The Agitator’s Week In Review.  As news of economic woes continued again this week  tension and quiet terror grew even more noticeable among some fundraisers. Tom and I have quite different views over just how worried we all should be.  So, we talked it over and put up our first audio post on Monday along with some advice and continued the ‘advice’ phase of our week on Tuesday.

But by Wednesday we too were fed up with all the nail biting around bad financial news so we turned our attention to presidential politics and online video both as a diversion but also because the video channel, in our opinion, represents a significant trend that shouldn’t be ignored by non-profit communicators and fundraisers. 

By week’s end the nail biting won out so we wrapped up on Friday with a practical bit of ‘best practices’ for getting the most out of your e-appeals. 


MONDAY:  Roger and Tom Discuss Chicken Little.  Over the course of last weekend Tom and I had a conversation about the economic situation and its impact on fundraising strategy in the coming months. We audio-taped it with the thought you might find our out-loud thinking about the challenge helpful.If you listen, you’ll hear Tom as self-confessed Chicken Little and me as the sage voice of calm and reason!It’s about 20 minutes long … just turn on your volume and click the URL or button below.Please let us know if you find this kind of audio post useful… and how we might improve it. We look forward to your candid feedback.

TUESDAY:  Fundraising in Tough Times for Acme Food Bank.   A key take-away from the conversation Tom and I posted on Monday was … don’t stop asking!  Followed by … “words matter!”  We said that a sick economy heightens the need for certain nonprofits and charities and their programs … and donors will recognize that reality.

Here’s a post (I wouldn’t necessarily agree with its title!) by Steve Cebalt at the Nonprofit PR Forum that illustrates these points very nicely. Specifically, consider his two contrasting examples of how a fundraising appeal for “Acme Food Bank” might be presented:

Example 1: “The ACME Food Bank needs immediate help from the community. We have lines around the block at out food bank and not enough food to meet the need. If the community doesn’t step up, we’re in trouble.”Steve calls this approach “desperate” and says it might result in “some short-term support to get you through the week, but it will do little to position the food bank for sustained growth over the long term.”

Example 2: “The ACME Food Bank is proud to be one of the bright spots in our economic system. The worse the economy gets, the more relevant we become to this community. If we were a business, we’d say demand is great right now – demand for our food distribution has never been higher, thanks to the obvious problems with our economy. If you are looking for a way to make a difference for your less fortunate friends and neighbors during this economic slump, consider volunteering or investing whatever you can in our Community Food Fund. Thanks to in-kind donations and volunteer support, The Community Food Fun provides $9 of food to the hungry for every dollar you donate. Where else can you get that kind of return on your investment these days?”Clearly #2 is the way to go.  So keep asking. And think about your words.

WEDNESDAY:  YouTube Wins 2008 Election!  So declare Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry (founders of the influential TechPresident) in this article on Politico. 

First,  some context:“In the 60 years that the top three TV networks have been broadcasting, they have produced about 1.5 million hours of content — assuming, for argument’s sake, that they have been broadcasting 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That’s the equivalent of about six months’ worth of YouTube uploads.”

Then, a miscellany of stats like these:

  • Between them, online videos from Obama and Mccain campaigns have been viewed 100,000,000 times.
  • One in ten online users have posted or forwarded someone else’s political video — how’s that for viral?!
  • 35% of online users have watched an online video related to the campaign. YouTube has made its mark.   Goodnight  Dan Rather, wherever you are!

THURSDAY:  MoveOn’s Brilliant Use of Online Video.  If you are the only voter in America who hasn’t yet seen this online video message from MoveOn, then you owe The Agitator big-time for bringing it to your attention.We’re sure  you will pass this “make sure you vote” video along … and probably edit it yourself before doing so.  MoveOn has presumably sent this video to each of its 4 million plus members … with each and every one of them customized to the recipient.Weekend Readers:  Do your civic duty.  Take a moment and pass it along to friends and family. MoveOn, you deserve a raise!FRIDAY:  Email Fundraising Tips.    Here is a useful article via Marketing Sherpa regarding best practices for email fundraising. It’s focused more on the copywriting aspects of email appeals.One thing this checklist drives home is the importance of testing email subject lines. These “headlines” are crucially important … sitting atop identical body copy, they can spell the difference between lousy or average response and blockbuster returns. Remember, if they don’t open the envelope … !If you have a large e-file to work with, and if you’re not routinely testing email subject lines, you oughta be fired! Your Weekend Bonus:  On Tuesday and again on Thursday the 40 million member AARP sent out a terrific  personalized video to millions of it’s members.Take a look  at this cutting edge piece where personalization is central to the message, and not just a nice add on.  “AARP’s mission is to make sure people stay engaged in the election process,” says sokesperson Andfrew Nannis.  “We’re getting to the end and people are getting fatigued.  This was a fun way for us to make sure people stay engaged.”The campaign is the work of online advocacy campaign firm  M+R Strategic Services  and my favorite online creatives Free Range Studios.Why don’t you make a weekend run for the White House yourself.  You can create your own video by clicking here.  Have a great weekend on your way to the White House! Roger 

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