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Network for Good Secures $10 Million Investment to Unleash Generosity Among More Donors and Charities

Press Feed - Mon, 2014-05-19 07:29
May 20 2014

Organization Creates B Corp Certified Subsidiary to Deploy Investment and Grow Donations Platform

WASHINGTON, DC – The leading donation platform, Network for Good, announced today that it has raised a $10 million round of funding led by Camden Partners, a Baltimore-based growth equity investor. Network for Good has created a subsidiary, a for-profit technology company NetworkforGood.com, to accept the investment and more rapidly expand its giving platform, services and staff to unleash more generosity for more charities.

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5 Things to Do After Your Big Giving Day

Earlier this month 7,000 nonprofits raised over $50 million during Give Local America. This giving day based on community foundation ties provided a mid-year boost for many organizations. Network for Good was happy to be a part of this event with our friends at Kimbia and we’re thrilled with the results. That said, the real opportunity of this giving day is not the donations and new donors acquired on May 6, rather it’s the long-term potential of these supporters. Here are five things to do this week to harness the momentum of this event: 

1. Get out the thank you.  If you haven’t yet, send that thank you ASAP.

2. Examine donor information and behavior.  Do these donors look different than your normal annual fund supporters? Did your existing donors give in new ways? Analyzing these details will help you understand how giving days fit into your overall fundraising strategy.

3. Determine which methods resulted in the most support.  Look at your promotional efforts and rate how they performed. If you had supporters and volunteers helping to raise funds, pinpoint who had the most influence and be sure to cultivate them as champions of your work.

4. Have a special orientation plan for donors you acquired during Give Local America.  It’s likely that these new donors aren’t as familiar with your organization as other prospects. Create a welcome series to introduce your work and let these new supporters know why your community is so special.

5. View this webinar.  While vital, perfecting the art of donor relationships isn’t easy. This archived webinar presentation features the Donor Relations Guru herself, Lynne Wester, who offers tips that will help you think through your communications and stewardship plans.

Facebook for Fundraising: Worth It or Waste of Time?

Fundraising123 - Sun, 2014-05-18 12:58

Your organization’s free Facebook ride is over! Now, when checking Facebook page activity stats (aka Insights) for our client organizations, I make sure to dive in with a sweet treat in hand. That’s because I need to balance the bad news—which tends to decrease followers and reach—with something good.

I bet you’ve noticed the change, too—that is, if your organization is striving to use Facebook to strengthen connections with supporters and prospects and spur them to give. And by now you’ve probably heard the raging discussion about Facebook’s value—or lack thereof—for nonprofits and for-profits alike.

If you’re not up on these changes or are unclear on the facts, let me fill you in. You need to know what’s going on so you can make the right decisions for your fundraising and marketing agendas.

Facebook—so adored, so dear to so many of us at a personal level—has dramatically changed its spots.

Those of us who have been in the Facebook weeds for a while, trying to figure out how best to use it to drive causes and donations forward, know how tough it’s always been—and now it’s even tougher.

This graph, from a recent study by EdgeRank Checker, says it all:

Median Reach of Facebook Posts

 

There are two main reasons Facebook use is more in question than ever:

1. Longtime challenge: Facebook constantly changes its algorithm for which posts are fed to your page fans’ newsfeeds and its page design—without advance notice or how-tos. Keeping up with these changes requires an enormous expenditure of time and expense, especially for those of us with limited staff and budgets (most nonprofits).

2. Most recent ugh: Pay to play, along with a huge decline in organic reach for your content. Now the frequency with which your posts appear on fans’ newsfeeds depends on your organization’s level of Facebook ad spend.

As the chart above illustrates, if you don’t pay Facebook to boost your content, you can expect that only six of every 100 fans will even see your posts. How many people do you expect to read, much less act, on it?

What’s clear is that Facebook isn’t free. Plan to pay to have your messages delivered. Now it’s just another paid advertising channel, albeit one with targeted reach if your organization thinks the expense is worth it.

My recommendation: Use Facebook only if you fulfill all of these criteria:

1. You’ve selected Facebook as the social media channel of choice because you know that your low-hanging fruit (priority prospects and donors) are on Facebook, and you have a good way to drive them to your page and keep them there. Few organizations can effectively utilize more than one social media channel, at least to start.

2. You use Facebook as a complementary channel to direct marketing (online and offline), your website, and the other places where you have a positive track record of motivating the actions you want (giving, registering, etc.). Content, look, and feel are consistent across channels. Tone varies depending on the channel and segment of folks you’re reaching out to in each channel or campaign.

3. You set concrete goals for whatever is measurable on your page (much isn’t) and try to link actions taken on other channels back to Facebook (and other influences).

4. You are willing to invest a lot of time and expertise in your Facebook presence, plus a lot of cash for ad buys. Your nonprofit will be competing against Zappos and Proctor & Gamble—what are your chances?

Most organizations I know don’t fit this profile. So, for most, Facebook is not worth the investment, even if your CEO or board chair is pushing it hard.

Exceptions!

1) If your organization works with cats, puppies, or other adorable animals, that’s another reason to pursue Facebook reach. Take at look at RedRover’s Facebook page. Cute animal photos pull big-time on Facebook!

2) If you’ve successfully built a loyal, active group on Facebook, keep up the good work. Two examples, from small to mammoth, are the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation and Planned Parenthood of America, which has nurtured a dedicated, at-the-ready group of activists via Facebook.

If you decide to invest in Facebook, these relevancy strategies will help build your reach:

• Be transparent, helpful, and accessible.

• Share behind-the-scenes content.

• Engage your audience with questions.

• Share self-explanatory pictures and visual content.

 

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

4 Things Nonprofits Can Learn from the NBA Playoffs

The Playoffs are like the year-end giving season for NBA players. Just like your nonprofit’s staff in December, during Playoffs, athletes are busy, tired, and they have their eye on the prize. What can nonprofits learn from the 16 teams that are competing for the championship title? Here are 4 takeaways you can share with your colleagues:

Every little victory matters.

In the Playoffs: The Charlotte Bobcats went from having the second-worst record last season to playing the two-time defending champion in the first round of the playoffs this season. Talk about improvement!

Takeaway: You may be disappointed because you came so close to hitting your big fundraising goal. However, there are definitely some small wins that you can celebrate. Were email open rates better than last year? Did you have a higher percentage of recurring gifts? Use this as an opportunity to analyze what worked and what didn’t. Learn from it and leverage that knowledge to improve future campaigns.

That amazing jaw-dropping campaign element needs to fit in with your overall strategy.

In the Playoffs: There were seconds left in the fourth quarter of game 2 against the Grizzlies. Kevin Durant gets the ball, loses his balance, and shoots mid-fall. Those three points got everyone excited! But, the Thunder lost. It sure was a memorable shot, but in the end, it didn’t earn the points they needed to win.

Takeaway: Does your professionally produced video with a local celebrity or that beautiful photo shoot of your new facility enhance the story you’re telling in your fundraising appeal or confuse it? Even though you might want to share those “wow” elements as many times as possible, consider saving your snazzy elements for a campaign that makes sense and use it when it fits in with your overall strategy.

Let your personality shine.

In the Playoffs: The Wizards’ Bradley Beal makes 79% of his free throws. But during game 1 against the Pacers, he shot an air ball. How did he react? He showed that he was human and laughed it off.

Takeaway: Donors like a little personality in the communications they receive from your nonprofit. You’re human, your organization helps humans (or animals) and donors are human. Humans like to laugh and they want to feel connected to your cause through stories. Step away from the standard writing format for a few moments and inject some personality into your writing.

Say thank you.

In the Playoffs: This year’s NBA MVP was Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant. His acceptance speech was a big thank you to his entire team, his coaches, his mom, and so many others. You could tell his teammates were touched by his gratitude.

Takeaway: The work your nonprofit does is amazing. It changes peoples’ lives. But don’t forget who helped you accomplish the work: donors. Your donors are the superheroes. Make them feel special by saying thank you early and often.

Are you rooting for a team in the Playoffs this year? Have you noticed anything about your team’s performance that could apply to fundraising? Share in the comments below.

(Image source: MVGL /Tumblr)

6 Types of Stories that Spur Giving

[Editor’s note: We’re very excited to announce that Nancy Schwartz will be a regular columnist for Network for Good’s Nonprofit Marketing Blog. Twice each month, Nancy will share her expert tips and insight on communications, marketing, and sector trends. Enjoy!]

As a fundraiser, you aim to change how people perceive your organization’s work and cause, then motivate them to give. Connection is the lubricant for this conversion, but the deadly dull way so many organizations discuss their work frequently gets in the way. Yawn!

Relevant messages wrapped in memorable stories (that strike the heart, then the head) are your way to compelling content and the conversions you seek.

But wait, there’s a problem—so frequently my mention of storytelling to nonprofit colleagues gets an eye roll. There’s so much generic, vague advice out there about storytelling, storytelling, storytelling, and so little concrete guidance and/or specific success stories, especially among nonprofits. You know what I mean.

So here’s a practical antidote to all that—six stories your organization already has to tell. Your first step is identifying the stories you have to tell in each category:

1. Your Founding Story

This is how your organization was created:

  • Get into the details, as if your founder is telling you “the why” at a party or on a car ride. If that info isn’t available, ask relatives, long-time employees and colleagues.
  • Drill down into the personal side of that act—did she have a friend with cancer, come from a country that was long in civil war or…?

2. Your Focus Story

If your founding story tells how your organization came into existence, your focus story should explain why you exist. What is the core challenge you tackle?

  • Connect the dots between your organization’s work and impact and your ultimate beneficiaries, even if there are layers in between.
  • Get detailed and personal, as if you’re telling his or her story to someone who knows nothing about it. These details help make your story memorable and more likely to be repeated to others.
  • Include visuals—they really can be worth 1,000 words!

3. Your Impact Stories


These most-told nonprofit stories feature the before and after—and illustrate the impact of your organization and supporters. They are unequaled in showing the value of your organization’s work in moving your issue or cause forward and matching the personal goals of prospects and supporters.

  • Focus on the difference your organization’s work makes in the life of someone (keep it to a single person or a family in each story if you can).
  • Outline the before and the after in an emotional way.
  • Testimonials, with a face and name if possible, have impact here.

4. Your People Stories

These are your donor, staff, volunteer, client/participant profiles. Craft these stories to make it easy for your prospective donors, partners and more to stand in the shoes of your current supporters.

  • You already have these stories on hand. And if you don’t have the details and permissions that will make them even stronger, go back and get those elements for recent stories and collect proactively going forward.
  • Don’t feature stories that are too unusual—there has to be a point of connection or others won’t be able to see themselves in that story (your goal).
  • Fill your people stories with specifics—they spent the holidays living in their car. Details allow the reader or listener to feel your story, not just process it.

5. Your Strength Stories

Strength stories showcase how your organization’s particular focus or approach adds value to the community you serve and/or and moves your issue or cause forward in a way unmatched by other organizations (a.k.a. differentiation). Your strength story is a powerful influencer in your prospects’ decision to join forces with (or to continue supporting) your organization.

  • Focus in on one or two strengths at most.
  • Don’t be afraid to brag a bit—just be prepared to back up your claims with results.
  • Endorsements from credible spokespeople or authority figures can help illustrate how your organization is unique and valued in your community.

6. Your Future Stories

Think about the change you want to make in the world or what your work will do. Future story power comes in bringing to life—in a tangible, visible, visual and personal way—what is most frequently left as a vague, abstract and overly-wordy concept.

Future stories have perhaps the greatest potential of all story types to hook your people at a gut level and motivate them to take the actions you need because you’re putting your dreams out there, making it easy for them to link their dreams to yours!

  • Go beyond your mission and vision statements and dig into specific, observable outcomes, described in simple terms.
  • Think of your future story as a “destination postcard” and underscore how your donors are an important part of your journey.

Those are the six story types YOUR organization has to tell. They have the potential to motivate people to give, volunteer, sign petitions, and participate in programs.

Begin by taking an inventory of the stories you have to tell in each category. Then build each one out using the guidelines above. Dive into shaping yours now! Got a great example of a story your organization uses to inspire supporters? Share it in the comments below.

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

Do you have a plan for me?

As fundraisers, we often want to know why and how our supporters plan to donate in any given year. As donors, we usually want to know the same thing from the organizations we support.

If I give to your organization, what can I expect? Do you have a plan for me if I am a new supporter? A lapsed donor? A major donor? A peer-to-peer giver? A recurring donor? If you don’t have a plan for me, how do you expect to develop a relationship with me as a donor?

We often talk about segmenting lists and personalizing communications, but when it comes to your various donor and supporter types, do you have a holistic plan for identifying, nurturing, and retaining each unique tier of support? While you may have the best intentions, without a clearly articulated plan, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to successfully execute tactics that will help you create a well-rounded, long-term fundraising approach for each type of donor (or potential donor).

For best results, your comprehensive fundraising strategy should include:

  • a list of key segments for your organization
  • how your organization defines each segment
  • the historical and projected fundraising results from each group
  • the specific tactics and messages that will help you build relationships with each type of donor



You should also understand how each segment interacts with the rest of your donor pool and which triggers move someone from one tier to the next (in either direction). If you don’t have this data, start by talking with your most loyal donors to find out what has them giving year after year.

Need some help thinking about this?

Download the archived presentation of our free webinar with Sea Change Strategies’ fundraising experts Alia McKee and Mark Rovner.  Listen to the recording f to learn from these two fundraising gurus, get an inside look at The Missing Middle report, and get your mid-level donor questions answered.

How to Take a Modern Approach to Nonprofit Brand Awareness

Fundraising123 - Thu, 2014-05-01 12:11

Rather than broadcasting static messages to vast audiences, charities can now seek direct engagement with targeted communities and create dynamic, two-way conversations. If your charity is still stuck in the rut of an anachronistic one-way advertising model, it's time to adopt the modern approach to brand awareness! Here's how:

Social value: Targeted marketing

The value of social media lies in the way it connects you with your supporters:

  • By releasing targeted content, you can now reach out to large audiences who already have a vested interest in your work.
  • Supporters, in turn, connect you with additional networks they are already a part of.
  • Social media allows nonprofit marketers to make the most of their resources by directly linking to the people who matter, and because nonprofits have an opportunity not only to connect with these communities but to actually join them, social networks also provide an unprecedented forum for conducting market research.
  • By learning about those targeted people who join networks, charities can continually improve their content.

Tools for 21st-century marketers

Making the most of social media means implementing the best tools available and few are better than images and video. The web is a visually-oriented place, and because modern attention spans have shortened, marketers must find the most immediate ways to convey information. So evocative, information-dense videos and images are an essential component of a successful marketing campaign.

Cancer Research UK has a great example of video marketing for awareness. Their recent video appeal is non-verbal, aesthetically beautiful, and emotionally engaging. Cancer Research UK tells a rich and detailed story in a short time (about a minute), capturing our attention with an entertaining clip, which is followed by a quick call-to-action. For marketers and charities on the web today-no matter what industry you happen to work in-this model is a brilliant example of rapid, evocative, and sharable marketing.

Success through sharing

The beauty of content marketing is the way it spreads. Charities and large brands invest in creation, but consumers are the ones who invest in spreading the word, which nonprofits in particular rely upon.

  • When your content has value (emotional, entertainment, or educational), people are interested and want to pass it along to their friends.
  • They are also psychologically disposed to become more loyal to a brand that they perceive providing them with benefits and rewards.
  • So when an organization succeeds in creating a steady flow of quality content, it builds a community whose members continually return for more and in turn, reciprocate the collaborative relationship by passing it on to their friends.

 

 

Jenny Beswick works with the charity giving Cancer Research team. She has experience in managing multiple events and project managing campaigns.

Nonprofit Spotlight: April

Our Nonprofit of the Week spotlight helps us recognize some of the shining stars of the Network for Good community. During the month of April we celebrated organizations working to honor WWII veterans, theatres bringing great art to their communities, a health clinic in rural Nicaragua, and a coalition of women innovating in central Ohio.

Check out the great things these organizations are doing to better their communities:

Honor Flight Capital Region provides DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia World War II veterans with trips to view their memorial and experience a special day of honor and remembrance. By bringing together hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers to greet veterans, Honor Flight Capital Region ensures that those that served and sacrificed during WWII get the thanks they deserve at the memorials built in their honor.

The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio empowers the women and girls of Central Ohio to give of their time and money to celebrate, elevate, and educate women in their community and beyond. By making grants to local organizations, the Women’s Fund supports programs that drive at the root cause of issues to create long-term solutions.

Long Wharf Theatre brings world-renowned theatre experiences to the New Haven area. With unique productions, they aim to start conversations and advance the art of live theatre. Their current production, The Shadow of the Hummingbird, has received high praise and national attention but is only one of 6 distinct productions they’re staging this season.

Clinica Verde has created a beautiful, sustainable, and most importantly, effective health center in Boaco, Nicaragua. By focusing on the community’s needs and a holistic approach to individual care, CV is creating a prototype for community and health centers across an impoverished nation.

Forum Theatre aims to bring adventurous plays that inspire and challenge their audience while still being “accessible, affordable and entertaining.” By being actively engaged in developing the skills of local artists, Forum Theatre truly enriches the greater Washington, DC area’s artistic community.

Join us in thanking these amazing causes and keep up with the latest Nonprofit of the Week by following us on Facebook or Twitter.

What’s in a name? Change your terms to change perception

During an NPR pledge drive in February, a Philadelphia-area radio host (apologies that I haven’t been able to find him) mentioned an online debate over the origin of the term crowdfunding. According to Social Media Week and Fundable, modern-day crowdfunding began around 1997 when a British rock band raised funds online for a tour. (Wikipedia takes us back to 1884!) But our local radio host had a different opinion, saying that thanks to pledge drives, NPR had been crowdfunding long before that.

When I picture a pledge drive, I see people manning the phones. But when I picture crowdfunding, I see the Internet and cool causes.

So what’s going on here?

The answer is simple: Sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and CrowdRise have rebranded “pledge drives” to be more fun and cutting edge, and with that came a new name. The truth is, simply changing a name is a great way to develop a new brand identity and connect more successfully with a target audience. Have you heard of Quantum Computer Services or BackRub? That’s AOL and Google, respectively. (Can you imagine “BackRubbing” last night’s final Jeopardy question?)

Is the name of your nonprofit hard to pronounce? Do you have trouble getting it all out in one breath? Does it only mean something to the people within your organization? If the answer is yes, consider how you can tweak it to fit the work, personality, and impact of your nonprofit.

Don’t like the terms? Change them!

Perhaps changing your name is going too far. Maybe you love your name and have a great reputation, but you can’t get anyone to come to the “Saturday Morning Cleanup.” Try repackaging events to focus on the fun aspect, such as the “Reservoir Preservation Walk” on Saturday mornings, when volunteers relax with each other and beautify the local reservoir.

Think about the terms you use to identify your nonprofit and your programs. Making some smart updates can significantly improve your marketing efforts and refresh your branding.

Have you implemented a name change to breathe new life into an initiative or make a program feel more inviting? Share your experiences in the comments below!

 

3 Ways to Give Your Nonprofit Some Character

Fundraising123 - Mon, 2014-04-28 12:44

Let me tell you three quick stories:

  1. Once upon a time in 19th-century England, after being rejected by church leaders for his unconventional methods, a man named William Booth embarked on a traveling evangelist journey to reach the people in a more personal way, gathering a following of "soldiers" for his aptly named Salvation Army.
  2. In 1970's Boston, Hartford N. Gunn, Jr., amid financial trouble and political resistance, sought to enlighten the world with educational programming that spanned from cooking to orchestral music, eventually paving the way for the PBS station that we all know today.
  3. Rochester, Minnesota–settler W. W. Mayo and his sons joined forces with the best medical research minds of the day to provide patients with innovative medical resources. Their tradition is still alive and well today, as the Mayo Clinic is the country's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to medical research.

Three very different causes, three iconic organizations, each with their own story steeped in the history of the nonprofit world. Each man a character in his own right, each an underdog who overcame the odds. Put any name to them, take your pick; Frodo Baggins, Harry Potter, Inigo Montoya, the list goes on.

With over 1 million nonprofit organizations registered in the United States, that makes 1 million stories and means that 1 million Frodo's, Harry's, and Inigo's are at work right now with eyes on dreams that might one day happen.

But, like their literary equivalents, organizations cannot make their dreams happen without a little help; that donor looking for the right cause, that volunteer ready to work for what she believes in. They're all out there, waiting. Now the question begs itself, in your organization's quest to make its dreams happen, how does your story not get lost in the millions of others?

1. Show who you are

The first step in sharing your nonprofit story with the world is developing an honest and genuine marketing face. Connection is the name of the game.

  • Ask yourself how your audience is going to feel connected to what your business is and what it's doing. Separate yourself from the pack with a flash of uniqueness but ground yourself in familiarity.
  • What's your work atmosphere like? Is it serious, creative, funny? Are there anecdotes that brought about the inception of your organization? Let your marketing reflect who you are.
  • We've seen the kid on the road to avenge his parents as a literary device for years, but over the course of seven books, Harry Potter becomes more than a trope; he's a human with traits and a personality all his own. We know Harry. Let your audience get to know your organization.
  • Take a look at StoryCorps, a nonprofit that allows audiences to familiarize themselves with the diversity and originality of their organization by literally displaying the faces and stories of their users. One look through their site and an immediate, personal connection is made between the audience and their nonprofit. Perfection.

2. Give your audience something to invest in

Just like when you pick up a book or watch a movie, your organization needs to offer something an audience can care enough about to see unfold, or rather, care enough about to want to be a part of. This is where a clear, specific, and organized mission statement or history profile comes in handy.

  • Before your audience has the chance to get to know your organization, they're going to want to see what it's about and why they should invest in your cause. Give your audience something they can get excited about.
  • Before we really get to meet The Princess Bride's Inigo Montoya he's just Vizzini's Spanish minion. But, once we're alone with him for a little while, we learn of his father's tragic death and his lifelong quest to avenge him. Now, for the rest of the story, he has us; we want to root for him and more than anything, we want to see what happens to him. Inject a little Inigo into your organization. What's the big issue you're trying to solve? How are you different than other organizations? What are you doing that is unique or innovative?
  • Ushahidi is nonprofit tech company that handles data collection and digital mapping. They use their site's history profile to explain the origins of the organization's Swahili name as well as the prevalence of African violence that inspired their cause. It's clear, brief, and easy and an excellent example of how to get a target audience engaged.

3. Don't be afraid to share your obstacles

Frodo has to contend with Gollum, Inigo is severely wounded by the Six Fingered Man, and Harry tries and fails to vanquish Voldemort for six whole books before he succeeds. Obstacles are part of the journey; show yours.

  • As is seen in the nonprofit stories of the three organizations above, failure and resistance are part of the nonprofit journey, an ever-present reminder that the world is not perfect and we are all human. Use your organization's perseverance through tough times to inspire and empower your prospective members and donors.
  • Canadian nonprofit Engineers Without Borders makes a point of outlining the bumps in their organization's road by sharing annual Failure Reports on their site. Failures, maybe. But also, as they put it, learning experiences and evidence of their passion to continue taking risks.

 

Aaron Winkelmann is a writer at Prose Media, a writing service that creates high-quality content for brands. Solutions include blog posts, social media updates, website copy, newsletters, white papers, and emails. Prose Media (@prose) supplies custom content by top professional writers, with expertise in a variety of industries. 

How to create the ultimate donation page

Are you thinking about your year-end fundraising plans yet?

Based on our recent Digital Giving Index data and trends from the last few years, Network for Good expects to again see at least 30% of annual online donation volume come through in December alone. Online giving is a generous procrastinator’s saving grace, but how much you raise online will depend on the donation experience you offer.

Just like it does with any other tool, the success of your donation page (and in turn, your online fundraising strategy) depends on how you well you use it. The good news is that you can use the next several months to cultivate your donors and make sure your online fundraising game is on point. By taking the time to tweak and test your online experience now, you’ll reap the rewards at the end of the year.

Here at Network for Good we launched a new free online course to help you assess and improve your online donation experience. The Ultimate Donation Page Course is a series of 10 lessons focused on online fundraising best practices and must-do tasks to optimize your donation page to inspire giving, reduce form abandonment, and increase your average gift size. The lessons include real-world examples, additional resources, and the key things you need to think about to be ready for fundraising this fall—and all year round. Bonus: these principles are easily adaptable to any other landing page that’s part of your nonprofit’s marketing outreach.

The lessons help you think through things like:

  • Which options are worth adding to your page and which you should ditch
  • How to pick the right image for your donation page
  • What to test and track with your online fundraising efforts


You can register for the course for free. You’ll receive new lessons via email every few days, and you can review them at your convenience. I urge you to check it out, then let me know what you think.

Ultimate Donation Page Course

 

 

5 Ways to Use Stories to Increase Donations

Fundraising123 - Mon, 2014-04-28 08:29

There are infinite ways to tell your nonprofit stories, but do you know which ones will lead to more donations? Check out these great tips shared in our free webinar, How to Use Content to Boost Your Donations.

 

1. Tell personal stories through video.

Storytelling
Many organizations are hesitant to make a video; it can be expensive, time consuming, and technical. But it can also be easy and inspiring. Connect with your viewers by telling them an easy-to-follow short story that centers on just one or two people. Focus on the quality of the story and engaging your viewer, not on making a super-high-quality video. Your supporters know you're not Hollywood, so your video doesn't need to be as technically savvy.

 

2. Share stories on your blog.

Blogging is a great way to grow your online presence, establish credibility, and increase your reach. You can highlight specific constituents, volunteers, staff, and board members—you can even let them write their own stories. Tying your blog to your website makes these testimonials, updates on upcoming events, and ongoing campaigns easy for visitors to access without receiving direct communication from you.

 

3. Tie donor actions to numbers.

This might not sound like a story, but trust us, it is! Close the loop for your supporters by letting them know exactly what their donation will give someone else. Will it mean two pairs of shoes, a warm meal, an immunization? Donors love to know where their money is going and what impact they're making on someone's life. Including a visual makes the story of a donation more compelling to a potential donor.

 

4. Turn donors into advocates with nurturing emails.

Nurturing emails are a great way to consistently share your stories. Send welcome emails after a friend signs up for your blog, or deliver a series of emails to build anticipation once a guest signs up for an event. The goal is to familiarize people with your organization, explain how you're being successful, describe what you want to accomplish, and share stories of successful fundraisers. Make what you're doing human and relatable to inspire people to fundraise and advocate for your cause.

 

5. Revamp your annual report.

After your annual report is published, do you know how many people are actually reading it? Chances are it's not many! Because your annual report contains the proof, data, and impact of your mission, you should do everything possible to make people want to read it. Make it beautiful (forget endless columns of small black text), shareable (does it include great pictures and Twitter icons?), visual (do you have infographics and appealing charts to make your content easy to digest?), and accessible (is it easy to understand, and does it fit on your website?). Making your annual report more creative will encourage people to read it, share it, and donate in support of it!

Want to learn more about how telling your stories can lead to better donor involvement and more money? Download the on-demand webinar presentation, How to Use Content to Boost Your Donations.

The Carrot Approach to Hiring

Companies for Good Blog - Mon, 2014-04-28 00:00

By Allison McGuire | @CaliMcG

 

Do you find that employees provide the best quality recommendations for new hires? Would you benefit from a workforce that is more engaged in referring top talent? Has it crossed your mind that injecting charity into the recruitment process can provide a carrot for employees?

 

Datalogix's Recruiting Coordinator Loves the Good CardDatalogix, a company that provides marketing infrastructure for data-driven companies, found these questions to be true. Lindsey Thomason, Recruiting Coordinator, runs the company’s new recruit program and has found by adding a charity component to the recruitment process, it has motivated employees to shape their work culture.

 

The Good Card®, a gift card for charity, is given to an employee that refers a candidate who joins the Datalogix team. The employee may then donate $1,000 to the charity/charities of their choice.

 

In addition to an increase in internal referrals, Thomason expands upon the benefits of this program:

  • Charitable donations increase with the boost of employee referrals. Employee peer referrals continue to increase in parallel with Datalogix’s overall workforce growth. To keep the program top of mind, monthly communications are sent to employees to encourage top-notch referrals.

By utilizing electronic charity cards, Datalogix is able to provide more charitable options, avoid overhead costs, and expand its green efforts. In 2013, Datalogix saw a 99% redemption rate!

 

  • Corporate philanthropic ties deepened. This program also gives Datalogix the ability to feature its corporate charitable partners, such as A Precious Child in Broomfield, Colorado, which receives employee donations, proceeds from expiring cards, and volunteer support.

To learn more about Datalogix’s Good Card program, check out our new case study here.

Looking for Major Donors? Build Better Bridges With These Financial Tools

Fundraising123 - Thu, 2014-04-24 13:42

Nonprofits stand to build better bridges to affluent donors—leading to valuable long-term philanthropic partnerships—if they understand the various tools used by wealth advisors in charitable giving.

Developing working relationships with financial advisors, especially those who work with high-net worth clients, will help you learn about the financial tools available to donors and how they fit into their overall financial plan. You'll get the chance to introduce advisors to your organization and its strengths—helping with word-of-mouth introductions to donors who might be excited about what you are doing.

Here are the steps and tools I use when working with clients in their philanthropy and my tips on how nonprofits can help both themselves and their potential donors at each stage.

Step 1: Develop a charitable giving allocation.

When I work with philanthropists, I take the time to identify her style of giving. I look at where she has given in the past and discuss what she hopes to accomplish; what problem does she want to solve? We translate it into a plan called a charitable giving allocation, and in many ways it's similar to investing. Charities often forget that donors rarely give to a single organization or cause. Their plans are diversified and typically include several recipients.

You'll position yourself well with an affluent donor by viewing your nonprofit as one piece of a plan—but not the only piece. The goal should be to build a long-term partnership as a part of her larger financial picture, rather than pitching for that one-time contribution. There is a tremendous value to making sure that any affluent donor spends time getting wise council from a financial advisor. She will be more confident about her ability to give once she looks at her entire financial picture, and the charity can benefit for years to come from the tax-efficiency created and structure built around a donor's plan.

Step 2: Choose the appropriate giving structure.

Each donor's personal and tax situation is unique. For charities, being at least acquainted with these common tax and financial structures adds to your value for donors. Here are a few of the more common structures that can lead to more tax-efficient, increased giving:

  • Donor-advised fund: Think of this as a charitable checking account. A donor establishes a fund, typically with a community foundation. Within this fund, she can place assets such as cash, securities, or even land. These funds are simple and flexible tools that can allow a donor to make bulk contributions in 1 year for tax purposes, while deciding later which organizations to support. Also, many women prefer anonymity and this structure can credit the fund, not the individual, for donations.
  • Appreciated securities: By giving appreciated assets like stocks and mutual funds, donors will generally receive a tax deduction for the full market value of the gift, as well as avoid capital gains taxes. Appreciated assets can often be contributed to donor advised funds as well.
  • Charitable remainder trust: This trust allows donors to contribute securities, real estate, and other assets in exchange for a lifetime income stream. As a simple example, if a donor places a million dollars into a 5% charitable remainder trust, she can receive $50,000 a year (5%) for the rest of her life. When she dies, the remainder goes to the charities she has designated. There are several variations of the trust that can be customized to meet the donor's unique needs.
  • Charitable lead trust: This is much like the charitable remainder trust except the income from this trust goes to the charity over a donor's lifetime and the principle goes to their heirs (at an appreciated value) at the donor's death. Though they appear similar, the charitable remainder and lead trusts have very different tax ramifications to the donor.

Step 3: Identify charities to support.

While some donors know immediately which causes they'll support, others need time to research, identify, and vet strong, capable organizations they want to invest in. Many donors, especially women, observe nonprofits quietly by volunteering and serving on boards. It is a cautionary tale for organizations: These days you're being vetted in every possible way before people give a gift, so make sure you make a great impression.

Charlie Jordan
is a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner and partner with Brightworth in Atlanta. He advises high-net-worth clients—particularly women—in investment management and tax and estate planning and he works closely with them to establish plans for their charitable giving. He is also on the board of the Georgia Planned Giving Council.

 

What to Expect from a Nonprofit Press Release

Fundraising123 - Thu, 2014-04-24 11:32

Many nonprofits and small businesses want to know exactly what they can expect from a press release before they sacrifice a dime of their precious marketing budget. Press releases are not the holy grail of marketing and promotion, but they are utilized by for-profit companies and you shouldn't overlook them when assembling your nonprofit promotional arsenal.

Make sure you have realistic expectations for how you can use them and what they can do:

PR Web Example  

Using an established press release distribution service will help your nonprofit get more attention.

 

1. Get press from a large news agency.

The potential upside for a press release is very high. Your news release can get picked up by a large news agency or journalist or you can end up with a radio or TV interview. Large publicity like this can be a huge win for a nonprofit organization with little exposure.

Getting contacted by a large news agency is a rare occurrence, so it's important to keep your expectations realistic. The more substantial and unique your press release is, the more likely you are to obtain positive results.

For many press releases, news sites will "pick up" your news release and publish it on their site. These news sites will link directly to your press release page which will further increase your overall exposure, search engine rankings, and traffic.

2. Yield better search results.

Whenever you send out a press release, make sure to use an established press release distribution service. This ensures your press release will have a prime location on the distributor's site. It's not unusual for the web page of a press release to have first page rankings in search engines within hours of publication, especially since it can link to specific keyword phrases.

3. Send more traffic to your website.
With traffic flowing from news sites and your press release page to your own website, expect an increase in traffic to your website for several weeks after the press release is published. Expect to receive a few hundred new unique visitors in the first few days after publishing a release.

Need some ideas for press releases for your nonprofit? Here are some tips:

  • If you're a new organization, write a release to introduce your organization and its purpose. Use your organization name in the title of the press release to help people find your organization and help searchers find your new organization.
  • Have a great new hire? Let people know where she came from and how excited you are!
  • If you're planning an event, a press release can be a great way to get increased exposure to your event and website for a few weeks or months before the event.
  • Do you have a name of a product, service, or person in your organization that can use some increased popularity? Write a press release on the topic and use the name in the title of the press release to rank well in search engines.

Ryan Bowman runs WebEminence.com where he builds simple informational websites on a budget for nonprofits and small businesses. He also provides digital marketing tips on his YouTube Channel.

3 Steps to Better Email Campaigns

Fundraising123 - Thu, 2014-04-24 11:30

Ready to launch your email fundraising campaign? Before simply asking for money, make sure you've clearly established your value to your supporters. Why are they interested in your cause? Is your mission closely aligned with the desires of your members? If you have been working hard to build a membership community that is generous, driven, and inclined to give, they will be more likely to respond well to your email campaigns, and this will show in your fundraising results.

Here are three easy ways to give your email campaigns a boost:

1. Organize your email list.
It's important that you aren't sending every person the exact same message or ask. Customize your emails by first segmenting your member list into different categories and then sending the appropriate message to each group. If you send messages that are tailored more toward each donor as an individual, they will be more likely to respond.

2. Use video to grab donors' attention.
Video content is becoming more popular, and your donors will be more likely to respond if your email includes video. Get creative with your videos, and add commentary that helps add context and next steps for your supporters. YouTube Annotations is a great way to do this-it lets you embed a link in the video and then add a button that says "donate here" or a similar call to action to further prompt your donors.

3. Don't use emails just to ask for money.
If you only email your donors with requests for donations, they will ignore or delete your emails. To avoid this, aim for a 3:1 ratio of informative or engagement emails to fundraising emails. This kind of outreach is more donor-centric and assures your community that they're valuable to your organization beyond just the dollars that they represent.

 

Leah Merrill is a Software Analyst for Capterra, where she specializes in helping membership administrators find membership management software.

The 4 Rs: Be Real, Relevant, Realistic, and Rewarding in Your Content Marketing

Fundraising123 - Thu, 2014-04-24 11:05

As you start using content marketing to capture the hearts of your nonprofit supporters, remember to stay true to your organization with the four Rs: Be real, relevant, realistic, and, most importantly, rewarding! Here's how:

1. Be real.

When you're talking about your nonprofit or cause, are you being real? It's important to keep your organization's story at the forefront of everything you do and to stay true to your nonprofit's voice. Be mindful of your supporters and where they're coming from, and be mindful of how you can reach them. Are they heavily using mobile? Do they rarely go on Pinterest?

2. Be relevant.

Does your nonprofit make sense in its context? That might sound like a lot of marketing speak, but it really means are you relevant. For example, are you holding a coat drive in the hottest part of summer? Make sure your content and actions make sense with what's happening in your community and in current events.

3. Be realistic.

Do you know the barriers to communicating with your audience? Identifying what can get in the way of communication might seem hard, but it's just making sure you're reaching your supporters. If the dollars are flowing and volunteers are knocking down your door, then your content is doing amazing work! If you're asking people to do something hard and getting no response, how can you make it as easy as possible? Is the action inconvenient or seemingly expensive? Use your messaging to acknowledge that and take action to make it seem easy.

4. Be rewarding.

Do you tell people what the benefits are to taking action? Let your content express the benefits of taking the course of action you want. If you want people to attend your event, emphasize that guests will enjoy a good meal, good company, and a good time. If you're asking for a donation, emphasize the feel-good feeling or tempt them with free swag. Make sure that you offer a reward in your message.

Email Reporting 101: How to Use Your Reports to Improve Your Results

Fundraising123 - Thu, 2014-04-24 10:37

If you're using email newsletters and announcements to stay in touch with your supporters, donors, and volunteers, it's important that you're keeping an eye on your results.

Email Reports

Logging in, creating a campaign, and hitting send is only part of the successful formula for your organization's email marketing efforts. You also want to create a plan so that you can track your results, find out what works, and look for ways to improve your strategy over time.

Luckily, the majority of the information you'll need is available right within your campaign reports.

Let's start with opens.

  • Your open rate tells you how many people saw your email in their inbox, clicked to open, and viewed your message.
  • The ideal open rate will differ, based on the size of your audience or how frequently you're mailing your contact list. At Constant Contact, we usually say that the average email open rate is about 20%. That range fluctuates anywhere from 15 to 50 percent, depending on your industry.

The key with open rate is not necessarily the number itself, or how you compare with other organizations, but the trend you see over time.

  • Is the number going up, staying the same, or going down? If you see a downward trend, take a look at the number of opt-outs for each message: Is that number going up while your open rate goes down? If both are happening, you might be emailing too frequently, driving subscribers away, or your content may not be targeted enough.
  • If you send weekly or daily emails, try scaling back the number of messages you send to see if that stabilizes your rate.
  • For more targeted content, survey your subscribers to learn what they want to read about.
  • If it's just your open rate that seems to be the issue, take a look at things like: from name, from email address, or subject line. It's possible that people aren't recognizing your emails because you haven't taken the appropriate steps to make your messages stand out in the inbox.

But don't just focus on opens.

The real reporting gold can be found in the click-through information.

Within your campaign reports, you will be able to see the click-through rate, which will tell you how many people opened and clicked on a link within your email. You will also be able to access a breakdown of the individual links, to see which content received the most attention and who actually clicked on each link.

  • If you're writing about multiple topics in each newsletter, click-through information can be used to determine which topics got the most attention from readers. For example, you may have a newsletter that consistently includes a link to your upcoming event schedule and a link to your blog for updates on your organization. If you're consistently seeing people clicking on the event calendar, and rarely clicking to view your blog, you may want to focus more attention on your upcoming events or, even use your blog to talk about successful fundraisings and other happenings.
  • You can also take the next step, of looking at which topics are getting the most attention from different groups of contacts.
  • If you're consistently seeing some contacts clicking on links to learn about volunteer opportunities, and others that are more frequently clicking to a donation page, you can create different lists for each of those groups and send targeted messages based on their interests.

Make sure to scrutinize your bounce rate as well.

One of the main reasons an email will bounce is because it's sent to a non-existent email address.

  • If the bounce is marked as "non-existent email address," the email address could have a typo or the person with the address may have left the organization. There's also a chance that the contact gave a false email address, which can be the case if you're offering something online in exchange for an email.
  • What you can do is review the contacts in this category and see if there are any obvious typos in the email address. If not, try to reach the contacts by other means to confirm the address.

And while you're cleaning things up, take a look at folks who have not opened a message from you in some time.

These people might not be interested in what you have to offer anymore, but have not taken the steps to get off your list. It's a good idea to send them a quick survey to see if they're still interested in getting content from you.

Getting those off your list who never open will improve both your open and click-through rates, plus you'll be expending your energies on only those who truly want to hear from you.

Ready to get started?

  • Tracking your results within your campaign reports doesn't need to become a huge burden for your organization. Block some time off each month to review your campaign reports.
  • You are already putting a lot effort to deliver great content; understanding how this content is being received will only make your next email campaign more effective.
  • You can start small, by comparing your results to previous campaigns and setting goals for your next newsletter or announcement.
  • As you get more comfortable, you can take a deeper look into your reports and begin to test different subject lines or content and see how your audience responds.

Over time, you will not only get better results from your newsletters and announcements, but will learn more about the people who care about your cause and support your organization.

As Constant Contact’s Content Developer, Ryan Pinkham helps small businesses and nonprofits recognize their full potential through marketing and social media.

 

3 Things You Aren't Using Email For (But Should)

Fundraising123 - Wed, 2014-04-23 10:47

Have you mastered the monthly eNewsletter? Do donors receive gift receipts in their inbox? And do you send donor appeals via Constant Contact like it's no big deal. If so, it looks like you're ready to flex your organization's email muscle and take your donor communications to the next level! Here are three ways you should start using email to improve donor relations:

1. Email your annual report/impact report.

Greater Cleveland Food Bank ISSUU Girls Who Code ISSUU  

The Greater Cleveland Food bank (top) and Girls Who Code (bottom) brought their annual reports online. Using the web-based tool ISSUU, print pieces are easily converted into interactive online pieces.

 

Annual reports are time intensive projects that require financial reporting, program summaries, and photos to make your years' worth of work shine. Instead of sending your beautiful report by mail, send it electronically. By saving precious postage money, you can expand the pool of annual report recipients if you send it by email. Great online tools, like ISSUU, make it easy to display a print piece online. The Greater Cleveland Food bank and Girls Who Code took advantage of the online annual report to include tons of photos, interesting infographics, and bright colors. Plus, supporters can reference the report throughout the year because it won't end up in the recycling bin a week after it arrives.

2. Email special greetings.

Your organization should make an effort to celebrate special events beyond year-end holidays. Does your organization help infants and young mothers? Mother's Day is an obvious choice for a special occasion you should embrace. (Mothers2Mothers does a great job celebrating!) Does your organization support youth programs? Then use Absolutely Incredible Kid Day or National Kid's Day as an opportunity to let your programs shine. You organization's anniversary is another great reason to send a special greeting to your donors.

3. Email project updates.

Donors want to be kept in the loop when it comes to big financial projects like capital campaigns. Sending monthly updates and photos of your building's remodel is the perfect way to show donors that their gift is making a concrete difference. Even if your organization isn't undertaking a capital campaign, considers announcing when you achieve a goal. Did you serve your 5,000th client recently? Tell your donors! Did you help twice as many students attend college this year as you did last year? Send an email to your supporters! Just like family members and friends who send email updates, maintain your relationship with your donors by sharing exciting news with them right when it happens.

While everyone on your email list might not read every email you send, sending more frequent and compelling messages increases the likelihood that you'll catch a donors' eye. Don't hesitate when it comes to sending an out-of-the-ordinary message to donors. Test and see what works best and listen to the feedback. In time, your supporters will start looking for that anniversary announcement or the stellar annual report in their inbox.

How Emotions Trump Thinking

Companies for Good Blog - Tue, 2014-04-22 00:00

By Allison McGuire | @CaliMcG

 

Brainiac's Guide to Cause MarketingAs many of you know, the key to cause marketing is appealing to your consumers’ emotions. Below is an adapted excerpt from our guide, The Brainiac’s Guide to Cause Marketing, by Katya Andresen. In this guide, Katya outlines why feelings trump logical thinking, drive people to donate, and increase the impact of your cause campaign. Check it out!

 

 

Emotion, above all else, galvanizes people to act. People support causes because they feel something, not because they think something. In fact, if you make people stop and think, they tend to do less good.

 

Because people give from an emotional place, giving literally feels good.

 

David Leonhardt, in his New York Times Magazine article “What Makes People Give?,” points out that this is good news because it means philanthropy is not a zero-sum game. If giving were rational, we’d give less when we heard other big donations were happening. Instead, we have an urge to join forces with a cause.

 

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