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November 2010

If you pay attention to only 1 thing digital this week...

Make sure to keep an eye on what is planned on Twitter for World AIDS Day on Wednesday, December 1.

Led by Alicia Keys, a slew of celebrities, with millions of followers, are going 'silent' on Twitter on Wednesday for World AIDS Day. The celebrities plan to stay 'silent' until $1 million has been raised for AIDS efforts.

According to the AP, "[f]or the campaign — which also includes Jennifer Hudson, Ryan Seacrest, Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Elijah Wood, Serena Williams, Janelle Monae and Keys' husband, Swizz Beatz — celebrities have filmed 'last tweet and testament' videos and will appear in ads showing them lying in coffins to represent what the campaign calls their digital deaths."

We already know the impact celebrities can have on influencing high volume donations--witness the Haiti relief efforts and Keys' appearance on American Idol last year. How long celebrities may have to stay silent (and will they be able to refrainfrom sharing their every move with the world in the name of do-gooding)?  We are eager to find out on Wednesday.

Follow all the tweets (or lack of them) on Twitter under the following hashtags: #BUYLIFE, #WAD, #AIDS, #HIV, #WorldAIDSDay and some of the participating celebrities.

(can't see this video? check it out here.) 

Happy Thanksgiving 2010!

From our Merkle family to you and yours, a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving! We'd love to hear some of your favorite Thanksgiving fundraising campaigns that you've worked on and/or seen over the years.

-DonorPower Blog Team

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It's the Death Toll That Really Matters

Recently, we wondered in this blog why the response to the terrible floods in Pakistan this summer seemed muted in comparison to the earthquake in Haiti early in 2010.

Today, the New York Times, published an article on this same topic, "The Special Pain of a Slow Disaster." 

The comparative numbers are haunting:

"...the devastating earthquake that flattened much of Haiti and killed an estimated 250,000. The floods killed far fewer people, perhaps 2,000, but the number of people affected, who now need food, shelter and clothing to face a harsh Pakistani winter, was 20 million. The entire population of Haiti, by contrast, is fewer than 10 million people...

In all, $3.4 billion has been collected for the victims of the Haiti earthquake as of October, with more than $1.1 billion coming from private donations, according to figures compiled by the United Nations. Close to $1.7 billion has been pledged for Pakistan, but less than $300 million came from private donors."

The article concludes: "Humanitarians have long struggled with this paradox. The number of dead, along with the swiftness and drama of their demise, trumps almost any amount of agony among those who survive a disaster, particularly a creeping one."

-DonorPower Blog

Holiday Conundrum

Retailers and non-profits have a lot in common, especially as we near year-end: there are too many stores/charities chasing too few customers/donors. We also share a marketing tactic – both sectors have been starting the season earlier each year. The question is, have we changed the amount of consumer spend or just moved it around?  

The other practice we share is that we follow others’ successes. There is nothing wrong with that, except in the non-profit space we have ended up with a stable of techniques which include labels, supporter cards, handwritten notes, card packages, calendars, etc., that are inter-changeable between organizations. We have now trained our donors to expect premiums or to use them as a tipping point when they get five appeals in their mailbox on any given day. This has been referred to as a premium arms race. First we mailed letters, and now many of us rely on labels, and we are escalating to double premiums. Do you think we can break the cycle?     

The hard reality is that non-profits have a market share issue among certain donor demographics. There are only so many dollars to go around, and for both mail and event marketing we have reached the point of diminishing returns. Expansion may not be an option unless we change our measures of success.     

Add to that the fact that everyone is after the same goal of engagement – with large numbers of people. The cost efficiency of the digital space has opened up a number of new ways to communicate with prospects and customers (email, search and social to name a few). These new channels have exponentially changed the landscape allowing for cultivation touches. But with everyone doing them, are they meaningful?  How many surveys, viral campaigns, causes, etc., can one donor really be involved in? Frankly, we are at risk of overtaxing and alienating the donors who are so important to our success. 

There is another hard issue, which is we evaluate within the vacuum of what our organization is doing because they are ‘our’ donors (that is, if we are lucky, a lot of times we only know what donors are doing within the programs we manage). We know that many of our donors give to other organizations, but outside of industry performance benchmarking, that knowledge stops there.   

And so I wonder if we can really measure the meaningfulness of our actions? Yes, we can measure short-term effectiveness, but I am talking about significance. 

Understanding the holistic value of a donor and the entire suite of touches is important. Understanding who is more deeply engaged may be even more important.                       

-Becky Graninger  

What is this blog all about?

If you're serious about raising money from donors, you need to get serious about donors. More than ever before, donors are insisting that you share power with them, not treating them like passive ATMs. This blog is about the ways you can do that -- and the rewards that await you and your donors when you do.

About the Blogger

DonorPower Blog is penned by Merkle's Power Blogging Team, led by Greg Fox, our senior vice president of strategy. Working with Greg is a police line-up of guest "artists", fundraising pros all, who like to pose as blogatorialists when the sun goes down. You can reach this blog, and any of our regular contributors, at
donorpowerblog [at] merkleinc [dot] com. See this blog's policies.


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