#GivingTuesday Gratitude (& a free webinar)

gratitude, fundraising, free webinarPhew. You made it through another #GivingTuesday. Awesome!

Now what?

Have you thought about how to thank the fab donors who donated to you on #GivingTuesday?

Have you pondered how you’re going to handle the thank-then-turn-around-and-ask tango that happens between #GivingTuesday and year-end?

Do you have ideas for how to infuse gratitude into your donor loooooooove strategy so you have an explosive, joy-filled fundraising year in 2017?

Maybe a tidge? Maybe not at all? Maybe you have but want new ideas for changing things up?

Well have I got good news for you: I’m doing a free webinar next week with the Goddess of Gratitude, Shanon Doolittle!!!!

Gratitude-a-palooza: A gazillion ways to make your donors feel like rock stars
Wednesday, December (yikes, December!) 7, 2016

 

1-2Pm Pacific

Can’t join us live? No big. It’ll be recorded. But you have to sign up to get the recording. So sign up, sit back, and soak up all the ideas me and Shanon have to share with you.

Oh, yeah, we’ll also have lots of time to answer your questions so bring ’em on!

Don’t get fancy on me

Word“Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say infinitely when you mean very; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”
― C.S. Lewis

Love. This. Quote. It reminds of my favorite quote from Antoine de St-Exupery:

Perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

But–confession–I also love fancy words. I really, truly do. The way they sound. The way you feel when you discover them. The way the letters organize themselves into an unexpected result.

Pernicious for harmful.

Leitmotif for theme.

Gihugic for big. (Okay, you caught me. “Gihugic” isn’t really a word. I made it up. Or someone else did and I heard it and loved it. But isn’t it fun?!)

Fancy words delight me. But I don’t use them much when I write. That’s because fancy words aren’t a super good choice if you’re looking to connect with someone. They’re often a barrier. Rather than being dazzled by your intellect, the person on the receiving end risks being confused or dumb-founded. Neither of which moves your relationship along.

Bonus factoid: Did you know there is actually a Plain Language Law? That’s a real thing. Enacted in 2010, the law requires that federal agencies use “clear Government communication that the public can understand and use.”

Pretty sure fancy words aren’t encouraged by the Plain Language Law.

So loverize yourself silly using fancy words when you’re writing for yourself, or for other people who love fancy words, or when you’re looking to impress your boss with your vast linguistic repertoire (aka big vocabulary). Or when you want a word to pop out and surprise a reader. (Wordifier, anyone?) But make sure that fancy word is surrounded by plain language that is a snap to understand.

*****
Post Readability Stats: Reading Ease: 72, Grade Level: 5.3

**Want to learn more about finding the very best words to advance your mission? Sign up for Winter Quarter at Claxon University!**

 

What is marketing, anyway?

On the first day of my Nonprofit Marketing class at the Evans School, I ask my class of super-smart graduate students the following question: What is marketing?

Is it an art? Is it a science? Is it its own discipline? Or is it a sub-set of another discipline, e.g. sociology or behavioral economics or some such? I assign this piece to get their brains percolating.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no definitive answer. If you look up the definition of marketing, you get:

NOUN

  1. the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.

VERB

  1. advertise or promote (something):
    “the product was marketed under the name “aspirin.””

    synonyms:sell · retail · vend · merchandise · trade · peddle · hawk ·

    [more]
    • offer for sale:
      “sheep farmers are still unable to market their lambs”
    • US
      buy or sell provisions in a market:
      “some people liked to do their marketing very early in the morning”

Helpful? Meh. Only a tidge. Mainly it reinforces the perception among nonprofits that marketing is a yucky activity, slimy, not something values-based, mission-driven people would want to do. Buying, selling, advertising, promoting? #Yuck

I offer this as an alternative definition specific to marketing in the nonprofit sector. Marketing is:

Strategically using resources to make sure as many people as possible
have the opportunity to create good in the world.

If you love what you do, if you’re passionate about your mission, why wouldn’t you want as many people as possible to have the opportunity to join you, to help you, to work with you, and for you? To create as much good in the world as possible?

By the way, by “resources”, I mean time, talent, passion, volition, and, yes, money. The intangibles–passion, enthusiasm, values–are a massive asset for nonprofits. And one that–in our super-charged, always-on, gotta-get-on-the-social-media-bandwagon–is often overlooked.

Marketing is a means to an end. It is a vehicle to advance mission. To raise money, engage volunteers, attract board members, promote programs. Advertising, social media, websites, brochures, annual reports, events–all ways to create more good in the world. Nothing yucky about it, if you think of it that way, now is there?

Post Readability Stats: Reading Ease: 53.2, Grade Level: 8.6

The Claxon Method

I love teaching. No scratch that. I love seeing people learn.

That moment when a student “gets it”? When they realize, “Hey, I can do this marketing thing! I can use words to get lots and lots of people engaged in the awesome work my organization is doing. That rocks!”? Unlike any other.

And that’s why I never get tired of teaching the Claxon Method™. It is the cornerstone of everything I teach, in fact. It helps students (and by “students”, I mean my graduate students at the Evans school, yes, but also nonprofit professionals who come to my training, or attend Claxon University, or work with me one-on-one) avoid the dreaded Shiny Object Syndrome. (I’m sorry, did someone say “Instagram”?)

The Claxon Method™ is simple and straight-forward. Know why? Because simple works.

Before you start working on a fundraising appeal, a brochure, website copy, or talking points for your gala, stop and ask (and answer) these three questions in order:

  1. WHAT does success look like?
  2. WHO do we need to reach in order to be successful?
  3. HOW are we going to reach our ideal supporters?

You can totally do that, right? Simple.

The logic of the Claxon Method™ is as follows: You must always start with the end in mind. It might be increasing donor retention or growing your board or promoting a new program. The job of your marketing is to advance you toward whatever your goal may be.

With a goal clearly in mind, you can then figure out for whom you are optimizing. As alluring as it seems, “the general public” is not a target audience. Not everyone will care equally about your cause and/or be in a position to advance you toward your goal.

Audience identification allows you to select messaging and mechanisms that will resonate with a particular target audience. It will also prevent you from projecting, i.e. assuming, for instance, the words that resonate with them are the same ones that will resonate with their target audience. This is a costly, and all too frequent, mistake.

Once you have identified your goal and audience, you can figure out how to reach them. Which boils to: which words will you use and where will you put them?

Marketing can get unruly. There are so many options these days. Stick to this method and you’ll get results. Serious results. I promise.

Want to master the Claxon Method™? Check out our on-line class at Claxon University, where we offer a 30 day no-questions-asked money back guarantee. What do you have to lose?!

Post Readability Stats: Reading Ease: 71.9, Grade Level: 5.7

Raising Awareness isn’t a goal

Poll ResultsGearing up for Claxon’s webinar on October 12, I was reminded of the somewhat troubling poll results from the last webinar. I had asked what everyone’s top goal was for the year. Not surprisingly, fundraising topped the list with 60%. Nothing troubling or surprising about that.

The troubling part comes in with the Raising Awareness results. 22% said this was their top goal. (See pie chart for details.)

You might be saying, “What’s wrong with that, Erica? You have to raise awareness in order to raise money, recruit volunteers, attract amazing staff. That’s a legit goal.”

Raising awareness for the sake of it is a waste of time. Don’t get me wrong: I am all for raising awareness…so long as you are very clear on what, specifically, raising awareness is going to do for you. Think of raising awareness as a pre-cursor to other goals, i.e. you raise awareness so that you can achieve other goals.

You raise awareness so that:

  • You can increase year-end donations by 175%.
  • You can recruit 3 new absolutely awesome board members.
  • You can land a 5 year, $500,000 grant.

As you set out to set your goals, remember the Claxon Method:

  1. WHAT does success look like?
  2. WHO do you need to reach in order to be successful?
  3. HOW are you going to reach your ideal supporters?

If you don’t set a SMART goal in response to #1, you can’t identify your target audience (#2), and then it’s a crap shoot on what messaging and mechanisms will work for #3. Crap shoots may be fun, but they aren’t strategic.

Goal-setting may not be glamorous, but it’s suuuuuuuuper important. And that’s why we’re going to talk about how to apply SMART goal-setting to your year-end fundraising on the October 12 webinar. (We’ll also talk about fun stuff like calls-to-action and which stories will be the most powerful and whatnot. Didn’t want you thinking it was going to dull. Never!)

Be sure to sign up for your spot!
sign me up

 
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Reading Ease: 67.8, Grade Level: 6.7