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Recurring Giving Challenge Lessons Learned: Named Monthly Giving Programs

Debates can stem from the most banal of subjects. Take, for example, the great debate around naming recurring giving programs. If you’ve had this discussion at your organization, you’ve undoubtedly been across the table from someone who’s a staunch advocate for starting a society, a circle, or a club for your monthly supporters. You’ve probably also heard complaints of exclusivity, problems categorizing donor levels, and the question of whether to give a thank you gift.

The truth is that both sides have valid points. Here at Network for Good, we come down firmly in the middle. Naming your recurring giving program can have a lot of benefits—and it can also distract from your mission. While poring over the results of our Recurring Giving Challenge, we noticed that our winners were also split down the middle.

Let’s take a look at some of the Recurring Giving Challenge winners that decided to name their monthly giving programs (and saw great success!):

All Your Board Questions Answered: Q&A with Rachel Muir

If you missed our webinar with Rachel Muir, vice president of training at Pursuant, I highly suggest you download the archived version and get ready to take lots and lots of notes. Rachel gave us some amazing insights on how to motivate your board and how to turn them into fundraisers. Because we had such a great Q&A with her at the end of the webinar, I wanted to share some highlights and ask a few more questions that we didn’t have time for.

Social Media Content Is Sitting Right in Front of You

Content for your social media channels is sitting right in front of you. Really! Your website, donor appeals, and newsletters are just waiting to be translated into a Facebook post, tweet, or YouTube video. Repurposing content can take some time, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll start thinking of ideas to feed your social channels in your sleep.

To help get your creative juices flowing, here are some quick tips and content ideas for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram:

The 4 T’s of Amazing Fundraising Appeals

At Network for Good we spend a lot of time analyzing what makes an ask more effective, as a really good fundraising appeal is so crucial for nonprofits to connect with supporters and inspire donors to give. Our CEO, Bill Strathmann, is a big fan of alliteration and recently shared four T’s for effective appeals. Here’s how they add up to a better message that works:

Timely: Your appeal needs to have a sense of urgency to move donors to act now. Let them know what will happen if they give immediately—or what might be lost if they don’t.

Touching: Effective fundraising taps into the emotional and personal reasons for giving. Your fundraising appeal must inspire your reader to feel something if you want them to take action. Compelling photos and stories help make your message come to life.

Trustworthy: Once you’ve inspired donors with emotion, they need reassurance to follow through with their donation. Build trust by including trust icons, testimonials, and sign your appeal with believable and relatable messenger.

Tangible: What will happen if someone gives? Show concrete results and the specific impact of a gift. Donors want to know that they can make a difference. Make it easy for them to see how their donation matters.

Want to take your nonprofit’s fundraising appeals to the next level? Our latest ebook will help you do just that. Download your free copy of “How to Write Amazing Fundraising Appeals” to learn how to take your fundraising letters from fizzling to sizzling. Plus, you’ll get a step-by-step template and cheat sheet that makes writing your next appeal a piece of cake.

amazing fundraising appeals

A Few of My Favorite Tools

Like many of your organizations, my business is basically a tiny shop. There’s never enough time and everything to do. Plus, as a working mom (and daughter of a 92-year-old), I’m multitasking day and night and always have too much on my plate. I think you see what I mean.

We all need help to keep things organized, timely, and moving forward. Here are some of the greatest helpers I know.

How to Get Your Board on Board with Social Fundraising

Looking for a new way to get your board involved with your fundraising efforts?

A social fundraising campaign can help make it easier for your board members to fulfill their “give or get” commitment to your organization.

Of course, the idea behind social fundraising isn’t new, but combining the age-old structure of board support and your fundraising assets with technology that makes it much easier to ask for a gift can amplify your outreach, resulting in more donors and more donations for your mission.

get your board on board with social fundraising

Make It Easy

Any time you want to turn donors into fundraisers (or get anyone to do anything, really), you’ll see more success when you make your desired action as easy as can be. This especially applies to your board members. They want to help, but they’re busy and they might not know where to begin. This is where a little planning goes a long way. Some things to consider:

Offer clarity: First things first—you’ve got to be crystal clear about what you want your board members to do, how they need to do it, and what you expect from each of them. Setting these expectations up front will save you a lot of headaches down the road. This means you’ll need to zero in on your fundraising goals, which projects or programs you want to fund with your campaign, and how many donors you think you’ll need to get there.

Give them scripted messages: Get your board members started with pre-written emails, fundraising appeals, phone scripts, and social media posts. They may want to customize these messages to underscore their own stories or connection to their networks, but offering a starting point will give them the head start they need to feel like a personal fundraising campaign is something they can do.

Set a timeline and send reminders: In a recent conversation with local nonprofits about board fundraising, I heard a common refrain, “My board members want to get involved, but they sometimes work on their own time frame, instead of ours.” Ok, you may not be able to totally get around this, but you can minimize this concern by being upfront about your campaign timing and deadlines. Have a timeline just for your board, and send reminders to keep them motivated and on track. Encourage them to set an example for your other donors and fundraisers by kicking off their campaign with a donation that can serve as a matching gift.

Equip them with the right tools: Having the right technology in place will make the entire process of setting up a campaign, organizing your board members, and collecting donations much easier. You’ll want a fundraising platform that allows you to quickly customize your message and launch your campaign, as well as built-in best practices and optimized pages, so you’re getting the most out of your board members’ outreach. The easier it is, the more your board members can do themselves, taking more of the burden off of you. (Pretty sweet, right? Want to see a platform that can help you make it easy? Register for this week’s social fundraising demo to learn more.)

Half of Your Email Subscribers Are Ignoring You

New research from the 2015 M+R Benchmarks Study tells us that, on average, almost half (45%) of small nonprofits’ email subscribers are inactive. Yikes!

Inactive could mean different things to different organizations. Many organizations define inactive subscribers as those who’ve gone one year with no activity. (These don’t necessarily include lapsed or inactive donors. We’re simply talking about people in your database who haven’t opened an email in a really long time—donors and nondonors.) However you define your inactive subscriber base, I think we can all agree that you need a plan of action to reengage with people who were, at one point, interested in your organization.

Philanthropy Outlook Rosy, Reports IU Lilly School of Philanthropy

U.S. charitable giving predicted to rise 4.8 percent in 2015.

The tide may be turning!

Giving momentum is strong and getting stronger, according to research findings recently released by the IU Lilly School of Philanthropy and Martz & Lundy.

Here’s more of the good news reported in The Philanthropy Outlook 2015 & 2016:

Our Top 4 Takeaways from the Millennial Alumni Study Research Update

Thanks to our friends at Achieve, we have valuable new insights into how Millennial alumni think, act, and support their alma maters and favorite organizations. Here are our key takeaways:

How to Turn Donors into Fundraisers

Want to add new donors and more donations to your fundraising results this year?

One of the best ways to expand your reach and attract new supporters is by tapping into the networks of your existing supporters with a social fundraising campaign. Here’s why: people are more likely to give when asked by a friend or family member, and thanks to the multiplier effect, these supporter-fundraisers will increase their lifetime value to your organization by giving and bringing new donations to your cause.

So, how do you do it? How do you inspire donors to create personalized fundraising campaigns and raise money on your behalf?  Here are 11 tips for turning donors into fundraisers.

Make it easy.

First and foremost, you must make setting up a fundraising page and asking friends to donate dead simple to do. The same rules apply for getting donors to give as they do for getting supporters to ask their networks to give to your cause. The easier it is to do, the more likely they will be to do it. Focus on removing any roadblocks for your supporters-turned-fundraisers.

Offer portable outreach. Arm your supporters with pre-written emails and social media posts. Provide grab-and-go templates so your advocates can focus on reaching out to their friends.

Be clear. Make sure you are clear on what you’re asking your supporters to do when you recruit them to be fundraisers. Make your instructions short and simple. If there are too many steps or complex requests, they’ll get confused and give up. Simplify their part of the process as much as possible, and if you can do some of the steps for them, even better.

Be realistic. You want your goals to be exciting and motivating, but requests don’t feel do-able will just turn potential fundraisers off. Make your ask feel possible so your supporters can see they can succeed and make an impact for your work. If possible, share other fundraisers’ good results to illustrate that a successful campaign is achievable.

Have the right tools. Having the right software in place makes these types of social fundraising campaigns a lot easier for you, and your fundraisers. Focus on tools that empower supporters, offer built-in sharing options, and make your fundraisers look good. Don’t miss our free demo this Thursday to get a first look at Network for Good’s newest fundraising tool and learn how you can easily create campaigns that will extend your reach and attract new donors.

Nonprofit Link Round Up

It’s the weekend, y’all! Here’s a sampling of the links and resources that caught our eye this week at the NFG corral. Roundup

Do you have an over-active editing committee when it comes to your donor outreach? Mary Cahalane offers her advice on how to respond when they challenge your fundraising appeal.

Nice to see our friend and NTEN CEO Amy Sample Ward featured in this NPR piece: Crowdfunded Campaigns For Nepal Are Huge. Is That A Good Way To Give?

At Network for Good, we’ve enabled nearly $1M in giving for Nepal Earthquake relief efforts. Jeff Brooks shares how you can nudge disaster responders become committed donors.

Wow: Recurring Giving Challenge Winners

Wow! That’s the general sentiment around here at Network for Good at the conclusion of the Recurring Giving Challenge. We officially ended the challenge last Thursday and while we’ve crunched the numbers and updated the leaderboards we’ve let out a never-ending chorus of wows and today we’re so excited to share the results with you.

During the challenge we saw our nonprofit customers jump in feet first to new campaigns, ask for feedback about their work, and find success in expanding their base of recurring donors. All of that hard work has paid off big time, not only in new recurring donors providing steady support, but also their share of $20,000 in bonus rewards from the Network for Good Generosity Fund. Join us in celebrating our Recurring Giving Challenge winners. Don’t hesitate to do a happy dance and shout “wow” with us.

More Must-Read Insight into Millennials: Interview with Kari Saratovsky (Part Two)

Read Part One »

After my initial sit-down with Kari Saratovsky, author of the just-released Millennial Donor Playbook (download your free copy here) I was thirsting to know even more about how to engage Millennials.

Here’s the second part of our conversation.

Nonprofit Link Round Up

Nonprofit Link Round Up

A recent study from Dunham+Company reported that only 42% of U.S. churches give congregants an option to tithe online. But, 70% of non-church nonprofits offer online giving options. As our recent Digital Giving Index reported, and Dunham+Company's research confirms, online giving is outpacing overall giving. Have you made an online donation to your nonprofit recently? Was it easy? Take our test and find out.

Are you disconnected from donors? Do you even know what they want from your organization? A recent study shows that you are most likely ignoring donor preferences. via Chronicle of Philanthropy

Nonprofit Spotlight: Homeless Children’s Playtime Project

Network for Good works with so many amazing nonprofits and we want to introduce you to them and the great work they are doing! This week we want to introduce you to someone close to our home office here in Washington, DC. We love supporting our customers with great online fundraising tools and in real life: this weekend we’ll be putting on our running shoes and hitting the trails for the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project’s annual Defenders of Play 5k.

Meet Homeless Children’s Playtime Project  Children's Playtime Project

Creative play is vital to a child’s development. It encourages confidence, self-expression, and exploration. Children experiencing homelessness often lack access to safe places to play in shelters and transitional housing. Luckily, families in DC have The Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, an organization committed to nurturing healthy child development and reducing the affects of trauma among children living in temporary housing programs. With a large volunteer base and program sites across the city, Playtime Project gives young children and teens a safe space to play while lifting up the voices of families to ensure that safe, supportive shelters and affordable housing remain priorities in the District.

Your Storytelling Questions Answered: Q&A with Vanessa Chase

Last month, Vanessa Chase, founder of the Storytelling Non-Profit presented a Nonprofit911 webinar on how to incorporate storytelling in email appeals. The webinar was amazing, and I highly recommend you watch the archived version. Because so many people listened in, there were tons of great questions, but we didn’t have time to answer them all during the Q&A portion of the webinar. I gathered some of those questions and asked Vanessa if she could answer them here on our blog. Read on to hear Vanessa’s tips on donor surveys and her recommendations for how to include visuals in your email appeals.

Why Social Fundraising Works

How does tapping into the power of relationships transform a simple ask into a more effective, inspiring call to action? This week’s Nonprofit 911 webinar is all about leveraging the social nature of giving to grow your donor base and raise more money for your cause. Join us this Thursday at 1pm ET to learn how to create your own social fundraising campaign. Today’s post is a taste of what we’ll cover.

So, why does social fundraising work so well? Why can’t organizations get the same results just sending out direct appeals to their audiences?

Why Social Fundraising Works
While giving is a highly emotional and at times deeply personal act, at its core, most giving is social. Our personal experiences and social ties often drive our decision to donate to a cause. Giving is how we relate and give back to our community and how we seek to improve the world for our fellow man.

Giving is also social in that we are strongly influenced by our family, friends, and networks—as well as those we perceive to be our peers. When an appeal for funds comes from someone in our networks that we trust, we’re more likely to act.

Here’s why social fundraising campaigns can inspire a wave of new supporters for your cause:

Social fundraising is based on a two-way relationship.
Traditional fundraising appeals are often one-sided, broadcast messages. These promotions can move people to act, but they don’t easily capture the emotion or relationship that can drive giving on a massive scale. Social fundraising puts the message in the mouth of the person who is most likely to prompt a donation:  someone the audience knows. The experience of supporting a good cause becomes one that people can have together, which makes it even more powerful.

4 Thank You Musts for Monthly Donors

Editor’s note:  Our thoughts are with those affected by the massive earthquake and aftershocks in Nepal. You can help. To donate to the relief efforts, visit our disaster response page.

We’re in the last few days of our Recurring Giving Challengecheck out which campaigns are sitting atop our leaderboard and are in the running for their share of $20K in challenge rewards!

You’ve put a lot of work into recruiting recurring gifts from your supporters. Once you have monthly donors on board, you can just coast, right?


Even though they have set up and committed to a recurring gift, you still need to cultivate and build relationships with these donors. While thanking monthly donors isn’t much different than thanking donors in general, there is one big difference:  you have a lot more riding on monthly donors, as their lifetime value is likely to be much greater than your average one-time donor.

Use your thank you letter as an opportunity to show gratitude, but also to lay the groundwork for a long-term relationship. Donor gratitude is so important we have an entire guide devoted just to this very topic. Here are four musts for your thank yous to monthly donors:

1. Be prompt.
In addition to an immediate, personalized confirmation that their gift was processed successfully, you should thank your sustainers within a few days of setting up their recurring donation. Have a plan in place to make this happen quickly and make it a priority. Your goal is to keep that warm fuzzy feeling going as soon as possible after the gift was initiated. You may wish to send an email, a written note, or follow up with a phone call. It wouldn’t hurt to do all three over the course of those first few months once someone joins your monthly giving program.

2. Be personal.
In addition to addressing the donor by name, sign your thank you letters from a real person. Promise me that you won’t send thank yous that start out with “dear friend” or “dear supporter.” Not only is it boring and mechanical, it sends a signal of “we can’t be bothered.” Also, get creative with who signs your electronic and mailed letters–a board member, a volunteer, or a beneficiary can add significance to your acknowledgement. Make sure there is a real live human behind your stewardship efforts.

Nonprofit Spotlight: True Impact Ministries

Network for Good works with so many amazing nonprofits and we want to introduce you to them and the great work they are doing! As part of our Recurring Giving Challenge we’re highlighting members of our leaderboard who are producing compelling, creative campaigns to recruit recurring donors and build a sustainable fundraising model for their organization. Today I want you to meet True Impact Ministries, a customer using recurring giving to sponsor children and the current holder of 4th place on our leaderboard.

Meet True Impact Ministries  True Impact Ministries

Like so many nonprofit organizations, True Impact Ministries has changed and molded its mission to meet the needs of the communities it serves. Ten years ago, when True Impact’s founders Andy and Susie Stewart first began their work, they brought a small team of volunteers to Uganda to help build a modest school house. It was the beginning of an ever-expanding mission that now includes orphan homes, water structures, and medical care.

How Giving is Growing Online: The Latest from the Digital Giving Index

Where is online giving going? How do you capture more digital dollars for your cause?

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

The Network for Good’s Digital Giving Index data represents $233 million in giving for 2014 representing donations to 45,000 charities. While online donations still represent less than 10% of all charitable giving, the growth of online giving continues to outpace the rate of growth for overall giving. In 2014, the donations on Network for Good’s online giving platform increased 23% over 2013.

Digital Giving Index 2014

Here are a few key takeaways from our giving data:

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