Mon, June 22 2015

5 Ways to Recruit Passionate Fundraisers

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Social Fundraising •

Giving is social.

Study after study shows that people are more likely to give when asked by someone they know. Social connections and personal ties are strong drivers of behavior, and charitable giving is no exception. So how do you inspire your supporters to spread the word and raise funds on your behalf? Try these five ideas for recruiting passionate fundraisers who will help you reach new donors and bring in more donations.

Tap into your board. Help your board fulfill their give or get commitment by making it easy for them to launch their own personal fundraising page. Your board members are passionate about your work, and they likely have the most influence over a larger network.

Leverage your volunteers. Ask your volunteers to help you spread your message via social media and their personal connections. Their dedication to your work is the kind of inspiration that will make others want to join in.

Let donors do more. Once a donor gives, invite them to share your work with others and encourage them to create a personal fundraising page to help reach your goals. In most cases, the contributions they bring in will far eclipse their original donation. The trick is to make it super simple for them to do.

Turn your events into challenges. Whether you host a large annual event, an open house, or are just celebrating a milestone, give event attendees the ability to raise funds before and during the event. Everyone likes a little healthy competition: offer special incentives, recognition, or access to those who bring in the most dollars or donors.

Encourage personal stories. Most of your supporters have a personal connection to the work you do. Offer the opportunity for them to share what your cause means to them with a personalized fundraising page. These stories are likely more powerful than your existing marketing materials and will go a long way in breaking through the noise in a crowded inbox or Facebook feed.

Ready to put these ideas into action? I’ll help you make sure you have a solid plan in place in this week’s free webinar. Tomorrow, I’ll share more tips on creating an effective social fundraising campaign that will help you turn your donors into fundraisers. 

Register now to join the session. (Can’t attend? No worries. Register anyway and I’ll make sure you get the slides and the recording.)

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Thu, June 18 2015

Making Meme Magic: Q&A with Smile Train

Liz Ragland's avatar

Senior Content and Marketing Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fun stuff • Marketing essentials •

Isn’t the Internet a magical place? We sure think so. And it just got even more magical thanks to #seriousbaby, a new campaign recently launched by Smile Train.

In the campaign, you meet baby Walter. Walter is standing in solidarity with kids who have unrepaired clefts and can’t smile. He’s serious about not smiling. And Walter’s call to action is clear: Donate to Smile Train. Do it. He’s serious.

I had the opportunity to find out more about this campaign from Shari Mason, senior director of integrated marketing at Smile Train.

What was the motivation to launch a new campaign for Smile Train?

Shari Mason: Smile Train is always exploring new, out-of-the-box ways to convey the importance of our cleft repair work and engage new and current supporters alike. We launch awareness campaigns at regular intervals throughout the year to enhance engagement with our donors and maintain momentum for the cause.

Walter #seriousbaby

As we approached this newest campaign, we had the idea to depart from traditionally “serious” charity tactics and, instead, use humor as a tool for driving awareness around the serious condition of cleft lip and palate. The use of video and visual memes allowed us to tap into the sharing culture that defines the social and digital Web and bring our global vision to new, younger audiences.

Cleft is far more than a cosmetic issue: It also impacts eating, breathing, and speaking; leads to social isolation; and can prevent a child from leading a full and productive life. Baby Walter, the nine-month-old protagonist of the campaign, emerged as a humorous, relatable voice for reinforcing the severe impact of cleft on affected children and rallying audiences to help share smiles across the world.

I noticed there isn’t any Smile Train branding on seriousbaby.org. Why is that?

SM: We decided not to include branding on the campaign site to create as organic and seamless an engagement experience as possible. Our goal was to put the campaign and call to action around our life-changing cleft repair work front and center.

Walter #seriousbaby

How have current donors responded to #seriousbaby?

SM: We have received nothing but positive feedback from our donors so far. The catchy, humor-driven approach to awareness, combined with the use of sharable videos and memes, has enabled our donors to substantively engage with the campaign and maximize sharing across their own platforms. Our donors have been wonderful advocates for the campaign and continue to positively engage with the seriousbaby.org landing page and share campaign assets far and wide. In particular, we’ve noticed that our younger supporters, including members of Students for Smile Train and our Young Leadership Circle, have strongly embraced the campaign—a testament to its success in engaging millennials around the cause.

How are you promoting the video?

Walter #seriousbaby

SM: To promote the video and drive audience views, we are continuing to widely share the Tumblr campaign page across Smile Train platforms, spanning Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, and have seen a ripple effect of sharing and posting via our supporter networks. In addition, we have featured the campaign and a link to our donation landing page on the home pages of our global websites and have employed digital banner ads to garner eyes across the Web. We have supplemented social tactics with direct outreach and email communications to our donors and supporters.

Our integrated approach to communications has touched all channels, enabling us to maximize outreach to current and prospective donors around the campaign’s call to action in support of cleft-affected children worldwide.

How are you measuring success for this campaign? Do you have a goal for views, clicks, new donors?

SM: Our goals for the campaign are twofold: 1) Engage existing and new audiences with shareable content, and 2) test out-of-the-box ways to raise donations. To measure success as it relates to both goals, we are focusing on the following metrics:

  • Video views
  • Site visits
  • Content shares
  • Campaign mentions
  • Social reach
  • Donations

We are thrilled with the positive engagement Serious Baby has inspired so far and cannot wait to see how many new smiles—and transformed lives—Walter’s “Smile Strike” and call to action help create for children in need.


Thanks for the insights into your newest campaign, Shari! I hope the video continues to reach a wide audience and that #seriousbaby inspires donors to give big!

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Tue, June 16 2015

How the Fundraising Game Has Changed Forever

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Nonprofit leadership •

(Editor’s note: Today’s post comes from our friends at the National Council of Nonprofits. Jennifer Chandler, Vice President and Director of Network Support & Knowledge Sharing, offers insight on new legislation that will allow nonprofits to own their true costs.) Jenny Chandler

How the Fundraising Game Has Changed Forever – and Four Steps Your Nonprofit Should Take to Benefit

A “game changer.” It will “transform the landscape ... for generations to come.” No, these aren’t ads for a new car or reviews for movies coming to a theater near you. They are descriptions of the impact brought about by new federal rules for many grant awards—impact that just may make life less stressful for nonprofit fundraising professionals and development directors everywhere.

For the first time, the federal government is acknowledging what nonprofits have known all along: to deliver effective services in our communities, nonprofits must incur basic costs to keep the doors open and the lights on. The federal government, through the new Uniform Guidance issued by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB), now requires that any government using federal funds—whether local, state, tribal, or federal—to hire a nonprofit to deliver services must pay its share of indirect costs (sometimes called overhead or administrative costs).

For fundraising and development professionals, this reform can mean less stress and urgency chasing down private donations and grants to fill in the large gaps left unfunded by governments. With government now mandated to pay for these “indirect costs” when the initial funds flow from the federal government, it will ease pressure on private philanthropy to fill all-to-common gaps left unfunded by governments. Not only that, but with this historic acknowledgement from government that indirect/overhead costs are essential to service delivery, some private funders are revisiting their policies and coming to a similar logical realization.

To put the impact of this new rule in perspective, consider the size of the gaps that governments historically have left unfunded. According to a recent Urban Institute survey, 53 percent of nonprofits reported that governments capped reimbursement for indirect costs. Of those, 76 percent reported that governments imposed caps of 10 percent and below – and 24 percent reported zero reimbursement for indirect costs. Just imagine the effects on the fundraising climate if all of these nonprofits received just the 10 percent minimum mandated by the Uniform Guidance, much less the full amounts that far exceed that floor.

Limits on Overhead Costs

Steps Your Nonprofit Can Take to Transform the Potential into Reality

Although the Uniform Guidance is now law of the land, it will take further action to realize its promise. State associations of nonprofits and others have invested countless hours of advocacy over the last three years to secure these reforms. Yet the journey still is not complete. Here are the steps your nonprofit needs to take:

· #OwnYourOwnCosts: It is essential for your nonprofit to have financial management systems in place that track your indirect costs so you can negotiate your federal indirect cost rate and receive more than the 10 percent minimum.

· Protect your rights: If a state or local government tries to deny your nonprofit the reimbursement rates guaranteed by the Uniform Guidance, stand up for your nonprofit’s rights. Among the many safeguards put in place by OMB, pass-through entities may not ask your nonprofit to sign a waiver of its right to this reimbursement. Our quick guide, Know Your Rights … and How to Protect Them, details your nonprofit’s rights, highlights potential compliance challenges, and explains how the Uniform Guidance should be properly interpreted.

· Stay informed: The laws in many states and localities will need to be adjusted to comply with the Uniform Guidance. Join your state association of nonprofits for information on how to help make these needed changes, and sign up for our free e-newsletters to stay up-to-date on the latest developments.

· Report back: As you enter into new grants and contracts, share your experiences—positive and negative—using the confidential Uniform Guidance Implementation Report Form on the National Council of Nonprofits website. The information that nonprofits share will help the network of engaged state associations of nonprofits monitor compliance, compile data and patterns that can be addressed at a government-wide level, and identify good processes and solutions that can be replicated to help nonprofits across the country meet their missions.

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Mon, June 15 2015

What Should Go On (and Off) Your Donation Page

Liz Ragland's avatar

Senior Content and Marketing Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

When a potential donor lands on your donation page, you want to make it extremely easy for them to give. But if your donation page has a complicated form, too many ways to leave, or doesn’t keep the donor in the emotional act of giving, you could be missing out on donations!

We know you aren’t a Web page optimization wizard, and you shouldn’t have to be. However, there are a few things that you, as a nonprofit marketer or fundraiser, can do to make your donation page super donor-friendly.

Here’s what should always go on your donation page—and what you should leave off.

Top Tips for Creating the Best Donation Page Ever from Network for Good

If you’re in a donation page mood (I mean, who isn’t?), check out even more resources on how to get your donation page in tip-top shape:

Speed Consulting: Nonprofit Website Hotline
The Ultimate Donation Page Guide
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Wed, June 10 2015

Why Are You Sending Donors This Email?!? A Lesson in Segmentation

Liz Ragland's avatar

Senior Content and Marketing Associate, Network for Good

Read more by this author

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

I’m a monthly donor to a nonprofit I love a lot. They use a membership model to boost monthly giving. However, I noticed that during their seasonal membership drives, I continued to get emails asking me to become a member.

At first I ignored this, thinking maybe they incorrectly segmented their list. Then, when I got a second appeal email a few months later, I thought maybe my membership had lapsed. I checked, but no, I found the receipt for the gift I made the previous month. I couldn’t figure out what was going on.

I reached out to the organization on Twitter to ask why I was getting emails asking me to become a member when I am already a member. They apologized and began investigating which emails I might have received. They came back with the news that it didn’t look like I had received any emails by accident, and then asked me to share those emails with them to help solve the issue. I gladly took screenshots of the emails I had received. As I was in the process of sharing them with the nonprofit’s donor relations associate, I noticed one line of text that I had previously missed.

The call to action in this email was a hyperlinked sentence reading something like this: “Click here to become a member, increase your monthly gift, or donate.” Um, what? The entire email (including the header image) had language that asked me to generally “support the membership drive.” I blew right past the rest of the email because the first message I saw didn’t apply to me. I was already a member. I must have received this by mistake.

Social Webinar Quote

Along with the email screenshots, I sent a suggestion: It would have made much more sense if you had segmented your list and sent three separate emails to the three groups of people you are targeting with this one email. Why send one confusing message to everyone in your database when you have the power to send three targeted emails?

I recommended:

  • One email to nondonors—email list subscribers, I suppose—who haven’t yet given a gift.
  • One to lapsed donors asking them to renew.
  • One to current members asking them to increase their monthly gift.

By segmenting the list and choosing extremely clear, appropriate calls to action to target each group, I’m sure this organization would have received a larger response to their season appeal.

I received a big thanks (and another apology) from the nonprofit’s VP of development. I made it clear that I wasn’t a whiny, fussy, mad donor (although these folks do exist—and please listen to their feedback, but don’t take it personally). I truly wanted to see this organization grow and raise more money with better seasonal appeals. The VP asked if she could contact me again to get feedback on their next appeal and recommendations on how they can better segment and target their donor base with appropriate messages and calls to action. (Of course I said yes!)

Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated case. I get confusing emails from nonprofits all the time. Don’t let your emails fall into this dazed and confused state! Here are some steps you can take to ensure you don’t confuse your donors:

  1. Invest in a smart donor management tool to help you easily keep track of donors’ gifts, communication history, and more. We recommend Salesforce and Donor Perfect because they sync with our online donation pages.
  2. Make an audit of your emails on a seasonal basis. Make sure donation receipts, thank you emails, appeals, newsletters, etc., truly speak to the audiences receiving them. Survey your donors and ask what they think of your communication.
  3. Segment your email audiences and provide relevant content. In my example here, the information most relevant to me as a current donor would be the steps to increase a monthly gift.
  4. Don’t stick with one method forever. Test how you segment your donor database, and test different content. You won’t know what resonates most with your donors unless you try something new and measure it.
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