I love receiving emails like this one from Wendy Wareham.
Dan,Although we have never met, I have enjoyed your book and your audio sessions. Your messages help fundraisers to remember to keep working on crafting the stories.I’m sending this along to you because I feel like, even though I have 30 years of fundraising experience, I’ve been “taken to school” by a photographer with a purpose. I thought you might find this interesting as well. It’s the clearest case for support I think I’ve ever seen–and an excellent job of storytelling. And he’s never done fundraising in his life!
So why does this video work so well?
Cures this certain to work are a rarity in medicine, but we have one, we actually have one, and the only thing standing between Eliza and her miracle is money. The trial is lacking funding to remain on schedule, and every moment counts as Eliza approaches the tipping point when her disease will take an irreversible turn for the worst.
Portnoy Media Group uses the influence of social networks to expand your organization's voice and tell your story. We connect people with your mission and enable your brand to be shared, discovered, and connected. Work with us as we empower your organization to dramatically extend your online presence and increase donations.
I’ve never understood certain tactics from agencies. They boast and brag about building a brand and continuing customer relationships but it feels like snake oil tactics. Why would you associate your brand with friendly extortion and a negative experience?
You can tell a better story than this but it takes a little bit of forethought and a decision to not go for cheap gags. Commit to great storytelling and solid branding, build a relationship and increase average donation size and the amount of people connecting to your non-profit.
If I were consulting with this group, here’s where I’d start. These ideas aren’t spending anymore money than they currently are and should have a great impact. Let’s check out a bit about their background.
To provide wish kids with hope through uplifting and rejuvenating experiences refocusing on the joy of life.
To provide lasting support and memories for wish families.
To treat families and associates with dignity and protect their privacy.
To inspire greater community participation in fulfilling Wishing Star’s mission.
To sum up, Wishing Star has been around for 31 years and they have action steps (or what they solve) in their mission statement. This is great news. Clear and concise with no frilly language to confuse us.
- 6 active chapters of Wishing Star in various cities in the Pacific Northwest.
- Website is a bit dated but they report back on the wishes they’ve granted.
- The only social media is a Facebook fan page – might be a good idea to branch out.
- They have a good stream of events so they can easily tease “what’s next” through the end of the year.
- Lots of great stories that people can get behind, similar to Batkid. I found this video with 17K+ views and it has a lift bit of production value. They could easily create something on par or better.
- Lots of room to connect emotions with their cause. Emotions = action.
- Not a hard sell.
What we know:
We have access to goats, perhaps even baby goats. Who doesn’t like a baby goat?!?! They’ll look amazing on camera. Next up, let’s try a few ideas. Just spitballing and some of these will be bad. Here’s a few I’ve come up with:
- Whatever we do, we have to make sure it’s scalable. The only way to do that is to create content that is catchy, funny and sharable. Filming this and taking stills to share through your different social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
- Can we do a set up at a school and bring the petting zoo to a school or several schools? Perhaps a private nursery school. Have kids interact, including those who have been designated as Wishing Star families. Film the interaction of families and communities collaborating
- Have the same set up at the local mall. Create a “scream like a goat contest”, film it, and give prizes for the winners.
- Can we conspire with some well known local celebs to play some practical jokes of ambushing them with goats and film it? Based on photos, they’re doing some of that already.
- Ditch the goats all together and come up with a better idea.
Making a video and if it’s good enough to share, you’re going to have to pay for it. But you might be able to convince the local news media to be your media sponsor. Let them put together the piece and then they’ll push it through their social media (plus it’s a great news story, they’ve already got the connections) and you can support it by sharing it on your channels. Of course you’re going to get a copy and put it on your YouTube page. Plus with a partnership like that shows your brand in a positive light, you’ll have all the benefits and none of the work.
Looking at their Facebook page, the goat thing is a big deal. Although it’s not really being seen by their tribe – A few dozen likes and 1 share, not the impact you want for a big push. (The tease for the goat promo received penetration – 195 likes and 110 shares.) I’d recommend spending a couple dollars to advertise on facebook or walk away from it completely and put more of a focus on Pinterest or Instagram.
This event/campaign could be an annual event that’s become a part of their DNA and something they’re known for. It strikes me as odd but I’m probably not their primary or secondary audience. Creating a great experience for them is far more important than making me feel comfortable. This is a reminder I often tell advisory boards – “If the idea/campaign is not created with your demographic in mind, it’s ok for you to hate it.”
What would you suggest they do? How can they tell the best story?
Sign up for the Portnoy Media Email today! I’ll be drawing some names at random and sending them a book from Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar.
This week on Story Road Radio we hear from Erik Deutsch.
Getting the word out on your projects can be a tall order in the digital age. What can you do about it? This week, PR Expert Erik Deutsch talks with us about the world of PR and how it’s changing to accommodate content providers.
In February, we partnered with Pastor, Author and Songwriter, Justin McRoberts on the debut of At Sea. In the video, Justin shares what At Sea is all about.
Last year I joined the crew at Abandon Films to launch a short film about two guys and the friendship that they shared. It was a big hit and thousands of views later, the consensus was – Bravo!
Jason is an artist in Los Angeles and author of ReMIND series (Vol 1&2) and he just recently released “Unnatural Talent: Creating, Printing, and Selling Your Comic in the Digital Age“. He’s had 2 successful campaigns on Kickstarter, one resulting in over 12oK!
In this episode we talk about the process of creativity, the best parts of stories and the brilliance behind his success.
Check out Jason:
Josh Kaufman is the author of the #1 international bestseller “The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business,” as well as “The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything… Fast!”
Josh’s unique, multidisciplinary approach to business mastery has helped millions of readers around the world learn essential business concepts on their own terms. Josh’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Time, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, and HarvardBusiness.org. The widely-acclaimed Personal MBA manifesto and recommended reading list has been downloaded over 1.28 million times from ChangeThis.com.
Plus, he’s a a guy with a sharp mind and gives us the lowdown about the early days and what got him started.
Connect with Josh on Twitter – @JoshKaufman
It’s finally here! Book marketer Tim Grahl is the brains behind several high-profile, bestselling authors. Authors like Dan Pink, Hugh Howey and so many more! His book, Your First 1000 Copies: The step-by-step guide to marketing your book, has been lighting up the best selling charts since it’s release.
1:15 – Commentary on the Olympics, The Walking Dead and House of Cards
7:20 – Interview with Tim Grahl
His Website – OutThinkGroup.com
His book on Amazon – http://portnoy.co/1mqdkvn
“Hi Dan, reading through Non-Profit Narrative (love it, very inspiring) what do you mean by Acquisition? Specifically as a takeaway on pg. 53. Would this be in the sense of an “ask” after the event? Maybe acquiring more people into our story to tell the story? Would love a little help understanding this. Thanks!” – Michael Barsamian
Michael shot me this question via facebook and I thought this question may occur to more than one reader. He’s been kind enough to let me use this post to answer him.
Backstory and context:
This is taken from Chapter 3 of my book, The Non-Profit Narrative. Chapter 3 is when we move from theory to practicality.
In the book, I talk about arcs for campaigns. Events can work much the same way – there’s a life cycle to them. The image above shows how that event can work best. Take note that the event isn’t at the end of the arc, it’s about 75-80% of the way through the arc.
Events are great but in large part they aren’t scalable. Classically speaking, your gala event or other large event happens as some sort of thank you or as a kick off from your largest donors to show momentum through the year. For a lot of organizations these were among the first things to cut in 2008-2009. But it’s been several years and they’re bouncing back.
In todays rough economy everything has to scale or have multiple payoff points. In the old economy the gala used to net big dollars, consume a ton of resources in time and dollars. If your event cost 10,000 and 100 attended, the net cost per person was $50 and that is never coming back. unless they gave over the $50 amount. And classically, that’s where it would stay. Now if that was a luncheon for donors that had given 10,000 or more in the last 12 months – that seems worth it. It’s a fine investment to make. However, it’s not scalable. The event happens, it impacts all the people in the room and then it’s over.
However, in the new digital economy for an 5-10% in resource we can use the same preparation to also impact our community and cultivate our current audiences.
So let’s take the same group. We want to have an event for donors that have given 10K and above in the last 12 months as a thank you. We set out to book the venue but now we also tease that we’re making preparations for a big thank you to our “Gold Circle Donors” (You mean you don’t have a name for your ultra donors? Change it fast!) Tease the event in in the prep by posting a photo to Instagram, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. the next day, do a quick 2-5 twitter/facebook posts about the qualifications to become part of the Gold Circle. This is also a great time to launch a blog post about those same qualifications. It’s a blog post so share all the info, share the lifecycle, share the page where your donors sign up to be part of that higher donor level. You’re now involving and informing your general audience on what it looks like to be a larger donor or a regular donor or whatever criteria you’d like to talk about.
With the details finalized, it’s time to begin the push for the event. If it’s a gala or on the level of fancy, I’m sure there’s a print element. Invitations are printed and sent in the mail. Take pics of the invites and share them through your social media channels. This may seem weird because it’s just mail… and maybe we’re getting too meta with taking pics of our invites… But please let me assure you, these pics and other activities help show momentum. Momentum is easy to get behind once the ball is already rolling. Todays audiences know that really well so show them what you’re up to, even if it feels silly.
A few days after the invites are out, start the tease via social media. If there’s a logo to share or if you can share the whole invitation, post it! Share about and thank sponsors as they sign on. Next up, email. Get your email targeted to the correct group and make it look like the invitation that you’ve sent out. But it can’t feel like a paper invite. It’s still digital, so be ready to receive RSVP’s and corporate sponsors from the email. Make sure you’re sending all the crucial information and have links to sponsorship, the ability to buy tickets. Eventbrite does some nice work for orgs and events.
Over the next few weeks pepper info about the event through all communication channels. It should be a P.S. (read: call to action) on your corporate email until the event. As awards, special guests or talent is confirmed share that through your social media channels. Remember that pictures speak louder than your update. Plus the same photo can be used on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest – just not at the same time. If you’ve got options then know that square pics are better for Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram and longer, thinner pictures work best on Pinterest.
Then as the event arrives, and it’s awesome. Make sure someone is blasting photos of the event out through all your social media channels… pretty much constantly while the event is happening. You can’t overdo it – release the hounds!
As the event ends, thanks everyone for being part of a great night. Thank your volunteers and take their picture. By showing who currently is helping you out, you’re giving vision to those who are debating volunteering next time. In a perfect world, you’ve had someone taking photos but you’ve also had someone capturing the event on video. Great b-roll of the mix and mingle and the remarks of your organizations leadership on how the organization is doing. You may also want to grab footage of the award that you’re presenting or the celebrities in attendance.
Because your event so well, I’m sure you had a program of some kind. And because you’re really smart, you created a video to sum up all the work you’ve achieved together this last year or to share a specific story of someone you’ve helped through your incredible organization. if you did that – GREAT JOB! You’ve just helped equip your social media channels with plenty of info.
If there was a video, get that on your YouTube/Vimeo channel ASAP. Once it’s there, share it through your channels and give the context. Tell the story of how the video came to be. Why was this person chosen? What are some of the crazy facts that you’ve achieved together in service or loving a problem. Give the vision – this is telling your story!
Prep that email with the story behind the video. Then link to it and ask your audience to share it. Prep 2-4 possible messages that your email recipients could cut and paste in their social media channels. Make sure they’re all less than 140 characters with your YouTube link included. Make sure your video has links to your site either in the description or through annotations. THIS IS SCALABLE ACQUISITION. You’ve created tools for your audience to share with their network the cool things that they’re apart of. You’ve also empowered board members, staff and others to look cool by sharing a great story. All the data says peer to peer opinions matter far more than advertising, especially with millennials.
Any facts reported in the video can now be used to inform social media and allow you to yell from the roof tops about the work that you’re doing, THIS IS TYPICAL OR TRADITIONAL ACQUISITION. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn here, you’ve earned it. Your blog posts in the few weeks after the event should be sharing the photos and video that you have created from the event. Don’t forget to start teasing the next event or campaign so your audience knows what to be looking for.
This is how a campaign or event can be used to cultivate current donors and acquire new donors – plus all the work you did for a single event can now be shared with thousands.
A few caveats:
- You have to create great work in invitations, photos and video.
- If it’s embarrassing, slow or sappy, no one will share it.
- Map these steps out on a calendar and set up reminders of what you’re going to be sharing each day.
- These are instructions for a largely digital approach – acquisition though mailing lists is a afferent ballgame.
- Keep your event program short – Don’t be self indulgent, this is about your donors satisfaction.
Thank you Michael for your question!
Michael Barsamian is an Area Director for Young Life in the Chino/Chino Hills area. (www.chinovalley.younglife.org)
If this kind of teaching is helpful to you, have your team sign up for the Non-Profit Storytelling Training class. For just $495 you and your team can walk through storytelling principles of your organization and strengthen the story that your telling, engage with your current donors and connect with new ones.