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In a recent review of U.S. Trust’s Insights on Wealth and Worth report on wealthy donors, The New York Times shared three key reasons why donors don’t give. While the report focused on those who have at least $3 million in investable assets, it’s not hard to imagine that these reasons are similar for donors of all income levels. Here are three reasons donors may opt not to give to your organization this December, and some ways you can address their concerns:
Donors are concerned their gift will not be used wisely.
If a donor is unsure about how their gift will be used or if there is any question that their gift will be put to good use, they’re not going to respond to your fundraising appeal. It’s critical that you let donors know the impact their gift will have. Here’s how to do it:
Donors feel they have no connection to your charity.
For your appeals to be effective, you must answer the question of “Why me?” Your need alone is not enough. You are competing with many messages and many appeals. Think about why your cause is personally meaningful to your audience. Here’s how to do it:
Donors don’t want to be on a “solicitation list.”
I’ve heard many donors of all giving levels echo this sentiment, which means we’re not doing our jobs as fundraisers and marketers. It’s our responsibility to balance our fundraising asks with updates and other messages that give back to the donor. This ultimately goes back to the first two points: by being good stewards of donors who feel a connection to your cause, you’ll be creating a community of supporters who will welcome your updates, and even your next fundraising appeal. Here’s how to do it:
For more tips on connecting with donors this holiday season, don’t miss out on our next free webinar. I’ll be leading a session on how to create an effective appeal for the last few weeks of the year. I’ll share some great examples and take your questions. Here are the details:
Free Webinar: Create Amazing Last-Minute Fundraising Appeals
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1pm EST
(Can’t attend the live session? Register anyway and we’ll send the recording of the presentation straight to your inbox!)
The following is a special #GivingTuesday guest post by Brian Sasscer, Vice President of Strategic Operations at the Case Foundation.
Today, December 3, we will celebrate the second annual #GivingTuesday, a national movement that promotes charitable activities in support of nonprofit organizations. There are high hopes for this year’s campaign, which aims to spark the same enthusiasm to give back to nonprofits as Black Friday and Cyber Monday have done with individuals for shopping for the holidays.
Organized by the UN Foundation and 92nd Street Y, #GivingTuesday united more than 2,500 partners last year, including the Case Foundation, to set a new precedent in giving at the start of the annual holiday season. This year, more than 10,000 partners will unite in a collective effort to give back to their communities. Philanthropy is something that everyone can – and should be – a part of. The advent of micro-donation opportunities, along with new online and mobile platforms, has empowered donors to give how and where they want in real time. Online giving days like #GivingTuesday and Razoo’s Give to the Max Day have been successful mobilizing communities throughout the country and changing the way consumers think of giving.
We have witnessed the momentum of online platforms, including Network for Good, Causes, Crowdrise, and newer organizations like Indiegogo, and their mobilizing power for microdonations. Over the years, the Case Foundation has touted and supported several of these organizations and their collective efforts to make a financial impact for nonprofits. We first began exploring the power of small donations in 2007 through America’s Giving Challenge, a campaign to encourage, empower, and incentivize giving online. Nearly 200,000 people donated online and we raised nearly $4 million for thousands of causes across the United States through our campaign.
#GivingTuesday has capitalized on the power of social media and smaller online donations to nonprofits. It is our hope that giving back is not only amplified on this national day of giving, but continued throughout the holidays and throughout the new year. That’s why the Case Foundation expanded our own #GivingTuesday campaign this year to include ways people can give back all season long. Donations are an important place to start, but we can all make an impact in our communities online and through other ways – from volunteering, to giving gifts that give back, donating warm clothes, and even pledging a resolution to do good.
So this year we encourage everyone to make a list of causes to support and acts of good to share. Together, we can inspire more active and engaged donors all year round – from today moving forward.
Brian Sasscer serves on the Board of Directors for Network for Good. As Vice President of Strategic Operations at the Case Foundation he leads the interactive strategies team as they leverage new technologies in support of the foundation’s core mission – “to invest in people and ideas that can change the world”.
(Note: This is an updated version of a post I wrote for our friends at Constant Contact.)
December is here and it’s prime time for fundraisers. Thirty percent of all online giving happens in December, with 10% of the money annually donated online coming in during the last 3 days of the year. Plus, with this week’s #GivingTuesday initiative, you may see even more new donors supporting your cause. Considering all of the time, effort, and money you have put into your year-end fundraising campaigns, make sure your organization will get the most out of your year-end donors with these three tactics:
Showcase recurring giving options.
In your fundraising appeals and on your online donation pages, always include the option to make a recurring gift. Well-positioned recurring gifts give supporters a way to give every month for the next year, instead of just one year-end donation. This is a win-win situation for everyone involved—donors can give more over time and you have a steady stream of dependable funds. Attach giving levels, special perks, and impact descriptions to monthly gift tiers to make recurring giving a more attractive option.
Enable and encourage social sharing.
Make it easy for your donors to share your message and raise money on your behalf by giving them tools to share your message via social media. Include social sharing buttons on your donation confirmation and thank you pages, in your thank you letters, and in follow-up emails. Provide copy and paste or pre-programmed messages to allow your donors to easily spread the word. Since enthusiastic supporters are often your best spokespeople, let their passion create a wave of donations by teaching them how to set up a fundraising campaign with a peer-to-peer fundraising tool, such as CrowdRise.
Have a solid donor stewardship plan.
Turn first-time or casual givers into repeat donors by sending them a warm, timely thank you letter, and then keep them up to date on the impact of their donation. Stay in touch so that they feel like a true part of your community and can relive the helper’s high over and over again. When donors know their gift was appreciated and made a difference, they’ll be more likely to give again. Of course, these efforts will also help you keep your current loyal donors devoted for years to come.
Want more year-end fundraising help? In our next free webinar, I’ll be answering your questions and sharing some key strategies to help you get the most out of these last few weeks of the year.
Free Webinar: Create Amazing Last-Minute Fundraising Appeals
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1pm EST
(Can’t attend the live session? Register anyway to get the full presentation delivered to your inbox!)
You are the changemakers, the risk takers, the champions, and the power behind great causes that make the world a much better place.
On behalf of the team here at Network for Good, thank you for all the good you do in the world. You amaze and inspire us each day and we are grateful to work alongside you. And for those celebrating in the U.S., have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.
Our next Nonprofit 911 webinar guest, Darian Rodriguez, is a big proponent of leveraging your organization’s year-end momentum to boost individual giving. Promoting your cause on #GivingTuesday is a great start, but you can take this a step further by empowering donors to promote your work on their own all year long. Here’s my true story and three things I learned about donors recruiting donors:
The button that sparked a donation while waiting in line for coffee.
I was standing in line at Starbucks when the customer behind me asked me about a button on my bag that read, “I GAVE. Will You?” The button was intended to drive donations at a conference I attended, but I took this small piece of donor swag to the next level. After I told my fellow customer about the foundation my donation supported (college scholarships and domestic violence prevention), he handed me $20 to donate on his behalf.
Although these types of encounters don’t happen every day, you can prepare your donors to be effective messengers for your mission. Here are three ways your organization can help donors recruit donors:
1. Educate your donors.
Use thank you letters, newsletters, and email appeals as an opportunity to tell donors a little bit more about what your organization does. If donors can’t articulate what you do, how can you expect them to tell someone else about your work? Try segmenting newsletters for new donors vs. recurring donors. New donors are getting to know you and need more basic information about your work. However, a recurring donor might like to learn more about long-term projects and ways to volunteer.
2. Equip your donors.
Give donors a way to show off your nonprofit. Donors don’t necessarily need a button or a tote bag to accomplish this. A social media update or email message they can share with their social circles works, too. If you use a tool like Network for Good’s DonateNow, make sure that you turn on social sharing so that donors can share their love for your organization with a Facebook update or a tweet right after they make a donation.
3. Love your donors.
I get great thank you letters from the foundation I mentioned in my story. Their thank you letters make me feel connected to their mission, and they always show appreciation for my gift. How does the thank you process work for your organization? Ask your board members to call donors and thank them, or have beneficiaries write a handwritten thank you note. Form a positive connection with your donors, and they’ll want to show love back by making another gift or by recruiting more donors.
How are you empowering your donors to become messengers for your nonprofit? Share your ideas and plans in the comments below!
The folks at nonprofit research and consulting firm Root Cause have released a new report that sheds more light on the motivation behind a donor’s decision-making process. Reinforcing what we learned from the Money for Good study, Informed Giving: What Donors Want and How Nonprofits can Provide It also offers insights on donor preferences on information by type and presentation while offering tips for nonprofits, as well as donors.
A few highlights:
Giving is personal.
“... charitable giving among donors who regularly or sometimes give to new causes/charities is heavily motivated by affiliation and existing donor knowledge of an organization and is somewhat unresponsive to solicitation. As little as 16 percent of donors would respond to solicitation, while an even smaller percentage—5.8 percent—would be motivated to give to an unaffiliated organization of which the donor had no knowledge.”
What you can do: Don’t try to blast your message to the “general public” and expect successful results. Tailor your outreach for different segments—different audiences will need different messages to be convinced to give to your cause. Use your nonprofit’s marketing efforts and fundraising materials to make the connection between your work and the affiliations and identities your community cares most about.
Donors care about the impact of a potential gift.
“When making a charitable donation to a nonprofit, donors are interested in information beyond metrics of financial stability (such as fundraising and overhead costs). As many as 75 percent of donors use information about the nonprofit’s impact, while 63 percent use information about the social issue the nonprofit addresses.”
What you can do: In your fundraising appeals, make a clear tie between a donor’s gift and what that donation will accomplish. Make it easy for donors to find information about the results of your work on your website with benchmark reports about your issue area, annual reports, and updates on your programs. Once they’ve found this information, make sure it’s simple to use by presenting your results in easy-to-understand formats like one-page summaries, fact sheets, and graphs.
Donors’ research relies on transparency of the nonprofit, peer recommendations, 3rd-party endorsements.
“Donors use multiple sources to gather information instead of relying heavily on one particular source: Donors who frequently or occasionally look for information about nonprofits use the nonprofit itself as the most common source (76 percent), followed by friends or family (69 percent), and then independent third-party organizations (54 percent).”
What you can do: Provide information about your impact in multiple locations and formats. Include third-party ratings, such as a Charity Navigator or GreatNonprofits badges, in your fundraising appeals, on donation pages, and throughout your website. Encourage your supporters to spread your message by providing them with easy ways to share, recommend, and review your organization.
The Informed Giving report also highlights donor preferences on information by type and presentation while offering tips for nonprofits, as well as donors. Get the full report here .
#GivingTuesday is just two weeks away—is your nonprofit ready?
While some organizations have been planning their #GivingTuesday campaigns for quite some time, if your nonprofit’s still wondering how to get in on the fun, don’t worry. There’s still time to participate and kick off December with a boost in donor activity. Some ways to get started:
1. Sign up. Registered 501(c)3 organizations can visit GivingTuesday.org to become an official partner organization and find ways to get involved.
2. Set a clear goal. Figure out what you want to accomplish on #GivingTuesday and set a goal that you can measure.
3. Get your emails and social media updates ready. Craft a few emails to rally your supporters to give along with their peers on December 3. Use social media to keep the excitement going and encourage fans to spread the word. You can join the conversation by using hashtag #GivingTuesday.
4. Make it easy for your supporters to give. Create clear calls to action so donors don’t have to wonder what you want them to do. Then, remove all of the roadblocks to giving by streamlining your donation process and enabling your donors to give via mobile.
5. Make it easy for your supporters to share. Offer easy and ubiquitous social sharing options on your donation pages and content, along with pre-programmed updates that your community can share with their networks to inspire even more participation.
Ready to make #GivingTuesday your own? Here are some resources to help you make the most of this day of giving and connect with your supporters:
• Learn how to get the most out of #GivingTuesday from GreatNonprofits
• Check out the amazing Giving Day Playbook from the Knight Foundation.
• Our friends at HubSpot have 12 tips for amplifying your #GivingTuesday campaign.
• The folks at GivingTuesday.ca offer some great ideas for 6 super-simple social media campaigns.
• Find (and share) even more resources in John Haydon’s Ultimate #GivingTuesday Checklist.
What are your plans for #GivingTuesday? Let us know in the comments below!
The latest release of Network for Good’s Digital Giving Index provides a snapshot of online giving for the first half of this year. This update looks at $71 million in donations to 20,000 charities on Network for Good’s online donation platform from January to June 2013.
Check out the full infographic below, or visit Network for Good to view the index and all of our previous updates.
Thanks to our friends at Event 360 for partnering with us to analyze this data.
“Fundraising is not really about money. It’s about people.”
Fundraising expert Larry C. Johnson, author of The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising, challenges nonprofits to look at the bigger picture to create a sustainable funding model for their missions.
As you execute your final fundraising campaigns for 2013, make sure you are planning for long-term success instead of just short-term dollar gains. Larry’s principles of sustainable fundraising urge fundraisers to look beyond quick wins and dig deeper to build a model of relationship-based philanthropy.
To help you accomplish this, we’ve invited Larry to share his tips and answer your questions in a free Nonprofit 911 webinar this week. This is well worth an hour of your time to make the most of your year-end donors. Larry’s expertise can help you:
• Discover what your donors really want.
• Understand who will support your cause and how to approach them.
• Structure a sustainable program.
• Learn how to evaluate your program.
Free Webinar: How to Achieve Financial Sustainability
Guest expert: Larry C. Johnson, CFRE and author of The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising
Tuesday, November 19, 2013 | 1pm EST
(If you can’t join us for the live session, go ahead and register so you’ll automatically receive the recording and slides directly in your inbox.)
Learn and plan. Donors are the drivers. These are two important reminders that Larry C. Johnson shares in his new book The Eight Principles of Sustainable Fundraising. While these maxims might seem obvious, Larry explores them in a way that will change how you think about asking for donations this holiday season.
At the heart of every donor’s decision to make a gift is the desire to actualize their personal values.
As you plan your year-end campaign, don’t forget to keep the emphasis on your donor. It’s important to provide a clear tie from the impact of your work to your donors who make it all happen. When organizations ask for donations using their own values, it’s mistakenly assumed that those values are universal. Listen to what’s important to your donors, then position your organization’s fundraising efforts so that you serve your donor’s needs while also raising money for the cause that you both value.
Donors want to be engaged, not enticed.
Have you ever tried to entice donors to give? When you approach supporters by selling them on the value of the services that your nonprofit offers, your interaction may seem more like a transaction. If you want your donors to feel involved, ask how your organization is meeting donors’ dreams and fulfilling their desires. Has your donor always dreamed of ending childhood hunger? Let him know how his donation will work to achieve that goal. Has your supporter had a lifelong interest in the region where you operate? Tell her about how your work affects the local community. Discover what inspires and motivates your donors, appeal to that, and invite them to be involved.
Larry will join us next Tuesday to share more from his book and answer your questions on sustainable fundraising. You’ll learn how you can apply the eight rules to raise more money for your organization. Join our free webinar on Tuesday, November 19th, 2013 from 1 pm to 2 pm EST. Register now to reserve your spot. (Can’t attend the live session? Go ahead and register so you receive the presentation and recording via email.)
#GivingTuesday is December 3rd. How will your organization celebrate?
For those not in the know, #GivingTuesday™ is a campaign to add a national day of giving to the lineup of shopping days Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.
#GivingTuesday is a prime opportunity for nonprofits and companies (and individuals) to collaborate for the greater good. Here are four steps to ensure your partnership’s success:
1. Seek mission and values alignment.
There are many reasons to form cross-sector partnerships: promotion to a bigger audience, inspiration from new ideas and approaches, and access to additional skills, more resources, and knowledge. And there are also just as many reasons not to partner: Support can come with strings attached, lack of trust, conflicting goals, and mission creep. To ensure you create a winning partnership, take the time to make sure there’s a good fit between your mission and the corporate partner’s brand identity and goals.
Luna’s Pure Prevention campaign provides a great example of nonprofit-corporate alignment. As a provider of nutrition for active women, Luna teamed up with the Breast Cancer Fund to find and eliminate environmental and preventable causes of breast cancer—a major health issue for women. It just makes sense.
Who are your go-to partners for #GivingTuesday?
2. Leverage complementary assets.
Assets are any resources that you and your corporate partner bring to the table. In addition to funding, assets can include people, skills, audience reach, relationships, and technology. A partnership is not just about getting access to corporate philanthropic dollars: It’s about true collaboration. Think about what assets your nonprofit has that will be of value to a corporate partner, and vice versa. You have invested in a brand, program portfolio, supporter base, and other resources that will help make the partnership a success. Never discount what you bring to the table.
Coalitions also provide powerful opportunities to leverage collective assets for a common purpose. This year BMORE GIVES MORE brings together several nonprofit and corporate partners in Baltimore to consolidate each organization’s efforts and leverage #GivingTuesday to raise $5 million dollars in one day for causes in the city.
Who can you join with to create a big impact this #GivingTuesday?
3. Design the right partnership architecture.
Thinking through the goals of the partnership and designing a measurable campaign will help ensure transparency and focus, especially if you use those measurements to tell stories with impact. How can you engage supporters in relevant and meaningful ways? How will you measure their participation and communicate results?
One framework to help structure the partnership is the ladder of engagement. Offer your audience multiple ways to participate with your partnership based on their level of passion and commitment to the cause. The No Kid Hungry campaign, led by Share Our Strength, does a great job of offering multiple ways to take action: donate, advocate, sign a pledge, spread the word, and raise money for your cause.
How can you offer a ladder of engagement for #GivingTuesday? First, understand where your supporters congregate online, then design calls to action that leverage those channels. (Don’t forget to repurpose this user-generated content all year to connect with supporters’ emotional ties to your cause. You can also track who is a big participant and cultivate them as a brand ambassador and uber-volunteer.) Here are a few ideas:
• #GivingTuesday Twitter chat (Encourage corporate sponsors to pledge $1 per tweet.)
• Random Acts of Kindness Facebook campaign (Have supporters share acts they performed or witnessed.)
• Inspirational generosity pins on Pinterest (Have supporters share what generosity means to them.)
• Kind deeds caught in the act on Instagram (Feature photos of generous acts and giving.)
• Messages of hope and generosity on YouTube (Feature testimonials about how giving affected their lives or messages of encouragement for your program beneficiaries.)
4. Measure and communicate accomplishments.
Evolving a partnership requires taking the time to understand where you’ve been, what you’ve accomplished, and how you can keep improving. Communicating impact to partnership stakeholders is a vital piece of that process. It’s also important to communicate that to your donors, and never forget to say thank you! Did you know that an eCampaigning Review Study surveyed 2 million donors who gave to 50 nonprofits around the world and found that 70% of the nonprofits did not send an email thank you within 1 month of a donor’s gift? And 37% never sent a thank you email at all. Never! Don’t be one of those organizations. Be an awesome and amazing nonprofit sending immediate thanks yous that are personal, tangible, emotional, and about the donor—not your organization.
If you need inspiration, just check out the A Day Made Better thank you video for a refresher on powerful storytelling and expressing gratitude. You can also see how Phoenix House recapped their 2012 #GivingTuesday campaign and closed the loop for campaign participants with a heartfelt response from program beneficiaries.
Remember: Corporate-cause partnerships are all about relationships, collaboration, execution, and impact (and fun!).
The fundraising researchers at Dunham+Company have released a fascinating new report that looks at the online giving behavior of donors making donations through charity websites. The Growing Importance of Charity Websites to Philanthropy is a three year summary of who is giving through charity websites and why.
Online giving isn’t just for younger donors: For donors 60+, giving online through charity websites increased 27% from 2010 to 2013.
Online gifts are prompted by offline motivators: 3 of the top 5 motivators for giving through a nonprofit’s website originated offline (such as direct mail or an in-person ask).
Direct mail leads to online gifts: So far this year, 44% of donors who received direct mail solicitations say they prefer to respond by giving through online channels.
Check out The Growing Importance of Charity Websites to Philanthropy for more stats and charts.
As we’re quickly approaching the busiest time of year for giving, it’s critical that both your nonprofit website and online donation process are easy to understand, easy to use, and in top working order. Donors of all ages—including those over 60—are going online to make their gifts, whether they receive your appeal through direct mail or other means.
(Note: If you need a better online donation page that’s easy to set up and easy for donors to use, Network for Good can help. Get in touch with one of our fundraising consultants or join a live demo on November 14 to find out how we can help.)
Here at Network for Good, it’s the season for fundraising appeal reviews. As part of our Fundraising Fundamentals premium training, we look at year-end fundraising appeals for hundreds of nonprofits to help them be the best they can be for the busy giving season ahead. All too often, these appeals fall short of packing the emotional punch they need to spur donors to act.
While it’s definitely important to remember the key components of an effective fundraising appeal (a clear call to action, a sense of urgency, statements about what a donation will do), what will make your appeal really stand out is an attention-grabbing, emotionally compelling, authentic story. Your cause’s story is the heart and soul of your fundraising letter. It’s how your appeal will have a personality that allows you to connect with your donors and inspire them to give. Without it, your appeal will read like many other cookie cutter letters your supporters will receive this giving season.
To help you jump start your storytelling efforts, Working Narratives recently released a new guide, Storytelling and Social Change. The guide includes insight from storytelling heavy hitters like Andy Goodman and Marshall Ganz, as well as case studies featuring Ford Foundation and GlobalGiving.
If you feel stuck, the good people at Working Narratives offer some ideas to help you explore a narrative for your stories:
• Jot down a short list of favorite social-change stories you’ve heard, told, or participated in, and notes about what form the stories took and how they affected you.
• Write a story that illustrates how you think change happens and another story that tells of change happening in a very different way. Explore the differences in the characters, settings, conflicts, and endings.
While this resource focuses on the needs of foundations and grantmakers, all organizations can benefit from the tips and examples offered in the guide. To download your free copy, visit the Working Narratives website.
The Children’s Hospital at Darthmouth-Hitchcock recently posted an awesome video featuring staff and patients lip syncing and dancing to Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’. With over 1.5 million views, so many people have seen the kids at CHaD roaring!
This video is a wonderful way to show the staff and patients having fun while still in what is the typical, sterile hospital environment. It sends the right message to make donors, and potential donors, feel good about what their money is supporting. Don’t you get warm fuzzies watching the staff and kids rocking out to this song? (Fair warning: this song will get stuck in your head!)
Whoever chose to highlight the patients in their daily hospital setting had the right idea. Filming the kids in their rooms and play areas helps you grasp that this is their reality everyday: energetic nurses, IVs, hospital masks, gowns, machines, and wheelchairs.
The only suggestion I have to make this video better would be to have the call to action embedded in the video in addition to the link posted in the about section. I’m sure they weren’t prepared for over 1 million views in such a short time, but I encourage CHaD to take advantage of their viral video success ASAP and turn those views into actions to donate!
Wondering how you can make a video for your organization? Check out these 5 tips to help you get started.
It’s easy to dismiss small online actions as “slacktivism” that won’t affect real change, but studies have shown that online activism can turn into fundraising results and offline action. Technology—especially the explosion of mobile and social—has made it incredibly simple for people to take small, easy actions in support of a cause. Even more amazing is the way our connected society allows us to tap into much larger networks than we would be able to build ourselves.
“Slacktivists” often have large circles of influence and are more likely to spread the word, volunteer and donate down the road. According to Stanford Social Innovation Review, “For a nonprofit, this valued supporter could be the small donor—with the big network or degree of social platform savvy—who is able to influence others to give well beyond her own capacity.”
If you’re still not convinced, consider this: altruism typically inspires more altruism. In one experiment, an initial act of kindness prompted others to donate, albeit in progressively smaller amounts. Yet the total dollar value donated was triple the initial gift. Generosity is contagious.
So, how do you tap into the generous potential of the crowd? When it comes to turning small actions into big results, the key is to keep it simple, focus on volume, and leverage your momentum.
The key word is easy.
Embrace and enable slacktivists by lowering the barrier of entry to participate—especially on social media. This means making your calls to action easy to understand, easy to do, and easy to afford. Remember: these supporters will not be your high-dollar donors—yet.
Turn up the volume.
To get the most out of your efforts, take every opportunity to amplify your message through your newly-expanded network. Give your audience simple tools to spread your message through social media and email. Encourage sharing by making these options ubiquitous and don’t be afraid to remind your fans and followers to get the word out. Again, make it easy by giving them prepared tweets, Facebook updates, and email copy to use.
Keep the momentum going.
As you build up steam, use the social proof of those collective actions to rally support for your cause. Create a ticker or donation thermometer to show your progress. Encourage your supporters to leave comments that you can use as testimonials. Showing a groundswell of support for your campaign will make others take notice.
Use that foot in the door.
Supporters who take a small action are more likely to take additional, larger actions over time. Create a plan to cultivate these audiences specifically and encourage more involvement with your cause. Depending on how they came to your organization, these donors, petition signers, or social media warriors may need an additional introduction to your work and why it’s important.
If you’re planning to wait until December to reach out to your donors, you may be too late. Setting the stage for your year-end fundraising push is as important as the ask itself. This is true for a few reasons. First, no one wants to be ignored all year, only to be asked for money when they finally do hear from you. That’s not much of a relationship.
Second, it often takes more than one message to get donors to act. While marketers don’t agree on a magic number, it pays to consider the effective frequency of your message—that is, the number of times it will take for someone to see your marketing message before they take action.
So, how do you wake up donors and get them ready for giving season? Here are a few places to start:
Send a warm-up email.
If you haven’t communicated with your donors recently, reach out to them this week to update them on all of the good *they’ve* done this year through their gifts. Remind them that you’ve put their donations to good use and give them the opportunity to see the results. By taking some time to rekindle their positive feelings about your organization now, you’ll prime donors to be ready to take action in a few weeks. Need some ideas for your email outreach? Download Network for Good’s free Nonprofit Guide to Email Engagement.
Get supporters talking via social.
Once you’ve shown up in their inbox, get on your donors’ social radar by inviting them into a conversation about your work and the latest news about your cause. People want to invest in other people they trust, not faceless institutions. Social media is a great way to let donors see the real you and forge a meaningful connection with your nonprofit.
Follow up with event attendees.
If you’ve held a fundraising event this year, you have the perfect opportunity to reach out to these highly engaged supporters to update them on the outcome of the event, and let them know how they can stay involved with your organization. If you haven’t recapped your event to relive all of the amazing stuff that happened, what are you waiting for? Reminding your event attendees of this shared experience helps them feel closer to your organization, and much more likely to give again.
Today is Network for Good’s official Be Your Donor Day. Today is the day all nonprofits should review their digital fundraising channels through their donors’ eyes. Of course, while every day should be Be Your Donor Day at your organization, we want to encourage all fundraisers to devote some time today to experiencing their outreach and donation process from their donor’s perspective.
A third of all online giving will happen in December—now is the time to make sure your donors will have an easy giving experience that inspires and delights them. Don’t let your hard work of creating a great year-end fundraising plan go to waste! Make it your mission to find and fix any problems that may trip up your donors before the busiest giving days of the year.
So, what can you do to celebrate Be Your Donor Day? Here are some suggestions:
—Visit our Be Your Donor Day headquarters for donor-centric fundraising resources, including a Be Your Donor checklist and year-end fundraising guide.
—Pledge to set aside time to view your entire fundraising and donation process from your donor’s perspective.
—Put on your “donor hat” and make a donation, submit a contact form on your website, and call your main phone line. What happens? Is the process what you’d expect? Is it easy?
—Ask a friend or family member (someone not overly familiar with your organization) to help you test your website and donation page.
—Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #BeYourDonor.
We asked a few of our friends in the nonprofit space to share their suggestions for Be Your Donor Day. Read on and check out their amazing tips:
We’ve all heard it before, “Give me your Rolodex, give me 20 names that I can contact.” It can be overwhelming to produce a big list of people who are eager to raise money for your cause. But what if 20 names is 19 too many? What if all you need is just one? This is the idea proposed by philanthropist Jeffrey Walker and fundraising expert Jennifer McCrea in their recent book, The Generosity Network.
Asking your nonprofit board members for just one person who might be interested in joining your cause will seem more manageable to them and is more likely to generate a thoughtful response. That way, you can meet with someone who is open to starting a relationship with you and—ultimately—your organization.
Meet in an intimate setting.
Invite your new contact to meet, but beware of asking them to your office! Conference rooms can be beautiful spaces: great for viewing PowerPoints, but actually hosting an intimate first meeting? Forget it! Go to coffee or breakfast so that you can be in a space that is made for conversation. In a coffee shop, sharing your story won’t come across as rehearsed the way it automatically would in a conference room or at someone’s desk. Context is everything.
Form a connection.
Remember, this first meeting isn’t a sales call; it’s a chance to authentically connect. Be ready to ask what your new contact truly values and consider saying, “For the record, I’m not going to ask you for money today.” If people think you’re just there to extract something from them, they might be worrying about your potential ask. If they’re only half listening, it will be hard to build a relationship of trust and explore a potential partnership. But don’t wait too long to ask for a commitment! It’s important to share what your organization is doing and what you could achieve together.
For more ideas on developing a relationship with your donors and how to turn them from one-time customers into lifelong partners, access the archived webinar presentation of Nonprofit 911: Build Your Generosity Network with Jennifer McCrea and Jeff Walker.
This week, our friends at Taproot Foundation are casting the spotlight on Pro Bono Week, a “global celebration of the pro bono ethic across all professions that use their talents to make a difference.” Tapping into pro bono support can help your organization acquire the professional skills necessary to achieve your nonprofit fundraising and marketing goals. So, how can nonprofits join the celebration? Here are three ideas:
Try “pro bono raising”.
In addition to your normal fundraising plans, consider creating a campaign to secure pro bono help in the areas where you need support. This will not only help you boost your program results, but also boost the impact of your donor dollars. The money that you would have spent on human resources can now be allocated to other parts of your mission.
Leverage your board.
Pro Bono Week is a perfect opportunity to get your board involved in a new way. Ask your board members to think about pro bono resources that may be available their own networks. Use Taproot’s board tools, powered by BoardSource and LinkedIn, to help your board members search their networks for expertise in your area. This is a great alternative to only asking your board for fundraising contacts.
Thank your pro bono supporters.
Just as you would nurture your donors with a great stewardship plan, or celebrate your volunteers with an appreciation event, take the time to highlight your pro bono partners. Use Pro Bono Week as a reminder to say thank you and acknowledge the impact of your pro bono resources.
Do you use pro bono services to power your mission? Tell us about your projects and how pro bono professionals have made a difference for your nonprofit.
If you’re still not sure what your organization should be doing with social media, it would be a good idea to figure it out soon. As social media use continues to grow, this channel is becoming even more important to online donors as a way to connect with causes and find news and information.
Here are some social media fun facts:
Want some help with your nonprofit’s social media strategy? Nonprofit communication expert Farra Trompeter of Big Duck will join us on Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 1pm EDT for a free Network for Good webinar. Farra is a seasoned fundraising and nonprofit marketing professional who has helped hundreds of nonprofits create amazing campaigns and communicate more effectively via social channels. This is a perfect opportunity to learn from one of the best. Registration is free and I hope you can join us. (Note: If you can’t attend the live stream, we’ll send you the presentation so you can review it on demand.)
Develop Your Social Media Strategy
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013 1 pm EDT