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Peer Pressure for Good

After I read this article in Chronicle of Philanthropy and this one in the Huffington Post, I couldn’t get this song out of my head. “Under pressure…” Queen’s lyrics aren’t really describing the type of pressure featured in either of these articles, but the main theme is clear: Pressure changes things—it makes action happen.

What kind of pressure does a fundraiser need to use? Peer pressure. Peer pressure can make action happen. Here’s how: We are strongly influenced by our family, friends, and networks. When someone we know makes it clear that they support an organization or when we see them volunteering or donating, we are more likely to do so too.

The Millennial Impact Study found evidence of this in its research, specifically in how peer pressure affects workplace giving. Younger donors are more likely to be influenced to give by their colleagues and peers and not by those in leadership.

“Nearly half of the young people surveyed for the 2015 Millennial Impact Report said they were likely to donate if a coworker asked them to, while only a fifth said they’d probably do so at the request of their companies’ chief executives. Sixty-five percent of millennials said they were more likely to volunteer if their coworkers participated, while 44 percent said they were more likely to if their supervisor participated.”

A study featured in the June 2015 issue of the Economic Journal found that the average donation on a social fundraising page pressures donors to align their gifts with what seems to be the norm.

“[C]ontributors were more likely to give bigger sums when the average donation spiked, and their decisions had little to do with their feelings about the cause.”

How can fundraising professionals leverage peer pressure for good? Here are a few ways:

  • Try social fundraising. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to host an event to launch a social fundraising campaign. Social fundraising is simply empowering your supporter base to fundraise on your behalf. Social fundraising is also known as peer-to-peer fundraising, P2P, or personal fundraising. When you equip your supporters to raise money on your behalf, you’ll not only expand your donor base, you’ll also create a deeper bond with those who serve as social fundraisers. Win-win!

  • Be sure your donation pages include a sharing feature. Make it easy for donors to spread the word about your organization. After donors give through Network for Good donation pages, nonprofits can draft suggested tweets, email text, and more, and all the donor has to do is hit “share.”

The Secrets of Social Fundraising Success

The Two Absolute Requirements for #GivingTuesday Success

When I’m not wearing heels, I’m all of 5’1” tall. I like to think of myself as “small but mighty” and I have developed a bit of an independent streak. (This might also be due to the fact that I was born on the 4th of July.) I feel this urge to prove to myself and the world that I am capable of tackling even the most herculean tasks … all by myself. Dragging an area rug into the office for an upcoming conference? Easy. Loading a U-Haul van full of furniture and a big screen television? No sweat. (Ok, maybe a little sweat.)

I’m mostly proud of my independent nature, but it all comes down to balance. By being a DIYer, I sometimes miss the opportunity to tap into the rich support and expertise that I have in my network of friends and colleagues.

Unfortunately, this is also what many organizations fail to do when planning events or considering new initiatives. But tapping into your network and empowering your people is how the magic happens (especially with big fundraising events like #GivingTuesday). Even if you are a small and mighty nonprofit who is used to doing things on your own, let’s agree to do it differently this year. It might feel a little uncomfortable, but it’s time to get out of your comfort zone. There are two things you absolutely must do for a truly successful #GivingTuesday campaign:

Identify your team and activate your community.

Even if you are the smallest organization, it is so important to consider the collective impact of your network and the expertise you can tap. A strong team with a dedicated leader will help you organize your efforts and move your campaign forward. These champions may be your staff, or they may be volunteers, board members, or other partners. And, without a passionate and active community, the energy and contagious enthusiasm of a great #GivingTuesday campaign is quickly lost. Beyond technology, your marketing message, or your fundraising goal, you simply cannot succeed without these two key pieces.

There are 153 days until #GivingTuesday. Now is the time to create a plan for identifying your team and activating your community. Need some help? Download the Guide to a Successful Giving Day, then register for our free webinar later this month, where I’ll help you think through your strategy for #GivingTuesday, from assembling your team to writing effective appeals.

No Kitties or Puppies. HELP! (Step Two)

Review Step One

Okay, your organization is one of many that can’t use kitty or puppy photos to raise money or recruit volunteers. So what can you do to quickly and effectively connect with the emotions of prospects and supporters?

In Step One of this two-part post, I shared my take on why this type of emotional candy works so well to raise money or recruit volunteers. I cited a reliable litmus test for photo impact—would you share it with your own family and friends, and would they “like” or share it?

Step 2: Make emotional connections and compelling content—if not candy—even without the supercute.

If your organization is not an animal rescue or somehow directly related to puppies, kitties, or babies, these alternatives will be far more effective in helping you forge connections and motivate giving. Most important, they are authentic, relevant expressions, rather than manipulative clickbait.

Here are some recommendations, with examples:

For all causes and organizations: Highlight the similarities between your audiences and your organization’s clients, participants, or beneficiaries.

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What sweet moments, when the kids at the Shelter get one of the adults to whisk them away into a book. Among many other...

Posted by Findlay Hope House on Wednesday, June 3, 2015
  • Findlay Hope House does a great job of this on its Facebook page time and time again. Consider the post above, showing kids without homes living in Hope House’s transitional housing.

  • Clearly, we never want anyone to be homeless, much less our own family. The cause has the potential to scare off supporters because of their fear that it could happen to them. Stigma!

  • However, by photographing an older resident (like your grandma or mine) reading to a couple of kids, Hope House busts through and connects us with the residents in a positive way. (I remember when my grandma read to me.)

For policy and intermediary organizations: Connect the dots between your work and the people who are the ultimate beneficiaries.

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Have you visited the Children's Museum of Findlay yet? BIG NEWS! The Community Foundation just approved a two-year grant totaling $35,000 to fund a museum educator.

Posted by The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation on Friday, May 22, 2015

Organizations like yours have it even harder when building relationships and motivating action, be it giving or something else. That’s because your work is indirect.

You’re working on legislation related to a cause or supporting other cause organizations. This makes it challenging for prospects to connect emotionally. It takes your audience time and thought to make the connection between your impact and people, which is always a deterrent.

But there is a great method of speeding that vital connection—make the message for your prospects and supporters. Connect the dots between your organization’s work and impact and your ultimate beneficiaries, even if there are layers in between.

  • The Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation does a great job of this on its Facebook page, as shown in the post above. Here, the foundation makes it easy to make the connection between its work and the individuals who benefit from its grants for a real “aha!” moment.

  • Get detailed and personal in words and/or photos. The close-up (bottom left) of the little girl focused on drawing is compelling!

  • The details are what sticks (or doesn’t) and make your story memorable and more likely to be shared.

How do you make your organization’s content compelling—beyond kitties, puppies, or babies? Please share your recommendations in the comments!

Review Step One

With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at GettingAttention.org.

Why Your Donors Want to Remain Anonymous

It never fails.

When there is a large scale natural disaster, such as the Nepal earthquake, or an event that inspires charitable giving, my media alerts for Network for Good go through the roof. Many donors come to Network for Good’s giving portal to search for nonprofits and quickly make donations online, and reporters often list Network for Good as a way to easily give to charities responding to crises on the ground. We’re proud to facilitate giving to nonprofits across the country, including $1 million in donations for Nepal earthquake relief efforts.

In some cases, though, the press also features our giving portal as a good option for donors who wish to remain anonymous. Of course, there are many reasons a donor might want to remain anonymous, but the reason most cited in these articles is because these donors want to avoid getting on a nonprofit’s email list and being “spammed” by the organization, or worse, by other organizations who have purchased the list.

Ugh.

Friends, if this is a primary reason for our donors’ anonymity, we’re doing it wrong.

As you collect, grow, and manage your donor list, think about how you communicate with your donors. Are you welcoming them into a personal relationship with your organization or causing them to run and hide?

Let donors choose how and how often they hear from you. Give your supporters control over how they get information from you and the frequency of those communications. Many times, the fact that you are offering this control will make donors more likely to want to be on your list. And yes, if they decide to opt out or remain anonymous, you must respect that decision.

Let them know what to expect. When donors give or when supporters sign up for your newsletter, let them know what’s in it for them and what they can expect from your organization. These are important pieces of your nonprofit’s brand promise and will affect how people feel about your organization.

Have a strategic communication plan.  Many nonprofits make communications missteps because they haven’t taken the time to think through their strategy for reaching out to their constituents. Before you send another email, sit down and figure out your organization’s rules around communication frequency, content, and segmentation. If it doesn’t meet your criteria, don’t send it.

Be mindful of your thank to ask ratio.  This should also be part of your outreach strategy. Lynne Wester, The Donor Relations Guru, has a smart post about this very concept.

Keep donor information sacred. It’s not just good list hygiene and, in most cases, the law—it’s the right thing to do. Do unto others’ email addresses as you would have them do unto yours.

Being transparent and respectful in your communications will encourage more of your supporters to share more of themselves with you. Plus, you’ll help the rest of us look good, as well.

Recurring Giving Challenge Lessons Learned: Storytelling Wins

A great story puts your kid to bed at night and makes you watch that next episode as you confirm, bleary-eyed, with Netflix that, yes, you are indeed still watching. Stories are what connect us to other people and, most important, motivate us to act. As a nonprofit, stories are the best tool in your arsenal to connect with supporters and empower them to act.

We see it time and again that the organizations raising money and finding new donors are the ones that have mastered the art of storytelling. The winners of our Recurring Giving Challenge proved this with unique stories and a commitment to telling them authentically.

Take a look at the great stories three challenge winners used:

Raju the elephant

Wildlife SOS: Perhaps the most famous story from our leaderboard is that of Raju. Last July, Wildlife SOS made international headlines when it rescued Raju the elephant. The videos of the Raju rescue went viral, and Wildlife SOS saw a huge influx of interest and supporters. Donations remained strong during our challenge period, which resulted in Wildlife SOS bringing in the most new monthly donors!

VETPAW

VETPAW: The only organization to place on both of our leaderboards, VETPAW tells the story of its founder and his dual passions for animal conservation and national service. With equal commitments to providing meaningful employment for U.S. veterans and conserving critically endangered wildlife in East Africa, VETPAW has the challenge of telling two stories—that of Ryan Tate, the organization’s founder, who witnessed his fellow veterans being underemployed after their service, and the story of rangers in East Africa who risk life and limb to protect wildlife. These two powerful stories are not immediately similar, but they shine when linked by the founder’s passion and the organization’s ability to tell them in compelling ways.

Friends of Refugees

Friends of Refugees: Join the story. That’s the simple call to action from Friends of Refugees. The simple conceit is that refugees are not statistics—they’re people with stories; people who, when empowered with opportunities, become so much more than numbers in a news report. By telling the organization’s story powerfully and visually, Friends of Refugees gives a face to masses of international refugees and empowers donors who are far removed from the mission to see their role in the renewal of these refugee communities. Take a look at their simple yet powerful video asking supporters to join the story.

Need some inspiration to tell your organization’s story? Download our Storytelling Guide now!

Storytelling eGuide

No Kitties or Puppies. HELP! (Step One)

cats

View Step Two

Ooh! Aah! Who can resist the cuteness of kitty or puppy photos like this one?

Don’t feel silly for loving them. It’s human nature. In fact, photos like the one on this page are such tasty emotional candy that every bite takes folks one step closer to a donation.

But if your organization can’t rely on kitty, puppy or baby photos most of the time (and that’s most of us), what can you do?

Here are two practical, proven steps:

Step 1: Consider what makes kitty and puppy photos so delicious and so effective for nonprofits.

I’m no psychologist, so I turned to the Interwebs for the answer—and I learned absolutely nothing. That’s right. I couldn’t find any definitive research behind the why.

What I do know is this:

People share photos of their pets. It’s just what we do, the same way we share photos of our kids or gardens.

  • We’ve been sharing these photos for a long time, way before Facebook and Instagram.
  • Our families and friends share the same kind of photos with us.

Even if you don’t have pets or kids, it’s easy to appreciate the cuteness of someone else’s. These images are upbeat and nonthreatening.

Which leads me to this why-didn’t-I-think-of-it litmus test for compelling content from ActionSprout founder and CEO Drew Barnard:

“Before you post anything, ask yourself, ‘Would I share this? Would I want this piece of content associated with my Facebook persona?’ If the answer is no, go back to the well and create or curate something new.”

So, make sure your photos are something you’d share with your family and personal friends. And put this at the top of your “compelling content” checklist!

View Step Two

With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at GettingAttention.org.

5 Ways to Recruit Passionate Fundraisers

Giving is social.

Study after study shows that people are more likely to give when asked by someone they know. Social connections and personal ties are strong drivers of behavior, and charitable giving is no exception. So how do you inspire your supporters to spread the word and raise funds on your behalf? Try these five ideas for recruiting passionate fundraisers who will help you reach new donors and bring in more donations.

Tap into your board. Help your board fulfill their give or get commitment by making it easy for them to launch their own personal fundraising page. Your board members are passionate about your work, and they likely have the most influence over a larger network.

Leverage your volunteers. Ask your volunteers to help you spread your message via social media and their personal connections. Their dedication to your work is the kind of inspiration that will make others want to join in.

Let donors do more. Once a donor gives, invite them to share your work with others and encourage them to create a personal fundraising page to help reach your goals. In most cases, the contributions they bring in will far eclipse their original donation. The trick is to make it super simple for them to do.

Turn your events into challenges. Whether you host a large annual event, an open house, or are just celebrating a milestone, give event attendees the ability to raise funds before and during the event. Everyone likes a little healthy competition: offer special incentives, recognition, or access to those who bring in the most dollars or donors.

Encourage personal stories. Most of your supporters have a personal connection to the work you do. Offer the opportunity for them to share what your cause means to them with a personalized fundraising page. These stories are likely more powerful than your existing marketing materials and will go a long way in breaking through the noise in a crowded inbox or Facebook feed.

Ready to put these ideas into action? I’ll help you make sure you have a solid plan in place in this week’s free webinar. Tomorrow, I’ll share more tips on creating an effective social fundraising campaign that will help you turn your donors into fundraisers. 

Register now to join the session. (Can’t attend? No worries. Register anyway and I’ll make sure you get the slides and the recording.)

Making Meme Magic: Q&A with Smile Train

Isn’t the Internet a magical place? We sure think so. And it just got even more magical thanks to #seriousbaby, a new campaign recently launched by Smile Train.

In the campaign, you meet baby Walter. Walter is standing in solidarity with kids who have unrepaired clefts and can’t smile. He’s serious about not smiling. And Walter’s call to action is clear: Donate to Smile Train. Do it. He’s serious.

I had the opportunity to find out more about this campaign from Shari Mason, senior director of integrated marketing at Smile Train.

What was the motivation to launch a new campaign for Smile Train?

Shari Mason: Smile Train is always exploring new, out-of-the-box ways to convey the importance of our cleft repair work and engage new and current supporters alike. We launch awareness campaigns at regular intervals throughout the year to enhance engagement with our donors and maintain momentum for the cause.

Walter #seriousbaby

As we approached this newest campaign, we had the idea to depart from traditionally “serious” charity tactics and, instead, use humor as a tool for driving awareness around the serious condition of cleft lip and palate. The use of video and visual memes allowed us to tap into the sharing culture that defines the social and digital Web and bring our global vision to new, younger audiences.

Cleft is far more than a cosmetic issue: It also impacts eating, breathing, and speaking; leads to social isolation; and can prevent a child from leading a full and productive life. Baby Walter, the nine-month-old protagonist of the campaign, emerged as a humorous, relatable voice for reinforcing the severe impact of cleft on affected children and rallying audiences to help share smiles across the world.

I noticed there isn’t any Smile Train branding on seriousbaby.org. Why is that?

SM: We decided not to include branding on the campaign site to create as organic and seamless an engagement experience as possible. Our goal was to put the campaign and call to action around our life-changing cleft repair work front and center.

Walter #seriousbaby

How have current donors responded to #seriousbaby?

SM: We have received nothing but positive feedback from our donors so far. The catchy, humor-driven approach to awareness, combined with the use of sharable videos and memes, has enabled our donors to substantively engage with the campaign and maximize sharing across their own platforms. Our donors have been wonderful advocates for the campaign and continue to positively engage with the seriousbaby.org landing page and share campaign assets far and wide. In particular, we’ve noticed that our younger supporters, including members of Students for Smile Train and our Young Leadership Circle, have strongly embraced the campaign—a testament to its success in engaging millennials around the cause.

How are you promoting the video?

Walter #seriousbaby

SM: To promote the video and drive audience views, we are continuing to widely share the Tumblr campaign page across Smile Train platforms, spanning Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and have seen a ripple effect of sharing and posting via our supporter networks. In addition, we have featured the campaign and a link to our donation landing page on the home pages of our global websites and have employed digital banner ads to garner eyes across the Web. We have supplemented social tactics with direct outreach and email communications to our donors and supporters.

Our integrated approach to communications has touched all channels, enabling us to maximize outreach to current and prospective donors around the campaign’s call to action in support of cleft-affected children worldwide.

How are you measuring success for this campaign? Do you have a goal for views, clicks, new donors?

SM: Our goals for the campaign are twofold: 1) Engage existing and new audiences with shareable content, and 2) test out-of-the-box ways to raise donations. To measure success as it relates to both goals, we are focusing on the following metrics:

  • Video views
  • Site visits
  • Content shares
  • Campaign mentions
  • Social reach
  • Donations

We are thrilled with the positive engagement Serious Baby has inspired so far and cannot wait to see how many new smiles—and transformed lives—Walter’s “Smile Strike” and call to action help create for children in need.

Thanks for the insights into your newest campaign, Shari! I hope the video continues to reach a wide audience and that #seriousbaby inspires donors to give big!

How the Fundraising Game Has Changed Forever

(Editor’s note: Today’s post comes from our friends at the National Council of Nonprofits. Jennifer Chandler, Vice President and Director of Network Support & Knowledge Sharing, offers insight on new legislation that will allow nonprofits to own their true costs.) Jenny Chandler

How the Fundraising Game Has Changed Forever – and Four Steps Your Nonprofit Should Take to Benefit

A “game changer.” It will “transform the landscape ... for generations to come.” No, these aren’t ads for a new car or reviews for movies coming to a theater near you. They are descriptions of the impact brought about by new federal rules for many grant awards—impact that just may make life less stressful for nonprofit fundraising professionals and development directors everywhere.

For the first time, the federal government is acknowledging what nonprofits have known all along: to deliver effective services in our communities, nonprofits must incur basic costs to keep the doors open and the lights on. The federal government, through the new Uniform Guidance issued by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB), now requires that any government using federal funds—whether local, state, tribal, or federal—to hire a nonprofit to deliver services must pay its share of indirect costs (sometimes called overhead or administrative costs).

For fundraising and development professionals, this reform can mean less stress and urgency chasing down private donations and grants to fill in the large gaps left unfunded by governments. With government now mandated to pay for these “indirect costs” when the initial funds flow from the federal government, it will ease pressure on private philanthropy to fill all-to-common gaps left unfunded by governments. Not only that, but with this historic acknowledgement from government that indirect/overhead costs are essential to service delivery, some private funders are revisiting their policies and coming to a similar logical realization.

To put the impact of this new rule in perspective, consider the size of the gaps that governments historically have left unfunded. According to a recent Urban Institute survey, 53 percent of nonprofits reported that governments capped reimbursement for indirect costs. Of those, 76 percent reported that governments imposed caps of 10 percent and below – and 24 percent reported zero reimbursement for indirect costs. Just imagine the effects on the fundraising climate if all of these nonprofits received just the 10 percent minimum mandated by the Uniform Guidance, much less the full amounts that far exceed that floor.

Limits on Overhead Costs

What Should Go On (and Off) Your Donation Page

When a potential donor lands on your donation page, you want to make it extremely easy for them to give. But if your donation page has a complicated form, too many ways to leave, or doesn’t keep the donor in the emotional act of giving, you could be missing out on donations!

We know you aren’t a Web page optimization wizard, and you shouldn’t have to be. However, there are a few things that you, as a nonprofit marketer or fundraiser, can do to make your donation page super donor-friendly.

Here’s what should always go on your donation page—and what you should leave off.

If you’re in a donation page mood (I mean, who isn’t?), check out even more resources on how to get your donation page in tip-top shape:

 Nonprofit Website Hotline
The Ultimate Donation Page Guide

Why Are You Sending Donors This Email?!? A Lesson in Segmentation

I’m a monthly donor to a nonprofit I love a lot. They use a membership model to boost monthly giving. However, I noticed that during their seasonal membership drives, I continued to get emails asking me to become a member.

At first I ignored this, thinking maybe they incorrectly segmented their list. Then, when I got a second appeal email a few months later, I thought maybe my membership had lapsed. I checked, but no, I found the receipt for the gift I made the previous month. I couldn’t figure out what was going on.

I reached out to the organization on Twitter to ask why I was getting emails asking me to become a member when I am already a member. They apologized and began investigating which emails I might have received. They came back with the news that it didn’t look like I had received any emails by accident, and then asked me to share those emails with them to help solve the issue. I gladly took screenshots of the emails I had received. As I was in the process of sharing them with the nonprofit’s donor relations associate, I noticed one line of text that I had previously missed.

The call to action in this email was a hyperlinked sentence reading something like this: “Click here to become a member, increase your monthly gift, or donate.” Um, what? The entire email (including the header image) had language that asked me to generally “support the membership drive.” I blew right past the rest of the email because the first message I saw didn’t apply to me. I was already a member. I must have received this by mistake.

Social Webinar Quote

Along with the email screenshots, I sent a suggestion: It would have made much more sense if you had segmented your list and sent three separate emails to the three groups of people you are targeting with this one email. Why send one confusing message to everyone in your database when you have the power to send three targeted emails?

I recommended:

  • One email to nondonors—email list subscribers, I suppose—who haven’t yet given a gift.
  • One to lapsed donors asking them to renew.
  • One to current members asking them to increase their monthly gift.

By segmenting the list and choosing extremely clear, appropriate calls to action to target each group, I’m sure this organization would have received a larger response to their season appeal.

I received a big thanks (and another apology) from the nonprofit’s VP of development. I made it clear that I wasn’t a whiny, fussy, mad donor (although these folks do exist—and please listen to their feedback, but don’t take it personally). I truly wanted to see this organization grow and raise more money with better seasonal appeals. The VP asked if she could contact me again to get feedback on their next appeal and recommendations on how they can better segment and target their donor base with appropriate messages and calls to action. (Of course I said yes!)

Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated case. I get confusing emails from nonprofits all the time. Don’t let your emails fall into this dazed and confused state! Here are some steps you can take to ensure you don’t confuse your donors:

  1. Invest in a smart donor management tool to help you easily keep track of donors’ gifts, communication history, and more. We recommend Salesforce and Donor Perfect because they sync with our online donation pages.
  2. Make an audit of your emails on a seasonal basis. Make sure donation receipts, thank you emails, appeals, newsletters, etc., truly speak to the audiences receiving them. Survey your donors and ask what they think of your communication.
  3. Segment your email audiences and provide relevant content. In my example here, the information most relevant to me as a current donor would be the steps to increase a monthly gift.
  4. Don’t stick with one method forever. Test how you segment your donor database, and test different content. You won’t know what resonates most with your donors unless you try something new and measure it.

Are You Ready for Guests? Why Your Nonprofit Website Still Matters

This weekend some friends were passing through town on their way home from vacation and we had plans meet for dinner. A few hours before they were to arrive, we agreed it might be easier for them to stop by my home first, and then we’d decide where to grab a bite to eat.

One problem:  my place wasn’t exactly “guest ready.” Yikes. Of course, my friends would never judge me for a little dust or some unkempt stacks of mail, but when it comes to your nonprofit’s website, your donors or a new visitor just learning about your work might feel differently.

Whether they give online or off, supporters will look at your website to understand more about your work, how their gift will make a difference, and they will form opinions about what they find there. So, it’s in your best interest—and of those you serve—to make the most of your website and ensure that it’s creating the right environment to inspire giving. Are you putting out a welcome mat that invites visitors in, or are you presenting a hot mess that will turn them away?

Here are a few key pages on your website to spruce up (then, join my free webinar tomorrow for more help!):

Your Home Page:  Home pages are notoriously tricky, but most people researching your nonprofit will hit this “front door” to your organization. You need to have a clear statement about what you do, why it matters, and how they can get involved. Don’t forget a big, bold donate button!

Nonprofit Link Round Up

Link Round Up!

What are your fundraising pet peeves? Joe from the Fundraising Authority has three big ones. My pet peeve has more to do with word usage than fundraising: I have a co-worker who insists on calling monthly gifts “reoccurring” donations. I correct him from across the office, “It’s recurring!” One day he’ll say it right!

Boost the reach of your Twitter posts by using hashtags. Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog has a list of hashtags you can use every day of the week. #allthehashtags #thankskivi

Your website can be a fundraising machine. Even little changes can bring in more donations for your cause. Let our own Caryn Stein show you how in next week’s webinar: Speed Consulting: Nonprofit Website Hotline. Caryn will teach you donation page and website best practices, and then review a few lucky attendees’ websites live! Register now! (As always, we record our webinars and send the archived version to all registrants. Can’t make it on June 9? No worries. Register anyway and you can view the recording at any time.)

I’m sure you’ve heard the news surrounding an investigation by NPR and ProPublica into the Red Cross’ spending of money raised for earthquake relief in Haiti. Marc Pitman wants you to use this news as a wake-up call: Be ready to answer tough questions about where your donors’ dollars are going.

Jeff Brooks suggests that you trash your nonprofit’s general brochure. He thinks they’re a waste of time, money, ink, and paper. What do you think?

Fundraiser Grrl Rory Green takes a break from cheeky, funny posts on life in the nonprofit sector and shares some advice for new fundraisers.

We’re stoked that Farra Trompeter will be presenting another Nonprofit911 webinar with us later this month! This time she’s talking about brandraising. You should definitely register now, and then do some homework by reading up on brandraising best practices before June 17.

Because it’s Friday, you should relax and watch some cat videos. You should always be sure to watch said cat videos on our customer’s website: Cats vs Cancer! The more traffic and views their site gets, the more dollars raised for their cancer charity of the month.

Have a great weekend!

Recurring Giving Challenge Lessons Learned: Named Monthly Giving Programs

Debates can stem from the most banal of subjects. Take, for example, the great debate around naming recurring giving programs. If you’ve had this discussion at your organization, you’ve undoubtedly been across the table from someone who’s a staunch advocate for starting a society, a circle, or a club for your monthly supporters. You’ve probably also heard complaints of exclusivity, problems categorizing donor levels, and the question of whether to give a thank you gift.

The truth is that both sides have valid points. Here at Network for Good, we come down firmly in the middle. Naming your recurring giving program can have a lot of benefits—and it can also distract from your mission. While poring over the results of our Recurring Giving Challenge, we noticed that our winners were also split down the middle.

Let’s take a look at some of the Recurring Giving Challenge winners that decided to name their monthly giving programs (and saw great success!):

All Your Board Questions Answered: Q&A with Rachel Muir

If you missed our webinar with Rachel Muir, vice president of training at Pursuant, I highly suggest you download the archived version and get ready to take lots and lots of notes. Rachel gave us some amazing insights on how to motivate your board and how to turn them into fundraisers. Because we had such a great Q&A with her at the end of the webinar, I wanted to share some highlights and ask a few more questions that we didn’t have time for.

Social Media Content Is Sitting Right in Front of You

Content for your social media channels is sitting right in front of you. Really! Your website, donor appeals, and newsletters are just waiting to be translated into a Facebook post, tweet, or YouTube video. Repurposing content can take some time, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll start thinking of ideas to feed your social channels in your sleep.

To help get your creative juices flowing, here are some quick tips and content ideas for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram:

The 4 T’s of Amazing Fundraising Appeals

At Network for Good we spend a lot of time analyzing what makes an ask more effective, as a really good fundraising appeal is so crucial for nonprofits to connect with supporters and inspire donors to give. Our CEO, Bill Strathmann, is a big fan of alliteration and recently shared four T’s for effective appeals. Here’s how they add up to a better message that works:

Timely: Your appeal needs to have a sense of urgency to move donors to act now. Let them know what will happen if they give immediately—or what might be lost if they don’t.

Touching: Effective fundraising taps into the emotional and personal reasons for giving. Your fundraising appeal must inspire your reader to feel something if you want them to take action. Compelling photos and stories help make your message come to life.

Trustworthy: Once you’ve inspired donors with emotion, they need reassurance to follow through with their donation. Build trust by including trust icons, testimonials, and sign your appeal with believable and relatable messenger.

Tangible: What will happen if someone gives? Show concrete results and the specific impact of a gift. Donors want to know that they can make a difference. Make it easy for them to see how their donation matters.

Want to take your nonprofit’s fundraising appeals to the next level? Our latest ebook will help you do just that. Download your free copy of “How to Write Amazing Fundraising Appeals” to learn how to take your fundraising letters from fizzling to sizzling. Plus, you’ll get a step-by-step template and cheat sheet that makes writing your next appeal a piece of cake.

amazing fundraising appeals

A Few of My Favorite Tools

Like many of your organizations, my business is basically a tiny shop. There’s never enough time and everything to do. Plus, as a working mom (and daughter of a 92-year-old), I’m multitasking day and night and always have too much on my plate. I think you see what I mean.

We all need help to keep things organized, timely, and moving forward. Here are some of the greatest helpers I know.

How to Get Your Board on Board with Social Fundraising

Looking for a new way to get your board involved with your fundraising efforts?

A social fundraising campaign can help make it easier for your board members to fulfill their “give or get” commitment to your organization.

Of course, the idea behind social fundraising isn’t new, but combining the age-old structure of board support and your fundraising assets with technology that makes it much easier to ask for a gift can amplify your outreach, resulting in more donors and more donations for your mission.

get your board on board with social fundraising

Make It Easy

Any time you want to turn donors into fundraisers (or get anyone to do anything, really), you’ll see more success when you make your desired action as easy as can be. This especially applies to your board members. They want to help, but they’re busy and they might not know where to begin. This is where a little planning goes a long way. Some things to consider:

Offer clarity: First things first—you’ve got to be crystal clear about what you want your board members to do, how they need to do it, and what you expect from each of them. Setting these expectations up front will save you a lot of headaches down the road. This means you’ll need to zero in on your fundraising goals, which projects or programs you want to fund with your campaign, and how many donors you think you’ll need to get there.

Give them scripted messages: Get your board members started with pre-written emails, fundraising appeals, phone scripts, and social media posts. They may want to customize these messages to underscore their own stories or connection to their networks, but offering a starting point will give them the head start they need to feel like a personal fundraising campaign is something they can do.

Set a timeline and send reminders: In a recent conversation with local nonprofits about board fundraising, I heard a common refrain, “My board members want to get involved, but they sometimes work on their own time frame, instead of ours.” Ok, you may not be able to totally get around this, but you can minimize this concern by being upfront about your campaign timing and deadlines. Have a timeline just for your board, and send reminders to keep them motivated and on track. Encourage them to set an example for your other donors and fundraisers by kicking off their campaign with a donation that can serve as a matching gift.

Equip them with the right tools: Having the right technology in place will make the entire process of setting up a campaign, organizing your board members, and collecting donations much easier. You’ll want a fundraising platform that allows you to quickly customize your message and launch your campaign, as well as built-in best practices and optimized pages, so you’re getting the most out of your board members’ outreach. The easier it is, the more your board members can do themselves, taking more of the burden off of you. (Pretty sweet, right? Want to see a platform that can help you make it easy? Register for this week’s social fundraising demo to learn more.)

Half of Your Email Subscribers Are Ignoring You

New research from the 2015 M+R Benchmarks Study tells us that, on average, almost half (45%) of small nonprofits’ email subscribers are inactive. Yikes!

Inactive could mean different things to different organizations. Many organizations define inactive subscribers as those who’ve gone one year with no activity. (These don’t necessarily include lapsed or inactive donors. We’re simply talking about people in your database who haven’t opened an email in a really long time—donors and nondonors.) However you define your inactive subscriber base, I think we can all agree that you need a plan of action to reengage with people who were, at one point, interested in your organization.

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