Halloween Fundraising 101: A Killer Guide for Nonprofits

It's Halloween!

Halloween is my favorite holiday, especially when it comes to fundraising and cause marketing. I could write yet another post on Halloween but I've said it all before. Here's a round-up of some of my best Halloween posts on fundraising and cause marketing from my blog and around the web.

My Own Experience with Hallowen

Halloween Town Boston [VIDEO]

Halloween Town by the Numbers

Countdown to Halloween Town: Pinups to the People

Halloween Cause Marketing is a Treat, Not a Trick

Why You Should Have a Halloween Fundraiser

5 Reasons to Have a Halloween Fundraiser

4 Reasons to Have a Halloween Fundraiser Next Year, 8 Ways to Get Started

Halloween Cause Marketing

Halloween Cause Marketing Scares Up Funds for Nonprofits

Halloween Cause Marketing Board [PINTEREST]

Halloween Inspired!

5 Nonprofit Lessons from The Walking Dead

Hurricane Hits! Apocalypse Looms! Get a Go Bag!

CauseTalk Radio Ep31: Red Cross Targets Millenials with “Saving Zombies [PODCAST]

P. S. Those of you who know me well know I'm an avid gardener. I laughed out loud when I saw this tweet from the flower peeps @proven_winners.

What a tribute to one of the first and best horror films ever! I plan to add this beauty to my garden next year. A summer reminder of what's to come: Halloween!

Will Your Nonprofit Pick QR Codes or NFC?

I'm dying to know, which one will you choose, QR codes or NFC?

QR codes have their advantages.

  • QR codes are offline hyperlinks that connect the offline world to online content.
  • The technology is being used by 14 million people.
  • QR codes can be put on anything and only need to be one square inch to be effective.
  • You can customize QR codes. You can make them pretty, add your logo and use every color in the rainbow.
  • You can store a lot of data on a QR code. You name it and you can encode it on a QR code.
  • You can easily track QR code scans, location and mobile device used so you analyze results and adjust your marketing campaign accordingly.

Yeah, I'm a fan of QR codes, especially since I'm writing QR Codes for Dummies.

But you might be favoring NFC or Near Field Communication.

  • NFC is a short-range broadcast technology that allows smartphones to interact with other devices when held close together. Think "Bump" - but with a lot more potential.
  • If you're following the money trail, it would lead you straight to NFC. Google, Apple, Verizon, MasterCard, AT&T, and many other major players are investing heavily in NFC.
  • NFC is standard on many phones and major players such as Apple are poised to add it to their devices.
  • NFC is super-easy to use. Just put your smartphone near a NFC chip and you’re done. No scanning, no reader, no holding up your phone. You don’t even need to physically “bump” the devices.

So which one will you choose?

I know what you're saying: "What the heck are you talking about?"

There's a good chance you've heard of QR codes, but you probably think NFC means National Football Conference.  QR codes are popping up everywhere. But odds are you haven't scanned one yet. Don't worry, you'll have plenty time to try QR codes and NFC once they're more mainstream. You probably won't have to choose between the two either. They'll coexist for a while until one dominates, or both are replaced by something else.

Here's the news you need to process and act on now: the mobile screen will be the most dominant screen in history. Bigger than television and the desktop, combined. That's why they call mobile The Third Screen.

Just about everyone will own a smartphone. Mobile phone sales are expected to hit a billion units in 2015. That means one out of every seven people on the planet will own a smartphone. Just last year Android sold 250 million phones, or 8 phones a second!

Wi-Fi is coming to your area soon. The Wireless Broadband Alliance reported in 2011 that global public Wi-Fi hotspot numbers are set to grow from 1.3 million in 2011, to 5.8 million by 2015, a 350% increase. The Alliance also found that smartphones are poised to surpass laptops as the device most frequently connected to Wi-Fi.

Consumers are addicted to their smartphones. I know how I am when I forget mine at home. I feel tense and disconnected. You may too. Smartphone users reportedly spend nearly 90 minutes a day on just apps and 75 minutes surfing the web. That’s nearly three hours a day...on a phone. But consider this: the average adult spends over seven hours a day consuming media. Mobile use could double in the years ahead. It’s no surprise that when asked to choose between only their smartphone or desktop for six months, 55% of respondents under 30 chose their phones.

Consumers are warming up to mobile purchases and, soon, mobile donations. One in two mobile users use their mobile device in stores to make purchasing decisions. They’re also buying things on their phones, totaling $9 billion in purchases in 2011.

Mobile devices will be the remote control of people’s lives. A recent Nielson study showed that people use smartphones for everything: music, news, dining, games, weather, directions, banking. Heck, 40 percent of people use their mobile device while watching television. And the television industry is taking note with innovations that connect viewers to their favorite shows and will one day allow them to make purchases by just pointing their phones at their televisions and hitting a button. People want that mobile connection between the offline and online worlds.

Mobile devices are everywhere. Connectivity to the Internet is growing worldwide. Mobile devices rank pretty close to food, water and shelter as a thing people think they need to live. Good or bad, people want a remote control for their lives.

The future of QR codes and NFC may seem like the maze people often mistake QR codes for. It’s a maze that may lead to something better, or to something else. Or it may just lead to a dead end.

But the path of mobile is straight and clear. People may not be scanning QR codes forever, or passing their smartphones near an NFC chip, but demand for online content to enhance and support offline activities is strong. That's what your nonprofit needs to begin addressing. In this, you have no choice.


How Nonprofits Can Stop a Zombie Apocalypse

I love zombie films.

I can’t get enough of them, especially around Halloween when the shadows from the leafless trees take on ominous shapes. Yikes!

While you may not share my love for the semi-dead, you might agree with this: most of us are surrounded by these mute, will-less, dumb, sometimes evil and dangerous brutes everyday.

The zombies stalking nonprofits are the people and situations they face daily that threaten their success and risk plunging them into a zombie apocalypse.

It’s scary stuff. Fortunately, there’s help thanks to my extensive zombie cinematic background and training.

One of my favorite zombie movies is Zombieland, which has a long list of rules for survival, shared throughout the film by the main character, Columbus.

Eight of these rules are critical to your nonprofit's survival. Ignore them at your own risk.

1. Cardio. The calorically-challenged end up as zombie food because they can’t outrun these monsters. Your cause too will also meet a horrible end if you’re not prepared to go the distance and persevere year after year. Success in anything doesn't happen overnight. It requires endurance. Don’t let your cause fall prey to the zombies just because you weren't up to the challenge of going long.

Appropriate Training: Make a commitment to something new that will make a real difference to your cause and stick with it. It could be updating your technology infrastructure, learning social media or - my personal favorite - giving cause marketing a try.

2. Double Tap. What a waste to die at the hands of a zombie just because you were too lazy and didn’t shoot them twice. Just like it would be a waste to give up on a program or project after the first try because someone said no, a company pulled out or because the a campaign had mixed or poor results. Like W. C. Fields said: "Try, and if you fail, try again. Then quit. No sense being a fool about it." But try again! Don’t give into the zombies and just give in after one shot.

Appropriate training: Pick an event, program or project that you think is worth a second shot and go for it.

3. Kill with Efficiency. Why bother reloading a gun when a nice, heavy toilet cover or rolling pin is handy? Don’t focus on the preferred or cool way to get the job done. Focus on getting things done. Everyone wants to do online giving, Facebook Like promotions, and land trendy partnerships with cool retailers like Apple and The Gap. But what’s at hand for cause marketing is easy to execute point-of-sale or purchase-triggered donation program with local retailers. They’re not always sexy, but they get the job done (raising money, increasing awareness). Zombies hate that!

Appropriate training: Take a good look at all the things your nonprofit does. What are your bread and butter programs that produce every year. Can you enhance their success or replicate another success from them?

4. Beware of Bathrooms. Confining yourself to a small space is not a good way to fend off the zombie hordes. A nonprofit that puts 100% of its time into cause marketing or events or grants is cornering themselves in a bathroom. It’s small, limiting and doesn’t get you to where you want to go - unless you really have to go. Don't confine yourself to one thing, regardless of how good it is. Spread yourself out!

Appropriate training: Start exploring new directions for your nonprofit and set one new course before the end of the year.

5. Get a Kickass Partner. Loners just don’t last very long in zombie films. Sigh. Doing fundraising by yourself - which can happen even if you're surrounded by many others (AKA zombies) - can be equally short-lived. I had kick-ass partners in Joanna MacDonald who helped me write Cause Marketing for Dummies. David Hessekiel and Megan Strand at Cause Marketing Forum are my kick-ass partners in everything cause-related. John Haydon is my tech and Facebook guru and truly my Tallahassee, although he acts more like Witchita. Regardless, I have people I can count on. So should you.

Appropriate training: Look around you. Would you describe your colleagues and partners as better candidates for "double taps" than kickass partners? It's time to reevaluate your relationships.

6. Check the Back Seat. It happens all the time in zombie movies: someone gets killed in their car because they didn’t check the back seat. Stupid way to go. To make sure you don’t meet the same end, watch for these nasty surprises.

  • A 100-slide PowerPoint presentation that no one at the meeting you're going to wants to see.
  • A bureaucrat from your office or board that will spend a whole meeting with a company blathering about your nonprofit’s mission and not saying a word about the potential opportunity for both partners.

Appropriate training:

Double check the things you do everyday or before fundraising calls. Are they helpful, useful? Or are they just obstacles to your success.

7. Opportunity knocks. One of the lessons of Zombieland is that opportunities in life just don’t come knocking. You still have to get off your butt and open the door! That’s how I feel about Halloween and even zombie events for fundraising and cause marketing. I promise if you open this door you'll find opportunity, not zombies.

Appropriate training: It's too late this year to plan a Halloween fundraiser, but it's a perfect time to plan one for next year. Here are some ideas on how others are using Halloween to give back.

8. God Bless Rednecks. Because they have all the guns and ammo you need kill zombies! Fundraising is a red-blooded business that raises most of its money from regular people just like you and me - especially when it comes to the cause marketing programs I specialize in. A few coins in a canister. A buck at the register. Fifty cents from the sale of a soda, sweater or meal. Regular people are the drivers behind programs that raise hundreds of millions of dollars for good causes every year.

In this zombie world of ours, they are your ultimate kickass partner.

Are Nonprofits Ready for the End of Corporate Philanthropy?

Boston's own Scott Beaudoin, who's also MS&L Worldwide's North America director of CSR and cause marketing, asked in PRWeek Insider's blog last week is this "The End of Corporate Philanthropy?"

Scott's prompt was Nestle SA Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe's recent remarks that he's against corporate philanthropy because it could lead to a misuse of funds. (I guess he had already doubled checked that the company money used for client entertainment was all well spent.)

What Peter and Scott are in favor of are "social investments that are aligned with the business."

Like it or not, this is the future of corporate giving for businesses large and small. Of course, this won't be "giving" at all but rather strategic social investing. And the timing is right for several reasons.

  • With the drumbeat of earnings and ROI stronger than ever, companies can no longer fund generous philanthropy programs. Investment in causes, not giving, must be the mainstay if companies are to continue to play a meaningful role in addressing societal issues.
  • Thoughtful consumers get it. As Scott notes, "Research shows today's stakeholders understand that companies need to be profitable but also believe they can be purposeful and profitable at the same time."
  • To engage more small and medium size businesses with causes, partnerships need to be win-win as only the biggest companies can afford big budgets for philanthropy.

Reading Peter's remarks and Scott's post made me smile because a corporate culture focused on bottom-line benefits for both partners is my reality every day. Nestle SA has had the luxury and, thankfully, the desire to be philanthropic without the worry about the ROI on corporate giving. The restaurant chain I work with may share Nestle's generous instincts but it lacks their capacity. Interestingly, I've noticed that it's when a business is most focused on benefiting from a partnership with my nonprofit that they do the most good for my cause.

But the shift away from corporate philanthropy won't be easy for nonprofits. Going from receiving generous handouts to having to work for your food will take a bit of getting used to.

Here are three ways nonprofits can begin the shift away from corporate philanthropy.

Embrace the brave new world. Nonprofits shouldn't feel guilty that they have to engage businesses as, well, businesses and not donors. Remember, companies still want to make a difference, but they want to help you and society while they help themselves. Think win-win-win.

Make it easy for companies. Don't make them feel guilty that they used to give you money and now they make you work for it. Don't wait for them to tell YOU they need more from their partnership with you. Connect the dots so they don't have to. Create opportunities and programs that are tailored for companies (which leads to my next point).

Start a cause marketing program. The essence of cause marketing is mutual benefit. Whether you use pinups, percentage-of-sale, licensing, cause promotion, etc. cause marketing will help reduce your dependence on corporate giving and give businesses a new way to work with you that is grounded in win-win.

Long live corporate philanthropy. It's a little absurd to think that corporate philanthropy will just disappear. Walmart just gave $2 billion to fight hunger this past week (although I'm sure hunger causes resonate with Walmart's core customers so there is a strategic component to the gift). Will it be reduced? Sure, perhaps a lot. But it will always be there in some form so don't throw away your tin can just yet.

But a world with less corporate philanthropy is here. The challenge for nonprofits is to adapt to the new reality. What seems like the end of corporate philanthropy will actually be a new beginning of opportunity for nonprofits that are up for the challenge.

End or beginning. Which one will your nonprofit choose?

[Note: I'd like your help. I've given three ways nonprofits can begin the shift away from corporate philanthropy to corporate opportunity. What other ways can nonprofits easily and quickly make the move.]

Restaurant Adds Foursquare, Fundraising Advice to Menu

Last week we enjoyed a sumptuous Foursquare promotion created by Boston's own Boloco. The Foursquare Mayor Boloco Card is bursting with creativeness, spices and natural goodness, just like the food Boloco serves. The promotion is a feast for us who are looking for ways to use geo-location services. Boloco's efforts offer direction on how causes can create their own 4sq promotion with local businesses.

Here's how.

Start by re-reading last week's post. Think your nonprofit isn't big enough to give Foursquare a try? Think again. Worried that you don't have the technical skills to work with the geo-location site? No special skills are required. Not sure that you should be focusing on Foursquare in the first place? Read my post here.

Identify prospects to approach. Stores or restaurants with multiple locations and foot traffic are your best targets. You'll see why soon. Boloco is a perfect example. They have 16 busy locations throughout New England. Targeting a chain with fewer locations is fine. Just adjust your expectations: fewer stores generally means fewer customers, and fewer customers means less of, well, anything you hope to get out of the partnership.

Explain how Boloco is using Foursquare. And how your promotion will work almost exactly the same way as theirs. (For all the brazen talk being "first" in new ideas, businesses secretly like when someone else has gone first!) Like Boloco, each location will have a mayor that will be feted with honors, to be determined by the store or restaurant. The reigning mayor can simply flash their 4sq mayor crown on their PDA to the store manager. (While the Boloco mayor card and offline exchange between ousted and new mayors is a great idea, it's not necessary for the program to work.)

Add a cause component. To turn the Boloco Foursquare program into a cause marketing machine try one of these two tactics.

  1. Cash or Inkind - Say you partner with a store or restaurant that has coats or food to donate to your organization. With their new Foursquare Mayor Gives Back program the winning mayor of each location chooses the nonprofit that gets the lion's share of the donation. It's a great way to involve customers in the giving and to educate them about the company's good deeds and organizations that need their support.
  2. Point-of-Sale - Pinups are a great way to raise money and promote the Foursquare Mayor Gives Back program. Selling pinups at the register promotes the program with customers and raises money that can be awarded to your cause by the reigning mayor on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Combining Foursquare with pinups introduces 4sq to customers who aren't currently using the geo-location service, but might with a little encouragement and incentive. For all the merits of the Boloco  promotion it's focused on Foursquare users, not in on boarding new users. Adding pinups to the mix raises money for the cause and alerts more customers to the promotion, which means more Foursquare users vying to become the next mayor.

The Foursquare Mayor Boloco Card is a great starting point to launch a cause marketing initiative. Nonprofits are rewarded with exposure, inkind goods or cash. Retailers can better activate their 4sq promotion with consumers and potentially earn their halo by supporting a good cause.

Like restaurant leftovers, I hope this second take on Boloco's Foursquare promotion was more tasty than the first!