Cut the Crap: What’s the Best Way to do an Appeal?

Cut the Crap: What’s the Best Way to do an Appeal?

cut the crap: what’s the best way to do an appeal? 

Here in the nonprofit world, spring appeals are about to flood our inboxes, our mailboxes, and our wallet-boxes. Over the years, we have been privy to many strategies on how to get the most impact with your appeal, and it seems everyone has different theories on what strategy works the best. We cut the crap, rolled up our sleeves, and got real. What exactly is the best way to appeal?

1. Method

As your donor base ages, so will the method of receiving donations via direct mail. A study done in 2018 found that 18% of baby boomers, 9% of Gen Xers, and 6% of millenials are most inspired to give by direct mail. Meanwhile, social media giving is quickly rising in popularity. 39% of millennials, 33% of Gen Xers, and 19% of baby boomers are most inspired to give by social media. (Source) Consider running social media ad campaigns around your appeal and invest heavily in a Giving Tuesday campaign after Thanksgiving. 

All generations across the board prefer giving online as opposed to cash, transfers, or check in the mail. (Source)

2. Hero’s Journey – wait, who is the hero again?

We are all familiar with the idea that an appeal should be written like a story. Most of us have been taught to make the donor the hero. But what if this is backwards? Some nonprofits struggle with an “us vs. them” mentality that results in issues with donor retention. The true heroes of the story should be the people (or animals) who are overcoming their adversity with the help of their guide (the nonprofit and donor). Here, we have re-organized the typical hero’s journey for you.

3. Segment


Have slightly different appeals for different levels of donors. If you have one donor that is stuck giving $50/month, push them an appeal asking for $75/month. Lapsed donors? They need their own special appeal. The limits are endless, but we caution to only embark down this road if your CRM is organized enough to handle this list separation.

Mailchimp allows you to segment your emails based on sign-up date. When used, companies reported open rates 29.56% higher than non-segmented campaigns. Mailchimp also has a feature to allow new sign-ups to indicate what their interests are. If you’re a multi-faceted nonprofit, consider creating interest groups based on different areas of your nonprofit. Organizations that utilize this reported click-rates 74.53% higher than non-segmented campaigns. (Source)

4. Have Impactful Design

Photography
Never underestimate the power of a good photo. There is a reason photography outperforms graphics by miles on social media: people love to connect with other people. When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later. (Source)

Invest time into a quality photoshoot with the subject of your appeal. Get good lighting. Get good angles. Get candid shots. You know, everything those 22-year-old Instagram influencers manage to do so well. It will pay off with increased donations, trust us. 

Colors
Keep the colors consistent with your brand. That’s all we have to say about that. 

Type size and style
Keep it simple and easy. Stay away from handwritten fonts, no matter how tempting it seems to make it look like it was written by an actual person. We all know it wasn’t written by an actual person.

Okay, now you are ready to spring into your spring appeals. Sorry everyone, that was our last joke. May your appeals be appealing!

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interns for impact

interns for impact

interns for impact

 

Michael Karanja
Market Research Intern

Tell us a little about yourself. 

My hometown is Kijabe, Kenya. I was born there and then lived in the United States from 9 months old to 10 years old. My family moved back to Kenya as missionaries and have been working there ever since. I am currently in my final year at Kuyper College. My passions include watching any and all professional sports, singing and leading worship, keeping up with DC and Marvel comics, movies and TV, and consuming unhealthy amounts of coffee on a regular basis.

What’s next after graduation?

Following a year of work in the United States, I would consider returning home to Kenya and using my knowledge and skills to work in the rapidly growing Kenyan business sector. Marketing is such a broad field and there is so much that interests me. I seek to interact with varying clients and industries, finding the best ways to help organizations project their vision to those they serve in the most effective way possible. In marketing, there are opportunities to conduct research and analysis, and interact with people on a personal level. This dynamic is what I love most about the field and I look forward to exploring both of these avenues as I move forward in my work. 

What’s the biggest takeaway from your internship?

Scott Allen Creative has provided me with an opportunity to gain practical experience, learn about different nonprofits, and understand more about how to care for organizations that care about people. I have learned so much about the realm of nonprofit work and the vitality of marketing for these organizations.

Thank you, Michael, for joining our team this Fall You brought knowledge and growth to our business and you will be missed. We see your potential, and know others will too! 

Elizabeth Okma
Video Production Intern

What inspired you to pursue video?

I grew up in the good old country town of Hamilton, MI. I joined the set crew for my high school’s theater because I got addicted to the rush of seeing a character come to life. It wasn’t until I took a film class that I discovered that I could funnel my inner storyteller into something for others. For the first time, I knew what I wanted to do with my life, or as much as a high schooler could say. I’ve become the weirdo, geeky storyteller that I am today. 

What’s next after graduation?

As a college student, you’re expected to have a solid answer. Some do. I used to. Then two minors and an eye-opening three years later, I’m left exploring, abandoning the detailed path of what I thought I wanted. Right now my goal is to tell stories: mine and others. I want to make people feel raw emotion and connect with each other even if they’re not physically in the same room. I want my life’s work to be whatever God calls me for, even if I hate not knowing what it is.

What’s the biggest takeaway from your internship?

Scott Allen Creative helped me by simply opening a door. I’d been working at a church for over five years. It was a wonderful time, but it was all I knew. I could edit a video announcement and testimony like no other, and run a service like a commander going to war. Outside of that, I was lost and curious. I knew how to work within an agency. Scott Allen has allowed me to explore a different career option while still doing what I love. I still get to tell stories just in a different way. They showed me that a lot of what I already knew transfers over and I’m not as clueless as I think. I get to learn a little more about what this awesome city has to offer and work with some pretty great people. There’s not a chance that I would have gotten otherwise and I’m grateful for it.

 

Thank you, Elizabeth, for bringing stories to life this Fall! You brought great ideas and spirit to our business and you will be missed. We hope you succeed in your career and take the skills you have learned here at Scott Allen Creative to your future endeavors. 

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Create A Giving Tuesday Campaign That Doesn’t Get Lost

Create A Giving Tuesday Campaign That Doesn’t Get Lost

create a giving tuesday campaign that doesn’t get lost

 

Giving Tuesday is almost upon us again. The official day is Tuesday, December 3rd. The social media-driven movement follows the need to give back after a weekend of consumer binge-shopping and for a lot of nonprofits, is the kickstart to year-end giving. Nearly all nonprofits aim to cash-in on this Tuesday of Giving, which creates a lot of noise out there in the social world. Here are some tips to create a campaign that not only stands out, but will give your board a reason to smile with an influx of donations.

1. Create a week-long strategy

Start your GivingTuesday campaign a week early, on Tuesday, November 26th. That gives you 7 whole days to cultivate excitement and buzz around your organization and will keep you top of mind during those 24 hours. Use countdowns, highlight specific areas of your organization, and never forget to tell your story! Be mindful that during this week, we have Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Get creative and use these in your campaign as well!

2. Be consistent with all platforms

Share the same message across all platforms: Facebook. Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and even Google+ if you still utilize that dinosaur. Make sure to change all of the banner images to graphics that are unique to #GivingTuesday and your campaign.

3. Have a specific goal

Having a specific dollar amount  you want to raise from the campaign will encourage immediate action. Include that goal in your e-blasts and what kind of impact a $10 donation, $50, and $100 donation will have. Consider your audiences for this campaign: Middle-aged women and Millennials. The generation that is driven by the need to see immediate impact. This is also a great opportunity to reach this elusive demographic that traditionally isn’t giving as much as their Boomer parents.

4. Create a specific donation page for Giving Tuesday.

On this page, have a donation-tracking thermometer to show immediate impact. If you use a WordPress site, here is a link to a good thermometer plugin. You should also consider the time it takes to make a donation. It should take a donor no more than 30 seconds to input their data and make a donation. Remember that this is social-media driven and if someone can’t figure out your donation process, they will be quick to go to another cause they care about!

5. E-blasts

You should send  an email a week out from Giving Tuesday to announce your campaign and goal, a follow-up 3 days out, and multiple emails the day of.  One successful campaign last year sent 3 emails on Giving Tuesday: The first at 6am to encourage early donations, the second at 2pm to follow up and track the progress, and the last one at 7pm to encourage last-minute donations. If your email system allows, do not send emails to donors after they have already donated.

6. Engage

Engage with your all platforms all throughout the day. Respond to comments, encourage shares, and give shout-outs for large donation amounts. Users like when they can easily contact the organization they are donated to because it increases transparency. It also shows your involvement with the community!

7. Do Giveaways

Consider having swag-giveaways for the highest donation, the most shares, etc. This could be an internal contest with staff to encourage them to share your campaign, or it could be a contest open to the public. Swag ideas that are popular are t-shirts, mugs, keychains, waterbottles, and even stickers.

8. Partner with Small Businesses

Small Business Saturday is 3 days before Giving Tuesday. Reach out to local small businesses and offer to share their social for Saturday and ask them to share yours on Tuesday. You could take it farther and do Instagram and Facebook stories or takeovers for each day to show support.

9. Reach out to media outlets

Reach out to news and other media outlets to have them feature you for Giving Tuesday.

10. Keep it positive and simple

Research shows that people are more likely to give to a campaign when it has a positive direction as opposed to a negative one. (Read more at https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10495142.2018.1452828) In other words, show the benefit of your nonprofit to the community. Another thing to keep in mind with all of the noise on Giving Tuesday is to keep it simple. A user should be able to see a clear graphic and a Call to Action while they are skimming. (Assume all users are skimming through Facebook and not taking time to read every caption) Paragraphs or complex graphics are scrolled over and forgotten.

11. Use video

Engagement on video has historically beat static graphics by landslides. If you have the budget and if it aligns with your campaign, consider creating a 30-60 second video to promote for the week. Remember that a lot of users do not click “turn sound on” for videos, so make sure that the message from the video is clear without sound or audio.

12. #Unselfie

If you haven’t heard of the #unselfie craze, you’re not alone. It is a hashtag that is picking up speed with celebrities and influencers where they take a “seflie” with a sign that explains the cause they care about. The goal of the photo is to raise money or awareness by using the mysterious power of the selfie in an unselfish way. Consider having your staff, board, or volunteers take an #unselfie and tag your page, or create a highlight on your Instagram to showcase them!

 

To wrap up, Giving Tuesday is a wonderful way to reach the younger demographics and get them excited about your cause. It shouldn’t be an afterthought or just a post on the day of, but rather an annual campaign with strategy and goals. If you implement a few of these ideas, your campaign is sure to be a great success and stand out! Happy Giving!

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2019 List of Resources for Nonprofits

2019 List of Resources for Nonprofits

2019 list of resources for nonprofits

 

We get it. You’re busy and you have a big job to do – saving the world and all. We wanted to help, so we compiled a list of our favorite online tools that are either free or affordable for nonprofits. Take a look and let us know what you think.

Design

Canva: We’ve talked about Canva a lot, and we actually already wrote a blog on how to get your free Canva account here.

Public Relations & Media

HARO (Help a Reporter Out): HARO provides journalists with a robust database of sources for upcoming stories and daily opportunities for sources to secure valuable media coverage. Subscribe to their free email list here.

Google Alerts: Google Alerts allows you to set email alerts to keep tabs on who is mentioning your nonprofit for free. Try it out here.

Online Donations

DonorBox: Donorbox is another Scott Allen favorite. We’re all about keeping online donations simple and Donorbox does this at an affordable cost. Read our blog about why we love using Donorbox.

Online Forms & Surveys

Typeform: Create interative and engaging forms with TypeForm. This online tool makes any old form look fun to complete. Ask for a nonprofit discount here, or try it for free.

SurveyMonkey: SurveyMonkey is pretty well-known free, online survey tool. But did you know they have nonprofit discounts beyond the free version?

Website Analytics

Google Analytics: Another given for some, but in case web isn’t your world, take a look into Google Analytics to track your website traffic for free. For example, it’s helpful to know which pages your donors are visiting before making an online donation. This is something you can track with Google Analytics.

Social Media

Hootsuite: Hootsuite allows you to schedule social media posts ahead of time, and it’s a lifesaver. Apply for the nonprofit discount here, or use their free version.

Email

Honestly, we use both Mail Chimp and Constant Contact for ourselves, and our clients. Both are great for different reasons. Check out their discounts:

Constant Contact

Mail Chimp

Extra Help & Organization

Adobe Acrobat: Save time proofing projects with Adobe Acrobat. With these program, you can easily make comments on pdfs that automatically import to Adobe design programs – thus saving you time and money! Ask us for a demo on how to add edits to a proof. We would love to show you. Here is a link on Adobe nonprofit discounts.

Trello: Trello is a great project management tool. Trello’s boards, lists, and cards enable you to organize and prioritize your projects in a fun, flexible, and rewarding way. Plus, it’s free

Slack: Slack is great for internal communication and keeps projects moving. They also have a nonprofit discount

Grammarly: Last but not least, Grammarly…it’s our best friend – our free writing assistant. Spell check everything you write as you go. Check it out.

G Suite: Did you know that a G Suite Basic account is available for free to eligible nonprofits? You’ll get Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Drive, Hangouts Meet and more. And most importantly, all of these tools can be used together to streamline standard processes and tasks at your nonprofit to be easier and more convenient. 

Before you can use G Suite for nonprofits, you’ll need to apply for the Google for Nonprofits program, activate your account and adjust the settings for each program based on your preferences and needs.

 

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How to Foster Relationships with Donors

How to Foster Relationships with Donors

how to foster
relationships with donors

 

Think about your own friendships and relationships that you have. How did you get there with that person? What makes the two of you close? The thing that makes my besties my besties is that joke we have about  the song Rumor Has It by Adele, late-night talks about whether gelato is better than ice cream, how to stop world hunger, and just being there after a bad day of work. Basically, it’s sharing quality time together to create those moments. 

In order to foster quality relationships with donors, follow the same recipe as you do with your closest friends: be authentic, be yourself, listen, and share.

Practical things you can do to foster a relationship with a donor:

  1. Prepare. Do some research into who you want to foster a relationship with. Ask a mutual friend some questions first so you are prepared. Looking on Facebook and other social media platforms for interests and hobbies wouldn’t hurt either. Would they have any interest in the mission of your organization? (What if they are passionate about music and not animals?) This would be great to know before meeting so you can use your time and their time well.

     

  2. Spend time with him/her. Developing a friendship/relationship takes time – even years. But they all start somewhere. Start small and invite them to have coffee. As the relationship progresses, invite them to  a concert or have them over for a barbeque to meet the family. Get to know them. These are the moments when memories and inside jokes are created. This is what friendships are made of.

     

  3. Remember important dates. Birthdays, anniversaries, the day they brought their puppy home, or the death of a loved one, are often  brought up in conversation. Take a mental note. Send a card, flowers, or whatever is appropriate according to the relationship you have. You could even send a text or make a call on those days to tell them you are thinking about them.

Tips

  1. Love of the mission. Make sure you are meeting with people for the right reasons: Love of the mission. If you truly are passionate about the mission of your nonprofit, it will show naturally. If you are struggling with the organization’s mission, perhaps you should take time to reflect on why that is and whether or not it is the right fit for you. We are all passionate about something and sometimes discovering it takes time.

     

  2. Be authentic. People are smart. They can smell a fake from a mile away. They know whether or not you are being yourself and truly care about them as a human being. Check yourself before diving into a new relationship. Sometimes this means taking time to reflect on who you are about to meet with, why you love what you do, and putting together some talking point so you are prepared.

     

  3. Hit or miss. There will be moments when your personality doesn’t mesh with a potential donor. It happens. This may be a moment to step aside and introduce them to someone else that may be a better fit to spend time with them. This is a situation you will have to read and be humble enough to make that call. For the good of the mission, right?

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