Marketing to baby boomer and senior customers, Part 1 (three-part series)
Marketing to baby boomer and senior customers, Part 1 (three-part series)
Nonprofits should at least know about the potential of Kickstarter for crowd-funding small to medium-sized creative projects. Even if you don’t use this tool yourselves, your supporters and/or grantees might be interested.
Over the past year, I’ve watched a few friends launch successful Kickstarter (KS) campaigns for very worthy causes, but I wanted to learn more—especially from the communications perspective. Happily, there was a recent presentation on the process by local expert Lou Abramowski—sponsored by one of my favorite Minneapolis design agencies, bswing. I want to share Lou’s wisdom with as many people as possible in the nonprofit communications world.
One big lesson I came away with is that any crowd-funding campaign is going to require a significant amount of time, planning, and organization (not to mention creativity and knowledge of your target donor audience)..and some up-front capital. Think about that before you make the decision to undertake a KS project. Also, make sure your project has a clear beginning and end date—KS requires that. This platform isn’t for funding start-up businesses or anything long-term—it’s specifically to raise money to fund the completion of finite creative projects. Be sure to check KS’s funding categories to make sure that your project fits easily into one of them.
If you have resources to devote to a KS campaign, think first about a budget. How much do you need to raise and approximately how many donors will it take (each giving say $50 each) to get to your goal. Remember, you’ll have to reach out to many times more people than that final number of donors—so consider if that’s feasible given your resources. And don’t count on Kickstarter (or any other crowd-funding platform) to get you to the finish line. Abramowski estimates that typically only about 3% of your donors will come from KS traffic. The rest come from your own aggressive outreach—emails, phone calls, videos, blog posts, Facebook and Twitter posts, other social media, events, etc.
When you’re figuring out how much you’re going to have to raise to carry out your project—consider that 5% of your contributions will go to Kickstarter and another percentage will go to Amazon for processing the transactions. Also, you will want to produce donation incentives (rewards you’ll mail out to contributors if the project reaches your funding goal), e.g., a copy of your project, calendars, frig magnets, greeting cards, events, etc. to spur various levels of giving and get people more engaged. Those cost money, too. So does the postage for sending them out, and the postage/printing for any mailings you’re going to be doing as part of campaign promotion or follow-up. If you want to recoup those costs, include them into the amount you need to raise. You absolutely need to be prepared for success, so make sure you have a plan and funding to carry out after-campaign follow-up, right from the beginning of the campaign.
Also think realistically about how compelling your project is. When you talk to people about it, do they get excited? Is there a great story to tell—something that can arouse the same kind of passion in others that you feel? The most important part of any KS campaign is the quality of the project. But, as Abramowski points out—people are not only investing in your cause, they’re investing in you. So make sure your personal or organizational story is also exciting and human—i.e., not institutional pablum.
As for choosing Kickstarter over other other crowd-funding platforms, Abramowski recommends it because it attracts a very high number of unique visitors. It’s the largest crowd-funding platform for creative projects in the world; that means a built in audience for you and good brand association for your project. But be forewarned, the support staff probably isn’t going to be as helpful as staff on smaller platforms, like Indiegogo.
Here’s some of Lou’s best advice for mounting a “kick-ass” campaign on Kickstarter.
After all this, if you’re still interested in trying KS, here’s a great post from Mashable that goes into much more detail about ensuring KS success. Good luck. And thanks to Lou and bswing for sharing their KS expertise.
Facebook isn’t the only place you may want to use an interactive visual timeline to tell the story of your organization’s evolution and accomplishments.
Check them all out and choose according to your needs. Of course, there are premium versions to buy that offer more flexibility, but any of the free versions probably would work fine for most nonprofits. There are several differences among them.
Tiki-Toki allows you (makes you) add months and days to the dates of your stories (at least I haven’t found a way around that!). That works great if your story takes place over a month or a week, but it doesn’t work so well for anniversaries where you just want to note years. You can only create one timeline and you can’t embed it on your website without upgrading to a premium account (lowest upgrade is $5 per month). You can share your timeline, just not embed it. There are also some limits on images hosted on the Tiki-toki server.
TimelineJS is good if you’ve got tech support in building your timeline. It’s easy for the viewer to use, but not so straightforward for the person creating it. Personally, I found Dipity that simplest to create with. You can get a timeline going in 15 minutes. And I like the way Dipity hides the detailed information–you have to click on it. That makes the big messages in the headlines really pop, and lessens the distraction of the reader. Yet, anyone who wants more details can easily get them. Also, you have the choice of viewing a Dipity timeline as a flipbook or list.
The free version of Dipity allows you to create 3 timelines with a maximum 150 events. These timelines can be embedded and shared. Note–your timeline will have ads on the page unless you buy a premium version ($5 per month minimum). Also, Dipity allows you to sync your timeline with your twitter, facebook, tumblr and other social media so the timeline is automatically updated with those posts. (This feature could come in handy if your timeline is tracking campaign progress.) Here’s a good video tutorial on starting out with Dipity.
Before you even start thinking about using one of these cool tools, you need to have a good reason. Strategy first! None of us have much time to learn tools just for the fun of it. But, if your organization has an anniversary coming up or you’re trying to tell a story that rolls out over time, visual timelines can be a lot more effective than scrolling narratives. Like infographics, they offer easily digestible bites rather than a huge meal of text/photos. Consider the possibilities… And if anyone knows of other free timeline creation tools, please leave a comment below.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Since I wrote this post, Dipity has experienced long-term technical problems that have prevented creators to edit or add to their timelines. It’s been three weeks and the problem still exists. What’s worse, Dipity hasn’t been forthcoming with information to its users about the nature of the problem. They keep promising it will be fixed by such and such date, but that never happens. I moved my Dipity timeline data to Whenintime instead–based on a referral from another Dipity user. I don’t like the timeline mechanics as well, but it does offer an interesting blog template. Check it out, or one of the other two free timelines above. I can no longer recommend Dipity!
First, get inspired! Want some examples of what other nonprofits new profiles look like? I’ve included an image of the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s new LinkedIn profile page–but since this change happened just today, I couldn’t find any other new nonprofit pages. I’ll keep my eyes open and add examples to this post as I find them. But here are some new Twitter profiles.
Now, down to the nitty-gritty…exactly how to make the changes. These two blog posts on Nonprofit Tech 2.0 provide simple instructions for how to rock the new looks for Twitter and LinkedIn. TIP: Pay careful attention to the optimal sizes for the images on each medium. And really be strategic with these photos.
When Marc Pitman asked us nonprofit fundraisers and communicators: “How do you say thanks to yourself?” The first answer that popped into my head was—yoga. The second was—a glass of wine and a long hot bath.
Then I thought a little harder about how I’ve rewarded myself in the past, after periods of taxing work, when complex projects have come to fruition. Here are a few things that buoyed me up and helped me celebrate what I—and my co-workers—had achieved.
But I wouldn’t want to leave it at that. Taking care of yourself (and your staff—because they can be real contributors to your well being) isn’t something you should wait until the end of a project or a tough work period to undertake.
Build in rewards (and fun) all along the way…at major milestones or just every few weeks. Small things (e.g., a great image/saying about gratitude with a little hand signed note from you, taped to each team member’s computer screen when they come in on Monday morning) to bigger things (e.g., a chill-out dessert potluck some afternoon)—the gesture is the important thing, not the cost. And you don’t have to have all the ideas—invite your staff to think up cool rewards, too.
You work very hard, and so do your staff. Regularly acknowledge and reward that!!
Creative Commons photo credit: Doug88888
I just read a Trendwatching report about the not-too-distant future when Search transcends Google and spreads to everyday objects.
Instead of typing into a text search box to get information you want—just point your phone or pad at an object or scene and all kinds of information pops up. It’s called augmented reality, and it’s going to change everything. In part, because it’s so much more entertaining than text search. Some of this has already started with QR codes (also not so entertaining), but these new apps may quickly make QR codes obsolete.
Some nonprofits are already experimenting with this new technology, and it sounds like they’re using good sense about keeping their use of it audience-centric and very strategic. That’s great. It’s always easy to get swept away by the latest, coolest apps. But in this case, I don’t think it’s too early for nonprofits to start thinking about how this technological shift dovetails with their strategic communications plans.
Here’s a consumer example. You point your phone at a watch in the window of a jewelry store and everything you could want to know about the watch immediately appears on your phone—including a photo of the watch that you can superimpose over your own wrist to see how it would look. You can also do price comparisons and order it right over your phone.
Or, maybe you want to give your spouse a special valentines day gift. When a pad is pointed at the flowers you sent—up pops a video of your romantic message. The physical and virtual worlds are melding, and that’s pretty exciting—not only for those who market consumer products, but those who market social causes.
On the blippar site, check out what Nestle’s done with Shreddies—Knitting Nanas pearls of wisdom from a cereal box. Or how Nike is providing exclusive video from their posters. Be sure to watch the demo on the home page, too. For Aurasma, watch both the Daily Mirror and the 3-D toy examples.
Now, settle back and let your mind wander…hmmm. How could nonprofits use these new apps? Actually, I can’t STOP thinking of the ways.
Think of the million ways schools, clinics, youth development organizations, foundations, social service agencies, and every other nonprofit can make use of existing information through these dynamic new apps. Maybe there will come a time when parents just have to hold their phone up to an early childhood facility or a local school to get quality rating information. Or when people can see an impact video about your organization simply by pointing their pad at your building, booth, or logo! Here’s one example of a simple brochure-based aurasma campaign by Save the Children.
And, of course, fundraisers will figure out ways to take all this virtual information sharing straight through to the GIVE NOW button.
Are you excited yet? This is still emerging technology, but things move very fast. The way to start thinking about any shiny new technology is to step back from your excitement a little bit, and carefully consider if and how it might support your strategic communications goals. If you think it has a role to play, experiment with it and track results.
I’d love to hear your ideas about how blippar and aurasma could be used by nonprofits, in the comments below.
Creative Commons photo credit: turkletom
A little holiday gift for you! A couple of times a year, I dig into the web to find free tools that can help nonprofits tell their stories in ever more engaging ways. Each time I do that, the range of options kind of astounds me. This year is no exception,
Not every nonprofit has the resources to hire videographers or even buy and use a video cam themselves. These online tools offer FREE ways to get dynamic content onto your website, blog, and social media without HAVING to use video. Many of these create mash-ups of just photos, text, graphics, and music.
I’m amazed more nonprofits aren’t using them because they have so many potential communication applications. They offer interactivity and surprise so they attract and hold people’s attention. Plus they’re fun! And remember, the web and social media are about entertainment as much as education.
In past posts I’ve covered some amazing AV tools like Prezi (which still has a free version but charges $59 a year for more capabilities), Glogster, Yodio, and VoiceThread (which now is available at a very low cost). This time I’d like to cover six other storytelling tools–Animoto for a Cause, VuVox, MixBook, SmileBox, ZooBurst, and Masher.
Animoto for a Cause
Nonprofits can get a pro level Animoto account free (worth $249 per year) by applying through Animoto’s nonprofit portal. Animoto is a very simple to use animated slide show producer (photos, text, music, various design templates, all animated automatically) that you can share through YouTube, Facebook, etc. Really professional looking and the music is terrific. There are many design templates to choose from and a certain amount of branding can be done. I used Animoto last year to produce a nonprofit annual report and it got great response.
VuVox allows you to create attractive photo collages with text overlays that advance horizontally at the speed the viewer chooses. Here’s one example and another. You can also include audio and video, although I was unable to find an example of those in their gallery. If you’ve got great photos that tell the story of how someone’s life was changed, this could be your tool. I think VuVox could also lend itself to policy issue framing.
Using MixBook, you can make very creative free digital scrapbooks customized with your colors/wordmark etc. and share them online. Page-turning is animated. (You can also order printed copies, but that costs.) Here’s a generic version of a scrapbook about camping. You can see how easily an environmental group could use this template. But you can also create your own pages from scratch. You can also create digital cards, invitations, and calendars that you can send and share. (I could see creating an event scrapbook with this tool!)
SmileBox covers a lot of territory from creating one-page “newsletters” to photo collages, invitations, ecards, scrapbooks, etc. The animated slideshow option would be great for capturing events. Here’s a sample of a SmileBox slideshow for a cancer fundraiser. This tool is free, but like most of these programs, there’s a premium level you can buy that gives you many more options. I wouldn’t buy into any of these until you’d used the free version and seen how it works for you.
ZooBurst lets you create pop-up books with images, photos, and text. The examples here are from young students, but I can see many nonprofit applications for this tool. For instance, if you run an art program for youth, you could create a book where each page is devoted to one student, showing their art work and a couple of photos of them, with a quote from them at the bottom about how your organization has changed their lives. Or you could create a donor thank you book, with quotes and photos of donors and the people their contributions have helped.
Masher deserves more exploration than I’ve had time to give it. It lets you create AV mash-ups of not only your own photos and video, but video clips from a large library that includes the BBC. You gather and organize your images, then add special effects and music. Here’s one example with a “go green” message. Again, you can share these on social media sites or email them.
It takes a little time to experiment with these tools—as well as to hone your messages and gather your images. But they can add real zip to some otherwise very uninspiring communications, especially if you incorporate music. It adds excitement and can build momentum. As you’re thinking about tactics next year, remember these tools. They’re not only fun for your audiences, they’re fun to use!
UPDATE! Here’s another one for you, Projeqt.
If you’ve got a favorite AV tool not mentioned here, please tell us about it in comments!
Creative Commons photo: mysza831