Thursday, February 28, 2013

Even Serious Causes Enjoy Light-hearted Memes

Your marketing team may work for a serious and important cause, but that doesn't preclude sharing a smile at an Internet meme (popular and clever online images and catchphrases) to boost spirits, blogs Steve MacLaughlin in a recent post on He provides some of his own nonprofit memes, so that, from the mouths of babies and Star Wars characters, marketing slogans take on a humorous twist. He suggests you check out if you also want to lighten the hard work of nonprofit marketing. Because there's some wild stuff floating around the Internet, we would add an important caveat: Avoid images and language that might be considered offensive or inappropriate by some, especially in the workplace, or that is not in keeping with the image or purpose of your particular campaign or cause. Misguided private jokes can easily become public scandal in the social sharing environment. That said, take a look at Steve's nonprofit memes for a chuckle at

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Gleaning Campaign Lessons From Advocacy Groups

Advocacy groups know that campaigning doesn't end with an election cycle -- working to get supporters engaged and active is their year-round mission. A recent "Campaign & Elections" magazine article pointed up five lessons that advocacy organizations may have for your campaign or cause. A quick summary starts with keeping staff and processes flexible and working outside of the communications silos. Second, advertise to scale: A small targeted social media campaign that leverages influencers can deliver more bang for the buck than trying to target within a big ad buy. Third, when you create those ads, stay on message but don't avoid creative, outside-the-box appeals to attract a broader audience. Indeed, engagement is the name of the game, advocacy groups remind; keep the channels that worked during an election cycle active and promoting, win or lose. And, finally, your organization doesn't have to go it alone; leveraging like-minded groups to cooperate on a short-term campaign can have long-term benefits. For the complete article, go to

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Online Giving Is Emerging Non-Profit Growth Engine

Online fundraising emerged as a bright spot in the otherwise lackluster non-profit fundraising climate last year, according to Blackbaud's 2012 "Charitable Giving Report." Blackbaud Senior Digital Marketer Frank Barry recently blogged about key online-giving findings that should inspire non-profits to focus on expanding  their online fundraising efforts. First, online giving is a fundraising growth engine, climbing 10.7% in 2012 compared with just 1.7% for overall fundraising year-over-year. Second, every non-profit sector (with the possible exception of faith-based appeals) saw online giving growth. Plus, data shows online donors are younger and have higher lifetime value -- especially if a multi-channel retention approach moves donors from online to offline giving channels. Barry adds an important caveat to this paean to online giving, however. Before rushing to focus on online to the neglect of traditional channels, note that traditional fundraising channels -- direct mail, events, major gifts, etc. -- still accounted for 93% of donations last year. For the full blog post, go to

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Events Demand Multi-Channel, Multi-Touch Effort

Event promotion is a common but sometimes challenging activity for campaigns and causes. A recent blog post by Lori Halley of Wild Apricot, the membership software firm, had some cogent advice for a multi-touch, multi-channel strategy -- adding new communications tools to traditional ones, like direct mail, for a more potent marketing mix. Part of a "multi-touch" approach starts by leveraging staff and volunteer social networks. Your organization can provide staff, volunteers, and fans with suggested guest posts, tweets, and draft text/visuals with links to event information, for example. Then make sure the formal event promotion plan also effectively includes online and social channels. For example, besides putting the event on the homepage and in the events calendar, create a dedicated web page with online registration capability and auto confirmations. Besides direct mail announcements, send coordinated, automated e-mail event promotions and reminders to your database. Maximize social media by enabling social sharing buttons/widgets wherever possible -- on your website, social media pages, blogs and e-mails. Create event pages for your social communities (on Facebook, for example), put event hashtags on tweets, use the LinkedIn event application, and everywhere don't be shy about asking for "likes" and sharing. And what about a video on the event or the cause for YouTube or Flickr? For more ideas, see the blog post at

Thursday, February 14, 2013

'Green' Myths Distort Marketing Best Practices

Eco-friendly "green marketing" is one of the socially responsible standards embraced by some nonprofit and political campaigns, yet many unknowingly may subscribe to myths that do not achieve, and even harm, their goal of environmentally friendly communications. In a recent "Target Marketing" blog guest article, Adam Freedgood, chair of the Direct Marketing Association's Committee on the Environment and Social Responsibility, sought to debunk a few costly and unproductive green marketing myths. For example, the notion that "paperless" digital marketing is better for the environment than print-based media is unproven and ignores facts like this: Most electronic digital devices are made of toxic heavy metals and petroleum-based plastics and are too toxic for landfills, yet a mere 15% of the tons of e-waste produced each year is safely recycled. And what about the massive energy demands of fossil-fuel-powered data centers and the air pollution created? For more mythbusting, see the full article at

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Will Democrats Sell Voter Data to Commercial Marketers?

Will Democrats start selling voter opinion data to commercial marketers? The National Voter File Co-op, formed in 2011 by state Democratic Party leaders to sell voter data to approved nonprofit groups, is looking into whether commercial interests, such as credit card companies or retailers like Target, also will want to buy their voter information, which includes opinions and preferences as well as public record data. The Co-op goal is to recoup money local Democratic parties have spent collecting and updating their local voter lists, which include voters of all parties. Each state Democratic Party will have the final say over whether to sell their voter information for commercial purposes, and sales will abide by individual state laws on how public voting records can be used. But experts note that state political data laws do not apply to opinion information provided by voters to the party, say through campaign canvassers, or collected from primary participation. So there may be controversy ahead for Democratic data marketers. In his "Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights" released last year, President Barack Obama argued that when companies collect personal data from consumers, they should only share it in ways consumers expect. Does that standard apply to a political party? For the full story, go to

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mobile Transactions: Fundraising's Next Revolution?

As growing mobile use weds with credit-card payment readers and apps, mobile transactions are going to become commonplace in fundraising -- at least that's the opinion of Atul Tandon, president of the Tandon Institute, in an article for "Fundraising Success" magazine. He foresees the day when fundraisers -- whether development professionals or volunteers -- will be able to quickly and easily gather donations large and small at any venue anywhere in the world by using card readers or payment apps with mobile devices. For those who doubt the height and depth of the transactional shift in fundraising, he cites the oncoming wave of a mobile generation. Recent data shows that those who donate via mobile are more likely to be part of the tech-savvy younger generation and more reflective of emerging American demographic diversity, for example. Blackbaud's recent "State of the Nonprofit Industry 2012" found that surveyed fundraisers themselves are predicting "explosive growth" in the use of mobile technologies for fundraising and marketing. That's good news for nonprofits in terms of lower overhead, lower fundraising costs and speedier donation growth. But it's also a challenge. How many are prepared for the coming-of-age of the mobile donor? For the full article, see

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Obama Marketing Machine Keeps Rolling

The election is over, but Obama's "big data" juggernaut keeps rolling. Al Urbanski, a senior writer at "Direct Marketing News," marvels at the barrage of e-mail messages he has gotten from the Obama team post-election. "It's like the election never ended. He and his people still have their lists, their website and their e-mail machine cranking. Obama & Co. remains a going concern," comments Urbanski. Regular e-mails now seek to enlist support for the President's agenda -- his new product launches, so to speak -- while still solicits contributions (to settle campaign debt) and gathers data to grow the Democrats' 40 million-name political database. The White House "marketing" team is calling on retail marketing strategies to keep that data working for them, apparently. Urbanski quotes Jimmy Duval, head of product management at Magento, an Ebay-owned platform that manages Obama's website as well as sites for Nike, Office Max, etc.: "They're using common retail strategies. This person bought a poster; let's sell her an inaugural item. Forget exit polls; this is what actually happened. It will be interesting to see how Obama will parlay this information into the next election." For the complete Urbanski article, go to