Posts tagged ‘communications’

February 26, 2019

Inspired by Lady Gaga: 10 Ways to be a Fundraising Genius

You might never have heard of Stefani Germanotta. Yet, she is known internationally as a top recording artist, nine-time Grammy Award winner, social activist, and philanthropist. Following the 91st Academy Awards, we now also know her as an Oscar winner.

You, as her millions of fans around the world, likely know her better as Lady Gaga.

Jesse Desjardins, when he was Social Media Manager for Tourism Australia, recognized that Lady Gaga is more than a singer. He recognized that she is even more than an entertainment genius. He understood that marketing and public relations professionals could learn from her, so he put together an interesting PowerPoint presentation, “10 Ways to be a Marketing Genius Like Lady Gaga.” When I saw the slides, I believed that fundraising professionals could also learn a great deal from her. Thanks to permission from Desjardins, I’m able to share 10 useful insights with you.

1. Have an Opinion

“Gaga regularly speaks out on issues she feels strongly about. In doing so, she keeps herself in the public eye.”

By speaking out, Gaga makes certain no one forgets her. She remains relevant. She advances the issues that she finds important. She engages her fans.

Your organization has an important mission. Let supporters and potential supporters hear about it beyond those times that you ask for money. Stay in front of them. Remain relevant. Engage people year-round while advancing your organization’s mission. Communicate about issues relevant to your organization’s mission. Ask supporters to help in ways that don’t involve giving money (e.g., volunteer, call elected officials, etc.). Share information people will want and appreciate.

2. Leverage Social Media

“Gaga has worked tirelessly on accumulating over [78] million Twitter followers and [55] million Facebook fans.”

To put that into perspective, there are only five people on the planet who have more Twitter followers. In other words, tens of millions of people want to hear what Gaga has to say, and she says things people want to hear. She speaks to people where they are.

Today, people consume information in more ways than ever before, and how they do it varies by age group. You need to be where they are if you want your message heard. Understand the demographics of your supporters and potential supporters and learn what media they consume. Then, be there with relevant, meaningful information.

3. Be Different

“Differentiate wisely. There are too many normal people doing normal things. Show, don’t tell. You are extraordinary so show it.”

You’re not alone. Unless you work for an exceedingly rare charity, others have the same or similar mission as your organization. What makes your organization special? Why should people care about your organization instead of the others that do similar things? You need to address those questions if you want to capture hearts.

4. Don’t be Afraid to Make Lots of Money

“Being starving is not fun. If making a ridiculous amount of cash is what you want to do, go for it.”

If your organization relies on donations to fulfill its mission, don’t be shy about doing what it will take to get the funds your organization needs. Don’t be afraid to ask people for money. When people ask you what you do for a living, answer them with pride.

5. Give Your Fans Something to Connect With

“Gaga calls her fans Little Monsters and gives them a shared symbol. The official Little Monster greeting is the outstretched ‘monster claw’ hand. This allows fans to identify each other and connect.”

No, you don’t need to create a secret handshake for your supporters. However, you should create a sense of belonging. People would rather join a cause, a movement for change, than simply give money to a dusty institution. Provide people with easy ways to connect with you. Give them opportunities for meaningful engagement as a way to build connection.

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January 10, 2017

Here is One Word You Should Stop Using

Would you like to be a better writer?

Would you like to be a more effective public speaker?

Would you like to engage donors in conversations that are more meaningful?

I have some good news for you. Being a more successful communicator is easier than you think. Here is just one simple thing you can do immediately:

Stop using the word “very.”

A few weeks ago, Greta Vaitkeviciute, Advertising Manager at Altechna, shared the following terrific graphic on LinkedIn:

words-to-use-instead-of-very-via-greta-vaitkeviciute

Reviewing the graphic reminded me of a conversation I had with my editor when I was writing my book, Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing.

I confess that I was a frequent user of the word very. My editor called me on my lazy writing habit, and pointed out that very is a modifier that does not truly enhance the text. She went on to strike virtually all uses of the word from my draft manuscript. With some effort, I began to make the necessary edits. Soon, dropping very became second nature, much to the relief of my editor. I still included very in my book a number of times for tone and style. However, I used the modifier far less than I would have otherwise. As a result, my writing was much stronger, and I was able to communicate more effectively with my readers.

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July 19, 2013

Do You Make Any of These Mistakes When Speaking with Donors?

[PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Michael J. Rosen, CFRE will be presenting “How to Launch and Market a Planned Giving Program at Your Nonprofit,” a webinar for the Fundraising Authority on July 25. A podcast will be available following the webinar. To learn more and to register, click HERE.]

 

When you speak with prospects or donors, on the telephone or in person, do you know how to make the most of the conversation? Or, do you inadvertently make some mistakes that could be keeping you from securing greater levels of support for your organization?

Tripping Hazard Sign by Jeffrey Beall via FlickrBelow, you’ll find a number of common conversational missteps that fundraising professionals make all too often. See how many mistakes you make or avoid in a typical contact. If you manage to consistently avoid all of the potential problems that I identify, I congratulate you and encourage you to give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.

On the other hand, if you find you’re making some mistakes, don’t feel too badly. Just work on improving. Know that by practicing and doing better, you’ll engage more supporters and secure larger donations than ever before.

Here’s what got me thinking about how we communicate with prospects and donors: I recently received a telephone fundraising call made on behalf of a nonprofit theatre company. My wife and I have attended the theatre company’s performances and have donated money from time to time.

The call was TERRIBLE! But, I realized that the caller’s mistakes are not blunders limited to phone campaigns. The caller’s missteps can apply to any phone or in-person conversation:

Mistake 1 — Not Being Ready. When my phone rang, I answered it and said, “Hello.” Actually, I said “hello” two or three times before the caller finally came on the line. Based on experience, I knew that I was the recipient of a telemarketing call that utilizes predictive dialing technology. I was annoyed that I had to wait for the caller, even for just a second or two. Instead, he should have been ready and waiting for me.

When a prospect or donor is ready to talk to you, be ready to talk to him. If a supporter calls you, recognize that the call is not an interruption of your work; it is your work. While speaking with the person, look-up her record and quickly familiarize yourself with it.

If you are the one initiating the contact, prepare yourself in advance. Review the person’s record. If his name is difficult to pronounce, practice saying it. Know what you want to accomplish during the conversation.

Be ready. Stay focused and do not let yourself be distracted.

Mistake 2 — Not Obeying the Law. At the beginning of the phone conversation, the caller did not identify himself as a “professional solicitor,” as required by Pennsylvania law. While it’s possible I missed the disclosure statement, the caller should have been sure to mention his status and the name of the company employing him. And he should have done it in a clear fashion.

While a nonprofit organization’s fundraising staff does not have to identify themselves as “professional solicitors,” there are other laws that must be followed. For example, unless the organization is exempt, it must be registered to solicit in every state in which it is going to solicit. It’s not enough simply to register in one’s home state.

Comply with the law and make sure your organization does so as well.

Mistake 3 — Plowing Ahead. After introducing himself and mentioning the name of the theatre company, the caller plowed ahead with his pitch. He did not ask for my permission to proceed.

When calling a prospect or donor, greet her and request her permission to speak asking something like, “I’d like to speak with you for a few moments, is that ok?”

There are a number of potential benefits to asking permission to speak. First, rather than metaphorically barging into someone’s home or office, you’re seeking permission to enter. That’s just good manners.

Second, by asking permission to speak, you’ll distinguish your call from most “junk” calls someone will receive.

Third, by asking permission to speak, you give the other person a dimension of control that will make her feel more comfortable and at ease. In other words, she’ll be more receptive to what comes next.

Fourth, if you’ve called at a truly bad time, the person will not be receptive to the call. So, why plow ahead? At best, he’ll be distracted, or he might even become annoyed. Instead, if you ask permission to speak, you’ll find out if the person is able to focus on your conversation or not. If not, you can arrange an appointment to call back or visit at a more convenient time. And, when you do contact the person again, he’ll not only be receptive, he’ll appreciate your flexibility and follow-up.

My mother was right. Good manners are important.

Practice good manners.

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June 28, 2013

It’s Not Just What You Say, But How You Say It

I learned a long time ago, as a development professional, that having a great case for support is nearly meaningless unless you also develop compelling messaging.

Later, when attending the Association of Fundraising Professionals Faculty Training Academy, the workshop leader made this same point in the context of making presentations. The AFP/FTA takes good speakers and turns them into the best.

Unfortunately, a great many nonprofit organizations continue to send the same dull, institutional-focused direct mail that prospects easily bypass in the paper shuffle. Charities continue to make uninspiring calls, publish informative articles few read, run ads that donors will only glance at and soon forget.

GCheeseiven the pressures we face in our daily lives and the enormous demands on our time, I understand first-hand how simple it can be to take the easy way. Knowing the content of our message is important, we’re sometimes lulled into the belief that that is enough to make the message compelling.

Well, it’s usually not. It’s not just what you say, but how you say it that counts.

Let’s step away from the nonprofit sector for an example that will make what I’m suggesting crystal clear.

My wife and I are foodies. We live in Philadelphia, a fantastic restaurant city. We’re choosey about where we eat. And we’re even pickier about which restaurant email lists we subscribe to. However, like I said, we’re foodies. So, we’ve ended up on a lot of restaurant email lists, though just the good ones.

Recently, my wife received an email from Tria, a wine, cheese, and beer café that we enjoy. It read, in part:

Cheese, Please

With due respect to our current cheese menu, variety is the spice of life. We’re introducing a brand new list of summer fromage that we’re excited to brag about share with you.

Announcing! The Tria Spring Cheese Menu

Out with the old list, in with the new. Starting today, we’ll be replacing every single cheese on our menu with a new alternate for the summer. No, we aren’t throwing out tons of delicious cheese (the horror!) from our current list – as one is finished, a new one will take over the former’s place on the menu. Pop by and scout out the arrival of a new ultra-creamy Crottin-style cheese from Georgia, a funky thistle-rennet cheese from Spain that redefines luscious, the best cheddar in the world, and much much more. We promise drool-worthy images on our Twitter and Instagram feeds as the curds switch up.

When: Today through the rest of the summer

Where: Tria Rittenhouse and Tria Wash West”

You can see the full message here. 

Tria used humor to capture our attention, and great descriptions that engaged our senses to hold on to our attention. The message also gave us important information about the new offering including when and where we can find it.

The café could have imparted the same core information far more simply. Tria could have said:

Tria has begun offering its summer cheese menu. Visit our Rittenhouse or Wash West location to try the new cheese selection.”

Both messages impart the same basic information and address the what, when, where questions. However, there is no doubt that the original message is far more engaging and, therefore, far more effective.

My wife, also a development professional, agrees on this point. She liked the email so much, she took the unusual step of sending this response:

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March 22, 2013

Pope Francis Gets It. Do You?

I know that you may be wondering, “Why is a nice, Jewish guy writing about the Pope?”

Pope Francis greets the public. By Catholic Churches (England and Wales) via Flickr

Pope Francis greets the public.

Let me explain.

First, I believe that we all can learn something — sometimes, many things — from anyone.

Second, Pope Francis clearly understands branding, managing one’s image, living one’s mission, communicating effectively, engaging others, and maintaining a good sense of humor.

While the new Pope can certainly teach any number of lessons about religion and morality, I want to focus on what nonprofit managers and development professionals can learn from the new Pontiff.

Here are six things you can learn from Pope Francis that will help you do a more effective job for your nonprofit organization:

Know Your Brand. Pope Francis understands his brand. He is a Jesuit priest. The Order’s founding document, written by Ignatius of Loyola, calls on all Jesuits to take a vow of perpetual chastity, poverty and obedience. Through his lifestyle, public remarks, and image, the Pope has demonstrated his commitment to the principles outlined by the founder of the Society of Jesus (the religious order known as Jesuits).

Effective nonprofit managers and development professionals know they must carefully craft and manage their institutional and personal brands. We must have a mission, understand the mission and be able to convey that understanding to others.

Live Your Brand. Long before being elected the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, Pope Francis lived his brand. For example, as a Cardinal in Argentina, he lived in a modest apartment rather than the more elegant, suburban Bishop’s residence. He used public transportation to get around. He cooked his own meals. In other words, he did not simply create a superficial public image. He created and lived a lifestyle. He lived authentically.

His authenticity continues. After the conclave elected him Pope, he took the name of Francis of Assisi explaining it this way, according to The New Yorker:

I will tell you the story. During the election, I was seated next to the Archbishop Emeritus of São Paolo and Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Cláudio Hummes—a good friend, a good friend! When things were looking dangerous, he encouraged me. And when the votes reached two-thirds, there was the usual applause, because the Pope had been elected. And he gave me a hug and a kiss, and said, ‘Don’t forget the poor!’ And those words came to me: the poor, the poor. Then, right away, thinking of the poor, I thought of Francis of Assisi.”

Later, Pope Francis returned to his hotel to checkout of his room. He chose to take the bus rather than the Papal car. He was the new Pope, but he was also still the priest who rides the bus.

Nonprofit managers and development professionals must be authentic. We need to be true to brand identity and mission. It is not enough simply to pretend to be a certain way. Authenticity earns the public trust that generates and maintains support.

For example, there are charities that efficiently use donated funds to achieve their missions. However, there are also nonprofits or non-governmental organizations that squander contributed resources while still others are simply scams. On the surface, all may appear worthy of support. In reality, the authentic charities that operate with integrity are best positioned for long-term success on all fronts.

Manage Your Image. When addressing the public, Pope Francis reportedly ignored prepared remarks written by his would-be handlers. Instead, he spoke for himself, off the cuff. For example, he spoke of his desire for “a church that is poor and for the poor.” Beyond choosing his own words, the new Pope also chose to wear a plain white cassock instead of formal Papal robes. When first introduced to the public, he wore a simple wooden cross rather than a gold one such as those worn by his predecessors.

Nonprofit managers and development professionals need to carefully manage their own image as well as the image of their organization. Leaving our images to chance simply puts our organizations and us at risk. We must exert effort to effectively and appropriately manage our images and those of our organizations. It’s part of a sound communications strategy. Remember the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

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