Draw a map. Create a flowchart. Put together some document with all of your database fields and the naming conventions for those fields. Clean up duplicate records often. If you have the time to do this regularly, it can save you time in the future.Essentially the most important ingredient to keeping your housefile (list) clean is to dust it regularly. Empower your organization by coming up with a clear and outlined process of how you collect and store your data. Doing so will allow you keep a tidy housefile that is easy to report on and analyze. Make sure all individuals in your organization have that document. This will ensure that everyone in your organization will use the same naming conventions and mapping process when creating the online forms you use to collect constituents’ information. Source: Connection Cafe If you have uniform response options you want to have listed on multiple choice questions (that are going to be used on many of your online forms), decide upon the answer options and make sure everyone in your organization has a document outlining those response options. Building your housefile (list) is one of the key ingredients in developing a strong online presence. It is important to welcome a constant flow of constituents into your online home. But, what are the next steps in maintaining that list? Once you have a good list going, it is vital to keep that list clean, dust and clutter-free. Mom always told you to keep your room clean. Why should your constituent list be any different?Here are some tips to keeping a clean list:Decide on what data you want to collect and how you want it to be organized in your database. For example, if you want to have a field in your database to store information on constituents’ pets’ names, decide where you want that information to live in the database and how you want to get it there.
Here is my Fundraising Success column for June, featuring my alter ego, the maven.Dear Marketing Maven,My donations are down, my heart is heavy, and my job is on the line. Worse, I think I’m coming down with something. Paging Dr. Dollars!-Sick in SyracuseDear Sick,I don’t need a stethoscope to diagnose these ailments. You’re suffering from one or all of the three most common diseases in the nonprofit world. Sadly, they are at epidemic proportions. We’ve got to stop their spread!#1: “Field of Dreams” syndrome. Those who have this disease believe that, “If you build it, they will come.” By “they,” I mean a big team of generous donors. For example, if you have FODS, you think that if you build a website and stick a DonateNow button on it, donors will arrive and click. This disease also manifests itself as an assumption that uttering your mission statement will inspire people to give. If you find yourself saying, “If people only knew, they would” then you have FODS. Declaring your existence is not a fundraising campaign. It is a symptom of FODS.The cure? You need to reach out to people and build relationships with them. Then maybe they’ll want to support you.#2: “It’s all about us” disease. Nonprofits suffering from this disease are easy to spot — their home pages, emails and all of their correspondence reads like an “About Us” page. Sometimes, this ailment is called “Nonprofit Narcissism.” Mission statements, the history of your organization and other related details should not be found everywhere and do not constitute a strong message.The cure? Make it about your donor, not you. Why should they care? What can they accomplish? How have they changed the world with their support? #3: “Call to inaction” problem. In order to generate donations and increase your donor base, you need to have a clear call to action. It’s not enough to state who you are, what you do and what’s new. You need to clearly state what you are asking and appeal to prospective donors to take that action. “Save the earth” is not a call to action. Nor is “support us.”The cure? Be specific. As in, “Click this button and give us $10 for a bed net so a child will be saved from malaria.”Be well,MavenDear Marketing Maven,Our image is not what I want, so I’m thinking of rebranding with a new logo. Thoughts?-Making Over in HanoverDear Makeover,Bad idea. Branding is not about logos, it’s about how people perceive you. That’s got a lot more to do with how you treat them, how you conduct your programs, and how you communicate your achievements than it has to do with your logo. Don’t spend a cent on a new logo until you dig deeper into these aspects of your brand. Without that level of makeover, a new logo or color palette is about as effective as slapping lipstick on a pig. I don’t think it’s worth spending money on a logo change unless you conclude after fixing everything else that your logo is in direct violation of the brand you’ve built. Happy makeover,MavenDear Marketing Maven,Why did you not open my last eNewsletter?–Hurt in HalifaxDear Hurt,I get about 20 email newsletters a week. I read about two. I must have somehow overlooked yours – I’m sure it was worth a read, unlike the other 18. For what it’s worth, here are some thoughts on newsletters:1. Maybe you don’t need one.People are inundated with newsletters. I’m not the exception – we all get too many. Yawn. Why not put your time and energy into something truly exceptional? Like the packet a friend just got from DonorsChoose to thank him for buying a carpet for a classroom. He got a picture of the kids on the carpet – along with the students’ little handwritten notes and pictures. Wow. Not feasible, you say? How about simply sending out something useful to your audience? At Network for Good, we send out weekly free fundraising tips rather than a newsletter about us. Our nonprofits love it! If you’re an organization focused on diabetes, how about weekly tips for managing diabetes? 2. If you do an enewsletter, don’t forget the “e.”You can’t just slap your print newsletter into a PDF, email it, and consider yourself the editor of an “enewsletter.” Write to the medium. Online communications need to be shorter and formatted for the web. People skim online. They don’t read. Don’t make them download a PDF and turn pages on your computer. Grab attention with photos, short text and good stories. 3. Make it about the donors and not you.Don’t manifest “All about us” disease in your newsletter. Your newsletter should not be about how great you are. It should be about how great your donor is! Make your donor feel like the center of attention. No one can resist reading about themselves – or about what they accomplished.Write on,MavenStay tuned… more on email newsletters in next month’s column!
So should you deal with Twitter or not? This came up while I spoke last week at the NC nonprofit conference alongside smart people like Kivi Leroux Miller and John Kenyon. I was going to post some bullets on this but then along came fellow blogger and prolific commenter John Haydon with a guide that does ALL THE WORK FOR ME AND YOU. It’s easy, short and to the point. If you think bird not technology when you hear the word Tweet, have no fear, this Twitter 101 guide will bring you up to speed.Here’s a summary John prepared for me to post here:For many non-profits, Twitter is a new and uncharted social media that is understood and underutilized. For almost six months, John researched hundreds of blogs and social media experts before writing the guide. “I wanted to provide something to help non-profits better use Twitter to increase their fanbase and fundraising.” Additionally, John conducted an on-line survey of over 200 non-profits currently using Twitter (results are included in the guide). The Twitter Jump Start Guide, which is a living document (those who download the guide will automatically receive updated, more advanced versions every couple of months), includes the following:• How to create a Twitter Profile that will make folks want to learn more about your non-profit• How to find Twitter users that already support your cause• How to find new donors who are already sold on your non-profit• How to turn those supporters into raving fans• How to automatically post any news regarding your non-profit• How to make sure that folks visit your website and stay interested• 10 Twitter tips that will increase your online donations
Happy New Year and thanks for reading the blog this year. Life is short, and if you’re taking precious time from your schedule to check the blog from time to time, I hope it’s been helpful to you. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see or know that’s not getting coverage here. I am always happy to hear from REAL readers. (Many of the comments I get are NOT from real readers — it’s amazing how many Viagra-peddlers and real estate agents like to comment about nonprofit marketing with helpful links to their products and services!). This has been an incredibly eventful year in politics and our economy – both of which will affect our work fundamentally in the year ahead. On a personal note, it’s also been an eventful year – I got engaged to be married, my older daughter hit the double digits in age, and I took on a new role at Network for Good (COO) that has been an exciting change. I have a feeling 2009 is going to be pretty interesting as a result of all of this.Whatever happens, we’ll be in it together. I look forward to finding my way through the excitement ahead right there with you. I’ve definitely learned more from all of you than I could ever reciprocate. Thanks for sharing your stories, your wisdom and your experiences. They hold lessons that I’ll be applying ever day in the New Year.
I really did.It was this guy, a canvasser for Save the Children:I answered the door because it was 15 degrees outside, and I figured a canvasser holding a clipboard must be awfully dedicated to something interesting to be out on a night like this.He was raising money for Save the Children. Little did he know who he was getting behind my door — a professional fundraiser who might actually end up blogging his visit. But he was friendly and open and not too freaked out when I told him I knew all about Save already, but what I really wanted to know was why they were doing fundraising via canvassing. He said because it worked wonderfully. Most of Save’s child sponsors sign up via canvassers, apparently. Save is focused on this approach, scaling back TV ads and other broad-brush, less effective means of getting recurring, monthly gifts — a great gift that pays off for their programs many times, over time. It didn’t hurt that he added my neighbors had donated, too.Made sense to me. I just gave him my credit card number and a year’s commitment of $28 monthly gifts to sponsor a child in Africa. Oh, and a copy of my book and a pitch about Network for Good too, of course. And I made him pose for a picture.The lesson? Nothing beats the personal touch. I say this all the time, and I’m a skeptical marketer, but even I can’t resist it. A nice guy going door to door to personally and earnestly ask me to help a girl in Africa on a very cold night was just too personally compelling to refuse. Really. I’ve politely hung up on half a dozen fundraising telemarketers in the past week and thrown away ten pieces of direct mail, but this was too hard to turn down. And more rewarding as a yes. Well done, Save the Children. I’m not saying you need to hire a group of canvassers like Save to do face-to-face appeals, but do try to make your asks more personal. Get your volunteers to spread the word to their neighborhood. Or to hand-write your donor thank-yous. Helping children? Include their drawings in your communications. Encourage your supporters to tell their friends and family members why they love you. Or at the very least, segment that mass email campaign according to some audience groups smaller than “everyone on my mailing list.”
Hello! Thanks for stopping by.Looking to kick your fundraising into high gear during this down economy?We’re here to help.Here are a few quick tips to reach – and exceed – your online fundraising and marketing goals:Sign up now to receive free fundraising tips delivered right to your inbox every week. We’ll even sneak free training opportunities in there, too. Sign up here.Get your feet wet with free online fundraising and email marketing trainings. Special-guest presenters lead calls twice a month (at least!). And, oh yes, they’re free, too. Let us show you around.Learn more about how the Web can bolster your fundraising efforts. Not raising money online yet? (Ah!) Still sending e-newsletters through Outlook? (Eek!) Scared to dive into the Internet for fundraising activities? (Yikes!) Check out a few options that will fit the bill and return an average of $25 for every $1 our customers invest. Get started here.Have questions? Contact the team here at Network for Good (we call them Charles, Velma, Ted, Dennis, Ben, Joe, Melissa, Benesha and Laura) any time:Send an email or give us a ring: 1.888.284.7978 ext. 1.