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!