Friday, January 28, 2011

QR Codes

For starters I am going to assume that everyone knows what QR codes are (for those of you who don't, they are the funny little fuzzy boxes located on many marketing pieces that can connect a mobile phone to information.) I have seen them for some time and for those of you on campuses with your students, take a look at some of the kaplan or food service provider marketing targeting the students to see what they are.

QR codes are tremendously powerful things - they can take you to a web page, to a phone number, to a text message or even to send a text message - try it to the right.

The system is simple, download a reader app (I use barcode scanner by Zxing free in the droid market) and uses the camera in your phone to scan the data and provide it to the processor.
The fact that you can use it in print, on the web and really anywhere that your constituents are with their phone, means that you have tremendous flexibility.

The newest iteration of these has to do with the flexibility of the code - it is actually possible to make the code a piece of art - think of the use on shirts, in design etc. Would your grandmother know what to do with it? Probably not. Would your students and young alumni? Without question. Have text giving as an option? Use a QR code to drive them to it - they simply need to scan click send twice and are done. How easy is that!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

targeted email acquisition

One of the long term "holy grails" of electronic fundraising is that we have to spend nothing to bring in thousands of new donors. For a little while in the late 90s many folks felt that mail was on the way out and that email would be the replacement.

Moving into the 2010s it is obvious that that prediction wasn't right. We tend to hear the same things associated with the social media tools now. I fully expect that email, direct mail, the phone program and that oldest of all, the personal visit will continue to exist and for that matter thrive 15 years from now.

I had a conversation with my communications team last week regarding our email communications and my interest in focusing our communications on the future donor group. As we talked about it, the idea was presented that we take a look at the folks who are actively engaged in our communications who have not given - something new that we have insight into that we didn't until a couple of years ago.

We have targeted a population of about 6,000 future and long lapsed donors and will be presenting them with a multimedia campaign utilizing email, direct mail and phone calls to generate additional participation. I will update this post as the campaign progresses with successes and failures throughout the semester.

Anyone have thoughts or ideas that have worked for them?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow day communications

For those of us in the New York metro area, yesterday was a snow day. We got 9" in the city but 20" at my home and most activities were delayed or canceled (other than city schools.) How does this relate to this blog you ask? As I was driving into work again this morning, I was thinking about all of the folks that I have worked with over the almost 5 years I have been at St. John's (for those of you who watch Survivor, think that torch walk at the end.)

As I took that walk along my own personal memory lane - long drive, lots of snow - it occurred to me that my relationships with my coworkers have been greatly defined by how we communicate as an institution. In March of 2006 one of the first things that new employees did was to be added to the "Emergency contact list" this was the old school phone chain list that was used to let us know when something (mostly weather) happened that impacted our work day. Each person had a spot in the chain based upon seniority and supervisory responsibility and the chain worked with everyone having a role in it and a sense of responsibility for others. We usually learned about days off etc. early that morning and never before 10 PM the night before as it took a long time and lots of conversations between links in the chain to get the message out.

Fast forward to 2011 - I learned that we had yesterday off through a text message and two pre-recorded voicemails from folks that I have no connections to or with on campus. I learned about it at 3:20 on Tuesday afternoon - more than an hour before the end of the day before the day off. Office morale promptly went up - was like a bonus vacation day was offered. Office productivity stopped. From 3:20 till 4:30 nothing was accomplished while we all talked about the snow day.

So the "old" method was less efficient but created a greater sense of involvement and community. The new method is highly efficient - everyone learned about the news within 5 minutes of the decision being made - but does nothing to create a sense of connection between and within the community. In fact, we spent more than an hour talking about how great it was going to be not being together!

I would suggest that this is something that we need to take into consideration in a lot of our work. How does the communication that we are sending fit into the conversation? Is it efficiently communicating to a large group of folks to the detriment of communicating with them? Are you building networks within the community like the phone chain or creating a group of individuals with common information but nothing in common? The face to face nature of fundraising and charitable support mandates that we work toward the second within a society running toward the first.