How Is Your Nonprofit Using Blogging, Social Media, eNewsletters and eAsks?

For my nonprofit, I have been blogging and doing eNewsletters for several years. In the past 2 to 3 years, however, I have stepped up our game and added social media and the eAsk to our mix.

“eAsk?” Yeah, you heard it here first. 😉 What is an “eAsk?” This is when you request funds from your donors using social media, blogging and eNewsletters. At least, that’s how I’m defining it.

My question is this, “Have you been successful with an eAsk?”

I am not totally convinced one should put all their eggs in the “eAsk basket.” For me only a few people per year click on my eNewsletter giving button. Again, at year-end, only a few people choose to “write a check” digitally.

Why use these tools?
A few years ago I read Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt. This book, along with listening to his This Is Your Life podcast, convinced me of the importance of blogging, social media and eNewsletters.

Because of Platform, I became more consistent on all levels. Instead of blogging occasionally, I began blogging at least once a week. Now I am up to at least 3 times a week. For our eNewsletter, I decided we would always have a monthly letter. I did the same with the paper snail mail newsletter we send out. I also stepped it up on social media.

Newsletter or eNewsletter?
If you are doing a snail mail newsletter, chances are someone has told you, “Don’t send me the paper newsletter. Just put me on your eNewsletter list.” This has happen to me a few times. One friend of mine was encouraged to save on postage and not send out a paper newsletter at all.

DANGER! Do not follow this advice. Especially as a small nonprofit, I think such advice is suicide financially.

Almost all of the donations I receive are in check form. A few people set up ACH (automatic withdrawal) and several do Bill Pay through their bank (which still comes in the form of a check to our P. O. Box).

For most of my 8 years of running a faith-based nonprofit, we have done a paper newsletter, usually inconsistently. I’ve done two things that led to an increase in funds on this front.

1) Consistency – I send out a paper newsletter EVERY month. No excuses. This is so very important and is the first thing I recommend to nonprofiters I coach.

2) Return Envelope – A couple years ago a donor recommended I add a self-addressed return envelope to each newsletter (without a stamp). Nearly every month since I have done this, someone has given who is not signed up to give. Also, it makes it easy for those giving monthly. Making it easy on donors is always good.

Should I Stop?
You may be wondering, “Should I stop writing eNewsletters, blogs, social media posts and eAsks? My answer to this is absolutely no! They all still have value.

First, almost all of these tools are free or cheap to use. The only cost is your time, a valuable commodity, I know. However, it is worth this cost.

Second, on the eAsk, there is value here. Spending a couple hours putting together a year-end eAsk Strategy is worth it. Even if you only get a couple hundred dollars, you have spent $0. So, yes do it. I would just suggest not stressing out over it, spending a ton of time, or only doing an eAsk. None of these will get you where you want to go.

Pay Attention Here
While I have only a few people who give by clicking and “writing checks” online, blogging, social media and eNewsletters still are very important. The reason goes back to the Michael Hyatt book. The subtitle is .” There are so many nonprofits asking for donations. All are doing good work. All are making a difference. The question is how are you going to stand out?

People are on their phones, online and on social media all day long. You need to be there too. Blogging, social media and eNewsletters keep you on the top of your donors (and potential donors) minds.

Few donors sign up for monthly giving. There are many reasons for this, but the point is that most give when they see a compelling need. The key is this, when they sit down to write a check (or in some cases give online), you want to be the the first nonprofit on their brain. These online tools allow you to do just that, as well as add value to their daily lives. Adding value to others is priceless.

Advice
Where do you start? If you are just beginning a nonprofit or have been nonprofitting for awhile, below is my list of what you should be doing. This list is in order of priority.

1) Make sure your website has an online giving option. I suggest Paypal for small nonprofits.

2) Set up automatic withdrawal (ACH) for your donors. Paypal does offer this, but I use PaySimple. They have really great customer service.

3) Start with a paper Newsletter. Be consistent each month.

4) Next add an eNewsletter. Remember, if you have to make a choice, get a donor on your paper Newsletter list. Be consistent each month.

5) Next add social media and a blog. Be consistent.

6) Consistency is King! If you are not consistent with a paper newsletter (sending one out every month), you should not start an eNewsletter. Don’t start a blog if you aren’t consistent with the other two. With a blog, ideally you want at least one post a week. No pressure to do more than this, but a blog is not going to be useful if you aren’t being consistent. If you decide to do more posts a week, stick to what you say you will do.

This has been a long post, but hopefully it has been helpful. Any questions? Please ask in the comments section.

Also, what about you? Have you had significant success with an eAsk? I’d love to hear your story.

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