On Line For Non-Profits

Having previously spoken at conferences focused on using the web to raise support for non-profit organizations, I can confidently say two things:

First, the Web, as a story telling and publishing medium has huge potentials for non-profit organizations, Second, the problems that people have using this medium are the same problems that have plagued people who use the web for e-commerce, blogging and whatever other uses can be thought of. That problem is finding a good, clear scheme to organize and present all the information you think that your user needs.

At a conference I recently presented , many of the representatives of non-profits in the audience wanted an idea about “what was right” when it came to having a site that informed people about what they did and appropriately “made the ask” (as they say in the non-profit world) for financial or volunteer support.

Here is what we discussed as the top 10 questions that someone using your site wants to know. If you are a non-profit, check your site to see if you can to easily find the answer to these questions within two or three clicks from the home page. Better yet, if you are a non-profit, test how well your site communicates your core ideas and beliefs by having someone else use your site to answer them for you.

Here are the questions that your site should be able to answer:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What do you do?
  3. What do you believe / Why do you do what you do?
  4. What have you already done to prove your expertise
  5. Why are you the right people to do what you do?
  6. Can I trust you with my (hard earned) dollars?
  7. How can I contact you?
    • How can I talk to a human being?
  8. How can I participate?
    • by volunteering
    • by giving
  9. How do I receive your services?
    • eligibility requirements
  10. How do I donate?

Everyone Wants To Catch A Virus

I was remided this morning about a marketing concept that has now reached far beyond the concept stage. The successes that we see when a well executed Viral marketing campaign is executed are nothing short of fascinating.

Briefly, if you are not familiar with the concept, Viral marketing takes a good idea and let’s other spread it around. All you have to do is to come up with the good idea (which is not all that easy) and have a way to spread the idea.

Viral marketing is based on a specific need that humans have to share something that amazes them, gives them a laugh or is simply fascinating.

For those of you who remember, one of the most successful and earliest “modern age” viral marketing campaigns was Wendy’s “Where’s The Beef” campaign. This campaign was responsible for making Clara famous and for injecting the phrase “Where’s The Beef” into our everyday speech.

People who saw the campaign just loved it and got a real kick about passing it on (performing it) for their friends. This campaign was in the days before Facebook and YouTube so it was passed on by person to person contact (just like all good viruses are!)

The power of viral marketing can’t be underestimated in political movements.  The last presidential campaign knew that. And so does a movement in India that is protesting their countries “moral police”.  As detailed on NPR this morning, the “Consortium of Pub-Going, Loose and Forward Women” unveiled a plan for a nonviolent gesture of defiance in protest against their country’s self-appointed “moral police .

The Consortium started a social networking group on Facebook (substituting for face to face contact) and rapidly grew to over 25,000 members who are sending their knickers to collection points to then be delivered to the leader of Sri Ram Sena in a nonviolent gesture of defiance. The movement grew and grew fast — just like a virus.  (Expect further growth now that NPR is on board.)

This movement not only is an example of viral marketing but it also illustrates that with today’s social networking tools, everybody (not just those who can afford it) can mobilize a group of people toward an idea.

One other example that is worth citing is here. I first read about it in a book called Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky.

It’s about a women who lost her cell phone in a New York City taxicab and how she not only got it back but was instrumental in having the 16-year old teenager who found it arrested. Briefly, after the boyfriend of the women who lost the phone identified who had it based on instant messages that were being sent, he created a web page detailing the story and how when he asked to have the phone returned, he was told “get lost”. The story on the web page moved a lot of people to respond with comments and help that eventually resulted in the phone being recovered.

Well, if you don’t get it by now, viral marketing is all about a good idea getting picked up and moved by a crowd.  I’m not sure if there is a specific formula for creating a “viral idea” but there is no doubt that it involves:

  • a current trend that evokes either sympathy or fulfills some need
  • a crowd
  • a method to disperse the idea quickly and effectively

I’m also sure that it requires a lot of “failed launches”. We never hear about all the ideas that didn’t get off the launching pad (they weren’t funny or didn’t resonate). We only hear about those that did.