What’s New in ePhilanthropy

Among the many tips offered at Friday’s session on Facebook Tactics That Get Results offered by M&R Strategic Services and Nten was the reminder that very few Facebook fans will visit your page – they will mostly see your posts in their newsfeed.  (So why invest in expensive custom Facebook tabs?)  Surprisingly, you are penalized for posting from third party services such as Tweetdeck and HootSuite (read more on why these posts are less likely to appear in your newsfeed then if you post directly on Facebook).

How do you get more engagement – i.e. likes and comments, which will give your posts more visibility?  Use different types of content, including photos and videos, and ask constituents to take a specific action – especially those that will result in providing their email address so you can build your list.  (Did you know that you lose 18% of your list each year through unsubscribes and email addresses that no longer work?).

Idealware offers help on measuring your results on social media and Frogloop advises on how well as how you can manage data across multiple channels.  Jocelyn Harmon offers some simple advice on why constituents don’t donate.

Many nonprofits rely heavily on volunteers, yet their importance has often been overshadowed by those of lucky to have ‘paid’ work.  LinkedIn now offers a section to highlight volunteer experience and causes, which will help nonprofits to find its most loyal supporters.

Sept. 11 was a sad day, marking a decade since we lost almost three thousand people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.  What can nonprofits learn when the unthinkable happens?  Here are some lessons and another view of the effect on nonprofits as we recover from a very emotional day yesterday.  Ten years ago, I worked for Cross-Cultural Solutions, which was able to help to coordinate recovery efforts in NYC after the horrible event.

Report from NYC 501 Tech Club

Attended another enlightening NYC 501 Tech Club meeting last night, featuring mobile text messaging.  Speakers included Katrin Verclas of MobileActive, Jed Alpert of MobileCommons and DoSomething‘s George Weiner.

First, we were treated to a summary of 10 take-aways from South by Southwest for Nonprofits by Matt Koltermann of Cross-Cultural Solutions, an international volunteerism organization which I served as Director of IT and Internet Strategy from 2000-2003.  Matt’s comments echoed many thoughts I shared in this blog, such as the importance of cross-channel brand / message consistency and how segmentation of constituents allows your organization to utilize a targeted communicated strategy (i.e. don’t send everything to everyone).

Katrin reviewed the recent 2010 Nonprofit Text Messaging Benchmarks report and explained the importance of not only sharing stories, but looking at real data.    Clearly mobile outreach isn’t right for all organizations – it’s still a bit challenging to setup, is subject to strict rules on how it can be done, and donations are limited to either $5 or $10.  And in response to my question, mobile strategy isn’t only for nonprofits that are advocacy focused, but for any nonprofit that has a ‘forward thinking’ communications department.  At least until it becomes more widespread, mobile is still a great way to get someone’s attention quickly for a pressing issue;  emails often don’t get read and are buried in a flood of other messages.

Jed emphasized that mobile doesn’t supplant other types of messaging, but is best implemented as part of an integrated communications campaign , not as a standalone strategy (hmmm – seems like I’ve said this before).  He also added that supporters that receive a text message after email are 77% more likely to donate.  Interestingly, it was also pointed out that since many of us use mobile phones to check Facebook and Twitter, a nonprofit doesn’t necessarily have to do SMS messaging to reach constituents by phone – even if you don’t have their mobile number.

George provided a different perspective for his organization, which is clearly targeted towards encouraging young people to volunteer.  While this is a noble objective, it was a bit worrisome when an audience member’s question was responded by ‘you’re not in our target audience.’  (She pointed out that she had nieces and nephews that were in their target audience.)  While it’s true that you can’t build a web site that will appeal to all constituents, this might be taking things a bit too far.

Thanks to event organizers Charles Lenchner, Thomas Negron and Farra Trompeter.  If you’re coming to Atlanta next month for the Nonprofit Technology Conference, be sure to join the NYC 501 Tech group for a get together on April 8.

More from Summit: Fundraising in the 21st Century

As promised, below are my notes from Andrew Nibley’s presentation, EDonors: Fundraising in the 21st Century, from Monday’s Westchester Not-For-Profit Leadership Summit:

To maximize exposure of your nonprofit’s web site, use search engine optimization techniques.  (While this function is often handled by marketing, I handled this area while working as IT Director at Cross-Cultural Solutions.)  This should be a part of every web site redesign.

Manysite visitors don’t realize the difference between organic search engine results (which result from search engines analyzing content on your web site) and sponsored links, where organizations pay for their site to show up when relevant searches are done (even though sponsored links are usually clearly marked in Google’s results).

Promote your web site address everywhere: email signatures, offline materials, brochures, ads etc.

‘Share a story’ that relates to your mission, with photos if possible – and invite site visitors to submit their own stories.

Important content on your web site should be no more than three clicks away; this becomes especially difficult as the amount of site content increases.

When someone finds your web site, visitor registration should be top priority so you get their email address.  Don’t ask for anything more than email address.  Too many required fields will discourage visitors from completing registration.

Use information about your donors to customize web site and email blast content.  (I’ve often heard vendors encourage this, but seems like many organizations aren’t able to make it happen.)  It’s helpful, for example, to customize donation forms based on a donor’s previous giving history.  Papilia has an interesting approach to this.

Search for your organization on sites like MySpace and YouTube to learn whether your organization is listed.  Use these mediums to supplement what is on your web site since many constituents may look there first.  Similarly, find out what’s on Wikipedia and, if necessary, get someone outside of your organization to update the entry.

Andrew also suggested participating in social networks, such as Care2, Gather, LinkedIn and Eons (the 55 & older population are the fastest growing group of Internet users).