3 Ways To Promote Your Organization’s Fundraising Efforts

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That famous line from Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come,” may have been true for a bunch of ghosts and a cornfield-turned-baseball diamond. But where fundraising campaigns are concerned, simply putting one together may not guarantee that people will flock to your organization’s cause.

These days, getting people’s attention takes a bit more effort — sometimes a lot more.

The good news: Whether you’re holding a silent auction for your local YMCA, a raffle for a theater troupe, or launching a capital campaign for your nonprofit, there are plenty of ways to promote your fundraiser.

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Here are just a few ideas.

In-Person Appeals

In today’s always-on-the-go society, it’s easy to forget just how much a face-to-face meeting can do.

For a really powerful way to drive your cause home, find ways to get directly in front of people who might be willing to donate or be part of your fundraising effort in some way.

Offer to speak at your local Chamber of Commerce meeting, volunteer to talk to a group of Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, attend a local networking happy hour. Essentially: Figure out what groups are most likely to be interested in your cause, then find a way to get in front of them.

Pitch Local Media Outlets

As much as some would love for you to believe that print is dead, the traditional media still hold a lot of sway — especially in smaller localities, where most everyone gets their news and event information from sources like the city newspaper or their local network news affiliate.

Get your local media’s attention with a well-written press release — short and sweet, with all the pertinent information clearly listed. If you have access to their contact information, send it to the reporters who cover the beat or topics most closely related to your organization’s mission or cause; you’ll be more likely to get a response that way.

Someone within your organization should be a point person for interviews, and always have electronic versions of photos or logos at the ready if the media requests them.

Take To Social Media

Despite what we’ve just said about local media, there’s no denying Social media isn’t wildly popular today just because people love to waste time watching cat videos and talking about what they had for lunch.

It’s an amazing way to connect with all kinds of people — across town and all over the world — and, for marketers and organizations with a mission, a pretty effective way of getting things done.

Here are a few ways to use social media to promote your fundraising efforts:

-  Post photos from previous fundraising events as a way to build buzz for your next event

-  Use an online platform like Kintera to house your donation system

-  Create a Facebook or Eventbrite event to invite attendees and sell tickets

-  Create a meaningful hashtag on Twitter to track mentions of your cause, event or campaign

-  Use Pinterest to build boards with photos of your silent auction or raffle items

-  Use your Facebook Page, Twitter account or other social to thank donors and recognize other important people related to your cause

Above All: Know Your Donor Base

No matter how you end up deciding to do it, the key to successfully promoting your organization’s fundraising efforts rests on truly understanding your donor base.

Before you make the decision of how to dedicate your time and energy on promotion, stop to think where your most valued stakeholders spend their time and energy — then try your best to get your message and cause in front of them.

What fundraising efforts are you planning for the rest of the year, and how do you plan on spreading the word about them? Leave a comment here and share your organization’s story.

How Can You Celebrate Valentine’s Day At Work? Show Some Commitment.

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If you’ve ever spent a Valentine’s Day night in front of the TV, a big bowl of popcorn in your lap, with a bad romantic comedy on the television, you know the big conflict in nearly every one of the movies: One of the characters refuses to commit.

With more than 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce and job turnover rates in many industries at staggering levels, you might say we’re in something of a commitment crisis these days. But it hasn’t always been that way: Remember, back in the day, when couples stayed together forever, and students would graduate from college and start a job with the company they’d eventually retire from, some 50 years later?

There’s a lot of talk out there about how employees can be more committed to their jobs, how to rise above their competition and keep their jobs in a persistently difficult employment climate.

Why isn’t there more talk about employers committing to their employees?

According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), the biggest challenges facing HR professionals in the near future aren’t in dealing with problem employees. Rather, the challenges are in hanging on to the best employees and developing them into leaders. The other big challenge is fostering corporate cultures that attract high-achieving employees to organizations.

It’s encouraging to see challenges like this — they’re all about committing to employees. So with Valentine’s Day in mind…how will you commit to your employees this year?

Offer Mentorships

Offer your commitment to your employees by pledging yourself to making them better at their jobs. Whether you’re offering your time to individuals directly or putting a program in place to create a structure of leaders educating future leaders, investing in mentorship and staff development shows employees you really care about their success.

Celebrate Your Employees Internally

Make an example of your employees — but not when they do wrong. Celebrate your employees’ achievements instead of only punishing their failures, and make sure other employees know when one of their colleagues has succeeded!

Doing so can create even more of a team environment and even foster a little healthy competition among your employees as they jockey for the next opportunity for your recognition.

Recognize Your Employees Publicly

The comment card and suggestion box may have gone the way of the dodo, but “employee of the month” could still be alive and well. Only now you can tell everyone: Use social media to recognize your employees’ achievements publicly!

Post a photo of a smiling employee who’s done a fantastic job for you, and talk about how important they are to your success — your customers and clients will see your commitment to your employees, and it will lift everyone within your company up in their eyes.

Reward Employees

You don’t have to regularly give out huge raises to your employees to show your commitment to them. Sometimes, a surprise — like a Restaurant.com Gift Card or a small bonus — can go a long way, and it costs a lot less than systematic pay increases.

Offering tokens of your appreciation at random means a lot to employees and may help them strive to be better every day.

Bottom Line: It Pays To Commit

What will it cost you to show your commitment to your employees? That depends, but it probably won’t cost as much as it would to find new ones after losing those you weren’t committed to: The average cost of replacing an employee is up to 20 percent of their annual salary!

I read a quote recently: “The truest form of love is how you behave toward someone, not how you feel about them.”

You can say you’re committed to your employees and their success, but if you aren’t showing them, they’ll never know. The best way to ensure your employees’ commitment to you is to offer them the same.

How are you committing to your employees?

Super Bowl Ads: Restaurant.com’s Winners

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Did you hear? There was a big football game in early February. Held outdoors in a cold-weather climate for the first time in years, the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos faced off at MetLife Stadium for the 2014 Super Bowl.

It could be argued that only one of the teams actually showed up to the stadium that night, given the final score of 43 to 8.

But it could also be argued that this year’s Super Bowl, like many before it, was more marketing’s big game than football’s: advertising laying down play after play, with a bit of football in between.

So, who took the equivalent of the Vince Lombardi trophy in the ad match-up? Here are Restaurant.com’s three big winners, in no particular order.

Winner #1: Radio Shack

How long have people been saying it? “The ’80s called. It wants its store back.”

Radio Shack took the long-offered opportunity to make fun of itself in this fantastically hilarious ad. Bursting in the doors to strip the store were everyone’s favorite characters from the 1980s: the California Raisins, Hulk Hogan, Chucky, Alf and more.

Radio Shack was able to launch a re-brand and distance itself from its old image with a single Super Bowl commercial. Rebranding often takes companies years — and sometime isn’t even successful, as some never escape their old image.

Radio Shack is reinventing itself from the inside out, but not without firing a few parting shots of its own to the brand image they’re hoping to kiss goodbye.

Winner #2: Goldieblox/Intuit QuickBooks

In a sea of big-ticket advertising for mega brands, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it commercial for a kids’ toy really stood out.

From its humble Kickstarter beginnings, Goldieblox has skyrocketed into a coveted toy brand for little girls sick of the industry’s pinkwashing. The commercial showed little girls tearing through the neighborhood to throw their old pink toys onto a rocketship and send it into orbit.

This wonderful advertising spot was sponsored by Intuit’s QuickBooks, which inextricably tied their brand to the success of small businesses by holding an online competition among thousands of entrepreneurial companies. Voting among the QuickBooks staff and the public helped to choose which ad would air on Super Bowl Sunday.

The progressive ad showed girl power at its finest, and Intuit, by shedding light on a small business, lifted themselves up among the ad behemoths.

Winner #3: Esurance

This all-online car insurance company recently acquired by Allstate Insurance — and even more recently gone public — made a big splash when you’d least expect it: directly after the Super Bowl, when ad slots cost 30 percent less than they did within those four quarters.

The gimmick/gist: By purchasing the 30-second spot immediately after the game wrapped up, the company saved $1.5 million — which they were happy to pass on to their customers.

It’s a memorable tie to the Esurance brand’s value proposition: The company passes on the savings from doing business online to its customers.

Esurance used “the simplest, most modern means available” to help promote their contest and brand after the fact: the #EsuranceSave30 hashtag on Twitter. Every tweet counted as an entry to the contest (and, of course, every tweet also went out to each entrant’s entire followers list).

Esurance worked with spokesman John Krasinski and the Jimmy Kimmel Show to reveal the winner on live television. In the end, there were more than 3 million unique entries. That means a lot of eyeballs were on Esurance’s marketing message, and even more saw them as the contest progressed.

What Did You Learn?

There’s a lot Super Bowl ads can teach us about how we market our own businesses. What did you learn from this year’s spots? What commercials were your winners and losers? Leave a comment and let us know.

Why Is It Important for Your Business to Make New Year’s Resolutions?

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Everyone makes resolutions at the start of a new year. Whether it’s to lose weight, eat healthier, finally get the garage cleaned and organized, or save up for that big vacation, goals are a huge part of the ritual people go through as they prepare for the 12 months to come.

What’s your resolution for 2014? And perhaps more fittingly, what’s your business‘s resolution for 2014?

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O Stay All Ye Faithful: Retention Strategies to Keep Those Holiday Customer Acquisitions

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They don’t call it Black Friday for nothin’: The holidays have traditionally been viewed as the time when businesses could make up for slow periods during the year, going gangbusters through the holiday season and winding up in the black by the new year.

But if you know Black Friday, you also know what comes after the New Year. A serious slowdown hits many retailers in January, and it’s easy to feel stymied and without options when your door just isn’t opening — especially after a busy holiday season.

So what’s a business owner to do?

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Join Restaurant.com at the AFRDS 2014 Convention and Trade Show: Jan. 10-13, 2014

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Did you know that product fundraising — think Girl Scout cookies, Boy Scout trash bags, magazine subscriptions, wrapping paper and the like — is a $3.4 billion (yes, that’s seven zeroes) industry?

With that much cash in play, not to mention the importance of fundraising in itself, it’s clear that product fundraising has really grown up! And just like any other industry, it’s crucial to stay connected and up-to-date on all the latest developments in the business — so you can stay at the top of your game.

If you’re looking for new ideas on how to connect with your customers and provide them with the best possible products and services to meet their fundraising goals, then join us at the American Association of Fund-Raising Distributors & Suppliers 2014 Convention and Trade Show. It’s happening Jan. 10 to Jan. 13, 2014, at Rosen Centre Hotel and Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.

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Holiday Surprise and Yuletide Delight: Ease Customers’ Stress with Rewards and Recognition

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That oft-quoted statistic about suicide rates spiking during the holiday season is actually a myth — seriously! I did my Snopes homework! — but if the honking car horns drowning out jingle bells and Black Friday fights breaking out at Walmart are any indication, it’s safe to say the holidays do inspire a little stress in American consumers.

So what’s a retailer to do to quell their shoppers’ holiday blues?

You could start by amping up your rewards program, for one. Throwing in a few bonuses for your most loyal customers can be a great way to help them de-stress during the holidays — and help them love you even more.

Here are a few ideas on how to surprise and delight your customers with Christmastime rewards and recognition.

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Make the Most of Black Friday: 5 Ways to Kick Off the Holiday Shopping Season

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If you flip on the television at any hour of the day, you’re almost guaranteed one of the following: the sound of jingle bells, the sight of snow across your screen…and the smell of the money that will be spent during the Black Friday kickoff to the holiday shopping season practically wafting out of your screen.

Okay, maybe that last example was an over exaggeration, but there is no doubt that Black Friday is serious business for retailers. Customers line up earlier and earlier (sometimes even on Thanksgiving now), and the deals get bigger and crazier every year. So, that begs the question, “Are you doubling down for Black Friday?” Want to begin the season with a burst of energy, but still not sure how to do it?

We’ve scoured the sale papers and patrolled the Internet for a few ideas that could spark your next big Black Friday idea. Take a look:

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4 Ways to Be More Transparent This Holiday Season

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The holiday season is finally here, which means it’s time to start dressing your business up for Christmas, putting the bells on to bring customers new and old into through your doors.

It can be tempting during these times to blow the doors off with amazing promotions and specials so good customers can’t stay away. Though Maria and the Von Trapp kids just love brown paper packages tied up with string, shoppers these days have something different in mind for their favorite things.

Yes, your customers want a great deal on gifts they buy during the holidays, but they also want transparency for Christmas. Here are four ways to give them everything at the top of their list.

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‘Tis the Season: Be Thankful for Your Employees

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I can’t flip through the television channels without seeing snow falling and hearing jingle bells in commercials. And when I ordered my latte at Starbucks just days after Halloween, the barista handed me a bright red cup. It’s madness! But it’s life.

Yes, the “Christmas creep” is real, and that means that the season will become stressful for your employees even earlier this year. Holidays are taxing for everyone, particularly those whose business picks up exponentially around the holiday season.

We all know that a business with happy employees just plainly does better — and during the holidays, the key to their happiness is showing them how much you appreciate what they’re doing.

Here are four tips on how to be better to your employees.

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