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.

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.

Thoughts on Managing an Online Strategy

I’ve always felt that many nonprofits’ tendency to work in silos gets in the way of having an effective online strategy, and interestingly this was the first item mentioned in Five Dysfunctions of a Digital Team, blogged recently by the Stanford Social Innovation Review.  In this follow up post Four Models for Managing Digital at Your Organization, a hybrid structure was recommended as combining the benefits of a centralized group with decentralized digital gurus throughout the organization, but with reminder that this is very challenging to implement.

I blogged about this issue a few years ago, commenting on a Convio report on Why Organization Structure Matters.  Now almost all nonprofits are online (especially with the continued buzz about social media), but few seem to have figured out the best formula for success.

My take – there is no magic solution.  What works in one organization may fail miserably in others.  Perhaps the best advice I can offer is to be clear about what you want to achieve online, and then encourage departments to work together to develop an integrated approach for online communications, marketing and fundraising.  A dedicated digital group can’t succeed if it operates in a silo.

Updated 10-27-11
The final installment of the Stanford Social Innovation Review series on digital strategy, 7 Patterns of Nonprofit Digital Teams is now available.  Also, the Nonprofit Benchmark Digital Teams Report can be downloaded free from Communicopia.

What’s New in ePhilanthropy

Most nonprofits are on Facebook now, but fewer are using Twitter well.  Read these 24 Twitter best practices, and 8 nonprofit Twitter superstars who especially do it well, led by Charity:Water, which I highlighted in a recent post.  Also, don’t make these seven Twitter mistakes.

If you’re trying to figure out how to use content curation to benefit your cause, Beth Kanter offers this great primer as well as Content and Curation for Nonprofits on Scoop.It!  New tools such as Storify and Paper.li also offer interesting ways to consolidate great content.  (But make sure you take the time to digest content you are curating.)

Not hearing as much lately about Google Plus even though it’s now open to the public, yet I keep receiving connection notices from people I don’t recognize.  Strange.

There’s no magic bullet for how to succeed in the nonprofit sector, but thanks to Big Duck and the Taproot Foundation for offering these suggestions.

Were you able to attend the recent Blackbaud Conference for Nonprofits or the Convio Summit?  Here’s some ways on how to live tweet from an event from M&R (but make sure you participate in the live discussion – some of my best insights are from Q&A that takes place at events)  Also, Frogloop offers these takeaways on What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know.

If you missed last week’s chat with Andy Goodman on story telling, you can still get the recording from Nten.  Unfortunately, Andy reminded us that many nonprofits are ‘great at what we do, but not good in talking about it.’

Finally, if you’re spending a bit too much time on social media, here’s an important reminder from Jocelyn Harmon – put your most important relationships first.

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.

What’s New in ePhilanthropy

For best results in ephilanthropy initiatives, I’ve always advocated for an active partnership between Communications and Development.   Here’s more reasons why from Kivi Leroux Miller,  If you’re not getting the type of response you want from your nonprofit e-newsletters, Kivi also offers a free 15 day e-newsletter course at her Nonprofit Marketing Guide website. which offers many simple tips you can easily implement.

The debate continues on the new Google Plus.  Beth Kanter offers her take, as does Frogloop and TNW Social Media.  I believe there may be a benefit to adding your contacts manually, as it forces us to give some thought of who should be in each ‘circle.’  According to the Huffington Post, nonprofits are wasting no time in kicking the tires of Google’s answer to Facebook.

If your organization is undergoing a major change (as most of us do sooner or later), Peter De Jager provides many great resources on change management at Technobility.  See also Chaos is the New Normal.

Learn about fundraising and emarketing in Blackbaud’s Summer School webinar series which starts this week and, if you’re in NYC, attend next week’s 501 Tech Club meeting featuring how to get started with WordPress (which this blog uses).

As a follow-up to last week’s post on How to Make Your Projects Successful, Ben Lichtenwalner offers his Inverted Pyramid of Project Success.

What’s New in ePhilanthropy

Attended an interesting session on email marketing and social media at the All About Email Virtual Conference and Expo yesterday, reviewing how these channels can be used to complement each other.  An important point – since you don’t ‘own’ information on Facebook and Twitter, it’s still important to build your own email list.  (Sessions were recorded and will be available for listening starting Mon, Nov. 15.)

While we’ve seen reports on social media and email marketing, there’s been little to guide nonprofits on website statistics until the new 2010 Website Benchmarks Report available from Groundwire.  Although the report focuses on small environmental organizations, its findings are useful for all nonprofits.

When deciding how to do fundraising, do you rely on data or on your own instinct.  Jeff Brooks in Future Fundraising Now suggests that you use facts and past experience as your guide.   And if you think that a multichannel approach to fundraising / marketing is something new, take a look at Hank Rosso’s classic Achieving Excellence in Fundraising, last revised in 2003 (see chapter on using the Internet as a fundraising vehicle).

If you still need help with your year end fundraising drive yet, get some help from Network from Good’s upcoming webinar as well as this tool from Blue State Digital which analyzes your Google Analytics data.  (Tip – don’t wait until the last week of 2010 to frantically prepare an appeal.)

Like to be on the cutting edge?  Try RockMelt, a soon to be released browser which integrates social media.

If you’re in NYC next week, attend the Foundation Center’s Open House on Tue, Nov. 16 and Nten‘s 501 Tech NYC meeting Wed evening, Nov. 17, which will feature Allyson Kapin, from Rad Campaign, Women Who Tech and lead blogger at Frogloop offering tips on nonprofit technology and social media.