Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pinning up the Holiday Season

Over the last several weeks, I have observed the very rapid growth of with great interest (no rhyming joke needed.) For those of you unfamiliar with the site, it is essentially an image/idea bulletin board that ties to either a twitter or a facebook account (the two most popular social media sites in the world by monthly visits) and allows you to create what amounts to a page of visual bookmarks.

Pinterest allows you to group your postings, share your postings with folks who follow you or are interested in your subject matter and as important, allows for the social sharing of the information including access to and through the original posting location for that image.

The growth in this makes sense - it provides a virtual scrapbook with dynamic content. My question for fundraising is how do we leverage this tool to provide effective and meaningful input for us?

Immediate thoughts are research - who is posting about you and what, dissemination of images and information in a very different environment from what we usually use, engagement - by creating albums centric to events or happenings, we can allow our constituents to share and identify what matters and how it matters to them while sharing it with others. If anyone has seen or is using Pinterest as a way to engage, solicit or otherwise interact, please share.

Happy Holiday's!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Go ahead and take one - they're free

At this time of year many of us print or more accurately mail a holiday appeal. In keeping with the spirit of the season, this often includes a freemium. That encompasses a wide range of possibilities, be it a calendar, notepad, cards, mailing or present labels, some combination of these or maybe something bigger and more expensive.

For many folks, this process started back in June or July with image selection, printing specs and quotes and may just now be wrapping up with the completion of final segments. I am also going to assume that you expect substantial return from the appeal utilizing these items. I know that in my office we see around $200,000 a year in return from our President's Christmas appeal including the university calendar.

My thought is that we need to provide as many related items as possible using these efforts. For instance, we print a full color 12 month calendar each year and mail it to recent donors along with major gift prospects and select individuals chosen by contact staff and the president's office. I had those same, approved, captioned images turned into a screen saver, desktop wallpaper and a one page wall calendar. The digital version will be added to the calendar year end solicitations (well a link to download them) as a no cost, easy additional item, adding some value to my email. The single page calendar will be mailed to the balance of the donor ever file the week between christmas and new years with the expectation that it will arrive in mailboxes the first week of January carrying a message of give now to an audience that is outside of my year end group and hopefully beating the holiday bills into the donors hands.

Each of these are easy items to create with low cost and flow easily in the process from their more visible and expensive calendar cousin. In addition, it allows me to maximize the eyeballs on and value of those images that we are espousing as representative of the university in a productive way.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Put some datamining onto your wish list

I had three separate conversations today that touched upon the use of datamining to more effectively segment or target appeals. The simplest of these was centered around reducing costs on an appeal, the most complex was identifying the most appropriate solicitation method for approaching lapsed prospects with a very short (think 2011) timeline for getting it completed.

In each of these conversations, the most interesting component to me was how accepted the concept was. Six or seven years ago when I started to do a lot with using statistical analysis as a way to inform my segmenting and mailing decisions, everytime that I would bring it up, I needed to explain what I meant, why it would help and then provide some sort of defense regarding it actually working. In my conversations today, each person whom I spoke with readily agreed that it made sense to do. I see this as a huge step in the maturation of the profession and expect that it is one of the long term positive outcomes from the current economic mess. Doing more with less each year has required that we get better at it and the declining participation numbers are going to continue to hone that effort.

I have posted the how before, so please search the archives of this blog for tips on implementation. I would suggest that no matter the level of sophistication, taking steps to increase response and decrease costs have little downside and substantial upside. I challenge each of you to put trying it on your list of things to do and get started. To that end, call me if you need help figuring out how to get this going - 718-990-6240.