In my book, I talk a lot about open-minded moments. What’s an open-minded moment? It’s a time, place or state of mind when people are most likely to hear your message, find it relevant and act upon it. April is an open-minded month for TurboTax marketers, for example. Miller cleverly realized 5 pm is an open-minded moment for potential beer drinkers, so they branded happy hour as Miller Time. “Welcome to Miller Time,” the beer maker said to the cattle ranchers, the stock brokers, the welders, the paper pushers.
Guess what? It’s now Miller Time for the fundraisers among us. This is our open-minded time of year, because up to half of all charitable giving for most nonprofits is going to happen in the coming weeks. People are feeling the spirit of the season AND the need to get that tax deduction in 2007. This is the open-minded moment when it’s easiest to convert someone to a gift. It’s when we should spend the most time, effort and money getting our message out, because it’s far easier to ask when people want to give than when they’re not even thinking about giving.
AND WE HAVE A WHOLE NEW WAY TO DO IT this year – via social media.
I’ve been asked via Britt and NetSquared, how does the “social web” that’s exploded in the past year figure into your giving season? How can nonprofits use web 2.0 to reach and inspire donors?
My answer is this: it all comes back to that Miller Time factor. Not only is now the right time of year to be asking, social media gives us the right PLACE to be asking — especially if we get someone else to carry our message. Getting our message into the mouths of supporters talking to their friends and family on the social networks, blogs, etc. where they congregate is creating an open-minded moment within an open-minded moment: We give when people we know ask us to, and we’re most likely to give in December. I just finished a whole White Paper on this topic with my colleague Stacie Mann, and here are three suggestions from that paper:
1. You need to do all your normal outreach (mail, email, etc.) in the coming weeks and then do a final big burst of fundraising online the very last week of the year. The heaviest giving days online are December 30 and 31. I say this because while social media outreach is important, it cannot and should not replace other fundraising.
2. Ask your most ardent supporters to spread the word about you in their social networks. Make it easy for your supporters to integrate your cause into MySpace, Change.org and Facebook because people are more likely to act this time of year.
3. Create a section of your website that cultivates these activists, invites them to create campaigns on your behalf, and explains how to spread the word.
4. Identify the bloggers who are talking about your issues and research their posts. Send them customized emails about their writing and explain why your organization’s campaign is relevant or compelling to them – and their readers.
5. Keep listening for unexpected open-minded moments online. Set up a Google alert for your issue or organization so that if people start talking about you, you can immediately reply with a way for them to take action, wherever they are online.