Nathaniel Ward

How to use digital tools to make money online

Are you looking to raise money online? These four tips may be helpful:

  1. Make sure people can donate on your web site
  2. Build an effective e-​​mail program
  3. Make sure you’re mobile-​​ready
  4. Use social media to build relationships, not to drive gifts

But the number one trick to being a great online fundraiser? Assume you have no idea what actually works.

I elaborated on these points in a presentation last week at the Leadership Institute. My full slide deck is below.


Don’t try to fail. Just try.

The adage “learn from your mistakes” is a bit misleading, Mig Reyes argues. Instead of trying to fail, we should just try:

The makers of our world would be better off mimicking scientists with their work. Harp on deliberate practice. Reinvent their processes daily. Share every discovery. And most importantly, try new things often…

When everything’s an experiment, you shed the fear that comes with trying new things.

Consistent experimentation is the key to success, whether in marketing or any other field.


My presentation to Empower Action

The three most important lessons online fundraisers should keep in mind are:

  1. Don’t trust your gut instincts
  2. Test everything
  3. Always ask, “Can I do better?”

That was the message I presented last night, using examples from my work at The Heritage Foundation, at an event sponsored by Empower Action.

My full slide deck is below.


Bad data habits that make you a sloppy online marketer

It’s easy for you to fall into bad habits as an online marketer, especially when it comes to data analysis. And your decision-​​making using misunderstood data may be just as bad as your decision-​​making based on gut instinct.

The tools you’re given of of little help. They bury the useful data deep in report pages.

My e-​​mail tool, for example, will tell me how many times a fundraising message was opened or clicked. It requires more work to determine how many donations that message generated and for how much money—and those are the numbers that matter in a fundraising appeal.

Three terrible data practices make Loren McDonald’s list of a bad online marketing habits: (more…)


The real business Starbucks is in

Kevin Williamson explains Starbucks’ business model in The End Is Near And It’s Going to Be Awesome (which you should definitely buy):

New York City does not have much of a publicly financed public restroom infrastructure as such. What it has is Starbucks, a privately financed public restroom infrastructure with a very successful for-​​profit coffee chain attached to it. Maybe you don’t think of Starbucks that way, and Starbucks certainly doesn’t think of Starbucks that way, but residents of New York City apparently think of Starbucks that way.



Three lessons every online marketer can learn from Moneyball

At first blush, Moneyball has nothing at all to do with marketing. After all, it’s a book about baseball. But there are three important lessons online marketers can draw from the book.

1. Start with a clear objective, and focus all your activity on that

To ensure the Oakland As won more games than anyone else on a shoestring budget, general manager Billy Beane identified those metrics, like on-​​base percentage, most correlated with scoring runs and winning games. He then ensured his lineup included players that could get on base, and  discouraged tactics like bunting and stealing that kept players from getting on base.

Online marketers should use a similar goal-​​oriented approach. Start with your highest measurable objective (sales or brand awareness, for example), and then identify those activities (sending e-​​mails or running a particular kind of ad) and customer behaviors (like commenting or browsing a product page) most correlated with achieving that objective.

And since you no doubt have limited resources, you should focus on these activities that give you the most bang for your buck—and stop doing those things with low or even negative correlation with success. (more…)




More confirmation that young donors like to give online—but they don’t give as much

Generations X and Y are far more likely to give online, and as many Baby Boomers say they give online as via direct mail.” That’s according to a new report from Blackbaud.

The study also confirms that donors older than 49 are a better target for fundraisers: they represent 69 percent of all charitable giving. Those under 32, meanwhile, give just 11 percent of donations.