

The answer? You don’t have to do it all!

Creating a Strategic Online Nonprofit Communications Plan will help you re-focus, re-prioritize, and get yourself back on track with your online communications.

Here are 5 reasons that you need a Strategic Online Nonprofit Communications Plan:

1. You will be able to allocate resources more efficiently.

By spelling out a plan for your online communications, you will be able to take a look at your budget, your staff time, and other needed resources and see what needs to be allocated and what needs to be raised. If you find that you have zero budget and zero staff time to allocate to online communications, this is also an important discovery. You may find that you need to focus on raising enough money or hiring staff/interns to do this work, even if just for a few hours per week.

2. You will understand the steps required to be successful.

Cutting through the noise and the clutter and getting your message heard is difficult, and it requires creativity and a lot of elbow grease. I will not sugar coat it for you. But with a plan in place, you will know what to do first, what to do second, and so on – and you will know what success looks like, rather than throwing things up to see what sticks.

3. You will be able to reach your audience.

Spending time working on your Strategic Online Communications Plan will focus your message and enable you to target the right audience. Your target audience should not be everyone in the world. Your target audience should be the people that you need to accomplish your online communications goals.

4. You will stay organized and on task.

Creating an Editorial Calendar so that nothing slips through the cracks is essential to managing your online communications. The Calendar will keep your ideas in one place and serve as the central location for your content.

5. You will be able to measure success.

All great plans have a way to measure whether or not they worked. Did you reach your destination? What does success look like, and how will we know if we achieved it? With a Measurement Spreadsheet, you will be able to identify which metrics matter, and how to collect and analyze them.

What other reasons do you have to creating a Strategic Online Communications Plan? Share them with us in the comments section of the website or via social media.

Looking for more detailed advice about all things digital marketing, online communications, social media and nonprofits, visit us here!

Join us for How to Create a Strategic  Online Communications Plan for more digital marketing and social media strategies.

About The Author

Julia C. Campbell, Founder of J Campbell Social Marketing, consults and trains nonprofits on the best ways to use digital tools to raise money and awareness for their organizations. Her blog is consistently featured in the list of Top 150 Nonprofit Blogs in the world, and she is currently publishing a book on storytelling and social media with Charity Channel Press. She has helped dozens of nonprofits small and large with their online fundraising and marketing campaigns, raising over $1 million for social causes.  

10 Ways to Use Instagram for Nonprofit Visual Storytelling

10 Ways to Use Instagram for Nonprofit Visual Storytelling

By Julia Campbell

Instagram is growing rapidly, with 26 percent of adults now using the social media network. Yet, only a few nonprofits include Instagram in their social media strategy…and even fewer use it properly.   

Here are 10 ways that you can use Instagram for your nonprofit visual storytelling:

  1. Post eye-catching, colorful photos.

The only way to cut through the clutter and grab attention on Instagram is with great photos. Photos that feature people in small groups, action shots, interesting angles, and bright, colorful backgrounds work best and get the most engagement.

colorful photos

 

  1. Write great captions.

Captions are incredibly important when building a community on Instagram. Use emojis to add some flair. Put the most important words and information up front, knowing that on mobile devices the caption is cut off after three lines.

Write great captions

 

  1. Use hashtags strategically.

Hashtags are a great way to search for new information and new accounts to follow on Instagram, and also a perfect way to be found by new potential supporters. Use hashtags strategically but seeing what others in your industry and around your cause are using. Take a look at what your audience is posting and sharing and what hashtags are trending.

Use hashtags strategically

 

  1. Update your followers on online fundraising campaigns.

Tell your Instagram followers about your online fundraising campaigns! Provide frequent updates on your progress, and let them know how much still needs to be raised.

online fundraising campaigns

 

  1. Showcase your mission.

A photo speaks 1000 words, but a caption explaining your mission and why you do the work that you do works wonderfully on Instagram. Showcase your mission and the beneficiaries.

Showcase your mission

 

  1. Go behind-the-scenes with your Executive Director.

People like to connect with people on social media accounts. Give your followers a glimpse into the life and work of your Executive Director. Make them feel like they are sharing an exclusive, intimate moment.

behind-the-scenes

 

  1. Re-post and share user-generated content.

Share photos and videos taken by your fans, followers, and supporters. They are your best ambassadors. (Always ask permission when doing this!)

share user-generated content

 

  1. Insert CTAs in the captions.

Insert your call to action right in the caption. Double tap/like – get more engagement. Click on the link in bio – take them to your website or online fundraising campaign page. People are more likely to take an action when asked directly.

call to action

 

  1. Participate in social media trends.

For example, the #2016BestNine was a popular hashtag – finding and sharing the 9 most popular photos that you posted in 2016 in a collage format. Another very popular trend is #ThrowbackThursday/#TBT where social media accounts dig into their photo archives for fun and entertaining pictures to post.

social media trends

 

  1. Post videos!

Video is the most popular type of content across social media platforms. Instagram video lets you post a 60 second video, which you can upload to the app or take directly within the app. Post short videos in the field, at meetings and events, and to announce a milestone or special news. You can also use Instagram live video to connect with even more followers, since there is a sense of urgency as they are not archived and you can not view them once the broadcast has ended.

videos

 

What other ways do you use Instagram for visual storytelling? Share them with us in the comments section of the website or via social media.

Looking for more detailed advice about all things digital marketing, online communications, social media and nonprofits, visit us here!

Join us for Julia’s brand new live webinar Instagram for Nonprofits: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Instagram for Raising Awareness and Money for Your Cause

for more digital marketing and social media strategies.

About The Author

Julia C. Campbell, Founder of J Campbell Social Marketing, consults and trains nonprofits on the best ways to use digital tools to raise money and awareness for their organizations. Her blog is consistently featured in the list of Top 150 Nonprofit Blogs in the world, and she is currently publishing a book on storytelling and social media with Charity Channel Press. She has helped dozens of nonprofits small and large with their online fundraising and marketing campaigns, raising over $1 million for social causes.  

 

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Webinar! How to Use Twitter For Your Nonprofit (BONUS: Hootsuite Demo)

See  Kerri’s Amazing Webinars here! 

Here are the slides from the webinar.

BONUS MATERIALS This webinar includes:

  1. “Twitter Quickstart Guide,” step-by-step guidance for establishing your Twitter presence, all on one easy, printable page
  2. “101 Twitter Resources for Nonprofits – The Very Best Hashtags, Chats, Lists and Tools”
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The Slides:Measuring the Networked Nonprofit – Simple Steps for Measuring Social Media Results

We hope you enjoyed the webinar. 

(The slides have been updated. Please refresh this page as well as each associated resources page to ensure you have the most updated version. Thank you 🙂

  The Webinar Recording is here!

 Thank you very much for attending, we hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers, Kurt

 PS. The free books Beth mentioned: http://www.vppartners.org/leapofreason/get-working-hard-and-working-well 

A Nonprofit Social Media Policy Template You Can Use


Please feel free to copy and edit the nonprofit social media policy template below. If you’d like to get invited to free and premium CharityHowTo webinars click here :-)

If you find the information below helpful please “like” our Facebook page. 

Social Networking Policy

[Your nonprofit name] (“your nonprofit name”) understands that some employees participate in social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn) and chat rooms, and create and maintain personal websites, including blogs.  XYZ Nonprofit respects employees’ online social networking and personal Internet use.  However, your online presence can affect XYZ Nonprofit as your words, images, posts, and comments can reflect or be attributed to XYZ Nonprofit.  As a Team Member, you should be mindful to use electronic media, even on your own personal time, responsibly and respectfully to others.  Because employees’ online comments and postings can impact XYZ Nonprofit and/or the way employees are spending their time at work, XYZ Nonprofit has adopted the following guidelines that employees must observe when participating in social networking sites and/or engaging in other forms of Internet use on and off duty.  It shall be considered a breach of acceptable Team Member conduct to post on any public or private website or other forum, including but not limited to discussion lists, newsgroups, listservs, blogs, information sharing sites, social media sites, social or business networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or MySpace, chat rooms, telephone based group communications such as Twitter, or any other electronic or print communication format, any of the following:

(1)  Anything that may harm the goodwill or reputation of XYZ Nonprofit or any disparaging information about XYZ Nonprofit.

(2)  Any disparaging, discriminatory or harassing information concerning any customer, employee, vendor or other person associated with XYZ Nonprofit. XYZ nonprofit’s policies prohibiting harassment apply online as well as offline.

(3)  Any confidential information, trade secrets, or intellectual property of XYZ Nonprofit obtained during your employment, including information relating to finances, research, development, marketing, customers, operational methods, plans and policies.

(4)  Any private information relating a customer, employee or vendor of XYZ Nonprofit.

In compliance with applicable regulations of the Federal Trade Commission, employees endorsing XYZ nonprofit’s products or services must disclose their employment relationship with XYZ nonprofit and must ensure that endorsements do not contain representations that are deceptive or cannot be substantiated.  If you are speaking about job-related content or about XYZ Nonprofit you must either clearly identify yourself as a XYZ Nonprofit employee, or speak in the first person and use a disclaimer to make it clear that the views expressed belong solely to you.  In addition, the following statement must be used, “The opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of XYZ Nonprofit.”

This Policy applies regardless of where or when employees post or communicate information online.  It applies to posting and online activity at work, home or other location and while on duty and off duty.  XYZ Nonprofit reserves the right to monitor and access any information or data that is created or stored using XYZ Nonprofit’s technology, equipment or electronic systems, including without limitation, e-mails, internet usage, hard drives and other stored, transmitted or received information.  Employees should have no expectation of privacy in any information or data (i) placed on any XYZ Nonprofit computer or computer-related system or (ii) viewed, created, sent, received or stored on any XYZ Nonprofit computer or computer-related system, including, without limitation, electronic communications or internet usage.

Employees who violate XYZ Nonprofit ‘s Social Networking Policy will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

Why nonprofits need to leap into Social Media, and they need to do it now!

I wrote this blog post, below, a while back to share my opinion on why nonprofits need to be leveraging social media at least a little bit.Every organization has different objectives, priorities and resources available but it’s becoming more and more apparent that organizations cannot afford to ignore social media .  And just this week  the Pew Internet (Pew Research Center Internet and American Life Project) presented slides  “The New Environment for Advocates & NGOs” And the Nonprofit Quarterly did a nice job summarizing the information.  It looks like we can’t ignore the data anymore and need to leverage social media.

Written for those of us who haven’t started leveraging social media, yet!

By Kurt Steiner, founder of CharityHowTo.com

Let’s face it, some of us haven’t really delved deeply into social media. Some of us reading this post can actually recall when our communication was  mostly in person, via telephone, or  letters. Things are different and changing rapidly.

There is a global transformation of communication taking place, is your nonprofit participating?  A few facts, the world’s global population is 6. 7 billion people, there are currently 900 Million Facebook users. Some percentage of the world’s population is either too young or too old to participate, and some percentage don’t have access to  technology (unfortunately).  So 1 billion Facebook users  is not an  indication that Facebook is  emerging,  it already  has emerged, and it’s growing rapidly.  And not only does it highlight Facebook’s phenomenal growth, but it represents a fundamental shift in human behavior through social networks, not just Facebook. Sometimes, some of us forget that as we continue to grow older, more and more young people enter the global social network and they expect to connect and communicate via social media, it’s a normal part of life experience, not a new trend.
Okay so were all familiar with Google,  and  we use Google, or some other search engine, and we  are comfortable with how it works, it’s a natural part of our human behavior. However, we may not be aware of a fundamental shift in online human behavior taking place now. Facebook is now getting more activity (time spent on Facebook, searches, page views) than Google. People are taking recommendations about causes, products, and anything and everything from their friends or their network of friends, rather than a Google search result.  Furthermore, only 6% of consumers say they believe a marketer’s claim.  Conversely, 90% of consumers trust recommendations from acquaintances. Young adults are emerging on the world’s networked platform and are engaging in life, sharing, community, purchasing things, and yes…philanthropy.

So we agree that a fundamental behavior shift has already taken place. But is it moving  beyond friends and family communicating, into action, activism, and donations? Lately, I’ve been watching major broadcast news coverage about social media and the conversation is shifting from how people use social media individually to how businesses and organizations are leveraging social media to their benefit.  I’ve even heard  strong statements suggesting that if a brand, business, or organization dose not actively participate in social media activities they will fail.  Perhaps the previous, statement is inflated, or perhaps not. Regardless, organizations and businesses are seeing trackable results by leveraging technology and social media. And for those organizations who have not delved  in to social media, they need to do it, and now! And if you don’t feel like leaping into the ocean of social media, at least dip your toe in the water.

Cheers,

Kurt

Slides from The Path to Success in Social Media -Non Profits in Wonderland

We hope you enjoyed the free webinar “The Path to Success in Social Media-Nonprofits in Wonderland”.

You can find the slides from the webinar Here.

During today’s webinar many of you asked about the recommended reading that Katya suggested, here’s the books:

1) The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways To Use Social Media to Drive Social Change
2) The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change
By Beth Kanter & Allison Fine
3) Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky

Here’s the free ebook from Network For Good

Thanks,

Kurt

Slides from Tools And Strategies To Evaluate & Justify Your Social Media Investment

Thank you for attending “Tools And Strategies To Evaluate & Justify Your Social Media Investment”. For those of you who have attended, thank you for your wonderful feedback. Also thanks for all of the great comments and feedback on our CharityHowTo.com Facebook page.

“Tools And Strategies To Evaluate & Justify Your Social Media Investment” slides here

** If you have a slow connection allow a moment for the PDF to load.

Please note these slides are intended for folks who have already attended our webinar. If you haven’t attended our webinar please feel free to download them anyhow just note they are more relevant if you have attended the webinar.

Thanks very much, Kurt & John

PS. if you haven’t already don’t forget to “like” our Facebook page and access the free step-by-step video guides.

New Idealware Survey: Twitter and Facebook effective; MySpace and LinkedIn not so much

Once again the great folks at Idealware have produced phenomenally valuable information.

Idealware surveyed 459 nonprofit staff members who were already using social media at their organizations to ask them what tools they were using and how effectively they thought those tools were meeting particular goals. Specifically, Idealware asked about seven tools or types of tools: Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, video-sharing sites, photo-sharing sites and blogs.  View the results online at
www.idealware.org/sm_survey/

A few quick highlights to whet your interest:

  • Generally, respondents felt social media channels were effective for enhancing relations with an existing audience and reaching out to new supporters, but considerably less so for raising money.
  • Twitter was in the top three channels for every goal, and was considered the most-effective channel for reaching potential new supporters.
  • Although Facebook was the most widely used tool by a considerable margin, and the one that those not yet using were most likely to start, it was seen as the most-effective only in terms of raising money-and then, only by a small margin.
  • MySpace was not widely used, and ranked lowest for each of the three goals. LinkedIn was considered comparatively effective for fundraising, but lagged behind everything but MySpace for the other goals.

The survey analysis was made possible with the generous support of Firefly Partners, Balance Interactive, and Beaconfire.

View all the results and analysis online at www.idealware.org/sm_survey/

Social Media is not killing Email

THIS POST IS FROM Giving in a Digital World.

Each time we see a significant evolution in the way consumers communicate there is always a temptation to jump to the conclusion that the latest method will surely kill-off the previous methods. Presumably such predictions were bandied about after Alexander Graham Bell made his first telephone call back in 1876 – yet the mail service didn’t die-out as a result of the adoption of telephones. Rather more recently, there have been suggestions that email will kill-off traditional mail ever since I got my first email address back in the early ’90s (remember Compuserve?) – but it hasn’t happened yet (although that debate does continue).

As such, following the incredibly rapid adoption of Social Media over the last few years it’s not surprising that people are having the same discussions again – ’surely if everyone is tweeting or facebooking then they’ll no longer be using email?’. Indeed, this was the very idea being put forward in a WSJ Tech Article I spotted towards the end of last year entitled: “Why Email no longer rules”.

However, it turns-out based on a growing body of research evidence that the rumours of Email’s imminent demise at the hands of Social Networkers are incorrect. Here are just a couple of examples to illustrate what I mean:

Firstly research from Nielsen back at the start of last year. This is particularly interesting because Nielsen analysts had previously gone on record stating that Social Media was more popular than email, based on a global analysis of internet usage. However, when they went on to do more detailed research examining just how Social Media use decreases Email use they actually ended-up disproving their original hypothesis and instead proved that social media use actually leads to increased Email use – as illustrated in the chart below. You can read more about their research here.

More recently, this same finding has been confirmed by US Relationship Marketing Agency Merkle in its ‘View from the Social Inbox’ report released just last month. Based on research conducted in late 2009, they too found that active social network users are more likely to be avid email users. With 42% of social networkers checking their email 4+ times per day compared to just 27% of non-social networkers (as shown below). You can download the full Merkle report here.

So, now that we have a growing body of evidence that Email is continuing to be a key online communication channel – despite the overwhelming popularity of various forms of social media – here comes the important question… Given Email’s continued, if not growing, importance – just how happy are you with the way you’re using it to engage with your supporters?

This question has been particularly front of mind for me recently as I’ve been working with two large UK charities to help develop their online fundraising strategies and in both cases opportunities to improve email use have offered some of the greatest income growth wins.

If you’re in the same boat, then don’t feel too downhearted – because you’re certainly not alone. According to the 2009 Adestra/Econsultancy Email Marketing Census, 72% of email marketers (from both commercial and non-profit organisations) admitted that they are not using email as effectively as they could – despite acknowledging that it offers the best ROI of any online activity other than natural search. Interestingly, as shown below, the top two reasons given for not using email effectively were ‘Quality of email database’ and ‘Lack of strategy’, with ‘Poor technology’ 7th in the list – reflecting the fact that many organisations now have access to the technology required to undertake pretty sophisticated email programmes, but their strategic planning has yet to catch-up:

With most of the online fundraising buzz these days tending to be focused on some form of social media activity, it’s good to be reassured that dear old email is here to stay – and, in the light of this, to be prompted to make time to consider whether you’re online income is suffering because you’re not using it as well as you could be.

Technology: Friend or Foe?

Kevin Kelly is the executive editor at WIRED magazine as well as the founder of multiple nonprofits. He gave this speech in Amsterdam in November of 2009 and makes some really interesting observations about the evolution of technology. In his own words, “technology is the most powerful force that has been unleashed on this planet.” Yet, so many people are afraid of technology and think of it as a point of confusion, maybe even fear, instead of what it was created to be–an avenue to make our lives easier and ourselves more efficient. Somewhere along the way, we lost sight of all that.

Kelly’s speech reminds us that so much of what we can get out of technology is related to our approach to it. Like children, he says, there is no bad technology. If it’s bad, or rather less helpful than hoped, it leads to iterations and new ideas, constantly improving to become the best version of itself. From technology, we get “an increase in differences, diversity, options, choices, opportunities, possibilities and freedoms.”

Is Email Old News? Social Networks as the New Communications Channel By Stella Hernandez

Idealware.org

I never cease to be amazed by the quality of the content from the folks at Idealware.org   Thanks- Kurt Steiner

By Stella Hernandez, January 2010

When it comes to online communications, social networking is the new kid in town. It’s hip, viral, and has huge communities of people sharing information with each other. And its rise comes as more and more people question email’s effectiveness—are social networks replacing email as a communications channel?

In short, no. But that doesn’t mean social networking is an insignificant trend. A Pew Internet and American Life Project recently found that 35 percent of all American Internet users (and a whopping 75 percent of 18- to 24-year-old adults) use social networks. Sites like Facebook, MySpace, Change.org and LinkedIn encourage users to post profiles about themselves and connect with friends and others who share their interests. The process creates an expanding web of invitation- and referral-based contacts.

As nonprofits seek to expand their communities of interest, social networks are a natural fit. A number of organizations, including the Nature Conservancy and the Genocide Intervention network, have made them an important part of their outreach strategy.

To investigate the rumors of email’s demise, we spoke with communications consultants and staff members from technically sophisticated nonprofits. We found that many of them perceive social networks to be a useful communications channel—but as an adjunct to email, rather than a replacement. Both media have their own strengths, and a place in a communications mix. How do they compare?

What Social Networks Bring to the Mix

Social networks introduce an interesting new model of outreach and communications with some advantages over email, including:

1. They can expand your audience.
Social networks can help you build a broad awareness of your organization in a way not easily accomplished through more one-to-one communications strategies like email. In the most general sense, email is a push strategy—you send information to known constituents. But social networking has both a push and pull approach— not only can you target messages to specific audiences, but people actively seek out connections, post to their profiles, and make friend-to-friend recommendations.

2. They help spread the word fast.
Social networks allow you to reach a lot of new people quickly. That’s a great way to organize a protest or get people to sign a petition when you don’t have a large pre-existing list. The networks’ viral nature lets people spread compelling messages to an ever-expanding group.

3. They reach out to where people are.
With 75 percent of young adults using social networking sites, this communications channel reaches a demographic that may no longer use as much email. Social networks also allow more informal communications and, done right, seem less a “message from the man” and more like corresponding with a friend. Part of the strategy is to use these networks to encourage others to pass the word informally—it can be uniquely compelling to hear about a cause from a friend as opposed to getting a message from the organization itself.

Continue reading…………..

Social Media Metrics Superlist: Measurement, ROI, & Key Statistics Resources

Trying to get a handle on how to measure the effectiveness of your social media programs?  Boss asking about the ROI of your social media campaigns?

Need key statistics or metrics that will help you make strategic decisions to refine your social media programs?

Not sure what variables to measure to determine the success or your social media?  Want to know the best options for monitoring your brand’s reputation online?

My recent post How to Sell Social Media to Cynics, Skeptics and Luddites touched on the topic of metrics, measurement and ROI.  Here I’ve pulled together a collection of valuable resources, tools, & advice specifically on the topics of social media measurement, monitoring and ROI.  You’ll also find a handful of key social media statistics resources to put in your toolkit.

Social Media Measurement, ROI and Monitoring

  • Basics Of Social Media ROI

    From Olivier Blanchard: Slideshare presentation covering the what, why and how of Social Media ROI.  For more, see social media specialist Olivier Blanchard’s blog on Social Media ROI.
  • Social Media Monitoring Wiki

    From Ken Burbary: A wiki listing 100+ social media monitoring solutions – along with the Platform, type of media covered, url, and whether it’s free or paid.
  • 10 ways to measure social media success
    From Econsultancy: There’s so much talk about social media that it is easy for people to become cynical, perhaps losing track of the fact that it can have a positive impact on your business. So how can you determine whether a social media strategy is proving beneficial to your business? How do you know that it is working out for you? And is now really the best time to find out?

Key Social Media Statistics and Research Studies

idealware webinars

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Charityhowto.com is pleased to provide previously recorded webinars brought to you by Idealware. Idealware is a nonprofit organization that provides candid Consumer-Reports-style reviews and articles about software of interest to nonprofits.

Idealware provides candid Consumer-Reports-style reviews and articles about software of interest to nonprofits. Through product comparisons, recommendations, case studies, and software news, Idealware allows nonprofits to make the software decisions that will help them be more effective.

Software tools can provide enormous benefits to nonprofits- increased innovation, information, efficiency, effectiveness, and more. However, it is exceedingly difficult for nonprofits to know what tools are appropriate for them, what’s available, and how to choose. What’s more, increased pressure to reduce administrative costs makes it difficult for them to spend money on software or devote time to finding the right software. The existing resources simply don’t provide candid and tactical guidance that is available to the majority of nonprofits.

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Five Simple Ways Nonprofits Can Measure Social Media ROI (Return on Investment)

by nonprofitorgs

Last week a study came out that said small to medium sized nonprofits were not gaining much from using social media. I believe it, and here’s why: 1) Most nonprofits are still at the dabbling stage. When they should be integrating their social media campaigns into their primary communications and development plans, they still tend separate social media from traditional media and marketing. 2) Many nonprofits just are not properly trained to utilize social media. A common mistake is to assume that because a person is “young” and has been using Facebook for years to stay in touch with friends and family, then they must be good at using social media for branding an organization. Wrong. So wrong. 3) The vast majority of nonprofits don’t know how to monitor or measure ROI [Return on Investment]. Most nonprofits are experimenting with social media, but few can or are measuring its impact.

I have been doing the social media thing for almost 4 years and I took granted that most nonprofits are doing the basics in terms of measuring ROI, but recent polls I presented on Twitter speak otherwise. So, let’s get back to basics in terms of measuring social media ROI and if you can, try to put these strategies in place before the end of the year fundraising/giving season is in full swing.

1. Monitor your website traffic.

During the Era of Web 1.0, nonprofits were very keen on increasing website traffic. They spent relatively large amounts of cash on SEO and invested many hours is getting listed on portals. E-mail marketing took off and promotional materials were loaded with plugs to “Visit our website!”. Website traffic was the number one indicator to measure ROI.

Today, I think most nonprofits that are not monitoring traffic would be surprised by how little traffic their website is actually getting. Of those that are monitoring their traffic, many are not aware that “Unique Visitors” is the number to watch and that “Hits” are meaningless. Those that are not monitoring traffic are just completely in the dark about the effectiveness of their web campaigns.

Every website out there has stats to monitor. How many unique visitors by day, month, year? Exactly what pages are visitors viewing? How long are they on your website? What websites were your visitors on right before they visited your site [Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace]? Every nonprofit should be monitoring this data.

Furthermore, if your traffic has not increased significantly from social media, then you are doing something wrong. Are you correctly using the “Links” and “Static FBML” Apps on Facebook? Are you putting a “http://” in front of all website links in Facebook Updates? Are you building community on Twitter or just pushing out press releases and blog posts [that in time people start to ignore]? Do you have an account on Bit.ly to make sure that the links you are posting are actually interesting to your Twitter community? If not, you may be surprised what people click and what they don’t. Having an account on Bit.ly is a must to Tweet successfully!

On average, my website gets about 5,000 unique visitors a month. Nonprofit Tech 2.0 averages about 15,000 (WOW). And it’s not “empty traffic”. It’s traffic that leads to new clients and new Webinars attendees. If it wasn’t for social media, I’d be getting less than 1,000 and entirely dependent on my e-newsletter, referrals, and search engine results. So, I think this poll is very telling:

POLL: Is your nonprofit monitoring your Website stats to see how much traffic is coming from Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn Groups, etc.?

Most nonprofits are not even monitoring stats. Those that are monitoring stats are split on whether social media has increased website traffic. If you are not getting traffic, then your mission and programs just might not be sexy enough for social media (for lack of a better word), and it may be time to re-evaluate.

Or, and in my experience, those that are not getting much traffic from social media need some training. A bit harsh, but true. Overconfidence in one’s social media skills can be a problem when it comes to social media ROI. Even the most self-proclaimed social media maven, expert, guru, miracle worker, etc. could use training from time to time. Me included. Good social media training is essential.

On a final note, many nonprofits will be launching mobile websites in 2010, and much of the traffic on those sites will be going to or from social networking sites. Social media has gone mobile and that will be an entirely new set of data to monitor and track.

2. Poll your donors.

Another very telling poll:

POLL: Does your nonprofit poll your online donors about what communication tool inspired them most to donate on your Website?

81% answered no. 81%! You can’t judge your social media fundraising success from how much has been donated to your Facebook Cause or a fundraising widget. It’s pretty clear that online donors do not yet trust these new tools, and why would they when more than half of fundraising Causes and widgets have a great big $0 on them? [Donate to your own Cause and widgets to get the ball rolling!]

My guess is that we will be pleasantly surprised that many online donors that are following you on Twitter or Facebook will indeed go to make a donation on your website during the year-end fundraising season. I know my giving has changed dramatically. I now give to smaller nonprofits I never heard of 2 years ago. I watch them on social media sites, and then when I have the cash to give, I go to their website or donate to them on Change.org. Not only do 40% of folks fan brands on Facebook, but 34% of those folks then go visit their website before purcahsing or donating. And yet, as many as 81% of nonprofits are not tracking this behavior!

So, how about after someone makes a donation on your website, you ask them on the next page to answer a poll about what message prompted them to donate and where did they read it? End-of-Year print appeal, e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Linkedn, YouTube?

3. Ask people to subscribe to your email newsletter and mobile lists.

Just having an e-mail newsletter and mobile list sign up box on your Facebook Page or MySpace does not work. You have to ask people to subscribe. Post a Tweet or a Status Update:

Text NONPROFITORGS to 41411 to receive text alerts (2-3 monthly) from Nonprofit Tech 2.0!

Sending out my Web 2.0 Best Practices e-Newsletter on Wednesday. To receive a copy, please subscribe: http://bit.ly/2VeW7A

Over the years I have been consistently surprised by how many people will subscribe once asked on a social media site, but not until I asked. I have tabled a number of events over the years asking people to sign up for e-mail newsletters. The number of subscribers I get from social media trumps tabling any day of the week.

4. Ask people to become volunteers.

The study listed above argues that social media is worthless to small and medium sized nonprofits because they aren’t getting any donations or new volunteers from social media campaigns. The flaw in fundraising ROI I have already discussed. Personally, I have a hard time believing that nonprofits are not getting volunteers from social media campaigning. I get asked at least once a week by random strangers if they can volunteer for me. So, I know potential volunteers are out there.

Are you asking that they volunteer for your organization correctly? Make sure you are using social media to ask, to call out for volunteers. Don’t just assume they are going to click on a “Volunteer!” link on your Facebook Page and then ask to be signed up. You have to ask them. Do you have volunteer testimonials on your website? Are you mentioning that your organization would be good a good reference? Are you pitching the social aspect of volunteering with your organization (meet new friends online and offline)? Are you giving them good reason to want to volunteer with your organization on your website, and then using social media sites correctly to drive them to that page?

Now that I think of it, in four years of using social media 40-60 hours a week… I never seen one nonprofit message me on Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace asking me to become a volunteer. Something to ponder.

5. Plot fans, followers, friends, subscribers.

I think 1-4 are much more important than this, but plotting your fans, followers and friends on an Excel spreadsheet will at least give you a sense of how quickly or slowly your social media communities are growing. Create a spreadsheet. On the far left column list the social media sites you are using, and then create 12 columns on the right… one for each month of the year. Then on the first day of every month post the number of current friends, followers, fans, and subscribers. Combine this with monitoring your website and e-mail/mobile sign up stats, how your online donors and volunteers found you, then you are well on your way to successfully measuring your social media ROI.

One final note. I give social media webinars that focus on detailed, How To… not just big picture “Social media is great!” webinars. My primary audience is small to medium sized nonprofits, and my goal is to make sure they know how to use social media beyond the obvious [90% of nonprofit social media campaigns that I see are not operating beyond the obvious]. The New Organizing Institute and NTEN also give webinars on social media. I have never taken one from them, but they both have a good reputation.

That said, I have taken a number of social media webinars and the vast majority are really big picture, based on case studies of large national and international nonprofits with massive resources [even worse, the Obama Campaign!]. Completely not relevant to small and medium sized nonprofits. When it comes to training, just because you take one webinar and you don’t get much from it, don’t think that they are all the same. They are not. Seriously. I haven’t really said this much before because I didn’t want to appear as self-serving, but good social media training is essential, particularly for small to medium sized nonprofits on a budget. Without it, many nonprofits will be disappointed by lackluster results (as mentioned in last week’s study).

The Majority Of Nonprofits Embrace Social Media

Weber Shandwick Social Impact Survey Finds 88 Percent of Nonprofits Experimenting with Social Media While Struggling to Demonstrate its Value to their Organizations

The vast majority of nonprofit organizations (88%) are experimenting with social media to engage key audiences, but a significant majority (79%) are uncertain of how to demonstrate social media’s value for their organizations. Only half (51%) report active use of social media. The results are contained in a new survey by Weber Shandwick’s Social Impact team conducted with KRC Research. The research was conducted among 200 nonprofit and foundation executive directors and senior communications officials in July – August 2009.

The survey findings were released on the new Weber Shandwick Social Impact blog, impact.webershandwick.com.

“We know from our work with nonprofits that most realize the potential of social media and are experimenting with it, but many are not maximizing the full opportunity,” said Paul Massey, Social Impact co-lead. “This survey validates that there is widespread experimentation, and suggests that, in the future, nonprofits that fully participate in the two-way conversations that make this medium so powerful will reap the greatest benefit.”

Social Media Contributes to Success
The survey found that the vast majority of nonprofit and foundation professionals believe their online presence helps raise awareness (92%), keeps external audiences engaged (86%) and reduces costs relative to traditional media (77%). In addition, social media is seen as successful in helping nonprofits reach broad external audiences (67%). Sixty-one percent say the rewards outweigh the risks. For these reasons, the vast majority (85%) intends to make greater use of social media in the next two years and most (78%) will require additional and deeper social media expertise to keep communicating and garnering support for their work.

Demonstrating Value of Social Media is Among Challenges
Despite predominantly positive perceptions about social media among nonprofits and foundations, several challenges were underscored in the survey. Two-thirds of the nonprofit executives surveyed (67%) believe that traditional media – including coverage in newspapers, magazines, television and radio – are more effective at supporting fundraising efforts than social media (67% vs. 22%). As important, executives in the nonprofit world are more skeptical about social media’s ability to help them connect with hard-to-reach audiences such as donors (45%), media (39%) and policy makers (31%).

“While two-thirds of nonprofit executives believe social media has a positive impact on their communications with external audiences, they are less convinced about social media’s resonance with donors, journalists and policy makers,“ said Social Impact co-lead Stephanie Bluma. “What these results imply is that organizations need to develop more targeted and sustainable digital connections with these critical yet narrower audiences. In the months ahead, digital engagement strategies will need to show value on multiple fronts from brand-building to advocacy to fundraising.”

Notably, the single area where social media is widely believed to be more impactful than traditional media is in mobilizing supporters and advocates (58%), a critically important audience for nonprofits. Yet, despite this firmly-held belief, and the additional survey finding that most nonprofit executives (84%) see the value of social media in connecting with advocates on their behalf, an equally large segment (83%) recognized that social media also makes it easier for advocates to organize independently of nonprofits – a cautionary note for nonprofit executives.

What’s Ahead for Nonprofits & Social Media
With nearly 70% of nonprofit professionals projecting their 2010 communications budgets to remain the same or decrease compared to last year, finding the resources and expertise to implement social media strategies is a widely shared challenge. Fifty-two percent of organizations concede they do not have enough staff to manage their current social media outreach and almost two-thirds (64%) report that their organizations do not have social media policies and guidelines in place for employees and board members to engage appropriately online.

Other Key Survey Findings:

* Organizations with annual operating budgets of $25 million or more are more likely to say social media positively impacts their communications with all audiences and that they are good at social media.
* Large and small nonprofits alike believe social media are least likely to assist their outreach to policymakers and donors compared to external audiences.

Methodology
KRC Research, research partner to Weber Shandwick Social Impact, surveyed 200 nonprofit and foundation executive directors and communications officials via phone between July 29 and August 17, 2009. The margin of error is +/- 6.9 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

About KRC Research
KRC Research is a full-service market research firm that specializes in the kind of research needed for effective communications—communications that reach, engage and persuade. A unit of the Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE: IPG), KRC Research offers the quality and custom service of a small firm along with the reach of a global organization. For over 30 years, we have worked on behalf of corporations, governments, not-for-profits and the communications firms that represent them. Staffed with market research professionals from the worlds of political campaigns, consumer marketing, journalism and academia, we are flexible, practical, creative, knowledgeable and fast, combining sophisticated research tools with real-world communications experience. To learn more, please visit www.krcresearch.com.

About Weber Shandwick Social Impact
Weber Shandwick Social Impact builds insight-driven strategic communications programs that bring nonprofit and foundation missions to life, inspire advocates to take action and demonstrate impact. The team, which spans the Weber Shandwick network, includes professionals dedicated to helping private and public sector organizations amplify their voice in key issue debates, advocate on critical causes and inspire donors to give. The team combines the strength of Weber Shandwick’s public affairs, corporate and consumer practices.

The Weber Shandwick Social Impact blog is designed to help professionals navigate social media and integrate it fully into their communications strategies, as well as stay current on the latest innovations in nonprofit and foundation communications. The blog is authored by leaders of Weber Shandwick Social Impact, which includes professionals dedicated to helping private and public sector organizations amplify their voice in key issue debates, advocate on critical causes and inspire donors to give. The team combines the strengths of Weber Shandwick’s public affairs, corporate and consumer practices. To learn more, visit the Social Impact blog at impact.webershandwick.com.

About Weber Shandwick
Weber Shandwick is a leading global public relations agency with offices in 77 markets around the world. The firm’s success is built on its deep commitment to client service, creativity, collaboration and harnessing the power of Advocates – engaging stakeholders in new and creative ways to build brands and reputation. Weber Shandwick provides strategy and execution across practices such as consumer marketing, healthcare, technology, public affairs, corporate/financial and crisis management. Its specialized services include digital/social media, advocacy advertising, market research, and corporate responsibility. Weber Shandwick was recognized as PRWeek’s 2009 Global Agency Report Card Gold Medal Winner, named Global Agency of the Year by The Holmes Report and Large PR Firm of the Year by PR News in 2008. The firm also won the United Nations Grand Award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Relations for a lifestyles educational campaign in India. Weber Shandwick is part of the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG). For more information, visit http://www.webershandwick.com.

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