Fundraising the SMART Way: Using Social Media Right, Part 1

June 22, 2012

I’m collaborating with Ellen Bristol of The Leaky Bucket Nonprofit Blog on a series of reports on nonprofits and social media. Ellen focuses on how nonprofits can manage and improve their fundraising performance, emphasizing strategic management, metrics, benchmarks and processes.

Why? Because as she says, too many nonprofits ignore the strategic stuff and focus on tactics. And when they do, fundraising suffers. Social media seems like a tactical issue, but when you look at it strategically, it can boost your fundraising performance in meaningful ways.

In today’s post, Ellen has added her thoughts to the end of each section, which I’ve put into italics.

Using Social Media Right, Part 1

Social media can no longer be considered a fad or something only kids use. It’s been embraced by big business as a powerful way to connect with audiences. Your nonprofit needs to be part of this movement.

The danger is that you’ll jump in the pool without learning how to swim first, become frustrated, and swear off social media forever. Let’s make sure that tumbleweed won’t soon be rolling through your Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts. Follow these tips to maximize your investment in online marketing:

Ellen’s comment: If you’re not clear about your mission, your ideal funders, and the metrics you use for managing fundraising performance, your Social Media won’t build the following you want.

1. Don’t Expect Too Much, Too Soon. Social media is not a bright, shiny object that will instantly solve all of your problems. It is a cost effective way to build ongoing relationships with donors and prospects. Make a long term commitment to explore and use the various social media platforms. See what works and adjust your strategy accordingly. It’s hard to predict what may resonate with your audience, so don’t become frustrated if one appeal doesn’t work very well. Try something else.

While social media can lead to revenue (either directly or indirectly), it’s more like a slot machine than a weekly paycheck. Don’t let every post be an “ask.” Constantly begging people for money is a turnoff. Only one out of a dozen posts should have any mention of fundraising.

When you do have an appeal, focus it strictly on a specific program or issue. Don’t just say, “Give us money. We’ll do good stuff with it.” That’s something any nonprofit can say.

Ellen’s comment: It takes time to build a following and create a brand. Social Media will help you tell your story, your clients’ success stories, testimonials, musings, history, and so on. That stuff drives the motivation to give.

2. Be Consistent. Before you post anything, map out a schedule for social media interaction. Making a commitment doesn’t mean that it can’t be changed later but you need to have a plan. You don’t have to post something every day. It’s more important to make sure that your posts are informative to your followers. So when your posts appear, people know you’re worth reading.

You may also want to consider having a theme for your posts. Maybe, it’s something like, “Fact Friday” or “Snapshot Tuesday.” The idea is to train your readers to expect some predictable good content.

Ellen’s comment: Inconsistent marketing leads to inconsistent performance. It’s tough to build a following, but easy to lose one.

nonprofit fundraising, connect with your donors3. Think Visual. It can be tempting to use a lot of words in your updates. Resist the urge. People like to scan social media sites rather than do extensive reading. That’s why pictures can be so valuable to your online campaign. Find a good picture that represents your organization’s mission, or take good pictures of your clients, activities or events. Add a caption to it if you have photo editing software or just put the caption in the social media site’s update window.

This is your chance to be creative and conversational. You could say something like, “This is why we don’t mind working late,” or “Challenging times never go on vacation.” The goal is to stop people and make them think.

Pictures can be unusual as well. For instance, can a weekly donation of a small amount of money (like 96 cents = $50/year) make a difference to your nonprofit? Lay out the money and take a picture of it. You get extra credit if you can put the coins in a creative shape.

Ellen’s comment: Your case for support is always stronger when you tell your story, stronger still when you SHOW it. That’s how to build relationships with supporters, donors and clients.


Nonprofit Phrases That Should Be Banned

May 23, 2012

Nonprofit phrases that should be banned, Ken Okel, Social Media for nonprofits coach

Click to see a larger view. You are free to print or download.

It began as a fun challenge: To take a look at the words and phrases that we’ve used so much in the nonprofit community that they’ve lost their meaning.

I thought this search for cliches might generate a dozen entries from several nonprofit LinkedIn groups.

Instead, the idea caught fire and I continue to receive submissions from nonprofit employees from all over the country. I’ll continue to update the graphic above.

Collecting the phrases is the first step. Now will you join me for the movement?

It’s not enough to identify these overused words. We need to stop using these phrases and get back to clear communication with our partners, our community, and our donors.

Will you join me in taking this step. Our causes deserve to be clearly articulated, free of jargon, cliches, and hyperbole.

Please share your thoughts below.

YouTube Video Idea – Your Brochure

March 8, 2012

Not sure what to include in your YouTube videos? Why not look at your nonprofit’s brochure for inspiration? The following video is mostly based on a flyer. Music and presentation style sets it apart.

For this example we framed it around the idea of a leap year but you could do the same thing by focusing on what a day is like for your clients.

Coming Soon….

August 25, 2011

Repel your donors, Ken Okel, Clear the Path, Social media for nonprofits, engage your donors

Do you repel your donors?

No matter what social media tools you use to connect with your supporters, you need to make sure you’re delivering a clear message.  The problem is that many nonprofits start to recycle some tired language that often boarders on cliches.  It’s a great way to make sure people tune out your message.

Stay tuned for a list of the top phrases that your nonprofit should ban from all communication.  We’ll have some fun but also make a series statement about making sure you’re being heard.

What’s Wrong With This Picture

May 7, 2011

With improvements to cell phone cameras, it’s easier than ever for nonprofits to take pictures of volunteers and donors. Yet very often these shots look like they belong at

The problem is that the photographer just has a group of volunteers line up next to each other. “Click,” goes the shutter and another boring photo is born.

This kind of lineup doesn’t convey energy or enthusiasm, which is what you want to give to your supporters.

If you must take shots of the lineup, take an additional picture where you ask the group to cheer. Then compare the ordinary picture to the cheering one.

Which one produces more of a reaction in you? Which one do you think would make a donor stop and check out? Which do you think would make a donor forward a copy to friends and family?

I’m also a big fan of candid shots at your events. Try to get away from so many posed photos, like check presentations. Take me behind the scenes.

Show people doing things, especially as it relates to your mission. If your group has just held a food collection drive, can you take a picture of your volunteers surrounded by cans? Get creative.

Don’t underestimate the power of a good picture.

Let’s Talk…

March 7, 2011

Ken Okel, keynote speaker, Florida, Orlando, Miami, free consultation, social media for nonprofisI keep hearing about nonprofits that are struggling with social media. You’re job is hard enough without not knowing how to use these free and powerful tools.

I want to offer you the opportunity to pick my brain for 30 minutes. We’ll talk through Skype or over the phone and you can ask me whatever you like about social media. This is a chance for you to learn. I won’t be selling anything. It’s all about helping you.

In my career, I’ve benefited from the wisdom and generosity of others and I want to continue the tradition.

Contact me to set up your call. I’ll take the first five to sign up.

Did You Notice This…

February 18, 2011

During the Superbowl, I noticed a couple of interesting things when it came to advertisements. As you know, companies pay big bucks to have an ad on during the game. They want to make sure they get as much bang for the buck.

The first thing that I realized is that many companies don’t wait until the big game before releasing the spots. Several days earlier, Volkswagen released this spot through YouTube:

The idea was to get people talking about the commercial ahead of time. In a sea of commercials during the Superbowl, it’s more likely that people will shush their friends and have them watch the spot.

It’s not rare to see a commercial that does not have a web address, Facebook, or Twitter address appear at the end. The goal is to engage the audience as well as measure their reaction to the ad. This kind of thing can make a message, stick, instead of being entertaining and then forgotten.

If the big companies are using the same basic social media tools to maximize their million dollar advertisement accounts, then why aren’t you taking advantage of them as well?

Let’s talk…

Can’t Afford Video… Get Creative

December 14, 2010

Do you have a great speaker at your next event but can’t afford to video tape them? Why not consider this low cost alternative? In the clip below, I used a digital audio recorder to record a short presentation. Then I took the mp3 recording and put it in a video editor. Then I added still photos to “cover” the black spots.

Now I have a video that I can post on YouTube and share with my supporters. In your case, you can use photos from your nonprofit’s event as your wallpaper video.

Don’t let a small budget limit your creativity.

Additional Resources:

Do You Tell Or Sell?

October 21, 2010

Take a step back from your nonprofit marketing efforts to consider the message you’re sending to your supporters.  Social media tools like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter give you immediate access.Unlike something that’s mailed, you’re interrupting someone’s day.

This isn’t a bad thing but you need to make sure that when you pop up, you’re saying something of value.  Otherwise, you’ll train your followers to ignore your messages or even unsubscribe.

Always try to pass on some relevant information in all of your communication.  Saying, “Buy raffle tickets,” doesn’t educate the reader. They don’t learn more about your mission or feel proud for having supported you in the past.

Instead try to inject something the reader may not know about your organization. “Ten years ago, 1 in 8 students were at risk of becoming sick. Thanks to your support, it’s now 1 in 16. Our work isn’t done. Please support our mission by buying a raffle ticket.”

In an average day, people are bombarded with sales messages. Avoid the temptation to sell without telling the reader something of value.

Additional Resources:

Read This

August 22, 2010

It’s a tough time for nonprofits and I want to pass on some marketing advice. Follow this link to read a two part article that will change the way you think of potential supporters of your organization. While the it was written for the sales world, you’ll find a ton of applications for the nonprofit world.

Nowadays you have to be strategic. Let me know what you think.

Additional Resources:

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