The key to a successful year end campaign? Start by giving.

News | November 29, 2018

By: John Doyle, Partner, Doyle McDonald

Eighty years ago this month, Hal Roach released The Little Rascals 148th—and arguably most important—short comedy film, “Pay as You Exit.” That old film literally holds the secret to successful 21st-century communication: It is better to give THEN receive. This simple advice will help you with your organization’s final year-end charitable-deduction campaign.

The plot of “Pay as You Exit” is simple: in order to attract an audience to their production of Romeo and Juliette, Alfalfa offers free admission and tells the audience to “pay as they exit” if they enjoyed the performance. Predictably, the show is a disastrous hit and people paid as they exited. And it is precisely that simple formula that is separating the online communication winners from the losers, particularly among nonprofits.

Organizations that give away valuable proprietary content online know that they are attracting the attention of people who are interested in their key issues. And they also know that some percentage of the folks they attract will be willing to exchange their email address for a deeper dive into their organization’s content pool.

And those email addresses are the key to an organization’s success because once someone freely gives you their email address, you have initiated a dialogue with someone who has told you that they care about your cause … and they want to learn more.

Most people today understand that when they give their email they are very likely going to be put on a list and that they are going to be hearing from you very soon—probably very often. So they aren’t going to part with that valuable information lightly. You are going to need to barter for it with information that has genuine value to them.

This is one of those rare instances that association foundations have somewhat of a distinct advantage over other nonprofits: many foundations have ready access to decades’ worth of proprietary information that sits behind a membership paywall. While it’s true that your sister association isn’t going to just tear down the paywall to help with your campaign, there are a number of resources that they would likely contribute to the cause, such as recently expired industry reports, helpful articles from industry publications, and lists of helpful web resources. The content opportunities are limited only by your imagination and the willingness of your association partners to cooperate.

To enhance your chances of success, give away as much information as you can. If you do, you will not only attract those interested in your topic to your helpful, free platform, but you will also develop a reputation as the go-to resource on your issue. If you’re content is as good as you think it is, you’ll have plenty of people paying as they exit … and possibly even more after they tell their friends about your amazing site.

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