Posts tagged ‘engagement’

April 19, 2013

16 Tips for Crafting a Powerful Postcard Campaign

As you might imagine, I regularly receive direct mail appeals from many charities. Most of them are truly “junk mail.” After a quick glance, I quickly deposit the junk appeals into the recycling bin where they will do much more good than their intended purpose.

JFGP Postcard (front, back)

JFGP Postcard (click for larger image)

Occasionally, I’ll receive a mailing that captures my attention, for the right reasons. Even more rarely, I’ll find something in my mailbox that is worthy of sharing with you. Earlier this month, I found just such a piece.

The postcard mailing from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia arrived shortly before the Passover and tied into the holiday. This post contains an image of the front and back of the postcard so you can see it for yourself. Federation did a great job with the piece. So, let me take a few moments to share some tips we all can learn from it:

1. Get rid of the envelope. One of the greatest challenges with direct mail is getting people to open the envelope. They won’t get your message unless they do. If you can get your message across in a way that does not require a full mailing package, you can overcome this challenge by simply doing away with the envelope altogether. Federation’s postcard mailing has done exactly that.

2. Employ a pattern interrupt. Another challenge with direct mail involves figuring out ways to engage the recipient so they spend more than two seconds with the piece before tossing it into the trash. When most folks go through their mail, they quickly look for the fun stuff and bills. People quickly weed-out what appears to be junk.

So, how did Federation disrupt the typical mail-sorting pattern? They did it with two very different photos on the front of an odd-sized postcard. While speedily going through my mail, I noticed an old-fashioned, sepia-tone photo of an older couple on the postcard. Beside it, there was a contemporary color picture of a cute, young child eating matzo. The postcard got me to ask, “Huh, what’s this about?”

In other words, Federation caught my attention by being unusual and by presenting contrasting photographs. They knocked me out of my normal mail-sorting pattern.

3. Make it easy to read. By printing black type on a white background, Federation provides strong contrast that makes reading easier. While reverse type was used — something I normally do not approve of — it was used sparingly and with a larger serif font ensuring easy readability.

4. Keep the message brief but impactful. In about 50 words, I learned that Mr. and Mrs. Schweig had passed away long ago. However, I also learned they had contributed to Federation. Most compellingly, I discovered that their generous support would feed 1,500 community members in need during Passover.

The generosity of the Schweigs impressed me. The depth of the community need surprised me. The organization really had my attention.

5. Engage the reader. I was already engaged with the postcard when the photos caught my attention and I read the pithy message on the front of the card. However, the card engaged me further with a simple question: “What will your legacy be?” By asking the reader a question, you can get them to stop and think.

6. Provide more details. On the address-side of the postcard, the reader is told that Mr. and Mrs. Schweig made their gift through a bequest. Providing additional details and telling people where they can get even more information will satisfy all readers and their individual levels of curiosity.

7. Demonstrate impact. Donors want to make a difference. Whether they give to the annual fund or make a planned gift commitment, people want to know that their support will have a positive impact. They want to know that their donations will be used efficiently to help the organization fulfill its mission.

This postcard shows how the support of past donors is being put to good use. The implied messages are: We wisely use the support from past donors to help the community. We can help you to have a positive, high-impact as well.

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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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September 14, 2012

How Would You Like to Win a Free Cookie?

The job of every nonprofit development professional is to build solid relationships.

That’s what distinguishes fundraising from begging. The more engaged prospective donors are, the far more likely they will be to become supporters. The stronger the relationship with donors, the more likely they will be to give again and give more.

In the performing arts world, effective engagement is also important because, in addition to the performance product, it can lead to ticket sales.

The development and marketing people at A Noise Within Theater Company in Pasadena, California understand the importance of solid engagement and strong relationships. They also understand the power of a tasty cookie.

Let me just make two points perfectly clear:

 

  1. I’m not talking about just any cookie. I’m talking about a delicious cookie from Wildflour Bakery in Sierra Madre.
  2. I’m not the one awarding the free cookie. The creative minds at A Noise Within Theater Company are making the offer.

 

Antony and Cleopatra, 2012

The Company’s “mission is to produce world-class performances of the great works of drama in rotating repertory with a resident company; to educate and inspire the public through programs that foster an understanding and appreciation of history’s great plays and playwrights; and to train the next generation of classical theatre artists.”

You might think that a theater company that performs the classics would be dull and stuffy. But, you’d be wrong if you thought that about this Company. While the Company’s performances are rooted in the classics, its marketing is 21st century. You’ll find the Company on:

The Company’s new website has recently launched. On September 6, the Company made this announcement on its Facebook wall:

The WEBSITE is LIVE! While we are still in ‘Preview Mode’ we encourage you to go exploring! In fact, each [Facebook] fan who finds a new TYPO gets a certificate for a FREE COOKIE the next time they’re at the theater! Email marketing[at]anoisewithin.org to submit your typos and enjoy the new Website!”

This isn’t stuffy at all.

Rather than hiding from potential mistakes, the Company has boldly announced there may indeed be typos on its website. They revealed their interest in hunting down those typos. They engaged the public in a fun, and possibly rewarding, copyediting exercise. They encouraged the public to not just visit the website; they invited folks to spend time there actually reading.

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July 22, 2011

9 Fundraising Tips You Can Learn from a Savvy 7-year-old

Like Art Carey, a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, summertime might conjure images for you of a lemonade stand out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Carey recently wrote about a variation on that image. He told of his encounter with 7-year-old LilyRuth Mamary who operates a mobile lemonade stand in suburban Philadelphia along with her 11-year-old sister, HannahRose.

The Mamary sisters charge $1 a cup, provide complimentary cookies, and donate all of the money to the SPCA. I think the story primarily caught my attention because, when I was eight-years-old, I began my fundraising career by donating the money I generated from my own lemonade stand to a local charity. But, it also interested me because I recognized some lessons that all fundraisers can learn from the Mamary sisters. So, here’s what you can learn from a 7-year-old and an 11-year-old:

Mission. LilyRuth explained why she wants to raise money for the SPCA, “If I could raise some money, that would really help animals, and they might get adopted and then another animal and another person would be happy.” It’s a pretty simple statement. It’s not fancy. It wasn’t crafted by a strategic-planning consultant. But, it very clearly says what LilyRuth is striving for. It explains her intended outcome. It drives her passion and efforts. Everyone involved in fundraising needs to work for an organization with a powerful, meaningful, clear mission statement. And, everyone in the organization needs to know the mission statement. By the way, if you have to explain the mission statement to someone, it’s not a good mission statement.

Passion. LilyRuth and HannahRose are passionate about animals. They each have adopted a kitten from shelters. The family also owns two dogs that also came from shelters. For the past five years, the sisters have also volunteered about once a month at local SPCAs and animal shelters. Their passion for the cause comes through when they talk with their customers. Fundraisers need to be passionate about the causes they work for. Prospective donors, in part, will take into account your passion when evaluating whether your organization is worthy of their support. One way to demonstrate your passion is to donate to the cause for which you work. The Mamary sisters aren’t just satisfied with raising money for a good cause; they’ve “donated” their home to four animals in need.

Mobilize.The sisters could have set-up a traditional lemonade stand in the comfort of their own front yard. Instead, they thought they could do more business by loading their lemonade on to a wagon and taking it to an area park frequented by dog walkers and joggers. As a result, business is booming. Fundraisers need to make it easy for donors and prospects to find them. You also need to think of creative ways to spread your message. Are you using social networking services like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, just to name a few? Are you asking donors to refer prospective supporters? Are you getting out in public and talking up your cause? Like the Mamary sisters, get out there.

Photo by Moyan Brenn via Flickr

Appreciation. The sisters don’t just sell lemonade; they give their customers complimentary cookies as kind of a thank-you. What a nice surprise. Who doesn’t like cookies? What nice things are you doing to show your appreciation to your donors? Thank your donors appropriately (see last week’s blog post about thank-you letters). Also, think of creative ways you can recognize donors for their support beyond simple thank-you letters.

Quality. The sisters don’t serve lemonade from a can or carton. Their lemonade is made from organic lemon juice, real sugar, and water. It’s a quality product that shows respect for their customers. Quality counts. Fundraisers need to present a quality image in everything they do. That means looking neat and tidy when meeting prospects and donors. It means not having any spelling errors in your direct mail letters. It means producing high-impact results. You get the idea. Donors have plenty of choices of where they can give their money. Earn their trust and support by ensuring quality in all things.

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