It’s round up time in the NFG corral! Mosey on over and check out this week’s best nonprofit resources and recommended reads.
I’m happy to share the current campaigns at the top of the Recurring Giving Challenge leaderboard.
There are organizations of every type and size leading the pack of campaigns with the most new monthly donors as well as the largest increase in their monthly giving program.
The one thing that they all have in common?
They’ve made offering monthly giving options and asking for sustaining gifts a top priority.
Need some help making the case for monthly giving at your organization? Download our free Monthly Giving Basics fact sheet which includes a quick checklist on getting your monthly giving program off the ground. Also: time’s running out to join the Recurring Giving Challenge, so be sure to sign up and learn how your nonprofit could be eligible for a share of $10K in Challenge Rewards.Recurring Giving Challenge Leaderboard as of March 23:
With so many resources to read and review, keeping up with nonprofit marketing and fundraising insight can be a little overwhelming. Never fear, we’ve collected the cream of the crop in this week’s round up.
How do you track your donors? Do you love it? Share your feedback in this quick survey. Your input will help Network for Good provide more great resources to nonprofits just like yours!
Search engine optimization can be complex, but David Hartstein shares 7 Easy Fixes to Get Your Nonprofit Ranking Higher on Google via John Haydon’s Blog
Take your email appeals to the next level with the magic of storytelling. Our friend Vanessa Chase will show you how in our next webinar, Telling Stories Through Email: How to Write Appeals that Rock! Be sure to reserve your seat for this one.
Image: Roland Godefroy
“When the new antenna went live, you’d swear that Dizzy Gillespie was playing right next to you.”
I can easily visualize this scene—and hear it. Can you?
In fact, this appeal excerpt from WBGO (New York City’s premier jazz radio station) made the listening-enriching value of the station’s new antenna crystal clear—by showing, not telling.
Compare this with the way another station introduced its new antenna:
The Windcall Institute is dedicated to nurturing and developing resilient leadership among community and labor organizers engaged in the work of social justice in low-income communities and communities of color.
Their programs bring community organizers together to reflect and renew their energy to go back out and do good work. The organization is based in Oakland, California, but has programs across the country.
As part of the Recurring Giving Challenge, I received a message from Holly Fincke, Windcall Institute’s Executive Director since 2006. Windcall is a Network for Good client and Holly was looking forward to seeing the Challenge leaderboard so she’d know what they were up against! I love Holly’s enthusiasm! She was also generous enough to share about Windcall’s plans to boost monthly giving.
Network for Good: Tell us a bit about your existing monthly donors.
Holly Fincke: We were already thinking of launching a monthly giving campaign, so this was great timing for us. We have a handful of existing sustainers, including our board members and a few others. We do an online campaign every fall where we reach out to the alumni of the program and ask them to share our appeal with their networks.
Windcall does have a core group of loyal donors that give year after year. When you go through the experience of our programs, it’s really transformative, so we find that our alumni are inspired to give back.
NFG: What is your strategy for your monthly giving campaign?
HF: We’re kicking off a two week campaign starting March 16 through April 3 focused on bringing our loyal donors in as sustainers.
For this campaign, we wanted to target consistent givers (our alumni, allied members). To reach them, we’re rolling up our sleeves and our board is calling 10 donors each.
One of our major donors has offered up a double match for monthly donations. So, if someone makes a sustaining gift, that yearly amount will be doubled. We approached the major donor for a match. Most major donors want to see their contribution leveraged to the fullest, and they get that we are trying to build our donor list and a predictable stream of donations.
Major donors and sustainers are special and both deserve special treatment. We send something special to these groups each quarter. For example, one of our residents wrote a poem that we sent to the donors. This allowed those supporters to remember and relive the experience they had. When you talk to alumni about supporting future participants, it helps to say, “someone you know applied, someone from your state applied.” Programs that have alumni from them have a built-in advantage. Alumni want to give back because they know better than anyone the benefits.
We will also send an email to our general list, but our focus is on those core donors. Our match and the Network for Good prize money will help motivate people to act.
Another Friday the 13th? Never fear! There’s nothing scary about these blogs, events, and resources that rose to the top this week.
Our friends at Social Media for Nonprofits kick off their new monthly Twitter chat today at 1pm ET. This month’s session focuses on measuring social media for the most impact. Follow along with the hashtag #SM4NPChat. via Social Media for Nonprofits
Brady Josephson nicely summarizes why your landing pages might be confusing your donors. via re:charity
We’re all about monthly giving here at Network for Good with our Recurring Giving Challenge in full swing. You can still sign up, so you probably want to go do that now. Need a nudge? Get the scoop on why a monthly giving program can mean so much for your fundraising plans.
Peer-to-peer fundraising—also known as personal fundraising, social fundraising, or simply P2P—happens when nonprofits empower supporters to raise money on their organization’s behalf. These types of campaigns allow causes to extend their reach far beyond their core network, raising awareness and attracting new donors.
The power of peer giving is hard to ignore. At Network for Good, the volume of dollars and number of donations going to nonprofits through these social fundraising campaigns has grown significantly over the last few years. As we become more connected with each other through mobile technology and social media, it’s easier to leverage our networks (and the ease of giving online) to raise money on behalf of the causes we love.
How do you know if your organization is ready for a peer-to-peer campaign? Here are five things to consider:
You have a solid online fundraising program in place.
Before branching out, nail the basics first. You’ll have a sense for what works and what doesn’t, plus you’ll have many of the tools in place that you’ll need for a successful social fundraising effort. You must have a donor-friendly way to accept online donations for all donors, every day. You also want to make sure you’re getting the most from your email marketing, social media, and your other communications channels to support your outreach.
When you’ve mastered the fundamentals, you can expand your online fundraising scope to include different types of social fundraising campaigns.
You have 5-10 passionate advocates you could recruit to raise funds on your behalf.
Before adding peer-to-peer fundraising to your mix, think about the core group of supporters you will activate to become fundraisers for your cause. You may have more than 10 (which would be amazing), but having a handful of folks you know you can turn to will help get your campaign off the ground. Consider inviting these key advocates to join in the early planning of the campaign to ensure they’re even more invested. If you don’t have a list of ambassadors that comes to mind, spend time cultivating those relationships now.
Have two minutes? Please tell us what you’re doing to strengthen donor relationships and/or what’s in your way. Thanks!
You have some fantastic fundraiser peers. Kudos to all of you who generously shared your path to stronger donor relationships or boldly put out there what’s getting in your way!
Here’s how one fundraiser is switching it up to build stronger donor relationships:
It’s likely that most of your nonprofit’s individual giving comes from donors who are Baby Boomers or older. So, why should you care about Millennials now?
Young supporters represent the leading edge of technology adoption and online behavior, and this behavior actually influences how other age groups interact with your cause. If you want to know where donor engagement and digital giving are heading, look to Millennials to understand how all generations are evolving online. Of course, Millennials are also active donors, advocates, nonprofit staff, and volunteers in their own right.
That’s why Network for Good teamed up with Kari Saratovsky, Chief Engagement Officer of Third Plateau Strategies and co-author of Cause for Change: The Why and How of Nonprofit Millennial Engagement, to create The Millennial Donor Playbook, a quick guide to attracting and retaining young donors, volunteers, and advocates for your organization.
The playbook is meant to guide your nonprofit fundraising and marketing efforts as you think about how to engage young supporters (while you do all the other stuff on your task list).
Download your copy of the guide to learn:
• Why Millennials may be your cause’s secret weapon
• How to inspire these supporters to become recurring givers, advocates, and peer fundraisers for your mission
• Tips for optimizing your social channels and communicating with young donors
BONUS: We’re lucky enough to welcome Kari for a free Nonprofit 911 webinar this Thursday, March 12, at 1pm ET. Register now to reserve your spot and find out how to make the most of the Millennials in your midst. (Can’t attend? Register anyway and we’ll send you the slides and a recording of the session.)
[Editor’s Note: We’re pleased to share our latest blog post in the Recurring Giving Challenge series. Today’s piece is courtesy of Erica Waasdorp, President, A Direct Solution, Author of Monthly Giving. The Sleeping Giant. Her second book on monthly giving is expected to be published later this year. ]
One of my favorite breakfasts is the Big-To-Do at Friendly’s. French toast, scrambled eggs, and bacon well-done! I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!
While this is not breakfast, it’s even more important to ‘enjoy’. So, if you’re serious about your monthly giving program, make sure that you follow these 5 Big To-Dos.Big To-Do 1: Ask for Small Monthly Amounts
I have done a number of ask amount tests and time and again, I see that the low monthly ask amounts beat the higher monthly ask amounts
The key with any monthly giving program is that you’re building up the program and your goal is to bring in as many new monthly donors as possible. Once they get ‘hooked’ and see how easy and affordable it on for their wallet, you can absolutely upgrade them later!
Remember that monthly donors are typically those donors who cannot write the big checks. You can start your first ask as low as $5 or $10. You really can upgrade donors later. Just think of it this way. If you can convert a one-time $35 donor to a $10 a month donor, you’ve just tripled their annual gift to a nice $120 a year! So don’t be too greedy at first… Ask Low!Big To-Do 2: Organize the Basics
Before you send out your first promotion, you must have the basics in place. That means writing the thank you letter, updating the email thank you, the auto-responder message and make sure that everybody in your organization knows that you have this new monthly donor program in place.
Also make sure that you always, always, test the process yourself. So sign up with a gift and see what happens. How’s the experience, how does everything look? I’ve seen huge organizations that did not do that and their thank you emails were totally wrong! What a way to lose a new monthly donor.
Monthly donors do not need monthly thank you letters each time their gift is processed. They’re rather you spend the funds on your mission. But do consider a tax letter every January with information about the donor’s donations for the year. Make sure you have written the procedure for your data-entry department. And think through the process for what happens if someone’s card expires. You can download a free sample tax letter template and sample email from A Direct Solution, and download free Recurring Donor Communication Templates from Network for Good.
Just take a little extra time to think through the process before you think about your marketing and you don’t have to worry about it later. You can market to your heart’s content because everything is in place!
We have had a blast at the 2015 Nonprofit Technology conference in Austin, Texas! Today’s Link Round Up features links we’ve collected this week at #15NTC:
This morning five of my colleagues and I are flying to Austin, Texas for the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC)! We’re looking forward to learning, networking, and enjoying all that Austin has to offer.
If you will be in Austin, or if you’re attending NTC virtually, we’d love to meet you! Here are some ways to get in touch with the Network for Good team at NTC:
If you haven’t joined Network for Good’s Recurring Giving Challenge yet, now is the perfect time to sign up. We’ve extended the challenge period through April 30th, so you have plenty of time to create the perfect campaign and recruit more monthly donors. Learn more about how you can win a share of $10K in Challenge Rewards and sign up now.
Once you’ve set up a monthly giving program that’s easy to understand and simple to join, there are many ways to ask supporters to join as sustaining donors. But you gotta ask. Here are four things to keep in mind when asking for recurring donations.1. Make It a First Priority.
Get in the habit of inviting your community to become monthly donors. Whenever you ask for donations—on your website, in your email appeals, or a direct mail letter—ask first for a monthly gift, instead of just a onetime gift. When a donor is deciding on a donation amount, ask, “Would you like to make this a monthly gift?” It’s the fundraising equivalent of “supersizing” the order, with fewer calories and a way better outcome.
UNICEF USA makes monthly giving the first thing you see on their home page. They reinforce the ask with a reminder that the needs they address are ongoing.
Remember: small gifts add up, so always think about the annual contribution and not just the monthly installment. Focus on getting your donors into your program with a realistic and easy-to-swallow amount. Erica Waasdorp, author of Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant, offers this advice on setting your initial monthly ask amount for entry-level donors: start with your average onetime gift and start your ask at about a third of that. If your average single donation is $35, set your first monthly gift level at $10 (an ideal starting point), then bump up the ask to $15, $20, $35, etc. (Note: be sure to tailor your gift strings and appeals for different segments of your list. Donors who are giving a larger average one-time gift should be presented with larger monthly gift options that reflect their level of support.)
What amazing resources are floating around the web this week? Here’s a sampling of good stuff that rose to the top of the inbox.
Something you need right now: Kivi Leroux Miller shares an amazing list of 25 interview questions what will help you write better stories about your volunteers and the people you serve. via Nonprofit Marketing Guide
What’s the Purpose of a Thank You Letter? Simone Joyaux shares two examples and her wisdom on getting donor gratitude right. via Nonprofit Quarterly
Charitable giving can’t stop, won’t stop. That’s according to new research from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Ok, perhaps I’m oversimplifying this, but I was definitely pleased to read the Philanthropy Outlook which projects steady growth for giving in the U.S. over the next two years. Individual giving is expected to grow by 4.4% in 2015. Read the full report for the complete view. via Marts & Lundy
Yes, to all of this: Joe Garecht shares Smart Online Fundraising Strategies. via Fundraising Authority
What good is a monthly giving program if no one can learn more about how it will help further your mission? This week’s Recurring Giving Challenge lesson is all about highlighting your monthly giving program on your website. For the full lesson, sign up for the Challenge (and learn how you can win your share of $10K in prizes!). Here are a few highlights from a few stellar Network for Good clients (click on the images to see the full pages):On Your Donation Page Urban Tilth
The folks at Urban Tilth, a community agriculture group that supports a more sustainable, healthy, and just local food system in Northern California, has a strong monthly giving program, which they feature on a dedicated recurring giving page. This donation page speaks to why monthly gifts are important to their mission and streamlines giving options to reinforce the purpose of this campaign.
Bonus: Urban Tilth also has a nice call out for their monthly giving program and why it matters on their “Ways to Give” page.
If you’re focused on getting new monthly donors, send your supporters to a dedicated page just for monthly giving, like this one from Peace Over Violence. Sustainers can clearly see their recurring gift options and opt to receive a special gift, all on one page.
Tri-County Partners Habitat for Humanity
Tri-County Partners Habitat for Humanity does a great job of featuring their focus on monthly giving on their website and their donation page. This organization frames the impact of monthly gifts and offers suggested donation amounts to make it easy for donors to set up a monthly gift that is meaningful.
Wildlife SOS won the Recurring Gift category during Network for Good’s #GivingTuesday campaign. It’s easy to see why when they so eloquently share how their mission is powered by sustaining gifts.
What could be better than helping adorable cats and dogs? Helping them every month, of course. Austin Pets Alive! dedicates this page to their Constant Companion Club and clearly outlines what each giving level can do.
Great work by all of these organizations! How are you featuring monthly giving on your website and donation pages? Share your ideas in the comments below, and don’t miss out on the Recurring Giving Challenge!
When Heather Yandow of Third Space Studios presented an insightful Nonprofit911 webinar earlier this year she shared some data collected from nonprofits to create the Individual Donor Benchmark Report (IDBR). Our ears perked up: a well-researched report documenting individual donor benchmarks for nonprofits with a budget size under $2 million?! We had to learn more!
Heather and I chatted about the valuable discoveries that can be found in your very own database. Read on to learn the most surprising thing she learned from the 2013 data (hint: it has to do with significant jump in online giving) and find out the two big fundraising opportunities that nonprofits should start investing in ASAP.
The Recurring Giving Challenge offers fundraising campaign resources, expert-led training, and rewards for the online fundraising platform’s nonprofit community.
It’s round up time again and I’m excited to share the expertise and resources from our colleagues in the sector—and beyond. It might be freezing here in DC, but I promise: these links are hot.
If men are from Mars, what does that do to their willingness to donate to causes? New research from Stanford University sheds some light on how to overcome the gender gap in giving. via Stanford (and more on this from The Chronicle of Philanthropy)
Storytelling. Expert tips. Getting smarter while staying toasty warm in your sweats and PJs? Where do we sign up? Don’t miss the
Storytelling Non-Profit Virtual Conference, starting on Monday, February 23. via The Storytelling Non-Profit.
Want a fun way to expand your donor base? (Who doesn’t, right?) Trish McFarland, the Executive Director of the YWCA of Spokane, shares her experience with a new approach in this video clip. via Movie Mondays
We know you party like a rock star, but do you write like one? Here’s how to craft readable, believable, and inspiring copy for your spokespeople. via M+R
That’s it for this week. What’s on your reading list? Share your favorite links in the comments below!
Surprising, distressing, but all too true! According to findings released in the 2015 Nonprofit Communications Report, one of your greatest challenges to fundraising effectiveness is the difference in priorities and perspectives held by you (a fundraiser) and your key colleagues—your executive director and communications colleagues.
If you aren’t familiar with Lynne Wester’s work in donor relations, you are missing out. Last year she presented an amazing webinar (one of our highest attended!) on donor relations and ever since then I’ve been hooked on the topic of donor relations and Lynne’s wise words on this important work that many fundraisers don’t (unfortunately) know much about.
Since the webinar, Lynne has published a book, The 4 Pillars of Donor Relations. It’s a great resource for any fundraiser who wants to increase their donor retention rate (aka everyone).
I did a quick Q&A with Lynne so you could understand what the book is all about.