Thursday, December 27, 2012

'Fiscal Cliff' Cuts Threaten Nonprofit Fundraising

As Republicans and Democrats argue over how to cut the budget and avoid the "fiscal cliff," charitable donations may be one thing pushed over the edge. Many nonprofit organization leaders are not happy with President Obama's latest proposal to allow deduction of up to 35% of charitable donations, even though this is up from his previously proposed 28% limit. Charities argue for retention of the current deduction maximum, which is tied to the top income-tax rate set to increase to 39.6% for the wealthiest taxpayers once Bush-era tax cuts expire this month. President Obama wants to sever that link and place a cap on the percentage of a donation that could be deducted. Nonprofit estimates of the negative impact on donations have been as high as $7 billion less annually. However, Obama's plan is more appealing to nonprofits than Republican proposals for a ceiling of up to $50,000 on all tax deductions, since taxpayers would max out that dollar cap on deductions for mortgage-interest payments, state and local taxes, etc. But a bigger concern is that fiscal cliff wrangling will ultimately produce some new solution with direr impact. A recent "Chronicle of Philanthropy" article summed up that fear in a quote from Tim Delaney, chief executive for the National Council of Nonprofits: "There’s a huge trap door that we all see beneath us. We’re just hoping no one pulls the lever and we all drop through it." Read the story at

Thursday, December 20, 2012

'Social Giving' Made Its Mark in 2012

Nonprofit fundraising via social media, "social giving," reached new heights this year, and a new "infographic" from MDG Advertising should inspire fundraisers for causes and campaigns to put social media at the top of agendas in 2013. Per compiled data for 2012, some 98% of nonprofits already have a presence on Facebook, 74% on Twitter and 66% on YouTube. And nonprofits are benefiting: Fundraisers who add Twitter to their social outreach see almost 10 times more dollars generated. The average donation through social media has increased annually, reaching $59 in 2012, and dollars raised by online crowdfunding platforms, like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, increased 91% this year, going from $1.47 billion in 2011 to $2.81 billion in 2012. The success of #GivingTuesday, a social-media-powered effort to woo donations on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, underscores the social giving trend. In 2012, the day brought in $10 million in online donations, up 53% from 2011. To see more from the infographic, go to

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Campaigns Miss Opportunities With Hispanics

Everyone talked about the Hispanic voter in the recent election, yet campaign spending on TV and mobile, channels with higher percentages of Hispanic audience, did not target messages specifically to Latinos. The Republican campaigns and PACs, who spent big bucks on television, largely ignored Latinos in their messaging, and were rebuffed when 71% of Hispanic voters chose President Obama, even though 54% of Hispanics identify themselves as "conservative," as Sam Thielman points out in a recent "Adweek" article. "If there's one lesson from the presidential race for marketers, it's that you can drop all the money you want on digital, but if you don't devote a significant percentage of it to reaching Hispanics, you're missing a large opportunity," he concludes. Some numbers to make the case clearer: Trendrr data for broadcast outlets during the election put 1.46 million viewers on social media during the election on NBC. There were 1.43 million watching coverage on Fox, 1.37 million on ABC and 1.32 million on CBS. But the Spanish-language broadcasters came in next, with 1.3 million and 1.29 million on Telemundo and Univision, respectively. For more, see the article at

Thursday, December 13, 2012

'Tis the Season to Connect With Supporters

With 2012 election campaigning completed, it's tempting to just relax for the holidays. But the festive year-end season is a great time for candidates and nonprofit-cause promoters to connect with, and give back to, supporters and donors -- creating positive momentum for 2013 fundraising and fans. A recent article in "Campaigns and Elections" suggests some simple ideas: send out holiday cards with thanks and good wishes; volunteer at holiday events and personally give back to the community; create your own event to spread holiday cheer; and use social media to share the warm, personal side of a candidate, campaign or cause celebrating the holidays. For more, see the article at

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Data Was the Biggest Winner in the 2012 Election

The 2012 election demonstrated, beyond a doubt, the power of using data and analytics in political campaigning. A new generation of data crunchers, predictive modelers and online marketers emerged triumphant, outflanking supposed political masterminds like Karl Rove to more accurately take the pulse of the electorate, get out the vote and raise money, opines Rio Longacre in a recent "Target Marketing" magazine column. Longacre remarks that "there's no doubt in anyone's mind that for data-driven marketers, the 2012 U.S. election victory was a watershed moment in history." If the "secret sauce" behind Obama's win was his massive data effort, the master chefs were a new cadre of data techs. Obama relied on an in-house team of data scientists and online marketers, recruiting elite and senior tech talent from Twitter, Google, Facebook, Craigslist and Quora, as Longacre points out. Because of their success, expect to see "data" driving political campaigning in more new and exciting directions. For the full article, see

Thursday, December 6, 2012

When Social Media and Politics Wed, Both Change

Post-election, there are lots of articles about how social media changed political campaigning, so it's refreshing when someone points out that politics has changed social media, too. That's the take of Mark Blackham in When the campaigns started using social media to raise money, it pushed the maturation of the channel into "a legitimate way to connect with the public for money and activity, not just a place where cheering came from," remarks Blackham. Meanwhile, when mainstream media began to include social media reactions, they legitimized social channels as forums of public opinion -- although the focus on lighthearted or off-kilter commentary, sort of a "wittier multi-media version of talk radio," risks undermining a serious role in the future, Blackham says. Finally, political and media participation expanded social media into places of wider, more organized political engagement, a chance to unify around shared ideologies and political parties instead of the "free-for-all and disruptive" political expression of the past. For more of Blackham's remarks, see

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Does 'Hijacking' Online Ads Work to Build Support?

Both the Obama and Romney campaigns engaged in online "hijacking" this election. It's a tactic that means people typing the keyword "Obama" into a search engine, like Google, are served Romney ads, and vice versa. It's a new twist in the political realm but not new to online marketers seeking competitive brand awareness. However, the practice of selling ads on competing search results also has stirred lawsuits against Google by companies like Geico and Rosetta Stone, alleging that it enables trademark violation. Court rulings have been mixed on the advertising legality. However, the real question for political campaigns and causes is whether they risk confusing or turning off the very supporters they seek to woo -- and the jury is still out on that. For a discussion of hijacking online ads in politics, see the "Bloomberg News" story at

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Can Romney's Loss Be Traced to List Shortfalls?

Did anemic mailing lists help doom the Romney campaign? A "Direct Marketing News" piece by News Editor Al Urbanski cites a telling analysis by GB Heidarsson, SVP of sales and marketing at eDataSource, which monitored the mailings of both candidates during the campaign. Heidarsson reports that Romney's mailing list consisted of about 4 million individual supporters, versus 40 million for Obama, The Obama campaign also sent more total e-mails, at the rate of 20-to-1, according to Heidarsson. Romney, who notably lost out with Hispanics, younger voters and women, even failed to knock on the doors of his conservative Republican base: "Obama was using all the lists the Democratic National Committee had, but we couldn't see — and we followed this closely — any list rentals or co-registrations for Romney," Heidarsson told DM News. He concludes, "What percentage of a 10-times-larger list would you have had to get to vote another way to actually win this election? The way I see it, the Romney campaign left a huge potential channel virtually untouched."

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Survey: Campaigns Ads Wasted on Young Voters

Here's a discouraging tidbit for campaigners trying to get out the youth vote: A survey of students at Miami University’s Farmer School of Business, in ad-blitzed swing state Ohio, found more than half (56%) believed social media, advertising, and voter registration efforts did not impact their decision on whether to vote in Election 2012. Before campaign planners give up on spending to mobilize younger voters, they may want to rethink their social media targeting and spend, however. The survey also found that while 41% of students said their knowledge of the issues came mainly from television news, 22% cited social media as their main political information source. See the news story at

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Election Took Online Targeting to a New Level

Isn't it ironic that the Obama administration, which threatens regulation to protect online privacy, pushed online targeting to a whole new level to win re-election? Gordon Crovitz, a Wall Street Journal" columnist, makes that point in a recent piece on how politicians are now leveraging massive databases for online "hypertargeting." First, like commercial online advertisers, a political campaign drops a "cookie" on user computers to track online habits -- and the Obama team dropped 87 million different cookies on unsuspecting visitors, Crovitz notes. Then, like sophisticated online retailers, online activity data is enhanced by demographics (like sex and age) and purchase behaviors (like charity donations). Finally, the data is politically enriched by publicly available voter records. And don't forget the trove of data mined from social media. And yet the same politicians talk about regulating commercial data usage! It would be less hypocritical and more economically sensible, as Crovitz argues, for the winner of the White House to "give credit to how his campaign made smart use of targeted advertising online -- and then let the Internet continue to evolve without getting in the way." To read the WSJ column, see

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Did Obama's Social Media Success Help Him Win?

Before Barack Obama won the Presidency, he trounced Mitt Romney in social media -- at least in terms of Twitter followers, Facebook likes and YouTube fans. A number of stories, from the TV news to the "Direct Marketing News" magazine, tallied the social score pre-election: On Twitter, Obama had 21.5 million followers to Romney's 1.6 million. On Facebook, Obama had 31.6 million likes, while Romney garnered just 11.6 million. Obama's YouTube channel had 254,000 subscribers, with Romney reaching a mere 27,000. Similarly, Obama's Instagram feed had 1.5 million followers, while Romney attracted only 68,000. Did Obama's social margin translate into a vote margin? No ruling on that as yet. But to put Obama's social victory in perspective, it was one piece of an expensive multi-channel campaign that included micro-targeted online ads and, of course, television, and his social reach tapped a relatively small segment of voters: A recent Pew Research Center survey found that social media networks are a regular news source for just 17% of the population. For a good discussion of social media in the recent Presidential race, see the Channel 4 story at

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Online Videos Nab Attention of Majority of Voters

Whether informative or inflammatory, online political videos clearly won the attention of a majority of voters in the 2012 political races. According to the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project, 55% of registered voters watched political videos online this election season. And it was a highly social affair: Some 52% of registered voters said that other people recommended political videos for them to watch during the political campaigns, with social networking sites playing a prominent role in this process. For more on the research, see

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Election Shaped by Cutting-Edge Target Marketing

Political campaigning in 2012 leveraged a range of sophisticated direct marketing tools -- and left behind important lessons on what worked and what missed the mark  An excellent "Target Marketing" magazine article has surveyed direct marketing tactics that shaped the recent election, noting how Democrats and Republicans employed large, complex voter databases; "retargeting" web services for more effective online ads; micro-targeting analytics for personalized direct messaging; social media endorsements; and targeted e-mail and texting to capture votes and donations. For a more detailed discussion by political marketing pros, read the full article at

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Did Presidential Race Use Smart E-mail Marketing?

How well did Barack Obama and Mitt Romney use e-mail to market their messages?  Recently, Loren McDonald, vice president of industry relations at Silverpop, shared his analysis of e-mails from both presidential campaigns with Target Marketing magazine. He found successes and stumbles on both sides of the election contest. The Obama campaign definitely did better in terms of using first names to personalize for better response:  Obama e-mails greeted recipients by first name 98% of the time, while Romney e-mails did it only 8.5% of the time. But the candidates both missed the mark in other areas, such as failing to consistently use a well-known person in the From line. Through July, Obama had used 15 different "From Names," and Romney had used 17 different "From Names." For more analysis of Presidential campaign e-mails, see

Thursday, November 1, 2012

PACs' TV Ads Rate High With Independent Voters

PACs dominate the TV ads seen as most effective by independent voters in this Presidential election. Ace Metrix surveyed independent voters and found that, of the top 10 most effective presidential ads, seven out of 10 were from PACs, according to a report in Adweek magazine. Only three non-PAC ads, from the Obama for America campaign, made the researcher's list of top 10 most effective ads. No ads from the Romney for President campaign scored in the top 10, but, of the seven top PAC ads, six favored Romney. For more details, see the story

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Campaigns Need New Media in Multichannel Mix

Although the 2012 election's partisan messages may be familiar, they are delivered in unusually diverse ways this time around. Indeed, an integrated, multi-channel communications mix is the hallmark of the tight Presidential race and has key lessons for candidates, causes and corporations moving forward, asserts a recent blog post by marketing pro Ernan Roman. Traditionally, TV, print and radio have been the mainstays of presidential campaigns, but they're no longer enough to engage today’s multi-channel public, the blog notes. Social media sharing, mobile fundraising, and online ads are essential parts of the media mix for campaigns now. To underscore the point, the blog post points to recent Borrell Associates research that found that while candidates still primarily use traditional media, campaign ads dropped from 61.9% to 57.3% for TV since the 2008 election, while online media received six times more funding than it did in 2008. Conclusion: Power up all elements of the media mix if you want to engage today’s multi-channel consumers! For more, see the post at

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Democrats Top GOP in Scanty Texting Sign-ups

When it comes to mobile political messaging, voters are more interested in sending than receiving. Campaigns across the political spectrum are asking for mobile numbers this election season as voters "sign" online petitions or donate. But according to "The State of the 2012 Election - Mobile Politics" from Pew Research Center, as reported by ClickZ News, just 5% of registered voters with cell phones have actually provided their mobile numbers. Democrats appear more open to receiving political texts than Republicans, however, and Independents are the most resistant to mobile messaging. Just 3% of Independent voters said they have signed up to get texts from a political group or candidate, compared with 6% of Republican voters and 8% of Democrats. But voters are less averse to sending their own messages: Of the 88% of registered voters who use cellphones, 18% have used their phones to post their own political comments on a social site.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Survey: Online Political Ads Work to Woo Voters

Online political ads are both more ubiquitous and more targeted this campaign cycle. Do they work to win donations and support? The answer is "yes" per a new survey of American voters by Toluna, a global online survey provider. Adam Lehman's report in Advertising Age on Toluna findings confirmed that an increasing number of voters are encountering political ads online, with 55% of respondents saying they'd seen political ads online this year, second only to TV as a source for such ads (at 88%). In general, consumers were negative on all political ads, but the Internet-based ads were compared with radio and newspaper-based appeals as less offensive than other venues. (Most hated were robocalls.) More important, nearly 60% said the improved data-driven targeting of online ads is a "good thing," and more than half of respondents said the online ads had prompted them to take action: donating to a campaign (11%); going to a campaign website (14%); seeking more information about a candidate (25%)' paying more attention to a candidate's campaign (24%); or voting (33%). For details, see

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Political Campaigns Still Spend Big on 'Snail Mail'

Direct mail is still a potent force in political campaigns. Modern politicking certainly has increased the use of online ads and social media to reach voters, but the campaigns of both President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney have spent more on old fashioned "snail mail," per a recent Washington Post newspaper story. The two presidential campaigns have spent twice as much on fliers, get-out-the-vote cards and other forms of direct mail as they have on Internet advertising, according to disclosure data and campaign aides. The goal is to appeal to millions of baby boomers and retirees, who may prefer the familiarity of mail to pop-up ads, YouTube videos and Twitter tweets. For more, see

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hispanic Voters Get Short Shrift in Political Ads

Wooing Hispanic voters doesn't seem to be a priority for 2012's crop of political ads. The United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce looked at 10 states (California, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Florida, Arizona, Texas, New York and Virginia) from April through September and found that just 4.57% of the political ad spend went to Spanish-language advertising. These figures represent ads for local, state and federal elections. At the presidential campaign level, the Obama campaign has spent less than 10% of its budget to woo Latinos, and that the Romney camp has spent just over 4%. So despite the political pundits, 2012 is not going to be the "year of the Hispanic voter." For more, see

Thursday, October 11, 2012

'Obama Effect' Has Lessons for Online Fundraisers

The Obama for America campaign in 2008 brought the power of online fundraising to the forefront, and there are some key lessons for multichannel fundraisers who seek to emulate that online success. A recent article "The Obama Effect: 20 Takeaways for Multichannel Fundraisers" lays out ideas critical to online fundraising, drawing from a high-level study “Cross-Channel Fundraising Tips and Trends” by Direct Marketing IQ. The first three findings make the case for amping up online giving efforts: Online does not cannibalize direct mail, older donors are online now, and online donors are extremely valuable. The article goes on to supply cogent tips on how to implement a digital program for maximum results. Check it out at

Monday, October 8, 2012

Microtargeting Drives Surge in Digital Political Ads

Political advertisers want “microtargeting,” and streaming digital sites like Hulu are cashing in, according to a recent "Adweek" article by Sam Thielman. “When it comes to microtargeting, that’s where you do it — social and digital advertising,” is the quote from one ad buyer at a major agency placing political ads. Hulu Senior Vice President of Advertising JP Colaco was happy to back that: “You can actually target down to the ZIP code. You can really target down in those battleground states if you're trying to target someone specifically.”  Another digital advantage, per Colaco: “The Obama campaign, which is a big advertiser for us, is actually using an ad-selector format,” allowing the user to choose the campaign and ad message most relevant to them. That self-selection makes viewers feel less bombarded and more in control, he noted. For more, see the article at