Thu, August 28 2014
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!
Mon, August 25 2014
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:
- 58% of American adults have a smartphone
- The average adult checks their phone over 100 times per day
- 70% of mobile searches lead to action within an hour of the search
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”.
Wed, August 20 2014
In our latest Network for Good video clip, I share some key points about the state of online giving. Online donations continue to grow at a faster clip than overall giving as more of our communication and actions go online. As digital natives come into their own and as we see peer fundraising, mobile giving, and events like giving days become nonprofit staples, we expect online giving rates to climb more quickly.
To make the most of digitally-minded donors, your online fundraising strategy needs to adhere to these core tenets:
Online giving can’t be siloed. Your online fundraising efforts should be tied to your overall fundraising strategy, and integrated with your offline marketing outreach. Make sure your website, email, and social media messages match your direct mail appeals. Your donors’ conversation with you will span more than one channel. Many offline donors will still go online to learn more about you and read about the impact a gift could have.
Online giving must be easy. The beauty of technology is that it can make things easier, faster, and more fun. Your donation experience should work to remove any barriers that might prevent someone from giving. Remember: the fewer steps and clicks it takes someone to complete a donation, the more likely they are to give.
Online giving should encourage more gifts. In addition to making it easy to give, your donation experience should inspire donors to give more. By offering a compelling story, suggested donation amounts, and recurring giving options, you can increase your overall fundraising totals as well as your average online gift.
Need to boost your fundraising results? These resources will help you think through your online strategy:
- Understand online fundraising patterns by reviewing the Digital Giving Index.
- Check to see how your online donation experience stacks up with the Donation Page Grader.
- Learn how to attract more donors with your website, through email, and via mobile and social in our Online Fundraising Survival Guide.
- Sign up for a free demo of Network for Good’s fundraising software. Our team will give you a full tour and answer your questions about which tools are right for your campaigns.
How are you integrating online fundraising at your organization? Chime in below to share your tips and challenges with your fellow readers.
Tue, August 19 2014
Way back when, when social media was newish—let’s say 2007—I used this classic baseball analogy to illustrate how social media fit into the communications universe.
- Your website is your nonprofit’s online home base, with email as pitcher (no hits without the pitcher).
- Core social media platforms (now Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram) as inside bases.
- Other social media platforms as the outfield.
Then, for many organizations, social media platforms took precedence—capturing our imaginations and anxieties, if not the impact—over more traditional online and offline marketing.
In fact, social media—or at least the dream of what social media could be—eclipsed websites and email for quite a while in terms of focus and excitement. Alas, resources were seldom part of the picture. But by now, for many of us, the role of social media has moved back to the infield, with your website sticking hard at home base.
That’s because your website remains, even after all these years, the central hub for actions—giving, registering, signing a petition, and more. Social media and, yes, even email are designed to drive people to your site to act (although mobile actions are quickly growing more common).
Here are a few reasons websites live on and remain strong. When done right, your nonprofit’s website:
- Delivers in-depth coverage of your organization’s history, work, and impact. (Multiple pages can showcase a single organization or campaign, with content that exists for the (relatively) long term vs. more ephemeral social media content.)
- Provides access to the rich, multidimensional story of your organization.
- Engages a significant yet diverse audience, which continues to grow as use of the mobile Web surges. Your website is now a see-anytime-anywhere platform.
- Generates insights into visitor behavior and campaign effectiveness via well-tested, low-cost usage analytic tools.
If you needed a reason to refocus on your organization’s website, you now have several. Your website could be your organization’s killer app!
Want some tips for making your nonprofit website even better?
Join this upcoming webinar to learn how to make strategic improvements to your website that will help you better communicate with donors and raise more. You could even get a quick review of your nonprofit’s home page or donation page from the Network for Good experts.
Free Webinar: Speed Consulting! Nonprofit Websites
Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 1pm EDT
Fri, August 15 2014
Are your social networks full of friends being doused in icy water? You’ve witnessed the #IceBucketChallenge.
The “Ice Bucket Challenge” has taken the world by storm, prompting people across the nation to take note of, promote, and donate in support of research and assistance for those diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). Challengers throw down the gauntlet to their peers: dump a bucket of ice water on your head or donate to support the ALS Association. It’s an unusual request that has a lot of people taking notice. Ethel Kennedy even challenged President Obama to join in, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has dared Bill Gates to do the same.
How has any of this helped the charity? The ALS Association shares how this viral hit has helped to grow their audience—and their donation totals (over $4M so far). This represents a 1,000% spike in donations compared to the same time period last year.
So, why do campaigns like this take off? How do they tap into the part of us that shares, supports, and acts? Here are seven basic reasons why the Ice Bucket Challenge is so successful. (Note: These factors can also help make your next campaign more effective.)
It’s social. We’re social creatures, and we tend to do what other people are doing, whether we want to admit it or not. It’s who we are. We look to social norms to guide us. It’s peer pressure…for good.
It’s personal. There’s just something about hearing and seeing your family, friends, colleagues, and public figures speak and take action. This powerful personal trigger combines with social norms to inspire action. It wouldn’t have the same effect if a complete stranger (or an organization) asked you to take the challenge.
It’s simple. The ask is pretty clear: dump a bucket of water on your head or give. That’s the choice. There’s not too much to think about there, which is the hallmark of an effective marketing message. Some may argue that an even simpler choice would limit the option to only one: give. In this case, the ask is important, for sure, but the reason this has spread so quickly (and, in turn, raised so much money for ALS) is due to the stunt. Your ask may be easy, important, and necessary, but remember that it still needs a vehicle to reach your audience.
It’s slightly irrational. Sometimes we are more likely to give when a stunt is more unusual, painful, or downright weird. Want proof? Look to Christopher Olivola’s experiments from The Science of Giving.
It’s direct. Instead of issuing a blanket plea, the challenge is built around publicly calling people out. By name. When you want people to pay attention and take action, it makes a difference when you identify an individual vs. asking “everyone” to help.
It’s consistent. Instead of deviating from the script, each participant in the Ice Bucket Challenge focuses on the same challenge and specifically supports the ALS Association. This provides a common experience and goal, which helps build momentum and community. The same wouldn’t be true if the actions or causes were randomly selected.
It’s different. Let’s face it. It’s hard to stand out on social media, but we know that photos and videos of our friends make us linger for more than a few seconds. And people doing silly things like dumping freezing water on themselves? America’s Funniest Home Videos can’t even compare!
With all of these things going for it, the challenge does have some critics who say the stunt is merely slacktivism and doesn’t represent a real avenue for fundraising. I’m glad to see some good conversations around this, as I think it’s important for fundraisers and marketers to understand the opportunities—and the limits—of these types of campaigns. That said, as Justin Ware (The Social Side of Giving) points out, if an effort leads to 7-figure fundraising results, it’s difficult to dismiss this example of “slacktivism” as a dead-end street. Justin also smartly clues in on the real opportunity: being able to further engage and retain these new supporters. In his recent Selfish Giving newsletter, Joe Waters underscores the importance of leading with engagement before making the ask. This is where these types of social campaigns really shine.
What do you think of the Ice Bucket Challenge? Love it, hate it, or getting your bucket ready while you’re reading this? Chime in below and share your thoughts!