Rainout, but not a washout!

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What happens when record-setting rains coincide with your outdoor event?

This past weekend KC Plaza Rotary Club was one of several local organizations to grapple with this challenge. So, how did they handle it? 

KC Games for Good is the club’s major event of the year and the primary fundraiser to support beneficiary organizations. Leading up to this year’s event, the volunteer organizers felt they had finally reached a tipping point with new ceilings set in virtually every category:

·      more non-profit organizations than ever were committed to exhibit

·      more teams than ever were committed to compete

·      more financial support than ever had already been committed

Games for Good is an outdoor event, held the first Saturday of October on the south lawn of the National WWI Museum & Memorial. Each of the four years prior saw the beautiful fall weather Kansas City is known for.

Over the past few weeks, as organizers watched weather forecasts, it was apparent 2018 might be an exception…

Planning Ahead

About 10 days prior, the chair polled committee members to see how they wanted to proceed. There was ready consensus: rescheduling is not an option (due to weather, holidays, other commitments, etc.) so this would be a “Go/No Go” decision.

While no-one wanted to cancel everyone agreed we should be ready should that need to be done.

The committee is organized by functional areas of responsibility:

·      competitions (recruit teams, organize and set up games, etc.)

·      exhibitors (recruit non-profits to exhibit and provide support)

·      sponsorship (solicit donations)

·      logistics (site plan, infrastructure, etc.)

·      volunteers (primarily club members)

·      marketing/communications.

The first step was to ask the coordinator of each area to begin building a list of everyone who would need to be reached if plans did need to change.

On Wednesday the week prior, an initial message went out to each of these individuals from their primary contact on the committee, alerting them to potential weather difficulty and promising to keep them informed. On Friday morning, when the decision was made to cancel, the communication plan was again put into play.


Working with Attendees, Vendors & Exhibitors

Teams were offered the chance to receive a full refund of their registration fee or carry it forward to next year’s event. More than half responded immediately and 90% of those wanted to carry the registration forward.

Sponsors were offered those two options as well as the chance to donate funds already contributed to help cover expenses incurred and provide some distribution to primary beneficiaries. Almost immediately nearly 40% of funds were donated and about as much more has been rolled forward to next year’s event.

Because of the initial notice, when many vendor orders were cancelled (latrines, dumpsters, tents, inflatables, etc.), the organizations were able to do so with no charge.

Companies that couldn’t do that have offered to apply some or all of the cancellation charge to the 2019 event. 

Primary outreach for the event was through the event Facebook page along with promotional support from KC Parent. As soon as the decision was made, posts went up to notify followers. In addition, a cancellation banner was added to the event web site.

Participants at every level appreciated the situation, and really appreciated the efforts to keep them involved and informed. Organizers are hoping this is the first step to making 2019 the most successful Games for Good yet.

Bob Merrigan, Founder of M&C, serves on the volunteer leadership committee for KC Games for Good and is an active member of the KC Plaza Rotary Club.

Optimizing Websites for Voice Search

Day or night, my cell phone is usually by my side. Though, it’s rarely used as a phone. Rather than track down a tablet or laptop, I rely on my phone for quick help with the name of a movie I saw 20 years ago, get an updated weather forecast, learn what to do about my dead lawn, and check out M&C’s Strutt With Your Mutt team page.

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Okay Google, how

do I make a donation?

With phone in hand, it’s easy to skip the typing and just talk. After all, Google Assistant is on stand by ready to help. Say “Okay Google” and ask a question. Or, ask Alexa, Siri or Cortana (Microsoft’s assistant). They’re all listening. ComScore, an analytics company, predicts in 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches.

When a prospective donor is asking for your nonprofit or inquiring about a good cause, you want to be mentioned.

5 Optimization Tips

There are numerous strategies for optimizing your nonprofit’s website and content for voice search. Don’t feel bad if you find it overwhelming. It is. And, it can be time consuming. However, we have 5 tips to help streamline the process and get you started:

1. Create content that talks back, recommends Betsy Rohtbart of Vonage in a recent Forbes article. A typical text search is 2-3 words. Voice search is conversational. Read your content out loud. Is it stiff and formal? Adding abbreviations and contractions will help.

2. FAQ pages cater to voice search optimization, according to Performics. A good starting point is to create a Q&A page written in a casual style featuring commonly asked questions by prospective donors. Include who, what, where, when, and how in constructing your questions.

3. Focus on long-tail keywords is a tip from Yoast. Weave into the website’s content conversational phrases, including focused keywords (a topic we’ve previously covered on the M&C blog.)

4. Infographics should compliment content not replace it. Bots crawling your site aren’t able to read the content on images. It’s important to give the image a descriptive file name and include keywords in alt tags. Otherwise, your creative visual messages will be missed with both voice and text searches. Search Engine Journal has additional tips for images and SEO.

5. Mobile-friendly design has an advantage with Google’s algorithm. Use a responsive design that automatically resizes images/videos and stacks content. Also, develop a writing style that includes headlines, a quick opening sentence or two, brief paragraphs, bullet points, and call to action.

When you are ready to talk structured data and how it plays into optimizing voice search SEO, give us a call. We’ll help.  

Susan Mertz is a Content Specialist at M&C. She specializes in website development, search engine optimization and enhancing user experience. 

Reflecting on the 2018 Bridge Conference

A couple of weeks back, Monica and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Bridge to Integrated Marketing Conference. The theme for 2018 was the “Art and Science of Fundraising & Marketing.” 

One of our favorite events of the year, The Bridge Conference unites the fundraising and marketing communities. Lots of cross-pollination, innovative idea sharing and catching up with friends, clients & colleagues at the Gaylord in Washington, D.C. If you haven’t been to the Gaylord, it’s one of the largest hotels in the nation … I think it has its own zip code and maybe its own ecosystem. But I digress …

Team M&C hit some great sessions. Among the highlights:

  • At the opening session, Shankar Vedantam, host of the NPR’s Hidden Brain, delved into what really motivates giving. My takeaway: the human brain can’t handle challenges that seem insurmountable, so talking about the actual scope of a problem may be counterproductive. The feeling of being able to make a real and immediate difference is a necessity for donors.

  • Event-based fundraising has evolved way past the annual gala. In a fascinating case study, the founder of Tap Cancer Out described how he left his “day job” to create a nonprofit funded from tournaments held for Jiu-Jitsu competitors and community. Big learning: creating incentives to motivate increased peer-to-peer fundraising. Tap Cancer Out had a very sophisticated strategy with swag to inspire higher and higher levels of fundraising by event participants.

  • Too much choice in digital is counter-productive. In one session, we saw case studies with cold, hard statistically significant data proving that donors expect nonprofits to act as their “sherpa.” Too much choice—on donation forms especially—can cause them to abandon ship and take their contributions with them. Simplicity and elegance win every time.

Our overall takeway from the conference is that donors continue to be more discerning across the board. The bar is going up. Appeals focusing solely on emotion won’t cut it anymore. Donors want outcomes/proof that their money is doing good work. This is a drum we’ve been beating for quite a well … and the drum is getting louder.