Sample Online Fundraising Plan

first_imgWe’ll maximize our giving opportunities on the site and give them high visibility on our home page and other pages, especially our most visited pages and those pages that tend to evoke strong emotions (animal pages). This is a sample plan for an imaginary local animal rescue organization called Save the Animals (STA) which is trying to take their outreach efforts online to become well known in the community. While the specifics of your online fundraising plan will be unique for your organization, the overarching themes will likely be similar. This intensive plan calls for a relatively high budget but you will likely want or need to dedicate much less.The goals of this online fundraising plan are to:Open an online channel of communication with direct mail donors who want it.Acquire new online donors.Cultivate and re-solicit existing and new online donors.The key to acquiring new online donors will be developing partnerships to drive traffic to our site, building a large e-mail list for prospecting, and making our site even more successful in converting visitors into donors. In addition, we’ll expand the opportunities for raising money elsewhere online. At the same time, we will use our direct mail (and telephone) program to offer online communications to those donors and to integrate online communication with other fundraising communications.1. WebsiteOur site should be a major tool in engaging and interacting with new and existing donors, while still meeting the needs of our various other constituencies- people seeking to adopt, kids, animal lovers, etc. Some of our donors also probably visit our site now and then, so it needs to demonstrate to them that they’ve invested wisely. They should see offline fundraising themes reflected on the site, new content, things to do, compelling features, etc. Many new people will also visit our site simply to look at the animals, without any intention of adopting. We’ll need online mechanisms to engage those people and to turn them into donors. Here’s what we’ll do to make that happen.We’ll re-develop our site to improve its look and feel and increase its functionality. We’ll focus on finding vendors and/or application service providers (ASPs) who offer easy-maintenance solutions to reduce the burden on staff. Then, we’ll work to make our site more appealing to our various constituencies with interactivity (surveys, contests), news, compelling appeals, easy event sign-ups, and new features like e-cards. On an ongoing basis, we’ll monitor opportunities for promoting STA’s work online in the context of animal-related news and our many events.2. E-mail marketingWe’ll develop an e-mail outreach program for communicating regularly with donors and prospects. The program will initially include a monthly e-newsletter with donor and non-donor versions and occasional action or event alerts. Eventually, we’ll build in targeted e-mail messages for people with expressed interests in certain subjects like a no-kill policy, dogs, feral cat care, etc., and deliver e-mail renewals for existing online donors; and solicitations and special appeals for both existing donors and prospects. As our e-mail list grows, we’ll test ways to use email to boost response to direct mail, such as:– Sending a pre-mail e-mail that tells people that they’ll be receiving an important letter in the mail or invite people to respond– Sending a post-mail e-mail that says “We hope you received our recent letter. If you haven’t had a chance to give yet, please give online today. It’s fast, easy, and efficient.”We’ll promote some online services in our direct mail – especially our store during the holidays. Increasing our visibility on our offline corporate partners’ Web sites through links, banners, and special campaigns. We’ll develop and implement strategies for building our e-mail list. In addition to offering simple email sign-ups on our site, we’ll design creative ways to build our prospect e-mail list through incentives, such as offering a chance to win a gift certificate to a local pet store for people who subscribe to our e-newsletter.3. Increasing site trafficWith a compelling website and technology in place to manage content and donor relationships, we’ll develop campaigns to drive traffic to our site. We’ll work to improve our search engine and directory rankings and links, create and run campaigns on our site and elsewhere, and develop corporate partnerships and sponsorships to drive traffic to our site. Strategies will include:Finding an appealing, easy-to-remember URL We will develop a persistent program for gradually gathering the e-mail addresses of direct mail donors who want to add e-mail to their communications with us. We will test asks in the direct mail (P.S., buck slip, reply device, etc.) and track response to finding the most effective and least expensive ways to gather e-mail addresses without depressing gift response. We’ll send test and track communications and re-solicitations to these donors.6. Tracking, benchmarking, reportingWe’ll evaluate the e-mail messaging program by tracking the number of recipients that are converted into new donors and the number of gifts and renewals received from existing donors in direct response to an e-mail solicitation. We’ll also carefully monitor the overall giving levels of donors receiving the e-news versus donors not receiving the e-news to evaluate the e-news as a cultivation tool. Promoting our fundraising campaigns on media sites. We’ll develop graphics and try to place them free on national, regional and local media sites.center_img We’ll send a cultivation mailer to our lapsed donors inviting them to visit our Web site. We can direct them to a special page on our website that makes an appeal for why they should make another gift. Promoting our site as a no-kill information center by disseminating (free) content, tips, facts and interactive devices to other sites with links back to our site. The spring appeal will be combined with a no-kill (or other issues) awareness campaign with special web pages and a strong tell-a-friend element. While it will have a fundraising element, the focus of this campaign will be to build our online reputation and our e-mail list.5. Integration with Direct MailWe’ll use traditional communications channels to build our donor e-mail list and promote our website. Promoting our events online through event listing services like CitySearch.com, local media listings, and others. Maximizing our search engine rankings by improving our meta tags, buying some keywords, and paying for increased rankings at some sites.4. Special CampaignsWe’ll run a few targeted online campaigns throughout the year: one in December, and one in the spring.The December campaign will have a holiday focus with special holiday giving opportunities (gift memberships, with the calendar as one of its features) and also drive traffic to our store. We’ll evaluate our site traffic to determine which content is most appealing and increase the visibility of that content, as well as tie in giving opportunities.7. BudgetExpenses depend on many choices, but might include:Website redevelopment (including back-end functionality) $15,000-$100,000E-mail messaging system set-up fee $250-$500 one timeWebsite maintenance $500-$2,000 monthlyE-mail messaging on-going fees up to $250 monthlyBanner ad development $5,000 annuallyOnline campaigns $10,000-$50,000 eachConsultant – ongoing monthly retainer $3,500 monthly– Consultation on website development– Development of online partnerships– Production and management of monthly e-news and up to one stand-alone solicitation to donors and non-donors– E-mail messaging system management, including monthly data imports/exports to integrate with offline database– Integration with direct mail– Copywriting for appeals for the sitelast_img read more

Sell the Issue, then Your Organization to Better Connect with Your Audience

first_imgAt least at the get go. That’s the most vital takeaway from my Cause Marketing 101 for Nonprofits workshop earlier in the year, and one that’s applicable to every communications strategy you use — at least for early passes and newer audiences.As session leaders Jay Aldous and Stevan Miller (both brilliant facilitators and cause marketing geniuses with the US Fund for UNICEF) pointed out, the immediate point of connection has to be on the issues. The issues shared by your organization and your audiences (be it a potential cause marketing partner, a prospective donor or board member, or a possible program participant), or their needs that your organization/products/services can address, are the first point of connection.Here’s a great UNICEF example, used to develop cause marketing partners for their immunization program. Immunizations don’t have emotional weight, but the right to a healthy childhood does, especially with moms. So UNICEF went after partners in the baby and child product arena (among others). Point of connection made.Once that connection is made, then jump in with your powerfully succinct summary showing (always stronger than telling) that your organization does it better — is the most effective in addressing those issues, satisfying those needs, with a concrete proof or two.Jay and Stevan, a million thank yous. Sometimes the simplest path is so hard to find.Source: http://www.gettingattention.org/my_weblog/2007/05/heres_your_poin.htmlAbout the AuthorNancy E. Schwartz helps nonprofits succeed through effective marketing and communications. As President of Nancy Schwartz & Company (http://www.nancyschwartz.com/), Nancy and her team provide marketing planning and implementation services to organizations as varied as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Center for Asian American Media, and Wake County (NC) Health Services.Subscribe to her free e-newsletter “Getting Attention”, (http://www.nancyschwartz.com/getting_attention.html) and read her blog at http://www.gettingattention.org/ for more insights, ideas and great tips on attracting the attention your organization deserves.NOTE: You’re welcome to “reprint” this article online as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the copyright and “about the author” info at the end), and you send a copy of your reprint.last_img read more

The Art of Easy

first_imgI came across a series of articles in the Washington Post ballyhooing the five-year anniversary of the iPod. This article chronicled the conversion of a Mac skeptic to an iPod addict. The reason why? The convert says:“My conversion to iPod is like a proverb: You can’t criticize something for being ‘too easy’… It’s not because I can’t figure out computers-it’s just easier.”The coverage also featured people frustrated by iTunes’ incompatibility issues and iPod’s reported lack of durability, but even the skeptics all grudgingly admired the simplicity of the iPod. No wonder it sells so well. The same could be said for Scooby Doo – the simplicity is part of its decades-long appeal. I watched it when I was three, and so does my daughter many years later. Everyone cites iPod ad nauseum as the gold standard of easy. Another oft-cited example of easy is: Staples’ Easy Button. The point for do-gooders is we need to make it very easy for people to interact with us and take action. Are we in the iPod/Staples class of elegant simplicity for our supporters, or do they have to work to find our Donate Now button on our home page or expend a lot of mental energy to grasp the call to action in our year-end appeal? Make a pledge this week to make something about your marketing easier. Way easier. Use some of the following tips:Have at least one prominent Donate Now button on your homepage, and every page of your site.Have a search function box on every page (in the upper right hand corner).People skim websites, so focus more on compelling imagery than lengthy paragraphs.Have a guessable web address. A great example of an easy and straightforward nonprofit homepage (only I’d make that “join” button bigger):last_img read more

The CDC’s Second Life: A Best Practice for Social Networking

first_imgThere’s nothing very unusual about two red-headed women chatting in the headquarters of a Federal agency…unless one of the women is actually a man, and the headquarters actually exists on a server somewhere in Linden Lab. That man is John Anderton, who is responsible for bringing the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) into Second Life. I met John’s avatar, Hygeia Philo, when I happened to see an announcement of a CDC Health Fair listed in New World Notes and decided to find out more about what the CDC is up to in Second Life.John first started exploring Second Life last March, and by July he had convinced the powers-that-be at the CDC to let him establish an agency outpost there, which he built with his own virtual hands. John seems to be the CDC’s go-to guy for their health communications “Special Forces” missions, having been detailed to work on public health crises like the CDC’s response to the anthrax scares, the flu vaccine shortage and setting up new communications offices in various parts of the agency. He currently (at least until next week) is working in the Office of the CDC Director with the charge of exploring how social media can be used to promote public health, and he plans to continue to serve as the CDC’s virtual face in Second Life.When we met, John graciously agreed to do an interview, which we conducted by e-mail, phone and in Second Life.Can you tell me about the Center at the CDC where you work, and what your role is there?I am presently on detail to the Office of the CDC Director, Office of Enterprise Communications. I am the lead for Project Fulcrum; an initiative to advance public health using new media, to recruit new persons into public health careers, and to reinvigorate old public health brands that have fallen by the wayside. Before this assignment, I have served for the last five years as Associate Director for Communications Science in the Center at CDC that deals with HIV, STDs and TB (called NCHSTP, for short). In that role, I was charged with lead responsibility for managing campaigns, media, special projects, contracts, issues management, exhibits, and clearance of communications products and materials for the Center. I have worked at CDC in a variety of communications positions, in several areas. I have a PhD in Health Promotion and Behavior, and a Masters degree in Public Administration.How widespread within the CDC is knowledge and interest in internet-based applications like Second Life and other social media?CDC is always looking into better ways to understand its audiences and the public, and to communicate its messages in timely, credible, and relevant ways. An internal blog was started recently, and podcasts began last month for outside audiences. The internal news website is in its second year of daily publication, and it featured a story about CDC in Second Life a few weeks ago, so I think the knowledge of what we are doing internally is growing. I have presented on it a dozen times to various internal constituencies to build inertia around expanding our presence in world. I started looking into Second Life (SL) last March, when only 175,000 persons were in-world, as a way to advance the CDC mission using this new medium, for this specialized audience. We acquired our avatar formally in July, and introduced the space in August. The SL presence has been continuously evolving since that time.How did you personally become involved as a CDC representative within Second Life? Are there others who are doing work in-world from your Center or other divisions of the CDC?I began exploring YouTube as a means of disseminating CDC health content, and ran across a machinima presentation on Second Life, in March, 2006. Intrigued, I wrote a white paper to make the case to management for CDC to enter SL, and was authorized to explore and begin involvement. I created an avatar with purpose; Hygeia was the Greek muse of health, and the last name of Philo means ‘lover of,’ thus a CDC av with the metaphoric moniker of Hygeia Philo (lover of health) seemed perfectly appropriate. I waited until July 13 (CDC’s 60th anniversary) for her to formally enter Second Life for the reason that birthdays are rites of passage (drivers license, voting, etc.) and her birthday into the new world, as CDC celebrated maturity in the real world, also seemed appropriate. Everyone I meet has been congenial and both surprised and pleased to see CDC in the SL space. I have been working in SL on a daily basis, part time, for almost 8 months now. As far as others at CDC – the National Center for Environmental Health is exploring how to educate about toxic waste in SL, and the Strategic National Stockpile is exploring training issues in SL. The Injury Center is also thinking about how to get involved, too.I love the thinking behind Hygeia’s name. If it’s not too personal a question, how does it feel to be a man in real life but use a female avatar?I think of working with the CDC space and Hygeia Philo like hosting a trade show booth with a colleague. I am there to represent CDC in the best way possible, professionally and personally. The Juwangsan address [the location in Second Life] and the avatar in SL are both parts of that image. The gender discrepancy between myself and my role in SL doesn’t bother me, and I don’t get much grief at CDC either, as I tend to thoroughly explain why the avatar was chosen before explaining my role. I don’t see Hygeia Philo as an alternate John Anderton, rather I see her more as the face of the Agency that I am working with to disseminate health information. More of a partner than a puppet, and I do not hide my true identity when asked, interviewed by the press, or during discussions. When I attended the Second Life Community Conference in San Francisco this past August, the distinction between myself and Hygeia caused a little amusement for a few people, but no apparent consternation.Please tell me about how the CDC’s presence in Second Life came about. How much resistance did you encounter from others at the CDC to the idea of building a virtual office?I met with Randy Moss, at the American Cancer Society to learn about how the ACS was raising money with the in world Relay for Life, and then attended the Second Life Community Conference in San Francisco to continue studying how people were playing, interacting, transacting, and studying the possibilities of SL. Both contact experiences were transformative; I came to see this as neither a fad nor a game, but as a social movement and a glimpse into the future of social interaction, learning, and even being. The blended reality aspect of real and virtual worlds is fascinating to me. I wanted to build a space that could both educate and foster/enable dialogue. I routinely change up what is offered, based on interactions with residents who stop by, or whom I meet when I am exploring. The transience of the space is also marvelous; one can change on a dime, if something new presents itself. The day the E. coli scare occurred, I posted a “Real Life Health Alert” in the space for persons to learn about what was going on, and what to do about it. To those who saw it, it was very favorably commented upon; as a bridge builder between real life health threats and virtual education opportunities.Everyone at CDC has been saying “Go go go!” there is not internal resistance; rather a chorus of support that is also a little agitated that I cannot go even faster! In world, after an interview with the Metaverse Messenger [a Second Life-focused newspaper downloaded by almost 50,000 people each month], the Editor responded favorably to my request to publish health info in her pub, so I have contributed a weekly column to this news outlet for the last 5 weeks. That has been great too, as a learning tool about virtual media, and the intersection with real world media.I found out about the CDC in Second Life during a “health fair” you were offering there. How often do you do those, and are there any other virtual activities in which the CDC is involved? You came on the first day of the first CDC health fair. Events drive interest among SL residents, and I had marveled at how concerts and fashion shows rivaled presentations by the Lindens [the staff of Linden Labs] as both entertainment and information dissemination opportunities. Rather than a big press conference (which we will do later, when we expand), I decided to go the highly localized route of a community health fair. In the real world this is a nice, local platform to display health information, to educate on specific issues while building community and establishing credibility of source. I was delighted at the attendance, and content of discussions. It was surprising to me to be at the top of the list in Rik’s Picks, in New World Notes, and kind of exciting to receive coverage from the Second Life News Network on the Fair. I’m not sure if that is due to the novelty of the event, an interest in what CDC is doing, or some other factor, but the interest has been wonderful. CDC is ramping up a variety of offerings, and will require us to expand and complicate the space a bit, but I don’t have a timetable for these upcoming developments.The CDC’s National Center for Health Marketing’s director Jay Bernhardt is one of the first I know of in a Federal health agency to write a blog. While it is not updated very often, I think it is still a significant milestone and an indicator of the CDC’s desire to use the latest tools to communicate with its audience. Are there any other examples of how the CDC is using newer internet/social media or other tools (e.g., mobile phones) to reach its audiences beyond just offering a static website?I would suggest that you contact Jay with that question – I’m not in a place to be able to answer that effectively.What has been the response of SL residents to the CDC’s outreach in-world?Almost without exception, I have been warmly greeted by old and new SL residents. People are kind of amazed that CDC would treat it seriously, and that we are not there for profit. I hope that CDC can continue to grow and evolve in the SL space, as it grows and changes itself. With such rapid development, it forces us to stay on our toes!Are there specific health issues that you tend to focus on that are more prevalent among Second Life residents because of their demographics and behavioral risk factors?I would like to gradually introduce the topic of sexual health into the space, as a way to promote discussion about the links between what one says and does in Second Life, and then one’s actions in real life. Liaisons in real life, foreshadowed and even pre-enacted though virtual spaces have led to documented disease transmission, and discussion about this seems generally absent from SL. On the demographic side, there are all kinds of opportunities to introduce topics relevant to persons in their 30s about screenings, health and emergency preparedness, childhood milestones, and other topics. On the behavioral side, there is also plenty of room for talk about good eating, active lifestyles, eye strain, and other health topics relevant to persons who spend significant amounts of time sedentary in front of a monitor. The possibilities are hard to count, there are so many.How do you see Second Life fitting into an organization’s overall social marketing strategy?Second Life joins the list of audiences, interests, and channels that link the American public with their public health infrastructure. Given that half of residents are international, it also broadens and deepens the CDC communications portfolio into addressing wider audience needs and concerns. I suppose that it is a tactic, and not a strategy in itself, but one that suggests that attention to new media requires constant vigilance, and willingness to experiment. If SL fails, for some reason, the movement of persons into online congregate social settings will probably continue to expand, and understanding how to reach these audiences will continue to be important.For people at other agencies or organizations who may be considering establishing a presence in Second Life, what advice would you offer? Do it. Now. In my career at CDC, which spans a short 15 years, four new technologies have emerged and merged with mainstream communications. My first business card had my name, title, address and phone number on it. Then came a fax machine number, then an email address, a website, and most recently, a metaverse designation and avatar. These are all ways that I can receive contact from the world and matriculate therein. They have gone from slow, to fast, to real time. One must be in all of these modes to communicate effectively with the audiences with whom we participate, and to understand the places they inhabit. Galileo reminded us that one sees farther if one stands on the shoulders of giants. There are plenty of giants out there to partner with, in this new medium, and most of them are friendly. Also, and importantly, establish excellent relationships with the IT department; with all of the updates coming from Linden, internal firewalls, network up and downtime, and corporate/governmental IT security issues will cause frequent calls for assistance.Have you hooked up with any groups of nonprofits that are working on how best to integrate their causes into SL like TechSoup.org? No, other than the American Cancer Society and some exchanges with the New Media folks, I have not begun to run with the big dogs. I am still studying how to best interact with persons, groups, and constituencies to best participate in this wondrous landscape. I hope to continue to learn, evolve and adapt to the space in fruitful ways, and if it goes really well, to lead trends.Is there anything else you’d like to add that we haven’t touched on yet? Second Life is part of one’s first life; not separate from it. Even the immersionists have to sleep, eat, and interact with the Real World. If one can merge good health practices in real life with the fun and play of Second Life, then physical and psychological realms can be enlightened and good habits enacted, to personal benefit. If this happens collectively, then public benefits are achieved, and public health becomes a reality, in virtual and actual ways. Thanks for the chance to talk about these issues.Thank you to John for providing such an insightful and compelling glimpse into the process he has gone through to keep the CDC in the position of leading trends among Federal agencies. I hope that when other organizations and agencies see that even the CDC, with all its bureaucracy and generally slow uptake of new technology, is taking Second Life and other social media seriously, that they should too. I predict that the CDC’s entry into SL will open the floodgates for other people working on health and social issues.If you are in Second Life and would like to visit the CDC’s virtual offices, you can click here to teleport directly. If you are not already in Second Life, you can first download the software and get a free account.Source: http://www.social-marketing.com/blog/2006/11/cdcs-second-life.htmllast_img read more

The Future of Online Fundraising

first_imgI received an email from a college student asking if he could interview me about ePhilanthropy and the future of online fundraising.The questions gave me an opportunity to think creatively about the application of some web 2.0 concepts, such as tagging and feeds, and how they can improve our practices.His questions and my answers follow.> * How did Internet change the way nonprofits fundraise?Maybe a better question would be, “HAS the Internet changed the way nonprofits fundraise?” Because for a lot of organizations; it still hasn’t.There are certainly plenty of new tools, but most nonprofits (outside of universities and hospitals) are traditionally very slow to adopt new technologies. This is for a few reasons, including: budget, being “people focused,” lack of staff/resources, and budget (did I mention budget?).Still, for those organizations that are on the ball, technically speaking, it has broadened their tools for appeals. The most obvious direct items are “Donate Now” buttons and email. The less direct way is using the ‘net for promotion, communications, and visibility.Email can be used for a direct appeal, or for newsletters with indirect asks. But, again, limited budget and staff to implement these has kept most smaller and medium sized organizations from fully realizing the potential benefit of these tools.I mention budget a lot. Email is cheap to use, and scales cheaply, but can be costly to implement effectively (opt-in systems to avoid spamming, software or ASP’s beyond the basic MS Outlook, and the staff to actually manage lists and write the messages).> * Is traditional fundraising still part of the fundraising mix?Most definitely so. For the reasons listed above (slow implementation, budget, etc.), but also because of human nature.While online tools are fabulous for meeting new donors, and younger donors, there is nothing that can ever compare to the personal touch of the in-person ask.Even snail mail has a place, as it’s far easier to make an emotional connection with a photo you can hold in your hand than with an email that may or may not properly display images based on the user’s software settings and operating system.In the area of Foundation grants, the worlds are merging somewhat as more and more Foundations accept online applications. It is traditional fundraising in terms of the skills required for completing the applications, but they are adapted to the online world.For that matter, you could say that all online fundraising is just an adaptation of traditional methods. It’s the medium that has changed – or expanded – not the message or the appeal.> * The future of online fundraising?More effective integration of cause and effect using tags and feeds. For example, it’s entirely feasible for a news website to automatically match stories (IE: flood in India) to donation opportunities (IE: International Red Cross).They do this now, manually, with major disasters. But with proper use of tagging, RSS, etc., it’s entirely possible that even “minor” local stories (IE: car crash kills drunk driver) can automatically linked to local causes (IE: local United Way or MADD or AA chapter).What I’m saying is really, technology gives us the opportunities to be more pro-active and less passive in our efforts. Rather than waiting for a potential supporter to come to our web site or sign up for our email newsletter, we will be able to find them based on what they’re reading and hook directly into their online experience.> * Why are many nonprofit are still waiting with their online fundraising?Money, or the perception of no money. While many of these tools are low or even no cost (use of blogspot.com as a communications platform), they are loath to give even the impression that they are wasting resources.Example: An organization I know of that was given very nice, high quality office chairs from a defunct dot-com. They were not allowed to use them because it gave the impression that they were extravagant. Many nonprofits live in this poverty mind-set.Any assets must go to the clients. Anything that doesn’t directly benefit them is seen as a waste. What they don’t see is that a small investment in online tools will create a return that can be used for mission and services.> * What will make a website a good ePhilanthropy site?See “the future” question above. It’s the integration of information and ask. Don’t make the potential donor search for the means to give.Have the opportunity linked directly into the inspiration. This is the answer.Source: http://nonprofitconsultant.blogspot.com/2006/12/future-of-online-fundraising.htmllast_img read more

Tips for Including Images in HTML Emails

first_imgBased on the results of several tests we conducted, the inclusion of additional images does not increase response rates to advocacy messages or fundraising appeals, nor does it decrease them. While it may not hurt to include properly formatted images in your email message (thought it could hurt if your message gets quarantined or rejected by a potential donor or activist because it looks blank in the preview pane), it also does not appear to help at all.However, if you’ve got a great photo of a charismatic or cuddly animal, beautiful landscape, or appealing person making direct eye contact, you may want to use it – provided you take the time to format your image properly:1) Use smaller header images. Large header images may take a long time to load. They also push the text of your email message farther down the screen, forcing readers to scroll down to read your message or click on the all-important links to the action or donation page. To minimize scrolling and loading time, make sure that the first few paragraphs of your email message (and at least one link to the action or fundraising page) are visible above the fold in your HTML message.2) Always include the image dimensions and alt text. With so many email providers using image-blocking technology these days, HTML messages that don’t include the image dimensions or alternative text can leave your messages looking completely mangled. Specifying image dimensions will ensure that the appropriate amount of blank space is left in place of the image. The alt text (text that appears in place of a blocked image) will clue your readers in to what they should be seeing. However, if you use spacer images (and we don’t recommend them), do not include alt text!3) Cut back on spacer images. Image blocking makes it less attractive to use spacer images as they will manifest themselves as unnecessary little Xs in empty boxes.4) Avoid image overload. While it can be tempting to jam pack HTML messages with images and photos, the more images you include in your message the longer it will take to download. For your list members with dial-up or other slow Internet connections, this can lead to a frustratingly long wait time to read your email messages! Try to avoid sending image-laden messages and be sure to keep the file size of any images you do include to a minimum.5) Consider adding an unobtrusive “view web version” link. This link offers people an option to view the message as it was intended to look. However, keep in mind that this link does constitute another (unnecessary) barrier between your user and whatever it is you want them to do. Ideally, your message should be created so that it’s not necessary to include a link to a web version.Source: http://www.mrss.com/news/Do_Images_Help_Or_Hurt.pdflast_img read more

Using Social Networking Tools: Best Practices from SaveGuimaras

first_imgI interviewed Tuesday Gutierrez from SaveGuimaras over at blogher.   What I didn’t include was the in-depth conversation we had about how she has explored and used social networking tools. SaveGuimaras is a group of individuals who are dedicated to raising awareness on the recent oil-spill tragedy in Guimaras, Philippines.  Because the international community and media have failed to respond to this environmental disaster, they are bringing the campaign to the Social Web.  Their goal is to mobilize grassroots participation by using online networking tools and their blog.If you check out their blog, you will notice that the group has a presence on myspace, friendster, YouTube, and few other communities. Tuesday shared some of her learnings with me about using these tools.  She has been the most successful when the tool matched her audience and outcomes.  And, she had to go through a bit of experimentation to learn that!1.  How have social networking tools helped spread the word about  your cause?   Friendster is a very popular social network in the Philippines.  Almost  everyone I know has a Friendster account and its very easy to find people, influential or otherwise in Friendster. When I opened a saveguimaras account, in less than two weeks, we had 200 people who signed up. What´s good about Friendster is that everytime a “member” of your group posts a new entry on your blog, you receive it on your email/ and you see it right away on your Friendster page. This led me to stumble upon Roy Alberto/Joseph Alberto who was a co-founder of 1 fish entertainment who was promoting a rock gig for Guimaras and that was how our relationship started.MySpace hasn´t taken off like Friendster because the Filipinos I am targeting there are based in the US. To invite people in Myspace is also painstakingly difficult unlike Friendster that you just click a button and invite.  Myspace avoids spamming so the members usually blocks people from adding them directly unless you know them personally or their email. So what I have been doing is sending out mails one by one!YouTube is also good in finding videos about Guimaras. Its pure luck too.  Project sunrise, the provincial government led organization (supported by Canadian Urban institute) happened to post their videos and I was given permission to post them in the blog. The IFCP (Independent Filmmakers Coop) in the Philippines just had their Guimaras Short Film project which was shown on television and some moviehouses in Manila. Unfortunately, there were some short films that were censored by the Movie Television Board (which I want to say is one of the most conservative board of censors in the world! and is really stifling Pinoy creativity) and some directors uploaded some movies on Guimaras (some will upload more videos soon.) YouTube would have been more helpful for my cause if people in the Philippines have home videocameras and if they have a fast broadbandwidth.  Unfortunately, the journalists on the field are still using pen and paper technology which explains why there are not a lot of videos about Guimaras.  Because regional flights are more expensive,  people from Manila who are supposed to be more technologically equipped do not come to Guimaras to shoot videos/photos which also explains why there is a lack of photos uploaded in Guimaras at Flickr.  I rely on photos sent to me by the filmmakers and some journalists on the field.Mobile technology is more popular in the Philippines and we are looking  into how we could use this platform. The only difficulty I find here is that SaveGuimaras is not a non-profit org and is simply running as a webblog therefore, mobile networks might not trust us enough to collaborate with us.Care2.com has been helpful  in a way that other social networks have not been.  Although it is difficult to find people or connect with care2.com members, what’s good about their system is that you can send out letters to ten members each and for me its much better to send out ten letters once than sending out letters one by one. And yes, I’ve painstakingly sent out letters to care2.members ten at a time.I’m only discoveriing about Flickr. Personally I think Flickr is useful if you are two or three in a group but if you’re only one person like me running a blog for a social cause, you need something faster.2.  How has your blog connected you with people to help with your cause?  Through this blog we´ve met so many wonderful people who all have the passion and the drive to help the victims of Guimaras.  Some have their  own projects already in place before they´ve contacted us  but we´ve also managed to link people with  the same agenda and get them to collaborate with each other. Some organizations have also written expressing their willingness to collaborate with SaveGuimaras and its partners.For example, Chromatic Experiment, a Filipino band contacted us thru our blog. They are willing to play for free for future rock gigs planned by the team of Joseph, Sazi and Laura (There are more people involved behind this team, but for the sake of brevity we will only mention these three).   3.  This is the bonus question and please do not take offense.  I’ve noticed  that a lot of folks from Phillipines are really into social networking   apps  and lots of wonderful communities in places like  YouTube, Flickr, etc.  Why do you think that is?Filipinos are very warm people and like to belong always in a group. Thats why these social networks are working for us. Add to this the fact that Filipinos are the no. 1 labor export of the country and there is a diaspora phenomena happening with us so we really need these networks to make us keep in touch with our families. We hate being alone and despise isolation which usually happens when youre living outside the country. A lot of Filipinos wouldn’t want to leave if only the government is doing its job but the future of the Philippines is very bleak.BTW, we are the  no. 1 text messaging capital aside from the fact that sending out text messages is always cheaper than making an actual call.Source: http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2006/11/meet_tuesday_fr.htmllast_img read more

Your Nonprofit and Email: A Perfect Match

first_imgOh, email! For many individuals and organizations, email has transformed both the quantity and quality of human communication. Simultaneously intimate and public, email is a daily symbol of the potential and danger that technology promises. To some, email is a simple and sublime medium to communicate in the modern world. To others – and often the same people- it is a reviled and bottomless pit of unwanted spam that infuriates and frustrates.Nonprofit organizations of all sizes and budgets are exploring how to integrate email into a comprehensive communications and fundraising strategy. Some are far along the road of doing so; others are just starting out. This article provides an overview of why and how to use email in your fundraising program.The Benefits of EmailEmail is a flexible and easy-to-use medium for both the sender and the receiver. Email is important precisely because it’s regular, constant, and often the way most people engage with the Internet. It’s fast, cheap, easy to use, and informal. There’s also that quality of its being “viral” – that is, email is content that’s easy for your readers to pass on by forwarding. As many organizations can attest, this can exponentially expand your network and reach.Email brings immediate response, allowing us to gauge how well we’re reaching our constituencies. The benefits of that immediacy go both ways: now your community can have more access to you and provide the gold of any good relationship: a dynamic feedback loop.Email can also provide content in its own right. The voice, style, presentation and format are all critical to your success. Email is fast, but that doesn’t mean that you can jot off emails without foresight and the help of an editor.On the other hand, the same virtues of email also highlight its limitations. While it’s fast and easy, it’s also rather “disposable,” as it’s easy to delete. The very quality of immediacy can negate its power and impact. When sending email, we are dealing with the dreaded domain of unwanted email or “spam,” a sensitive issue for many email users.That “send” button warrants perhaps more caution and respect before we use it. From a communications point of view, it’s important to be sensitive to when it’s appropriate to use email, and when the phone or regular post mail is better.Email is about Cultivating RelationshipsUsing email for fundraising is much more than literally soliciting for support. It’s about cultivating relationships, keeping the feedback loops intact, and thereby ensuring a stronger base of support. Email is a versatile tool that can be leveraged to greatly enhance – and complement – all aspects of donor and member relations.The range of how email can be linked to your overall fundraising efforts is wonderfully broad: from collecting email addresses on your website to a carefully executed online fundraising campaign that uses email as its central vehicle. As a core component of a broad stakeholder communications strategy, email can be the glue to hold your donor relations together and create traction in your communications to yield wonderful results.Finally, email is not intended to be a substitute for “live” relationships – meeting with your donors and other supporters, whether one-on-one or in group settings. What email does is add another method to be in touch with people. So be careful not to start depending solely on email as an all-purpose fundraising communication vehicle.This article was originally published in the Jan/Feb 2004 edition of the Grassroots Fundraising Journal.Source: Groundspring ITS Topic 12last_img read more

24 Hours for Darfur User-Generated Video Campaign

first_img24 Hours for Darfur is a grassroots video advocacy campaign dedicated to ending the conflict in Darfur and promoting peace and security for the people living there. The goal is to collect thousands of personal video appeals from people all over the world. All appeals will be displayed on our website and sent directly to participant’s political representatives. On September 16, 2007 they screened 24 hours of rolling footage at a rally in front of the UN headquarters and at smaller events at halls of power throughout the world – all connected through a real-time online broadcast.Check out the hundreds of videos submitted! There are videos from US Presidential candidate John Edwards, Author Samantha Power, Actress Mia Farrow, two former United Nations Deputy Secretaries-General, two former United States Deputy Secretaries of State, and private citizens from around the world. You can speak out against genocide by submitting a video appeal of your own. Use a webcam to record a video right in your web browser, or upload a video you’ve recorded offline.You can learn more about Darfur at the website’s education section.Also that they are asking people to spread the word on Facebook by embedding one of their videos in your profile!Source: http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2007/07/24-hours-for-da.htmllast_img read more

Change the Way You Look at Fundraising

first_imgThat impact that you are making is what drives your income, not the other way around. Your income should not and does not drive your impact. The size and scope of your impact determines the size and scope of your income. If you can effectively relate your impact to people in the community, your income will increase, thereby allowing you to have a greater impact, and so on. Simple tweaks in the way you think and what you say can affect how people look at your cause or your organization:There are only three reasons for a nonprofit organization to exist. Those are to save lives, transform lives, and change lives. It’s all tied to helping other people. It’s what you are doing everyday, and it is driving your existence. Think about which is the most important to you, and communicate that to your supporters. That income is of course necessary though, so just ask. You always need to be asking, it won’t happen by itself. Awareness doesn’t equal action. There’s no harm in asking, so ask away! Take it one step further. Share a story when you present the opportunity. Everybody has a great story. A story of how your organization was founded or the people you help or the people that help you. Those stories inspire other people to take action as well. But just don’t ask for money. Present people with the opportunity to help. Describe to them in human terms what they can do to help and show them how.center_img Don’t stop there—how about getting rid of your mission statements, especially when it relates to spouting them off or having potential supporters read them? Mission statements are often lengthy, boring, and altogether worthless. Again, define what your actual message is, what you want people to understand, and what you want them to do. Are you “dedicated to ending malnutrition in the hungry and teaching sustainable agriculture,” or do you want to “end hunger!” Often times simple language can pack a big punch.*This article was adapted by Jake Emen from Tom Suddes’ webinar presentation “33 Ideas that Change the Fundraising Game.” It was originally published on December 18, 2008 and has been updated. Think about what you call yourself. Define what cause you’re supporting and what your vission is—this is the real message you’re trying to spread. Don’t just tell people you’re a nonprofit, tell people that you’re “for-impact,” and make yourself immediately sound positive. Focus on relationships, not transactions. If the only time you speak to the people who help you is when you want money from them, you don’t have a real relationship with them. Most people stop giving to a charity not because of financial concerns but because of the way they were treated. Remember that you are in the relationship business, and your supporters deserve to be treated well.last_img read more