Tips for Fundraising on the Internet: Advice for Nonprofits

Surprising fact: More Americans are donating to charity than ever before, but it may not be who you think. The typical donor is not wealthy; in fact , the average donor falls somewhere in the lower to middle income range.

The following is a list of helpful tips for fundraising on the internet.

Step 1: Understand Your Donors’ Motivations for Giving

Before you start the time-consuming process of developing an internet marketing strategy, it’s important to have a firm and thorough grasp of who your donors are and why they donate.

The 7 Reasons People Give:

  • They want to feel good about themselves.
  • They want to return a favor—The donor or a loved has been helped by a particular charity or cause in the past.
  • They’re looking for a tax deduction
  • They wish to help solve a social or political problem that they find important or that has personally affected their friends or family.
  • They wish to make a statement about their beliefs
  • They wish to align themselves with friends, peers or other members of the community
  • They have been educated or entertained by an organizer’s content

The last item on this list is important to keep in mind when devising a social media marketing strategy. Focus on creating quality, information-heavy blog content that informs. People are more likely to donate to charities when they feel they’ve gained something—in this case, information—in return for their support.

Who is Telling Them to Give?

Women—Extended family, friends and co-workers. Most women give based on recommendations from their inner circle.

Men—Their spouses. In a 2009 survey by the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, over 90% of men said their spouses were the primary influence  behind their decision to donate to a particular charity. Women may get recommendations from friends, but men get recommendations from their significant others.

Step 2: Consider the Donors’ Motivations When Creating Content

As you’ve read above, there are seven main reasons people donate. Make sure you are addressing at least one of those reasons with each article, blog post, social media campaign or appeal letter you create. When producing blog content, vary the target demographic of each post. Write a blog post about “How to Donate so that Your Gift is Tax-Deductible” for the people giving so that they can receive a tax deduction, for example. Then write another blog post about “The Importance of Paying it Forward” for those motivated to give back to the community.

Step 3: Develop Credibility Through Repeat Exposure

People want to donate to organizations that seem trustworthy, legitimate and credible. Although personal referrals work best in increasing your nonprofit’s credibility, repeat exposure is a close second. The more exposure people have to your organization, the more credible your organization will seem.

How to Boost Exposure:

  • Consistent and frequent social media postings
  • Blog content (paying $5 to “boost posts on Facebook is a cheap way to ensure more people are exposed to your organization. It also helps drive traffic to your site).
  • Email blasts
  • Press releases
  • Industry-specific guest blogs

4 Helpful Tips for Fundraising

Go local

Most people are more likely to donate to a local cause than a global one. Thus, even if you’re a national charity, focus on your local community first. Run targeted Facebook ads and sponsor events within your town or city.

Don’t use guilt trips

Avoid using language that gives people the impression that you want them to feel bad for not donating. Some nonprofits try to convince affluent people to donate by attempting to make them feel guilty about their wealth. But as it states in Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits: Real-World Strategies That Work, “…Most affluent people either don’t realize how good they’ve got it, aren’t listening, or are already major nonprofit donors. In none of these instances will a guilt-based pitch help—and it might end up breeding resentment.”

Turn your volunteers into donors

Studies show that people who volunteer for a charity are almost 40% more likely to donate to a cause than those who do not. Thus, it makes sense to collect the email addresses and phone numbers of everyone who volunteers for your organization, even if it’s just for a one-time event. Next time you gather a group together to clean a highway, paint a church or run a telethon, don’t just thank them and send them on their way; get their contact info.

Remember: Most donors won’t stick around for more than 2-3 years

Regardless of how great your charity is, statistics show that most donors only donate to a charity for two to three years before they move on. And it’s usually not the charities fault. According to Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits, most people “prefer to spread their giving around and will deliberately withdraw their support when they think it’s someone else’s turn.” Although it should be a goal to turn every donor into a long-term supporter, you should make sure your strategy always includes a plan for attracting new support.

Source: Iona Bray, JD. Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits: Real-World Strategies That WorkAugust 2010. NOLO.


 

Skylark Media Consultants provides social media for nonprofits and other businesses in Las Vegas and across the United States. Please contact us for a free consultation.

Reannon Muth is the founder and owner of Skylark Media Consultants. Prior to starting her own consulting firm, Reannon worked as the Director of Content Development for a leading internet marketing company. She currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Las Vegas Sake Festival

Leaping for Joy (of Sake) at the World’s Largest Sake Tasting Festival in Las Vegas

The Skylark Media Consultants team attended the Joy of Sake festival last weekend! It was a lot of fun. You can read all about the event below.

Joy of Sake Las Vegas

Sake Festival

At the Joy of Sake event, guests helped themselves to sake using plastic pipettes. Photo courtesy of Burt Lam.

The mood outside the ballroom at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Saturday night (September 20th) was fervent as hundreds of guests waited to enter the Joy of Sake festival, the world’s largest sake tasting event outside of Japan. Miss SAKE 2014 posed for photos in a kimono and sash as a man in a long robe spooned sake samples from a bamboo barrel.

“Welcome to the 15th anniversary of the Joy of Sake!” boomed a voice over the microphone and then, suddenly, the ballroom doors were opened. Like the pop of a champagne bottle, guests rocketed through the entranceway, eager to set their sights (and taste buds) onto the 391 brands of premium sake.

Though in previous years, Joy of Sake had been hosted in Honolulu and New York City, 2015 was the first year the event was held in Las Vegas. Sake connoisseurs traveled to Sin City from around the country for the chance to sample the ultra-premium Daiginjo sakes, most of which are not available in the United States.

Joy of Sake program

Sake Las Vegas

Joy of Sake Crowd

Pouring a sample of Sake

Photo courtesy of Chamagraphy.

Joy of Sake table

Sake experts (discernible by their navy blue aprons) were on hand throughout the festival to educate guests on the various sake grades and levels. Good sake, as one mustached elderly gentleman explained, is not about what you taste, but rather about what you don’t. Those who rate sake professionally are looking for “readily discernible faults”. Quality sake is well-balanced sake; smooth and clean. No one area of the sake (the aroma or taste, for example) should overpower another.

Sake is made from rice, through a fermenting process similar to the brewing process used to make beer. Before the rice is mixed with water and yeast, the grains are polished to remove the outer layers of protein. The more the rice is polished, the more delicate and refined the sake becomes. In premium sakes, which typically sell for $100 a bottle, the rice grains are polished to 30% of their original size. These are known as Daiginjo sakes, which comprised about half of the sakes served at the event.

Also present were twelve Las Vegas fine-dining restaurants, including Zenshin Asian Restaurant, Sushi Samba, Other Mama, Raku, Yonaka Modern Japanese and Mexikosher. Though most of the chefs served sushi or sashimi, some opted for a more out-of-the-box approach. At the Mexikosher station, for instance, Chef Katsuji Tanabe, a contestant on the reality show Top Chef, served guests sake-braised chicken tacos.

As drums beat on the loudspeakers overhead, guests weaved from table to table, studying placards, sniffing and sipping Ginjo, Daigingo and Junmai and nibbling on colorful and delicately seasoned slices of sashimi.

Chef Katsuji Tanabe at the Sake Festival

Chef Katsuji Tanabe cooking asian-fusion tacos.

Joy of Sake taco

Chef Katsuji Tanabe’s sake-braised chicken tacos with Japanese root vegetable.

Zenshin Pork

Zenshin offered guests barbequed pork with malasadas and black sesame sauce.

Joy of Sake Sashimi

Sushi Samba, a Brazilian-Peruvian-Japanese inspired sushi restaurant in the Venetian, served Salmon Tiradito (raw salmon served with a garlic and honey glaze).

Three hours later, as smiling guests waddled towards the door, stomachs full and heads abuzz, it was clear as a glass of Daiginjo that the event had been a success. The Joy of Sake festival was a true delight and one that left many a sake fan eager for the event’s future return.

At the Sake Festival with Miss SAKE

Founder, Reannon, standing next to Miss SAKE 2014.

Reannon Muth is the founder and owner of Skylark Media Consultants. Prior to starting her own consulting firm, Reannon worked as the Director of Content Development for a leading internet marketing company and as a freelance travel and food writer. She currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Social Media Tips for Nonprofits: What Every 501(c)(3) Should Know

I’ll let you in on a little-known secret: Non-profits and social media are a match made in heaven. It’s true! When done right, social media marketing can be an extremely effective way for charities to generate buzz, to recruit donors and even to to raise funds. The following is an important list of non-profit marketing dos and donts:

1. Market your cause before you market your company

One of the things that makes marketing a non-profit easier than marketing a for-profit is that people are drawn to causes first and organizations second. Because your non-profit is already supporting a cause (environmentalism, mental health, homelessness, etc), half of the battle has already been won. A community of potential donors and volunteers already exists, you just have to dive into the conversation and join the party.

2. Use Social Media to Educate, Not to Fundraise

When you’re in desperate need of funds, it can tough not to spend all of your social media efforts shouting “please donate!!”, but we advise against doing this. Shoving donation requests down your followers throats is a sure way to earn your Twitter or Facebook page a speedy “unfollow” click. Instead, we recommend using social media to position your organization as an educational resource. Produce a lot of helpful and entertaining content and donations will naturally follow. People will instinctively want to donate to your brand; not because you asked them, but because they honestly love your business and the cause you support.

3. Take time to have real conversations; have fun!

Most non-profits use social media as a platform to talk about themselves and to broadcast updates. This is missing a real opportunity to use social media as it was intended and actually be social. Interact with people on social media—and not just the major players or potential donors. You’ll stand apart from the crowd if you take the time to participate in thoughtful, one-on-one conversations with players both big and small.

4. Invest in good website and social media Design

Most smaller non-profits have websites that look like they were created in 1997 and then abandoned. While a simple or outdated website is better than no website (most of the time), if you have the resources, investing in  a clean and modern-looking site and professional social media sites is a great way to set your company miles above the competition.

5. Research Your Donor

Put yourself in your donor’s shoes and take the time to analyze your social media platforms and website from their perspective. Is the donation button easy to find? Is it easy to make a donation or is the process complicated? Can the donor immediately identify what cause you’re supporting and why? Are there any obstacles standing in the way of potential donors making a donation?


 

Skylark Media Consultants provides social media for nonprofits and other businesses in Las Vegas and across the United States. Please contact us for a free consultation.

Reannon Muth is the founder and owner of Skylark Media Consultants. Prior to starting her own consulting firm, Reannon worked as the Director of Content Development for a leading internet marketing company. She currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Questions to ask a social media company before you hire them

5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Social Media Company

Hiring a stranger to take control of your company’s social media is often an exercise in trust, and that can be terrifying for small business owners, especially those unfamiliar social media marketing.

The following five questions should help overwhelmed business owners ascertain whether their social media company is legitimate and fit for the job.

1. In what ways have you been successful at marketing your own company on social media?

Click to Tweet: The average Twitter user has 208 followers. A good social media company should have at least that amount or more.

If a social media company cannot effectively market their own business, it is unlikely they’ll be able to market yours. While they don’t need to have 30,000 followers, they should have at least several hundred, and you should be able to see that they are posting regularly and engaging with others (via retweets and reposts).

Some things to look for:
  • The average Twitter user has 208  followers. Your social media company should have at least that amount or more.
  • You social media company should be posting several times per week (at least) on Facebook and Twitter and they should be using hashtags.
Some red flags:
  • Buying likes: Oftentimes an internet marketing company will buy followers. You can easily identify this on Twitter by looking at the company’s follower list. If a majority of their followers’ profiles lack profile pictures or descriptions, it is likely they are “dummy” accounts and not real people. Similarly, if the company in question has several thousand followers and none of their posts are being liked or shared, it could mean their followers are fake.
  • Postings that lack personality:  A good social media company will not share links or blog posts on their social media without adding a description or call to action. If the company appears to be posting on a regular basis, but each post is just a link and nothing else, this could mean they are auto-posting using a third party platform. This is lazy social media marketing. You want a business that will take the time to personalize your brand’s messaging and not just post blindly and at random.

2. Are you familiar with our industry?

You want your social media marketer to effectively be able to use your industry’s lingo and be able to identify subject matter that will interest your target audience. They will need to be able to do this with authority and confidence, which they can only do if they have experience marketing or working within your particular industry. Ask to see blog posts or articles they’ve written that discuss trends in your brand’s market. Ideally, your social media consultant should specialize in your industry, and be able to support that claim with documented evidence.

3. How do you measure the ROI of Your Social media campaigns?

ROI=Return on investment. In order to get your money’s worth, you want to know that the social media company you’re hiring will be able to drive leads and revenue. Ask for specific platforms they use to track and measure the success of their various campaigns and marketing strategies. It is not enough for a social media company to merely track likes and follower increases, they should have a system in place that will measure conversion rates, such as Google Analytics.

4. Are your payment terms set In Stone or ARe They Negotiable?

It is important to negotiate the payment terms ahead of time. Bot parties need to fully understand the arrangement and be in complete agreement on the specifics before any formal paperwork is signed.

Some related payment questions to ask are:

* Do you require clients to sign up for a minimum contract? (Oftentimes clients must agree to a 3 month minimum contract period).

* Do you get paid per hour or project or via retainer?

* When must invoices be paid and do you charge interest for late payments?

* Do you offer a discount if we refer your services to others?

5. What Will Be Your Strategy for promoting my business on social media?

While a company or consultant cannot be expected to give away ideas for free, you can ask for some general guidelines and a rough strategy outline. The company should be able to tell you, for example, which social media platform they would focus on and how much money would be needed for advertising.

Got any tips to add? Tweet at us @SkylarMedia1.

Reannon Muth is the founder and owner of Skylark Media Consultants. Prior to starting her own social media company in Las Vegas, Reannon worked as the Director of Content Development for a leading internet marketing company. She currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Photo courtesy of Esther Vargas via Flickr CC
social media company

Why Small Businesses Should Hire Social Media Companies that Specialize in Their Industry

Tweet this: If you outsource your social media marketing, make sure you outsource to a company that has experience in your industry. Via @SkylarkMedia1

Many social media companies or private consultants do not have a specific industry they specialize in; preferring instead to be “everything to everyone” and taking on clients from a  wide range of industries and disciplines. While this makes sense from the marketing company’s point of you (the wider you caste your net, the more clients you’ll hook), it can be detrimental for small businesses in niche or highly technical industries.

Why Your Social Media Company Should Specialize In Your Field:

While no outsourced consultant will ever know your company, product or industry as well as you do, an outsourced consultant who specializes in your unique industry is a big step ahead of those who don’t. Social media marketers who have experience marketing to your target clientele or who have an educational or professional background in your field will be able to target your demographic more effectively and inefficiently. Nothing beats first hand experience.

Tweet this: A social media consultant must convincingly mimic a company’s voice, tone & style on the social web. It’s not a job left to amateurs.

Important Questions to Ask Before You Hire:

While many companies claim to “specialize” in a number of fields, this can mean very different things to different people. It’s important to investigate further to find out what industry-specific credentials or experience level the consultant has before you sign a contract.

1. Have you worked with any companies in my field before?

2. What experience do you have marketing to my target demographic? Can you provide examples?

3. Does my account manager or any of the other marketers working on my program have any experience working in my industry?

4. What specific social media platforms perform best for businesses in my field?

5. Who do you see as my top competitors on the social web?

6. Who are the top social media influencers in my industry?

7. What is the biggest social media hurdle businesses in my industry must overcome in order to be successful in social media marketing?

Tweet this: Hire a marketer who specializes in your industry. You wouldn’t expect an art major to manage a DR’s social media, so why is yours different?

A social media consultant who is a true expert on your industry will immediately know the answers to these questions and won’t hesitate to answer them.

What If my Social Media Consultant Doesn’t specialize?

If the social media consultant you’ve hired does not have documented experience in your industry, it would be wise to find out how the consultant plans to mitigate this. Ask them how many hours of industry research they plan on conducting prior to launching your campaigns. Ask to see a strategy (in writing) that includes personalized and industry-specific marketing goals and tactics. Find out if they plan on hiring a writer with a background in your industry to produce the blog content or any technical infographics, ebooks or webinars you may need. This is important, because while the account manager does not necessarily need to be an industry-expert, the person producing the technical copy should be.

Tweet this: Social media marketing is a huge challenge. Make it a little less so by hiring a #SocialMediaConsultant who specializes in your industry.

 


What Skylark Media Consultants Specializes In:

We specialize in content and social media marketing for the following industries:

  • Travel, tourism and hospitality
  • Nonprofits
  • Culinary arts
  • Las Vegas small businesses

 

Reannon Muth is the founder and owner of Skylark Media Consultants. Prior to starting her own consulting firm, Reannon worked as a freelance travel writer and the Director of Content Development for a leading internet marketing company. She currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

How Hiring a Social Media Consultant Can Help Your Small Business

Hiring a company to help establish and/or manage your social media may seem like a risky move. After all, you’re handing over the reigns of your business’s online reputation to a virtual stranger. That’s nothing to take lightly! How will you know that the so-called “social media expert” you’ve hired won’t make a faux pas that will cause irrevocable damage to your company’s reputation? Wouldn’t it be a safer option to hire someone in house to oversee your social media instead?

These are questions I frequently receive from skeptical or concerned small business owners, and they are completely justified. I fully agree that it makes far more sense to hire someone internally to manage your social media profiles if you can afford to so, and I often advise clients to do just that, especially if their business requires highly technical or specialized content. An outsourced social media consultant without medical or legal training, for instance, will likely not be able to effectively post about topics related to the  medical or legal field, at least not with any degree of authority. If your business has the budget, it is always best to hire and train someone in house.

Many small businesses or startups, however, do not have the budget to hire a full time or even part time social media manager. An experienced and knowledgeable social media manager does not come cheap. The best social media marketers are both highly creative and extremely analytical and detail-oriented. These are not two skills that you will frequently find in one person. Then if you add the technical skills that are required of the position (graphic design experience and SEO knowledge),  you’re looking at a $50,000 per year investment, at minimum.

Thus, if your only two options are hiring an inexperienced, entry-level social media manager or a professional consulting firm, here are a few reasons why the consulting firm may be your best bet:

7 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Social Media COnsultant

1. You need an experienced marketer to help you develop an effective social media strategy

While social media is fairly straight forward, social media marketing is not. Using social media to promote a business requires the development of a concrete content and social strategy, which takes research and a thorough grasp of the tools of the social media trade.

2. Effective social media takes creativity and years of experience (it is not a job for the untrained intern)

True, effective social media marketing is not easy and if not done right, it can easily turn into hours of work with very little to show for it. What’s more, if an untrained employee is not up-to-date on social media and search engine best practices, they could accidentally get your company’s profiles banned or worse, your entire website de-indexed from Google.

3. Social media marketing requires blogging (and ain’t nobody got time for ‘dat!)

These days, any decent social media strategy requires content production in one form or another. Generating content in the form of blog posts is a great way to drive traffic to your website  and boost your rankings in search engines. Blogging takes time, however, and it requires writing skills. Unless you have an English major on your staff, it is best to outsource your blogging to a consultant with a demonstrated passion for the written word and an ability to craft SEO and social media-friendly content. That is no easy feat!

4. A social media consultant will be able to keep up with industry trends and changes in social media policies

Did you know that there are over 800 social media platforms in existence? 800! That’s a lot for a busy business owner to keep track of.

A social media consultant has made it their full time job to keep tabs on important platform policy changes or algorithm updates so that business owners’ are not caught unaware. Furthermore, they can let business owners know when a new social media platform is released, so that companies can stay current and stay ahead of their competitors.

5. A dedicated social media strategist will have time to grow your audience

Audience growth is the hardest part of any social media manager’s job. It can be extraordinarily time consuming to develop a sizeable social media following. Most business owners, in my experience, do not have the time nor the skill set to do this on their own.

6. Most social media sites these days are “pay to play”. You will need to have someone that can help you manage the various paid platforms.

Creating ads, overseeing their distribution and analyzing their effectiveness takes skill and careful consideration. Make a mistake and you could end up wasting valuable money or worse, getting your Facebook or Twitter page banned.

7. Social media consultants have connections with key “social media influencers” that can help build awareness for your brand

Social media influencers are the “celebrities” of the social media world. Consultants have access to these influential social superstars, which can go along way in helping to get your company noticed. One of the keys to building brand awareness is getting your company’s name and messaging in front of a large audience. Social media influencers can do this by sharing your content to their massive number of interested and engaged fans.

Reannon Muth is the founder and owner of Skylark Media Consultants. Prior to starting her own consulting firm, Reannon worked as the Director of Content Development for a leading internet marketing company. She currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.