5 Essential Elements for In Person Conversion
As someone with social anxiety, I find it much easier to speak with you through the safety of my screen than to have an actual conversation with you.
I guess it’s a good thing I don’t run a nonprofit, right?
Getting up close and personal with potential supporters is a necessity for any nonprofit professional; and, as we’ve already mentioned, building relationships is key to eliciting long-term support and engagement.
You can stockpile all of the fundraising tools in the world, and you can release them out into the ether, ready to receive donations. However, if you don’t get boots on the ground, inspiring people to donate in real life, you’ll never reach the level of success that your worthy cause is capable of.
Today, we’ll examine a few best practices for performing mobile calls to action in real life, on the street, at an event, and anywhere else where you’ll be in front of real, living, breathing human beings.
1) Repetition is Key
The key to an effective donation ask is to ensure that your potential donors will remember whatever message you’re sending them. To do so, it is important that your donation ask is clear, easily memorable, and repeated often.
With some frequency I attend nonprofit events, waiting to see how they elicit support for their cause, only to be met with a disappointing, 15-second call to action that leaves me feeling less than inspired. Maybe during the key-note the presenter will put up a slide containing their call to action, only to read out exactly what’s on the screen before shuffling on to the next topic.
A call to action such as this does not do much to move me along the journey from prospect to donor. In fact, it almost does the opposite. When a donor feels like you don’t care about their donation, they’ll be less motivated to engage with your nonprofit in any way in the future.
Instead, focus on making your call to action memorable (for the right reasons). Every time you make a call to action in person, whether at an event or while talking to someone on the street, it should be accompanied by an impassioned, personal reason for your supporter to answer the call.
Try telling a story about your personal journey with the nonprofit, or that of someone the nonprofit has helped. Explain where the money is going, how easy it is to sign up for your mobile list, and what the process will look like.
Most importantly, repeat the Call to Action multiple times throughout the night.
People are much more likely to remember something if they’ve heard about it multiple times. In fact, the average person has to hear a message 7 times before they will commit it to long-term memory. Throughout your event, make several similar, but slightly different, calls to action to motivate your audience to engage with you. Even if they don’t commit to making a gift on the night of the event, they will remember how to do so later if they change their mind.
2) Repetition is Key
Just making sure you’re paying attention. Repetition is the point so nice I made it twice!
Good repetition also has the added benefit of providing points when a donor can engage during their emotional journey with your nonprofit. If an audience member is not quite ready to give at the beginning of the night, a call to action will most likely fall on deaf ears. However, as the event continues and more stories are shared, as more evidence of your nonprofit’s work is presented, the prospective donor might find themselves being emotionally impacted.
After that, a well-placed call to action can seal the deal, hitting the supporter at the perfect time, when they feel personally compelled to give.
3) Audience Participation
If there’s one thing we all know, it’s that we will never host an event without ~½ the audience staring at their phones the whole time.
Now sure, if you’re a speaker or lecturer and your job is to make people pay attention to you, this is extremely frustruating. However, if you’re just trying to sign up an entire audience for your mobile subscriber list, these cell phones become an important tool that can be leveraged for your call to action.
People are going to stare at their phones. That’s a given. Instead of fighting an uphill battle that you’ve already lost, consider making their phones work for you, instead.
Here’s a little script that we wrote for the MC of a relatively large event. The nonprofit hosting the event had a goal of adding 300 new subscribers to their mobile subscriber list.
MC: “Alright everyone, we’ve been having a ton of fun tonight, but it’s time to get a little bit serious. Every year, thousands of families spend the holidays on the streets, hoping for just a little help. What do you say we give them the best Christmas ever???
Now, I can see all of you out there on your phones. *pointing* Ya, I see you, and you, and you. No, no, keep them out! We need them right now to change the world. I want everyone in this room to hold your phone over your head, right now, where I can see them. Wow, wow, lots of ‘em! Very good. Ok, now everyone who’s holding up a phone: open up a new text message, and text XXXXX to YYYYY right now. You’ll receive a link back. Open it, donate, and let’s change the world together, today.”
I shouldn’t have to tell you that this nonprofit met their goal that night. This script was one of four mobile calls to action that the MC made, and each one became more and more effective as people relaxed, softened up, and learned more about the mission and where their money was going. Like I said a little bit earlier, repetition is key.
People are addicted to technology. However, if your nonprofit is using technology to raise funds, this is the best case scenario. Leveraging people’s phones in real time -- always close by, always charged and ready -- will help you increase the potency and efficacy of your calls to action and donation asks.
As I mentioned earlier, a call to action loses its spunk if it’s tossed up on the screen and taken back off before I’ve had a chance to read it. Well designed and ever-present signage will go a long way towards increasing the potency of your calls to action, and will allow people to engage at their own pace, without relying on you to know how to do so.
The best part of having a mobile fundraising strategy is the way that Text to Give writes its own ask. A simple, visually striking graphic, overlaid with “Text HOPE to 80077 to donate to Easterseals TODAY!” is a salient and powerful message, and requires almost no extra work on the part of your nonprofit. See below for a few examples of easy Text to Give call to action graphics.
Once your graphic is made and is inserted into your slide-deck or presentation, ensure that you keep it on screen for long enough that your audience can digest and react to what you’re asking them to do, and so they can get their phone out and prepare their text while it’s still on their mind. Explain what the ask is, tell them why it’s important to you, and give them enough time to decide whether or not they want to donate.
Don’t stress if you don’t see every phone in the room light up immediately. After all, that’s why repetition is key!
Additionally, having your ask clearly displayed around your event will help increase conversion and motivate people to give, thanks to that handy “spaced-repetition” thing we talked about earlier.
It is a tragedy to host a great event without posting the necessary signage to grab people’s attentions and push them towards engaging with you. I don’t have to tell you, after all, that nonprofits constantly struggle to attract new donors and supporters.
When hosting an event, make sure to have clear calls to action displayed on signage where it is clearly visible from anywhere in the room. It should be your goal to make your call to action both impossible to miss and impossible to forget.
Good signage might be the one tip on this list to make the biggest difference in your engagement and donation numbers, so don’t underestimate its importance! Proper signage might be the difference between a decent event and a successful one.
5) Follow Up
I won the powerball last week.
Let me start over.
I dreamt I won the powerball last week. I’ve gotta say, it was a pretty good dream, and very realistic. As I was planning the design of my super yacht, the lottery commission asked me if I wanted a lump sum of $200 million, or a total of $500 million, paid out over twenty years.
I mean, talk about impossible choices.
Naturally, however, as someone who works in the nonprofit sector, I opted for the installments, knowing that more money over a longer term would help me plan my budgets and future expenditures on a more reliable basis.
You probably know what I'm talking about. Your nonprofit relies on repeat donors to plan expansion of old programs, introduction of new ones, future events, and more. To that end, it is crucial to inspire your event audience to continue to support your cause.
It is an incredibly difficult thing to inspire long term support in a single evening. Harder still is to inspire volunteer work and other, more involved forms of action.
Luckily, you are not bound to a single night to contact your supporters, which is why building and maintaining your email and mobile subscriber list is crucial to creating recurring donors.
Don’t let the end of your event be the last time your new supporters hear from you. Set up a well lit, highly visible table stocked with your sign up lists, and ensure that it’s staffed at all times.
Alternatively, or additionally, have a few staff members stationed near doorways with clipboards, ready to ask anyone walking in and out if they’d like to sign up for your notifications.
After a successful event, send a follow up text and email to your supporters, simply to thank them for coming out and supporting your cause. There is no reason that every communication you send needs to be a donation ask. People like to feel valued and appreciated, and it’s important that you thank your donors for their support before trying to ask them for more money.
Throughout the year, and anytime you’re not hosting an event, send out engagement messages to your supporters. Even if your goal is to eventually elicit donations from these supporters, sending out ‘harmless’ engagement and notification messages will keep them interested and eager to help you out when you need it.
With mGive, sending these types of messages is simple, and there are a variety of ways to do so.
My personal favorite is the polling keyword. By setting up a polling keyword, you can ask your supporters engaging questions while gleaning important data about what motivates your supporters, what they care about, and why they support your cause.
Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, a nonprofit dedicated to ending Duchenne’s Disease, uses polling keywords exceptionally well.
Not only are they engaging their audience, they are simultaneously learning about the demographics that make up their mobile subscriber list, valuable information when creating targeted content for future sends.
Ongoing engagement is hugely important to maintaining and attracting recurring donors, providing that much needed stable monthly income that allows your nonprofit to plan and expand.
And there we have it! By leveraging your audience’s mobile phones, asking for their participation, repeating your call to action multiple times, using effective signage, repeating your call to action multiple times, and following up after a successful event, you can motivate your supporters to join your lists, engage with your cause, and sign up to become recurring donors. It’s that simple!
Performing a call to action in real life is much easier than you might think. By following these tips and experimenting on your own, you can find the best way to engage people when you have them in front of you, turning them into supporters who will bring your nonprofit to the next level.
Get out there and get active. I’ll see you next time!