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The Only Thing You Need to Know About a Successful Sustainer Strategy

Two words: Lifetime value

OK, it’s a little more complicated than that. But understanding lifetime value is where a successful sustainer strategy starts.

Too often organizations don’t recognize the tension between lifetime value and immediate budget goals. They want a sustainer strategy to increase their donor pool’s lifetime value, but they don’t want to sacrifice immediate revenue in the door.

Rather than get that $15 a month gift (which averages to $180 in year one alone), they prefer the one-time gift of $100 because it looks better on the balance sheet for February.

Internal attribution wars further complicate things. One group I work with actually attributes online sustainer revenue to an offline sustainer pool—disincentivizing the online team from deploying a sustainer strategy (e.g. disincentivizng increasing the value of a donor).

Nonprofit Link Round Up

Nonprofit Link Round Up CowboyYou might forget to call your mom, but you’d better not neglect to call your donors. A recent study found that thank-you calls increased subsequent giving and gift amounts. via Nonprofit Times

Social media. Storytelling. Two of our favorite things combined together. It’s better than a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. (Ok, almost.) Learn 8 ways to become a better storyteller through social media. via Adweek

Still stuck for story material? Vanessa Chase will send you story prompts to get those creatives juices flowing.  via The Storytelling Nonprofit

Forget Tom Brady and Dancing Sharks, Estella was Our MVP

This past Sunday, more than 114 million people tuned in to watch the Super Bowl, the Katy Perry halftime show, and of course, a new lineup of commercials. Although there were tons of famous faces on the screen on Sunday, Network for Good’s MVP was a very special lady, Estella, who was featured in an ad with her Brilliant Bus.

5 Ways to Nurture Your Peer Fundraisers

You have a plan for thanking and communicating impact to your donors, and you probably have a special program for training and recognizing your volunteers. But do you have a plan for celebrating peer-to-peer fundraisers who are spreading your message, attracting new donors, and inspiring donations for your cause?

Your peer fundraisers are some of your strongest advocates, and continue to be a gateway to the donors you have acquired through their efforts as well as potential donors they may reach in future campaigns. As you think about how to thank and retain your donors of all types, make sure you also have a strategy for nurturing those who are fundraising on your behalf.  Here are a few ideas to consider:

Send a special thank you.  Craft personalized messages for your fundraisers that will show your gratitude and grow the relationship. Since your peer fundraisers are key evangelists, they deserve a little something special—remember the cumulative impact of their efforts. Add them to your call list and treat them as you might treat a high dollar donor.  (Need ideas? These examples would work equally well in your peer fundraising follow-up plan.)

Delight Donors: Thank Yous + Donor Relations Wins

Last month’s post, 10 Thank Yous That Delight Donors, sparked many conversations about how to thank donors. Because this is such an important topic (and the first step in creating a positive long-term relationship with your donors), I wanted to offer even more ideas on how to thank your donors. That’s why I’m happy to share The Donor Thank You Mini-Guide.

The Donor Thank You Mini-Guide

Download your own copy, share it with your team, and start planning a 2015 that starts with getting stellar thank yous in donors' hands. Did you send a thank you that wowed donors? Please thanks@networkforgood.org! Your organization could be featured in our blog and newsletter.

I got you babe: Introducing the Recurring Giving Challenge

Groundhog DayIn the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray’s character famously wakes up each day only to realize he is living the same day over and over. The same encounters, the same groundhog, the same Sonny and Cher on the same clock radio singing the same “I Got You Babe”. The hijinks that ensue have made this movie an all-time favorite for many.

But what if your nonprofit could have its own amazing fundraising version of Groundhog Day—one with less groundhog and more donations.

Wouldn’t it be great if you woke up to a repeated stream of donations from the same loyal donors again and again?

Investing in an effective recurring giving program can be a smart strategy for small shops looking to increase their stream of funds and boost donor retention. Here’s why:

Why It’s Time to Get Over ‘Slacktivism’

Clicks. Likes. Shares.

Cone Communications Digital Activism Study

Image: Cone Communications

It’s easy to write off the small online actions of “slacktivists” as passive behavior that won’t make much of a difference, but digital activists can turn into donors, advocates, and major supporters over time. Late last year, Cone Communications released their Digital Activism Study which reveals insights on digital consumer behavior when it comes to supporting causes online. A few nuggets:

  • 58% of Americans believe sharing information about a cause online is an effective form of advocacy.

  • 52% use social media to discuss issues they care about and believe their online activity makes a meaningful difference.

  • Of those surveyed who made a donation in the last 12 months, more people gave online (27%) than regular mail (23%).

  • Americans are most willing to take online actions that have a direct impact on an issue – such as voting (71%), signing petitions (70%) and learning about changes they can make in their everyday lives (70%).


But do all of these micro-actions really add up to anything meaningful for your cause or do they simply replace more significant contributions?

Change.org founder Ben Rattray recently challenged organizations to look to results before dismissing online activity as slacktivism.

Nonprofit Link Round Up

Another week has come and gone, and hopefully it’s been a good one for you. Here are the stories and resources that caught our eye in the world of nonprofit marketing and fundraising this week:

Link Round Up -- YeeHaw!

Our Common Challenges

Yesterday Network for Good was honored to host a group of delegates from 10 countries as part of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. The group included the Executive Director of the Icelandic Youth Council, the Program Director for the Russian Red Cross, the Community Manager from the Office of the Mayor of Athens, and a grassroots organizer from Saudi Arabia, among others who work with local governments and community groups to mobilize volunteers and social giving around the world.

So honored to host @StateDept IVLP guests in a discussion on nonprofits + tech. Thx to @caryn74 for moderating! pic.twitter.com/oxcC9ZN3Bd

— Network for Good (@Network4Good) January 27, 2015

As we gathered to talk about leveraging online technology to mobilize volunteers, raise funds, and communicate with supporters, it was clear that the challenges these international organizations face are nearly identical to those of nonprofits here in the United States. Here are a few themes that rose to the top during our time together:

The Ultimate Donation Page Guide Sneak Peek

The Ultimate Donation Page Guide

I’m excited to announce that we’ve just published our most comprehensive resource featuring all of our best practices and helpful tips for building successful online donation pages. The Ultimate Donation Page Guide is 27 pages of helpful tips and best practices that guide you through the process of building a fantastic online donation page (or refining an existing page) that gets donors to give, give big, and give again.

Link Round Up

We love reading amazing content from across the sector. Here are a few nonprofit marketing and fundraising resources that stood out this week:

Quick Takeaways from the Pew Social Media Report

The folks at the Pew Research Center recently published updates to their Social Media Report. Here are a few highlights:

Facebook still reigns supreme. It comes as no surprise that 71% of all online adults are on Facebook, which also sees 70% of users engaging with the site at least daily. 

More older adults adopting social networks. But they’re mostly on Facebook. 56% of all online adults 65 and older now use Facebook, which equals 31% of all seniors. That said, all networks featured in the report saw significant jumps in the number of 65+ users.

Visual platforms continue to emerge as key networks, especially with younger users. Over half of young adults (ages 18-29) online use Instagram. Nearly half of all Instagram users use the site daily.

Pew Social Media Report Site Usage

You can download the full report from the Pew website.

So what does this mean for your nonprofit marketing plans?

Know your audience.
Take the time to define the audience you’re trying to reach and understand where they’re spending their time. If your goal is to activate Boomers, assess your Facebook outreach and create content that appeals to their sense of identity and need for transparency. If you’re looking to mobilize younger supporters, consider documenting your work and the impact of donors via Instagram photos.

Next Frontier of Storytelling in the Nonprofit Sector

Vanessa Chase HeadshotEditor’s note: This post was written by Vanessa Chase, founder of The Storytelling Non-Profit. You can check out more thoughts on storytelling on her blog. Or, if you’re in the mood to watch a webinar on storytelling, you can download the archived version of her Nonprofit911 webinar.

Storytelling is quickly becoming part of the everyday fabric of nonprofit fundraising and communications. While some might suggest that storytelling is simply the latest and greatest trend, much evidence suggests that it’s a fundamental type of human communication working its way into organizational communications. We are entering a new era where organizational communication will no longer be sterile, dry, and boring. Instead, it will sound human. This is the new standard that storytelling and narrative communications are bringing to our sector.

As we hit the ground running in 2015, I anticipate seeing a greater volume of storytelling from nonprofits. This probably comes as no surprise to you. More organizations of varying sizes and causes will hop on the storytelling bus. They will find unique ways to talk about their impact, great staff, and amazing donors. We will hear these stories through the written word, photos, videos, and more. A great many stories will be told online because of the range of formats available to tell them. Many online story platforms are considered to be more interesting and engaging than print.

What else can we expect to see in 2015? Here are two emerging trends that will likely come to the forefront this year.

2014 Year-End Giving Results in Big Win Online for Nonprofits

It’s no secret that year-end giving is an important source of donation dollars for most nonprofits. Last year was no exception and we saw a lot of “generous procrastinators” giving big online in December 2014. When we looked at organizations who received donations on the Network for Good platform in both December 2013 and December 2014, we saw an 18% increase in total donation volume year over year.  A few other important notes about year-end giving results:

  • The total number of donations also grew year over year. In December 2014, 22% more donations were made to charities through Network for Good compared to December 2013.

  • As expected, #GivingTuesday was a big driver of December donations on the Network for Good platform in 2014, with over $4.5M raised on December 2. This represented a 148% increase over total donation volume on #GivingTuesday 2013.

  • December giving also accounted for 30% of all online donations made to nonprofits through Network for Good in 2014, with 10% of all annual giving happening on the last three days of the year. This stat has remained consistent for the last 5 years, underscoring the significance of year-end giving on overall fundraising results.

  • The average gift size for the month of December also increased by 6.5% compared to 2013.


Want more insight on how online giving is growing? Stay tuned! In February, we’ll release our Digital Giving Index, which will take a closer look at online giving trends. We’ll share where, how, and how much donors gave across our digital channels in 2014.

How did your year-end fundraising campaigns perform? Chime in with your experiences in the comments and let us know what you plan to build on—or change—in 2015!