Facebook Launches Donate Button For Non-Profits

Facebook just rolled out a new donate feature for non-profits. It’s not a small thing when the social media behemoth finally makes it possible for your donor to have fewer distractions between call-to-action that all important click-to-pay. And there was much rejoicing in the non-profit social media land…sort of.

One of Facebook's Mottos!

Yeah, not with the hard earned trust and dollars of donors though. (image via Mari Smith)

[Read more…]

Fundraising’s New Entrant: AmazonSmile

Amazon Christmas Presents

Probably coming to a holiday near you soon, yes? via Michael Lehenbauer

Allyson Kapin wrote a great article recently about why “viral” is a dirty word. If you haven’t read it, you should because it’s a thorough reality check for strategists and clients alike. And the thing I appreciated most is about the way “viral” gets used without any real understanding of what it means, or what is involved. Frankly, it’s like that for a lot of things in a lot of industries – ergo, this ramblation, which is about nonprofit fundraising, where Kickstarter is the new viral.

As some of you know, one of my favorite clients, the Vienna Choral Society, hired me over the summer to be a part-time executive producer. I could not be happier about the progression from consultant to executive producer. Of course, because it is a non-profit, one of my many challenges at VCS is fundraising. And at least once a month someone will ask me why we don’t “just start a Kickstarter project for the choir!” Well, for starters, it doesn’t apply. Because as fundraisers will tell you, it’s not just about raising money, it’s about HOW you raise money.  

At VCS we have all the usual fundraising mechanisms and revenue streams: grants, membership dues, ticket sales, season tickets, the CFC, and in the last couple of years, Razoo, and this year #GivingTuesday. (Full disclosure, I happen to write for Razoo’s blog “Inspiring Generosity,” which is how I knew it was an appropriate avenue for the choir.) And then of course there are the bigger fish – sponsorships, corporate donations, advertisers. But here is the conversation I have had at least once a month since I came on board:

Singer: “Why aren’t we doing a Kickstarter?

Me: “Because that’s for a project with a beginning, a middle, and an end. It doesn’t pay for operating expenses.”

Singer: “Oh.”

Me: “Also, if we don’t make our goal or project, we have to return all the money. The funds we get through Razoo or something like GoFundMe? We keep it even if we don’t make our goal.”

Singer. “Oh!”

imgres-1And now, I see a new conversation about to begin because non-profits have one more option in the mix – AmazonSmile. This is not to be confused with the affiliate program (which I confess I never could see being a good fit for VCS , because I don’t think the audience wants to be anyone’s business-like affiliate, they just want to hear and support good music). Instead, AmazonSmile is the online behemoth’s new .org focused giving arm. Of course, I’ve opened up an account for the choir, and as I put it on VCS’ social media upon launching the non-profit’s account: Amazon Smile is where “you do your thing, so we can do ours.”

But you notice I said social media, not email (which is far from dead). Why? Because marketing through email is against AmazonSmile’s terms of service.

Nope. Not kidding. The participation agreement says and I quote: [Read more…]

Augmented Reality: “Yo, Heads Up!”


“Erm, hello? I’m up here.”

I spent yesterday at xPotomac – thank you, Shonali Burke, for telling me about it! – where there was a lot to love. I made new friends, I learned a ton, (I didn’t get lost – yay!), but the part I loved the most was easily the discussion on augmented reality. AKA Google Glasses, “wearable computing,” and similar devices. I’m going to thumbnail it here because there was just SO much ground covered between presentation, lightning round, and post-chat into lunch. But basically, a lot of us are ready to look up from our devices, we’re ready to stop looking like we’re metal detectors, we’re ready interact with each other rather than to each other. [Read more…]

“Why I Won’t Work For You.”

That sounds like an attention grabbing blog post headline, but I’ve found myself saying those words upfront to potential clients. In fact, I turned away work more than once in 2012, because neither the client nor the culture were in my backyard. Sounds a bit disheartening, backward almost, in the age of barrier-breaking technology, no? Let me explain.

Yes, the Internet opens up the world. It’s enabled me to crash time zones and work with people around the world. I’d be unemployed–or at the very least, severely underemployed–without the ability to work from the nearest wifi hotspot. But just because I can get online, and speak your language, doesn’t automatically make me the best communications professional for you.

For instance, I got a question the other day, about SEO for a US-based website that attracts Francophone traffic and eyeballs from France. It could have been an interesting project. I’d get to add more “international” to my resume! But I had several reasons to not challenge myself thusly.

To begin with, I don’t speak French.

crazy stuff

To quote many a friend, “Wuh..?” (courtesy electricnerve)

See how that’s a major problem? [Read more…]

RWD and Mobile – One Site To Rule Them All!

I went to a seminar on Responsive Web Design last night, hosted by DCWW, and presented by Clarissa Peterson. You’re probably thinking what I did when I first heard the term,”Responsive what?” So here goes…

In short – and keep in mind I’m nearly always reliably the sole non/accidental techie in the room – RWD is what will free your website design and interactivity from the restraints of one screen and one canvas. No more building a separate mobile website, and yet another for the iPad, and who knows whatever is next! You build ONE website in RWD, which enables anyone, anywhere to use it on any screen they have access to, without have to pinch, squinch, or enlarge the screen. One site to rule them all! [Read more…]

Why I Hate The Automate

This post from Aaron Lee pretty much drives home something I’ve come to believe – automation is to be used very carefully, if at all – especially if you’re a smallish company that can still manage all its social media without major outsourcing.

I not only don’t believe “personal” seeming tweets from a major company – because I assume it came from a machine. (Highly vetted and very professionally planned, no doubt, but it’s long since lost any real connection with a human at origin point.) I also live in fear of automating a tweet that:

Tick Tock Tick Tock ... Real Life Optional

a) gets mugged by real life events – a happy tweet that looks horribly tone-deaf and out of place because something truly tragic happened in real life, making you and your product look not only trivial but completely oblivious.

b) repeats the same message over and over with no regard for context – a sure way to annoy your core followers who may subscribed to all your communication channels

I realize this very hands-on approach doesn’t scale up for a major company like Acura. I have no idea what one does at that level – although, if you have the budget, doesn’t that also assume you have the people to stay on top of things so that your message doesn’t look like spam on the other end? But if you’re a small to medium-sized business? Take the extra time, customize your information, and convince your customers that a real person’s on the other end. It’s what’ll keep them coming back to you rather than going to the competitor. And I say that not as a communications professional, but a customer on the receiving end of pitches from people like me. 24/7.


My Posts On Razoo

Field of Dreams

"If you build it, he will come." If you don't recognize that line, you need to watch Field of Dreams. NOW.

I’m flattered and delighted to tell you that I’ve been published – twice! – on Razoo’s blog. Here are the links to the posts in which I work in references to Nora Roberts and Field of Dreams.

Please feel free to comment there, and enjoy!

Timeline: Ready Or Not, Here It Comes

Every time I think “a monkey could do this” I go to a meeting and am astonished by what people don’t know about social media. Okay, maybe it’s more like a reality check in how we’re not all wired, and why that’s perhaps a very good thing as summer approaches. (My neighborhood routinely loses power during summer thunderstorms.) So, despite the fact that there is no dearth of articles out there on the Interwebs, here is my take on why you need to get into timeline now.

Facebook Timeline cover of Lydia Polgreen of the NYT

facebook timeline cover of Lydia Polgreen of the NYT

“Timeline what?” you say?

Long story short, Facebook is once again changing things. Specifically, they’re changing how your page looks – not your newsfeed – regardless of whether it’s your personal account or your company page. The distinction between the page and the newsfeed is extremely important because for marketers and consumers alike, it’s all about how we’re getting our news.

If you the consumer “liked” a page, timeline seems to make no difference in how you get news. It certainly hasn’t to me and I’ve not only published my personal timeline, but done the same for the several pages I manage for clients. Oh, and I’ve “liked” a LOT of pages over the last few years, some of whom have also launched timeline. As someone who gets a lot of information first from Facebook, I haven’t see any difference in my newsfeed.

As if to drive home this point, Julia Quinn who I follow on Facebook recently asked how many of us get our information from her page vs. our newsfeeds. Overwhelmingly, most of us said newsfeed – that would the part of social engagement that hasn’t changed on Facebook. Once people hit the “like” button they rarely go back to your page.

Caffe Amouri's Facebook Page

No reason to look at my local coffee shop's page once I've "liked" it - everything shows up in my feed. Unless I want to check out the new timeline or for some reason see the page with different eyes. Unlikely.

In fact, if you do your job well as a marketer or broadcaster, I shouldn’t have to go back to your original page to find out what you’re up to or what you’re offering. Unless I’m being all nosy and want to see your new timeline cover! Or you annoy me. In which case, I’ll visit specifically to “unlike” you.

dislike one finger salute

Let's not.

So if you’re an individual, you may not need to care*. It’ll be one of those things Facebook rolls out on you whether you’re ready or not. If you’re not entirely annoyed, you’ll complain and then just go along with it. Or deactivate, if this really is the last straw for you. Because *timeline, like any Facebook “improvement” tends to reset, rearrange, and reorganize your personal information and privacy settings. Even if you don’t need to care, have a care. See what your page looks like to others, even if your privacy settings are way high.

But if you’re running a page for a company though, you absolutely need to care. Because timeline changes how your page’s information is presented, where the emphasis lies, where you can direct people, and how you can emphasize information and for how long. It changes how and where you can offer specials and deals and calls to action. And it’s far more visual – which is a huge element of your branding and first impressions.

Timeline simultaneously offers up much more of you and your product even as it constrains how you can use the medium. Which means it requires you – the marketer – to be a lot savvier and sophisticated about how you communicate your story. And that, my friends, is the operative word. Facebook’s timeline makes us all, forces us all, to be better storytellers. It forces us to point to what’s really important, and keeps us on our toes about keeping our pages fresh. And it forces us to pay more ongoing attention to people who wander over to our pages but haven’t “liked” it yet. No wonder there have not just been a plethora of articles on the subject and webinars that go into the nitty gritty of timeline and what it means for marketing.

Timeline happens to your page – whether you like it or not – on March 30. If you’re an individual with a personal account, pay attention because of privacy issues. If you’re a page administrator, pay attention because otherwise, you’ll be the org that got caught by surprise, or worse!

Here are a few links that cover the details of timeline and what it means for you or your page. But for my money, nothing beats Amy Porterfield’s webinar.


Storytelling, Advocacy, Zeroing In On The Individual, And Red Flags

This morning’s required reading for those of us continuing to learn lessons from the Kony video going viral to rebuttal to “multi-lesson social media Exhibit A” in the course of a few days: A sobering reality check from Nicholas Kristoff in an interview with Foreign Policy:

(Telling) individual stories are certainly part of that, as are stories that connect Americans to people abroad. Likewise, moving from the LRA as a whole to Kony as an individual, I think made it more specific and individual. There’s always a tension between getting people’s attention without over-simplifying, but I think that it made sense for them to focus on Kony as an individual.

The Pulitzer prize winning New York Times columnist knows a thing or twelve about trying to draw attention to the world’s hell holes – usually complex conflicts that are hard to get to, expensive to cover, do not lend themselves to simple soundbytes, and result in a stark drop in eyeballs.

If you’re an advocacy or communications professional in the humanitarian/non-profit sector, where do you draw the line? When do you know you’re doing a great job telling a compelling story about an individual? What are your red flags if you’re over-simplifying? And how do you correct course if you’ve done that?

What “One Suffering Person = More Fundraising Success” Means For Non-Profits

I found myself nodding and responding to this this NPR story by Guy Raz this morning. Enough to write up a quick note. The takeaway is that if we’re faced between giving to a person vs. a cause of many persons, the solitary former wins. Here are two striking quotes from the story:

When people give to charity, they’ll give far more money to a single suffering person than to a population of suffering people

…tell donors about even two hungry children, or give them statistics about hungry children generally, and donations will fall by half.

I find this entirely unsurprising. [Read more…]