My Network for Good colleague Caryn Stein recently wrote this post. It has my all-time favorite headline. For that reason alone, it merits sharing. Enjoy. And thanks, Caryn.In a recent episode of TLC’s “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” (oh yes, we went there), Honey Boo Boo* (real name: Alana) decides the family should create a lemonade stand to raise money for an upcoming beauty pageant. You might be surprised, but this popular pageant princess can actually teach nonprofits a few things about fundraising – no lemons required.Have Personality. Whatever else you might say about Honey Boo Boo, the girl has personality. Let your nonprofit’s unique quality shine through on your website, in your social media outreach and in your fundraising appeals. (Need ideas? Try these 7 Ways to Show Your Nonprofit’s Personality)Be Bold and Colorful. What color did Honey Boo Boo choose for her lemonade stand poster? Neon pink, of course! Follow suit and make your DonateNow buttons big, bold and colorful to stand out and make it easy for your supporters to donate. (Make your DonateNow button more effective with these tips.)Put Good Stuff in It. Honey Boo Boo’s lemonade recipe calls for at least five pounds (!) of sugar in each batch. Yikes. While we’re not advocating a sugar overdose, don’t forget to pay attention to your special recipe when communicating with your donors. (Make your outreach stand out with these 6 Foolproof Tips for Great Nonprofit Content.)Don’t Be Afraid to Make the Ask. Honey Boo Boo’s not shy about asking for what she wants (understatement), and you shouldn’t be either! As we head toward year-end fundraising season, practice making clear and direct calls for your supporters to make a donation. (Learn the Art of the Online Ask.)Be Grateful. At fifty cents a glass, it may take a while for Honey Boo Boo to save up for her next pageant dress, but she knows that giving an enthusiastic thank you to each patron is good business sense. It’s a simple thing, but it matters to your supporters. (Read why thanking donors is so critical – and learn how to do it properly.)*Don’t know Honey Boo Boo? Wikipedia can help.
Make it easy for people to share and connect. Finally, make it easy for people to connect with you and share your site with their friends by including buttons and links to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. When it comes to your donate button, think big, bold and above the fold. Make it easier for people to give online by helping supporters find your button in the first place. Put it on every page of your website. Stay away from vague words like “support” or “help.” If you want people to donate, say “donate now.” Determine what you want visitors do and offer a clear call to action. Think about the most important things you want a visitor to do and make the pages of your website clearly guide visitors toward those actions. Note: You may want to alter your calls to actions at different times of the year. Use more photos and video to showcase your work. The quickest way to make an emotional connection with your website visitors is to, in a sense, make eye contact with them. This is why a photo of one person or animal you are helping works much better than an image of an inanimate object. Don’t let your perceived level of quality hold you back – whether you caught a clip of a child saying thank you at your last event with your iPhone or took candid photos of volunteers helping in a soup kitchen – the authenticity will shine through. Your nonprofit website is a critical resource for engaging with three important audiences:All of your constituents, including volunteers, alumni, members and advocacy supportersAll of your donors – both current and prospectivePeople who have little to no previous knowledge about your nonprofit.Whether you plan a total redesign or just a few tweaks, a few simple changes to your website can make a big difference in how people perceive and interact with your cause. Ditch the text. Familiar with the phrase “less is more”? People do not read websites—they scan them. Think in terms of headings, bullets, lists and images. When it comes to adding text to your site, be ruthless. Eliminate unnecessary words or phrases and make the ones you do include count by making them clear and compelling.
Interestingly, these numbers put nonprofits ahead of their for-profit counterparts in the small business world: “Ninety-six percent of nonprofits said they were on Facebook vs. 90% of small businesses. And 80% of nonprofits on Facebook reported posting on the site multiple times per week, vs. 66% of small businesses,” says eMarketer. Nonprofits said they were increasing their marketing spend on social media by 10% this year. Though to put matters in perspective, that may not be a lot in real dollars. Studies last year found 43% budget $0 for their social networking activities (aside from staff time).I think that the embrace of social media is wise for nonprofits for several reasons. While it may not drive big return on investment in fundraising dollars, it’s a relatively inexpensive and effective way of raising visibility, generating social proof around a cause and inspiring future actions in support of a cause.At the end of the day, most people come to learn and love a cause via friends and family. Through social media, nonprofits can facilitate and amplify that natural word of mouth. No wonder droves of nonprofits are doing just that. While nonprofits may be behind the curve in some matters, we’ve done a swift job of adopting social media. As I’ve noted here before based on past surveys, the vast majority of nonprofits are actively using Facebook and Twitter.Some new research featured in eMarketer bolsters that view:
When we think about what motivates people at work, some cliches come out. Money? Maybe. Power? Perhaps. But as someone working for a mission you know it’s something else — altruism.But what may surprise you is this isn’t just a truism in the nonprofit sector. It works in most places.This past Sunday, the New York Times had a fascinating magazine profile of Adam Grant, the youngest-tenured and highest rated professor at Wharton. Grant focuses on workplace psychology and the effects of altruism in your career. His research shows generosity at work is a strong motivator that spurs increased productivity and creativity. Helping others, it seems, helps ourselves. (As a person, Grant is radically generous, spending hours a day helping students, colleagues and strangers for the sake of being useful to others.)Early in his career, Grant worked with a demoralized call center to show the positive effects of altruism. Since one of the center’s purposes was funding scholarships, Grant had a student who benefited from the fundraising efforts speak to the telemarketers for ten minutes. The student told the callers how the scholarship had changed his life – and how he was headed off to work for Teach for America. A month later, the call center reported workers were on the phone 142 percent more and raising 171 more. A follow up found revenues had rocketed up 400 percent. Grant concludes the greatest untapped source of motivation is service to others. This reminds me of Daniel Pink’s writing on a higher purpose being a powerful professional motivator.Maybe that’s why there is research suggesting that the first instinct of humans is to contribute to the greater good at their own expense. We’re wired to do what motivates us to do our best.In my own work at Network for Good, where we not only support nonprofits like yours but also seek to help companies bring philanthropy into the workplace, we find these ideas hold true. Allowing employees to do good for others builds loyalty, increases job satisfaction and boosts morale. Giving rewards to employees like charity vouchers have been documented to make people happier and more satisfied with their jobs. We know giving makes us happy. Maybe it makes all of us more motivated – and successful – too.
Over the past year, researchers Adrian Sargeant and Jen Shang have sought to answer the question, how can truly great fundraising flourish?It’s a timely question given that half of fundraisers want to quit – and a quarter of bosses said they fired their last fundraiser.The report – commissioned by the firm Clayton Burnett Limited – is out, and I wanted to share the findings. (You can get the report and executive summary for free at the firm’s website – just give a it a day or two for them to email it to you.)One answer was that organizations with incredible growth in fundraising have achieved that with the right people. Successful organizations have strong fundraising managers who achieve desired change through a combination of will and personal humility. They “devote considerable attention to what they regard as the critical building blocks of success, namely building an exceptional team, structure(s) and culture.”I’m going to highlight here some of the ways high-performing organizations built their teams. For additional findings, check out the full report.1. The manager built or retooled the fundraising team members and focused on a few, small early wins. This led to “improvement in confidence and morale, which became self-sustaining as individuals began to recognize their own potential to succeed. Technical expertise on the part of team members was important, but so too was conscientiousness, a willingness to support others, and a propensity to engage in appropriate levels of risk-taking.”2. The researchers note this shift in culture addressed turnover woes. “After the right team had been built, none of the organizations we examined suffered from the high turnover rates that otherwise pervade our sector. Being a part of a successful team appears to engender high levels of loyalty and our all our leaders were personally invested in their teams. The loyalty thus cut both ways. It was also interesting to note that those who defined their team more broadly, to include external agency personnel also exhibited a high degree of loyalty to that agency. Some were maintaining relationships with suppliers that had existed for over a decade.”3. Once a strong team was in place, they focused on the big picture in the right ways. Says the report: “We also found evidence in goal setting, that our outstanding leaders aligned their organizational metrics with the longer term drivers of donor value. Their objectives were couched not in the short-term minutia that typically pervade our sector, but in the standards and behaviours they identified would add value forsupporters and thus pay-back in the longer term. Their appraisal and reward systems were similarly aligned, to focus team member ambitions on the things that mattered most to longer term growth.”That said, the researchers also emphasized the system in which these people work: “Great systems are often more important than great people. A well-designed system filled with ordinary but well-trained people can, according to academic research, consistently achieve well above average performance.”I wish we saw more of these approaches. What works at your organization? Which of these ideas resonate with you? Who are your people and what are your systems?
(Credit: United Way, Source: Peter Panepento/The Chronicle of Philanthropy)Social media is a fantastic tool to make your presence known online. But are you using it correctly? Many nonprofits are using it to promote themselves, but often in the wrong ways, said Peter Panepento, assistant managing editor at The Chronicle of Philanthropy, at the Washington, DC, edition of the Social Media for Nonprofits conference. He often sees nonprofits tweeting links to press releases or posting them on their Facebook page, trying to hijack their social media pages as an “official communication channel.”“Don’t use social media to be bureaucratic,” Peter told the conference. Social media is the perfect tool for PR, but only when the emphasis is on personal. Nonprofits should put a human face on everything and use social media to humanize your organization.” “You don’t need a big budget or to be particularly photogenic,” Peter said, you just need to be human. Here are three rules we learned from Peter on how to humanize your social media and tell a great story:1. Think like a reporter.Use your social media accounts to feature someone in your community that your group engages with such as donors, beneficiaries of your work, and local businesses that support you. Seek out someone that can answer the question, “Who cares? Why should this matter to me?” Remember that stories are about people, so feature the people who matter to your cause.2. Share your #fail.In 2010, the organization charity: water posted on Facebook for its September Campaign Live Drill. From Central African Republic, they produced a live broadcast when they attempted to drill for clean water-and failed. Peter highlighted charity: water because instead of trying to hide that something went wrong, they made it public, even writing a blog post about it. For every success, there is failure. “Followers really responded to seeing things that don’t work, you seem more genuine to your followers.”3. Give your supporters the megaphone.Think about how your supporters can help tell your story over social media. Invite them to talk about your work just like the United Way did for their 160th anniversary (as seen above). You can even encourage volunteers to be reporters by rewarding them: retweet them, call them out, and thank them. If you bake it into the volunteer experience, Peter said, “you’ll get more genuine language from people than you could otherwise compose.”For better social media engagement, follow these tips from Peter to humanize your organization. “If you can show the work that you’re doing and the people you’re serving, even if it’s not in a mud pit somewhere in Alaska but at your desk, that can be really helpful.”The Social Media for Nonprofits conference is coming to Austin, TX on August 13, 2013. Check out the conference agenda, and follow SM4Nonprofits on Facebook for the latest updates. Heading to Austin? Use our “N4G” discount code to save $20.
We write a lot about how to inspire supporters with compelling stories and clear calls to action, but even the most well-crafted messages are worthless if no one sees them. In addition to your outreach via email marketing or direct mail, it’s equally important to ensure your cause is well-represented through press outreach, social media, and search. Tomorrow, Network for Good is hosting afree webinar for nonprofits to learn more about effective publicity tactics from our friends at PR NewsChannel. This is a great opportunity to get your questions answered and pick up some practical PR tips from the pros, just in time to put them into place for your fall events and year-end fundraising campaigns.Register now for the live webinar on Tuesday, July 30 at 1pm ET. (If you can’t attend the event at that time, go ahead and register — you’ll receive an email with the playback recording of the session, plus the slides.)
In Ctrl Alt Delete Mitch Joel issues a wake-up call for those that may find themselves lost in a rapidly evolving landscape of technology, media, and marketing. Joel, president of the digital marketing agency Twist Image, offers sharp insights on how these changes affect the way we learn, shop, communicate, and work. It’s an important reality check for nonprofit marketers because these factors directly affect how supporters and partners will interact with your cause. Organizations that understand and adapt to these new opportunities will thrive, while those who resist will find themselves struggling to connect with donors in the years to come.The book starts off with one of the most critical lessons for any marketer, especially those working in the nonprofit sector: embracing the shift toward more direct relationships with your consumers (donors), is no longer optional. People now have more access to information about your nonprofit, your impact, and *you* than ever before. Organizations and supporters are at each other’s fingertips, so it’s impossible (and unwise) to avoid direct contact with those who are interested in your work. Online or off, focus on creating and building relationships to succeed in raising money, spreading your message, and serving your cause. By the way, these relationships should be the two-way street kind. If you’re only broadcasting messages focused on your organization’s needs, you may need a reboot.Here are four tactics Mitch Joel recommends for building those direct relationships, and what they mean for your nonprofit.1) Deliver value. Stand out and earn loyalty by first providing value to your supporters. Of course, you’re doing great work for the people and communities you serve, but if you’re not building long-term relationships with potential supporters, you’re missing out on a bigger opportunity. How do you do this? Start by focusing more on providing valuable resources to the people you’re trying to reach, instead of only talking about your needs. 2) Be open.You can’t build meaningful relationships without trust and transparency. This is paramount for nonprofits. Donors won’t fork over their hard-earned cash to support your cause if they aren’t sure where the money goes. Show that you are an organization they can trust by being open about how your organization is run and how you use donated funds. Welcome questions and be upfront and honest if you make a mistake. Hiding in the shadows only makes people nervous, which is not a great relationship-building vibe.3) Be clear and consistent.Do donors know what they can expect from your nonprofit? Can they count on you for all the right reasons? Review your organization’s outreach to make sure you’re saying what you think you’re saying. Consistency also includes communicating with your donors on a regular basis to help them feel involved in your work. This means not waiting to reach out to supporters when you’re looking for gifts in December. 4) Focus on fans. Joel says, “The majority of people do not want to friend or like your brand. They use their social graphs for friends, family, and those they made fun of in high school.” Ouch! My guess is that many nonprofits may have it a little easier than most corporate brands, but it’s important to remember. Rather than working to get as many “Likes” as possible, focus instead on providing value through your social media content and focus on your truly passionate superfans. Put these champions to work spreading the message about what you do and why it matters. Of course, these suggestions are just the tip of the reboot iceberg. Ctrl Alt Delete delivers plenty of juicy nuggets for all marketers to heed. What aspect of your outreach or fundraising strategy would you like to reboot?
Send Regular UpdatesAfter you’ve thanked your donors, send them regular updates detailing the ongoing impact of their gift. They’ll be pleased to know that their donation is being put to good use and might even be inspired to give again! If yearly holiday appeals are the only time you contact your donors, chances are good that they aren’t feeling needed or cherished. So stay in touch—very close touch. Here’s how:Send AppealsWhen you first make the ask, let your supporters know why you need them. You can ask your donors to help in any way that they can and let them know how their help will lead to the achievement of your mission.Send Thank You NotesMake sure your thank you letter is timely and lets donors know what they can expect from your nonprofit in the future. Consider sending a second thank you note that asks for feedback and shows your continued appreciation. Send NewslettersNewsletters are a great way to describe what your organization has been doing. You can report on the impact of all donor contributions and help maintain your supporters’ interest. Don’t forget to remind your fans how important they are to you.RepeatRepeating this cycle of communication won’t annoy your supporters-it will make them feel involved in what you’re doing. To learn more about staying in touch with your supporters, check out our webinar Nonprofit 911: Turn First-Time Donors Into Repeat Donors with Tom Ahern and Jay Love.
Donors feel they have no connection to your charity.For your appeals to be effective, you must answer the question of “Why me?” Your need alone is not enough. You are competing with many messages and many appeals. Think about why your cause is personally meaningful to your audience. Here’s how to do it:Understand why your donors give. Invite them to tell you their stories to gain insight on what motivates people to support your programs. In-person events, thank you phone calls, and online surveys are all easy ways to collect this information.Segment and target appropriately. Don’t use the “spray and pray” method of marketing to win support for your cause. Segment your audience and tailor your messages to speak to each group. (Learn how you can appeal to your audience’s sense of identity.) In a recent review of U.S. Trust’s Insights on Wealth and Worth report on wealthy donors, The New York Times shared three key reasons why donors don’t give. While the report focused on those who have at least $3 million in investable assets, it’s not hard to imagine that these reasons are similar for donors of all income levels. Here are three reasons donors may opt not to give to your organization this December, and some ways you can address their concerns:Donors are concerned their gift will not be used wisely.If a donor is unsure about how their gift will be used or if there is any question that their gift will be put to good use, they’re not going to respond to your fundraising appeal. It’s critical that you let donors know the impact their gift will have. Here’s how to do it:Be clear about how their gift will be used. Give would-be donors tangible examples of how their donations will be used to address the problem you’re trying to solve. Let them know how their dollars will make an impact and be clear about the expected result. (More ideas on how to show the impact of a donation.)Show your results. Highlight what results have already been made possible by other donors and continue to report on your organization’s work. If it’s not easy to find stories and photos that illustrate your progress, donors may assume you have none to share.Share your ratings. Include your ratings and endorsements in your fundraising appeals, on your website, and in printed materials. These ratings reassure donors and let them know that you’re a reputable organization.Make your information readily available. Make your ratings, annual reports, program information and other financial reports easily accessible from your website. Don’t make potential donors have to hunt for the information that will help them make a decision about your cause. Be sure to also update your information on 3rd-party sites, like Charity Navigator and Guidestar, where many donors will go to research your charity. Donors don’t want to be on a “solicitation list.”I’ve heard many donors of all giving levels echo this sentiment, which means we’re not doing our jobs as fundraisers and marketers. It’s our responsibility to balance our fundraising asks with updates and other messages that give back to the donor. This ultimately goes back to the first two points: by being good stewards of donors who feel a connection to your cause, you’ll be creating a community of supporters who will welcome your updates, and even your next fundraising appeal. Here’s how to do it:Have a solid stewardship plan that focuses on building long-term relationships with your supporters. Go beyond a standard thank you letter to keep your donors up to date on the impact of their gift and make donors feel like part of your community. Pamela Grow has some great advice on how to create “wow” experiences for your donors that will make them look forward to hearing from you.Set clear expectations. Let donors know what to expect once they donate. Will they hear from you monthly? Should they expect to receive a newsletter in the mail? Be upfront about your communication frequency—and then make good on your promise.Put the control in the hands of the donor. Obviously, no one ever wants to have a donor opt out of their communications, but you must make it easy for them to do so if they come to that decision. By highlighting the fact that they can easily control their contact preferences, you’ll actually make donors feel more at ease about giving you their contact information. For more tips on connecting with donors this holiday season, don’t miss out on our next free webinar. I’ll be leading a session on how to create an effective appeal for the last few weeks of the year. I’ll share some great examples and take your questions. Here are the details:Free Webinar: Create Amazing Last-Minute Fundraising AppealsTuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1pm ESTRegister Now(Can’t attend the live session? Register anyway and we’ll send the recording of the presentation straight to your inbox!)
Content syndication outlet NewsCred has teamed up with Getty Images to create a new site, The Power of Visual Storytelling. The online guide (and accompanying whitepaper) boils down the essentials of effective imagery into four principles:Be authentic. With stock images and Photoshop, it’s easy to be fake. Allow your readers to connect with the human side of your work by highlighting candid photos that show the reality of your work. Your images don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to stir emotion.Excite the senses. Don’t avoid the gritty details that bring a story to life. Generic or too-glossy photos remove the personality from your subject. Choose or create images that make your audience feel like they can almost hear, smell, and touch the world you’re inviting them into.Evoke a familiar archetype. Tap into what resonates with your audience by creating a persona to connect with their experiences or aspirations. Remember: powerful characters are a must for any great story.Be relevant. To really connect with your supporters, your images and stories need to reflect the things that are immediate and real to them. This means that your outreach must be current and culturally sensitive to make an impact. The Power of Visual Storytelling offers more insight on each of these components, complete with stats and examples. As you’re creating your next campaign, try incorporating all four elements to command attention and draw your audience even closer to your cause. Want more storytelling ideas? Download our free guide: Storytelling for Nonprofits.
To do, or not to do, #GivingTuesday…With 12 weeks to go, you are hearing about #GivingTuesday everywhere. In the press, and perhaps on your team, there are advocates and skeptics.And we get it. Year-end is a critical time, and your team has a full plate. So is #GivingTuesday worth it?From where we sit, the answer is simple: Yes!We are unabashed supporters and believers in the #GivingTuesday movement. For most nonprofits the question should not be ‘if’, but ‘how’, to incorporate #GivingTuesday into your December giving season.How does #GivingTuesday work (for your organization)?The genesis of #GivingTuesday is pretty well known. It started with a simple idea – to be a counterpoint to the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. From a couple hundred nonprofits in 2012, #GivingTuesday is now an international day of giving around the globe.Think about #GivingTuesday as disaster fundraising in reverse (Tweet this). In a disaster, the tragedy brings people together to rally around those in need by supporting organizations that can make an impact.On #GivingTuesday, the movement rallies people around their desire to do good, to matter in their communities or their world. It’s not an obligation – it’s an opportunity to be part of something that’s big and meaningful and feels great.And just as disaster relief organizations recognize how important it is to raise funds when there is heightened public awareness, all nonprofits can capitalize on the awareness and excitement of #GivingTuesday.It’s all about the strategy, but there’s more than one approach.The big opportunity is to launch December on #GivingTuesday and carry the energy and excitement straight through to New Year’s. Think of it as a chance to throw a virtual giving-season kickoff party for your cause.The good news is that there is not just one “right” strategy.Your #GivingTuesday goals can be about more than dollars raised. Consider a goal focused on recurring givers, new donors, volunteers, in-kind gifts, or even social media followers.#GivingTuesday can be a chance to tell fresh stories, to attract new or younger supporters, to accelerate your social media presence or to diversify your fundraising channels. Beth Kanter shares some creative ideas about experimenting, measuring and learning in this video for #GivingTuesday Summer School.The lessons you take away from #GivingTuesday can impact all of December—and your fundraising into 2015.Ready? Let’s go!We’re here to help with free training, toolkits, expert advice, and of course, great software.Start by downloading our comprehensive Giving Days eBook. It is both a decision making and planning guide, and a week-by-week tactical outline sharing the steps your team can take each week between now and #GivingTuesday to launch a successful campaign.Then every Tuesday, we’ll bring you new resources to get ready for #GivingTuesday.And make sure your software is customized to delight and inspire your donors. We can help with two different fundraising platforms:• DonateNow – an easy-to-use customized online giving page to maximize donor conversion, plus baked-in expertise to help make you a better fundraiser• GiveCorps – a cutting-edge giving platform that offers donors a superior online giving experience, plus crowdfunding and peer-to-peer.Talk to a fundraising consultant today to get expert advice about the software that will best meet your needs.It’s time to plan for your best December ever!More #GivingTuesday resourcesWatch this video interview of Jamie McDonald for #GivingTuesday Summer School, highlighting tips and tactics for making #GivingTuesday work for your organizationAccess the archived presentation of our Top Tips for a Successful #GivingTuesdayRegister with #GivingTuesday NationalDownload These Free Fundraising Guides: Nonprofit Guide to Successful Giving DaysThe Nonprofit Crowdfunding CrazeStorytelling for NonprofitsMake this #GivingTuesday your best yet! Kick off your year-end fundraising with our tools, training and matching funds. It doesn’t matter if your organization has 2 staff members or 200, you can raise money on #GivingTuesday and we can help.Free #GivingTuesday resources are available to all nonprofits through Network for Good’s All TUEgether campaign. Network for Good customers can leverage matching funds for all donations made on December 1, 2015. Plus, customers have access to expert coaching, new donors, and exclusive resources to help plan a stellar #GivingTuesday campaign.Not a Network for Good customer yet? No problem. Sign up for a demo and find out how easy it is to raise money online. Get ready to have your best giving season ever.
Does your nonprofit offer donors a recurring giving plan? If not, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table and ignoring some very dedicated supporters. Small monthly gifts can add up to a hefty sum at year end—maybe as much as four times your current donation rate. If you’re looking for a path to sustainable income, setting up a monthly giving program is the ideal way to get there.What is monthly giving?Also called recurring gifts, monthly giving plans simply allow donors to give a specified amount every month. It’s common in Europe, where donors are comfortable with the idea of “subscribing” to charities in the form of an automatic monthly credit card charge or electronic funds transfer (EFT). European nonprofits typically have 80% of their donors on a monthly giving plan.In a recent Nonprofit 911 webinar on recurring giving, only 24% of participants said their organization has a monthly giving program. We have a little work to do here, but recurring gifts are starting to gain momentum.Who are your monthly donors? Typically, monthly donors are what we’d call small givers, as in $100 or less per year. Unlike once-a-year donors, however, they’re super-committed and really care about your organization and its mission. They give automatically and usually with no end date. In fact, some organizations have monthly donors who’ve been giving that way for 20 years or more.Recurring gifts are great for reaching smaller donors who want to make a bigger difference but can’t write that $250 check. Many are happy to give just $10 or $20 per month, which is like writing a big check but shows even more commitment.Why is monthly giving so important?The primary benefit to recurring gifts, of course, is having regular income to sustain your nonprofit’s mission. You can count on a certain amount of money coming in each month and throughout your planning year. You’ll also get more money over time. Let’s say you have 100 one-time donors who each give $35. That equals $3,500 for the year. But when 100 people give $35 per month for a year? That’s $15,500 to benefit your cause. You’ve more than quadrupled your annual revenue!Another benefit: vastly improved retention rates. New-donor retention rates average less than 23%, meaning that only 23 of 100 first-time donors give again the next year. Of those 23 who renew their donations, you’ll typically retain only 61%, or 14 donors. Monthly giving programs, on the other hand, typically enjoy retention rates of 86% after one year and 95% after five years. The moral of the story: If you want to increase giving, build sustainable income, and improve retention rates, including a recurring gift option on your donation page is an absolute must. Adapted from Network for Good’s Nonprofit 911 webinar “How You Can Generate Long-Term Revenue from Recurring Giving” with Erica Waasdorp, president of A Direct Solution and author of Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant. Download the archived presentation.
Setting up online donations for your nonprofit organization not only makes your job easier, but it also increases charitable donations by making it easier for donors to give. Consider the typical process of a traditional donation when someone was inspired by an ad or speech:Wait until they get back homeRemember that they wanted to make a donationFind a checkbookFind an envelopeFind your address & write it outFind a stampMail out the donationContrast that with the simplicity of online donations:Pull out a smartphoneEnter your organization’s name in a search engineFind the donation pageClick the donation buttonThat’s the difference between a minute versus what often took days, to a week, to complete. The immediate ability to click a “donate now” button allows donors to complete their transaction and eliminates the likelihood of them forgetting somewhere along the way. How may donations have been lost due to a willing donor not having a checkbook handy or not having a stamp? Probably many.For a very small organization, it may be enough to set up a PayPal payment page, but for an organization of any size, particularly one with ongoing or repeated nonprofit fundraising, it is very important to have a customizable donation website. A donation website should also be “responsive,” meaning it is designed to provide optimal viewing on various-sized screens, from phones to desktops.As in the example above, many people use their smartphones for Internet access. They need to be able to navigate through your page in a sensible way and don’t want to be scrolling around a large page trying to find where to click.Another reason to have a customizable site is that you can include your branding, which speaks powerfully to your committed donors. They need to feel that they are participating in your cause, not just dropping money.DonateNow is fundraising software that we use for donation websites. There is more information plus quite a few screen captures on our website, which give you a better idea of how a good online fundraising website should look. Whether you choose to use this software or not, browse through our pages that show how the program works and what it looks like to get a good idea of what to look for and what you can expect from fundraising software.Network for Good has a blog with more free information on how to be successful at nonprofit fundraising. We also have specialists available to discuss how we can help you get the most out of your fundraising efforts, so contact us today or call 1-888-284-7978 x1.
Read Part One This post continues our new How Did You Handle…? series—specific how-tos based on your experiences. There’s still time to make productive changes to your year-end appeal! Here are more year-end campaign change-ups, attempted for the first time this year by some of your fundraiser peers (with early results where available).1. Change-Up: Launching matching gifts for first-time donors (including those coming in on #GivingTuesday).We secured two donors—one who is an absolutely new donor—to offer a dollar-for-dollar match (up to $1,000) for all first-time donors. We are also offering a separate $500 match to new online donors on #GivingTuesday.As director of development, I pushed the match approach and found supportive donors. I was thrilled when our executive director jumped on board and found a matching donor for #GivingTuesday.But that’s not all. Our executive director pledged a $500 gift if all staff members contribute to the campaign. Great news: Our board is already at 100%!Goal: I had used the matching challenge in other types of campaigns and found it highly successful in increasing the number of new donors and total gifts. We’re hoping to achieve the same value this year. We’ll keep you posted! Results to Date: Just starting our year-end campaign (our executive director hand-signs all appeal letters and adds personal notes to many of them).Source: Alan Gibby, director of development, Shelter Care Ministries2. Change-Up: Revising our channel and format mix for year-end appeals to include direct mail for prospects who don’t read our emails.After digging into our email database statistics, we noticed that many of our donors don’t check their emails. Direct mail is our best hope for engaging these folks; this way we know they’ll receive an appeal. We’re sending them our first-ever direct mail appeal.Goals: We hope to strongly encourage our consistent donors to increase their gifts and reactivate our lapsed donors.Source: Kiki Fornito, development associate, Build ChangeNote from Nancy: Other fundraisers reported very different changes in their year-end channel and format mix:· “We are moving to an 80-20 split between email and direct mail outreach to members in our fundraising campaigns; the goal is to convert members to donors. Early results are positive,” reports Laural Bowman, political affairs manager with the Ohio State Medical Association.· “We are reaching out via phone to donors as a supplement to our direct mail year-end campaign. Of course, we’re tracking what impact these calls, which are low cost but labor intensive, have on results, and we’ll use that data to fine-tune next year’s year-end approach,” says Jayme Hayes, president of Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore.Whatever your organization’s mix, the crucial takeaways are to always look hard at response patterns to year-end and other fundraising campaigns and to do more of what’s working and less of what isn’t.If one of these approaches makes sense for your organization—based on data and anecdotes, not just gut instinct—see if there’s at least some small way you can incorporate it into remaining elements of your year-end campaign. It just might make a difference!With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build 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.
The Hottest Charity Fundraising Idea? Peer to Peer Giving! Peer to peer giving, or peer fundraising, is catching on like crazy because it’s a fun way for supporters to engage their friends with your cause, and it’s an easy way for them to help you raise money.What Makes Peer to Peer Giving So Popular?Peer fundraising has taken off because it is all done online and is largely carried out through social media. The most popular channels for peer fundraising are Facebook and Twitter, but LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest can all be used.Peer funding has become a more acceptable form of fundraising because the popularity of crowdfunding has taken away the stigma of asking for money. In the past, asking for money was sometimes a delicate subject, and by some, even considered to be rude. But, now it is perfectly acceptable to get on a soapbox and proclaim “I gave to this cause and I want you to do the same!” The beauty of the online venue is that anyone who wants to can respond with “Yes, I will,” but those who are unable to contribute or choose not to, simply don’t reply and are not put on the spot. There are no awkward excuses required, and no apologies necessary for asking.The peer to peer fundraising model garnered a lot of attention with the ice bucket challenge last summer. Each participant was encouraged to challenge their friends, so with each person adding two or three friends to the game, it grew quickly.The “yes I will” participate/donate is a great place for supporters to add the “and I challenge my friends to join me/match my donation,” etc. That’s where the fundraiser becomes peer to peer rather than just a challenge that you proclaim—and where the opportunity comes to reach new donors by connecting with your current donor’s networks.To learn more about peer fundraising, download our free eGuide, The Crowdfunding Craze. We also have specialists available to discuss how we can help you get the most out of your peer fundraising efforts, so contact us today or call 1-855-229-1694.
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.Resist the urge to be everywhere.The Pew researchers found that 52% of online adults use multiple social media sites, which is an increase from 2013. For most nonprofits, though, it’s probably not advisable or realistic to spread resources too thin across multiple outlets. Your best bet, especially if you’re still establishing your social media strategy, is to focus on regular quality engagement on one platform. Measure your results and keep an eye on relevant activity on other networks before expanding. Remember: your social efforts need to reinforce your marketing efforts in other channels.Be realistic about your goals for social. We know that donors are engaging with nonprofits and each other on social, but most online dollars are coming in through non-social. Focus on using social as a listening and engagement platform, rather than expecting Twitter or Facebook to become your organization’s magic money machine. Think of social as a tool for understanding what interests your supporters and use your outreach to develop relationships with them.Carefully measure your ROI.Although Facebook is the most widely used social media site with the most engaged users, keep in mind that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to break through the noise (and the Facebook algorithm) and fully reach your audience through the platform. On the Care2 blog, Allyson Kapin recently outlined why it’s getting harder to see a return from Facebook advertising.Even if you’re not paying for social media advertising, weigh the time and attention your staff spends on social media with the results you see and progress to your goals. To get the most out social, you do need to commit to posting quality content and spending time building your presence and the relationships that result.Is social media on your 2015 list of priorities? Share your thoughts below and let us know how you’re incorporating Facebook, Twitter, and others into your nonprofit marketing strategy. 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.
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 peer-to-peer 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 peer 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. Schedule a personalized tour of Network for Good’s peer-to-peer fundraising software and learn how you can easily create campaigns that will extend your reach and attract new donors.Make it relevant.Giving back is often very personal, for both donors and fundraisers alike. Reinforce this important tie to your work by making the idea of fundraising for your organization tailored to your supporters.Think about their connection with your cause. Some donors have an affinity for certain projects or programs, or they have a story that shares a unique perspective. When asking supporters to join as fundraisers, make sure you connect these preferences to the campaign you’d like them to help spread. If a donor has always supported your senior meal delivery program, tap them to start a fundraiser to help fund a new van to distribute even more meals.Personalize your request. Use the details you have in your donor database to personalize your invitation to participate. Yes, start with getting their name correct on the emails, but also include relevant details about their history with your organization and how this makes them the perfect fit for your fundraising team. A request that seems generic or worse, disconnected, won’t inspire donors to get involved.Make it about the impact.Everyone wants to know they’re making a difference, and your fundraisers are no exception. Get your advocates on board by illustrating the impact that their efforts will have.Show the big picture. Give prospective fundraisers a clear view of how their efforts will add to your bigger goal. What is the vision that your campaign will make a reality? Paint a picture of how your supporter-fundraisers will make a difference and include this in your recruitment communications.But also get specific. Now that you’ve set the vision, break down what each campaign, donor, and donation can do. This will help fundraisers and donors alike understand how they can achieve the goals you’ve set, one step at a time. Will $20 help feed a family for a day? Does a $2,000 fundraiser goal equal a new refrigerator for your food pantry? Let supporters know exactly how their gifts will be used so they can visualize their specific impact.Make it fun.Social fundraising campaigns can create a deeper connection with your supporters … and they’re fun! Don’t forget to use this fact when you recruit and motivate fundraisers for your projects.Leave room for personalization and creativity. Give your fundraisers ownership over their campaigns and allow them to customize their communications and fundraising pages with their photos, stories, and video. Not only does this make their efforts feel more personal, these individual touches will make donors more likely to give as it evokes their recognition and relationship with the fundraiser.Offer motivation. Keep your supporters going with updates on how the campaign is going and how their contributions are adding up. Check in with encouraging words and tips for making their outreach more effective. Don’t forget: a little competition among your fundraisers is healthy and can drive extra participation. Consider offering an incentive for the best campaigns or when fundraisers meet certain milestones.Create goals and deadlines. While you want your goals to be realistic (see above), you do want to set some targets and track milestones to help motivate your fundraisers and drive a sense of urgency. This helps your supporters stay engaged and can spur them on to encourage more donations.Network for Good’s peer fundraising software will help you do all of these things and more. You can create beautiful campaigns that inspire donors to fundraise on your behalf and motivate their networks to give to your organization.
Staff Pick Awards: Recurring Giving Challenge Winners: 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. Most New Monthly Donors in the Challenge Period: On the Bubble (a special award for an organization we saw on the verge of getting on the board throughout the challenge): Sankara Eye Foundation — $1,000 Under the Wire (most new recurring donors in the last week of the challenge): Alameda County Community Food Bank — $1,000 1st Place: VETPAW — $3,0002nd Place: Campus Pride — $2,0003rd Place: The Firecracker Foundation – $1,0004th Place: American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Foundation — $5005th Place: Felines & Canines — $500 Best Use of a Dedicated Page: Cascade Pacific Council Boy Scouts of America — $1,000 Largest Percent Increase in Monthly Donors: Most Engaged with Network for Good: Windcall Institute — $1,000 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. Most Creative Campaign: Fort Bend Family Promise’s Coffee Club — $1,000 Rookie of the Year Award: Friends of Refugees — $1,000 1st Place: Wildlife SOS — $3,0002nd Place: VETPAW — $2,0003rd Place: Equal Justice Initiative – $1,0004th Place: True Impact Ministries — $5005th Place: Homes for Our Troops — $500 Keep your eye on the blog for updates from these organizations. We’ll be asking them to share their secrets for success and passing their insights along to you.
Last month I had the chance to listen to Professor Judd Kessler of the Wharton School during the Ruffalo Noel Levitz Annual Fundraising Conference in Minneapolis. He shared insight on how behavioral economics can affect nonprofit fundraising. Wait, what the heck is “behavioral economics”? Think about it as simply understanding the factors and situations that influence behavior and motivate people to take action. Wait, what the heck is “behavioral economics”? Think about it as simply understanding the factors and situations that influence behavior and motivate people to take action. Many researchers have tested which scenarios prompt more charitable donations, many of which are illustrated in The Science of Giving.But behavioral economics isn’t only the territory of PhDs. Professor Kessler encourages all nonprofit marketers to consider themselves to be scientists and to use simple A/B tests as experiments in their fundraising laboratory to sort out what will drive their donors to give more.So, what are the principles that can affect fundraising for both small and large nonprofits? Here’s a quick overview of six common concepts and how you can use them in your fundraising strategy.1. Accountability & RecognitionWhat it is: This is the idea that if someone cares what other people think of them, they may give to appear more generous, responsible, or important.The research: Gerber, Green & Larimer (2008) showed that voter turnout in Michigan was affected when registered voters received a message that indicated other voters would be notified of their neighbors’ voting habits. In a different study, donors were found to give more when they were recognized as consistent donors to a fund.How to do it: Accountability and recognition are two sides of the same coin, with recognition being usually perceived as the more positive of the two. Offering public recognition for donors can inspire donors to give to achieve and maintain the recognition, and this same attention can influence others to give to gain the same status. Give donors a special status when you feature giving opportunities on your website, in your newsletter, and in upcoming appeals.2. Peer PressureWhat it is: In this case, the peer pressure comes from the simple power of the personal ask. If someone personally asks you to do something (especially in person or on the phone), you’re more likely to go along with the request to avoid embarrassment and disappointment, or to win praise.The research: Meer and Rosen (2009) showed that those who were called in addition to receiving a mailed solicitation were more likely to give.How to do it: In addition to your direct mail and email appeals, make sure you are calling or meeting with key supporters to make that personal connection and encourage them to complete their gift. Bonus: you’ll likely learn more information that will help you nurture the relationship or fix issues that may have prevented future giving.3. Social Information/Social ProofWhat it is: This is really peer pressure of a different kind. We take our cues on what to do to fit in (and avoid guilt) by looking to social norms–what other people are doing in the same situation.The research: Frey and Meier (2004) studied the decision to give to student funds at the University of Zurich. When students were told that historically more than half of students gave to the fund, they were more likely to also contribute. Shang and Croson (2009) also showed that when donors were told what others had contributed, it affected the size of their gift.How to do it: In all of your fundraising materials, make it clear that others support and value your work. Some of the easiest ways to show this social proof include: donation tickers and thermometers, testimonials and quotes from current donors, and charity ratings badges based on positive reviews of your work.4. Gift Exchange/ReciprocityWhat it is: A gift exchange happens when people feel obligated to repay gifts or return a favor, even if they know the gifts are intended to get them to take action.The research: Falk (2005) found that illustrated cards from street children in Bangladesh increased the relative frequency of donations.How to do it: Although address labels and totebags come to mind, get more creative when it comes to using the idea of reciprocity in your fundraising. Think about how your incentives or tokens of appreciation tie back to your mission and connect your donors with the end result of their gift. This could mean an exclusive tour of your facilities, a personalized note from a beneficiary, or a custom video from your volunteers. A gift exchange doesn’t need to be expensive, it just needs to be sincere.5. Identifiable VictimWhat it is: When our minds turn to statistics or large numbers, we tend to think about problems in abstract, and feel less connection to them. To be inspired to give, donors need to be able to connect with your ask on a personal and emotional level.The research: Small, Loewenstein and Slovic (2007) discovered that highlighting an “identifiable victim” made donors give twice as much as when donors were presented with an abstract story or “statistical victim.”How to do it: We’ve written a lot about this phenomenon on this blog, but essentially it all boils down to focusing on one person to illustrate the human impact of your issue. Tell a compelling story that donors can comprehend, and they’ll be moved to give.6. Donor IdentityWhat it is: We tend to think of ourselves in a certain way or with certain ties to our social groups, community, or experiences. Therefore, when we are reminded about the identity, we are compelled to act in ways that feel consistent with it.The research: Kessler and Milkman (2015) showed that when donors were reminded of their identity as previous donors, they were more likely to give again.How to do it: In your fundraising appeals, invoke the idea of your donors’ identity to make your ask feel more relevant and personal. This might mean underscoring their connection to a certain neighborhood in your community, a specific alumni group, or a special factor that binds them to your cause.Want more ideas on how to implement these concepts into your fundraising communications? Check out our guide onHow to Make the Case for Giving or enroll in The Ultimate Donation Page Course.