Monday, August 27, 2007

Blogging for CARE

Considering the content of my last post it would be a bit hypocritical of me if I didn't write a post about a great organization...

There are so many to choose from but I take my hat off to Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE). If you ever received a "CARE package" from friends or family while you were away from home you have this organization to thank for it!

CARE was founded in 1945 and today has projects ongoing in more than 60 countries fighting against global poverty.

What makes CARE better than the rest? Not only do they offer immediate emergency relief for the poorest communities in the world, but they go a step further to stay as long as needed to offer the tools and training necessary for lasting solutions and economic opportunities to ensure positive change can be sustained indefinitely.

For those of you who appreciate innovative efforts on the web I think CARE is leading the way as well with the Power Circle.

The slogan says it all, "She has the power to change the world. You have the power to help her do it."

Today I chose to use whatever blogging power I have to help CARE. Donate to CARE today!

Blog for Charity...Because They Can't Do Everything

The blogosphere is rich with posts about “why you should blog” but I am not offering a savvy list of the “top 3” reasons why you should join in.

Instead, I offer you one simple reason…I think you should do it for Charity.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was the facilitator on blogging at the New York Nonprofit DMA where we discussed the “Why’s” and “How’s” of blogging.
Everyone thought blogging had great potential for their organization but almost everybody agreed that there organizations didn’t have the resources to do it themselves.

Why leave the legwork of blogging to a nonprofit already short on resources when they have well versed blogging supporters like you who could do it for them. Don't you want them putting their time and money to work solving the world's problems anyway!

My suggestion, write a post about your favorite charity and why you support them. If I am reading your blog it means I respect your opinion…if your post is compelling I may join you.

If 100 million bloggers wrote just one post about why you should support their favorite charity what could happened?

If you need motivation or ideas on how to do this well check out Beth’s Blog and write your post today!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Tell-A-Friend Today!

Many nonprofits use creative methods to capture email addresses via online petitions, surveys, etc. and have had great success doing so but you or your organization doesn't need to have the next best campaign to save puppies AND children all at once to increase online subscribers/donors, just give them the option to "tell a friend" whenever and where ever possible.

If I visit your website, sign an online petition or donate it means I care about something you are doing. If you get my attention, provide me an answer I am looking for and if I care enough to give money I will probably tell friends about so make it as easy as possible to do so.

Include a "Tell-A-Friend" link on your homepage, on your donate page and even try it as part of a "thank you" email and e-newsletter and let us help you spread the word!

Might I suggest you start by passing on this post to someone you know?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Everything Nonprofits Need to Know about Web 2.0 is Here

The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) has compiled a great resource of content about how nonprofits are using technology and posted this Google Document for all to view.

If you have questions about how you can leverage blogs, myspace, facebook, etc. to further your cause this is a must read.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Web 2.0 - "Cultivate, Educate and Motivate"

I spent two days at the New York Nonprofit DMA listening to what's new in direct marketing and took every opportunity to here what organizations were doing in the world of Web 2.0.

The good news is that there are several organizations really jumping in with both feet and using the tools well despite the fact that their success appears difficult to measure and the financial support is minimal to date.

The bad news, is that much of the focus seemed to be on how much money is being raised using these new tools. If new revenue was the key measure of success in month one, or even year one of any direct mail program would half of these people still have jobs and be hear talking direct mail?

Back to the good news, I did make note of a great phrase I heard -- I believe the credit goes to the ASPCA -- "Cultivate, Educate and Motivate". Notice, there was no mention of, "ask to donate". Then again, I suspect if you can do all three of these things well raising money will be no problem!

Web 2.0 is a great platform to cultivate, educate and motivate. Building relationships with empowered people who share your views could turn into "boots on the ground" supporters that could have a huge impact on your organizations ability to raise money, gain public support if/when the next natural disaster hits at home or abroad.

Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us

I saw this video for the first time in January and was really impressed with its message and creative delivery.

I had assumed "everyone" had seen it until last week when I was the facilitator for a round table discussion on blogging at the New York Nonprofit DMA.

If you have seen it, I suggest watching it again as it gets better and better each time. If you joined me for the round table on blogging, and are visiting my blog thanks for a great conversation and welcome to the "blogosphere"!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Live Life the Ebay Way

I am a huge fan of Ebay and have talked at length about my wins and losses to anyone who will listen.

Ebay offers a medium to find almost anything you could imagine and gives you a chance to get it for less than face value if your lucky.

Log on, search for what you want, put in the maximum price you are willing to pay for the item and go about your life until the auction ends. Ebay is so helpful that you don't even need to check back to see if you won, they will email you directly as soon as the auction ends to let you know you've won.

Yeah right!

I have bid on many auctions and can't remember one that didn't end with a flurry of last minute bids by people outdoing the current high bidder by $2.50 and in the interest of full disclosure I can't remember one auction I bid on where I wasn't one of THOSE PEOPLE!

The trick here is knowing what your MAXIMUM is...and if you know this you won't only be a power seller on Ebay but a master at life!

Outside of the Ebay world this concept can be referred to as your "Walk Away Position". At what point are you simply going to say this price is too high? Knowing the answer to this question before you log on to Ebay or walk into a car dealership will save you a lot of time and agony.

Understanding if your walk away position is stronger than the other bidders, the car salesman or your potential clients will make you a master at negotiation!

What Makes You So Special?

On the surface this question seems sarcastic, especially when you hear it from your Mother as a young boy or girl caught taking the last cookie without offering it to at least split it 50/50 with a sibling.

Fast forward to a time in your life when your priorities extend beyond cookies and this question should be at the top of your list as consumers looking for a new mobile provider, as clients looking for financial or legal advice and most of all as charitable donors!!

Let's ask the question a little differently, "What makes you relevant?" In a crowded marketplace of nonprofits a great answer to this question will separate you from the rest of the crowd.

When looking to donate dollars would you be compelled by some carefully worded, all encompassing mission statement or an organization that could say, "If our organization were to disappear tomorrow the world would lose XYZ"?

It's not an easy question to answer but remember, nothing worth doing ever is! This article can help you start the process of understanding your value proposition.

When you can tell me what makes your organization or business relevant I hope to hear from you!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Blogging Cadence

The topic of blogging cadence is widely covered throughout the blogosphere and opinions run the gamet but since this is my first post in nearly two months I thought it was a good time to weigh in!

I can offer excuses about my lack of postings (e.g. my home internet connection has been shoddy, I was sheparding a herd of 11-12 year-olds to a championship lacrosse season, etc) all true, but again, just excuses! Having said that, not only did my own blogging disappear but so did my daily review of my RSS feeds, granted I did check in a bit more frequently than once every two months!

At last count I am tracking 32 different feeds, not sure where that falls in terms of average volume so let me know. That being said, if every link had 30 posts I am going to need some real free time to get through that. Fast Company was the ongoing winner, in my longest abscence I logged on to find more than 125 postings to review...I probably gave the first 30 headlines a quick glance and I was done.

Other bloggers were well within my threshold at 10, 15 or even 30 posts. As like most people my threshold varied based on the value I assigned to each blog. Hence, I assume this will be the most important factor in each individuals "threshold"!

The blogging experts would likely destroy me on this post but surely there are people like me who appreciate the valuable content blogs provides and try to put in their fair share as time permits.

For those of you still checking in on my blog let me know what you think is the best cadence and I will act accordingly!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Should Charities Consider Consolidation?

According to this recent article in the New York Times the number of charitable organizations in the United States between 1994 - 2004 increased 64%.

Furthermore, according to Charity Navigator President Trent Stamp there is currently more than 700 breast cancer related charitable organizations in the United States. His blog post suggests we may all be better off with less charities focused on the same cause.

In the for-profit sector only the strong survive but it doesn't appear to be that clear cut in the not-for-profit sector. I am sure many of the 700 breast cancer causes are doing good work and probably a few things that other organizations could learn from. What if ten, twenty or fifty of those organizations merged, built a new business plan using the best practices taken from each organization and leveraged the top donors from all of the organizations to support one unified cause?

I envy those who are willing to pour their heart and soul into a cause they believe in and start a their own non-profit but I also believe in the law of diminishing returns!

Proof About the Power of Text Messaging

I suggested in an earlier post that text messaging could be the wave of the future and apparently there is an organization called MobileActive who agrees with me and is smart enough to make it work for them!

If I told you five years ago that 65 million votes would be cast via text message during the season finale of American Idol would you have believed me then?

Winner Gets $25 Million...Do I Have Your Attention?

Richard Branson has come a long way from being an eccentric billionaire who spent millions trying to circumnavigate the world in a hot air balloon to the man putting his money where his mouth is to "cure" global warming.

Branson has put up $25 million of his own money to be awarded to whoever can create a technology to remove one billion tons of greenhouse gases per year over the next ten years. I don't know enough to judge just how lofty a goal that is, but for $25 million it shouldn't be easy and I imagine he got the attention of many with kind of cash!

Branson may be a wacky guy but no one can argue his business acumen. To me, this is a great example of what to do for marketers, nonprofits, etc. Branson set forth one goal, not two, etc...eliminate lots of greehouse gases, you win and the concept has gotten lots of attention. All non-profits would benefit greatly if they would follow a similar strategy. Find out what it is that you do better than anyone else in your city, state or the world and make that your concise case for giving. When I decide who gets my money the winner will be the one who does what I care about most better than anybody else rather than the guy who does a lot of different things pretty well.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Is Paying to Read Blogs the Future?

I am relatively new to the blogosphere but I am truly addicted and let me tell you why! I used to read the newspaper every morning but then several years ago I gave up the paper because I liked reading the articles published in the newspaper on the Internet the night before it arrived at my door. To me, blogging is the "new Internet" (a.k.a - the "blogosphere") where I read about the really good stuff long before it makes it onto the "old internet".

Not only is the "good stuff" found in the blogosphere but it is also free of distraction, so far! I have yet to start reading a blog post only to be interrupted by an unsolicited pop up of the new Honda Accord racing towards me on course to drive straight through my living if I don't save myself in the the waning moments by locating the "Close X" button obscurely placed in one corner of the screen.

To me, blogging is the "underground" of the Internet. The place where feed readers are encouraged and information can be found free of unwanted advertisements, pop up windows with the sharing of ideas and content not as the exception but the rule!

I am all for free enterprise and entreprenuerial innovation but I do fear the "blogosphere" is in danger! The rapid growth of blogging is too tempting not to find ways to make it profitable, but will it be overrun?

I am truly conflicted on this matter. I am all for blogs raising money for either your own personal piggy bank or for that of your favorite Charity, both can be done well on credible sites like Squidoo. I am also in favor of mashups like AuctionAds which enables you to link an Ebay auction for items related content in your blog. I love blogs and I love Ebay, bring it on!

When I search for information on blogs I don't land on your blog by accident. You have posted something that I was looking for...and while I'm visiting feel free to convince me of your opinion and even suggest that I make a contribution but I will draw a line if the sand if you ask me to pay to read on!

Maybe paid subscriptions will raise the already high bar that blogs have set or maybe not! Is this the wave of the future, you tell me!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Get Warren Buffet to Read Your Blog

The Slate 60 recently posted a list of the top charitable donors of 2006. In total, these 60 people pledged more than $50 BILLION to charity with Warren Buffet pledging over $40 million to the Gates Foundation alone.

In one of my recent posts about statistics you should ignore I expand on some sound advice from Seth Godin about not chasing pennies from the masses and it all made sense until I read about The Slate 60. At first glance I thought this was just another example of the China Problem as I start calculating in my head what it would be worth if I can get my hands on 1% of this pot and so on!

Yes, Warren Buffet and I will likely never cross paths and it is even less likely he will read my blog but he is not the only big fish in the sea willing to part with big dollars.

My advice is not to forget about the little people -- as the power of a large audience goes well beyond the dollars they can give you -- but if you are the best at addressing a key issue important to someone with deep pockets make them take notice and it could be well worth your time!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Blogging Evolution - 5 Key Terms All Beginning Bloggers Should Know

In celebration of my one month anniversary in the blogosphere here is my list of 5 key terms all new bloggers must embrace to make your new world much easier to understand and navigate. They are:
  1. RSS
  2. Feed Reader
  3. Podcast
  4. Widgets
  5. Mashup

As the saying goes, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink!" Most of these terms I had heard before but found little need for until blogging became a daily "To Do" item.

RSS, Bloglines (a feed reader) and podcasts have become a necessary evil in my blogosphere and probably the first you will conquer with relative ease.

Widgets are next. Like most gadgets I probably don't need to add widgets to my blog but I will makeup a reason to find a place for ones like ChipIn. ChipIn is a simple platform for individuals or organizations to collect money for anything and everything that allows people to track your progress towards your goal and let's organizers use well known online bill pay tools like PayPal.

Last but not least is Mashup. Put simply, a Mashup is the combination of two technologies that when combined can make an even better product, service, etc. like the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup or if you prefer a more recent example the Apple iPhone.

Next month I offer an update list for the intermediate bloggers to continue tracking my blogging evolution! Stay tuned!

2 Staggering Blog Statistics You Should Ignore?

  1. There are more than 55 million blogs on the Internet.
  2. More than 100,000 new blogs are created daily.

Staggering statistics wouldn't you say? Just think, if you could just have a penny for every blog in the "blogosphere" you'd be socking away $500K and counting! Now forget you even read this...but keep reading!

Seth Godin refers to this type of thinking as the China Problem. The concept is similar to the example I describe above. Godin makes his point about marketing but the same rules certainly apply in the "blogosphere". I had big dreams when I started my blog...over 50 million blogs, countless more blog readers on top of that and yet you can fit my subscriber "audience" into a jiffy john. The whole "if you build it they will come" business clearly only applies to baseball diamonds in corn fields!

Big numbers seem to mystify us all beyond reason -- and this is not a new phenomenon-- playing the lottery despite the tremendous odds against winning is something we can all relate to.

You can't be all things to all people (or bloggers) but everyone can and should be relevant. Too often it seems like non-profits are trying to be everything to all people. Tell me what problem you are fixing and how my money is going to help you fix it and count me in. Nobody I've seen has ever done it better than Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly's who's back page article on the need for malaria nets raised over $1.2 million the last time I checked.

The organization that is the best at one thing relevant to me is the one that gets my time and/or my money. If they are really good I may even tell my entire subscriber "audience"!!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The 2008 Election will be Won on the Internet

As of February 2007 there are now 25 candidates running for President which is all the more reason the Internet will be a major factor in electing the next President in 2008. If you don't believe me watch this video of how Hillary Clinton announced she was running for President. She didn't do this on the nightly news or a Sunday morning talk show she did it on her website! A longer look at her robust website is a clear indication that her people are putting a lot of stock in its importance to her success.

To be clear, I am not starting a Hillary fan club. That said, by all indications she is certainly a major player for the Democratic nomination in 2008. I assume she has a pretty experienced team in her corner who got her husband elected in '92 and '96 so they probably know what works.

As the saying goes, if you want to see the future all you need to do is look to the past. Do you remember Howard Dean going crazy in 2004? Well before that happened, his campaign, "Dean for America" was one of the most successful online political fundraising efforts ever. According to this Convio Case Study Howard Dean raised $3.6 million online in only 90 days and raised more than $7 million dollars in one quarter while growing his email list from 200M to 500M subscribers.

The Dean figures from '04 will likely pale in comparison to what will be raised online for 2008. Every candidate, Republican and Democrat, will have a presence on the net and I welcome the onslaught that is soon to follow. Creativity is often at its best when the stakes are the highest and there isn't much that can compete with the final table at the WSOP...or a presidential election!

6 Essential Motivators for Giving

My brother tells me the key to compelling copy for my blog is to offer the next great list of top 5 or top 1o list of what to I went in search of a good list for fundraising and came across this article in the February edition of Fundraising Success magazine.

Tim Burgess, CEO of Merkle-Domain explains how he recently went through all of the mail he had received in the past few weeks, he threw away a bunch that didn't appeal to him and kept the rest and then came up with his list of the six essential motivators.

Some of his points were good but I think he stops short of the real question that needs to be answered. Knowing who is motivated by what, and when is the best time to get their attention, is everything. When we can answer that question Tim won't be throwing out charitable solicitations he gets in the mail and I will be getting a lot less credit card offers don't you think?

Save the World One Lightbulb at a Time

Did I get your attention?

I recently read an article in Fast Company about the CFL light bulb which states that if all 110 million households in the United States changed one traditional light bulb to the "swirl" light bulb we would save enough electricity to power all of Delaware and Rhode Island or cut the green house gases produced by 1.3 million cars on the roads today.

Let me reiterate the fact that this can all be done if we only change ONE light bulb per household. A quick tally of my house tells me there are approximately 45 light bulbs in my house...changing just one doesn't seem like too much, right!

Enough about "going green", the real point here is about the marketing. Is it just me or should whoever invented this light bulb be screaming the above point from the roof tops? I have seen these light bulbs in stores, they look weird and so I buy the standard light bulb and go on my merry way. If you put a big sign in front of the display that tells me we can save the world and I am walking out with the swirly bulb for sure.

This seems like a huge miss to me but the reality is that this probably gets missed everyday in business, in non-profits, etc. as shown here by Seth Godin's post on vacuums. If every business asked themselves, "what is it that we do better than anyone else or that no one else does" and built their marketing/advertising plan accordingly we may all be rich... okay, and save the world!

Friday, February 2, 2007

The Future is... Text Messaging

Giving through direct mail will always be prevelant, making charitable donations online will continue to grow exponentially year-to-year like Google profits but I am here to tell you the future of charitable giving could be text messaging!

This is already a common practice in the U.K. yet I hear very little about it in the U.S.A. From what I have heard, the technology and service of wireless providers is much better overseas which explains why they are ahead of the game in this arena but I think the America is ready!

I have attended several conferences on non-profit fundraising in the last few years and never once heard someone talk about text messaging as a viable giving medium in the years ahead. In just the last few years I have seen text messaging go from a novelty dominated by 15 year-olds to the preferred medium of "quick conversation" for thirty-somethings. I don't have any articles to link to that support my theory but take a quick look at Cingular, Verizon, etc. and you can see multiple phone options (not PDA's) which were designed specifically for text messaging.

I am not sure if text messaging to cell phones could be a work around for telemarketing that has been so impacted by the do-not-call laws but, if so, that will be all the more reason text messaging could be the future!

Could a Superbowl commercial change the world?

I recently heard a speech from the co-founder of Operation Smile, Dr. William Magee who presented one of the most compelling cases for giving I have seen (if anyone can find a podcast or text please send me the link or add a post here). This speech was given to an audience of about 500 people, got a standing ovation and undoubtedly could have emptied the pockets of many who were in attendance.

After watching the Superbowl over the weekend it got me thinking about what could be accomplished if an organization with a compelling message was given a one minute spot or maybe more to make their case to huge audience. According to Nielsen Media Research more than 93 million people tuned in for the Superbowl and based on all of the buzz I would be willing to be one-third of viewers were more excited for the commercials than the actual game itself, right?

Yes, I know that a one minute spot would cost $5 million dollars but let's do a quick math exercise to measure the potential gain. Of the 93 million total viewers, let's estimate that only 20% of viewers are actually tuned in to see the actual commercial (nearly 19 million). Of those 19 million who were actually tuned in, I will estimate only 2.5% of people who watch actually make the effort to pick up the phone or log on to the Internet to donate (remember, this is only 2.5% of those who watched so it is actually only .005% of the total viewers who are giving to the most compelling offer anyone could find). If these 475,000 people can find it in their hearts to give an average gift of $25 we are talking $12 million in gross revenue!! You could also argue that the 19 million impressions could be worth 10x as much longer term.

This article further confirmed for me how TV and Internet alike are embracing this "Youtube" world where people can get air time for doing anything and everything. Why not offer non-profits this golden ticket once a year? Whoever can make the most compelling case for giving in the shortest period of time wins, and I mean REALLY wins!

What's happening to the transfer of wealth?

I have heard several speakers in the last year talk about the "transfer of wealth" that is currently underway as today's seniors begin to leave their wealth to the aging baby boomer generation. This article is one of several that I have read in the past few weeks that makes me question just how much "wealth" there really is to be handed down.

My opinion, I think the examples cited in the attached are extreme and probably in the small minority but I will concede that the percentage of people facing such financial issues probably is higher for this generation than any prior due to living longer and rising health care costs.

If there are in fact more seniors in this group than ever before someone with more financial savvy than myself should create an annuity that rivals the reverse mortgage. If donors could leverage home equity for a charitable annuity, they could still pay their mortgages yearly and deduct the interests each year and also likely be able to deduct a portion of the gift in that year as well. I imagine leaving money to a charity of your choice would be an easy sell when your other option is leaving your house to the bank!