Tuesday
Jan202015

Nonprofit Communication Trends to Expect in 2015

According to the 2015 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report, by NonprofitMarketingGuide.com, nonprofits are becoming more confident and more intentional about reaching out to target audiences, raising money, and retaining donors through engagement. For the first time since 2011, nonprofits have significantly increased the frequency for both email and direct mail appeals.

Some of the reports findings revealed that:

  • 45% of nonprofits will send an appeal at least monthly, up from 33% in 2014.
  • 62% will send an email newsletter at least monthly, up from 59% in 2014.
  • 36% will send direct mail appeals at least quarterly  in 2015, up from 28% in 2014.
  • The majority of Communications Directors' top two goals are brand awareness and engaging community.
  • Both Executive Directors and Development Directors' top goals are retaining current donors and acquiring new donors.
  • The top 3 most important communications channels are nonprofits' websites, email marketing, followed by social media.

What are your communication goals for 2015? And do your goals align with the goals of other departments at your organization? Or are you competing with each other for funding resources, advocates, and donors? If you feel that your organization is in this position, take a step back and come up with a plan for breaking down those silos and building more integrated teams and advocacy and fundraising programs.

Here's some more trends you can expect in 2015:

Wednesday
Jan072015

New Study: Investing in Facebook is a Waste of Time

For the past few years, nonprofits have spent a lot of resources on building their Facebook page presence. Many social media strategists and the media told nonprofits and businesses that email was dying and that FREE social networks like Facebook would be king of communications. So it's now 2015 and guess what? Email is definitely not dead and in fact it raises a heck of a lot more money than any social media platform. In addition, the majority of nonprofits still haven't raised a dime on social media. So is Facebook still worth it? I think it depends on your goals with Facebook and if you have the funding to pay to play.

It's no secret that Facebook manipulates its algorithm to favor the content users see, but Facebook has changed its algorithm so much that Facebook pages now only reach 2% of their followers. That means 98% of the people who "Liked" your FB page don't see the content UNLESS your organization pays Facebook to boost a post, buy a Facebook ad, etc.

A study conducted by Forrester found that posts from top brands on Facebook and Twitter have an awful engagement rate. Only 0.07% of followers actually interact with those posts.

According to the New York Times, Facebook has aggressively promoted its advertising products (like pop up ads that appear on users’ mobile phones urging them to install a new app...Facebook Messanger, anyone?). In the third quarter alone, Facebook reported a 64% increase in advertising revenue to $2.96 billion and said ad prices rose 274% year over year, in part reflecting strong demand from advertisers.

Brian Boland, a Facebook Vice President who oversees marketing of ad products, said Facebook surveyed hundreds of thousands of users, who complained that they were bombarded with useless promotional posts in their news feeds. While some of those useless posts were paid ads, about 2/3 of them were posts from brand pages. To appease users, Facebook decided to downgrade their chances of showing up in the news feed.

“Facebook is basically saying that their algorithm will be the arbiter of what’s promotion and what’s not promotion,” Jordan Bitterman said, chief strategy officer for North America at Mindshare.

So, it's pretty much a gamble whether or not Facebook will decide if your content is going to perform well. Since nonprofits don't have money that grows on trees, it's worth it to invest in engagement where you know it will count. I would invest in increasing an organizations email list over investing in Facebook ads or boosting posts or spending money on promoted Tweets in Twitter. However, if your organization has the budget to do both, you could spend money on list growth and also spend a bit of money on testing important advocacy related posts on Facebook to see how they perform.

So the next time a social media strategist tells you that email is dead, you can now tell them that email certainly isn't dead. In fact, it's very much alive and well. "Your emails get delivered more than 90% of the time, while your Facebook posts get delivered 2% of the time," writes Nate Elliott, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester. "If you have to choose between adding a subscriber to your email list or gaining a new Facebook fan, go for email every time."

Where will you invest your engagement in 2015?

Monday
Dec292014

3 Resolutions Every Nonprofit Should Aim For in January

I love year-end planning. It forces me to reflect on what worked this past year and what didn't. While many nonprofit practitioners are setting personal resolutions at this time of year, I think it's equally important that nonprofits set resolutions too. Here are three that are at the top of my list. Join me and kick them off in early January.

Reconnect With Your Donors


Year-end fundraising can put a strain on your donors. They are being bombarded with fundraising appeals from multiple organizations. This can leave organizations with higher than usual unsubscribe rates. But most importantly it can make donors feel like they are being treated like an ATM machine. In early 2015, make a concerted effort to reconnect with your donors. For example, you can ask their opinion on new programs you are considering launching. Send some of your most active donors hand written thank you notes and let them know specifically what kind of an impact their support has had over the past year.


Review Your Goals and Make Sure They Are Tangible


Several organizations that I work with have very large goals like ending world hunger or ending global warming. Those are some worthy goals but I'm not convinced that any of us will see them attained in our lifetime. Many of your potential donors and activists feel the same way. Early this year, sit down with your team and think about the large goals you have set. Be honest, are these goals attainable in the near future? (And by the near future I don’t mean in 10 or 20 years.) If not, identify what tangible goals are attainable and how activists and donors can you help your organization meet those goals. This does not mean you can’t work towards long term goals, but donors and activists expect to see impact if they are going to continue to support your organization.


Review Your Online Strategy. Are You Diversified?


In 2010 nonprofits heavily invested in Facebook. They thought email was dying and that social networks like Facebook would be the new channel to raise money and inspire activism. This dream never really panned out for most nonprofits. With Facebook's changes in algorithms and pay to play model, the average Facebook page reaches 2% of likers. In terms of donations, direct mail is still the number one way most nonprofits raise money. And emails lists are still golden, though admittedly it gets more challenging every year to sustain conversion rates. In 2015, review your online strategy.


  • Are you overly invested in one online channel that is not reaching a good chunk of your audience? Are there others that you should test in 2015 that could be a better fit.

  • Are you overly invested in an online channel that is not giving you a good return on investment?

  • Is your website mobile responsive?

  • What does your email list growth strategy look like for 2015? Is it realistic? Do you have a budget to allocate to make sure your meet your email list growth strategy? It should include a combination of organic and paid recruitment. (BTW, check out Care2’s list growth services if you plan to pursue paid recruitment in 2015.).

  • Do you have an online editorial calendar? If so, what can you do to improve it and make some of the content more engaging for your target audiences?


What other resolutions are you considering for 2015?

Thursday
Dec182014

How To Tell Stories With Purpose

Every new nonprofit I work with at Rad Campaign always tell me how they want their new website to do a better job of telling stories. They are usually in a terrific position to tell incredibly inspiring stories, but they don't have the resources or the time to craft them. Could a new site called Hatch help nonprofits get over their storytelling hump? 

Hatch is a concierge-like site that connects you to a curated suite of the best tools, resources, case studies, and a growing community of storytellers to help generate more social impact through story. 

Storytelling should drive engagement and help your organization achieve strategic objectives of reaching new activists, donors, and volunteers. Hatch's ultimate goal is to help create the greatest amount of impact through storytelling as possible, and they help you do just that.

But how, exactly, does Hatch help maximize your storytelling capacity?

  • Hatch has five sections: Strategy, Capacity, Content, Platform, and Evaluation. Each section is designed to help you strategically craft, curate and share stories to drive social impact. As you answer questions, you will be provided with suggested tools, case studies and resources that are customized to your needs. These recommendations will always be saved to your profile so you can access them later.
  • As you build your storytelling profile, you can explore case studies, look for ideas from storytelling thought leaders and even contribute your own.
  • Throughout Hatch, you are encouraged to connect to and learn from other storytellers, to contribute comments, ideas and case studies, and to invite others to join the community.

Hatch explains that,

All social impact organizations—philanthropy, business, nonprofit and others—have the ability to shift the dynamics in the social impact sector by bringing the right people and resources together.

Stories are the roots to our causes, and without them, where would we be?

Check out Hatch and then, come back to Care2's Frogloop blog and share your experience.

Wednesday
Dec172014

What Does Your Digital Strategy Look Like?

Each organization has a unique approach to how they how they fund their digital strategy, build digital teams, and set their digital strategy goals. We want to know about it!

Care2 has partnered with hjc and NTEN to get your input to create the 2015 Digital Strategy Outlook Survey, which will be released in January.

Please take 10 minutes to share your insight with us. You will be automatically be entered to win a waterproof GoPro Action Camera or an NTEN Membership!

Your answers will help us map out the current digital strategy landscape for nonprofits, and the study will ultimately help you to navigate the world of digital strategy to shape your fundraising planning for next year.

Your feedback is extremely valuable and we thank you for taking the time to participate in our survey by December 31, 2014.

Friday
Dec122014

3 Best Practices to Rock Your Blog

 

Most nonprofits have a blog and even though they're common, they're not always as simple to navigate as they seem. A lot of nonprofits reach out to me asking how they can improve their blogs, they ask about best practices, and they ask about constituent engagement. So, you think you can blog?

Before we get into best practices, let me ask you a few questions about your nonprofit's blog.

  • What are you goals for you blog? Why did you create it?
  • Who's your target audience? (Your answer cannot be everyone...) Think about your current audience and also think about the audience that you really want to reach.
  • How often do you update your blog?

Okay, jot a couple of those answers down, or keep them in the forefront of your mind. Let's dive into 3 tips, just for starters, that'll help you rock your blog (or rock it harder):

  1. Update your content regularly and often. By regularly, I mean 2-3 times per week (if not more frequently). Create a content calendar, if it helps (and we think it does!). Here's a great guide to content calendars.

    Make sure you're not just gearing your content to what you want to hear, but that you're writing for your target audiences that are actually reading the blog. And please don't only use your blog to only post advocacy actions and donation asks. That is not the purpose of a blog. When we are designing and develpoing websites at Rad Campaign sometimes we will run into organizations who have not updated their blog in months. If you can't commit to a regular blogging schedule, get rid of the blog. 
  2. Back up your positions with facts. If you're nonprofit is working on advocacy issues, it's even more important that you back up your positions with facts and hard data. Even though blog posts are often more personal or editorial like in the style of writing, that does not mean you should just make blanket statements. Use your organization's awesome data to back up your positions. 
  3. Invite guest bloggers. If your organization has a blog written by 1-2 staff people then you need to recognize that you cannot be an expert on everything, nor does anyone expect you to be. The two staff blog writers won't always be the best people to deliver your content. Sometimes a blog post is all about the packaging, and you have to have dynamic packaging. An array of voices will be exciting and fresh. Not sure how to incorporate guest blogging? Here are 7 tips to getting started with guest blogging.

Stay tuned for more best blogging practices. In the meantime, what are your favorite blogging tips?

Wednesday
Dec102014

Do Responsive Websites Raise More Money?

Redesigning and updating your website might be one of your goals for 2015, and it be better be mobile responsive.

According to Pew Research, 63% of adult cell owners use their phones to go online, as of May 2013, and 34% of cell internet users go online mostly using their phones, and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer.

Not only is your audience accessing your website from their mobile device or tablet, they're also giving more money on sites that are responsive. Blakcbaud determined this after they researched 105 small and midsized randomly selected nonprofits and conducted an analysis on almost 5,000 donations processed by Blackbaud’s Online Express between August 26th and October 25th of 2014.

Here are some of their key findings:

  • Donors were 34% more likely to make a gift after reaching a donation form when the website was responsive.
  • The average gift size increased on responsive sites.
  • Conversions were 59% higher for mobile donors one responsive websites.
  • Of the 105 nonprofits that npENGAGE evaluated manually, 42% has responsive sites. That's only 56 organizations.

You can view the rest of their findings in this infographic:

What have you noticed since making your site responsive? And if your website still isn't responsive, is it something that you're considering? Let us know, and maybe add it to your holiday wish list.

conducted an analysis on almost 5,000 donations processed by Blackbaud’s Online Express between August 26th and October 25th of 2014. - See more at: http://npengage.com/nonprofit-fundraising/does-responsive-design-really-raise-more-money-for-nonprofits-infographic/#sthash.reONIKNa.dpuf
conducted an analysis on almost 5,000 donations processed by Blackbaud’s Online Express between August 26th and October 25th of 2014. - See more at: http://npengage.com/nonprofit-fundraising/does-responsive-design-really-raise-more-money-for-nonprofits-infographic/#sthash.reONIKNa.dpuf