Archives for August 2009

Good Fundraising Professionals Connect Donor to Recipient

Fundraising professionals, no matter what their cause or kind, understand that they must, at some point in the fundraising stream, connect donors to the end-recipient of their giving.  Stories, testimonies and images all can work together to bring that powerful sense of gratification to donors who want their dollars to truly make a difference in the world. 

Whether you are raising funds for your local church, a street ministry or the building of hospitals overseas, those who give to you want to see how their gifts are helping.  If, as a fundraising professional, you’ve lost sight of this meaningful principle, here are some ideas to help get you back on track with the important discipline of “telling the stories.”  

1.  Use the Internet.  It’s relatively inexpensive, and you pay the same, no matter how many individuals read the testimonies you share.  Bring the faces and stories of those who are impacted right onto the pages of your website.  Make sure your storytelling is rich with images and effective words, using first person accounts whenever possible.  Let the fundraising professionals at Pathmaker Marketing help you build a website (or re-design your current one) to motivate and encourage your donors.  

2.  Provide interactive opportunities that will tell the story for you.  Are you giving your supporters interactive ways to be involved with the ministry other than giving?  Prayer is an energizing way to draw constituents in and create community.  And, it will truly strengthen your efforts!  Let us help you create a prayer area on your website using our interactive prayer walls, prayer requests function and more.  Just seeing the many heartfelt prayers that build up on the prayer wall will serve as a form of testimony that will go a long way for you, as a professional fundraiser, to encourage your stakeholders.  

We can also help you create an area on your website where both the friends of your ministry as well as those you serve can post their stories and testimonies, much like this one of Gregory Dickow Ministries and this one from Jewish Voice.  These accounts will help strengthen the link between donor and recipient as readers see the impact of their giving.

Check back for my next blog post to read two more great ways you can strengthen your efforts as a professional fundraiser by telling the powerful stories of your ministry or group. 

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The Secret to Targeting Keywords

The secret to targeting keywords on your business, church or non profit website is this: research. 

Many people think they just need to build their website, and search engines will lead people to your doors or online store. Those who take time to optimize their homepage for their business, church or non profit name may also be missing the search engine bus. And the keywords you think might bring the most people to your site may not work at all!

So what’s a website manager to do? Targeting Keywords through thorough research is essential.

Start by thinking about the keywords and terms you would enter into a search engine to find your competitors’ rather than your own site. Compile a short list of targeting keywords, and then actually look them up in your favorite search engine to see what kinds of results these keywords return in a search.

Next, get some help growing your targeting keywords. This is where some online tools can help by suggesting targeting keywords that pertain to words you feed the online tool. One good tool is Word tracker, which offers a free trial period for their subscription service. Google also offers a good free keyword research tool. Whether you choose a free or subscription tool, you can enter words into the tool and get back suggested targeting keywords for your optimization efforts. The benefit to a fee-based system is that you also get a more robust set of analytical tools, and a better idea of how competitive the targeting keywords are.

And that’s the next bit of research you need to do: find out how competitive the targeting keywords are. The free Google tool will give you some of this data, like Global Monthly Volume and estimate Cost Per Click charges, (both indicators of probable competitiveness) but subscription based services will give you a more in-depth analysis. This step is important because different combinations of words can be less competitive than the ones with which you initially start. This will make a significant difference in getting your site listed in the top 10 search results.

Once you’ve thoroughly searched your list of targeting keywords, then you’re ready to start optimizing various pages of your website for each keyword. 

If this all sounds like a tedious process to you … well, it can be. Pathmaker Marketing LLC is here to help you find the right targeting keywords and put those words into your site in just the right places and combinations to get higher listings in search engines. Give us a call at 623-322-3334 to help you get your targeting keywords process down.

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Keyword Marketing Will Get Visitors to Your Website

The simple definition of keyword marketing is that it is a process of getting your message in front of people who are searching websites such as Google, Yahoo or Bing with words and phrases that match the words and phrases found on your website. 

The reason to do keyword marketing is that you will get more people to your website who are (1) inclined to do business with you and (2) are looking for someone with whom to do business online. In short, keyword marketing brings qualified people to you website, and when you put in the appropriate systems to convert visitors to assets, you should see increased income from your website as a result of keyword marketing. 

But keyword marketing can mean different things to different people. Someone specializing in search engine optimization (SEO) might say it’s a process of getting the right words and phrases on the pages of your website. Someone specializing in ad buying, the process involves buying ads on the sites of search engines or other sites that attract people who are pre-disposed to do business with your type of organization.

For Pathmaker Marketing LLC, Keyword Marketing is a service we provide our clients that involves five elements of search engine marketing:

  1. SEO
  2. Link Building, globally, locally and in authoritative sites such as Wikipedia
  3. Social and professional networking
  4. Pay Per Click Advertising
  5. Blogging


The first step we take is to carefully select your keywords. That involves conversations with you to determine what types of words we should look for and then to discuss our list of choices with you. We do extensive research to find the right words, and we run the words through a difficulty ranker to make sure we choose the words and phrases that not only describe your business but also will be the easiest to get you listed into the top 10 search results.

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Choosing the Right Words Crucial to Good Email Fundraising

The professionals at Pathmaker Marketing live to assist our clients with their email fundraising.   We understand the delicate relationship between ministries and their donors, and we’ve learned the importance of selecting just the right words in every part of an email fundraising strategy.  We recommend that your words align not only with the brand identity of your organization, they must also communicate clearly to your constituents that you understand them.  Words and messaging can go a long way to show donors that you and they are on the same page.

In his newest book, Axiom, Bill Hybels’ opening parry focuses on the importance of words.  He describes the angst he experiences as he seeks just the right word, phrase or tagline for a point in a sermon, conversation or campaign.  He goes into great detail to explain that when it comes to words, you have to get it right!

The truth is, leaders rise and fall by the language they use.  Sometimes whole visions live or die on the basis of the words the leader chooses for articulating that vision.
–Bill Hybels, Founding Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church in Axiom:  Powerful Leadership Proverbs

Good email fundraising will show understanding and sensitivity to the values, priorities and lifestyle of donors–and you demonstrate this by the choice of words you use.  If you fail in this, you let down the very people whose support you are seeking to engender.  Answering the following questions will help you choose well in your messages to donors.

Reflect Your Donors’ Values in Your Email Fundraising:  What are the key values of your constituents?  Do you know which things they hold dearest?  And why they are drawn to your organization?  Is there a values niche that you serve that is unique?  Do your messages communicate these values clearly?  Most Christian ministries work hard to show they are morally clean and untainted.  What other dearly-held values do your constituents have?  Patriotism? Social activism?  When it comes to your email fundraising, don’t waste words on things that are not valued by your donors.

Reflect Your Donors’ Priorities in Your Email Fundraising:  What are the highest priorities of your constituents?  Are they family-oriented?  Prayer warriors?  Ardent for missions?  Whatever their priorities, your words must communicate that you understand the priorities that guide their lives.

Show You Understand Your Donors’ Lifestyles in Your Email Fundraising:  Do your donors tend to have active lifestyles?  Are they Internet savvy?  Tuned in to contemporary Christian music?  Are they pinching every penny, or do they have a little financial breathing room?  As you consider ways to use email for your fundraising efforts, you can reflect the lifestyle choices of your backers as you communicate with them, choosing words wisely.

The extra effort you put into choosing just the right words for every part of your email fundraising strategy will go a long way to show them that you understand them and their concerns.  This connection will strengthen their willingness to give.

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Small Business Marketing Strategies to Winning Website Visibility

If your website isn’t getting the traffic you hope for, maybe you’ve not properly optimized it to be found by search engines. Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important step for getting your website listed in the top 10 search engine listings when someone is searching for a keyword that applies to your business. That makes SEO a key small business marketing strategy for you to consider.

Here are some tips I picked up from SEOMoz, specialists in this field.

The first step is to know the keywords that will get your website listed. Pathmaker Marketing LLC is a solid online fundraising company and non profit consultant that does extensive research for our clients. We first identify the keywords that could apply (the list is always quite long), then we get the client’s input, then we run them through a difficulty ranker. The difficulty ranker helps us determine which keywords will be the easiest for us to get a higher listing for on our client’s behalf. We can help you with this step. Give us a call at 623-322-3334 to see if there’s a fit.

Once you know your keywords, then you can begin the process of optimizing your site. Here are some important elements.

HTML Tags – the most important one to use is the <TITLE> tag. Optimize every page of your site for a different keyword. Be sure to use the keywords near the front of the <TITLE> tag for the page you are optimizing. Also, while using the Meta Description won’t get you a higher ranking, it will show under the title of the page in search results, so be sure to write a good description.

URL – if you can, get your keyword in the URL of the page. Shorter URLs work best, so don’t hide your page behind lots of directories (example: www.yourbusiness.com/page is better than www.yourbusiness.com/directory1/directory2/page.

Body Copy – be sure to use your keywords two to three times on shorter pages and four to six times on longer pages, and get at least one of those occurrences in the first 50-100 words. Use the keywords in a context that makes sense. You can also use variations of the phrase throughout the copy. Use the <H1> tag for your headline rather than an image or just making the size of the text bigger. Use <ALT> tags (using your keyword) for images, and try to name images using the keyword. It wouldn’t hurt to put the keyword in bold/italics at least once, but this only helps a little.

Linking – link to pages within your site (and make the click-through depth shallow), and do your best to get other sites to link to you. When you do, ask if you can provide the appropriate text. This small business marketing strategy will often mean you’ll need to do reciprocal links. Don’t be afraid of that – just open the link up in a new window so people won’t lose your website, but don’t make the link any more prominent than necessary.

Social Networking – have social and professional networking accounts, and link to your site from them. Work to get followers/friends in your accounts.

According to SEOMoz, here is the weight of the various factors considered in search engine optimization. Take them into consideration and make them part of your small business marketing strategies.

  • Trust/authority of your domain – 23.87%
  • Link popularity of specific pages – 22.33%
  • Anchor text of external links to specific pages – 20.26%
  • On-Page keyword usage – 15.04%
  • Registration and hosting data – 6.91%
  • Traffic and Click Through Ratio (CTR) data – 6.29%
  • Social graph metrics (the popularity of your site in social networks) – 5.30%

A good graphic and blog post from SEOMoz that illustrates this topic further can be seen and read here:

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Business Marketing Promotion Online

After you’ve made your masterpiece of a website, the next thing to do is get people there. And then you’ll want to convert them to assets such as lists, leads, sales and donations. Business marketing promotion online consists of five basic elements. All require some level of online marketing expertise that professional fundraisers offer. One excellent online marketing professional and non profit consultant you may want to contact is Pathmaker Marketing LLC.

The five elements of a complete business marketing online promotion plan, particularly as it relates to search engine marketing, are outlined below.

Blogging to win organic search

Many people have blogs, but you need one that is a workhorse to help you achieve your business objectives. Pathmaker Marketing uses a Premier Blogging Service that leverages each of your blog posts into several others. It’s keyword-oriented, meaning you identify the keywords that best relate to what you do, whittle those down to the ones that will be the easiest to get you into a top 10 ranking in search engines, and then really focus on blog posts that use your keywords. The advantage of the tool Pathmaker Marketing uses is that it automatically posts to several of your keyword blogs, giving you more content in your blog and more links back to your website. This makes your site easier for search engines to find. No other blogging tool works as hard for you as this one.

Link Building

Getting websites to link back to yours is essential for getting search engines to list you in the top 10 results on keywords that relate to you. You want national links, authoritative links, “deep” links and local links. It’s a manual process of submitting your site to directories, getting yourself into sites like Wikipedia and finding other websites to link to you. Pathmaker Marketing offers fundraising services that will help you build your links efficiently.

Social & Professional Media

There’s more to having a social media account that works for you than simply opening up an account in Facebook, Linkedin or some other professional site. You need to open the account appropriately so you can develop business content and link backs to your website. If you don’t set it up right, you could get limited value from your social and professional networds. Once you have the account set up properly, then you can increase the number of links back to your website, and you can auto flow blog posts through these account. It all adds up to increased visibility.

Pay Per Click Advertising

This is a good way to jump start your website’s traffic. You advertise on sites like Google using your keywords. You develop dedicated landing pages for these keyword ads so that people see the appropriate content when they click on a specific ad. Dedicated landing pages also help you measure how well your ad is working for you. And they give you a way to collect the information you need to build your email list and get sales or donations. You only pay for these ads when someone clicks on your ad.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This involves having the right content on specific pages so that when someone does a search using one of your keywords, they get directed to your page. You should optimize many pages on your site using different keywords. Pathmaker Marketing uses a tool that helps measure how effective your content is for a specific keyword.

Call 623-322-3334 to schedule a free consultation with Pathmaker Marketing, or click here to visit the website.

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How a Search Engine Optimization Agency Can Help Your Non Profit Website

Before I began working for a search engine optimization agency, I wasn’t really sure how to get qualified traffic to the non profit website for which I was responsible a few years ago. I’d heard larger organizations were raising significant funds online, and I could see that the site I managed was at least as professional looking as the others (albeit smaller), but the art and science of bringing qualified traffic to the site (and then converting them to assets) was a mystery to me.

If you’re in a similar situation, I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned while working in a search engine optimization agency.

First, remember that search engine optimization, or SEO as professional online fundraisers like to call it, is indeed both an art and a science. It isn’t enough to have a killer website design or to write witty and professional text. Search engines look for keywords for which people are searching, and you need to have those keywords in all the right places – not too many times and not too few times. 

Just one example of a common mistake that a search engine optimization agency can help yo overcome is making sure you don’t put headlines into graphics. When you do, you’re giving up opportunities for your headlines to help get you into the top 10 listings for searches that apply to your content. Content trumps design when it comes to search engine optimization. 

Pathmaker Marketing uses a tool for professional web developers to help clients analyze and implement strategies that (1) identify the best keywords for your organization to target and (2) get those keywords into all the right places on your site so you show up in the top 10 results of searches in major search engines on those keywords.

But that’s only one of the ways a search engine optimization agency can help your non profit website. SEO should be part of an overall Search Engine Marketing strategy that includes optimizing the site, developing a targeted-keyword blog, building strategic links to and from your site, strategically using social media accounts and and implementing a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaign.

You can call Pathmaker Marketing at 623-233-3334 to schedule an appointment to discuss how a search engine optimization agency can get your non profit website consistently into the top 10 results for searches on keywords that apply to you – thus turning your site into a much more significant player in your overall fundraising efforts.

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Understanding Why Donors Give

As professional fundraisers, we seek to connect donors with ministries that satisfy their need to give to people, causes and organizations.

Nine years ago, I stumbled in to the arena of Christian marketing and fundraising for nonprofits when I took a job with a Christian marketing and fundraising agency.  Active in ministry my entire adult life, I was looking to supplement our income as my firstborn launched to private Christian college.  This new job presented me with a steep learning curve, new vocabulary and challenging tasks.  I quickly found, however, that the things we were doing for our clients as a fundraising company were not that different from what I’d been doing for years throughout church and para-church involvement.

I began my career as a professional fundraiser decades ago when I joined the staff of Youth for Christ and was immediately responsible for raising 100% of my salary, expenses and benefits.  The need for a regular paycheck will make a willing professional fundraiser out of the most reluctant letter writer!

I quickly learned what any good fundraising company will teach—that folks love to give to people, causes and organizations that are important to them.  In my case, the person, Meagan Gillan, was the appeal for one segment of donors.  These people would probably have supported me if I was hand-raising panda bear cubs in the Chinese rainforest.  They were behind me and wanted to let me know as much with their gifts and support.

For another group, the gifts and donations were targeted at a cause—ministry to a cottage of juvenile delinquent girls in a locked state institution.  For a variety of reasons, their heartstrings were pulled when they learned of the plight of these girls who, though guilty of bad choices, were victims of bad family situations, bad economics and other circumstances beyond their control.  These donors wanted to help girls know Jesus and gain skills that would help them when they were released from the institution.

A third group gave because they believed in and wanted to be associated with the organization.  Youth for Christ had already piled up decades of relevant, Gospel-focused ministry to millions of youth.  These givers were glad that I was serving a particular group of girls in a specific institution, but they were particularly pleased (and willing to give) because they knew and loved the organization with which I served.  Trust was a given.

That innocuous beginning has led to a lifetime of helping people live in to their God-ordained need to give.  I’ve had up-close experience with several fundraising companies, and remain in awe, with many fundraising professionals, of the extraordinary faithfulness of the family of God as they pump billions of dollars of charitable giving into the human efforts that advance God’s Kingdom on earth.  It never ceases to amaze me.

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