A quick Google of the combination “New Media” and “Nonprofit” brings up over 300 million entries, and the hype shows no signs of letting up.  The landscape is crawling with newly minted experts in Twitter, Facebook, texting and blogging—beseeching you to “leverage” new media, to become more “web-savvy”. Part of the goal is to make you feel left out, like you’re the only one who hasn’t been shown the “magic jelly bean” that will eradicate all those all those communication challenges that stand between your organization and donations, new members and advocacy actions.

However, if you shut out the clamor and look dispassionately at the communication hurdles that confront you, it’s not at all clear that New Media is delivering on its promise. New Media—for the most part—has dramatically increased the numbers and types of contact you can make with your members and potential donors. However, this tsunami of messages has not resulted in a dramatic increase in connections. If anything, a lot of us are tired of getting impersonal emails, boilerplate attachments and one-dimensional texts and tweets. Of course, if you aren’t connecting with your members and prospects, you are unlikely to have much success.

Let us review four standard communications challenges and focus on how choosing the appropriate new media messaging tool can have a remarkably powerful effect.

Solicitations—Drop off in responses from email blasts

For a brief window, email seemed like a fundraiser’s dream messaging service. You could make them quickly, send them out to 10 or 10,000 prospects with the click of a button and rest assured that you’d drive some funding your way. Of course, the open rates have fallen dramatically, and even more troubling, the recipients aren’t inspired to act even when they do open the emails. Click-through rates—the percentage of recipients on your list who take action (by clicking a link embedded in the body of the email)—are low and stagnant.

The challenge is finding a way—in that critical moment when the recipient has opened the email—to connect, to engage, to inspire.

A famous study—Weiss McGrath—has shown that if you can get someone to view a message that is both audio and visual; they absorb it more completely and retain it 3 to 6 times longer than just reading text or viewing pictures. This phenomenon has been highlighted by Forrester Research, which reports that you are 2 to 3 times more likely to inspire action when the message is in an audio-visual format.

However, the creation of a high-quality video is quite expensive, time-consuming and its content can go “stale” quickly. Also, videos are not customizable to address the particular needs of individual recipients or subsets of your constituency.

A new communications paradigm—voice-visual messaging—overcomes the challenges of creating and sharing traditional videos—while at the same time retaining their high-impact, powerful qualities. The growing provider—GoldMail—gives the non-technical personal the ability to create these voice-visual messages, tailor them to their audiences and share them through email or any social media.

A recent case study revealed that click-through rates in emails containing these components can be as much as 5 times greater.

The experience reflected above—which involved a national non-profit’s fundraising email appeal—is also noteworthy in that the email blast with the voice-visual message component generated 5 times the donations as the first email blast without it.


Informing—The ‘gatekeepers’ at foundations don’t tell your story effectively to the decision-maker(s)

It’s a constant challenge to “put your best foot forward” when you have to rely upon an intermediary to tell your story to the decision-makers. So often, the gatekeeper doesn’t fully understand the value proposition and/or doesn’t have the ability to communicate that value proposition effectively to the person or group that will decide on your application.

No doubt, the application guidelines typically require a lot of traditional materials—text, PowerPoints, graphs, etc. However, no matter how well written, the recipient’s eyes may begin to glaze over as she works her way through this stack of content.

Now, instead of hoping that the documents and PowerPoints will speak for themselves, a New Media tool allows you to articulate precisely why funding your particular nonprofit makes sense for the target. An audio-visual explanation will “grab” the attention of the recipient and the message will be better absorbed and retained for longer.


Spending Time Effectively—The wasted time chasing with phone calls and emails


It’s such a waste of time. You’ve sent the email, you’ve sent the brochure and maybe even a Power Point, and you’ve left the phone message, and now you’re following up. You would love to get them on the telephone, with the material you sent in front of them, and go through it together. The chances of that happening, given the demands on everyone’s schedules are very low. Further, you have no idea if the person has even read your email or listened to your voice message.

New Media can help dramatically, particularly asynchronous communications, a fancy word for a communication that doesn’t require a connection in real time. The truth is that everyone is protecting their time, and we all want to allocate it in a manner that is most convenient and effective. The result is that many of us put a premium on being able to “get up to speed” on a subject matter when it suits us best, not when it happens to work for the person seeking to impart their information to us.

The beauty of voice and visual messaging is that it allows the recipient to decide when they are ready to focus and to “get the message”.

Moreover, unlike voicemail and email—and other forms of asynchronous communication—a voice/visual message is significantly closer to a face-to-face meeting; it has a much greater impact than one-dimensional communication, and thus it has a much higher chance of “connecting” you with the recipient. Your voice —with its emotion and nuances—together with the images and documents—combine to create a message that is absorbed more fully than an email or a voicemail.

The other benefit of voice-visual communication—because it is hosted—is that the sender can know if the message was viewed, who viewed it, and how many times it was viewed.  This information is invaluable in allocating your time and effort. In the old world of email and voicemail, you’re shooting in the dark and allocating roughly the same time and resources to all prospects. In the world of voice and visual communication, your time can be properly focused on the targets that demonstrate the greatest interest in your value proposition.

Inspiring the Response—The difficulty in getting the recipient to take action

It’s axiomatic that getting that final commitment, as evidenced by swiping a credit card, writing a check or signing a petition—involves a variety of factors.  One element that is almost always critical is the emotional state of the prospect.  Have you put the prospect at ease? Have you triggered any positive feelings towards the offer or towards you as a person? Have you touched your prospect in a manner that goes beyond her intellect?

Usually, emotional connections are best made when you are in person, face-to-face with the prospect.  Obviously, great brochures and well-written emails can inspire some amount of emotional reaction. But, until the recent advent of voice visual messaging, most non-profits were without a practical tool to take advantage of all the emotional throw-weight contained in their voice and mannerisms, these hugely personal characteristic by which you are recognized and understood.

With voice-visual messaging, the recipient will hear your enthusiasm and sincerity. The recipient will “get” that you believe deeply in the proposition you are conveying, and your voice will reflect your energy and passion. Voice visual messaging gives you a good chance to be successful in making this important connection.

Editor’s note: In order to help nonprofits excel with New Media, GoldMail offers their Business Level services to all nonprofits for FREE.  Please contact blog author, David, at [email protected] if you’re interested or would like to know more.