Thursday, April 26, 2012

Redbox has it right...

A couple of weeks ago, we decided that we wanted to rent The Descendants for Saturday night. It was a Monday or Tuesday so we went to our Netflix account to see about bumping it up so the disc would be delivered in time. Unfortunately, The Descendants was not yet available on Netflix. We had seen the Redbox kiosks for some time but had never needed a movie that we didn't have access to until then. I went to and they had it. Even simpler, with a minor step to create an account, I could reserve the movie at the box of my choice. I did so, entering my credit card for a $1.30. I immediately got an email confirming the location, charge and title of my rental. I proceeded to pick it up later that day and got an email on my phone while I was still walking back to the car thanking me for picking up the movie, reminding me to return it before 9:00 PM the next day to avoid additional charges and offering me a free rental if made at the kiosk rather than online. We watched the movie and dropped it off the next day and again I got direct and immediate communication offering me additional value/engagement and providing me with confirmation that the movie had been returned - all before I got back into my car. The emails were appropriately designed to be easily read on my droid and were timely, appropriate, informative and useful. This experience led me to question our management of contacts through giving and events and I find we are, as a profession, way behind the curve. If someone attends your event can they check in on social media at each one? When they register do they get an immediate acknowledgement of that payment and a discount or suggestion for other opportunities to be involved in that communication? When they get to the event and check in are you thanking them right then for doing so? When they make a gift are your providing an immediate thank you including a summary of their giving and how much they need to give to reach the next gift level or offering them a benefits or other clear reasons for why their gift matters to you and them? Consider in small steps how you can make and use the social media, mobile communications and post engagement interactions to increase the chances of the next interaction happening right away.

Friday, April 13, 2012

quick hits - FY start communications

For today's post, I thought I would go in a slightly different direction. One of the primary communications that we need to be responsible for is updating our constituents on the impact they are having on our organization. Most of us do a very good job of doing so at the point of the donor making the gift, acknowledgement letters, receipts and thank-a-thons often cover this for the individual donor. We also do a good job in our solicitations, with messaging that covers "why" and "what we did" last year. Hopefully your magazine does a decent job of covering your major donors and ideally includes an annual "thank you for your impact" piece that talks about the impact of the masses and why the $10 gifts were important.

I would suggest that a FY start campaign be built around a public thank you based on some successes from the last year. This needs to be pervasive, covering all media that you fundraise through, coordinated and segmented. The segments are simple and direct - your gift mattered, this is why, thank you or gifts from donors mattered, this is why, and we missed you.

Use social media, create a badge for your donors and ask them to proudly add it to their pages at the same time as you do a voicebroadcast message from a known entity. This can be a campus celebrity, a beloved faculty member, a famous spokesperson who values your organization among many options. Follow this up with a simple direct mail piece - a post card or very small notecard both work, with a "tweet" sized explanation of why they matter and what their impact on the organization is.

Fiscal year start works because it also allows you to share the message of "the next time you hear from us it is for another effort" or "we missed you (implying that we don't want to miss hearing from you this year)".

Cheap and effective, this also provides a fundraising centric effort that is not an ask, a communication that we tend to skip over but one that helps lay the foundation for long term success.