What’s New in ePhilanthropy

According to the recently released 2012 Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report, the nonprofits that have been most successful have a clear strategy for social media, management support and have dedicated social media staff.   The average size of an organization’s Facebook (8,317) and Twitter (3,290) communities continues to grow yet few nonprofits are raising funds from social media.  Download your free copy.

(To kick start fundraising results, it will be interesting to see if development departments start to play a larger part in managing social networks – currently it’s usually marketing / communication that’s in charge.)

If you decide to go outside your organization for social media help, ask these 7 questions to anyone you’re considering hiring.  (My take – it’s always preferable to assign this work to a staff person who is more familiar with your nonprofit.)  And here are 10 things you may be doing wrong with social media.

Have you noticed the larger photos on Facebook’s mobile application?  Wonder where they got this idea (see new kid on the block Pinterest).

Blackbaud’s webinar series today included an important reminder that work on your website doesn’t stop after the redesign.  Websites must continue to evolve and most importantly,.must always have fresh content to keep your constituents coming back.  Need ideas?  Here are 58 ways to create great content.

In addition to checking out how your website looks on phones, how about tablets?  See 11 Nonprofit Websites That Look Great on iPads.  And what about your email messages?  Here’s how to optimize mail for mobile phones.

Finally, if you don’t have a specific campaign to recruit monthly donors, read this.

ePhilanthropy Highlights from eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, 501TechNYC Meeting

Attemded a webinar today highlighting the recently released 2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study. authored by M&R Strategic Services and the Nonprofit Technology Network.  Some interesting takeaways:

  • The average email open rate has ‘steadied’ at 14% (is this supposed to be good?) but some nonprofits get better results by segmentation, localization & personalization.
  • While mobile devices accounted for 15-20% of email opens, those who read email on phones are less likely to click thru and take action.  But it can also help if the email is formatted to look good on a small screen.  Here’s tips on how to do it.
  • The Red Cross demonstrated why segmentation doesn’t have to be difficult, identifying donors by monthly, institutional, emergency, lapsed and non-donors.
  • Monthly donors constantly outperformed other segments.  (For a great example of a nonprofit that realizes this, take a look at City Harvest Rescue Partners campaign that specifically asks for monthly gifts.)
  • While segmentation can improve email results, it will make even more of a difference if you prepare great content – as well as an engaging subject line.

Tonight I attended the monthly 501 Tech NYC get-together, which featured a capacity crowd at the NYC Foundation Center to hear takeaways from the recent Nonprofit Technology Conference.  Would you believe 10 presenters offered mini-versions of their event sessions?  Some highlights:

  • US Fund for Unicef‘s Porter Mason stressed the neglected art of AB testing – emails, web pages, social media posts and added that ‘coding links must become normal practice.’  Take a look at WhichTestWon to test your instincts on what works best.
  • Big Duck‘s Farra Trompeter (recently honored with a Community Award at the Nonprofit Tech Conference) offered an interesting flow chart approach to Is It Time to Rethink Your Website.  Important reminder – the work doesn’t end when your new website is rolled out, it’s an ongoing task.
  • Causevox‘s Rob Wu finished the evening with tips on how to tell compelling stories, e.g. don’t talk about your organization, talk about your cause and your supporters.  Also, get everyone involved – not only the marketing / communications folks.

If you weren’t able to attend today’s events, make sure you download the eNonprofit Benchmarks Study and follow our 501 Tech NYC group on Facebook to stay informed.

What’s New in ePhilanthropy

Ready or not, the new Facebook timeline will be rolled out on March 30.  Find out what’s new from John Haydon, Beth Kanter, Heather Mansfield, Mari Smith and attend this upcoming free webinar from CharityHowto. My reminder – most fans interact with your Facebook content through the news feed.  Make sure you include posts to direct them to your new Timeline page.

Don’t have a mobile friendly website yet?  Here’s why you should (and more) and here’s a resource to help you get started.  Here’s a free webinar Feb. 22 on 6 Best Practices to Follow While Developing Your Mobile Strategy.  I’ll also be speaking on this topic Feb. 23 at the Foundation Center in NYC.

Have you jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon yet?  Here’s what nonprofits should know – and be careful about possible copyright issues.  If you do jump in, read some ways to make your nonprofit pinteresting?

It’s back to the basics with 4 Ways to Get More Clicks on Your Online Donation Button (e.g. make sure site visitors can find it), Tips on How to Write Headlines (for web pages, email content etc.) and How You Can Drastically Improve Your Call to Action.

Do you manage website(s) for a nonprofit in NYC?  Join the Not- for-Profit Webmaster Round Table – it’s always a lively discussion and you’ll get great ideas to bring back to your organization.  Our next quarterly meeting will be in June.

What’s New in ePhilanthropy

This week’s torrent of news centered around Susan B. Komen’s decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood, the torrent of outrage which eventually caused them to reverse their decision.  What’s even more amazing is that Planned Parenthood supporters stepped in to make up the loss by special contributions, similar to in the past when funding was taken away.  Congratulations to Planned Parenthood for quickly activating their dedicated constituents;  shame to Komen for ruining its branding with such a poorly thought out decision.

So Facebook is going public.  How will this affect its relationship with its many devotees, which is expected to increase to 1 BILLION later this year?  It’s a bit sad that Convio, not long after going public, agreed to be acquired by its long term competitor, Blackbaud, apparently to take advantage of a financial windfall.  (Also see my recent blog post.)  It will be interesting to watch the path Facebook follows once its loyalties move mostly to its shareholders.

Pinterest seems to be very popular lately.  Have you used it yet?  With all the social media tools available, Small Act (via my friend Shana Masterson) suggests you choose carefully how many you can manage.  (I’m posting regularly on Twitter and Facebook, but less so on LinkedIn and Google Plus so far, trying to find content which is appropriate to each platform.)

After they donate or take the actions you request, do you make sure to thank your donors? Here are some tips from Guidestar and a quiz from Network for Good.

Are you getting good response from your email marketing efforts?  Use these 7 tips for appeals and also 5 Best Practices for Increasing Email Subscribers Engagement.  (And go here if you need help in getting them to sign up to receive your emails.)

Thinking about getting a tablet, such as the iPad or Kindle Fire?  Here’s a good article to read first.

Blackbaud Will Buy Convio – My Thoughts

Having watched many nonprofit vendors combine over the years, I probably shouldn’t be surprised by this week’s news that Blackbaud intends to acquire Convio.  But since the companies have taken such different paths with contrasting cultures, it’s hard to imagine that a merger will go smoothly and provide significant benefits to nonprofit customers.

Blackbaud’s most popular product has long been Raiser’s Edge, which provides unmatched functionality but is also beyond the financial reach of many small to medium nonprofits.  Despite efforts recently to make it more web based, RE is still primarily locally installed.  Of course Blackbaud has bought many other companies over the years which provide web options, such as eTapestryKintera, and PIDI, so many that it’s often hard to know how the multiple products all fit together.

In addition to its foundation online marketing platform (now Luminate), Convio took a significant risk by developing Common Ground, a web application built on Salesforce.  While Common Ground offers much less functionality than software like Raiser’s Edge, it offers the strong advantage of being able to connect well with other products due to its Salesforce infrastructure.  (Integration between platforms has been a major issue at every nonprofit I’ve worked for.)

While Blackbaud has been most active in acquisitions, let’s not forget that Convio also bought GetActive – and the transition of GetActive customers to the Convio platform was long and painful.

As many of my colleagues have said this week, it’s hard to know how this acquisition will pan out, and which products will continue to be maintained.  I have friends at both Blackbaud and Convio, and I can only hope that the inevitable personnel shakeup will be handled respectfully.

In my view, this merger may have the effect of reducing competition and innovation, which is always a bad thing.  However, this may also be a wake up call for those organizations who have not discovered the benefits of using open source solutions which are not tied to the fate of a particular vendor.

If you’re on the Progressive Exchange and Nten email lists, I encourage you to read the comments of my colleagues Peter CampbellMichelle Murrain, Robert Weiner , Allen Gunn on Aspiration Tech and Alyson Kapin’s on Frogloop.  Also see Nten’s take and then join the free Nten conference call this Wednesday to further sort out what is likely to come next.

Have You Seen These Recent ‘Top 10’ Lists for Nonprofits?

Apparently, like many of us start off a new year by making resolutions, so should nonprofits.  Recently I’ve noticed many top ten lists, focusing on online fundraising, communications and technology.  Kivi Leroux Miller’s offered 10 Changes to Make in 2012, Network for Good published 10 Resolutions to Make (and Keep) for Online Fundraising and Marketing Success in 2012, and Convio provided 10 Ways to Kick Start 2012 Fundraising.

My favorite takeaways (mentioned in many of these lists):

  • Examine how your website and email communications read on mobile phones and tablets.  This is how more of your constituents are accessing your content now
  • You don’t have to recreate the wheel.  Our nonprofit colleagues are incredibly generous with their knowledge.  Learn from other people (like Beth Kanter or Nancy Schwartz) and organizations (like Nten and Idealware) that offer multiple resources to help your nonprofit succeed online (and off)
  • Learn more about your supporters by analyzing information you probably already have: website statistics, email analytics, registration forms, polls / surveys – then use this data to better segment your communications

But as Kivi said during her webinar that described her recommendations in detail, it’s not enough to just read or listen to these suggestions.  What will you do this month to apply these ideas at your organization?

More Highlights from 5 Years of Nonprofit Bridge

More blasts from past posts from Nonprofit Bridge:

How a nonprofit is organized can greatly impact its online success.  From mid-2008, here’s Building a Successful Online Team.  In mid-2009, I followed up with a review of Convio‘s study on Why Organization Structure Matters.  Then in early 2011, I offered this Job Description for an Integrated Fundraising / Communications Position.

For more advice on digital strategy, read Tips for Online Success and How to Succeed Online – Even When You Think You Can’t.  It’s always worthwhile to learn from those who are doing it well in Practical Examples of Cross-Channel Success.

Website redesign is often a challenging process.  Here’s some Reasons Why (and Why Not) to Do a Website Redesign, and some additional tips.

Creating great content is key to engaging constituents.  Learn How to Develop Content Your Constituents Will Want to Read, how to Develop a Content Strategy and then What Content to Put in Each Channel.

Most nonprofits need to partner with companies who provide hosted software.  Here’s how to get the most of the relationship in Tips in Selecting and Working With an Online Vendor.

Do you give and attend webinars?  Here’s tips on how to present and how to get the most from participating in online events.

Finally, the hottest topics now are social media and mobile / tablets.  Read Insights into Developing a Social Media Strategy and my take last year on the New World of Mobile.

Thank you again for following my thoughts on the intersection of technology, communications and development for nonprofit organizations.

Reviewing 5 Years at Nonprofit Bridge

Next month will mark my fifth year since beginning my blog at Nonprofit Bridge.  Since my first post on Jan 23, 2007, I’ve expanded my focus well beyond technology and providing a place for ‘positive thoughts.’  Below is part 1 of my favorite posts (to be continued next week):

More highlights from past posts next week.  Meanwhile, thank you for reading my thoughts for the past five years.  I wish you a wonderful 2012!

How To Make Your Nonprofit Multi-Channel

Why is it so difficult for nonprofits to implement a multi-channel communications / fundraising strategy, even though integrated campaigns have been proven to outperform single channel approaches?  In the Agitator, Roger Craver says the main problem is silos, where departments operate separately from each other – even though this is directly opposite from how most constituents view an organization.

This point was driven home a few days later during a webinar by Convio and HJC on How Nonprofits Become Integrated Fundraising Organizations, which offered these tips on how a nonprofit learn to take advantage of the benefits of a multi-channel approach?

  1. Getting buy-in from senior management
  2. Planning / investing in systems and process to encourage departments to cooperate instead of compete
  3. Remove silos from teams and departments so they naturally collaborate towards mutually developed goals
When I asked why this going multi-channel is so difficult, HJC’s Mike Johnston replied ‘inertia – nonprofits are used to doing things the way they always have.’  Interestingly, smaller organizations may find it easier to create a culture where integration takes place.

My take: start by using an integrated editorial calendar which includes upcoming direct mail solicitations, email marketing campaigns, website updates, social media etc. Beth Kanter offers this way to get started (thanks to Lightbox Collaborative)  This will at least avoid the embarrassment of saying different things in different channels.  Then, make sure results are measured for an overall campaign instead of by department or by type of outreach.  Constituents use many ways to communicate;  it’s about time we did the same.

For a great primer on how to effectively use different communication channels together, view slides from Idealware’s recent webinar.

What’s New in ePhilanthropy

If you’ve been wondering when you can build your nonprofit page on Google+, now’s the time.  Heather Mansfield offers help on How to Create a Google+ Page For Your Nonprofit. Also view this video by John Haydon.  Here’s Beth Kanter’s take.  But the jury is still out on whether Google+ pages will prove to be as popular as Facebook pages.

Frustrated trying to keep up to date with Facebook?  Get help in John’s Tactical Guide to Recent Facebook Changes and sign up for next month’s bi-monthly Facebook features update from Common Knowledge.

Planning to roll out a new website with Drupal?  Have you already launched, but finding it difficult to manage how to manage content edits and approvals?  Join Michelle Misner and I on Nov. 29 to learn How the NYPL Successfully Project Managed a New Drupal Website.  (It’s free if you’re a Nten member!).

Speaking of Nten, I’ve just signed up for next spring’s annual Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Francisco.  Please register now to lock in the lowest rate.  It’s always the premier event of the year for the #nptech community.

It’s year-end fundraising season again.  Get a jump start by reviewing Farra Trompeter’s online fundraising tips, Convio’s How to Get Your Holiday Appeals Opened and Jeff Brooks’ reminder to Avoid Common Fundraising Mistakes, e.g. remembering that you are not your donor.  And of course, don’t forget to plan a multi-channel campaign.

If you’re in NYC, join us at next week’s 501 Tech NYC event;  this month we’ll chat about Google for Nonprofits.  Also if you manage a nonprofit website, sign up for the next quarterly gathering of the Not-for-Profit Webmaster Round Table, planned for mid-December.