Despite Sri Lanka crisis, first ever SARC meeting becomes a success

first_imgIt was the most bizarre of beginnings. The inaugural meeting of seven South Asian foreign ministers in New Delhi last fortnight embracing Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives, appeared to be an August requiem, held as it was under the threatening clouds of the anti-Tamil carnage,It was the most bizarre of beginnings. The inaugural meeting of seven South Asian foreign ministers in New Delhi last fortnight embracing Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives, appeared to be an August requiem, held as it was under the threatening clouds of the anti-Tamil carnage in Sri Lanka.Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister, the scholarly A.C.S. Hameed, staged a major surprise by turning up for the meeting in the midst of a welter of charges and counter-charges between New Delhi and Colombo including the alleged remarks attributed to Sri Lanka President Junius Richard Jayewardene that Sri Lanka feared invasion by India, and he had asked four countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh, for help.Though the allegation was promptly denied it served to underscore one vital fact concerning the efforts towards regional cooperation – that events of an ethnic nature like the Tamilian tragedy in Sri Lanka directly affect the entire region. It also re-emphasised the fact that India, the largest and most powerful of the “seven sisters”, is viewed with unnatural suspicion by the other members of the South Asian Regional Cooperation (SARC) club.Good Beginning: Yet, for all that, the SARC conclave turned out to be something of a minor miracle. Mrs Gandhi struck an appropriately sombre note in her inaugural address, describing South Asia as a “troubled region” but winding up with the upbeat declaration that “I am glad we are making a beginning. We have our political differences but economic cooperation will give a strong impetus to closer friendship and greater stability in South Asia”.advertisementDespite the “political differences” that have hamstrung any previous efforts at regional reconciliation, the two-day meetings of SARC were remarkable for the contagious atmosphere of bonhomie and comradeship that pervaded. Obviously, the SARC idea, mooted two years ago, had taken deep root and the foreign ministers were determined to take it beyond mere rhetoric.Every single one of the six foreign ministers interviewed by INDIA TODAY were enthusiastic about the progress made and the goals to be achieved. As Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.R. Shamshud Doha remarked: “I think all of us were surprised at how quickly we were able to formulate things. There was no sense of recrimination, no reservation, we didn’t play games with one another which means the basic elements of close relationship exist.”Two years ago, when the late Ziaur Rahman of Bangladesh first floated the SARC idea it appeared nothing more than wishful thinking. The two most powerful members of the region-India and Pakistan – were hardly enamoured of the idea but for different reasons. India viewed the proposal with blinkered suspicion, fearing that the other six were trying to gang up against her. Pakistan, as Foreign Minister Sahabzada Yakub Khan admitted, had turned away from South Asia and was assiduously wooing the Middle East which it identified itself with. Even Sri Lanka was looking towards ASEAN with intentions of applying for membership there.Mrs Gandhi inaugurates the SARC foreign ministers meet in Vigyan Bhavan: Significant stepGround Rules: The idea, however, was too logical to be ignored and once the first meeting at Colombo of the foreign secretaries took place in April 1981, it was evident that perceptions had changed. Colombo laid down the basic ground rules which were accepted with alacrity, the most vital being that regional cooperation would not be a substitute for “bilateral accord” nor should it be “inconsistent with bilateral and multilateral obligations”.Since then, three more meetings of foreign secretaries, at Kathmandu, Dhaka and Islamabad, and almost two dozen meetings at the technical level, have sorted out the nuts and bolts aspect and clearly identified the dos and don’ts.Thus, when the New Delhi deliberations began, individual positions were well known and it was only left to put the official seal of approval on the idea. The foreign ministers approved an integrated programme of regional cooperation which embraces agriculture, health, transport, telecommunications, weather forecasting, cultural affairs and sports.Though the declaration excludes the two most important factors-trade and industrialisation – the significance of the birth of SARC cannot be diluted. None of the foreign ministers, or Mrs Gandhi, concealed the fact that New Delhi was a small step on what promises to be a long and rocky road.But the fact that the step has finally, if belatedly, been taken speaks volumes. For one, it has been taken in the teeth of protracted and prickly bilateral differences, mainly between India and the individual SARC countries.The Kashmir issue, the Farakka barrage, the Tamils in Sri Lanka, the Bangladesh refugees in India, the Soviet presence in Afghanistan, are only some of the more prominent among them. It also meant that the mutual distrust-from the other SARC members regarding what they perceived as India’s efforts to dominate the region – and India’s own suspicions regarding the gang of six, has now largely evaporated.advertisementIn fact, much credit must go to the Indian Foreign Ministry negotiators for dispelling much of the doubts about India and Indian intentions. Being the dominating power, India had to bend considerably backwards to convince the others of its genuine desire for peace and cooperation. In that context, the agreement among the SARC members to exclude trade from the framework of the declaration is understandable.Trade Question: Though a vital element in any future evolution of SARC, trade is the joker in the pack. India’s industrial and technological advantage over the others has clearly given rise to the fear that dismantling existing trade barriers will lead to the region being swamped by Indian goods. “India, more than the others, is conscious of this fear and that is why we have merely suggested cooperation among the state trading agencies at this point of time,”says a Foreign Ministry spokesman.Yet, there is every indication that a trade agreement would be mutually beneficial. Currently, the intense competition between India and Bangladesh in the marketing of jute, with Sri Lanka over tea and with Pakistan over textiles and carpets can easily be made a complementary exercise along the lines of OPEC. Similarly, Pakistan’s wheat exports can be bought by India at considerably cheaper and more convenient terms than imports from the US.But even without the trade aspect, SARC has potentially a considerable collective clout in international affairs, embracing as it does one-fifth of humanity. Individually, none of the seven is considered internationally important. Collectively, they could be.It is creditable that one of the key issues agreed upon is the principle of unanimity which lays down that only those proposals agreed on by all seven will be taken up for further action. In other words, even the smallest member, in this case Maldives, can veto any proposal and that all seven have an equal say in SARC affairs, and every country will have charge of at least one regional portfolio.Though the foreign ministers decided not to set up a permanent regional secretariat at this time, nor to prescribe monetary contributions by each of the seven governments, indications are that SARC will have to start off with less than Rs 1 crore as contributions from the seven. The foreign secretaries will function as a committee to approve specific projects, allocate funds and oversee work being done.The foreign ministers agreed that only multilateral questions and issues calling for cooperative solution would come up before SARC; it would not waste itself on bilateral problems. Political issues would also not be considered.The decision that the seven foreign ministers should meet at least once a year takes the birth of SARC one step ahead of ASEAN which, started far less ambitiously and was originally limited to the meeting of officials onlyadvertisementHopeful Signs: But there is still no call for undue optimism. The New Delhi meeting laid the foundations but it is the political will that the rest of the edifice will have to rest on. In the past, it was the political element that bedevilled relations among the seven. But there are hopeful signs that the sheer scope and potential of SARC will override any political considerations. For the first time, there are indications that India and Pakistan are finally edging closer together.The Sri Lanka crisis could have easily converted itself into an international issue between New Delhi and Colombo but Foreign Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao’s hurried trip there followed by Mrs Gandhi’s telephonic conversation with Jayewardene has turned the situation around.What the SARC conclave proved without doubt was that the seven sisters have matured enough to realise that bilateral differences should not come in the way of regional cooperation any longer. It also revealed the genuine desire of all seven to transform SARC from a dream into reality. If it works, it will be the biggest step forward that the region will have taken. If it doesn’t, it will be a tragedy of unlimited proportions.last_img read more

Promote Your Cause on Facebook in Six Easy Steps

first_imgNonprofit organizations using Facebook can now launch a social networking-based fundraising drive for their cause, promote it to their friends and network, and raise money. That in a nutshell is what a new mini-application within Facebook, called Causes, is all about.Launched by Project Agape, this new service extends the “group” features and allows users to create causes, take donations, and recruit members. Why is this feature good for charities? According to Digital is a good step for charitable foundations, and will be a defining move as more and more of these groups begin to pop up on Facebook. There are many worthy charities already on the site, so I see this feature taking a huge lead and pushing some action with the groups. The demographic of Facebook users is also younger, thus more likely to donate to charity.In my recent Beginners Guide to Facebook, I covered some of the ways that you can get started using Facebook. In this follow-up post, I’ll take you through five simple steps you can do today to promote your cause on Facebook.1. Create a new cause and choose to have it support your campaign.To create a new cause, click the Start Cause button from your Facebook profile page. Fill out the following five sections: basic information; category and tags; geography; picture; and choose a nonprofit organization that will benefit from your cause. When you’re done, you will be asked to add a contact email address and it will be featured in your profile as an ‘application widget.’2. Invite your friends and network to join and support your cause.Once you’ve created a new cause, you can either invite your friends to join or just wait for people to find your cause and join your group. Facebook’s “feed” feature will automatically notify your friends. You can also send messages to personally invite them to join your cause.3. Tell others about your cause with photos.Facebook’s Cause application only allows you to select one picture or logo to go with your cause. But you can upload pictures on a photo-sharing site such as Flickr or Smugmug and add a link to your page. (You’ll find some good information to help you get started with Smugmug on this blog post.)4. Use your cause to get media coverage.Public relations is one of the most important aspects of promoting nonprofit organizations. It works because you can get a lot of free publicity through it. So why not use your cause and the funds raised to write a press release about your achievements? You’ll probably need to have a lot of members signed up or a significant amount of money raised for the media to pay attention, but it’s worth it. One good example is the ONE campaign, which has raised $2,360 with 8,802 members.5. Involve your friends and supporters.Looking for ways to involve your members and supporters? After a donation has been made, a scorecard on your member’s profile page tracks how many people your members recruited and how much money they have raised.6. Promote awareness about your fundraising events.If you have a fundraising event coming up, create a new cause to promote awareness and raise funds for that event. Promote your new cause on your organization’s Web site, event Web site, other social networking sites that you are part of, and so on. Facebook is all about getting the word out. And the more causes, groups, and friends you add, the more visibility and awareness you will get for your organization.This article first appeared as a post on Wild Apricot’s Nonprofit Technology Blog, which covers social media tools and Web technologies geared toward the nonprofit realm.Copyright: Wild ApricotSource: read more

Seven Tips for Running a MySpace Campaign

first_imgRaising awareness is vital to the survival of most social benefit organizations. Your organization may be doing important and valuable work – but if no one knows you exist, you are missing out on the opportunity to meet, engage, and motivate others to take action on your behalf.Unfortunately, because nonprofits have limited resources, they can face significant challenges when deciding how to get their message out to large numbers of people. They must continually answer the all-important question, “How can we reach the most number of people in the most cost-effective way?”Enter MySpace, one of the most popular social networks on the Web today.Designed to help like-minded individuals and organizations connect and share information, social networks are showing promise as low-cost, high-impact marketing channels because they are both highly visited and highly targeted. In particular, many nonprofits are starting to set up profiles on social-networking sites like MySpace to keep “friends” up to date on the latest activities. These friends then invite more friends to join the group and so on, ultimately allowing the nonprofit to reach people well beyond its original circle.If you decide to launch a MySpace page for your organization, here are seven things you can do to increase your chances of success:1. On your MySpace page, ask friends to take specific actions such as “link to our Web site,” “subscribe to our e-newsletter,” “tell a friend about our current campaign,” “contact us to learn about,” and so on.2. Write blog entries and circulate your entries via your “bulletin board.” Invite friends to post comments to your blog; visit your friends’ pages and leave relevant and valuable comments; host events; and continue to add friends.3. Add videos to your MySpace pages. Images and videos have a way of motivating people to take action.4. Update your MySpace page frequently and customize it to resemble your organization’s look and feel. Be careful not to make your page appear too stuffy.5. Don’t make the mistake of staying within your own circle of like-minded organizations. When you add friends, consider reaching out to folks outside of your circle. In particular, nonprofits could reach out (via MySpace) to for-profit companies with strong social responsibility programs that can help spread the word about their causes.6. Add your MySpace URL to your email signature line, business card, and letterhead in order to encourage people to visit your MySpace page.7. Write articles about how your organization is using MySpace to advance its causes and submit them to both online and print publications. Or publish them on your Web site and ask bloggers to link to them.Social networking does require a commitment; but when done right, it has the power to get your message to people that traditional marketing efforts miss – and at a very low cost. Given this, many experts see social networking as a defining example of how emerging technologies are leveling the playing field between large corporations and modest-sized nonprofits.Now get inspired and get your organization’s message out there!Copyright: Cruz Coleman AssociatesSource: read more

Twelve Tips for Gaining Awareness for Your Cause

first_imgKristin Melville is the Director of Development & Community Relations, Shalom House, Inc.Create a very clear, consistent description of your organization. Be able to use it in all means of communication. If someone asked you what your organization does be able to respond in one sentence. e.g. Shalom House provides housing and support services for people with serious mental illnesses in the Greater Portland area.Identify your target audience.Communicate to the media what’s happening at your organization on a regular basis. New programs, new staff, new grants and success stories are all newsworthy.Hitch your wagon. Is there a local or national news story where your organization has the expertise to address the topic?There is success in numbers. Joint campaigns can help reach a larger number of people.Give them a reason to visit. Use your website as an educational tool. Offer something that is clever and fun like games, coupons, educational materials written by experts, valuable tips that change each month.Newsletters are used frequently to communicate to the public. Make your newsletter unique, easy to read, with lots of pictures. If your organization fund raises always include an article about development and a donor envelope.Community events can give you a captive audience. Keep in mind they are labor intensive and may not be cost-efficient. Be clear in your planning process if the event is a public relations event or a fundraiser event.Brand your expertise and share it with others. Utilize your agency’s professionals to help communicate your brand.Real life stories are the best illustrations of your mission. “You have changed my life.”Check the language of your 990. Make sure that your agency description is accurate and up to date.Volunteer your public relations experience with others. Giving back what you know means a lot.Source: read more

The No-Neck View of the World: Network for Good Heeds its Own Advice

first_imgHave you ever noticed how very young kids’ drawings usually don’t feature a person’s neck? Have you wondered why?My theory is that if you’re two or three years old and your perspective is pretty low to the ground, you don’t see people’s necks when you look up. You see a head sitting on arms.I can’t think of a better analogy for marketing. Marketing mandates that we look at the world through the eyes of our audience and communicate from that perspective. It can be hard to tear ourselves away from the comfort of our long-necked world view, but we must.Believe me; I know how difficult it is firsthand. I forgot the very marketing principles I tout all the time. The brilliant folks out at ASU (namely a brilliant person by the name of Gregory Neidert) pointed out that I had been violating all my own marketing principles on Network for Good’s web site. Where was the audience perspective? Wouldn’t people who come to the site want it to know if it was safe or reliable? Wouldn’t they want to know if other people trusted the site? And why wasn’t the “search for your favorite charity”-the reason most people come to our site-the most prominent thing on the page? Well, because I forgot to do as I say.Here is the way our site was, and how it is now. Since we started working completely from the audience perspective, conversion is up 30%. If you haven’t read it, get this book from those ASU folks.last_img read more

Web 2.0 Eludes Many Nonprofits

first_imgAs the pace of technology races ahead, many charities are not taking full advantage of the new world of social media, a new report says.In a survey of its grantees, the New York-based Overbrook Foundation found confusion and anxiety are stymieing many groups’ efforts to make use of new web and wireless technologies.Dubbed “Web 2.0” by many, this second generation of Internet-based tools, including blogs, podcasts and other interactive interfaces, has been billed as a critical frontier for those hoping to mobilize young people in favor of social change.Overbrook consultant Allison Fine conducted a voluntary online survey of the 55 U.S.-based human rights groups the foundation funds, as well as two discussion sessions, which 17 of the organizations attended.While all groups surveyed had websites, most were still using the Internet as a one-way information-sharing tool instead of taking advantage of the interactivity new technology offers, the report says.Virtually all the respondents reported accepting donations online, but only half had blogs or videos on their sites and only a third had podcasts.The report suggests that by restricting themselves to a limited version of web usage, these groups are missing out on key opportunities to organize constituents to support their work both online and off.The report also emphasized the high level of social-media anxiety voiced in the discussion sessions, with many participants admitting they were “at a loss” as to where and how to get help navigating an often confusing array of new technology options.As a result, the Overbrook Foundation has created an online hub of resources and case studies available to the public through its website.The Overbrook Foundation was established in 1948 by Frank and Helen Altschul and supports groups working in the fields of environmental conservation, sustainable communities, and human rights.Source: read more

Four Guidelines for Improving Your Nonprofit Website

first_imgBe AuthenticEvery page of your site should include your postal mailing address (a street address, not a PO Box) and your phone number. Both lend a comforting aura of credibility and realness to your page.Don’t come across as too “institutional”. Show them that you’re real, hardworking people, trying to accomplish important goals. Strive for Clarity and SimplicityHave at least one “Donate Now” button on every page of your site (and avoid soft language such as “Help Us”.) The “Donate Now” button should immediately take the user to the donation form, with no intermediate steps.Other musts for every page of your site include: identifying yourself and the organization, linking back to the home page and including a search function or box in the upper right hand corner.The more choices you give people the more anxiety it creates. Think of it like asking somebody out for a date. You don’t suggest dinner or lunch or maybe a hike sometime in the next two weeks. Dinner at 7 on Friday. Be specific.People skim websites, so think of Web copy as a billboard advertisement. Users should be able to identify what your website is about in four seconds.Have a guessable web address. Source: Adapted by Jake Emen from Mark Rovner’s Nonprofit 911 Presentation “Website 101 for Fundraisers” No two organizations are exactly the same, nor do they have the exact same target audiences. Keep in mind, though, that there are generally two audiences — people who came to your website looking to make a donation and people who have heard of your website and are looking to be seduced and impressed.Do simple user testing while creating or updating your website.  Experiment to Find What Works Show Your PassionMost giving decisions are emotionally based. Use compelling, inspiring and large imagery on your home page.Give thanks to recent donors or share donor stories. Seeing past donors as real people helps inspire prospective donors to give as well. The website of an organization is how many donors “meet” you and therefore it’s just as important to make a great first impression online as it is in person. The essential challenges in online fundraising are getting a prospective donor to your donate page and also establishing who you are in a compelling fashion. To achieve both you need to remember these four essential principles and tips:last_img read more

Why Open Rates are Dropping and What it Means for You

first_imgOpen rates are dropping like flies. When we examined data from 15 national non-profit groups for the eNonprofit Benchmarks Study [see PDF below] earlier this year we found a steady, striking decline in email open rates across all the groups over the past two years. Average open rates for the groups fell by 6%.This decline may sound like terrible news for any organization that communicates with its members, constituents, activists, or donors online but please don’t commit hara-kiri yet! Happily, we did not find a corresponding decline in page completion or response rates. At first glance, this discrepancy seems truly puzzling. Shouldn’t fewer people be responding to these emails if fewer people are opening them in the first place?Some believe the recent drop in open rates is a result of “list fatigue” – what happens when formerly enthusiastic supporters become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of email in their inboxes and no longer rush to open and respond to email calls to action, requests for money, or event invitations. Although the fear of “list fatigue” may haunt online organizers, fundraisers, and marketers, it cannot explain away the discrepancy between open rates and response rates. If people are too tired, overwhelmed or unmotivated to open an email message, they’re certainly not going to take action, donate money, or reply to it. Clearly something else is to blame.Could Image Blocking Be the Culprit? Is it possible that just as many people are opening emails today as were opening them two years ago but that not all of them are being counted? The most compelling explanation for both the decline in open rates and the discrepancy between open and response rates is that new image-blocking software is interfering with open rate tracking and causing open rates to be significantly under-reported.In response to the rise of spam in recent years, many email providers have implemented new systems that allow users to read the text of an email while blocking all the images in the message. Image blocking is now used by Gmail, Microsoft Outlook 2003, and AOL 9.0. In fact, the default for both Outlook 2003 and Gmail is to block all images, automatically eliminating images for anyone who is not tech-savvy enough to change the default setting.Open rates are tracked using a very small (one pixel) image embedded in the body of the email message which this new image-blocking technology prevents from loading and being counted by the tracking software. Therefore, image blocking is causing the number of email messages actually opened to be underreported. The Detective Work Begins To determine the impact of image blocking on open rates and to gauge how accurately open rates currently represent the effectiveness of an organization’s online communications, we conducted an in-depth analysis using messaging data from three major national nonprofit organizations: Human Rights First, The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and The Wilderness Society.We examined three messages from each organization – two email advocacy messages and one online fundraising appeal – that had been sent to the organization’s full (or nearly full) email list between April and June of 2006. Analyzing the data from each message enabled us to determine how many of the recipients who had clicked on a link in that specific message were actually tracked as having opened that specific message.Mystery Solved! The data from these nine messages revealed that an astounding 20% of the people who had clicked on a link were not reported as having opened the message.If 20% of the members who clicked on a link in the email were not counted as having opened the message, what does that imply about the people who open and read an email (without downloading any of the images) but who never click on a link?On average, we estimate that open rates are being under-reported by at least 20% for these three organizations. This may not be true of all organizations and may vary depending on the percentage of email providers specific to the make up an organization’s constituency base. For example, if a larger percentage of an organization’s email list uses Gmail, their open rates may be lower than an organization whose list members use primarily Yahoo and Hotmail.To test out this theory, we examined the combined messaging data by email provider. Gmail led the pack in the percentage of click-throughs that were not reported as having opened the emails. A whopping 37% of the clicks coming from Gmail users were not reported as having opened the email message. Emails with the .edu extension also seemed to have an unusually high percentage of click-throughs that were not reported as opens. Also note that only 2% of the clicks from AOL were not reported in the number of messages opened. This may be because this study only looked at all people with an AOL address extension, many of whom may be using older versions of AOL (anything earlier than 9.0) that do not automatically block images. Another reason why these AOL users do not exhibit a significant discrepancy between open and click-through or response rates is that GetActive, the email messaging vendor for many of the study participants, is whitelisted with AOL. If the sending email service provider is from a trusted sender on AOL’s enhanced whitelist, (as GetActive is) AOL overrides the image blocking default setting for users of 9.0 and above. Although end users can still set image blocking locally for AOL-whitelisted senders, few do.What Does This Mean for You? No matter how you cut the data, open rates are a flawed statistic. In addition to the significant under-reporting caused by image blocking, open rates have another much better-known limitation – the “plain text problem.” Because opens are tracked through the loading of a one-pixel image in the body of a recipient’s email, open rates can track only the HTML versions of a message. The exclusion of the plain text versions of the message makes open rates inherently limited and incomplete.While we’re not suggesting that you stop looking at open rates altogether, there are more reliable statistics that can provide a more accurate picture of your online communications. For example, if the email in question includes links, why not look at click-through rates? Click-through data tells us even more than an open rate can. When comparing messages A and B for example, you may see that message A has a higher click-through rate, but a lower open rate, than message B. Given that open rates are not always accurate, you’ll know to pay more attention to the click-through rate.Response rates are also far more telling than open rates. The ultimate goal of a fundraising or advocacy email is to motivate the recipients to take action or make a donation, so the response rates will better reflect how effective the message was.What Are Open Rates Good For? Despite their limitations, open rates can be useful as a comparative statistic. For instance, open rates can help you determine which of two or more mailings sent in the same rough time period was more successful. Open rates are also very useful for determining which subject line will be the most effective — you can test several subject lines with identical copies of the message on small, randomly chosen segments of your audience to see which subject line produces the best results prior to sending out the full mailing with the winning subject line.However, in both cases, we’d still suggest you consider the click-through and response rates for each version of the message in making your decision about which subject line to use. It’s possible that one subject line might provoke a higher open rate but result in less click-throughs and, therefore, less actions or donations or sign ups.In the case that you send out anemail message that does not include any links at all, such as a reminder, update or enewsletter, open rates can provide you with some limited information about the performance of your message. Overall, we’d recommend that you keep the limitations we’ve outlined above in mind when reviewing open rates. No need to abandon them so long as you take them with a grain of salt!Source: read more

The people who matter more than donors

first_imgThis time of year, I spend too much time thinking about money – spending it, giving it, and getting people to donate it. Marketing right now in my mind is all about shopping, donating and fundraising. But an interesting book called Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most by Sybil Stershic, who was kind enough to give me a copy when I saw her a few weeks ago, reminds me there’s another truly important way to think about marketing other than spending and raising funds. And that is in terms of motivating and supporting our staff. They are the “People Who Matter Most.”Just as audience-focused approaches work magic in marketing and customer relations, they also do with our employees. In fact, as she writes in Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most, they are all intertwined, with “a direct link between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, and between customer satisfaction and improved financial performance.” In other words, if we want money, we need to focus on our staff. She likes to say, “Explain, Train and Refrain” — explain how people’s jobs fit into the big picture and their role, train them to do great work and refrain from getting in their way.Here are some marketing principles I think belong inside our office, not just in our outreach:-Knowing and listening to our audience (not just donors, but the people we work with. We want to listen to what they say because it helps us understand how to motivate them — and to make them and us more effective)-Being authentic: Not just spouting feel-good HR drivel about the value of employees but really valuing them-Providing incentives: See Sybil’s thought on that below-Letting go a knee-jerk need to control our message: Just as we need to give our supporters the freedom to spread the word about us in their own language, we need to give employees the freedom to solve problems and serve customers/donors as they see fit. Look no further than United vs. Southwest or Macy’s vs. Nordstrom for the difference this makes.So what incentives does Sybil say work but don’t cost money? Research shows there are three:-Personal recognition for a job well done-A written thank-you-Public praiseSo don’t just thank your donors this holiday, thank the people around you.last_img read more

New Year’s Resolutions

first_imgGone are the days when outdated Web sites were simply a lost opportunity for successful marketing. In today’s world of Internet and media savvy consumers, Web sites must be relevant, unique, targeted, and personal, with built-in tools to capture user information and to obtain their permission to keep the conversation going.The Web has the potential to be one of your most cost-effective outreach tools ever. How well is your site doing the job? In 2008, I challenge you to meet these 5 resolutions to help your nonprofit grab and keep the attention of your top audiences.Resolution #1: Make your Web copy relevantThe importance of writing Web content that is relevant to your target users (content that speaks specifically to what a group needs or wants) is nothing new. However, many organizations still list quality Web design and copy writing low on their priority list.Take that marketing plan back off the shelf and review your organization’s target markets – who are the top three visitors you want coming to your site, and what do they want to see or read when they get there? Next, create market-specific content (copy, images, and/or interactive graphics) for each of your target markets. At a minimum, add this content to the top-tier pages of your Web site this year (those pages that have the highest number of hits such as your homepage). Even if you do nothing else to drive more traffic to your site, the visitors you DO receive will now be much more likely to connect with your organization.Resolution #2: Boost your online social savvyGone are the days when Web sites had the monopoly on online interactions. A revolution in online social networks has emerged that is changing the face of how individuals and organizations interact on the Web. To stay competitive, nonprofits must stay up to speed on the latest tools of social marketing, and understand how these tools may (or may not) grab the attention of their target markets.Have you considered the impact that tools like a blog, community forum, video, or other interactive media may have on the effectiveness of your Web site as a marketing, public outreach, or fundraising tool? If your organization struggles enrolling people into what you do, these interactive media may be do the trick far better than static copy ever could.Resolution #3: Ask for permissionAs marketing guru Seth Godin explains in his books “Permission Marketing,” and “The Purple Cow,” media-savvy consumers simply don’t want what they didn’t ask for. Gone are the days of email harvesting and seemingly cheap email campaigns to get the word out – and for good reason. In fact, most e-marketing and e-newsletter distribution vendors (companies that provide a web-based infrastructure to distribute emails or e-newsletter to your database of contacts) will not allow you to use their service unless you sign a waiver confirming you have permission to contact everyone on your list.In this permission-only world, it’s critical that your organization have a plan to ask visitors to your site for permission to continue to communication. Adding such a “lead capture tool” to your Web site is now easier than ever.In fact, most email distribution services (such as aWeber, CoolerEmail) can help you add a lead capture tool to your site in a manner of minutes, even if you are not technically savvy.Remember – the best lead capture tools offer something of value in exchange for gathering the user’s contact information. For instance, a subscription to a valuable e-Newsletter, a relevant white paper download, or a resource guide.Resolution #4: Get noticedWith the right positioning on the Web (matched with relevant content and permission-based lead capture), nonprofits can cost-effectively find new customers, donors, members, volunteers or advocates. And in turn, they can also boost their market share, revenue, funds, membership lists, and even amplify their success with national outreach campaigns.Resolution #5: Track, track, trackEven with the wealth of free or inexpensive tools available to track response on all of your electronic communications (Web site, email, e-newsletter), many organizations still do not track how well these tools are doing the job.If you use an email distribution service to distribute your publication (such as aWeber or CoolerEmail), your service typically includes response reports for each publication. You can track who opened your publication, how many bounced (indicating either a bad email address of the user hasn’t approved your address to get past their spam filters), which links were clicked on, etc. This data can be very helpful to determine the relevancy and perceived value of your publication’s content. And, it can really help you determine the coming year’s editorial calendar.The same is true of tracking basic Web site analytics – this data can tell you a lot about user behavior, and which pages are or are not working effectively to generate the response you’re looking for.Don’t worry – tracking Web analytics doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Focus on analyzing basic traffic data every quarter or so, such as: hits per month; average page views per visitor, conversion rates (ratio of hits per how many people took the action you wanted them to take, like make donation, purchase a product, or sign up for your e-newsletter); and referring sites or keywords (these tell you how people are finding you).Regardless of where you are in your marketing or fundraising program development, keeping these five resolutions could be one of the best things you’ll do for your organization this year.Tiffany Meyer is president of Numa Marketing, and the author of Writing a Results-Driven Marketing Plan. Find more information about her nonprofit marketing services, register for her affordable nonprofit marketing e-courses, or sign up for her monthly e-zine The Smart Nonprofit at ©2007 Tiffany Meyerlast_img read more