International Fundraising eConference Roundup: Digital Advocacy Tips From the Obama Campaign
In the plenary session, "Digital Advocacy: What Nonprofits Can Learn From Obama," at the first International Fundraising eConference from May 12 to 14, Scott Goodstein compared the benefits of different communications channels as they relate to the fundraising/organizing success of the Obama campaign.
The bonuses of e-mail marketing, according to Goodstein, who served as external online director for Obama for America, are that it's easy to segment, allows for recurring donor programs, is trackable, provides for messages that are easy to link and forward, allows links to video, and helps build relationships with constituents.
As for social networks, he said users get out of them what they put into them. He recommended nonprofits select maybe two social-networking sites to invest their energies in, make sure they have the staff to handle the information flow, and give people what they want.
Both channels were effective for the campaign, but are different in some very key ways:
E-mail: You own the database.
Social networks: Supporters are not in a database. You might be having conversations with people interested in your organization, but they might not want to give you money immediately.
E-mail: Has a known lifetime and ROI.
Social networks: No exact matrix of how many folks get every message.
E-mail: Easy to segment.
Social networks: Platforms have limits, are more viral and engage people where they're at. All it takes is one friend to forward messages to his friends about your cause.
Goodstein shared the following tips with attendees:
- Remember that it's about the message and the messenger.
- Be willing to experiment. Start small, and learn what works and what doesn't work.
- Look for ways to generate more citizen engagement. How can volunteers who are technologically superior in their fields help and mobilize others in a way that's far more useful than them just donating?
- Give people a reason to donate. Test and test and test to find out what works. And listen to know what your supporters are thinking about your organization.