By Jono SmithDo you believe in the power of the web to help nonprofits create social change? Do you know a talented Web strategist or developer interested in coming up with new ways to use the Web for social good? The Case Foundation is sponsoring two $10,000 prizes for Web enthusiasts who do just that.Network for Good, NetSquared, and the Case Foundation have come together to challenge developers to mash-up the Network for Good online donation processing API with another Web service to either (a) enhance the online donor experience or (b) revolutionize a nonprofit’s ability to fundraise online. As if changing the world was not enough, the two winners will each receive a $10,000 prize. Full details here: www.netsquared.org/mashup/donatenowchallengeMashup? Mash what? Learn more here.
Katya’s note: The name of a white paper recently caught my eye – it promised 15 rules to good email subject lines. My marketing colleague Rebecca Ruby here at Network for Good was interested too — and lucky for us, she read it and summarizes it here for us. Thanks Rebecca!By Rebecca Ruby, marketing maven at Network for GoodLyris HQ has a great a white paper “Email Subject Lines: 15 Rules to Write Them Right,” which highlights the make-or-break importance of subject lines. It’s well worth taking a few moments to go through their registration and obtain your own copy, but here my favorite highlights:•Test! Test subject lines. Write them early (not at the last minute). Test again, measure results, and use those analytics to drive future content.•Structure and content are both important. You need to be cognizant of where the key info goes, as well as how strong your call-to-action is.•Subject lines play into trust-building. The subject line can include a branding element or another device to tie to the “from” address. A quick way to kill that positive messaging? Stretching the truth about what’s inside the message.Here’s a breakdown of their entire list:1. Read the newspaper. Newspaper headlines highlight a story’s most important fact in a limited space—which is coincidentally exactly what marketing email subject lines should do.2. There is no sure-fire formula. Subject lines are non-recyclable and not necessarily the same when sending different types of campaigns.3. Test, test, test. According to rule 2, there’s not a surefire winner, so be sure to allow time for testing.4. Support the “from” line. The “from” tells recipients who sent the message, and the subject line sells that recipient on whether to open it. You don’t need to repeat your company name in the subject, but do consider some subject-line branding (ex: the name of the newsletter).5. List key info first. Put the key information in the first 50 characters. Not sure where the subject line will be cut off? Send it to yourself to test and check!6. Open rates don’t always measure subject-line success. Your end goal is not necessarily high open rate, but to have subscribers take a specific action. Focus on those results instead of open-rate numbers.7. Personalize. Personalize subject lines based on your recipients’ content preferences and/or interests, and then be sure to make it easy for readers to find and update this information upon receiving your message.8. Urgency drives action. Set deadlines for action, and consider using a series: “Only five days left until–!” followed up later in the week with, “Just 24 hours left until–”9. Watch those spam filters. Run your copy through a content checker to identify spam-like words, phrases and construction. A couple of big no-no’s: all capital letters and excessive use of exclamation points.10. “Free” is not evil. As a follow-up to number 9, avoid putting the word “free” first, but you needn’t leave it out entirely.11. Lead, but don’t mislead. Subject lines are not the place to overpromise. Be truthful about whatever the text claims to avoid distrust.12. Write and test early and often. Flip your thinking: Craft and test your subject line prior to composing the rest of your message. (Remember rule 3?)13. Review subject-line performance over your last several campaigns or newsletters. Not only will this type of data-mining shed light on your subject-line successes (highest conversation rates, click-through rate, etc.), it will drive future content strategies.14. Continue the conversation. Sending campaigns more frequently than once per month or quarter helps create a back-and-forth with readers, and also allows for content follow-up if something from a previous campaign has news.15. Can you pass the must-open/must-read test? Must-read means this: If a subscriber doesn’t open the email, they will feel like they are out of the loop and may have missed an offer they will regret not taking advantage of. Also, be sure to check out whether your message is going to the bulk-folder (see rule 9).
We can’t easily change what our audiences believe, but by plugging into their existing mind-set we unleash great power behind our benefit exchangen — and our message.The values of our audience may have nothing to do with our cause, but we can still use them. Consider the messages we see every day and the values they represent. Ads for women’s running shoes are all about strength and empowerment. They practically scream, “I am woman!” Pharmaceutical ads during the nightly news show how certain drugs help seniors attain what they want: a happy and independent life. During a televised basketball game, an ad for men’s deodorant shows a woman ripping a man’s clothes off in an elevator. No need for interpretation there. Each of these ads reflects a value the target users of the products care about, think about, and deeply desire. And each is fairly far removed from the product in question. Is self-actualization related to running shoes? Does arthritis medication buy happiness? Are deodorants the first thing that comes to mind when you think about sexual desire? Probably not, but the associations work because the values in question are close to each audience’s heart.A famous, frequently cited example of the value-based principle at work in social advertising is the successful Don’t Mess with Texas campaign. The phrase has become so famous that many people outside Texas don’t even realize that this is not a state slogan but rather a long-running marketing effort to get people to stop littering. The young Texan men who were the target of the campaign didn’t care about littering, but they did care about their macho image, and no one doubted the fierce pride they had for their home state. By tapping into these powerful feelings with the Don’t Mess with Texas concept, which didn’t have a thing to do with trash, the ad agency that created the campaign (GSD&M) drastically reduced roadside litter.Remember: Make your message about what your audience’s values, not your own, if you want people to listen.
People are conformists. They do what they think other people are doing. This is the basis of social norms theory and plenty of effective marketing.What does this mean to you if you’re marketing greener behavior?Don’t tell people to save the planet. Show them what their neighbors are doing if you want them to think about their behavior.There’s a great analysis of a study that did just this at NeuroMarketing blog.The study found if people think their neighbors are using less electricity, they lower their usage. If they think they are using more, they may increase their usage.One of the smartest minds on marketing in the world and an expert on social norms theory, Robert Cialdini, calls this phenomenon the magic middle in his new book Yes. If you’re marketing greener behavior, keep this in mind. If you’re marketing anything, keep this in mind. The magnetic middle works for raising money, too.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy today said the nation’s biggest charities are forecasting a 9 percent decline in giving this year – the biggest drop since the publication started tracking private donations in the early 90s. In an interview with the radio program Marketplace, publisher Stacy Palmer said it’s affecting how nonprofits ask for money:One of the things most nonprofits are very aware of is that some people don’t have jobs and they can’t appeal to them, so they’re focusing on the people who are affluent still and who still have money to give. They’re very careful to not make a pitch to somebody who can’t afford to give.I’m not sure that’s the case for most nonprofits – or if it is, it applies only to major donors, which is one circumstance in which a nonprofit may have intimate knowledge of a donor’s circumstances. Most nonprofits are unlikely to know who among their supporters has a job.In fact, the Chronicle on its website suggests as much (registration required to view article). Apparently most of fundraising is as aggressive as ever:The push to be more aggressive in seeking donations continues. The biggest charities are stepping up their efforts to solicit individuals, trying to explain more clearly why they need money, focusing on donors who have stopped giving, experimenting with new methods of online fund raising, and putting more time and effort into securing planned gifts. Charities are also reorganizing their fund-raising departments, sometimes because they have been forced to lay off employees. They are encouraging fund raisers to share responsibilities and work more closely with people in different departments.Here’s my take: you cannot possibly know the economic circumstances of all your individual donors – though hopefully you’re aware of the status of your biggest donors. And you can’t stop asking for money entirely. So what are you supposed to do? Ask, but with four things in mind:1. Empathy is appropriate. Acknowledge times are hard – for everyone – right now. If a donor can’t give, they’ll appreciate you understand this.2. Show you are tightening your belt. Describe every step your organization has taken to tighten your belt and operate as efficiently as possible this year.3. Demonstrate that all donations count. Because you’re stretching every dollar, make the point that every donation helps more than ever this year – whatever the size of the donation.4. Show impact. Thank your donors profusely for their past help and explain in tangible, vivid terms how their donations have made a big difference. And then do it again and again and again. Donors usually don’t stop giving because they don’t have money. They usually stop giving because of a surfeit of appeals and a shortage of thanks. Show donors that they are making good things happen – and give them credit for every piece of good news you have about your programs.A last point: if you have to reorganize your fundraising department or merge departments because of downsizing – something the Chronicle suggests is prevalent – look at this as an opportunity. It’s a chance to show you’re focused on efficiency and it’s also a great way to get rid of siloes where they should not have existed (ie, between marketing and development). Tough times can hold good lessons. Let them make you a better fundraiser.