Trends

Consider High Holiday Campaigns

The High Holidays are certainly a time when Jews – regardless of their level of engagement or observance &ndash...

The High Holidays are certainly a time when Jews – regardless of their level of engagement or observance – feel most connected to their Jewish selves. It is a time when Jewish organizations of all kinds seek to inspire Jews to step up their involvement and, yes, to possibly make some charitable gifts. But how effectively do organizations design compelling appeals during the High Holidays, especially when so many Jewish organizations are competing for charitable dollars? The following are recommendations for Jewish nonprofits other than synagogues.

In yesterday’s post, I highlighted the importance of the High Holiday appeal for congregations. But what about other Jewish nonprofits, including day schools, defense and policy organizations, Federations, social service agencies, and Israel “friends of” organizations? In my decades of experience in the Jewish fundraising world, I’ve seen a few stellar examples of High Holiday appeals. But too often, this has been an underutilized resource. Too many Jewish organizations have reached out to donors around the Days of Awe in a pro-forma, uninspired manner. A good number don’t even try. But they are missing a crucial opportunity. Here are a few reasons why:

    Jewish organizations may very well have an easier time raising money around the High Holidays than synagogues. Like synagogues, they can tap into the wellspring of Jewish identity during this period. But unlike synagogues, they don’t have to interrupt prayer and reflection to ask for donations on the holiest days of our Jewish calendar.
    The fourth quarter is, far and away, the strongest period in the domestic calendar for charitable giving. This year, Rosh Hashanah falls on September 24, which is less than a week before the start of the fourth quarter. Timing is on your side!
    Experts predict that 2014 may surpass the record for total charitable giving set in 2007 – before the financial meltdown known as the Great Recession. If it doesn’t, it will surely come close. If your organization doesn’t tap into this spirit of generosity, others will.

While Americans are a giving people, most individual donors don’t maximize their giving capacity. And we, in the Jewish community, are perceived to be among the most generous! Even if someone has already made a philanthropic commitment to support your agency, don’t be afraid to ask for a separate High Holiday gift. Remember this counterintuitive rule of fundraising: the more time that passes after a donor’s last gift, the less likely that donor is to give in the future. This is one reason why colleges and universities are so successful at fundraising; they strategically time their requests. They manage to stay in their donors’ minds without overstaying their welcome. So ask and then ask again!

A successful High Holiday appeal is like any other campaign. It requires strategy and planning. Consider forming a committee to plan the appeal. Utilize all the platforms at your disposal: email, social media, and direct mail, to reach your intended audience. For this to really work, the High Holiday appeal must somehow be different from other campaign asks.

    But here is a concept that I really like: organizations could concentrate their High Holiday appeal on lapsed donors. What could be a better time to start giving to an organization again than just before the proverbial book of life is opened? Therefore, I urge that you review your donor rolls and focus on those who have not made any type of gift in the last 12-36 months, highlighting a concept of “we miss you!”.

For “friends of” organizations in the United States raising money for Israel, this year’s appeal comes at a critical time. Every corner of life in Israel was and continues to be affected by the war in Gaza. The operations of every Israeli nonprofit have been impacted on some level. Israeli organizations must use their communications to American donors to demonstrate the impact the organization has on Israeli society. As part of the High Holiday appeal, groups must provide some concrete information about how the conflict has affected the organization. There’s a sense, misplaced or not, that some organizations – particularly those that are less well known – are “using” the conflict to raise dollars. Donors will always be skeptical, and we want a healthy degree of skepticism. That’s what keeps nonprofits on their toes! If a case can be made that the war in Gaza has created new needs for your organization, then by all means make it and link it to the High Holidays. Just be honest, straightforward and eschew exaggeration. At the holiest time of the year, you are asking Jews to invest in the Jewish state and the global Jewish community. That is something to be proud of, not something to shy away from.

Jewish organizations must not be afraid to call upon the language and paradigm of the High Holidays to frame the request. The High Holiday appeal must be targeted, special and distinct from an organization’s annual campaign. Creative and strategic approaches will likely yield rewarding results. That’s especially true in an environment in which donors feel confident about the economy. It is certainly late in the game to start thinking about the High Holiday appeal. Ideally, such an effort should be mapped out in the spring, but, I contend, it is not too late to launch a targeted effort. As Rabbi Hillel famously said, “If not now, when?”.

Consider High Holiday Campaigns, August 14, 2014, eJP, by Robert Evans
 

8 Simple Tips That Can Help You Stand Out on Social Networks

It’s not easy to stand out among a million posts and messages on Twitter and Facebook these days. And it actual...

It’s not easy to stand out among a million posts and messages on Twitter and Facebook these days. And it actually gets harder each day as these and other social networks continue to grow.

Luckily, I had the honor of interviewing some of the top industry leaders, and asked them to share their secrets for doing just that.

If your business is going to invest in Twitter as a social media marketing channel, you should make sure it is worth your while.

To get to the bottom of what really works on Twitter

The result?

Advice from 31 experts such as Jason Keath, Adam Braun, Britt Michaelian, Kim Garst and many more.

Here are some of the key lessons that I’ve learned.
1. Add Value First

Pay special attention to this point, because most of the experts I spoke with shared that you can’t skip this step. In order to stand out, start by giving back to your fans. “You have to constantly go beyond their expectations and deliver something of true value to them” says Jason Keath.

One of the ways to check yourself on whether you are offering value is to consider your perspective. Are you just “doing social media” stuff or are you behaving like a human?

Humans help one another. Humans make each other laugh. Share things that are informative, instructional. Humans respond to questions and service issues. “Just doing social media” or “being social” is a mindset that quickly reduces the value you have to offer.

Value is what gets your audience to trust that you have something important to share. According to Jeff Bullas, you can create value by developing a memorable brand or great content.  
2. Care More

Here’s a great tip by Britt Michaelian: “Treat your friends and followers with kindness and gratitude and show them you care about who they are. Do this consistently and you will not only stand out, but you will feel great.”

I agree!

 
3. Ask Your Audience What They Want

Adam Braun, a New York Times bestselling author and the founder of Pencils of Promise, sends personalized messages to his followers every day. He makes an effort to learn more about his readers and build meaningful relationships with them.

I can personally attest to this: he was willing to take some time out of his busy schedule to respond to me. I learned from Braun that if you don’t know what your audience wants, don’t guess. Why not just ask them?
4. Reply To Questions

Simple right?

Don’t you get annoyed when you see people or businesses who don’t reply to some comments simply because they feel those people are “irrelevant” according to their “data”? Jenny Brennan has made being responsive part of her identity: “Make sure you respond to every comment, tweet and interaction.”

Your responses need to be meaningful, too.

Brennan explains, “it is also important to do your research” to “find out more about the person who has taken the time to reach out.” If you craft a tailored reply, you’ll stand out from anyone who simply responds for the sake of responding. When you respond, people appreciates it. Here’s an example from a happy customer of KLM.

5. Have a Personality

Here’s a mistake most of us make: we share content without adding any personal touches.

As Marsha Collier puts it: “Sharing good content is a given, but that is not enough. Show your personality in your posts, don’t just quote titles, add interest!”


8 Simple Tips That Can Help You Stand Out on Social Networks
by Aaron Lee on Aug 14, 2014
Share:

8-simple-tips-to-stand-out-in-socialIt’s not easy to stand out among a million posts and messages on Twitter and Facebook these days. And it actually gets harder each day as these and other social networks continue to grow.

Luckily, I had the honor of interviewing some of the top industry leaders, and asked them to share their secrets for doing just that.

If your business is going to invest in Twitter as a social media marketing channel, you should make sure it is worth your while.

To get to the bottom of what really works on Twitter

The result?

Advice from 31 experts such as Jason Keath, Adam Braun, Britt Michaelian, Kim Garst and many more.

Here are some of the key lessons that I’ve learned.
1. Add Value First

Pay special attention to this point, because most of the experts I spoke with shared that you can’t skip this step. In order to stand out, start by giving back to your fans. “You have to constantly go beyond their expectations and deliver something of true value to them” says Jason Keath.

One of the ways to check yourself on whether you are offering value is to consider your perspective. Are you just “doing social media” stuff or are you behaving like a human?

Humans help one another. Humans make each other laugh. Share things that are informative, instructional. Humans respond to questions and service issues. “Just doing social media” or “being social” is a mindset that quickly reduces the value you have to offer.

Value is what gets your audience to trust that you have something important to share. According to Jeff Bullas, you can create value by developing a memorable brand or great content.  
2. Care More

Here’s a great tip by Britt Michaelian: “Treat your friends and followers with kindness and gratitude and show them you care about who they are. Do this consistently and you will not only stand out, but you will feel great.”

I agree!
 
3. Ask Your Audience What They Want

Adam Braun, a New York Times bestselling author and the founder of Pencils of Promise, sends personalized messages to his followers every day. He makes an effort to learn more about his readers and build meaningful relationships with them.

I can personally attest to this: he was willing to take some time out of his busy schedule to respond to me. I learned from Braun that if you don’t know what your audience wants, don’t guess. Why not just ask them?
4. Reply To Questions

Simple right?

Don’t you get annoyed when you see people or businesses who don’t reply to some comments simply because they feel those people are “irrelevant” according to their “data”? Jenny Brennan has made being responsive part of her identity: “Make sure you respond to every comment, tweet and interaction.”

Your responses need to be meaningful, too.

Brennan explains, “it is also important to do your research” to “find out more about the person who has taken the time to reach out.” If you craft a tailored reply, you’ll stand out from anyone who simply responds for the sake of responding. When you respond, people appreciates it. Here’s an example from a happy customer of KLM.

5. Have a Personality

Here’s a mistake most of us make: we share content without adding any personal touches.

As Marsha Collier puts it: “Sharing good content is a given, but that is not enough. Show your personality in your posts, don’t just quote titles, add interest!”

Add your personality by including a little of YOU and your story in everything you share.

6. Be REAL

Most of experts shared this tip, so listen up: Be authentic. Be genuine!  

Kim Garst describes how there’s simply no faking this: “You have to be authentically passionate about what you do and who you serve. True passion is contagious.” Speaking of contagious, -you can tell that Kim’s passion really is irresistible.

7. Know the Trend

Here’s a valuable tip I learned from Mark Ivey: constantly look out for trending topics.

When Ivey (who co-founded gluten-free food company Ivy’s Garden) found out that Jimmy Kimmel’s digs at the gluten-free lifestyle were going viral, he wrote a post that would capitalize on the buzz.

However, he didn’t just hop on the bandwagon–he showed that Ivy’s Garden cares about and provides value for people following a gluten-free diet. Snickers does this well, too

8. Think Visual

Five experts shared this tip: Play up the visual element.

According to Stacey Miller, “images catch our attention, keep our attention, and are digested faster than text.” Zach Kitschke from Canva says, “the best brands have a strong visual identity on social media” and advises us to be consistent in what we post and in our use of colors, fonts, photo filters, and icons or logos.

BONUS. Know What Works

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

Here’s a secret that the team at Post Planner uses: We have a powerful feature in our app called “viral photos,” which allows us to find and share some of the most popular photos out there. Using this tool, we are able to increase our reach significantly. Here’s a sample of one of our recent photo that had over 4.7 million reach and 60k shares:

In addition to these eight tips that you can use to stand out, here’s yet another a bonus tip from me: be patient. It takes time to stand out, and it’s not something that you can achieve in a single day or even a month.

What’s YOUR best tip for standing out?

8 Simple Tips That Can Help You Stand Out on Social Networks, August 14, 2014, SocialFresh, by Aaron Lee

The Uncomfortable Ask: Board Members and Fundraising

Show Me the Money… We all remember that memorable line from the movie Jerry Maguire starring Tom Cruise. ...

Show Me the Money…

We all remember that memorable line from the movie Jerry Maguire starring Tom Cruise. While the context was clearly different, the essence was the same. Credibility is established by putting “skin in the game.”

In today’s philanthropic marketplace, the nonprofit Board is the place where the credibility is built. If the Board does not give, many will hesitate to participate, yet others simply will refuse. This is not a scenario that any nonprofit in today’s hyper competitive environment wants to face, let alone create.

We are all agreed that Board members are invited to serve for their expertise and their ability to bring programmatic and political assets to the table. In some more traditional circles Board members have been recruited for their ability to “give time” which, at one time was considered an asset on its own with a currency equal to money.

The key difficulty is that you cannot pay the bills with time. Therefore, the thematic message of this post is that every nonprofit must ask every Board member, as part of their fiduciary responsibility, to make a meaningful gift to the organization they are leading. It just makes sense. If a Board member isn’t supporting their organization financially, how can they expect someone less connected to their organization to follow a lead that is not demonstrated.

So how does an organization do this?

    Start with the Board President – he or she must buy in to the idea that all Board members must give. This is not yet a given, even today.
    Create a deadline for Board commitments, along with a suggested gift range that is motivational but accessible by all.
    Make fundraising a part of every Board meeting agenda, and make Board Giving a prominent part of that discussion. Unlike in public forums, respectfully call names and ask why people haven’t yet participated.
    Set a firm goal of 100% participation by each and every Board member in the nonprofit’s Board Giving Program.

And that last imperative is doubly important because increasingly foundations and other institutional funders are limiting their support to nonprofits that can demonstrate 100% Board participation in giving. From their point of view, why should they support a nonprofit whose own leadership won’t set the example? Secondarily, they may question why Board members are not giving – asking themselves “what do they know that we don’t.”

Bottom line … according to a recent Board Source Report, as well as the National Center for Nonprofit Boards, and the National Governance Survey of Chief Executives, only 46% of Boards today report 100% participation. It is not surprising that those same sources list the inability to raise money as the major weakness of many nonprofit Boards, while only 5% listed fund raising as a demonstrable strength of a Board. Fundraising ranks #1 among board areas needing improvement.

Yet actual dollars contributed truly matter less than fact that every Board member makes a gift. And again, while this seems to be an intuitive organizational direction, the notion of “giving time” still carries weight in some places.

One way that some Boards are working their way toward 100% participation is trying to put the fundraising onus on every Board member through a “Give and Get” or Give or Get” approach, often providing a minimum that every Board member needs to “produce” in order to fulfill their responsibility. There is an important difference between these two strategies.

Those organizations that employ the “Give or Get” approach, which still absolves Board members from dipping into personal funds for even a token gift, are unwittingly letting their leaders off the hook. Needless to say, we vigorously endorse the “Give and Get” strategy which requires each Board member to begin by investing their funds as “skin in the game.”

And just a note on “Give and-or Get” approach, even this is waiting to get deep traction in the nonprofit arena. The 2012 Not-For-Profit Pulse Survey found that 77% of Boards do not have either type of policy in place. Further, of those organizations that have “Give and-or Get” policies in place, 35% require less than a $5,000 cumulative commitment from Board members.

What, therefore, becomes the expectation when recruiting members for a nonprofit Board?

In the process of recruitment to a nonprofit’s Board, Board service should be presented and framed as an honor and a privilege, and that honor includes giving. The expectation of Board giving should include a stipulation that Board members will be removed if he or she refuses to make even a token gift.

Looking at it a bit more positively, when Boards actively lead the fundraising activity, nonprofits are more likely to reach their fundraising goals. According to the 2012 Nonprofit Research Collaborative Study, only 52% of nonprofits without a Board level development committee met their 2011 fundraising goals, compared with 63% of those with a stated commitment to development through a Board standing committee exclusively for that purpose.

And if we look at Board giving “by the numbers,” once again from the 2012 Not-For-Profit Pulse Survey and the 2012 Nonprofit Research Collaborative Study, we find the following:

    Board average 74% participation in giving
    68% of nonprofits have a policy requiring Board members to make an annual gift
    Among the organizations that require a minimum Board Gift, the median was $1,000
    Nearly 3% of nonprofits require a gift of $20,000 or more to be donated or raised by each Board member

In conclusion, let’s reach back to close the loop with Parts I and II, particularly the importance of measuring ROI in our competitive and entrepreneurial fundraising marketplace, and reiterate the fact that Board giving is a multiplier for attracting and obtaining broader and increased giving. In this way a nonprofits greatly expands the probability that it will succeed on the short term and in its quest for growth and sustainability.

Let’s further restate that GIVING is the operative word and basic goal of every successful nonprofit, and the expectation of members of its Board, and that these should be the standards:

    Fundraising is a primary responsibility of any and every nonprofit Board
    Leading by Example is the primary responsibility of each Board member; every member should be able and prepared to say “join me” to friends and associates
    Board members should designate the organization that they serve as one of the principal recipients of their generosity
    Nonprofits should, if needed – and to prepare their leaders for the expectation made of them, invest in training to make Board members more effective advocates (and yes) fundraisers
    Many Board members are uncomfortable asking for money and seek to opt out of fundraising responsibilities, and should not be let “of the hook”

As a nonprofit leader or executive you should always be comfortable saying “Show me the Money,” but should also be prepared to make it happen. Today’s nonprofit leader and major donor will understand the value of investing to increase return. Not investing, not engaging your Board members, and running your fundraising on parallel tracks is, in the final analysis, racing toward the cliff. That solution is not recommended.

The Uncomfortable Ask: Board Members and Fundraising, August 18, 2014, eJP, by Avrum Lapin