Worth Considering: Have you SEO’ed your website lately?

Worth Considering from Matt HuggI’m sure that you have a web site. Almost every organization does. It’s a great way to let the public know about your fine mission, and it’s much less expensive and “greener” than printing reams of paper brochures.

But if someone didn’t know you existed, how would they find you?

Easy, right?  Google, Yahoo or another search engine. But if you’re a nonprofit, you probably decided not to pay for search engine listings. So how do you improve the chances of being found?

Search Engine Optimization. At its most basic level, it’s embedding “keywords,” descriptions of your programs, into the code of your web site to help your client’s and donor’s search engine find you.  Taking it a short step further? Use those keywords in the text of your web site.

How do you identify these words? Yes, some imagination helps. What describes your processes or services that you might think that people use in a search engine? But you can be more systematic, too. Type “keywords” into Google or yahoo and you’ll come up with each search engine’s keyword tool, and many others. There you’re able to input words and phrases and actually see their frequency of use in searches relative to others words.

I used this method to help select the name of my business. Both “fundraising” and “talent” were high scoring words. At least it gives me an edge compared to competitor’s business names.

So, where does copywriting come in? Once you establish the words that your clients and donors search, write copy to capture those words. The challenge is to sound authentic to your mission while using the keywords.

This just scratches the surface, however. Search Engine Optimization is more than that. There’s using tools like Google Analytics and more. But making sure that your copy is “keyword rich” is a big step in the right direction.

Of course, I’m biased. I write web site copy that makes your site keyword rich. But whether you use my services or do the work in-house, know that having a web site is really the easy part. Making it found is the real challenge.


Hugg’s Monthly Tip: What’s your case?

Hugg's Monthly TipWhat’s your case?
 Have you reviewed your case for support lately? Your case is the reason why anyone should give to your mission. Every organization has a case for support (whether it’s written or not.) It can be in your executive director’s head, or written one page or written on several pages. This isn’t just an “academic” exercise. The most effective fundraising organizations have case for support committed to paper and apply it throughout their organization and throughout their solicitation cycle. A case can guide anything from annual fund solicitations to planned giving efforts. So get on the case – write your case.

Worth Considering: Split testing – back to high school science

 Worth Considering from Matt HuggA lot of us breathed with a sign of relief when we took our last science class in high school. No more Bunsen burners or frogs, no more chemicals on our hands right before lunch.

Sorry guys, but science is back — in your direct mail piece.

Any science teacher will tell you that one of the most important concepts discussed in her or his classroom is the “scientific method.” Remember that? It’s when you have a “control,” a circumstance that you keep the way it is, and a “variable,” the circumstance you change — then compare the two after you run your test. But make sure that you only change one thing; otherwise you won’t know what caused the results to differ if you see any changes.

Yes, in direct mail it’s the same.

Try this: in your next mailing, change the color of the exterior envelope. The white envelope is what you always do. Make half of the pieces white and the other half yellow. Make sure you mark the pledge cards — maybe a small yellow highlighter mark on those that went into the yellow envelope. Then wait. After a week, then two weeks, then a month — see which envelope color produced the best results.

In the direct marketing world, this is called “split testing.”

There are any number of variables you can test through split testing, such as:

  • Window envelope vs. plain
  • Pledge card gift amounts
  • Language in the solicitation letter
  • Short letter or long letter
  • Adding a brochure or not
  • Using recycled paper or not
  • Who signs the letter?
  • And much, much more.
 Just about any element of a mailing can be split tested.

But why do this? Because your constituency is unique. They have their own tendencies based on their own, and the organization’s personality. You want to know what makes them comfortable giving to your organization — not just now, but into the future.

When do you split test? Always. Demographics change daily in any group. You want to experiment with what is attractive to your donors now, not five years ago.

Do you have enough prospects to split test? Sure. If you have two donors, you do. Yes, this technique gets better results the bigger the list, but don’t exclude yourself from the benefits if you have a small file of names.

Of course, I’m biased. The more you mail the more potential work for me. But whether you use me to write your letters, or do the work in-house, split testing can enhance your results so you build stronger relationships with your constituents based on what you’ve proven they like, not what you think they will like.

Can a fundraiser learn relationship building from a bank?

Banks… you might hate yours… you might feel ambivalent about yours… you may even love yours… but do you leave yours? Rarely.


Banks know that once you’re in… once you have the checking and the savings and the direct deposit and the credit card and the line of credit and the home equity loan and the brokerage service and the…. it’s too complicated to leave. They own you.

They spend a lot on building that relationship because they know that besides a tenth of a percentage point or two, what they offer is just the same as what the bank across the corner offers.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you manipulate your donors so that they give even while they hate you. However, I do want you to look at all the ways that you build your relationship. What have you invested to keep your donors?

Do your donors get “insider” information? Do they feel special when they give to you for the first time? Do you celebrate their successive years of support with a small token? Can they get access to information on your mission (which is really their mission) that they can pass along to their friends?

See, like the bank, you can’t afford to be a “just another charity on the corner” to them. You need your donor to “own” you.