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What Nonprofits Can Learn from Salvation Army Bell Ringers

joeEditor’s note: This post was written by Joe Waters, author of Fundraising with Businesses and Cause Marketing for Dummies. You can also check out Joe’s work on his blog Selfish Giving.


I’ve always admired The Salvation Army bell ringers. In addition to donating their time and ringing their signature bell in all sorts of terrible weather, the program raises a sack of money that rivals Santa’s. Last year, kettle bells raised $136 million nationally for The Salvation Army’s mission, which includes food, shelter, addiction recovery assistance, after-school programs and many other services for the needy.

The secret to The Salvation Army’s success isn’t a secret at all—or a complicated fundraising strategy. They have an iconic brand that resonates with people during the holidays, and they work their butts off in December to raise as much money as possible with kettle bells. If you’re a nonprofit and want to stop reading now you should remember that brand and hustle matter. But bell ringers can teach you a lot if you’ll only take a moment to stop and learn instead of hurrying by.

Lessons from N4G’s #GivingTuesday Award Winners

Network for Good hosted a special #GivingTuesday campaign, N4G Gives, focused on equipping nonprofits with the tools and knowledge for #GivingTuesday success.  The N4G Gives campaign provided free #GivingTuesday resources to the entire nonprofit community and special training and matching funds to nonprofits using DonateNow, our online giving platform. In addition to matching funds, we also recognized the leaders in 10 fundraising categories with special awards. Read about seven special award winners below and learn more about the top three winners in a previous post.

Honorable Mention Most Dollars Raised: The Sikh Coalition

The Sikh Coalition was founded by volunteers on the night of September 11, 2001 in response to a torrent of violent attacks against Sikh Americans throughout the United States. The Sikh Coalition is the largest Sikh American advocacy and community development organization in the United States.  Today, the Sikh Coalition works toward the realization of civil and human rights for all people.

Key tactics
The Sikh Coalition built their #GivingTuesday campaign around a core tenet of Sikhism focused on the obligation to be generous. They “love #GivingTuesday because of the urgency created around a one-day campaign and the ability to inspire donors to give earlier in December.”

Lessons from N4G’s top #GivingTuesday performers

#GivingTuesday has arrived

On December 2, nonprofits and donors came together in an inspiring day of generosity.  Millions of dollars were raised to fuel the good work of nonprofits all over the world.

Network for Good hosted a special campaign, N4G Gives, focused on equipping nonprofits with the tools and knowledge for #GivingTuesday success.  The N4G Gives campaign provided free #GivingTuesday resources to the entire nonprofit community and special training and matching funds to nonprofits using DonateNow, our online giving platform. In addition to matching funds, we also recognized the leaders in 10 fundraising categories with special awards.

The most exciting validation of the value of #GivingTuesday is reflected in the experience of the “winners” of Network for Good’s N4G Gives campaign.  They are large and small. Some planned for months, and some started the day before. Some have large staff teams, and some are staffed exclusively by volunteers.

Motivate ’Em Messages: What Secrets Can You Share?

When I saw this Facebook post from the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless (ECHH), my smile spread like wildfire.

ECHH Facebook Post

You see, we’ve been working with the ECHH team on year-end fundraising campaigns for a few years, and among the countless things I was surprised to learn when we started is just how many of the individuals and families they serve are working full-time (or more, holding multiple jobs) but still can’t make ends meet—68%!

How Did You Handle…? A Brilliant Change-Up for Your Year-End Campaign (and Beyond!)

Read Part One and Part Two

This post wraps up our first topic in the new How Did You Handle…? series—specific how-tos based on your experiences.

Here’s the why and how-to behind a change-up likely to be relevant to your year-end prospects (and beyond):

A post-#GivingTuesday Flowchart

#GivingTuesday is over. Now what? Use this simple flowchart to determine your next steps:



Network for Good announces results of N4G Gives campaign to power small nonprofits on #GivingTuesday: Over $4.5M raised, total donation volume up 148% over 2013

Press Feed - Wed, 2014-12-03 10:28
Dec 3 2014

Campaign raised $4,582,194 from 33,546 donors across all Network for Good platform channels, and provided $125,000 in challenge grants from the Generosity Fund and Constant Contact.

N4G Gives

read more

How Did You Handle…? 2 MORE Examples of Change Ups for 2014 Year-End Campaigns

Read Part One

This post continues our new How Did You Handle…? series—specific how-tos based on your experiences.

There’s still time to make productive changes to your year-end appeal! Here are more year-end campaign change-ups, attempted for the first time this year by some of your fundraiser peers (with early results where available).

1. Change-Up: Launching matching gifts for first-time donors (including those coming in on #GivingTuesday).

We secured two donors—one who is an absolutely new donor—to offer a dollar-for-dollar match (up to $1,000) for all first-time donors. We are also offering a separate $500 match to new online donors on #GivingTuesday.

As director of development, I pushed the match approach and found supportive donors. I was thrilled when our executive director jumped on board and found a matching donor for #GivingTuesday.

But that’s not all. Our executive director pledged a $500 gift if all staff members contribute to the campaign. Great news: Our board is already at 100%!

Goal: I had used the matching challenge in other types of campaigns and found it highly successful in increasing the number of new donors and total gifts. We’re hoping to achieve the same value this year. We’ll keep you posted!

Results to Date: Just starting our year-end campaign (our executive director hand-signs all appeal letters and adds personal notes to many of them).

Source: Alan Gibby, director of development, Shelter Care Ministries

Your #GivingTuesday Emails

Tomorrow is the day!

You’ve got your donation page up and running, you’ve rallied your staff members, and your thank you messages are ready to deploy. But don’t forget to send your donors (and board members) a #GivingTuesday appeal! A successful giving day campaign includes an email appeal sent early in the day. In addition to inviting donors to give, use this email as an opportunity to invite supporters to help spread the word about your fundraising campaign.

I know you’re running short on time so there’s no need to start these emails from scratch. Borrow our board member and donor #GivingTuesday emails, make them your own, and program them to send tomorrow.

We can’t wait to celebrate this international day of giving with you! If you have any last minute questions re: #GivingTuesday, send us a Tweet: @Network4Good.

We’re Giving Thanks…For You

For the past several months, we’ve been focused on the fourth quarter, getting ready for year-end, and #GivingTuesday. The fourth quarter is a pivotal time of year for organizations that depend on year-end generosity to scale their impact.

Today, we want to take a step back from the coffee-fueled, I’ll-exercise-tomorrow, fourth-quarter craziness, and acknowledge you.

Every day, you dedicate yourself to serving others. Your activities as a fundraiser, service provider, advocate, or researcher are changing lives – and the world is a better place because of you.

Steal this pre-#GivingTuesday Email

I know it’s a short week, and we’re all busy prepping for December campaigns so I’ll keep this short: Have you let your donors know that your participating in #GivingTuesday? If not, now is the time to send them a short message. Use this email template as a starting point, include your specific campaign plans, tailor it to your audience, and send it before Thanksgiving. Don’t forget to follow up with a day-of ask on December 2nd!

donor email pre-GivingTuesday

Rallying the Troops: the Staff Plan for #GivingTuesday

Make #GivingTuesday an event for your team, and a win for those you serve.

giving tuesday

In less than 2 weeks it will be December 2nd, and #GivingTuesday will be here. Whether you’ve planned for months or just for a week or two, there’s one more thing you can do to make it a great day for your nonprofit.

Organizations large and small can put their campaigns over the top on #GivingTuesday by creating a “day of generosity” that involves your staff, board, and volunteers. Plan a day of hard-working fun that involves your team in outreach and celebration as you hit milestones toward your goal.

The recommendations below are targeted at a mid-sized organization, so scale the plan for your day up or down to fit your organization’s capacity.

Make it a party!

Set up a #Givingtuesday ‘war room’ so the team is all together in one place. There will be hard work to do and a party atmosphere will make a long day more fun.

Consider these suggestions to elevate the excitement and spur the efforts of your staff and volunteers:

  • Provide special t-shirts, wristbands, hats or other swag if you have it. If you don’t, consider asking each team member to wear something in the colors of your organization’s logo to create that spirit of a team.

  • Have food throughout the day.

  • Have a first gift ceremony, where the team members contribute whatever they can to the campaign and put that total on the board as the “founders” gifts for the campaign.

  • Take an UNselfie of each team member and one of the whole team together and post on social media.

  • Have a visible tally board so everyone can see when you are getting close to key milestones

  • Covering the day

    Your #GivingTuesday staff plan should cover a time period from about 8am to 10pm. The busiest donation periods are likely to be from 9am to 3pm and 7pm to 10pm, and these are the windows when you’ll want the most coverage.

    Suggested staff roles

    Leader Appoint a leader so campaign staff have a single point of contact for questions throughout the day. The leader should have a list of contact information for all staff and partners (include cell phone numbers and email addresses). He or she should be ready to address technology issues should there be problems with your online giving site. Have the phone number of your software provider handy in the event there is an issue. He or she may also be assigned as designated representative to talk with the media if there is press interest in your campaign. The leader (or a designee) should be ready with talking points highlighting the key aspects of the campaign.

  • Thank key partners and sponsors

  • Alert the community to Day-of challenges and contests (especially if they change hourly)

  • Inspire the community with Day-of rewards or incentives

  • Ask the community to GIVE and SHARE

  • Mention the Campaign Hashtag and URL

  • How Did You Handle…? 3 Examples of Change Ups for 2014 Year-End Campaigns

    This post is the first in our new How Did You Handle…? Series—specific how-tos based on YOUR experiences.Please watch for our requests to share your wins, challenges and recommendations. YOU are the best trainers there are!

    Year-End fundraising tops most organizations’ “must do, every year” list, but it’s challenging both to figure out how to do it differently but better and to get approval for a fresh approach for a campaign that’s so vital.

    But case studies from colleague organizations commonly work as a calming balm for anxious decision-makers afraid to deviate from the norm (even when that norm isn’t working so well). Here’s what some of your peers are trying this year, with early results where available:

    7 Steps to Social Success on #GivingTuesday

    Your #GivingTuesday campaign will depend on SHARING.

    Sharing can happen through many channels: email, in person events, volunteer activities, and phone outreach. But today we are focusing on social media sharing.

    #GivingTuesday is an inherently social event – a big, exciting, international party for generosity – and you’re invited! Now is the time to take a look at each of your social channels and get them ready for #GivingTuesday.


    4 Rules for Images that Inspire Action

    PhotoPhilanthropy is an amazing organization that brings together photographers and nonprofits to tell stories that drive action for social change. They believe in the power of images to inspire action. The folks at PhotoPhilanthropy are seeking entries for their Activist Awards, which honor outstanding work by photographers in collaboration with nonprofit organizations worldwide. Are you working with a photographer that deserves recognition? Encourage them to enter. Submissions are now open through December 3, 2014.

    Wondering where to begin when it comes to using social documentary photography to tell the story of your mission? PhotoPhilanthropy’s Nathan Dalton shared these tips for nonprofits on how to use photographs to make an impact:

    1. Use powerful, high-quality images.

    What we see has a profound effect on what we do, how we feel, and who we are. The images your organization chooses must not only have solid composition and be artistically strong, but they should also be informative and educational to provoke the interest of your audience.

    Photographs have the power to elicit emotions and evoke empathy by letting us in to another person’s experience.

    This is a photograph by Adam Nadel of an African woman grieving the loss of her child to malaria.

    We are drawn in by the beauty of this image, but the photographer has also captured something else much more elusive: an intimacy with her grief that transcends culture and nurtures compassion.


    3 Steps to a Powerful, All-Organization Team of Messengers [Part Two]

    Be sure to check out part one of this two-part series on messaging.

    3 Steps to a Team of Powerful Messengers

    Training your staff, leadership, clients partners and supporters is a high-impact, low-investment marketing strategy for every nonprofit, but one that’s frequently overlooked. It’s the ultimate low-hanging fruit for nonprofits like yours.

    Take these three steps to launch your team of messengers:

    Step One: Build Buy-In and Ask for Help

    Ensure that your message platform is clear and relevant. You may have been using these messages for a few years, or they could be new.

    If you’ve done it right, you’ve sourced the insights of your colleagues and leadership in developing these messages. Along the way, you’ve nurtured their understanding of and buy-in to the process.

    Secure leadership buy-in by sharing the value of an all-org message team (and what happens without one).

    Position the message team as a program, not a one-off; as a way of doing business, not a Band-Aid.

    If you or your bosses see training as one-time or finite, results will be equally limited (but that may be how you need to start). Be aware that this strategy is likely to be perceived as a significant cultural shift—and it is, since it tears down formal or unspoken silos with your organization—and the complete transition may take some time.

    Open the conversation by sharing your vision, and then emphasize these immediate benefits and longer-term gains:

    Benefit: Greater accuracy and consistency of messages conveyed in conversations and communications across audiences and programs.
    Gain: Clearer, quicker connections with more of your target audiences.
    Gain: Increased likelihood of motivating the actions you need.

    Benefit: Improved understanding of goals and priorities across the organization.

    Benefit: Enhanced ability to harvest and share relevant information and feedback with the right colleagues across the organization—on programs, audience preferences and values, and more.
    Gain: Stronger programs and processes via acquisition of broader and deeper audience insights and cross-department collaboration.

    Benefit: A more highly skilled group of staff and board members.
    Gain: Greater employee and board satisfaction.

    Gently introduce the concept to your colleagues.
    It’s always best to start dripping out an idea like this in casual hallway or drop-in conversations (or the virtual equivalent). You’ll learn what resonates with your colleagues and what doesn’t, and you can fine-tune before rolling out the program more broadly.

    3 Steps to a Powerful, All-Organization Team of Messengers [Part One]

    I recently completed an all-new message platform for the largest human services organization in Massachusetts. The platform included a tagline, positioning statement, talking points or key messages at organization and program level, and elevator conversation.

    This agency is renowned for high-quality service delivery, but even many of the folks who know it best—referring health care providers, current clients and their families—think it provides a far narrower range of services in fewer locations than it currently does.

    This kind of disconnect is an organizational nightmare—especially when the agency has done so much to shape its network of services, approaches, and locations in response to community needs. Ugh!

    Honoring Our Veterans

    Serve.gov - Fri, 2014-11-07 13:40

    By CNCS Staff

    Announcing N4G Gives, Network for Good’s campaign for #GivingTuesday 2014

    Press Feed - Wed, 2014-10-01 15:06
    Oct 1 2014

    Online fundraising resources, training, and $100,000 in matching funds for the Network for Good nonprofit community.

    N4G Gives

    read more

    Still on the Fence About #GivingTuesday?

    To do, or not to do, #GivingTuesday…

    With 12 weeks to go, you are hearing about #GivingTuesday everywhere. In the press, and perhaps on your team, there are advocates and skeptics.

    And we get it. Year-end is a critical time, and your team has a full plate. So is #GivingTuesday worth it?

    From where we sit, the answer is simple: Yes!

    We are unabashed supporters and believers in the #GivingTuesday movement. For most nonprofits the question should not be ‘if’, but ‘how’, to incorporate #GivingTuesday into your December giving season.

    How does #GivingTuesday work (for your organization)?

    The genesis of #GivingTuesday is pretty well known. It started with a simple idea – to be a counterpoint to the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. From a couple hundred nonprofits in 2012, #GivingTuesday is now an international day of giving around the globe.

    Think about #GivingTuesday as disaster fundraising in reverse (Tweet this). In a disaster, the tragedy brings people together to rally around those in need by supporting organizations that can make an impact.

    On #GivingTuesday, the movement rallies people around their desire to do good, to matter in their communities or their world. It’s not an obligation – it’s an opportunity to be part of something that’s big and meaningful and feels great.

    And just as disaster relief organizations recognize how important it is to raise funds when there is heightened public awareness, all nonprofits can capitalize on the awareness and excitement of #GivingTuesday.

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