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4 things we need to learn from the #nomakeupselfie phenomenon

nomakeupselfiePart 1. Successful mass participation relies on behavioural insight

I’m sure you’re aware of campaigns that started with the intention of “going viral”; if you haven’t worked on one. I know I have. It never works.

They fail because they try to force-feed the public with a key message, or get people to do an activity that’s somehow ‘relevant’ to their cause. But asking people to alter their behaviour is a big request. Only your die-hard supporters love you enough to do that – and that normally means it’s not enough people to form a critical mass. (more…)

You like me

What’s not to like about our donors?

Sally Field is almost as famous for her 1985 Academy Award-acceptance speech for Places in the Heart as she is for her entire acting career: “I can’t deny the fact that you like me,” she gushed. “Right now, you like me.”

Flash forward to 2013 and thanks to Facebook, we all get a chance to be Sally Field on our very own stage nearly every day. (more…)

A DIY workshop for lead conversion: Do try this at home!

In February I met with fundraisers in Amsterdam to brainstorm how we could engage our various supporter relationships (‘leads’ or prospects) to move them to become donors to our organizations.

And while I suspect that most came to the session “Turning Likes into Cash” to hear the closely held secret to raising donors via social media (spoiler: there isn’t one), I would like to think that most participants left with at least one practical idea that they didn’t have before the session. (more…)

Don’t forget your pen: Do’s and don’ts of digital fundraising

I spent my entire summer in a summer course studying digital innovation with a bunch of 19-20 year old university undergrads. Apart from making me feel very, very old, they also taught me a few very valuable lessons.

Watching them all getting writers cramps one by one during the written exam – which at the LSE is a deliciously 20th century style affair done by pen and paper – taught me the most valuable lesson of all: It is dangerous to abandon your analogue skills even in a digital world. (more…)

Dear Fundraiser: What, exactly, is Your “Product”?

I’ve been reading Peter Drucker lately.  In case you don’t know, Peter Drucker was one of the first management gurus of the 50’s, and one of the most influential of all times.  As Mr. Drucker got older, he turned his talents to nonprofits, first opening a foundation for nonprofit management, and then donating his own time and energy to the social sector. His book, Managing the Nonprofit Organization, first published in 1990, was a seminal work in our field.

In 2005, just after he died, Bloomsberg News posted a fundraising challenge to the NGO world:  “Convert donors into contributors”,  Drucker had said in his last days.  “If nonprofit groups are to acquire more financial resources, those who give will need to feel more like participants.”

So, has this advice from the sage of NGO management held up? Are today’s NGOs creating more – or better – donors using methods of “engagement”?   It’s definitely the buzzword of the social-media decade,  but is it working?  Or rather, how is it playing out? (more…)

What’s All This Noise about Not Giving “Thank You” Gifts?

Recently, a small raft of articles have appeared about a new study, published in the Journal of Economic Psychology, apparently showing that offering a gift as a “thank you”  (what we in the industry would call a “premium” offer) can reduce the amount of money people will donate to your charity.

I found this to be old news.  But the press (and some marketing gurus) didn’t.   The top GOOGLE search on this was entitled “Charities: Don’t Thank Donors With a Gift! – Forbes”.Well, that’s the private sector for you:  making studies to “discover” what fundraisers already know. (more…)

Too busy to tweet? You’re a liar.

Everything that happens on any social media channel can be categorized as one of two things: content or conversation. Content builds a following, conversation builds a relationship. Content is difficult and time-consuming, conversation is fun.

So, here’s an idea – outsource and automate content so you can focus on having conversations.

I know, automation sounds a lot like spam. And mostly, I agree. But it’s not impossible to automate content that is timely and valuable. If you can hit that sweet spot, your audience won’t care that it is automated.

For example –great fundraising blogs like (more…)