Thursday, June 27, 2013

Improving Your Cause or Campaign Website Ranking

If your campaign or cause has a website that isn't coming up near the top of listings for online searches, you could be missing connections to your voter base and potential online donations. Here are some basic tips from Online Candidate, a political website provider, on how to boost your search presence. Here's a no-brainer: Optimize your website with text that includes the candidate or cause name, your geographic target audience (such as state or municipality), and key topics or issues in the campaign or nonprofit appeal. Make sure that important search terms are used in your headlines and tags. Update frequently; search engines like fresh content. Focus on link building. Relevant, active in-bound links increase your search position. Some link suggestions: newspaper websites with relevant articles and online voter guides; other local candidates or causes; political party websites; supporter group websites; websites of groups campaigning for similar causes; and local or regional sites. Try to create links back to your site with varied link text, especially including names, locations and issues to boost your search relevance across more keywords; for example, go beyond links for "Smith for Mayor" to use "Smith for Happytown Mayor" and "Smith for Happytown Dog Park." For more, go to

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What to Do When Direct Mail Misses Young Donors

What can a nonprofit do when its usual direct mail efforts aren't attracting enough younger donors? Chet Dalzell recently commented in Target Marketing Magazine on an interesting marketing strategy by Covenant House, a nonprofit helping homeless children. In 2012, Covenant House was disappointed in its direct mail results with younger prospects so it went hunting online, setting up a series of petitions through Care2, the online social action community, on four topics: child trafficking, emergency health care, aging out of foster care, and domestic violence. They received names and online contact information from tens of thousands and this year used those names in a three-part e-mail series relevant to each petition subject, seeking to turn digital fans into donors. Those who didn't respond to the e-mails got a telemarketing call. Early results are positive, per Dalzell, but direct mail hasn't been dropped as a result. Since multi-channel donors are more generous and sustained givers, the young digital donors should look to see a direct mail piece in the near future, and direct mail continues to be Covenant House's "workhorse" of acquisition, says Dalzell. Bottom line: The lesson isn't "to mail or not to mail"; it's about a smart multi-channel mix, segmentation and testing. For more, see the article at

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Foundations Seek to Reflect 'Changing Face of America'

Appeal to America's changing demographics was considered a key factor in President Obama's recent re-election. Everyone talks about the "changing face of America" -- with a growing Latino population and more same-sex couples, for example -- but have the leaders and constituencies of philanthropic associations and foundations changed to match? A progress report on the successes and challenges of increasing diversity, equity and inclusion in the philanthropy arena was recently released by the D5 coalition. Launched in April 2011, D5 is a coalition of leading philanthropic associations and foundations with a five-year diversity project. By the end of 2015, D5 hopes to achieve goals such as recruiting of more diverse foundation leadership, increasing funding for diverse communities, and improving data collection to measure diversity progress in philanthropy. Among positive moves highlighted was the April meeting of 26 leaders of major foundations -- including the California Endowment, Annie E. Casey Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Open Society Foundations -- to form an alliance for action on issues affecting youth of color. For more on D5 and its progress report, go to

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Environmentalists Hit Facebook CEO's Advocacy Ads

When corporate leaders decide to take public political stands, they sometimes are surprised by the "blowback" for their brand. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook co-founder and CEO, may soon find that out with his new advocacy group Created in April, promotes policies designed to keep the United States and its citizens competitive in a global economy, including comprehensive immigration and education reform. But the organization also recently paid for television ads that supported two conservative politicians seeking expansion of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, drawing criticism from progressive and environmental groups and even a small group of protesters at Facebook's California headquarters. The goal was to back the politicians, Democratic Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, in exchange for their support of immigration reform, but the environmental groups didn't see it that way. "The advertising, including the harsh and immediate counterattack from the climate change community, underscores the complexity of publicly traded companies and their CEOs frontally engaging in candidate campaigns," Democratic strategist Chris Lehane told the Los Angeles Times in a recent story. "Politics is a full-contact sport and when a company jumps into the arena, even if just through the actions of its leadership, it opens up the political brand of that company." See the full news story at,0,5421214.story

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Donors Skittish As Enroll America Draws Scrutiny

The Obama administration’s efforts to raise private money to support implementation of its health care law have provoked such an uproar on Capitol Hill that potential donors are hesitant to contribute, according to a New York Times story citing people involved in the fundraising program. The partisan outcry in Congress began after it was revealed that Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius had made fundraising calls to business executives and nonprofit groups to assist Enroll American, a private nonprofit organization that will encourage millions of Americans to sign up for insurance this fall. Enroll America is led by veterans of the Obama White House and presidential campaigns. It plans to use campaign-style techniques to locate the uninsured. White House officials said that, while generally aware that Sebelius would be seeking support from outside groups, they did not sign off on the fundraising calls by Sebelius, per the New York Times story. Now two House committees have begun investigating the solicitations, and senior Republicans from the Senate and the House have asked the comptroller general of the United States to investigate the actions of Sebelius to determine if she was improperly circumventing spending limits imposed by Congress. One of the House panels, the Energy and Commerce Committee, has also asked health insurance companies to provide records of any contacts with administration officials seeking money or other assistance for President Obama’s campaign to enroll people eligible for subsidized insurance. For the New York Times story, go to

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Former Obama Campaign CTO Shares Lessons

Today's data-driven, social-media-heavy political marketing requires support of a skilled technical team for success. Who better to give advice than Harper Reed, former CTO of the Obama campaign? Reed was the keynote speaker at the Business Marketing Association Chicago's Fuel Keynote & Expo in May. Creating the right team was one focus: both hiring smart people and not being afraid to "prune" ineffective performers. "Practicing for failure" was another piece of advice, meaning anticipating and preparing for technical problems in advance. Reed said his team spent a month enacting myriad technological breakdowns so they would be ready for anything. When it came to choosing a mix of social media channels, Reed was inclusive rather than selective. The campaign had people dedicated to each of the various social channels, he said, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and reddit. “There was no channel too small or too weird -- except Pinterest, because it just didn't work,” he said. See the BtoB Magazine report at

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Turn Facebook Fans Into an E-mail Donor List

Your cause or campaign is getting lots of "likes" on its Facebook page, but how do you transform more of those fans into donors? One way is to get Facebook supporters to move from one digital stage to another by joining your e-mail list, where they are more likely to donate in response to a private and focused appeal., a website of "social solutions for nonprofits," has a good tutorial to help you do that. Step one is to come up with a way to make the value of joining the e-mail list outweigh the potential nuisance. Socialbrite suggestions include offering a free e-book as reward, or regular e-mails of relevant information, or a chance to sign a petition. The next step is obvious: Put an opt-in form on your Facebook page. You don't have to be a tech guru to do it; you can turn to a service like Aweber or MailChimp to create the form and then add it to your custom tab. Create an opt-in call to action that is simple, visual and compelling, and don't get pushy and scare away sign-ups: Ask for only the name and e-mail address. Remember to make that form mobile-friendly, too, to catch supporters on the go. Then promote your e-mail list sign-up with updates and ads. For easy to follow examples, go to list/

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Nonprofit Leaders Fear IRS Scandal Fallout

Nonprofit leaders are worried about the negative impact on all tax-exempt charities from the IRS scandal over 501(c)4 social welfare groups. A recent article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy laid out some of the potential collateral damage from the scandal. For example, charities have wanted the IRS to beef up oversight of tax-exempt groups and give clearer guidance on "political activities" by charities and advocacy groups for many years, but that's unlikely until the political storm passes. Nonprofit leaders are also concerned that 501(c)3 groups, which cannot engage in partisan politics at all, will be tarred with same brush as 501(c)4 advocacy groups that can do politicking as long as it is not their primary activity. "All nonprofits are being smeared as though we are engaging in political activity," fretted Tim Delaney, president of the National Council of Nonprofits, in the article. One unhappy result may be that the non-political charities, who file about 60,000 applications for tax-exempt status a year, will face significant delays in approval as Congress reviews treatment of the 3,500 annual applications from advocacy groups. Without tax-exempt status, charities are significantly impeded; they may not solicit donations in several states and are not eligible for lower postal rates or most foundation grants. Charities now are also likely to shy away from anything that smacks of advocacy, including lobbying Congress on budget issues that affect them. For the whole story, see