Which to ask for? Permission or forgiveness?

18 Sep

dilbert

Just a brief one this week because the title pretty much says it all.

Is it better to ask for permission or to ask for forgiveness? I’ll share my answer in a moment.

This topic was given to me by a nonprofit director we are working with to use our platform. She actually said that she can’t share working with us because she had not received permission from the powers-that-be to move forward using our platform for mobile engagement and mobile fundraising. In talking to her it was easy to tell that she wants to move her nonprofit forward into the digital age. She sees what all of us see, or at least I hope by now that you see it-the mobile phone is taking over for the PC as THE internet device of choice.

And yet, I worry that this is the case for a lot of nonprofits and their decisions on what to do. I suspect this is at the heart of copying the same thing someone else does and expecting it to work for your nonprofit. Many are doing precisely this with the Ice Bucket Challenge.

And don’t get me wrong. I get it. It comes with the oversight and scrutiny that all nonprofits are subjected to. But as it pertains to products like ours with no contract and no set up fees there is little downside. Using this as a prism I suspect that many contracts that nonprofits could not escape is a factor in the drive to seek permission.

With the digital age upon us and the rapidity of change and advancement hastening asking for permission means decision cycles that are out-of-synch with the digital age.

Experimentation is the rule in the digital age.

So here’s my answer and my explanation.

Ask for forgiveness. Why? Precisely because of the need to experiment and see what works for your nonprofit. I know “experimentation” and “nonprofit” don’t always go hand-in-hand.

My argument wins on this single example. Do you think ALS knew going in that the Ice Bucket Challenge would be what it became? Of course not. They tried it. It worked. And whoever thought of it hopefully got the credit and never had to ask for forgiveness.

Dale Knoop is part of a great team working to make RAZ Mobile a great platform for any cause engaged in fundraising. Any cause can create an content-rich mobile presence, share it through text messages, social media, QR codes, advertising and more and best of all-quickly and securely process donations from motivated supporters. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting and negative QOS.

Announcing the launch of #HelpKC10 – A program to help 10 KC nonprofits

16 Sep

kc10

We have exciting news to share with you about a new partnership program we have created with Jennings Social Media Marketing (JSMM). They are a Kansas City-based social media and marketing firm serving customers nationally in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. Together with JSMM, we are offering to help 10 nonprofits free of charge with mobile fundraising and social media campaigns to help them get ready for #GivingTuesday and the upcoming holiday season.

The campaign is called #HelpKC10 and the hashtag will be used to share the campaign and to ask the public to nominate a nonprofit of their choice to be selected for the #HelpKC10 program.

The top 10 vote getters will be announced on October 1st. Then they will be assisted by RAZ Mobile in setting up their mobile fundraising campaign on the RAZ Mobile platform. Simultaneously, JSMM will provide 10 tweets and 2 Facebook postings for the #HelpKC10 nonprofits to include in their social media postings. The content will reflect their mission and their “voice” and will be created by the seasoned professionals at JSMM. JSMM will provide this content through the end of this year.

Valerie Jennings, CEO of JSMM, said, “It’s our way of remembering what the holiday season is really all about and we hope these 10 nonprofits are able to elevate their fundraising success with digital media.”

We are very excited about this partnership and it is our sincere hope that this helps the 10 chosen charities be successful in maximizing the potential of social media for fundraising.

You invited people to your gala, most won’t/can’t attend, now what?

10 Sep

decline

Depending on who you ask in the nonprofit sector, the return on fundraising “galas” or events either work or they don’t work. Here’s an excellent piece asking this very question. What is the return on the money and time spent preparing for, what amounts to many, a big party?

No matter what the return is, one unfortunate reality that can EASILY be addressed is most people you invite either can’t or won’t attend for various valid reasons. In fact, your nonprofit will limit ticket quantity to a small subset of your supporter network on purpose in order to live financially within the budget you have set for the gala. In other words, you don’t want everyone you invited to attend.

With this being the case for your nonprofit; you’re inviting many to attend your gala via print and digital channels, many can’t or won’t attend, now what?

The now what is that while they read your invitation to the gala they are engaged with you, they’re thinking about you which means they feel something about you. If they can’t attend they may feel guilty or they may also feel generous. How is your nonprofit dealing with the non-attendees who in the moment say to themselves, “I can’t make it because we’re busy then but I could spare $10 or $20 because I feel guilty/I feel generous right this moment.”?

I get a lot of print and digital gala and event invitations. For various reasons I don’t go to them. And yet the vast majority of the invitations don’t let me make a gift instead of attending. The invitation is sole-purposed; please come to our event. I say to myself “I can’t but could I make a gift instead?”

Again, for many nonprofits the answer is NO you cannot make a gift via this invitation. Please go to our website and hunt for the donation experience. This is a GOLDEN and MISSED OPPORTUNITY for nonprofits.

All nonprofits should be providing something like the following in their gala invitations.

“For those of you that can’t attend you will be missed but if you want to help us you can make a gift by clicking here.

All or part of the appeal text above should be a hyperlink to a frictionless, responsive design giving experience with copy tailored to the reason the would-be donor is there; we realize you can’t attend, we’ll miss you, thank you for your gift!

And this points out a larger issue for a future blog topic and that is nonprofit communication which contains no way to give. This makes no sense because giving is an impulse. You have to present the giving option everywhere your supporter sees you. And this includes your gala invitation that I can’t attend. You just missed a gift.

Dale Knoop is part of a great team working to make RAZ Mobile a great platform for any cause engaged in fundraising. Any cause can create an content-rich mobile presence, share it through text messages, social media, QR codes, advertising and more and best of all-quickly and securely process donations from motivated supporters. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting and negative QOS.

4 myths about mobile giving BUSTED!

3 Sep

busted

With each passing day, the rise of the mobile phone as the primary and sometimes exclusive internet device for Americans (let alone the world) continues unabated. Some would say the pace is accelerating and that soon the PC will be somewhat of a relic like the pay phone, the typewriter and the hand-held camera. It’s ironic that the PC drove off the typewriter and the smartphone drove off the pay phone, hand-held camera and is driving off the PC. There is a generation coming that won’t know the PC.

As this shift from the PC to the mobile phone occurs some nonprofits are, rightly so, looking at what to do to adapt to this shift to mobile. Do they go with text-to-give? How about an app? Or do they choose to do nothing and risk their lost donations rising due to relying on a PC form to be their mobile giving experience?

The Millenniall Impact Report of 2012 is useful in answering these questions because it points the way forward for not only millennials but for all age groups; people will give to, and want to give to your nonprofit via their phone. And yet, there are some myths about mobile giving that deserve to be addressed and BUSTED! Where these myths have come from is debatable. Some come from “experts”, some are in books about mobile giving, and some come from nonprofits themselves as they seek to rationalize their delay in dealing with the ongoing shift to mobile.

No matter the source, here are 4 myths we’ve seen BUSTED! first-hand.

Myth 1 – no one wants to fill out a form on their phone. The reason for this is 84% of nonprofits do not have mobile optimized experiences. There are multiple reports available with research showing that a PC donation form on a mobile phone frustrates donors and if this is your nonprofit’s strategy for capturing mobile donations you may be losing 50% or more of would-be donations and donors.

Myth 2 – only young people will enter their credit card info on a phone. We’ve seen older people enter their info. All ages love easy! And this is the key. Think of e-commerce. Companies like Amazon and Apple show the way in making the shopping experience very easy the first time and even easier to make repeat purchases. The first RAZ Mobile nonprofit I gave to took about 100 characters to fill out the form completely and I never had to pinch and swipe around the page to figure out where to start on the donation form. Large buttons and a frictionless form makes it easy for all ages to give in the moment.

Myth 3 – there’s a lack of security. By using the right service providers the transactions are as secure as PC transactions. Using web forms created on a secure server accessed over an SSL connection is very, very secure for donation processing. No donor data is retained. I’m not sure what’s propagating this myth but all internet connected devices can achieve the highest level of security. Singling out the mobile phone as less secure is perhaps tied to native apps which we don’t use nor would we ever recommend using for this reason and about a dozen more.

Myth 4 – people won’t store their credit card info for future donations. About 1 in 5 do so on RAZ Mobile. In creating RAZ Mobile we set a goal to make repeat donations easier than the first. At the end of their first donation, donors are offered the chance to save their information securely which makes repeat donations possible in 20 seconds or less on a phone, tablet or PC. The security we use is the same as Apple and Amazon. Donors that choose to save their info create a 4-digit PIN which is stored as a token in a PCI-compliant credit card processing gateway. Repeat donations are then easy, fast and secure; all you have to do is enter your PIN and confirm your information. It’s just a few taps and all nonprofits should make giving this easy.

Please don’t let these myths slow your nonprofit down in embracing mobile giving. With #GivingTuesday and the holidays approaching and mobile traffic growing in leaps and bounds each day, it only makes sense to begin using a great mobile giving and engagement experience TODAY! The myths have been BUSTED!

Dale Knoop is part of a great team working to make RAZ Mobile a great platform for any cause engaged in fundraising. Any cause can create an content-rich mobile presence, share it through text messages, social media, QR codes, advertising and more and best of all-quickly and securely process donations from motivated supporters. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting and negative QOS.

Hey it’s their birthday!

27 Aug

cake

Last week I looked at a lot of the content about the Ice Bucket Challenge and I happened to come across what I consider to be really innovative in the nonprofit space. It was a nonprofit website with “Birthday” as a link in their main navigation bar.

I’ve never seen this on a nonprofit website before so perhaps it’s more prevalent than what I imagine. Though, in thinking about this very topic prior to seeing the Birthday option, I had always thought it to be a great idea for all nonprofits.

What idea am I speaking of?

It’s the idea that always letting someone, anyone have the ability to receive donations for you on birthdays and holidays in lieu of gifts or cash to them.

I really like this approach to crowdfunding because everyone has a birthday and your nonprofit can always be opening up for them to work for you. Same thing about holidays and events like the upcoming #GivingTuesday.

It’s also a way to create ongoing fundraising rather than solely relying on fundraising events. This practice could be good in lessening the dips in donations received and helping smooth out your nonprofit’s cash flow.

The Birthday link on the nonprofit website I saw could also be included as “Crowdfunding” or “What else can you do?” on your nonprofit’s website. I think the opportunity to open up your own crowdfunding this way is much easier and much more community oriented than sending would be crowd-funders to a 3rd party crowdfunding platform where after your donors have given they’ll get asked to give to another cause, lessening your nonprofit’s chances in building loyalty. (Of course I would suggest our style of crowdfunding versus what other 3rd party platforms do. Here’s my blog about crowdfunding RAZ Mobile-style.)

Think of the new conversations you can have with your supporters every month. For example, periodic emails to your supporters could read “Don’t want bad ties for your birthday? Have your friends and family give to us instead.” Clearly this is really a simple example but the point remains; leaving the door always open for your supporters to ask on your behalf should be ever-present on your website and in your digital communication.

In thinking about this further it makes me wonder if this channel would have helped ALS raise even more money since the folks that dumped water on their heads could have included a link to their giving page in their social media postings about having taken the challenge. This would have dramatically lessened the distance between the impulse to give and the completion of a donation. For all nonprofits this must be a paramount goal in online giving.

Were I at a nonprofit I would have crowdfunding options always listed on my website and have the webpages therein suggesting crowdfunding pages for birthdays, holidays, special occasions like #GivingTuesday, anniversaries, general purposes and on and on.

Letting others work for you and spread the word about you is a good thing. Follow the lead of this innovative nonprofit mentioned here and open the door to let others work for you via crowdfunding anytime they want.

Dale Knoop is part of a great team working to make RAZ Mobile a great platform for any cause engaged in fundraising. Any cause can create an content-rich mobile presence, share it through text messages, social media, QR codes, advertising and more and best of all-quickly and securely process donations from motivated supporters. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting and negative QOS.

2 pros and 2 cons regarding the #IceBucketChallenge

20 Aug

ice

The #IceBucketChallenge (IBC) has been a tremendous money raiser for ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Here is a description of this terrible disease from the ALS website.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

I think the success of the IBC is amazing and there’s 2 things that are positive for all nonprofits to draw from. But there are a couple negatives too in my opinion.

PRO #1 – Social media is as good if not better than TV

The IBC points out the immense power of social networks to drive money straight to the cause. And there is a fine point here to make. Heretofore this kind of outpouring was limited to disasters, the TV coverage of the disaster and the use of text-to-give to raise money for the disaster victims.

During these disasters the call to action on TV was omnipresent. The IBC achieved the same thing in getting both social media AND TV coverage. It helps that people with large social media followings got involved in the IBC. At first glance a nonprofit would be thinking that this kind of scale would be impossible for them to achieve. To a certain extent they would be right, however social media helps cover for your nonprofit’s lack of social media scale. Because you are there on social media making the ask you make it possible for things to go viral. Think of it like winning the lottery. You have to have a ticket to win. If you’re not on social media or not asking on social media how do things go viral in your favor?

PRO #2 – Donors will give via their mobile phone

As I followed the IBC on Twitter on my phone occasionally I saw screen grabs from mobile phones which showed their donation confirmation. Given that Twitter is very much a mobile channel (86% of the time on Twitter is on a mobile phone per comScore Dec. 2013) it is no surprise that IBC tweets led to a mobile search for ALS and a mobile gift to ALS.

Nonprofits should stop telling themselves that no one will give via their mobile phone. They do if the experience is optimized for their phone and easy to complete in the moment. To the 84% of nonprofits that still use a donation experience designed for a PC to be their mobile giving experience the IBC success is your wake up alarm.

CON #1 – The world is watching

In 2011 CNN reported this:

“On average, women in developing countries walk 6 kilometers a day to collect water” because there is not enough of it nearby, Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero told CNN.

People outside the US see the dumping of water and ice on the ground and their opinion of us can’t be good. I imagine that developing countries don’t have ice in a box waiting for them at all times. What would have been nice is ALS partnering with a water charity to lessen the perception of wasteful, uncaring Americans.

CON #2 – Where was the URL?

I mentioned following the IBC on Twitter and in most of the challenge tweets or the tweets sharing a person’s video of them taking the challenge there was no URL to give to. The impulse to give in this case required leaving Twitter (or other social media channels) and searching for where to give. This adds to the giving process needlessly and I wonder if donations would have been even higher if there had been a URL for the IBC giving page alongside the IBC hashtag.

All nonprofits must seek to shorten the distance between emotion and a gift as well as remove all points of friction in the donor journey from impulse to donation acknowledgement.

Dale Knoop is part of a great team working to make RAZ Mobile a great platform for any cause engaged in fundraising. Any cause can create an content-rich mobile presence, share it through text messages, social media, QR codes, advertising and more and best of all-quickly and securely process donations from motivated supporters. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting and negative QOS.

 

One tiny thing letting your nonprofit’s email down

13 Aug

tiny donate

I find myself at a bit of an impasse with this week’s blog. I have written here about ways to improved email performance for your nonprofit. I have read the musings of the gurus and experts in the nonprofit space about improving email and yet despite all this effort we still get stories like this:

In 2012 online donations via email dropped 21% due to donate pages not being mobile compatible.

Depending on what stat you believe, anywhere from just over 50% to 70% of email is opened first on a mobile phone. This grows daily.

The initial open of your nonprofit’s email appeal is the first impression for the opener. Is your email easy to read on their phone? This is one item that really should be an easy one to solve. It is paramount that you make your nonprofit’s email fast to load and easy to read on the recipient’s phone.

I think we all agree on this point and yet heading into the highly important holiday season of giving I still see A LOT of email that is not readable on my phone without pinching and swiping to make it readable.

The presumption that I will “read it later” is just that – presumptuous and highly unlikely. An opportunity has been lost to gain an interaction and a potential donation.

And it is this latter subject – donating via an email ask – that is the one tiny thing letting your email down. Somewhere in the tiny print is the word “Donate” as a hyperlink. Under no circumstances in an email communication with an ask should the Donate link be so small and hard to find as to require the would-be-donor to have to hunt for it.

The goal of the appeal is to let the donor easily express their generosity to your nonprofit and at no point should you make them work to do this. It’s oxymoronic if you take a step back and be honest about this situation.

But let’s say that the donor is determined to make their gift. God bless those that are because they help nonprofits survive.

The donor taps on “Donate” and oops – they’re now being taken to a PC donation experience that is slow to load and as tough to navigate as your appeal email. Now the donor is again pinching and swiping to complete your PC donation form on their phone.

Why make donors do this? It is SO EASY to have a fully responsive, fully mobile-optimized donation experience to give donors. The nonprofit’s brand can be placed in a bad light  due to being seen as not ready for mobile-only or mobile first supporters. The number of mobile-only and mobile-first supporters to your nonprofit stand at 25% and 34% respectively and are growing at a rapid rate. Not being ready for these supporters can ding your nonprofit’s brand and like I said, it’s super easy to solve for this TODAY.

So here’s my advice. Do one thing to make your email better so you don’t experience the drop in donations in the stat from above. Make the Donate button and/or hyperlink in your appeal emails BIG and make it RESPONSIVE and do this NOW before the holidays.

Why frustrate would-be donors and why make it hard to give? If you make it easy for a donor to express themselves financially to your nonprofit chances are increased that they will do it more often. Time to stop presuming they only use their PC to open email and to give.

Dale Knoop is part of a great team working to make RAZ Mobile a great platform for any cause engaged in fundraising. Any cause can create an content-rich mobile presence, share it through text messages, social media, QR codes, advertising and more and best of all-quickly and securely process donations from motivated supporters. Dale holds multiple patents and applications for patent in the mobile space including advertising, content optimization, geo-targeting and negative QOS.

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