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