Does your non-profit use shiny objects?

IMG_20131016_135643_455As I said in an earlier post this week, I am currently in Reno, Nevada at Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Pacific Leadership Conference. The conference is being held at Silver Legacy Resort & Casino. Of course, in order to get from the hotel to the conference sessions, you need to walk through the casino where you are bombarded by all sorts of “shiny objects”.

By shiny objects, I mean:

  • Slot machines
  • Bars
  • Blaring music & P.A. announcements
  • Gaming tables with dealers
  • Alarm bells announcing winners
  • Restaurants and delicious smelling food
  • Distracting blinking lights
  • Interesting decorations

I literally found my eyes darting all over the place. I’m not a gambler, but I was definitely tuned in and engaged with what was going on all around me.

When you consider how much money casinos make, it is hard to argue with all of these shiny object  tactics.

As I sat in my exhibitor booth, I kept watching the salesperson at Markel Insurance spinning a “Wheel of Fortune” type of prop. As the minutes and hours ticked by slowly, I couldn’t help focus in on how this wheel worked its charm on conference attendees. Someone could be wandering by the Markel booth with no intention of stopping, but the moment that wheel started clicking and whirling people stopped to pay attention.

Shiny objects . . . human being like them. A LOT!

All of this got me thinking . . .

What types of shiny objects do non-profit organizations use to capture the attention of donors, clients, and volunteers?

IMG_20131016_135832_525In an effort to make the time pass more quickly, I started making a list. Admittedly, I started thinking way outside of the box, but here is some of what I came up with:

  • newsletters
  • websites
  • Facebook pages
  • Twitter feeds
  • Various other social media platforms (e.g. Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc)
  • Texting
  • Newspaper stories (e.g. earned media)
  • Newspaper advertising (e.g. public service announcements)
  • Outdoor advertising (e.g. billboard)
  • Cable advertising
  • Phone calls to donors
  • Announced challenge gifts
  • Radio ads
  • Special event fundraisers
  • Press conferences
  • Town hall meetings
  • Constant Contact e-blasts
  • Online advertising (e.g. Google ads, Facebook ads, etc)
  • Sending your executive director out in public (e.g. speaking at city council, Rotary meetings, etc)
  • Hosting small cultivation or stewardship events in board members living rooms
  • Direct mail
  • Health and community service fares
  • Cause related marketing campaigns

I suspect the list could probably go on and on and on.

As I stepped back and started contemplating how many shiny objects I had identified, I suddenly realized the problem with the road I was walking down.

The casino throws their shiny objects at their customers all at once. It is like an amazing fireworks finale that never stops. Most of the non-profits I could think of that do messaging well, use an eyedropper to carefully measure out their marketing efforts.

I am hard pressed to think of many examples of cross-channel messaging by a non-profit organization. The few that come to mind might used two or three different channels to cross promote their message. For example, a year-end direct mail appeal referencing a website address along with volunteers following up with a phone call solicitation.

This is not exactly comparable to my experience at the Silver Legacy Resort & Casino this week.

Let me end this post by asking for your help:

  • Please help me add to my laundry list of shiny objects used by non-profit organizations.
  • Please highlight communications efforts that utilize more than a few channels to engage supporters.
  • Please weigh-in with your suggestions on how non-profits can get better at lighting up the world around them.

You can share your thoughts and experience by using the comment box below. Why? Because we can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health! (Enjoy additional pictures I’ve included from the conference that I’ve pasted into this post below my signature block)

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

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About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on October 17, 2013, in nonprofit and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Gotta love Markel Insurance- I can hear the wheel clicking. I always love the free address labels that seem to come every year in the mail. I never ever give which I feel a little guilty for but I do love the labels.

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