engagement

The Halo Effect

I'm on the board of a local nonprofit that had tax credits available to donors who gave over a certain amount in 2013. Since I'm not the chick that can donate significant cash to the cause, I try to amp up the   "Talent and Time" portion of the good board member's trifecta of contributions: Time, Talent and Treasure.

That said, I asked our executive director if everyone on our file of potential donors knew about the credit. Mentioned that perhaps we should send out a couple year-end emails thanking them for their support in 2013 and inviting them to partake of the tax advantages of a generous year-end gift to our group.

The exec didn't want to bother people with a lot of year end emails so I suggested suppressing those who responded to the initial drop.

Results were impressive, but unexpected. The Halo Effect strikes again.
Several things to keep in mind:

  • One Channel Can Drive Another. Several major gifts were walked in by donors as a result of the email. Others mailed them in. The point is they knew these channels were available and their preference drove the bus here. Everyone wins.
  • Staying Top of Mind Year-Round. This organization invests in excellent PR. Even those donors who come to one event and don't actively engage with us year-round know what we're up to and the difference we're making in our community. That makes a difference when you come asking for gifts at the end of the year.
  • Staying Top of Mind Without Every Touch Including an Ask. Of ultra importance, friends. There's an integrated annual plan that includes a lot of storytelling, chances to engage with the org in person, progress reports, accolades and yes, we ask for help, but in a judicious and considered fashion …
  • Excellent Reactivation Tool. We had donors come in who used to support us, but had moved away. We had their personal email on file—and permission to contact them—so their physical address change wasn't a factor. They moved back to the city and wanted to help out with gifts and volunteer time.








Love Thy Volunteers (Respect the Title)

That's right. I'm proposing to you the radical idea that for the people who give of their time, their physical labor, their emotional work and gas money, "Volunteer" is a title. And one they (should) wear with pride.

I've been in a couple situations lately where the word has been bandied around in a casual way, or given to groups, who, while very generous and caring, are by no stretch of the imagination "volunteering."

Namely, I was at a presentation at a fundraising conference and the speaker talked about young people wanting to "volunteer" in "fun ways that fit their lifestyle" and showed a group of 20-somethings bowling while dressed like band members of Devo.

*sound of car brakes screeching to a halt and a giant explosion here*

That isn't volunteering.

I'm not saying volunteering can't be fun. But referring to people who attend an event or gather a group of friends to go bar hopping for a cause as volunteers cheapens the word and disrespects the folks who really are volunteers. Is it just me?

Volunteers are people connected to the core work of your organization. In most nonprofits, they're the ones who actually do said core work. They show up, they sacrifice. They have some skin in the game.

I'm all about going to the bingo game that benefits the organization (beers at Hamburger Mary's? Heeeeyyyy!!). I'll walk a charity 5K on a Saturday with a friend. But I won't call myself a volunteer for those groups.

Here's to the Volunteers who have earned the title.


Engagement and Simplicity: You Can Have Both

Writer Patrick Spenner took a bold stand in his article, "Marketers Have It Wrong: Forget Engagement, Consumers Want Simplicity."

"Marketers are generally pushing out too much information, causing people to over-think purchase decisions and making them more likely to change their minds about a product, be less confident in their choice and less likely remain loyal to the brand."

Wow. That's a titantic-sized paradigm shift from the thousands of articles heralding "content is king," encouraging companies to blow out information to win at SEO and everything else ...

Parts of Spenner's article had me out of my chair cheering. Yes. Building communities because it's the fashionable thing to do will never work. Lots of information that's not useful will not be made more useful providing more of it.

But Spenner was a little off course, too.

There are plenty of organizations with which people do want a relationship and more information—and the organizations had better be ready to deliver.

In my view, "delivering" means engagement and simplicity.

I wrote about the importance of simplicity in communication last year. The trails of sophistication forged by the giants like Amazon have changed expectations forever. Period.

But that doesn't mean engagement is yesterday's buzzword.

The most effective campaigns we've launched for clients are based on a single, powerful idea and allow people to take action, quickly and simply. The strategy is well tested and wins every time—trust me.

And that is where the real challenge is. Gauging how much information is needed. Organizing it skillfully. And presenting it in a way that is useful and easily digestable, amidst fierce competition.

Simplicity, therefore, is an essential part of true engagement, not the opposite of it.