March 2010 Archives

March 31, 2010

How Many Donors Are You Calling to Thank?

At a panel I recently attended, the president of a Friends of the Library board explained that one of its ways of cultivating donors was to have a board or staff member personally call and thank everyone who'd made a contribution of $100 or above.

Not too surprisingly, he said that this goes over very well, even describing people as "thankful" for the call.

But this part's more surprising: He added that many of them say, "Yours is the first organization that's ever called me!"

To me, that indicates that a lot of organizations are missing the boat. Making thank-you calls to donors is easy, a perfect task for new or fundraising-averse board members, and doesn't cost much if anything to carry out.

Maybe some organizations make such calls to donors that have given amounts greater than $100 -- but why not lower the bar, especially during a recession, when even a $20 gift may be a big stretch for some? Creating this degree of personal contact with a donor may turn that person into a friend -- and contributor -- for life. 
March 19, 2010

Your Nonprofit's Facebook Page: Does It Promote Dialogue?

Signing on to other nonprofits'  Facebook pages is one of the best ways to find out what works and what doesn't in this new medium of connecting with supporters and prospective donors.

I've been doing a lot of signing up as a fan lately (for this very purpose), and am noticing a pattern. There are the nonprofits that lecture -- and there are those that also listen. It's the ones that listen that make me feel more drawn in.

The lecture-style FB postings definitely have a place. As is traditional on Facebook and other online forms of communication, they may direct us to interesting videos, alert us to important news or other events plus ways to take action, and generally keep us in touch with their unique area of expertise.

But with so much info being circulated in the online world, this can start to feel like just more of the same. Let's face it, everyone's fascination with themselves, and where they fit into this grand network, comes out on Facebook -- why else would we all take quizzes about which Wizard of Oz character we are, and so forth?

That's why I'm impressed by nonprofits that ask their fans to weigh in on something -- like the National Hospice Foundation, which reaches out to fans with questions like:

 "just heard a lovely story about a hospice team going 'above and beyond' to help a patient have one last phone call with her mother who lived many time zones away and did not have a phone in her home. Can you share stories of extraordinary effort in your hospice experience?"

Check their page out at:

March 8, 2010

More on Text-Message Based Fundraising

In my last post on text-message-based fundraising, I and the rest of the world were impressed by the American Red Cross having raised $9 million for Haitian relief efforts via mobile phone text messaging. That number has since gone up to $26 million -- even harder to ignore.

If there were any lingering doubts that this type of fundraising has caught the popular imagination, one need look no farther than the 2010 Oscars ceremony, at which the good folks accepting the award for best documentary, "The Cove," flashed a sign saying, "Text Dolphin to 44144." (You had to be watching closely, since the powers-that-be quickly moved the cameras in another direction -- with the predictable result that the moment is getting more media coverage and video linkings than it would have otherwise.)

But what's the bottom line -- has mobile text messaging (or "SMS") become, overnight, the hottest fundraising strategy around? The fees for nonprofit users are apparently trending downward as more providers enter the market, such as the Mobile Giving Foundation.

Nevertheless, a recent report called the "2010 Nonprofit Text Messaging Benchmarks" report concludes that, while text messaging can be an effective part of a communications mix with existing supporters that also includes email, the Web, and direct mail, it's main role for the moment will be to reinforce other messages and provide an immediate engagement opportunity in urgent situations.

In other words, if you're not responding to a widely known-about crisis like the Haiti earthquake, don't start counting your millions just yet. But start collecting your supporters' mobile phone numbers, just in case.