Thursday, March 28, 2013

Senate Seeks to End Political Mail Discounts

Here's some unpleasant news for political campaigners: The Senate has approved a budget amendment to take away mailing discounts for political campaigns and committees. The move is aimed at generating more revenue for the struggling U.S. Postal Service, and it is estimated that the end of nonprofit postal discount rates for political mailers would bring in at least $15 billion in additional revenue annually. That would be a boon for the USPS, which is losing $40 million a day, and a blow to small political campaigns forced to pay full postage. For the news alert, see

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Take Some Nonprofit Research With a Grain of Salt

We often pass along nonprofit research results to campaigns and causes, but here's a timely caution that all research is not equal. Some "studies" can mislead, and you should always look behind the curtain before you let any "findings" influence marketing strategy. In a recent opinion piece in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, cited five basic questions to ask before you swallow a nonprofit research report hook, line and sinker. Watch out for faulty methodology (self-selecting participants instead of a representative sample); unwarranted conclusions (those oversimplified headline grabbers); collective opinion (informed expertise is not unbiased data); unreported prior research (new findings without context); and unidentified sponsors (yes, research can be biased by its funding). For the full article, got to

Thursday, March 21, 2013

FCC Cites Robocallers for Cell Phone Campaigning

Regulators have responded to the many mobile phone users complaining about unsolicited political "robocalls" last year. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently cited two robocalling firms for illegally sending campaign messages to cell phone users in 2011 and 2012. Dialing Services, based in New Mexico and specializing in Republican campaigning, and Democratic Dialing, based in Colorado and largely a Democratic campaign tool, are both accused of placing calls to consumers without their permission and of failing to properly identify themselves to those called. Communications law generally prohibits robocalls and auto-dialed calls, including voice messages and text messages, to wireless phones unless the users have granted permission for the contact, or there is an emergency. The FCC warned the two firms to stop making illegal calls within 15 days. If they fail to stop, or restart the practice, the robocallers can be fined as much as $16,000 per call. For the whole news story, go to

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Obama Starts Fundraising; GOP Urged to Revamp

After only a brief pause, President Obama is returning to the campaign trail to raise funds for Democratic candidates in 2014 races. Obama's fundraising plans are reportedly more ambitious than previous second-term presidents. He has committed to hosting at least 14 fundraisers for House and Senate Democratic hopefuls this year. According to various news stories, he will kick off his effort April 3 in San Francisco. The Republican response? Well, after some party soul-searching about its 2012 database and digital lags, the Republican National Committee announced it will be going to San Francisco as well -- to open an office in the heavily Democratic city in order to better connect "with people who can improve the party's technology," per a quote from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. The RNC is concerned with changing more than the GOP's tactical approach, of course. A recently released RNC analysis urged an overhaul of party message, warning that female, minority and younger voters have been alienated by what they see as the GOP's stale policies and image of intolerance. However, the report came up short on policy changes that might woo these voters. For more on the RNC report, see The Los Angeles Times story at,0,4073628.story?track=rss

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Nonprofit Groups Track Pain of Sequestration

Two nonprofit groups are trying to track the impact of federal sequestration spending cuts on nonprofit organizations and the communities they serve. The National Council of Nonprofits (NCN) has launched the site as a "storytelling and data collection hub" to allow nonprofits to share their stories about sequestration. At the same time, The Center for Effective Government (CEG), formerly OMB Watch, had added a new page called "Sequestration Central" to its website The page will be dedicated to tracking "both projected and actual impacts on affected federal programs" through original reports and analyses by CEG, as well as links to media stories and other relevant organizations. Sequestration -- which will cut spending on education, national parks, air traffic control and consumer safety by about 5% and defense by almost 8% -- will put multiple new strains on charities. NCN President and CEO Tim Delaney explained to "NonProfit Times" recently that many nonprofits will be "hit by direct funding cuts to programs, hit again as state and local government cut their funding further to make up for their budgets being cut, and hit a third time as people who are furloughed or laid off as part of sequestration turn to nonprofits for help in unprecedented numbers." If your nonprofit is adversely affected, share the pain, urges Delaney, to push policymakers to fix the sequester and "stop hurting the American people." See the complete story at

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Should a Consumer Brand Jump Into Politics?

What do most consumer brands gain when they publicly take sides in our divisive national political debates? Less market share would be the warning from Michael Jordan in a recent piece for the Beloved Brands blog. He cites the negative brouhahas when Chick-Fil-A's president publicly declared his support of traditional marriage, or when Whole Foods' CEO derided Obamacare as "fascism," or when Donald Trump championed any one of his more extreme attention-getters. Results? Chick-Fil-A's positive brand rating plummeted, and the company quickly sought to distance itself from its chief's personal opinions. Whole Foods was battered by a social media storm among its upscale clientele, and the CEO hurried to recast his comments. And Donald Trump is reaping lower ratings for "The Apprentice" as well as his mainstream political ambitions. Of course, if your product, service or industry is directly involved in, or affected by, legislation, then a public position can make sense -- although it may be seen as self-serving. For most consumer brand marketers, however, Jordan advises turning to "Sesame Street" for some basic wisdom: When Mitt Romney gave Big Bird a chance to speak out for government funding, the tall yellow fellow kept mum and thus kept true to an apolitical brand for parents all along the political spectrum. For the complete article, see

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Use of Infographics Can Boost Fundraising Response

Infographics, those colorful visualizations of data, are now being used by some nonprofits to more effectively communicate with donors and activists by incorporating them in e-mail, direct mail, social media, presentations, video, and even decals. Wondering how infographics can help your fundraising campaign? Production Solutions, a production management firm, has come to the rescue with an infographic (of course) on nonprofit use of infographics. Among the persuasive factoids graphically displayed: The African Wildlife Federation increased its overall response rate more than 893% over comparable e-mail campaigns with standard text when it used an e-mail campaign with infographics -- and increased donations 252%. Nonprofit amfAR increased prospect response 13.5% and reinstatement program response 11% when it incorporated infographics in its direct mail. To get a look at the complete infographic, go to

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Politics Embraces Micro-targeting, Faces New Issues

Micro-targeted political advertising will continue to attract more candidates and causes now that its power and promise have been demonstrated in the 2012 election, according to a new study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). It would be surprising if campaigners didn't rush to embrace it when IAB analysis concludes that micro-targeted digital advertising can make the difference between winning and losing in close elections, and when, at the recent IAB Annual Leadership Meeting, a data guru like Nate Silver, author of the best-selling "The Signal and the Noise," forecasts that the future of political campaigns will depend on micro-targeting and Big Data analytics. Besides looking back at the changes wrought by the micro-targeting trend, the IAB study also highlighted future opportunities and challenges. Among the opportunities are tweaking targeted ads by monitoring voter reaction, and combining "retail " door-to-door campaigning with microtargeting tactics. Among the challenges are some thorny privacy issues as well as use of mobile apps. For a summary of study findings or to download the whole whitepaper, go to