[Editor’s note: If you ever wanted to know how to position your organization for major gift success, look no further. In this guest post, nonprofit expert and Bloomerang CEO Jay Love has distilled critical tips for creating a solid transformational gifts strategy. Check out the recommendations and let us know how you plan to put them into practice for your nonprofit.]
After reading the groundbreaking research within Million-Dollar-Ready: Assessing the Institutional Factors that Lead to Major Gifts, by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and Johnson, Grossnickle, and Associates, I realized that virtually every factor they mention can have an impact on larger gifts for other nonprofits, too.
The outstanding report examines the characteristics of higher education institutions that consistently attract publicly reported gifts of $1 million or more. The study drew on a unique data set of 1,449 higher education institutions that publicly received gifts worth $1 million or more between 2000 and 2012 that were reported on the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s Million Dollar List. These institutions received more than 10,500 such gifts worth a combined total of more than $90 billion during that period. The report also incorporates insights from in-depth interviews with donors and staff at case study institutions with a successful track record of securing million-dollar gifts, shedding light on both a major donor’s path to giving a gift at this level and the institution’s view of the process of attracting such a gift.
The insights in this report lead me to compile six key factors for every nonprofit to consider focusing on when striving for major gifts. Bear in mind, the study did not include charities outside of the higher education world, nor were any of the interviews outside that subset of the nonprofit world. However, my experience working with over 20,000 nonprofits over the past 30 years supports these factors as vital to major gift success.
1. Success Starts at the Top
Your nonprofit’s top leadership needs to be solidly in place, and there needs to be a clear and compelling mission. The stronger the leadership is perceived to be by donors, the higher the level of trust potential donors will feel for you. Together, these attributes inspire donors to participate at major gift levels.
2. The Board Must Be 100% In
The trustees and board members need to be 100% involved with as many potential donors as possible who would give at the major gift level. This involvement also means knowing the nonprofit’s mission, spreading the word, and being a willing ambassador in any manner required. This includes previous board members, especially in the area of monetary gifts.
3. Results Matter
Proper measurement of the impact of your mission is vital. The sooner the organization establishes the measurement methods and criteria, which are accepted by the public, the easier it is to attract larger value donors. Major donors also want to make an impact and to know for sure that their large gifts are doing just that.
4. Experience and Infrastructure Make a Difference
The longer your organization has been in place fulfilling its mission the more likely it is to draw major gifts. Such donors are looking for a solid infrastructure and a proven track record before making leadership level gifts. This includes proper staffing to address the stated mission. Major donors realize there have to be proper expenses to achieve results.
5. Endowments Count
Organizations with endowments are perceived as safe and secure for the placement of major gift dollars. The study found that the larger the endowment, the more likely million dollar gifts can occur.
6. Reputation and Publicity Assist
Being recognized by reputable authorities for your nonprofit’s impact is a huge plus! Donors must be aware of you and comfortable in announcing who they will support with a major gift. Never underestimate the value of recognition of this type.
These six factors make up a remarkably strong foundation and lever for major gifts. If you are a newer organization please do not be disappointed if not all six are currently in place. These six factors are not easy to establish and improve, hence their effect on major donors. In my opinion, being recognized as having all six is a game changer for your major gift aspirations. With them in place, perhaps your organization will be rewarded with one or more of the million dollar gifts serving as the foundation of the original study!
If you didn’t see the online fundraising results you were hoping for in 2013—or you’d like to do even better this year, Network for Good has a new tool that can help. The Donation Page Grader will help you assess your donation page so you can see if you’re getting the most out of your online efforts. Take this short quiz to get your donation page grade and suggested resources to help you take your online fundraising to the next level. Click the image below to get started.
See how you fare and come back and share your results. Then, consider these three basic requirements any online donation experience should satisfy:
1. It should make giving easy. This can’t be stressed enough, so we’ll say it again and again. Don’t make your donors think too hard about giving to your organization. This includes enabling your supporters to quickly interact via mobile and social: does your donation page offer donors easy ways to give and share on the go?
2. It should keep donors in the moment of giving. When a prospective donor lands on your donation page, each component should reinforce their decision to give while making it quick and easy to complete their donation. This means it should closely match your nonprofit’s branding, campaign materials, and message. Make your donation page an extension of the conversation you’re having with your potential donors so there’s no disconnect.
3. It should help start your donor’s relationship with you off right. Donor retention really begins before a donation is made. If it’s confusing, difficult, or frustrating to give to your cause, you’re not starting your donor’s experience with your organization on a positive note. Your donation page should also help you quickly thank donors with a powerful post-donation experience and email acknowledgement, plus give you the information you need to cultivate these supporters over time.
Is one of your 2014 goals to get your social strategy in order? Here are 10 fun stats on social media that can help you decide how to spend your time.
Need some help thinking about how to leverage social media for your nonprofit’s outreach strategy? Download this free guide from Network for Good, Social Media Mini Guide for Nonprofits.
Would you love for your message to reach more people, both online and off, this year?
You’re in luck.
Jonah Berger, author of the bestselling book Contagious: Why Things Catch On, will join us tomorrow for the first Nonprofit 911 webinar of the year. As a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Jonah has studied how products, ideas, and behaviors catch on and become popular. He’ll be on hand to answer your questions and will share the secrets to making your nonprofit’s message catch on with your audience.
Don’t miss this special opportunity to understand the science behind recent viral hits and learn how you can apply the same principles to your messages to make your outreach more successful.
Free Webinar: How to Make Your Cause Go Viral
Tuesday, January 14 2014 at 1 pm EST
(Can’t make it for the live session? Register and we’ll send you the recording and slides for you to review at your convenience.)
The Nonprofit Marketing Guide’s 2014 Nonprofit Communication Trends Report is out and it’s full of juicy stats on communication priorities, preferred channels, and how nonprofit marketers are feeling about their efforts to achieve their goals. In its fourth year, this report represents survey responses from 2,135 nonprofit communicators. Here’s a quick sample of some of the insights in the report:
—Cited as the most important communication tools for nonprofits: websites, email marketing, and social media other than blogging.
—A respondent’s job description affected whether they felt donor retention was a top goal.
—Nonprofit marketers are overwhelmed by the demands and scope of their jobs.
—But, these communicators are also excited by new tools that offer new opportunities to reach more people.
I asked Kivi Leroux Miller, president of NonprofitMarketingGuide.com, what the biggest surprise was in this year’s findings. Here’s what she shared:
“For the first time this year, we asked survey participants for both their job titles and their ages. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, especially on the age question. We found relatively few significant differences around age, but the ones we did find were mostly related to social media. Job title—especially whether you work in marketing versus fundraising—produced more real differences in communications preferences.”
Beyond satisfying the curiosity factor, this report is a great tool to help you benchmark your efforts and can help you start some productive conversations in your organization to help get everyone on the same page for a successful 2014.
A story’s emotional power is a fundraiser’s best tool to gain the attention of donors and inspire action. One fundraising campaign that is hitting it out of the park with its emotional “wow” factor is Ronald McDonald House Charities’ Season of Giving. The campaign’s message reinforces the work that RMHC does by reminding supporters that there is strength in numbers and that they are really giving the gift of togetherness when they make a contribution.
I had a chance to chat with Jennifer Smith, Senior Director of Communications & Special Programs at Ronald McDonald House Charities to learn more about this campaign and its approach to connecting donors with the work they make possible. Jennifer was kind enough to share a bit of the process behind this amazing campaign and offer some tips to other nonprofits this holiday season.
“For any nonprofit, but certainly for Ronald McDonald House Charities, our goal is to share the impact of the work we do with the support of our donors. Every campaign we do lets our donors know that the work they make possible is making a difference in the lives of the families we serve. For potential donors, this illustrates the fact that they are needed,” Jennifer says.
The Seasons of Giving campaign includes donor communication pieces, direct mail appeals, videos, online ads, and social media outreach. In this multi-channel campaign, there are unifying elements, such as a red ribbon motif that provides visual connectivity across platforms.
Jennifer has a great reminder for all nonprofit fundraisers: Don’t forget to match the message with the medium. “We’re careful to tailor the message. You can’t just stick your direct mail language on Facebook. Different elements pull out different aspects. Use the different components of the story to target specific audience at the right time. We make sure the content is relevant but there are still the connected elements, such as branding and the overall messaging.”
How did RMHC arrive at this campaign?
Jennifer shares a fundamental, yet natural, shift, “There was a time when we spoke more to facts, figures and children served, but we found that to add more dimension to the message, we had to do that by telling the family stories. People are already willingly telling their stories—they want to be able to share what they’ve been through. They often want to give back and say, ‘We want to help YOU.’ You can’t manufacture authenticity. You need real people telling real stories.”
Here are Jennifer’s tips for other nonprofits looking to capture and share stories:
1. Listen to what people are already telling you. What are your supporters and beneficiaries saying? Take those words and insights and build a story from them. This helps your supporters understand how our work is making a difference, and that donors are the ones making it happen.
2. Sharing stories encourages others to tell their stories. After seeing the Season of Giving campaign, it’s clear that it’s not just about the official videos or stories—it’s about allowing more people to open up and share their stories. “Social media is a wonderful listening tool; the dialogue that happens is inspiring. I haven’t been in their shoes, so when they’re sharing their stories organically, it is a powerful experience,” Jennifer says, giving us a great reminder of the beauty of social media. “If you’re listening you can be more insightful and tuned in to messages that resonate. It also allows those stores to be shared more easily and more widely.”
3. Ask, but be sensitive. Don’t be afraid to ask, “Would you be willing to share your story?” Jennifer’s team is careful to recognize the challenges, “We’re very sensitive to the fact that some of these families are going through what they are going through. What is powerful about [the stories featured in our videos] is that Kayla and Christina are still fighting and working to heal from cancer.” Jennifer also reminds us that it’s important to have checkpoints throughout the process. Continually ask, “Are you still comfortable with telling this story?”
4. Make it a part of your organization’s culture. Jennifer shares how this works at RMHC, “The way our system is structured, we rarely have to do a formal process. If we see something that catches our eye, we first reach out to our Chapter and ask permission to find out more. Then if timing is right, we talk to the family.” Jennifer adds, “We also use stories from corporate donors, such as McDonald’s owner/operators, volunteers, and staff, etc. One of our core tenets is our compassion, from our training of our staff people to volunteers. We exist to provide resources when people really need it, and this permeates throughout everything we do.”
A big thank you to Jennifer for sharing her insight with our readers and to the people at RMHC for the great work they do. To find out more about the RMHC Season of Giving campaign, visit http://www.rmhc.org/season-of-giving.
Here at Network for Good we experienced a busy giving season right up to the final hours of 2013. This is good news for nonprofits, as we saw a 16% increase in dollars donated compared to the year-end fundraising season of 2012. After all of that activity, it can be tempting to take it easy for a few weeks now that January is here. Of course, the reality is that your work with donors is just beginning.
Now is your opportunity to begin turning year-end donors into your long-term partners in good. To do so, you need a solid plan to welcome these donors, keep them informed, and build relationships with them throughout the year. The first step is to keep the magic alive with a well-planned donor gratitude strategy. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Thank your donors as soon as possible. Ideally, your online donors have already received an automatic thank you and receipt, and offline donors are receiving their thank yous in the mail shortly. Thanking donors promptly is not just common courtesy, it’s positive reinforcement of their decision to support and trust your organization.
A receipt is not a thank you. Yes, you must make sure your donors get donation receipts that include information on tax deductibility. That said, if the most interesting line your response to a donor’s gift is “No goods or services were received by the donor as a result of this gift,” you’re doing it wrong. (See also: IRS rules on acknowledging contributions.)
One thank you is not enough. You’ve acknowledged all of your year-end donations with a proper thank you. You’re done, right? Not so fast. One great thank you is a good start, but don’t forgo regularly thanking donors to keep them up to date on the impact of their gifts. Don’t leave donors wondering, “Whatever happened to that person/animal/cause in need?”
Don’t forget other donation sources. Acknowledge every donation your organization receives, whether they come from your direct mail campaign, your online donation page, or from third-party sources such as employee giving programs, peer-to-peer fundraisers, or online giving portals. Understand all of your donation sources and tailor your notes of appreciation, where necessary. New donors coming in from a peer-to-peer campaign, for example, may need a more formal introduction to your organization than donors you’ve directly solicited.
Make sure your thank you is sincere and memorable. You may have a template for your donor thank yous, but if your thank you feels like a form letter, it needs more work. Express authentic gratitude for your donors’ generosity and put them in the middle of the work you do. Use photos, quotes, and even video to help bring these stories to life for your supporters. Give donors a thank you so amazing that they can’t wait to show it off to their friends and family.
Need some help with your thank you letters? Here are a few resources from our learning center:
Are you sending an amazing thank you this year? Have you received one? Share your examples in the comments and we’ll feature the best ones in an upcoming post!
As 2013 winds down, we’re looking back on what topics were most popular on the blog. From online trends to donor communication tips, here are some of our top posts from the past year.
2 rules for getting more online donations Meet donors where they are and make it incredibly easy to give.
3 ways to stand out to your donors Lessons from charity:water on how to put donors at the center of your success stories.
How to show impact? Here’s a great example. Make it clear, choose a great messenger, and show, don’t just tell.
4 ways to give donors a better experience online Online giving should be social, emotional, easy, and reliable.
What the latest online trends mean for your cause Key findings on mobile, social, search, and content.
Is your nonprofit website open for business? The top issues that can scare visitors away from your nonprofit website (and how to fix them).
10 mobile stats for nonprofit marketers Mobile is quickly becoming the platform of choice for many—these stats really drive the point home.
Why donors stop their support Learn how vital proper communication processes and messages are.
How do I make my mission sound more exciting? Hint: Don’t talk about your process or philosophy. Talk about your outcomes.
What would you like to see in 2014? Share your suggestions in the comments below and we’ll do our best to cover them all.
On behalf of the Network for Good team, thank you for being loyal readers of the Nonprofit Marketing Blog. We wish you a happy, healthy, and successful new year!
Network for Good’s Digital Giving Index shows that 10% of all online donations are made in these last few days of the year, with a high concentration of gifts coming in during the final hours of December 31. Reaching out* to these “generous procrastinators” is a big opportunity to boost your year-end campaigns and meet your fundraising goals. This wave of generosity also offers the opportunity to welcome new donors and rekindle and strengthen relationships with those who’ve given before. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing tips and resources for retaining these donors.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your big wins of 2013 and your hopes for 2014. Leave a comment below and I’ll share some of your highlights in an upcoming post.
*If you haven’t yet sent a final fundraising reminder, drop whatever you’re doing and send a short, to-the-point email to supporters who’ve not yet given this season. Download my recent free webinar for a copy of our last-minute fundraising appeal template.
Image credit: flickr member nateOne
After the busy nonprofit year-end giving season comes the often overlooked nonprofit thank you season. Remember to give thanks for donations early and often. Showing constant, authentic appreciation for your donors (new and old) is crucial for retaining supporters. Need to breathe some new life into your donor gratitude plan? Here are ten thank you ideas to inspire you in the new year.
1. Always send a thank you (and tax deductible information) within 48 hours of receiving a donation. Many online giving tools such as DonateNow automatically generate a donor receipt, but be sure to tailor or add a thank you message to the receipt. Then, follow up with a more personalized
2. Send a birthday card to donors and remind them that they are important to the work your organization accomplishes.
3. Have your board members personally call donors to say thanks. I recently did this as a board member for my alma mater’s alumni association. Out of the 25 people I called, only one person had received a thank you phone call from an organization before.
4. Ask those who directly benefit from donations to write a handwritten note of thanks. Animal organizations could try letting their clients express their thanks to donors with a special piece of artwork.
5. Create a YouTube video to thank donors when you reach a campaign goal. A great example of this are charity: water’s 5th birthday thank you videos.
6. Have some exciting news to share? Send a special announcement to donors with images and a big bold note to thank them for making the accomplishment possible.
7. Invite donors to a thank you reception. You’ll not only show your appreciation, but you’ll get face time with your donors and have the opportunity to learn more about why they support your organization.
8. Many organizations send thank you cards and year-end appeals during the November/December holiday season. Don’t overlook other holidays as occasions to express your love and thanks.
9. Dedicate social media shout outs to thank and recognize donors.
10. Send donors a top ten list of accomplishments for the year to demonstrate how donations make an impact (and then make it clear that without their support, you wouldn’t have a top ten list).
Donors are your organization’s superheroes. Saying thanks and reminding them of their VIP status should be at the top of your to do list in 2014. What are your favorite ways to thank donors? Share your ideas in the comments.
As you send your final emails of the year, your subject lines will be even more crucial to your campaign’s success. Here’s a helpful guest post from our friend, Ryan Pinkham of Constant Contact. As Constant Contact’s Content Developer, Ryan helps small businesses and nonprofits recognize their full potential through marketing and social media.
I wish I could tell you that somewhere out there is the perfect subject line, one that could send your open rates skyrocketing and make opt-outs and spam reports ancient history. But I can’t. I can tell you, however, that creating almost perfect subject lines for your nonprofit is possible
To do it, you first need to understand a few important things:
1. People won’t act unless told to do so.
Before sending your email, stop and ask yourself: What action do I want the recipient to take? That action won’t always be one that has an immediate impact on your organization (donate now!) but it should be the first step in some path toward driving real results from your email marketing. Keep in mind that your subject line will be the first impression your email has on your reader—making it your first call to action will improve the likelihood that your reader will act.
2. People care more about the sender than the message.
While the content of your email and the design of your subject line are important, nothing is more important than the relationship the recipient has with the sender (that’s you!). According to a recent Constant Contact study, 64% of people open emails because of the organization it is from, compared with 47% of people opening emails because of what is in the subject line.
Want the best results? Tell people who the email is from in the subject line.
Here are a few examples:
• [Your Organization Name]: Our Winter Event is December 15
• Celebrate winter with [Your Organization Name] on December 15
• [Your Organization Name] News: Our Winter Event is December 15
3. People are skeptical of most emails.
The best way to overcome this hesitation is to think about why your subscribers signed up to receive your emails in the first place. (If you don’t know, then you may want to send out a survey to your supporters asking what types of the content they want to see or include a survey in your initial welcome email.)
4. People do NOT like to have their time wasted.
When it comes to your emails, you have at most, only a few minutes to get your message across. When it comes to your subject line, you have only a few seconds to capture their attention. It’s no surprise then that subject lines with less than 50 characters have open rates 12.5% higher than those with 50 characters or more, and click-through rates are 75% higher.
Keep in mind that the typical inbox preview pane will show only 30 to 40 characters (the typical mobile device shows around 15 characters). If possible, shoot for 25 to 40 characters or five to eight words.
5. People respond to numbers.
Numbers help quantify your message and put the content people are receiving into terms they understand.
Here are a few ways to do it:
• Monetary value: $5,000 in Scholarships This Year
• List: 5 ways you can get involved this month
• Percentage: Help us support 100% more families in 2014
6. People are more likely to act when they feel a sense of urgency.
This is especially true if you’re running a fundraiser or trying to drive attendance to an upcoming event. In these situations, the difference between using a subject line like: “Join our December fundraiser,” or “Only 5 days left to donate to [Your Organization Name]” can be huge.
7. People hate being misled.
It may not be your intention, but if your subject lines aren’t telling the whole truth or are structured in a way your audience may misunderstand—than you could be putting your reputation at risk. Make sure you’re choosing your words carefully when crafting your next subject line.
8. People want things to be personal, just not too personal.
There is a right way and a wrong way to personalize your subject lines. The right way is to add a more personal touch by using words like “you” or “your” (such as: “10 Ways to Improve Your Water Supply”). It lets people know that there’s an actual person sending the email and that they understand their interests as a reader. The wrong way to personalize your emails is by including the recipient’s name in the subject line. This is a practice that is most typically used by spammers. (Check your spam or junk folder for plenty of examples of these.)
9. People do not respond to all caps and exclamation points.
Resist the temptation to use and abuse capital letters and to over-punctuate. It COMES ACROSS LIKE YOU’RE SHOUTING, makes your email look like spam, and will dramatically increase the likelihood of your email being filtered.
10. People are starting to think much more socially.
Marketers aren’t the only ones looking for inspiration for content to share on Facebook or ideas for things to tweet about—your supporters are, too. If you have a socially savvy audience, thinking of your subject line as status update on Facebook or a tweet can improve your email’s shareability.
Now, take the time to get better results.
Remember, your subject line is one of the most important parts of your entire email. If people aren’t opening your emails, they won’t see the great content you’re sending out. This could mean that they’ll be missing opportunities to support your cause and get involved.
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to getting more opens, more action, and better results all around.
What are your strategies for writing great subject lines? Share them in the comments below.
Last week I shared several ways to get your nonprofit’s website ready for year-end fundraising. Hopefully you’ve been able to put at least a few of these tips into practice. If a website redesign is on your to-do list for 2014, these elements should be top of mind. Of course, there is a lot more to consider when taking on a major website project.
To help you understand the process, the folks at Wired Impact have created a nifty infographic that summarizes the key steps in designing your nonprofit website. Check it out below and post a comment to share what’s on your website wish list for the coming year.
(Can’t see the infographic?
Visit Wired Impact to download the full image.)
Network for Good is once again providing year-end giving data for The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 2013 Year-End Online Giving Tracker. You can use this resource to see how online giving is stacking up each day of December and to compare those numbers with the last few years. To supply the data for the tracker, we looked at a set of 14,300 charities who received donations through Network for Good’s online giving platform. You can view this data by month, by week, or look at the entire span of information from November 1st through the end of the year.
Check it out by visiting The Chronicle’s site, and let us know how the trends compare to your own year-end fundraising results.
As part of Network for Good’s Fundraising Fundamentals premium training, I am reviewing a lot of nonprofit websites to offer feedback and suggestions for improvement. While most of these sites are not “broken” in the technical sense, many of them are broken when we look at them through a fundraising lens. Without clear paths to donate to your cause, your website is working against your fundraising efforts. This is especially dangerous in December when donors are making more gifts online than in any other month.
Whether or not your donors give online through your website, many will be visiting your nonprofit’s website to learn more about your organization. This month, your nonprofit home page should be all about year-end fundraising. You need to make sure your online presence gives prospective donors a fast and easy way to find out more about your programs, understand where the money goes, and (of course) DONATE.
So, in these last few critical weeks of the year, give your site a once over to see if it’s broken in the fundraising sense. Want to make it better? Here are some fast fundraising fixes for getting more donations this December:
Keep it big, bold, and above the fold.
This is what all good donate buttons should strive to be. Your buttons should stand out and be large enough to find and click within a few seconds of landing on your website. It should look like a button and give donors a visual cue that it is clickable.
Miriam’s Kitchen has a nicely-placed, large donate button that is obviously clickable and stands out from the rest of their page:
Take donors directly to your form.
When donors click on your donate button, don’t take them on the scenic route. Send them directly to your form and make sure that it is optimized for giving. Your page should make the donation process simple and rewarding. (Make sure your donation page is ready for prime time with these tips.)
Offer more than one path to give.
Include multiple donate links on your home page (and other key pages) that go straight to your donation form. Use a combination of buttons, text links, and headlines to appeal to all types of visitors. Generally, more links mean more traffic to your donation page.
Best Friends Animal Society offers three ways for people to immediately give right from their home page:
Make your donation page only one click away.
Along the same lines, visitors should never be more than one click away from your donation page at all times. Keep the option to give visible and easily accessible no matter where a visitor is on your site.
Use consistent language for buttons and links.
Be explicit and don’t make donors wonder what you’re asking them to do. Focus on one of the following words: Give, Donate, or Contribute—and stick to that one word throughout the donation process. Asking people to join is problematic unless membership is truly the core of your organization. Asking people to support you is largely meaningless to most users and does not signify giving.
Use a home page takeover.
Also known as a lightbox, splash screen, pop-up, or even “homepage hijack.” Whatever name you prefer, this is a special version of your home page that has a sole purpose of generating donations. A year-end takeover should be bold and clear and offer no more than three options: donate now, learn more, and click to the usual home page. Some organizations have had success in making the splash screen the actual donation form. These types of takeovers should go up at least for the last week of the year.
Here’s a wonderful example from Habitat for Humanity New York City:
Don’t have the option to add a lightbox to your website this month? There are other easy ways to make your home page focused on fundraising. N Street Village‘s home page is a great example of how to incorporate this same idea into your existing website design.
(For more on how you can incorporate lightboxes into your year-end website plans, Pamela Grow has some advice and Mandy O’Neill of Connected Nonprofit shares how and why lightboxes work.)
Show where the money goes.
If you don’t have it already, create a simple “Why Donate” page and provide links to this page from your “About Us” section, home page, and donation form. On this page, include easy-to-understand pie charts and clear descriptions of where your money comes from and where it goes. Add links to your full financials and your annual report. Use reader-friendly language that a donor can quickly scan and understand in under 30 seconds. No jargon or complicated (read: boring) copy that makes donors’ eyes glaze over.
Highlight your endorsements.
Testimonials, ratings, and seals of approval are all powerful cues that tell potential donors that yours is an organization that they can trust, because others are willing to speak on your behalf. Showcase these on your home page, your donation page, as well as your “Why Donate” page.
Don’t forget about mobile.
With a high number of people reading email on mobile devices, the key landing pages of your website, and your donation forms, need to be mobile friendly and easy to use on smartphones. Keeping things uncluttered and focused on one clear call to action will help. (Find out how to make your nonprofit’s website mobile friendly with these simple tweaks.)
Taking care of these website must-haves will help your organization make the most of its year-end campaign. Happy Fundraising!
For more tips on making your nonprofit website the best it can be, download our free ebook: How to Create an Effective Nonprofit Website.
Need help with your final appeals of the year? There’s still time to register for our free webinar happening today.
Here’s what I’ll cover in this session:
—How many messages you need to send these last few weeks of the year
—What you must include in your appeals to inspire giving
—When to send your appeals for maximum impact
—Examples of great appeals for you to copy
—Plus, we’ll leave plenty of time for your questions
Bonus: If you register for the webinar, you’ll not only get the recording and slides from the session, we’ll send you a free copy of our year-end appeal template to help you craft your final appeals. (Or, you can use it to check the messages you already have scheduled.)
I hope to see you there!
Free Webinar: Create Amazing Last-Minute Fundraising Appeals
TODAY: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1pm EST
(Can’t attend the live session? Register anyway and we’ll send the recording of the presentation, slides, and free appeal template straight to your inbox!)
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!