The heat of summer has passed, and as we move deeper into fall, many of us turn our attention to events. Volunteering and events are gateways into new relationships that we hope will turn into future donations. This is particularly true about developing relationships with Millennials.
One headline caught my attention this summer, and it relates directly to the topic of new ideas in peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising technology: Blackbaud purchased Attentive.ly. Founded in 2012, Attentive.ly is trying to solve a problem for many nonprofits. Email open-rates are declining at the same time people are moving to social media. The company’s technology helps nonprofits leverage their existing email lists to listen to what individuals are doing on social media platforms—“social listening.”
Nonprofits can upload their email lists to Attentive.ly to see how many social connections are associated with each email address. The more social connections, presumably, the more influential the supporter could be. The technology also allows users to search for keywords or topics, and see which of their supporters have mentioned a topic in public posts.
One truth about P2P fundraising is that not all fundraisers are equal. In most data I’ve seen, 10 percent of the fundraisers bring in 90 percent of the funds. In a discussion I had with Mark Rovner, principal and founder of Sea Change Strategies, he called people like this “sneezers”—and the term stuck. I’ve referred to them as sneezers ever since.
If only we could predict in advance which of our supporters would be sneezers, we could better nurture them. The combination of new tools, like Attentive.ly, with existing online peer-to-peer fundraising approaches makes good sense. Other tools for social listening
include something as simple as setting up a Google Alert for your brand or event name, and free tools like Social Mention and Twitter Advanced Search.
In a recent article for Social Media Examiner, author Zoe Summers outlined some ways businesses can use social listening. Many of her ideas can be applied directly to nonprofits. I’ve adapted four of them here:
1. Let’s say you know the results from last year’s campaign, and you’ve identified the 10 percent of fundraisers (sneezers) who brought in most of your donations. You could use social listening to better understand which social media networks these sneezers use, and what they’re talking about when they’re not fundraising for your cause. This could help you decide how to allocate your online marketing time and money. More to Facebook or to Twitter? Focus on Instagram or on Adwords?
2. Social listening can help generate new relationships by solving a specific problem. If you’re great at helping people connect to resources in your community about leukemia, for example, listen for people expressing specific problems and offer your assistance.
3. Use social listening to improve donor care. The last thing you want is someone complaining about your organization on social media without an official response. We’ve all heard examples of a great customer-service turnaround story, and how a recovery can actually improve a brand’s reputation. Millennials are known for sharing their experiences—good and bad—widely and often within their networks.
4. Social listening can help you find top talent and volunteers. Whether you have a paid position opening up, or are seeking a volunteer leader for a specific project, social listening could help you identify people who are particularly passionate about topics related to your work. And if they’re fluent with a particular social media platform, it could be a great relationship for you.
No matter where you on the social listening journey, there’s always room to improve. And since social media is becoming more and more important, and email open rates are continuing to decline, why not invest some energy in this future direction?