Thu, September 04 2014

Crowdfunding: The Future of Annual Giving [Free Guide]

Jamie McDonald's avatar

Chief Giving Officer, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Crowdfunding •

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?

Rally a community of donors around a specific initiative.

With major donors you customize your outreach to appeal to their passions. It might be a new program, a giving society or an endowment. With annual fund donors, “project-ize” the annual fund, with giving opportunities that define the impact of your work. This may take the form of funding the cost of a client or an operating expense like new computers.

Tell an authentic, personal story.

Major donors get to meet staff leaders and clients to hear how their gifts will matter. With annual fund donors, your outreach should center on storytelling, bringing these same stories to life using technology.

Have a clear goal and impact statement.

With major donors, asks are often accompanied by a list of gift opportunities, sometimes with naming rights. With annual fund givers, defining impact also matters: what will a gift of $50, $100, $1,000 accomplish?

Inspire with strong visuals.

With major donors, personal on-site visits or detailed artist renderings are shared to bring your program to life for the giver. With annual fund outreach, pictures and video can also be the key to bringing the campaign to life.

Celebrate and use social ties to build momentum.

Major donors are publicized and invited to special gatherings. Annual fund donors can be recognized on social media and on virtual “donor rolls” on well-designed websites. Givers want to feel like they are part of a movement, and when they do, they will spread the word on your behalf.

Great technology makes you look like a pro.

Don’t let the technology scare you. Online giving technology with crowdfunding capability is a way to create efficiency for your team as you reinvent your annual giving efforts. It’s a tool for making crowdfunding easy, transparent and social.

And with software like Network for Good’s GiveCorps crowdfunding platform, it couldn’t be easier to get started.

Want to learn more about Crowdfunding and Nonprofits? Download our free starter guide and case studies.


Or, if you’re ready to speak with a crowdfunding expert about getting started, give us a call at 855-229-1694.

Salvation Army Image: commons.wikimedia.org

 

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Tue, September 02 2014

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

Jamie McDonald's avatar

Chief Giving Officer, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Giving Days •

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!

13 Tuesdays to go: We’re here for you.

Despite all the excitement and opportunity of #GivingTuesday, your team has a full plate planning for year-end already. So how do you capitalize on #GivingTuesday?

Network for Good is launching N4G Gives, a national campaign to launch the giving season on #GivingTuesday.

Beginning this week, we’re offering a combination of free and client-only resources to get your team ready. We’re arming ALL nonprofits with the tools, tactics, training and motivation to make this your best December ever.

And for Network for Good clients, we’ll also be offering:

• Two great platforms:

• DonateNow – your customized online giving page to maximize donor conversion

• GiveCorps – a cutting-edge giving platform that offers donors a superior online giving experience, plus crowdfunding and peer-to-peer.

• Exclusive toolkits, expert webinars, specialized coaching, and communications resources

• Matching funds to make your gifts go further

• Visibility with Network for Good donors

What’s the first step?

Start by downloading our comprehensive Giving Days eBook. According to nonprofit thought leader Beth Kanter, it’s a “terrific, free eBook with lots of tips and planning templates to help your organization decide whether to participate.”

Then every Tuesday, we’ll bring you new resources to get ready for #GivingTuesday.

It’s time to plan for your best December ever!

Ready to get started? Our team can help you get your site ready for #GivingTuesday. Set up a time talk with a fundraising consultant today and get a free demo.

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Fri, August 29 2014

How Crowdfunding Can Transform Alumni Giving

Jamie McDonald's avatar

Chief Giving Officer, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Crowdfunding • Fundraising essentials •

“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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Thu, August 28 2014

Think your data is too overwhelming? Start here.

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

In the recently released Individual Donor Benchmark Report, the folks at Third Space Studio and BC/DC Ideas looked at fundraising data for organizations with budgets under $2 million. The report contains a wealth of information—including insight on donor communication, recurring giving programs, and technology use—that can help small and medium nonprofits understand how to best reach potential donors.

The research also observed data practices of small nonprofits. Not surprisingly, these organizations often struggle to collect and use their own data to optimize their fundraising approach. Since this information can make a huge difference in the success of a campaign, how can fundraisers make the time to dig into their data to identify new opportunities and communicate more effectively with donors? Consider these three tips on getting started from Third Space Studio’s Heather Yandow:

1. Start small.
It can be overwhelming to think about all of the types of data you could be collecting. If you’re just starting out, focus on tracking just a few key metrics like number of donors, number of new donors, and average gift. Also consider the reports built into your database and fundraising tools.

2. Get the most bang for your buck.
Understand which metrics have the most impact on your fundraising program and start there. Are you struggling with keeping donors year after year? Take a closer look at your retention rate by type of donors (volunteers, activists, major donors) or by channel (online, direct mail, events). Are you considering moving from direct mail to online only? Try an experiment with a subset of your donors and track the results. (Try this simple worksheet to design and track your experiments.)

3. Make it easy for Future You.
Keep a record of how you define your metrics and how you measure them.  A year from now, you may not remember if lapsed members meant someone hadn’t given in one year or two – or if you counted people who bought tickets to your special event as donors. Be sure to capture those distinctions, including how you tricked your database into giving you the data you wanted, in a safe place so that Future You can calculate the data in the same way next time around.

How are you using your fundraising and marketing data to shape your approach with potential and existing donors? Share your tips and challenges in the comments below!

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Mon, August 25 2014

Are you thinking about mobile?

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Mobile • Websites and web usability •

How many times have you checked your smartphone today? 

Whether we’re texting, reading email, or catching up on our social networks, this on-the-go connectedness is becoming a part of our daily routine. And, because we value the speed and convenience of our smartphone lifeline, we expect our mobile experience to be fast and easy. Of course, it’s the same for your donors, who are becoming more likely to read your emails and research your organization via their mobile device. Think your audience isn’t on mobile? Consider this:


The reality is this:  whether or not they give online and whether or not they give via their mobile device, a greater number of your donors will read your emails and look at your website during this year-end fundraising season. For best results, take some simple steps to make it easier for them:

Keep your content short and sweet. Remember, online visitors skim. Streamline your website and email copy, and break up text with headings, bullets, and bold treatment. Avoid long paragraphs in favor of shorter sentences and clear calls to action.

Make it fast. Keep your page load times to around 3 seconds. For your mobile experience, replace popups and animation files—formats that many mobile devices can’t display correctly—for powerful single images or icons and buttons that make it simple to click.

Minimize data entry. Typing in a lot of information is a mobile turn off. Allow your donors to autofill information wherever possible, and let them complete their donation without requiring a registration.

As you think about how to offer your supporters a more mobile-friendly experience this year, we have even more tips for you. Network for Good and PayPal have teamed up to share the latest insights on mobile trends and how nonprofits can leverage them for more effective communication and fundraising. To find out how you can optimize your email, website, and donation page for mobile viewing (and why you should), download our new free white paper, “Your Mission is Mobile”.

 

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