Trust in Influencers

 

The for-profit world has been placing value in peer-to-peer influencers or “online ambassadors” for years. And the results show that trust in ambassadors is paying off for many companies.

In fact, “trust” has a lot to do with why ambassadors are so effective in modern marketing and communications.

CHECK OUT THIS LINK FOR SOME STUNNING ONLINE AMBASSADOR STATISTICS

People buy based on what their friends tell them, because of trust. When a relationship starts with trust, it tends to last longer. Consider these stats from the above link:

  • 92 percent of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands
  • 74 percent of consumers use social media to make purchase decisions
  • 37 percent better retention is reported for customers acquired through word-of-mouth advertising

What does that mean for donor acquisition? …and retention? The fact is, online ambassador communication works just as well – maybe better – in the nonprofit world.

In reviewing online ambassador activity that that took place on the ScaleFunder giving day platform in 2016, each ambassador would, on average, raise $125 during a giving day.

Perhaps even more staggering is this 2015 Blackbaud study that found 1 in 4 emails from online ambassadors led to a gift – a whopping 25 percent conversion rate. That’s compared to 1 in 1,250 emails from the organization that led to a gift – a paltry .08 percent conversion.

Again, for those keeping score, that’s a 25 percent conversion rate for ambassador-sent email versus a .08 conversion rate for emails sent by the organization.

It almost makes you wonder if you should ever send a solicitation email that is not from an online ambassador?

And it works for major donors, too. Check out the video below that details how the higher the price tag (a major gift, for example), the more peer influence impacts the decision.

Now here’s the catch – it’s not easy. Online ambassador programs are volunteer programs and they require careful and frequent management …but if you do it right, you have the potential to transform your development operation for the 21st century.

And guess what? Groundwork Digital has built dozens of online ambassador programs. Click here to send us a message and set up a time to talk about how we can help revolutionize your development operation with peer-to-peer fundraising.

 

Double Your Fundraising By Asking Donors NOT to Give [STUDY]

Make 2013 the year online giving takes off for your nonprofit.Want to double your online giving results? Simple …just make it easy for your donors not to give.

As counterintuitive as that sounds, a recent study highlighted in this John Haydon blog post tells us that giving donors an option to give and NOT to give actually doubles the likelihood they will donate.

It’s called the “But You Are Free” approach to a giving ask. In other words, along with saying “Please donate by clicking here” you would also want an adjacent button that says “You are free not to give by clicking here.” (The approach worked best face-to-face, but also worked well when done via email)

So NOW what??

From an online giving standpoint, the next logical question is …if someone clicks on the “But you are free not to give” option, where does that link take them? Do you ask them to instead share some content via a social network or email? Ask them to ask their friends to support the cause? …redirect the to a homepage? …or end of story, do nothing at all? I think this makes for a great conversation, so I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or online at Twitter or LinkedIn.

Justin Ware is the Director of Interactive Communication at Bentz Whaley Flessner where he helps clients build online engagement and fundraising strategies.

Facebook Unveils New Donation Feature for Pages

Finally, Facebook is making it easy for (a small group) of (select) nonprofits to raise money directly on their pages. While this initial roll out includes only about a dozen nonprofit organizations (click here for the list), you can bet the ability to accept a donation through Facebook’s market place will be much more widely available in the near future.

The ASPCA is one of the first organizations with giving setup through Facebook's new service.

The ASPCA is one of the first organizations with giving setup through Facebook’s new service.

So, all the more reason to invest in a strong Facebook presence in the New Year. We’ll be writing more about this in the coming months as BWF gets ready to launch a product that will help nonprofits find, learn more about, and work with Facebook users to raise more money. Stay tuned…it’s going to be an exciting 2014 for online and social media fundraising!

To learn more about the Facebook donation tool, click here.

To stay connected with BWF’s online and social media engagement services and tools, connect with Justin Ware on LinkedIn here and at BWF.com here.

Attacking Social Media “Slacktivists”

UNICEFSwedenantiFBlikes

Courtesy of The Atlantic

UNICEF Sweden is taking shots at its online supporters who “like” activity the organization posts on Facebook. A recent ad campaign from the Sweden branch of UNICEF is rather bluntly telling its supporters that so-called vanity actions on social networks – the likes, shares, pins, retweets, etc. – do nothing to further the mission of the organization. Literally. (Check out the full story in the Atlantic by clicking here) The ads say a like on Facebook will “vaccinate zero children against polio.” (See the bottom of this post for a UNICEF YouTube spot along the same lines)

The objective of the campaign is to help supporters understand that donations are the lifeblood of the nonprofit organization. Which, of course, is true. The trouble is, donations come from a general awareness of a problem that a nonprofit solves. And awareness – as multiple studies now show – comes from activity on social networks.  Perhaps UNICEF Sweden hasn’t seen the recently released joint study from Georgetown University and Waggener Edstrom that shows social media is, by a vast majority, the primary way digitally active supporters and donors learn of new causes – even for those donors who give money offline.

“Likes” = awareness. Awareness = more donors and dollars

Let’s consider the mechanics behind some of these vanity metrics that are, by and large, worthless according to UNICEF Sweden. For example, a Facebook like. When someone “likes” a post on Facebook, that activity is sent to a large number of that person’s network of friends via their newsfeed. Go ahead, take a second to look at your Facebook feed. In the lower left, you’ll see a constantly-updating scroll of activity your friends are liking. Occasionally, that liking activity appears as a major news item in the News Feed. That leads to more exposure which leads to more new donors joining the cause. Knowing that, it would appear that mission awareness is something UNICEF Sweden does not value.

Know Your Data

Beyond the awareness building capacity of social media, there is evidence that suggests “slacktivists” are less slackerish than one might expect. According to another joint Georgetown study – highlighted in this Mashable article – slacktivists are:

  • Three times as likely to solicit donations on behalf of a charity’s cause.
  • Twice as likely to volunteer their time.
  • Equally as likely to donate as their non-social-media using counterparts (in other words, clicking “like” is not in place of a gift, but in addition to the gift).

All of the above would suggest that Facebook “likes” do, in fact, help organizations vaccinate kids against polio. As a matter of fact, a good argument could be made that a strong Facebook approach could be more effective than the ad campaign against slacktivism that UNICEF Sweden likely paid well into the six figures to create and implement.

To be fair, in the interview with the Atlantic, UNICEF Sweden’s Director of Communications Petra Hallebrant said “We like likes, and social media could be a good first step to get involved, but it cannot stop there. Likes don’t save children’s lives. We need money to buy vaccines for instance.”

Trouble with that statement is, if you look at the data, it would seem that Facebook “likes” actually do lead to money for those vaccines.

To be fair part 2, it’s certainly possible that UNICEF Sweden is trying to use the classic “shock value” approach to advertising as a way of drumming up awareness and support. And you could argue by the attention this campaign is getting in well-respected publications like The Atlantic and far less respected publications like this blog, they’re shock and awe campaign is working. Plus, the YouTube video below has been watched more than 38,000 times at the time of this post’s first publication. That is, of course, also awareness. So Maybe UNICEF Sweden is just much sharper than this author. That said, I would advise against any strategy that openly ridicules your slacktivists social champions. As the data tells us, those highly active social media supporters might just be the key to your organization’s future.

Justin Ware is a fundraising consultant who specializes in online and social media engagement at Bentz Whaley Flessner. To contact Justin, click here.

Online Giving Continues Its Rise While Overall Giving is Nearly Flat

Overall giving to nonprofits in 2012 was nearly flat. According to a recent Blackbaud Report via the Chronicle of Philanthropy, a survey of more than 3,000 organizations combined saw a 1.7 percent increase in giving. That’s down from the 4.2 percent increase in 2011. But it wasn’t all bad (or neutral) news for nonprofits, smaller nonprofits fared better than their larger peers. And, not surprisingly, online giving was up 11 percent. As Blackbaud’s Steve MacLaughlin put it via that Chronicle piece, “there is ‘a real return for nonprofits’ use of digital tools.’”

So let’s take a look at the forest through the trees. Overall giving is flat, while online giving is continuing its meteoric rise. Again, overall giving is flat, but online is going up significantly – which means other methods of traditional giving are going down. The math is simple – if you don’t have a strong online giving presence, you’re either losing donors and dollars or you’re about to be. With that terrifying prospect in mind, here are three tips that will help your organization develop an effective online giving program that will boost your fundraising at all levels:

Develop an online ambassador program: I’m convinced that you can tweet, post to Facebook, write blog posts, and what ever else until you’re blue in the face. None of those things will drive action as much as having your strongest online supporters share your org’s message with their networks of online friends. From FSU’s Great Give, to Columbia’s $6.8 million 24-hour campaign, the commonality among many successful online campaigns is the organization’s use of online volunteers to spread the news about the campaign. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Instead, check out this Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising report that tells us, among other things, the five most influential forms of advertising or promotion are as follows: 1) Recommendation from a friend, 2) consumer opinions posted online, 3) editorial content such as newspaper articles, 4) branded websites, and 5) emails.

So how can you build a strategy or program around something that seems so uncontrollable – the messages your followers are sharing with their friends? It’s about developing and sticking with an online ambassador program that 1) identifies potential online ambassadors, 2) has a plan in place for soliciting the help of those ambassadors, 3) continually and consistently stewards those ambassadors through good content and exclusive access to fundraising-focused webinars, and 4) includes those ambassadors in campaign communication plans.

Trust me. We’ve done this with clients and heard other orgs talk about similar projects. It works better than anything else we’ve seen when it comes to boosting online giving.

GivePageArchitecture_CausePopuli

Courtesy: Cause Populi

Redo your online giving infrastructure: Most organizations have room to improve when it comes to their online giving infrastructure, a.k.a. your online giving websites and forms. First and foremost, ease of use is critical in this area. Do you have any idea what your Giving Completion Rate or GCR is? Have you heard of a GCR before? If not, you might want to talk with my colleauge, Heather Greig, but I digress…

There’s a fine line between what makes for a good online giving form and a not-so good form, but I would suggest your first concern should be ease of use, both for new donors and returning donors. We work with a lot of higher ed and healthcare clients, but I believe many of the best examples exist outside of these industries. If you work in higher ed or healthcare, you might consider stepping away from your peers and looking at nonprofit industry leaders like charity: water for the best examples in online giving pages. After all, you’re competing against other nonprofits like charity: water for your donors’ dollars – not other higher ed or healthcare organizations, in most cases.

For a blueprint to follow as you embark on redesigning your organization’s online giving form(s), have a look at this “Architecture of a Donation Form” infographic from Cause Populi.

Invest in a Social Media Manager: After you’ve built an online ambassador program, you’re going to need someone to manage and engage all those peer-to-peer fundraisers working on behalf of your organization. And when you have a seven-figure increase in your online giving, you should have no problem justifying a $60,000 per year salary + benefits, right? This is part of a change in mentality when it comes to online giving and social media – IT IS NOT FREE JUST BECAUSE A FACEBOOK ACCOUNT IS FREE. Just like most things, investments are needed in staff and online infrastructure if you’re serious about increasing fundraising – both online and off – for your nonprofit.

Justin Ware is a fundraising consultant who specializes in online and social media engagement at Bentz Whaley Flessner. To contact Justin, click here.

Online Ambassadors Help Columbia Reach $6.8 Million in 24 Hours

GivingDayLogoIn a previous post, I suggested nonprofits do three things to boost their online (and offline) fundraising. 1) Build an online ambassador program. 2) Improve your online giving websites, apps, and widgets. 3) Invest in personnel to manage your social media strategy. Columbia did all three of those things on their way to a wildly successful, 24-hour, online giving campaign that brought in more than $6.8 million on October 24, 2012. But you don’t have to take my word for it. BWF interviewed CloEve Demmer, Columbia’s Director of Annual Fund Programs, and Gwynne Gauntlett, Director of Digital Strategy for Alumni Relations and Development at Columbia. In the video below, Demmer and Gauntlett talk about how they prepared for and executed Columbia Giving Day:

In addition to the massive fundraising total brought in during the 24-hour campaign, Demmer and Gauntlett said they were equally surprised by the success in the days following Giving Day. Several million additional dollars were given to Columbia by alumni and supporters who said they were inspired by the powerful campaign. Which shows that online campaigns might be as valuable as marketing tools, as they are fundraising mechanisms.

Above all else, what Columbia’s campaign demonstrates is the value of investing in online and social media for fundraising. Facebook might be free, but a strategy to raise money using Facebook is not. Columbia’s staff and leadership understand this. As a result, the school just wrapped up one of the most successful one day fundraising campaigns ever. And chances are, they’ll do it again in the near future.

Justin Ware is a fundraising consultant who specializes in online and social media engagement at Bentz Whaley Flessner. To contact Justin, click here.

3 Tips to Boost Your Online Fundraising in 2013

Make 2013 the year online giving takes off for your nonprofit.

By now, news of the continued, meteoric rise of online giving as detailed in this Chronicle of Philanthropy piece hardly counts as surprising. According to that piece, in the fourth quarter of 2012, online giving grew between 36 and 38 percent, depending on what you’re measuring. Hopefully, this new set of data combined with several years of data leading up to it – all showing the sharp upward trend in online giving – will convince your organization’s leadership to increase investment in online and social media. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in that situation of extra budget for online engagement, the following are three areas I suggest your bolster first:

Develop an online ambassador program: I’m convinced that you can tweet, post to Facebook, write blog posts, and what ever else until you’re blue in the face. None of those things will drive action as much as having your strongest online supporters share your org’s message with their networks of online friends. From FSU’s Great Give, to Columbia’s $6.8 million 24-hour campaign, the commonality among many successful online campaigns is the organization’s use of online volunteers to spread the news about the campaign. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Instead, check out this Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising report that tells us, among other things, the five most influential forms of advertising or promotion are as follows: 1) Recommendation from a friend, 2) consumer opinions posted online, 3) editorial content such as newspaper articles, 4) branded websites, and 5) emails.

So how can you build a strategy or program around something that seems so uncontrollable – the messages your followers are sharing with their friends? It’s about developing and sticking with an online ambassador program that 1) identifies potential online ambassadors, 2) has a plan in place for soliciting the help of those ambassadors, 3) continually and consistently stewards those ambassadors through good content and exclusive access to fundraising-focused webinars, and 4) includes those ambassadors in campaign communication plans.

Trust me. We’ve done this with clients and heard other orgs talk about similar projects. It works better than anything else we’ve seen when it comes to boosting online giving.

Redo your online giving infrastructure: Most organizations have room to improve when it comes to their online giving infrastructure, a.k.a. your online giving websites and forms. First and foremost, ease of use is critical in this area. Do you have any idea what your Giving Completion Rate or GCR is? Have you heard of a GCR before? If not, you might want to talk with my colleauge, Heather Greig, but I digress…

There’s a fine line between what makes for a good online giving form and a not-so good form, but I would suggest your first concern should be ease of use, both for new donors and returning donors. We work with a lot of higher ed and healthcare clients, but I believe many of the best examples exist outside of these industries. If you work in higher ed or healthcare, you might consider stepping away from your peers and looking at nonprofit industry leaders like charity: water for the best examples in online giving pages. After all, you’re competing against other nonprofits like charity: water for your donors’ dollars – not other higher ed or healthcare organizations, in most cases.

charitywatergivepage

Regardless of the nonprofit sector you work in, you’re competing for your donors’ dollars with organizations like charity: water. So you better have an online giving presence that’s competitive with those organizations.

Invest in a Social Media Manager: After you’ve built an online ambassador program, you’re going to need someone to manage and engage all those peer-to-peer fundraisers working on behalf of your organization. And when you have a seven-figure increase in your online giving, you should have no problem justifying a $60,000 per year salary + benefits, right? This is part of a change in mentality when it comes to online giving and social media – IT IS NOT FREE JUST BECAUSE A FACEBOOK ACCOUNT IS FREE. Just like most things, investments are needed in staff and online infrastructure if you’re serious about increasing fundraising – both online and off – for your nonprofit.

With the right mindset and an increased investment in online and social media constituent engagement, 2013 could be your best year yet. Good luck!

Justin Ware is a fundraising consultant who specializes in online and social media engagement at Bentz Whaley Flessner. To contact Justin, click here.