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Tips for Boosting Direct Mail Results

November 24th, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Marketing

During challenging economies it has been noted that that acquisition results weaken and renewing of lapsed support becomes critical in maintaining and even increasing direct mail results.  Further, restoring donors helps ensure that earlier investments in donor acquisition were sound investments.

Things to do to increase the number of renewals:

Personalize the mailing, beyond the salutation.  This is too easy to do, so let’s not ignore the opportunity.

1. In your direct mail copy tell past donors how much their support matters to your organization. Make it personal by telling them that you have missed their support.

2. Make sure that you seek a second gift from those that donors within twelve months of any renewing gift.  Reestablishing their consistent giving decreases the likely they will lapse in future.

3. Be sure to thank lapsed donors in your appeals for their renewal.

4. Donors tend to renew as they were acquired, so try renewing them a similar direct mail package.

5. If you aren’t already, record the solicitation code for all future giving so this information is available for future consideration.

6. Include a hard ask.  Too many direct mail pieces fail for lack of a clear call to action.

7. Select a strong author for the letter, but don’t that person remove all of the important aspects you are building into the letter to ensure its success in renewing support and increasing results.

Things to do that will raise more money even when you have fewer renewals:

1. In direct mail appeals in the start of the year, ask for more than the lapsed donor’s last gift.  Later in the fiscal year, ask for renewal at the same level of their last gift if they remain in lapsed status.

2. Used a suggest gift array that leads to upgraded giving when a donor simply ticks the lowest suggested gift.

3. Support the ask amount several places throughout the letter: on the reply card; in the PS; and in any lift note or supporting insert in the mailing.

4. Consider providing a list of things each donor’s gift could do for your organization.

5. Personalize as much of the package as you can.

6. Ask donors to make at least two gifts each year.

7. Plan the full fiscal years’ direct mail program to achieve efficiency in production.

Contact Brian Lacy and Associates to have any one direct mail package evaluated at no charge.

U2 Explores Spirituality On Band’s Own Terms

November 22nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Fun Stuff

Yearning for answers, relationship with God underpins its theology.

Singer Bono and drummer Larry Mullen of U2 perform in Barcelona during the band’s "360" world tour. They play Toronto Sept. 16 and 17.

Singer Bono and drummer Larry Mullen of U2 perform in Barcelona during the band’s "360" world tour. They play Toronto Sept. 16 and 17.

Years before becoming an Anglican priest, Andrew Asbil felt drawn to Irish rockers U2 and their message of hope and salvation.

“I’ve been a huge fan since the first album, Boy, came out,” says Asbil, 48, now minister at Toronto’s Church of the Redeemer.

Boy, released in 1980, set U2 apart, he says. It wasn’t the fluff the 1980s became known for, instead challenging fans to find meaning in life. In his first year of university, Asbil was hooked, and remained a fan as his studies led him to theology.

“When I started my seminary work, I began looking at the lyrics in a different way and began to see a lot of the biblical narratives.”

The band’s lyrics seeped into his conversations and sermons. Last spring, he even featured “The Moment of Surrender” from U2’s latest album in Good Friday services.

“It’s a song that says there come moments in your life when you have to surrender to love,” he says.

And on Sept. 14, the Church of the Redeemer, at Bloor St. and Avenue Rd., will host a U2 night, with Asbil exploring the theological underpinnings of the band’s music, with musical accompaniment from parishioner and Toronto musician Mike Daley and his band. The free event runs from 7 to 9 p.m.

U2 plays two shows at the Rogers Centre on Sept. 16 and 17.

Asbil, who has seen the band several times, says there is almost a “covert” aspect to the spirituality of the band’s songs that attracts both secular and religious audiences.

“There’s a subtlety to it,” he says. “They weave in images that are archetypal, but also spiritual.”

Not everyone agrees, however. Bono’s legendary ego can come across as self-righteous and has turned off as many people as it’s inspired. Asbil says not all his parishioners share his enthusiasm for the band. Bono, himself, has admitted to an inflated opinion of himself.

“I’ve got a messianic complex. It’s true. And anyone who knows me, it’s hardly a revelation,” he said in his 2006 address to the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

U2 has never hidden the faith of its members, though few outside the most devout of Christian families paid much attention.

Three of the band’s four members – singer Bono, guitarist The Edge and drummer Larry Mullen – were deeply involved with Shalom, a charismatic Christian group in Dublin, when the band formed 30 years ago.

Bassist Adam Clayton has been described as spiritual, but not religious.

They left Shalom after leaders of the movement told them to choose between it and their music. They chose the music, but never left their faith behind. Now free of organized religion, they could explore their faith on their own terms.

And that, says author Greg Garrett, is what distinguishes U2 from other Christian rock bands, who he says push “a message instead of following the truth wherever it led them.”

No traditional Christian rocker band would sing “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for,” as U2 does, writes Garnett, author of We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel According to U2.

Still, the band’s obvious Christian references made it “safe” for the children of religious families to listen to, Garrett says in a telephone interview, while its willingness to ask troubling spiritual questions appeals to the non-religious.

The theology of U2 is a yearning for answers and a relationship with God rather than claiming to have found any such thing. That, says Garrett, resonates in a secular society in which traditional houses of worship struggle to keep members.

It’s religion for those who don’t want churches or the faith of their youth. The faith of U2 is questioning and unsure, yet hopeful that a better world is possible. It is Christian-based, but its messages of peace and love are common to many religions.

“I presume the reason for this gathering is that all of us are here – Muslims, Jews, Christians – are all searching our souls for how to better serve our family, our community, our nation, our God,” Bono said at the Prayer Breakfast. “I am certainly searching, and that, I suppose, is what led me here.”

U2’s music could perhaps come only from Ireland, where religious strife has torn the country apart. Bono is the son of a Protestant father and a Catholic mother.

In “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” he sings, “I can’t believe the news today, I can’t close my eyes and make it go away,” calling on listeners to bear witness to the troubles around them as the first step to addressing them, Garrett writes.

In the song “One,” the turn of phrasing is key as Bono sings, “We get to carry each other,” Garrett says.

The line isn’t the more obligation-sounding, “We’ve got to carry each other,” as the faithful have often viewed scriptural passages telling them to help the less fortunate.

“It’s not about duty, or slogging through working at the soup kitchen,” Garrett says. “It’s a great joy and blessing to be able to lift each other up, because community is where we’re formed.”

Asbil admits he cringes at U2 shilling for Research in Motion on its latest BlackBerry commercial, but quickly comes to their defence.

“The purist part of me says, `Oh, for heaven’s sake, how can you do that?’ But on the other hand, they are business people, they donate a lot of their time, they donate a lot of their money, they donate their name” to social causes, he says.

“The lasting legacy of U2 is that the music speaks to a higher ideal.”

By: Stuart Laidlaw
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Social Networking in Plain English

November 22nd, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted in Social Media, Videos

Lost and Endangered

November 22nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Jokes

A hiker became lost and ends up spending the next three days wandering around in the woods looking for food. Finally, he spots a bald eagle perched on a ledge, hits it with a big rock, and begins eating the bird raw.

A park ranger stumbles onto the scene, finds the hiker eating the bird, and arrests him for killing an endangered species.

In court the hiker explains that he was on the edge of starvation and had no choice.

“Considering the circumstances, I find you not guilty,” says the judge. “But I have to ask – what did the bald eagle taste like?”

“Well, your honor,” the hiker says, “it tasted like a cross between a whooping crane and a spotted owl.”

Before the Internet

November 22nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Cartoons


How Not For Profits Can Succeed Online – Social Networking

November 22nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Social Media

Social Networking has become extremely popular for one primary reason… People want to connect. Social networking sites have given people the ability to exchange ideas and information with other like minded individuals. They can gather in large or small groups and virtually brainstorm, network, share and gain insights. The question becomes, how do you harness this activity to benefit your organization?

Jump in with both feet:

When you join a social network, create a profile – but don’t just stop there. Start a group or join other existing groups. Sites like Facebook have groups – these groups give people who have a common interest a place to enter into discussions, share links, videos and photos and even promote new ideas. Finding a group of people who would be interested in your cause is a simple matter of searching. Let’s say you are looking for a group of people who are interested in helping victims of domestic violence, do a search on domestic violence and check out the groups that come up. Try these searches: Museums, Animal Safety, Diabetes. If a group doesn’t exist that suits your needs… start one!

Do not discount MySpace. Check out the the MySpace Impact Awards ( The Impact Rewards honor organizations who work to create a positive difference in the world. It may not win you donation dollars, but it will go a long way to creating trust and recognition in the online community. The only thing you are required to do is set up a MySpace page for your organization and share your message.

Interact with the people you connect with on a regular basis. Set aside a fixed amount on time on a daily or weekly basis to log in, check out your profile and share with others. This is about building relationships. I doubt that you would walk up to a stranger on the street and ask for support or money. The same holds true for your online connections. Let people get to know you and your organization and the trust will come.

Set your organization up to receive donations:

This may seem obvious, but in fact many Not for Profits don’t do this. Both Facebook and MySpace have charity contribution widgets. Facebook has Causes and MySpace has teamed up with PayPal to create donation widgets (PayPal account is required). However, I should note that statistically, the donation amount is smaller ($10 or so) but it is from more people. This is known as the Long Tail of Fundraising. You get your message out – it reaches more people who give less but it spreads out (like a tail) over a longer period of time. In addition ebay has Ebay Giving Works which allows people who are already auctioning items to donate a % to your organization. Smaller sites like Network for Goodfocus on gathering people who are looking to incorporate philanthropy into their lives.

Post Your Events and Invite Connections:

Facebook and MySpace both have public calendars for you to advertise your events on. Google has one as well. The advantage is the calendars get indexed in the search engines – just one more way for people to find your web site.

Share… Share… Share and don’t forget your web site:

All roads lead to Rome. In everything you do your main goal is to get people back to your web site.

Set up a blog on your web site and link it to your Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Google accounts. This allows you to work once and spread the word in multiple places. There are automated software programs such as twitterfeed ( that send your post to twitter. You can set up your Facebook account to have the status automatically update with your Twitter account. In addition you can use the Blog Networks or Blog RSS Feeder Applications to automatically import blog posts into your Facebook profile. I also use to blast out announcements to my Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn status lines.

Let’s assume you have 100 friends on LinkedIn or Facebook. You send your message out to those 100 people. Those 100 people then send it to their friends, say another 1000 people. Those are 1000 people that you would have not been able to otherwise reach. That is what Social Networking is about. It will take an investment of time and energy to have it pay off, but it will pay off.

Keep Your Eye on the Conversation:

With the rewards comes some risk:

Reputation Management: Once you unleash the social networking beast, it can be hard to rein in. You have to keep on top of what is being said about your organization. Setting up news and blog alerts in Google and Yahoo is a very smart idea ( You can track what is being said on twitter through twitter monitoring tools such as twitter scoop ( and other software available online

Not all bad press is bad. If something is constructively critical of your organization, you have an opportunity to correct it. You can rebut or make right the complaint without hiding it and actually win the trust of those “watching”.

Message Dilution: An organization’s message and purpose can get diluted in the Social Networking arena. I akin this phenomenon to playing telephone – when the message passes through many mouths and ears, it can be altered. The reality is, on the web, people are having conversations without the organization or corporation being involved. This means that you will not always have control over what is being said – and you know what, that’s ok. Releasing some of the control is not necessarily a bad thing.

More ways to Share Your Stories:

Itunes can be used the same way as blogs for Podcasts and YouTube and Google Video for Video Feeds (all free).

Some examples of good Social Networking use for Not For Profits:

Shelterbox Fan Page on Facebook:

Youth Against Poverty Page on MySpace:

Check out this well done video by the NY American Red Cross

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Facebook Users Are Getting Older. Much Older.

November 22nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Social Media

Analytics company iStrategyLabs has examined the demographics stats from Facebook’s Social Ads platform, and they’ve reached some very interesting conclusions. Facebook’s userbase, as a whole, is getting much older very fast.

As you can see in the chart below, the overall number of users between 18 and 24 years of age has grown only 4.8% between the fourth of January and the fourth of July of 2009. In comparison, the number of users aged 25 – 34 has grown 60.8%; the number of users aged 35 to 54 has grown 190.2%, while the number of users older than 55 years has grown a tremendous 513.7%.

If the iStrategyLabs numbers are correct, Facebook, simply put, is not a young site anymore. Most of the users (20,3 million, or 28.2% overall) on the site belong to the 35 – 54 age group. Compare that to the age group that was once Facebook’s bread and butter – the 18 – 24 group – which is now in third place with 18 million (25.1%) users, behind the 25 – 34 year old group, which makes for 25.2% of Facebook’s user base with 18.1 million users. The number of users aged 55 and over has grown from negligible 950,000 to 5.9 million in mere six months.

Now, although it may seem like the number of young users has declined, this is not true. The overall number of users of all ages is growing. But they are growing at very different speeds, and therefore the percentages have changed significantly; on a site like Facebook, which lives on advertising, this is a big deal.

However, although the number of young users has increased, the number of high school and college students has declined by -16.5% and -21.7%, respectively. This can indicate several things: first, that the data that iStrategyLabs is incorrect or very rough (which is a possibility, since Facebook doesn’t guarantee that the data provided to advertisers is absolutely accurate); secondly, it’s possible that Facebook users simply don’t think that their education, or the school/college they’re in are very important so they’re simply not entering the data. It’s probably a little bit of both, but it’ll be interesting to see and compare Facebook’s own demographics data with these numbers.

In any case, these are significant changes. If you show the same ads to Facebook users now, they will react vastly differently than they would have half a year ago. If you’re an advertiser on Facebook, you should take these changes into account and react accordingly, because your campaign might not be as effective as it was a couple of months ago.

by Stan Schroeder
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Social Media Guide For Old Folks, By An Old Folk!

November 22nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Social Media



Have you ever asked those questions? Are you totally confused?

Well, to put it in the simplest terms, it is………

Word Of Mouth Advertising On Steroids !!!

Ok, here’s how it works. Everybody remembers the old adage “one satisfied customer tells ten, those ten, tell ten ..etc” Well take that same principle and apply it to Twitter, for example. We are going to use Twitter to illustrate what we are talking about since it is the fastest growing forum right now.

Now, while reading this, I want you to keep in mind that this younger generation (no offense, we love you) have an attention span of about 15 seconds. This is not the result of some inferior intellect, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Typically speaking, most people today, young or old, have very active lifestyles and this “younger generation” has become masters at multi-tasking. As a result, they don’t spend a whole lot of time on any one thing. Boom, next, boom, next…

Back to Twitter. Basically, you set up a landing page (”profile”, see image ) which is nothing more than a one pager that gives very brief information about you and/or your company. Then, you start looking for people that might be interested in what you have to say and/or your products and services. Once you find people that have similar interests, you “follow” them and in most instances, they will “follow” you back.

So, what does “follow” mean. When you are “following” somebody, you can go to your home page on your Twitter “profile” and see what all the people you are “following” are talking about. The conversations range from how to get your kid to brush his teeth, to new products, to serious political discussion…anything goes. Anything one of your followers “tweets” you will be able to read about in real time on your home page.

What happens when YOU tweet something? Well, everybody that is “following” you can then see your “tweets” on their home page, in real time. Just like you can see theirs. If by some chance your followers are not sitting there when you “tweet” your message, they have the option of going to your “profile” where they can read through everything you have “tweeted” about. Likewise, you can go to their “profile”, and see what they have been “tweeting” about.

You then have two options to communicate directly with your “followers”. You can either use @reply or send them a Direct Message (DM). An @reply will be tweeted in the public forum for all to see and a DM is a private communication between two parties and is not seen publicly.

Now, let’s say you have 10,000 “followers” (people that are interested in what you have to say) and you “tweet” an article, or a press release. All 10,000 of your “followers” will see your message.

That “follower” has a following of his own, maybe 5,000 or 60,000, who knows. If that “follower” likes what you have to say and thinks HIS “followers” might like it too, he/ she will “ReTweet” (RT) it.

Now, your message is presented to all 60,000 of HIS/HER followers. One of HIS/HER followers may like it too and he/she might ReTweet it…..get the picture?

Now your message is spreading all over the “Twitterverse” and is being seen by hundreds of thousands of people.

In the meantime, it’s also conceivable that somebody in the “twitterverse” may like your “tweet” enough that they will then publish it in some other social networking forum.

That’s what we call going “viral”. Your message literally spreads like a virus.

Sounds wonderful doesn’t it? But, let’s be realistic here. Is every message going to go “viral”, absolutely not. Twitter basically combines traditional marketing with the speed of the internet. What I mean by that is, traditional marketing’s effectiveness is based on repetitive advertising. The first time somebody sees your advertisement they may just glance at it and move on. By the time they see it three or more times, they might actually start to take notice. They start thinking, hmmm, I remember seeing that before, hmm, maybe I should take a look at it. At that point, that’s when you’ve captured your audience.

Let’s talk about “advertising” a little bit. Society as a whole is sick and tired of having constant advertisements rammed down their throats. Everywhere you look, somebody is trying to push something…people tune it out. Next time you sit down with your significant other to watch a movie, wait until the commercials are over and ask him/her what the last commercial was. Bet they can’t tell you. We tune it out. So, IF you use Twitter or other social media networks, you have to make your audience WANT to hear what you have to say. If all you do is constantly ram your company’s message down their throat, they are going to tune you out.

So, in order to be effective at marketing your brand, your company, your products/services, you have to communicate on a personal level with your audience too.

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Delivered Does Not Mean In The Inbox

November 22nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Email

It’s rather amazing how much confusion there is between the bounce rate and the inbox deliverability rate. I’ve been on the road much of May and June speaking at online marketing conferences — and while every marketer understands that if they don’t reach the inbox, they don’t earn a response, there is a sense of complacency around inbox deliverability that is not grounded in the right data. Marketers think they know their inbox deliverability rate, but in fact are either misinformed or just do not have access to that information.

Perhaps I should not be so surprised at the level of confusion. Most marketers are just going with the reports they are being given.Most email broadcast systems report something called “delivered.” It’s usually a pretty high number — like 95% or 98.8%. That’s because it’s probably only telling you how many messages bounced, and nothing about how likely messages are to actually reach the inbox. Bounces are the number of records on your file that either no longer exist (a hard bounce) or are having temporary delivery failure (a soft bounce), perhaps due to an out-of-office reply or a full mailbox or some glitch in the ISP server.

Most marketers who keep their lists clean and have good permission practices have a bounce rate of 1% to 5%. So that “delivered” metric is high, and often stays high consistently. Since it’s the only number most ESPs provide, this lulls marketers into thinking they also have inbox deliverability under control. Those deliverability challenges they keep reading about? That must happen to other people.

What’s the number marketers really need to know? Inbox deliverability: How many messages actually reached the inbox so you can try to earn a response? Let’s be honest. Very few subscribers will search for your message in their junk folder or contact you if they didn’t receive it at all.

You know about spam filters and probably know that some of your email gets lost. However, many marketers don’t know the full extent of the problem. In fact, about 20% of email marketing messages globally never reach the inbox (source: Return Path client and ISP data). And if marketers think it couldn’t possibly happen to them, they are fooling themselves.

Twenty percent is a big number. Most marketers would be very pleased with the instant revenue boost that would result if all the response metrics — opens, clicks, purchases, downloads, page views — went up by 20% this week.

The fact is irrefutable: Email must reach the inbox if it has any hope of earning a response.

The good news for marketers is that the factors that go into whether your messages reach the inbox are under their control. They can improve inbox deliverability rates by following best practices around complaints, permission, list hygiene, blacklists, frequency, relevancy and yes, bounce processing. Marketers need to pay attention to what their reports actually say. And then they must be sure that they know the inbox deliverability, and know it by campaign and by domain (e.g.: Gmail vs. Yahoo). This data should be considered an addition to whatever your ESP or MTA reports as “delivered.”

Knowing that your bounce rate is low is a good thing. But it won’t guide you on optimizing response. If you don’t see inbox deliverability data, then ask for it.

By: Stephanie Miller
Source: Email Insider

Shedd Aquarium Drives Oceans of Awareness with SMS

November 22nd, 2009 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

In June 2009, the Shedd Aquarium needed to drive significant awareness and visitors to the premiere of a new aquatic show, Fantasea, in the renovated Oceanarium. Campaigns were created across multiple media channels, including a contest to win exclusive VIP tickets to the show. The Shedd team wanted to test the overall effectiveness and consumer preferences of different marketing tactics, specifically the Web versus SMS text messaging.


Shedd selected the mCommons™ platform from Mobile Commons to manage the SMS text messaging campaign and measure conversion rates.

A TV commercial was created that aired on the four major networks (NBC, ABC, Comcast and FOX).  Each commercial was the same except for the call to action to enter the contest.

•     Three stations asked viewers to go to a website to enter the contest.

•     The fourth station asked viewers to text the word FOX to 69866.

Once a viewer texted in, they received a message asking them to respond with their email address and zip code to officially enter.


When Shedd compared the entries received at the end of the promotion, they were amazed at the results:

•     The TV ad with an SMS call-to-action generated 325% more contest entries than any other call-to-action.

“Mobile text messaging has been working well for Shedd Aquarium and after results like this, we will continue to think strategically about how to use SMS,” said Jay Geneske, Marketing Strategy, Shedd Aquarium. “Mobile Commons makes it extremely easy to setup and run campaigns, and the direct CRM integration allows us to be smart about the data.”