Wed, March 18 2009

Why nonprofits are like so totally out of fashion

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

I did a post a little while back called Transparency Is the New Black.

But I’m not sure our sector is aware of this fact.

GuideStar has just released a report on how very non-transparent we are.  To belabor the fashion metaphors, we’re not chiffon, we’re not even cotton.  We’re a heavy tweed or maybe even Kevlar when it comes to transparency.  And we’re wearing crocs with our Kevlar.

Dan Moore, transparency guru and GuideStar guy, presented on his new report on Network for Good’s Nonprofit 911 call today (listen here).  Among the highlights:

We are in the trust business.  People have to trust us to give us money, and transparency and trust go hand in hand.  Sadly, only one in ten people strongly believe charities are honest and ethical.  Oy.

Check it.  According to GuideStar:

·  A high percentage (93 percent) of nonprofits are embracing the Internet to disclose information about their programs and services. In addition, nearly three-quarters of the organizations provided the names of the people who serve on their governing boards and the key staff who manage their organizations and oversee the delivery of programs and services.

Now for the bad, “what were they thinking” part.  GuideStar says:

·  Only 43 percent of the nonprofits surveyed posted their annual reports on their Web sites. Organizations with higher income levels were more likely to make their annual reports available via the Web.

·  Only 13 percent posted their audited financial statements on their Web sites.

·  Only 3 percent posted their respective IRS letters of determination on their Web sites.

GuideStar urges nonprofits to regularly update their Web sites with current, detailed program and evaluation information, post lots of information on your staff and board, post your annual report and financials, AND your IRS letter of determination.  If you’re wondering, my own org’s site rates a cotton.  We need to go chiffon with that IRS letter…

At the very least, please, please provide some basic information about where a donor’s money is going to go.  It’s the number one thing a donor is going to ask themselves before they hit that Donate button.  Don’t leave them hanging.

Transparency, BTW, is NOT a trend.  So don’t hope this is a passing fad.  Like black, it’s never going to go out of fashion. 

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Wed, March 18 2009

Juicy stats, benchmarks and lessons on online giving

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Target Analytics today released the 2008 donorCentrics Internet Giving Benchmarking Analysis, which they admit may just qualify as the longest title in the history of online statistical reporting.

In plain English, this is a useful annual study that give you a sense of how 24 big national nonprofits are doing with their online fundraising.  You can compare and contrast your results.  Loads of fun for the fundraising geeks among us—Benchmark!  Experience insecurity!  Or smile with schadenfreude!

Here are the highlights from the report (in bold) with my commentary (not in bold).  My comments are based on Network for Good’s analysis of the donations we processed for 30,000 nonprofits last year:

·Online giving continues to grow rapidly in 2007 and 2008, even in the absence of major disasters which fueled the growth of online giving for relief and animal welfare organizations in previous years.
Yes, Network for Good saw 34% growth in dollars during that time.

·Even with this growth, online giving is still dwarfed by direct mail giving.

Yes, don’t throw out your postage meter yet.  But keep in mind online giving is tracking (though lagging) to the trends of online shopping and banking.  It will represent more and more of giving in the future, so get a strong foothold in online fundraising now.  With younger donors and higher gifts—and lower fundraising costs—you can’t afford to ignore it.

·Online donors are younger and have higher incomes than traditional, primarily direct mail donors.

Yes, our average donor is 39.

·Over the past few years, online giving has become an increasingly significant source of new donor acquisition.

Yes, studies consistently show this.  Another reason you can’t neglect online giving.

·Online donors give much larger gifts than traditional donors.

Yes, our average gift size $125.

·Online donors have slightly lower retention rates overall than traditional donors.

The New York Times did a whole story on this less encouraging part of the study today, natch.  I think this is caused by two things: the poor track record of nonprofits in cultivating online donors and the fact that many online donors are reacting to a crisis.  We wish more nonprofits would encourage recurring gifts online and that nonprofits were cultivating online donors to their full potential.  Since these donors give larger gifts we feel that when proper follow-up and segmentation are put into place, the value of the online donor will far exceed that of other channels. This is especially true when you factor in the efficiency/costs of processing and cultivating them.

·Higher acquisition giving levels and higher revenue per donor in subsequent years may mask issues with cultivation and retention of online donors.

This is really true.  Donors give more over time, so the real value of online donors is going to become clearer down the road.  In aggregate, the study notes, online donors have much higher cumulative value over the long term than traditionally acquired donors.

·Online giving is not a strong renewal channel; every year, large numbers of online donors migrate away from online giving and to other channels, primarily direct mail.

See above.  Also, I know from my own experience, when I give online, nonprofits might only cultivate me by direct mail.  The best nonprofits have a nice multi-channel outreach program. Don’t assume people want to give in only one way, online or off.

·Donors to direct mail – the primary giving source for most organizations – rarely give online.  In the relatively rare cases when mail donors do give online, they tend to give higher average gifts –both before and after their first online gift.  Online donors downgrade when they switch to offline, primarily direct mail giving.  Having an email address on file makes a positive difference in the giving behavior of offline donors.

·Donors in the southwest and mountain regions of the United States are disproportionately more likely to give online.

I guess we Eastcoasters are behind the curve.

·Differences in revenue per donor and retention rates between online and offline donors are consistent across geographical regions.

At least we’re not stingier.

Check out the FULL REPORT.  It’s worth a read.

If you are STILL with me, then you are truly a fundraising geek like me, so I’ll share more data!  This from a Cygnus Applied Research Survey, Philanthropy in a Turbulent Economy.

This study showed:

·More than 52 percent of donors said their gifts would be on par with 2008, while just 17.5 percent planned to give less.

·Donors also said they were giving more to fewer causes (28.6 percent), being more thoughtful about their donations (29.4 percent), and donating more to local charities rather than national or umbrella organizations.

·But the respondents were prepared to make sacrifices to sustain their philanthropy. Of those who planned to give at least as much in 2009, 50 percent said they were willing to make compromises in other areas of their life to do so.

·Most people said the recession would not affect their previous charitable commitments. Of those who were committed to a multi-year gift, 87 percent said they would pay the donations on time–Meanwhile, donors who were forced to make cuts preferred to give smaller donations, rather than halting their support altogether.

·42.5 percent said they would give to a charity they had not supported in the past if someone they knew was seeking the gift. Many donors (40.3 percent) said they were also willing to give for the first time if the charity was working directly to help people hurt by the recession.

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Tue, March 17 2009

How to get your supporters to listen in 4 steps

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

1. Listen to them: This is the key.  If you really want someone’s attention, PAY ATTENTION TO THAT SOMEONE.  You have to listen to be heard, see to be seen.  Are you doing this?  If not, that may be why your audience isn’t opening your emails, taking your calls or answering your appeals.  You need to be in conversation, not monologue, with people in order to make them receptive.  Here’s a good example of letting your audience have some say.  Here’s another with great user generated stories.

2. Connect to what you’ve heard: Once you’ve listened to your audience, you’ll know what to say.  Because you’ll understand what interests and passions make your audience tick - and which are the interests and passions you need to tap in your own outreach.  Your message, if you’re framing it right, becomes highly inclusive of your audience, as you see here.

3. Show, don’t tell: Connect through stories and great messengers (see #4).  This works far better than talking about yourself in a sterile way.  Great stories get people’s attention like nothing else.  Think of the many speeches you’ve nearly slept through until you perk up with cues like, “let me tell a story,” or “here’s or an example” or “that reminds me of the time…”

4. Change the messenger: I’m always saying this, but it really does bear repeating.  Don’t be the only one asking for help.  Provide great information and stories for your supporters to spread within their circles of influence.  Tap someone helped by your organization to write your newsletter.  Authentic outside messengers can do more for your message than you can ever do yourself.

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Thu, March 12 2009

A great viral video from conservationists

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Social Media •

You have to love this. (There’s sound, so keep in mind if you’re at work.  Some of my poor readers got in trouble at work watching my Colbert clips.  Fair warning this time.)

1. funny
2. hard not to forward
3. easy to spread on facebook (I posted it on my facebook page after seeing it from Shaun, with just a click)
4. delivers a great message in a positive way

How refreshing… and from the Federal Government no less!

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Tue, March 10 2009

How much is just enough planning?

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

Hear what constitutes just enough planning for your marketing campaign.  Thanks to my organization Network for Good, we’ve got a great free teleconference tomorrow (which you can later access online).  The great Kristen Grimm of Spitfire (who happens to be spitfire herself) will be speaking on Great Campaigns in Nine Simple Steps: How to Succeed with “Just Enough” Planning. 

Tuesday, March 10 at 1 p.m. ET

Register here!

Key takeaways:

Campaign planning in 9 easy steps
Ideas for campaign goal-setting, staffing, timelines and messaging
How to measure success along the way
Q&A session to answer your campaign questions

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