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Reclaim Back to School: How to Stay Energized, Relevant, and at the Top of Your Game

Our daughter, Charlotte, recently started sixth grade, and the pumped-up energy at school that first morning really got me thinking.

“Back to school” is one of the definers of fall as we know it. It’s right up there with apples, the changing colors of the leaves, and Halloween.

Here are all these kids marching into the unknown for nine months of learning and growth. Some are thrilled to be starting again, others are longing for the pool or camp, but all have this incredible opportunity to be exposed to new content, to digest it in the context of what they know now, and to arrive on the far side with a fresh perspective and new skills. I’m envious!

Few of us have this kind of formal growth opportunity, but ongoing intellectual and creative growth is vital. It’s the only way to ensure that our marketing and fundraising content is relevant while fueling our personal satisfaction.

My call to action for you and me? Let’s reclaim back to school. Let’s schedule some learning—via conversation, reading, participating—into every day, even if for only five minutes. Learning is energizing, positive, and productive, but you have to make it happen.

Here are the five main methods I use to keep learning:

Crowdfunding: The Future of Annual Giving [Free Guide]

What’s old is new again.

The most exciting evolution of the giving economy in the past ten years is crowdfunding. But crowdfunding is simply a new name for one of the oldest forms of fundraising.

Throughout history, communities joined together to support those in need. Crowdfunding is the 21st century version of this age-old process for harnessing the power of a crowd.

Crowdfunding today sits at the intersection between communities, online, social, and giving. And it is more than just a strategy for one-off projects; it should be a core strategy for annual giving. (Tweet this)

And nonprofits are just arriving at the party.

In a recent article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Erin Morgan Gore & Breanna DiGiammarino shared perspective on the power of crowdfunding for nonprofits:

“Used strategically, crowdfunding helps nonprofits build meaningful engagement, inform their work, spread their messages, and expand their donor base to increase their overall funding and impact.”

Crowdfunding the Annual Fund?

What? Really? We say, Yes!

And you know what’s really exciting? You already know how to do it.

Crowdfunding leverages the skills and experience that you use everyday as a fundraiser. At its most basic level, the process of developing a great crowdfunding campaign is a lot like developing your major donor outreach strategy.

“It’s not about restricted or unrestricted; it’s about the donor, and giving annual fund donors the same quality of experience its high-level donors have—more project choices, greater ability to direct their gifts, and expanded engagement,” according to Margaret Paine, the director of advancement communications at Middlebury College.

What are the parallels between crowdfunding and major donor engagement?

LUCKY 13: Thirteen weeks to plan for the best giving season ever – starting with #GivingTuesday

Crunch time!

Can it be…Labor Day weekend is really behind us? 2014 is in the home stretch and that means it is crunch time for nonprofits.

In fact, 30% of the projected $300 billion in total annual donations to charities are made in December — and 10%, or $30 billion, come during the year’s last 48 hours. (Source: NY Post, December 2013)

For most nonprofits, it’s make or break time. And for donors, whether they are motivated by making an impact or by the tax year, December underlines the urgency of giving.

Countdown to #GivingTuesday

The movement that has changed the December giving season since 2012 is #GivingTuesday. It started with a simple idea – to be a counterpoint to the consumerism of Black Friday and CyberMonday. From a couple hundred nonprofits in 2012, #GivingTuesday has grown into an international day of giving with organizations and donors around the globe joining the movement.

Traditionally, year-end givers to nonprofits are loyal supporters or those with personal ties to an organization. Now, nonprofits can harness the energy of #GivingTuesday to engage new donors, and to extend and amplify the giving season.

We know first hand. Last year we led BMoregivesMore, the campaign to make Baltimore the most generous city in America on #GivingTuesday. Nonprofits that participated in BMoreGivesMore reported that between 20% and 60% of donors on that day were new. And more than 80% who shared their results said that they had a comparable or better December overall!

How Crowdfunding Can Transform Alumni Giving

“Over the past decade colleges and universities of all stripes have struggled with a truly stunning national decline in alumni participation rates: More than a third fewer alumni make a gift of any size to their alma mater today compared with alumni 10+ years ago.”
Cara Quackenbush of Eduventures

The cost of college, the rise in student loan debt, a weak economy, and uncertain job prospects have all contributed to the rapid decline in alumni giving.

These are issues that advancement offices can’t control.

But there are many factors that drive participation and giving that ARE in the hands of Higher Ed advancement pros and marketers.

The fix for declining Higher Ed participation rates is a reinvention of the Annual Fund.

Think (and act) like a Crowdfunder

The most exciting evolution of the giving economy in the past ten years is Crowdfunding. And Higher Ed is just arriving at the party.

Crowdfunding sits at the intersection between communities, online, social, and giving. It is more than just a strategy for one-off projects; it should be a core strategy for annual giving.

According to Andrew Gossen, Senior Director for Social Media Strategy at Cornell, “Crowdfunding is far more than just a tool for raising money online. It’s also a means of driving participation, teaching a culture of philanthropy, communicating effectively, mobilizing constituents’ networks on behalf of the institution, building and cultivating a donor pipeline, and a fantastic mode of stewardship.”

So, how can you take advantage of this new way of looking at your annual annual fund? I recently presented some ideas with Dayna Carpenter of University of Maryland Baltimore County during this year’s eduWeb conference. Download the presentation for more inspiration for transforming your alumni giving program.

Crowdfunding in Higher Ed Presentation

 

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