Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog

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Nonprofit marketing and fundraising insight from Network for Good.
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4 questions to help you stay true to your brand

Fri, 2014-04-11 06:29

Most organizations go to great lengths to carefully craft a mission statement, outline a vision, and develop a tagline to clarify their place in the world. But it’s important to remember that these elements aren’t meant to be stored away as archived material in your annual report. These core beliefs should be an everyday yardstick for all of your communications.

As you work to react to changes in your community, crises, and fundraising ups and downs, it can be tempting to try anything to see what may stick. Something similar happens when there’s a marketing trend or a new channel to explore, like a new social network. When you feel this urge, it’s important to think about how you answer these four questions:

1. Who are you?

2. What is your purpose?

3. How do you accomplish your work?

4. What are your values?

Answering these four key questions will ultimately help you answer a fifth:  are your actions and outreach consistent with your organization’s core identity? If not, it’s time to take a step back to ensure everyone in your organization knows and understands your brand—and how you bring it to life.

How to Rock Crowdfunding and Giving Days—Free Webinar

Mon, 2014-04-07 06:18

Planning a giving day this year? Thinking of joining one? The power of crowdfunding and a dedicated fundraising event can attract new donors to your cause and help you raise more money, but it doesn’t happen by chance. Part of any effective giving day is the network of support and resources a community giving day can offer. To that end, we have an amazing session scheduled this week to help you get the most out of your efforts. Tomorrow, Lori Finch, Kimbia’s Vice President of Community Foundations, will join us to share a foolproof game plan for getting the most out of any giving day.

In this free webinar, we’ll cover:

  • How giving days work
  • The key strategies for crowdfunding success
  • What you need to do to take advantage of available resources and raise more money during a 24-hour giving event


Plus, we’ll have plenty of time to answer all of your burning questions. Whether or not you have a giving day on your calendar, don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about adding crowdfunding and giving days to your fundraising portfolio.


Free Webinar:  Crowdfunding Events—How to Drive Donations in One Day
Tuesday April 8, 2014 | 1pm EDT
Register Now.

(Can’t attend on Tuesday?  Register anyway to get access to the recording and slides. We’ll send them right to your inbox!)

 

What Cap’n Crunch Can Teach You About Fundraising

Fri, 2014-04-04 06:06

Have you ever felt like you were being watched in the supermarket?

In a new study from Cornell Food and Brand Lab, researchers found that characters featured on kids’ cereal boxes make incidental eye contact with children and cereals aimed at adults make incidental eye contact with adult shoppers. Cereals presumably marketed to children (think Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, Trix) were found on lower shelves, and the gaze of the characters on these cereal boxes look downward at an angle of 9.67 degrees. 

This is probably not too surprising, but they took things a step further. Researchers asked a group of volunteers to rate their feelings about a brand based on the character featured on a cereal box. Study participants were randomly shown one of two versions of a Trix cereal box. One version featured the rabbit looking straight at the individual, in another, the rabbit had a downward gaze. Can you guess what happened?

People expressed a stronger connection to the brand when the rabbit made eye contact. Brand trust was also found to be 16% higher.  Participants even stated they preferred Trix, compared to another cereal, when that silly rabbit made eye contact.

Eyes in the Aisles Cartoon

So what does this have to do with nonprofit fundraising? Here are a few important reminders from the cereal aisle:

Know your target audience.
Think about the people you are trying to reach. Everything about your marketing efforts should speak to their unique experiences and values. One size does not fit all, so if you have multiple audiences, segment and tailor your approach accordingly.

Position yourself in their line of sight.
Are your cereal boxes on the right shelves? Understand the habits of your target audience and how to find them when they’re most likely to take action. If your target audience commutes via carpool each day, placards on the train aren’t going to make much impact. That’s somewhat obvious—the trick is having a deep understanding of where and when to reach your prospects. If you don’t have this intel, make it a priority to get it.

Make eye contact.
Are you looking your donors in the eye? Do this both figuratively and literally with your fundraising materials. In your emails, in advertisements, and on your website and donation pages, feature strong images of faces looking directly into the camera. Strike an emotional chord with your donors and make it easier for them to connect with your campaign.

How are you making eye contact with your donors? Share your ideas in the comments below, and—just for fun, tell us which cereal is your favorite. (Confession:  I’m partial to Apple Jacks as a guilty pleasure.)

Image courtesy of Cornell Food and Brand Lab

How big data can help nonprofits raise more money

Thu, 2014-04-03 04:07

Over the past few years, there has been a lot of talk about “big data” and how using the plethora of information we now have at our fingertips will help fuel efficiencies and make businesses and causes more successful. But how can data transform a nonprofit’s ability to fundraise more effectively? I recently caught up with Josh Mait, CMO at Relationship Science (RelSci), who offered some intel on how they’re connecting organizations with big data for big results.

Relationship Science offers a “relationship capital platform.” Josh explains, “We help organizations, both for profit and nonprofit figure out how to leverage their ‘relationship capital’ to high-impact donors Basically, how does a nonprofit organization identify and act on all of the 1st and 2nd degree relationships they have access to accomplish what they’re trying to do.”

Josh says that while as individuals we’ve become good networkers, especially thanks to the proliferation of new communication tools like social media, organizations still struggle to make the right connections.

In the nonprofit sector, organizations often face three key challenges that data can help solve:

1) Optimizing the board. 

2) Identifying high-impact donors. 

3) Reducing the length of fundraising cycles. 



By using data about individuals and their relationships, you can keep track of how these relationships may connect you to your next major donor or high-impact board member. For nonprofits wondering how to use their donors, board members, or corporate sponsors more effectively, being armed with the right information can help. The ability to talk to a board member about who they might have a relationship with can be very powerful if used properly. If you’re able to approach someone with a common experience or interest, this gives your request added credibility and social power.

“Relationship capital can help fundraisers identify people who might be good prospective donors,” explains Josh. “By looking at the full picture of your networks, your board’s relationships, your existing donor’s relationships and other people close to the organization,  you can immediately see new opportunities for growing a donor base. With limited resources, you can focus on potential donors who can be high impact. You can focus on those who are more likely prospects and approach them with a warm introduction.”

Relationship Science offers nonprofits a platform that has profiles on over 3 million decision makers throughout various organizations, including public, private and financial companies.The service builds deep dossiers based on publicly available information on these key decision-makers.

“There aren’t salacious or personal details—and no contact information. We simply provide a really easy to digest format for intelligence and insights,” Josh says. “Because we collect all of this information and put it into a usable interface, that encourages action. If I pull up a profile, I can find out if my organization and the individual have anything in common. “

In many cases, the availability and usability of this type of intel can be critical for small organizations, as they are less likely to have someone on staff dedicated to manually compiling and managing this information. The smart use of contact and donor data can create efficiencies and helps organizations make choices. Understanding where to allocate your limited resources might be the difference between meeting your fundraising goals and falling short.

So, will “big data” save us? Not so fast.

Josh says it’s not about the data alone, “If we aren’t smart about our clients’ workflows, if we aren’t smart about the way we interact with the data, then the conversation is meaningless. If people can’t act on data in a meaningful way, we are right where we started.”

Thanks to Josh for sharing his insights. To find out more about how Relationship Science helps causes connect with key contacts, check out this case study on how Interfaith Youth Core to mobilized its national donor and support network.

 

Don’t Like the Answer You’re Getting? Change the Question

Mon, 2014-03-31 05:53

As the volunteer coordinator for Gift of Life Michigan, Kim Zasa sent volunteers to church fairs and festivals in the hope that people would want to become organ donors. Although she had 800 volunteers attending countless events, only 11% of Michigan’s residents were organ donors. Today that number is about 33%.

So what changed? How did Gift of Life Michigan recruit so many new donors?

According to a recent story on NPR, responses changed when Kim convinced the state to have DMV clerks ask customers, “Would you like to be an organ donor?” Putting your ask—and your resources—in the right place at the right time is the key to getting the results you want!

1.   Determine what’s not working—and be willing to experiment.
Kim had an army of volunteers at her disposal who were willing to drive long distances for a cause they believed in. When she didn’t see the results she wanted, she took action.

Is there an area of your nonprofit that isn’t seeing the results you’d like? Don’t just assume things will improve. Determine what’s working and what’s not, and then brainstorm about what you can do differently.

2.   Analyze how you’re using your resources.
Instead of sending her volunteers on road trips, Kim put them to work in other ways and employed stationary DMV employees to make the ask. These clerks regularly saw almost the entire adult population of the state, so they were well positioned to speak to more people than Kim’s volunteers were.

Are you using the resources you have—both time and money—to their full capacity? Are volunteers solving a pain point for you and helping you in the most beneficial way? If not, how can you modify their tasks to be more effective for your cause?

3.  Put your question in the right place at the right time.
Instead of making the ask in places where people weren’t already making decisions beyond ice cream or cotton candy, Kim combined the ask with an established routine. If someone wanted to become a donor at a festival, they had to take multiple steps and time out of their entertainment to sign up. Making the ask at the DMV made it easy for potential donors to say yes, with no extra action required.

Are you positioning your request in the best way possible? Does saying yes require multiple steps that make it less likely you’ll see the result you want? For instance, when you ask for donations online, do your supporters first have to click through multiple pages, or is it simply one click and done?

Think about how you can adjust how, when, and where you’re making an ask to better your odds of getting through to your target audience. Have you tried something similar? Share your results and suggestions in the comments below!

New Study: Are You Leaving Money in the Middle?

Wed, 2014-03-26 00:22

Mind the gap.

That’s the advice in a new report on mid-level donor programs. The folks at Sea Change Strategies caution that nonprofits are missing out on a ton of money simply because they’re overlooking a committed and productive audience: middle donors —the donors who give more than low-dollar direct marketing donations, but less than major gift targets.

The Missing Middle whitepaperTHE MISSING MIDDLE: Neglecting Middle Donors Is Costing You Millions, by Sea Change Strategies’ Alia McKee and Mark Rovner, does double duty as a wake-up call and roadmap for creating effective mid-level donor programs. The study is based on interviews and data from 27 organizations and experts, including heavy hitters like Roger Craver and nonprofits such as The Nature Conservancy and the Human Rights Campaign. The free whitepaper includes:

  • 8 habits of highly-effective mid-level donor programs
  • A sample framework for a 30-day action plan
  • In-depth profiles of two highly effective mid-level programs

Fresh from the AFP conference in San Antonio, Alia McKee shares some more insight about The Missing Middle:

How do you distinguish mid-level giving from a major donor program? Is it simply the dollar amount or are there other things going on here?
Alia: It’s really about the dollar amount. Of course the definition of middle donor varies from organization to organization, but it tends to hover anywhere between $250-$9,000 cumulative in a year.

In the report, you touch on possible challenges on getting executive buy-in.  Can you give us some ideas on how to make the case for investing in a mid-level donor program?
Alia:1. Among the groups participating in the Wired Wealthy Study, donors at the $1,000 to $10,000 levels (annual giving via all channels) represented roughly one percent of the donor population, but were giving more than a third of the dollars. That’s a HUGE amount of revenue.
2. Middle donors are actually an organization’s most committed donors. They will be retained and upgraded far more than smaller donors and far more than major donors. They represent a very significant block of money, commitment and loyalty.
3. A functional and philosophical gap exists between direct marketing programs and major gifts programs. Hence, middle donors often receive lackluster treatment that is driven by attribution wars and resentment across the organizational divide. But their capacity to give is huge—so minor tweaks to their treatment can yield big results in revenue.

What was the biggest surprise for you in this research?
Alia:  Despite the fact that every fundraiser and expert we talked to universally agreed that mid-level donors are exceptionally valuable, they also agreed that most organizations haven’t made the kinds of investments necessary to make the most of this immense opportunity.

Can small shops pursue a mid-level donor program?
Alia:  Absolutely. Small changes in stewardship of middle donors can yield results regardless of an organization’s size. Of course, capacity is an issue. But many nonprofits we spoke to approached this creatively including:

  • Staff pizza parties to stuff personalized mailers to middle donors
  • Volunteer phone calls to middle donors thanking them for their support
  • More substantive content to middle donors culled from other organizational communications


Can your online efforts help your mid-level strategy?
Alia:  Digital outreach is not the silver bullet when it comes to middle donors. You must communicate with those donors across channels (e.g. be channel agnostic) and give them substantive communications in person, via phone, by notecard or by email. Ideally, you’d reach them through their self-selected preferred channels.

Just for fun:  Monie in the Middle or Malcolm in the Middle?
Alia:  Malcolm in the Middle, but only because of Bryan Cranston!

Get in touch with your Missing Middle. Download the report for free.

 

Give Local America: An opportunity to grow online

Tue, 2014-03-25 00:10

Give Local America

Network for Good is happy to partner with Kimbia to extend the reach of Give Local America, a nation-wide giving day that marks the 100-year milestone of community foundations in the United States.

This national online giving event will take on May 6, 2014. Give Local America is expected to be the largest online giving day ever held on a single platform. Giving days help nonprofits connect with new donors in an easy and efficient way. Give Local America uses the power and pride of local communities to tie it all together. Want to find out more and get involved? To sign up, visit www.givelocalamerica.org, find your city, and follow the easy registration process.

To get the most out of your giving day participation, read on for some ideas.

Quick Tips for Giving Day Success



1. Set a clear goal for the day.
Be specific about what you hope to get out of your participation. Do you have a target fundraising amount? Need to acquire a certain number of new donors? Set a concrete goal that will help you gauge success.

2. Leverage what’s provided.
Connect with organizers of your giving day and take advantage of any training or resources that can help you get the most out of the event. You’ll also likely make connections with local foundations and community influencers who can help your cause long after your giving day is over.

3. Work the media.
Most giving days have built-in promotion and press coverage, online and off. Take advantage of this exposure and be ready for questions. Reach out to your local contacts to help boost the attention for the big day—your community’s newspaper, television, and radio stations will likely welcome the inside scoop on a local event.

4. Embrace the urgency.
Giving days typically feature two key things that motivate donors to take action: a deadline and a match. These motivators encourage donors to give now and give more. Underscore the sense of urgency in all of your communications.

5. Empower your supporters.
Online giving days get a boost through the power of social networks. Encourage your supporters to spread the word by giving them easy ways to connect with you online and provide pre-written messages they can copy, paste, and share.

6. Focus on your follow up.
Many giving days attract new donors to causes. Past giving days have yielded 20% to 60% new donors for participating organizations. This is a great opportunity to begin a strong relationship with supporters who are ready to take action. Have a robust welcome and retention plan in place, and please, don’t forget to send out an amazing thank you to start things off right.

For more tips on successful online giving day strategies, join us for our next free webinar on April 8.

Free Webinar: Take Charge of Your Nonprofit’s Reputation

Mon, 2014-03-24 04:18

Do you know how supporters feel about your organization? What are people saying about your cause online? 

All too often organizations are so busy promoting their next campaign or event they fail to pay attention to managing their reputation. If you’re not actively monitoring and managing how your nonprofit’s brand is perceived, your fundraising and marketing efforts will suffer. 

This week, we have a must-see webinar for anyone working in the sector. Dr. Dionne Clemons, nonprofit communications expert, will join us for a free webinar all about understanding and managing your nonprofit’s reputation. She’ll show you how to create a plan for actively managing and safeguarding your brand. If you need some help planning for crisis communication, brand monitoring, public relations, or social campaigns, you will not want to miss this.

Take Charge of Your Nonprofit’s Reputation
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 1pm ET
Register now.
(If you can’t attend the live session, go ahead and register so you can get the recording and slides delivered shortly after the event.)

Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops: An Interview with Amy Eisenstein

Tue, 2014-03-18 01:07

Pursuing major gifts: it’s one of those things we know we should do, but for some organizations it may seem too overwhelming—or even impossible. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way. Amy Eisenstein of Tri Point Fundraising has demystified major gift programs for small and medium-sized organizations. I asked Amy to share a little bit about her latest book, Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops.

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What prompted you to write Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops?
Amy: I wrote Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops because it seems to me that most nonprofits are too reliant on the “hamster wheel” of fundraising—grant writing, event planning, and bulk mail. But given that as few as the top ten percent of donors give up to ninety percent of an organization’s gifts, I know that most small nonprofit organizations would raise significantly more money if they invested time and resources in raising major gifts from individual supporters. One of my main goals is to help all nonprofits raise more money so they can change and save more lives—this book will help small and medium-sized organizations that haven’t yet started soliciting major gifts to do just that.

What is the biggest hurdle for small nonprofits who are trying to implement a successful major gifts program?
Amy: There are actually two large hurdles: time and knowledge. Given that professional fundraising training is a relatively new thing, most fundraising professionals working today (particularly in small shops) have never been taught how to ask for four, five, or higher-figure gifts. Major Gifts Fundraising for Small Shops tackles both issues with an easy to follow, step-by-step approach that teaches everything readers need to know.

How do major gifts fit in with other kinds of fundraising an organization may be pursuing? Is there a magic formula for determining how much time/effort you spend on each funding stream?
Amy: Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula. It would be wonderful to have one, wouldn’t it? However, it is well known that major gifts (and planned giving) are the least expensive types of fundraising (events are typically the most expensive). In the book, I recommend that readers commit five hours per week to raising major gifts, which leaves them thirty-five hours or more for their other efforts. As their major gifts program becomes successful and fruitful, they will naturally want to spend more time in this arena. Success is a great incentive!

Do you have some examples of small orgs who have a great major gifts program in place?
Amy: Many organizations that participated in the Major Gifts Challenge on my blog (which was the foundation for this book) are starting to have increasing success with major gifts. I’ve heard back from readers whose organizations are receiving their first $10,000 gifts and from others that are asking for and receiving major gifts on a more regular basis.
 
In the book, you talk about building deeper relationships with major gifts prospects. How does this approach differ (if at all) from cultivating other types of donors?
Amy: We all know that fundraising is about creating and building relationships. Cultivating major donors is the same thing, but at a much deeper, more meaningful level. Most organizations build those relationships with lower-level donors by inviting them to a large event and/or sending them newsletters. With major gift donors, the cultivation process is all about in-person, one-on-one meetings—and more overall personalized approach.

Amy has a special offer for those of you who buy the book online today. Check out the details and keep us posted on how your major gift efforts are going at your organization.

Amy EisensteinAmy Eisenstein, ACFRE, is an author, speaker, coach and fundraising consultant who’s dedicated to making nonprofit development simple for you and your board. In addition to Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops, she’s also the author of 50 A$ks in 50 Weeks and Raising More with Less.

Just Released: The Digital Giving Index

Mon, 2014-03-17 10:21

To make a smart plan for your digital giving spend and online fundraising strategy, you need to understand how donors are giving online. Since 2010, Network for Good has published the Digital Giving Index which looks at online giving trends across the Network for Good platform, including both branded and generic donation pages, peer-to-peer fundraising, portal giving, and employee giving.

The latest Digital Giving Index looks at the patterns of online giving for 2013 and shows how donors give across channels. This data represents $190M in giving to 40,000 charities. Thanks to our friends at Plenty Consulting who helped us dig into the data to provide this great analysis.

Digital Giving Index

Online giving is thriving.

Online giving continues to grow at a faster clip than overall giving. For the second straight year, the we’ve seen double digit growth in online fundraising. This echoes other reports in the sector (such as the Blackbaud Index and Giving USA), and really builds the case for creating a strong digital strategy. At Network for Good, we see consistent trends even as online giving methods adapt to changing technology.

Nonprofit donation pages are still key.

So giving is going online, but where and how are donors giving online? On Network for Good’s platform, 61% of online gifts are still made through a charity’s online donation page. For the first time, we added in employee giving as a channel in the Digital Giving Index to show how this type of charitable giving stacks up. We’re seeing an increase in companies who want to offer their employees a way to give back. Network for Good helps provide that technology and we can see how those donations evolve over time. The number of employee donations grew by 83% from 2012 to 2013.

As more digital options become available to donors, they have more choices in how they give and to whom they give. Here are our latest stats on year over year growth in total donations for each channel. As employee giving and peer-to-peer giving become more widespread, they see a high rate of change, but together they still make up less than one third of the total donations we see on our platform.

Online giving growth rate by channel

Not all online giving is the same.
The rate of growth and size of average gifts vary from channel to channel. What we continue to find is that:

  • The channel matters
  • The context matters
  • The experience matters

This shows in the data: donors give more on branded giving pages vs. generic giving experiences, e-commerce-style solutions, or charity giving portals. (Branded giving pages are those donation experiences that look and feel like a nonprofit’s website or campaign materials.)

Donors’ average gifts are also higher on branded giving pages:

  • 12% smaller average gifts on giving portals
  • 20-30% smaller average gifts on generic giving pages
  • Compared to 2012 average gift size decreased by 4% on generic giving pages, but grew on branded giving pages by 4%

Online giving by channel

Volume and average gift size are affected by the seasonality of giving.
The December giving and disasters impact donation levels. These patterns are pretty consistent from year to year, yet show total giving ramping up over time.

Seasonality of Giving

At Network for Good we saw total donations on Giving Tuesday grow 73% from 2012 to 2013, so Giving Tuesday has really established itself as the kickoff for end of year giving.

During these giving spikes obviously gift volume goes up, but gift size also increases towards the end of the year: the largest gifts are given on December 31, followed by Giving Tuesday, and in response to disasters, such as Typhoon Haiyan. These same trends hold true for portal giving and employee giving. This is why it’s extremely important to have a solid online giving program in place, especially in December, but also to capture impulse giving and reactions to crises and events.

Giving is also social.
What we know about giving is that it’s a highly emotional act. It’s often prompted by personal ties, either to a cause or an organization. But giving is also social in that we are influenced very strongly by our networks as well as those we perceive to be our peers.

We can think of social media and peer-to-peer fundraising in the same way. Peer-to-peer fundraising as a concept isn’t new. People have been crowdfunding and raising money through events, contests, and marathons way before online giving. However, the power of social media combined with those peer networks—along with the ease of online giving—have enabled peer-to-peer giving to really take off online.

Peer to Peer Fundraising

It’s worth noting that nonprofits who’ve enabled and empowered their supporters to become active fundraisers are reaping the rewards. What we’ve seen is that nonprofits who add peer-to-peer campaigns to their fundraising portfolio actually end up increasing their core fundraising activity. So P2P doesn’t cannibalize traditional donors or donations, but rather, it’s additive for those who are doing multichannel online fundraising.

Check out the full infographic below, and visit Network for Good to access all of the Digital Giving Index updates.

The Network For Good Digital Giving Index
Digital Giving Index infographic courtesy of Network for Good

The Online Fundraising Survival Guide

Mon, 2014-03-17 05:31

Does your online presence need a little work? Or, could you use some help convincing your boss or board that you need to think about your online strategy sooner, rather than later? Enter the 2014 Online Fundraising Survival Guide. It can help steer you through the digital wilderness.

We’ve compiled nine key elements for mastering online fundraising and marketing, from having a stellar donation page (natch) to figuring out what the heck you’re doing with mobile.  The guide offers a brief overview of each topic with stats, trends, and tips, along with a mini to-do list and recommended resources for you to explore.

Download the guide here for free (registration required). 

Survival Guide cover

Planning a fundraising event? Read this.

Wed, 2014-03-12 12:32

It’s event season! If you’re in the midst of hosting an event this spring, or are thinking of planning one for later this year, we’ve just released an updated edition of our fundraising events guide. From goal setting to following up with your attendees, we have you covered with 7 key steps to hosting a fabulous (and financially successful) event.

Here’s an excerpt:

This might sound painfully obvious, but it’s often overlooked by many nonprofits: Make sure to give attendees the option to give more at your event. Be appreciative of those who have purchased tickets and are attending your event, but recognize that a portion of your attendees will be ready and willing to do even more. Here are strategies for opening the door to more donations at your next event:

Auctions & Raffles: Auctions, games, and raffles are popular ways to raise even more money. The best raffles and auctions feature items that tie back to your cause or reflect your community’s unique interests.

Mobile Donations: Channel supporters’ good feelings into more gifts by reminding them that they can give on the spot via their mobile device. (Don’t have a mobile-friendly donation solution? Check out DonateNow ’s affordable mobile giving features.)

Recurring Donations and Memberships: Create a “Donation Station” or membership kiosk that will help your loyal supporters set up a recurring gift or become members of your organization. Be sure to staff your booth to make this process personal, easy, and fun.

Additional Gifts: Make it easy for attendees to not only register for tickets online, but to also give an additional donation.

Illustrate Your Impact: When your donors feel like there is a real, tangible benefit as a result of their donation, they’ll be more likely to give again.

Grab your copy of the guide here.

Events Guide

 

How to Connect with a New Generation of Donors and Volunteers

Fri, 2014-03-07 04:17

The Millennial generation—those 80 million folks born roughly between 1979-99—may not be your organization’s largest contributors today, but these “digital natives” are poised to receive the largest transfer of wealth from their Baby Boomer and Greatest Generation parents and grandparents. Nearly $41 trillion is expected to flow from one generation to the next in the decades to come. Yes, Boomers will continue be your fundraising bread and butter over the next few years, but there’s no denying the fact that Millennials will become more important to the long-term future of charitable giving.

Next Generation Donors

For your cause to survive well into the future, you must have a plan for attracting and retaining this cohort of supporters. To do this, you first need to understand and adjust to the fact that Millennials communicate and interact with marketing differently than previous generations. More than any other generation, they rely on digital and mobile technology to connect to friends, family and organizations they care most about. So what does this mean for nonprofits?

Don’t brush Millennials off as non-donors.

Keep in mind that this generation already wields nearly $200 billion in direct purchasing power. Millennials are giving to charity, but not in the numbers or dollar amounts of their older counterparts—yet.  According to the Millennial Impact Report, nearly 40% gave amounts between $1-50, and another 23% gave at $51-100 levels in 2012. Though Millennials may not be ready to give larger individual gifts, there’s an opportunity to raise more over time, as 52 percent of the Millennial Impact Report’s respondents said they’d be interested in monthly giving.

While Millennials are giving at different levels, they’re also giving in different ways. Blackbaud’s The Next Generation of American Giving report underscores the importance of these key generational differences in communication and giving preferences. It’s no surprise that Millennials overwhelmingly prefer to give online, and that direct mail and phone solicitation are unpopular with this group of young donors. These donors are more likely to give via mobile or through social media, as they see these methods as being a core way of interacting with the world. If ever there was a reason to segment your donors and match them with the appropriate giving channel, here it is.

Beyond how they donate, where the money goes is equally important to Millennial donors. Being able to quickly and clearly illustrate impact is key to activating these givers. Tell them exactly what will happen as a result of their donation and give them the proof to back it up. Only 22 percent of Millennial donors said they would be likely to give an unrestricted gift to a charity, according to The Next Generation of American Giving report. This makes it even more crucial to tie all donations to a measurable impact to gain trust.

To Millennials, the experience matters.

No matter the message, if your outreach doesn’t meet their expectations in terms of accessibility and authenticity, your organization’s results of engagement with this group will suffer. Some things to remember:

Share and connect.  The most frequent action taken by Millennials on a nonprofit’s website was connecting with the organization via social media. So, plan to use your website as a hub for younger donors to find ways to connect with you.  But note that these supporters prefer to share information about the causes that resonate with them, not specific organizations.

Giving is social. The 2013 Millennial Impact Report states that over 70 percent of Millennials are willing to raise money on behalf of causes that matter to them. This means these young supporters can be powerful fundraising messengers, because they love to spread the word. They like to find out about ways to get involved from their peers online, so make sure you’re equipping them with the right tools to share your message and volunteer opportunities with their networks.

Authenticity is paramount. Trust and transparency are increasingly important for all donors, and Millennials are no exception. They have grown up questioning the media and messages presented to them—they are used to having equalizing platforms like social media at their fingertips. Being upfront about your mission and how you accomplish it will win you favorable ratings from this group, as will having an authentic, personal approach to the way you communicate with supporters. No faceless messages devoid of personality, please!

Involvement, not just awareness. Millennials are interested in true involvement with the causes they support. They view themselves as collaborators, and not just hands-off donors. The NextGen Donors report sees this interest as this generation’s way of developing a sense of self while building their philanthropic identities.

Engagement, then participation. Millennials, like most other donors, don’t want to be bombarded with messages or endlessly solicited. As this generation is likely to tune out irrelevant messages much more quickly, it will be critical for nonprofits to focus on building a relationship with younger supporters and making the case for involvement before asking for a commitment.

Want to find out how you can combine these trends with technology to build relationships with Millennial donors and volunteers?

Next week, we’ll tackle these topics during the 2014 Nonprofit Technology Conference in our Big Idea panel: The Power of Technology and Leveraging a New Generation Network. This panel brings together new generation experts to explore how to leverage technology to inspire and collaborate with the Millennial Generation. Here are the smart folks who will be joining me for this session:

Todd Baylis, President & Co-Founder, Qgiv
John Clese, Director of Marketing, Strategic Initiatives, Abila
Becky Leven, Strategic Development Officer, Tendenci
Michael Rubio, Senior Program Manager, ZeroDivide
Jason Shim, Digital Media Manager, Pathways to Education Canada

Together, we’ll dig into how Millennials use technology, what it means for you, and we’ll share key strategies you can adopt to engage them on your organization’s behalf. We’d love to have you join us for this discussion. You’ll leave with new ideas on engaging young volunteers, strategies for fundraising with a new generation, and tips for successfully experimenting with technology to build your own Millennial network.

If you’ll be at NTC in person, we hope you’ll join us for this conversation. If you can’t attend NTC this year, this session is part of the Online NTC live stream, so you can participate from your computer, wherever you may be!

What’s the deal with big data?

Thu, 2014-03-06 07:20

Over the past few years, there has been a lot of talk about “big data” and how using the plethora of information we now have at our fingertips will help fuel efficiencies and make businesses and causes more successful. But how can data transform a nonprofit’s ability to fundraise more effectively? I recently caught up with Josh Mait of Relationship Science, who offered some intel on how they’re connecting organizations with big data for big results.

Relationship Science offers a “relationship capital platform.” Josh explains, “We help organizations, both for profit and nonprofit figure out what we call ‘relationship capital.’  This is basically how they understand and leverage connections to accomplish what they’re trying to do.”

Josh says that while as individuals we’ve become good networkers, especially thanks to the proliferation of new communication tools like social media, organizations still struggle to make strategic connections. 

In the nonprofit sector, organizations often face three key challenges that data can help solve:

1) Optimizing the board.
2) Identifying high-impact donors.
3) Reducing the length of fundraising cycles.

By using data about individuals and their relationships, you can keep track of how these relationships may connect you to your next major donor or high-impact board member. For nonprofits wondering how to use their donors, board members, or corporate sponsors more effectively, being armed with the right information can help. The ability to talk to a board member, for example, with this kind of specificity is very tactical. If you’re able to approach someone with a common experience or interest, this gives your request added credibility and social power.

“A rich bank of data can help fundraisers identify people who might be good prospective donors,” explains Josh. “By looking at the full picture of your networks and the shared Understand the ones you may already have access to through existing contacts/networks. With limited resources, you can focus on potential donors who can be high impact. You can focus on those who are more likely prospects and approach them with a warm introduction.”

Relationship Science offers nonprofits a platform that has profiles on over 3 million decision makers throughout various organizations, including public and private companies. The service compiles publicly available information on these key contacts.

“There aren’t salacious or personal details—and no contact information. We simply provide a really easy to digest format for intelligence and insights,” Josh says. “Because we collect all of this information and put it into a usable interface, that encourages action. If I pull up a profile, I can find out if my organization and the individual have anything in common. “

In many cases, the availability and usability of this type of intel can be critical for small organizations, as they are less likely to have someone on staff dedicated to manually compiling and managing this information. The smart use of contact and donor data can create efficiencies and helps organizations make choices. Understanding where to allocate your limited resources might be the difference between meeting your fundraising goals and falling short.

So, will “big data” save us? Not so fast.

Josh says it’s not about the data alone, “If we aren’t smart about people’s workflows, if we aren’t smart about the way we interact with the data, then the conversation is meaningless.  If people can’t act on data in a meaningful way, the data is useless.”

Thanks to Josh for sharing his insights. To find out more about how Relationship Science helps causes connect with key contacts, check out this case study on how Interfaith Youth Core to mobilized its national donor and support network.

Top 6 donor communication mistakes to avoid

Tue, 2014-03-04 07:39

According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report, 105% of donors gained by nonprofits were offset by lapsed donors. Let that sink in for a minute: for every 100 new donors that came through the door, 105 walked out. Not exactly the growth most nonprofits are looking for.

One of the best ways to improve your donor churn rate is to improve your donor communications.

Here are six of the worst donor communication mistakes, and some tips for how to avoid them:

Donor Communication Mistakes to Avoid

1. The “One and Done”

Sadly for some donors, the only “communication” they receive from the nonprofits they support is a donation receipt. Others may receive a nice thank you letter, but not much else.

How to avoid: Plan a series of ongoing communications with your donors. In addition to your nonprofit newsletter, provide quarterly updates for donors on the impact of their gifts, and show what goes on behind the scenes to make it happen. Create an editorial calendar and include your donor outreach as one key component to track.


2. The “Me Me Me”

Some causes suffer from nonprofit narcissism. They mean well, but their messages are devoid of one key ingredient: the donor. People who support your work also want to feel like part of your team.

How to avoid: Instead of talking only about the work you’re doing, reframe your communications to underscore how the donor is making your work possible. Use the word “you” more than “we”, and highlight the work of individual donors and volunteers to bring these stories to life.


3. The “Broken Record”

All too often, I see organizations sharing the same updates over and over. This is great … if you want to bore your donors. Unless you’re sharing success story after success story, your donors may wonder if you’re doing anything new or making any progress.

How to avoid: This is another way an editorial calendar can help you improve your donor communications. Create a list of stories, events, announcements, and seasonal topics that are relevant to your cause—and your donors—then, plot them out on your calendar to incorporate variety in your newsletters, impact updates, and social media outreach. Stuck for ideas? Ask your donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries for their input. They have a different perspective than you and probably have some fresh suggestions. Another option: tap your board to share a short update or quote for you to use in your next message.


4. The “Word Vomit”

Are you guilty of sharing too much information? When it comes to your donor outreach, is “verbose” an understatement? If your messages feel like solid walls of text, your supporters are less likely to bother reading them—and may feel like you don’t respect their time.

How to avoid: In most cases, people scan more than they read. This means that short, skimmable text works best, especially online. Use a “tease and link” strategy in your emails if you have longer stories to share. To make your messages even more readable, cut any acronyms, jargon, or insider language that will leave donors scratching their heads.


5. The “Disconnected”

Do you ever feel like you’re talking, but no one seems to be listening? Most often, this is because you’re not communicating in a way that reflects what your donor wants to hear. This often happens when organizations aren’t in sync with why their donors give.

How to avoid: Talk to your donors to understand why they care about your issue and what prompted them to give. Ask for feedback on your communications and let your donors have a say in how they hear from you. Try segmenting your donors by how they came to your organization, their level of giving, or by the specific programs they support. Then, communicate with them based on these parameters to make your message more relevant.


6. The “Show Me the Money”

You know that relative who never calls—except when he needs something from you? Don’t be that guy. When donors only hear from you when you have an appeal, they may start to wonder what happened to the money they already gave you.

How to avoid:  Implement a “share vs. ask ratio” in your organization’s communication. Plan to send a certain number of cultivation or update messages for every time you send an appeal.

(For more donor stewardship ideas, try our checklist.)

‘Fess up: are you guilty of any of these mistakes? What would you add to the list? Which communication missteps bug you the most? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Where to Find NFG at NTC

Mon, 2014-03-03 10:52

We’re really excited to have this year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference right in our back yard here in Washington, DC. If you’ll be in town for the conference, please make sure you stop by and say hi. We’d love to see you!

Here are all the ways you can get in touch with Network for Good while you’re at NTC:

NTC Science Fair: Visit us at booth #235 to meet our team, take a picture in our photo booth, pick up some NFG swag, and learn about how to make the most of Network for Good’s online fundraising tools. Don’t forget, the Science Fair is open to the public. So even if you’re not registered for the conference, come by to say hello!

Breakout Sessions: Join our Director of Content Strategy, Caryn Stein, for two breakout sessions on Friday, March 14, 2014

Progressive Party: Come meet the whole Network for Good team and help us celebrate processing $1billion in donations! We’ll be providing food, drinks, and tons of fun on Friday, March 14, 2014 from 9-11pm ET in downtown DC.

We hope to see you at one (or all!) of these events next week.

 

How great content can help you raise more money

Fri, 2014-02-28 07:23

Next week, we have a treat for nonprofit fundraisers and communicators alike. Taylor Corrado, Nonprofit Marketing Manager of HubSpot will join us for a free webinar to talk about the ins and outs of great content for nonprofits. As far as I’m concerned, HubSpot is one of the very best examples of a company who gets it right when it comes to publishing useful resources and delighting their audience. So, what does all of this content business have to do with you? Here are five ways content can help your fundraising efforts:

1. Great content helps you get found. Organizations who regularly post high-quality, relevant content have a better chance of ranking higher in search for keywords that supporters are using to find similar causes.

2. Great content gives your supporters something to talk about. If you want your fans to help you spread the word about your cause and the work you do, you’ll make it a lot easier on them if you’re providing information that is compelling and sharable.

3. Great content helps you illustrate impact. Remember all of those success stories you have tucked away in a file somewhere? Those great nuggets help you show donors exactly what their contribution will do. This helps you make the case for giving and allows you to put a human face on your cause.

4. Great content builds authority. Donors and partners want to know that you know your stuff. Writing pieces that demonstrate your experience and knowledge of your issue area will help you become even more credible. (Bonus: this also helps when reporters are looking for reliable sources for a story, which will help you get more attention.)

5. Great content reinforces trust.  Hand in hand with points 3 and 4 above, content helps you show who you are to your prospective donors. This type of transparency boosts trust, which can remove mental roadblocks to giving.

To learn how to make this happen for your organization, join next week’s webinar (details below). Once you’ve registered, share your burning questions about content in the comments. What types of content are you creating?

Free Webinar: How to Use Content to Boost Your Donations
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 | 1pm EST
Register Now.
(Can’t make it for the live session? Go ahead and register—we’ll send you the recording so you can review it at your convenience.)

5 Fundraising Metrics Worth Monitoring in Google Analytics

Mon, 2014-02-24 08:21

[Editor’s note: Today’s post comes to us from David Hartstein, partner at Wired Impact, a web design company that builds websites for nonprofits. David shares some helpful hints on tracking and interpreting key fundraising metrics through Google Analytics.]

Data can be daunting. Not only can the idea of delving into numbers be intimidating, but there are also a ton of terms you need to wrap your head around before anything makes much sense. And even after you have a grasp of the terminology it’s tough to know where to start.

When it comes to measuring your nonprofit’s online fundraising efforts, it’s easy (and common) to get lost, floating amidst the sea of data available.

What data matters the most? And how do you find it? While there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer, there is a common starting point.

Everything Centers Around Online Profit

The first key when measuring online fundraising is a sound mindset. Instead of giving every metric equal weight, remember:

All the decisions you make with regards to online fundraising center around online profit.

That’s the bottom line. If fundraising is one of your website goals, online profit should be your primary concern when measuring online fundraising. The metrics outlined below don’t matter in their own right. They only matter insofar as they ultimately lead to more overall dollars for your organization.

Total profit from online giving is the metric that should keep you up at night. It’s the one that you should celebrate first and foremost when reviewing your website data. It’s the one that should determine if your website is a success (again, assuming boosting donations is one of your primary website goals).

But profit isn’t easily tracked in most analytics tools since most tools are unaware of your expenses. So while you need to be mindful of your expenses, when using your analytics tool you’ll likely focus on revenue instead of profit.

Become consumed with driving up your online revenue. Then, use the metrics below to determine how you actually make that happen.

5 Favorite Nonprofits to Follow on Social Media

Fri, 2014-02-21 02:17

In honor of Social Media Week, I asked a few of our favorite nonprofit experts to weigh in with their personal picks for nonprofits who are hitting it out of the park on social media. Here’s what they had to say:

Mark RovnerMark Rovner
Principal, Founder & CEO, Sea Change Strategies

Audubon Society

National Audubon Society

Where I follow them: Facebook and Twitter
Why they’re so awesome: Social media manager Elizabeth Sorrell knows her audience and feeds them a generous supply of bird photos, interactive challenges, and conservation news. She’s made the Facebook page incredibly fun and lively, and the extremely high level of engagement is testimony to that.



Darian Rodriguez HeymanDarian Rodriguez Heyman
Co-Founder, Social Media for Nonprofits

water

charity:water
Where I follow them: Twitter
Why they’re so awesome: Everyone talks about how amazing charity:water is at outreach, but one specific thing they’ve done on Twitter to get to over one million (!) followers is their “photo of the day” campaign. They use the assets they have incredibly well, and that’s the key to their success.



Alia McKeeAlia McKee
Principal, Sea Change Strategies and founder, Lifeboat

Amnesty International

Amnesty International
Where I follow them: Facebook and Twitter 
Why they’re so awesome: They are timely, relevant, authentic. They use engagement data to optimize their social media communications. They use social media as a listening tool to tap into what their supporters are thinking and feeling about human rights. That info gets communicated to the fundraising and advocacy teams and informs integrated campaign opportunities. 



David HartsteinDavid Hartstein
Wired Impact

No Kid Hungry

No Kid Hungry 
Where I follow them: Twitter, Facebook, and Google+
Why they’re so awesome: From the name of the organization to the information they share, No Kid Hungry does an awesome job of communicating their mission in a clear way. On social media, they vary the content they share to provide a wealth of value to those interested in ending childhood hunger in America. Despite their sizable following, they take the time to engage with individuals, responding and thanking supporters publicly. No Kid Hungry sets a great example for all types of organizations.



Joe WatersJoe Waters
Selfish Giving and author of Fundraising with Businesses

Mount Vernon

George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Where I follow them: Twitter and Pinterest
Why they are awesome: They do a wonderful job creating unique content for their site and promoting it on social networks. For example, in October they really captured the macabre spirit of Halloween. They had a great post on people who had claimed to see Washington’s ghost through the years. Thanks to their activity on Twitter, I recently discovered a detailed post on how Mount Vernon looked when Washington lived there in the 18th century. Finally, Mount Vernon doesn’t restrict their content to text. They also have an active YouTube channel. Check out this video on Washington’s dentures! As a guy who follows and loves history, Mount Vernon really makes it come alive!

Want to improve your organization’s social savvy? Download our free social media guide.

How to Get Your Board on Board with Online Fundraising

Thu, 2014-02-20 17:51

If you’re a fundraiser who is struggling to get your executive director or board to understand why you should launch an online fundraising program or invest more in online giving tools, try these talking points to help plead your case.

Online giving boosts individual giving.

You might have experienced push back on launching online fundraising because your leaders want to focus more on grants and major gifts from foundations. Remind them that individual giving is the biggest slice of the fundraising pie, and online fundraising is a key way to help diversify your funding. Having an online presence (and a way to give online) will help you recruit and retain donors who are likely shifting away from writing checks.

 

HR