Tue, March 04 2014

Top 6 donor communication mistakes to avoid

Caryn Stein's avatar

Director of Content Strategy, Network for Good

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report, 105% of donors gained by nonprofits were offset by lapsed donors. Let that sink in for a minute: for every 100 new donors that came through the door, 105 walked out. Not exactly the growth most nonprofits are looking for.

One of the best ways to improve your donor churn rate is to improve your donor communications.

Here are six of the worst donor communication mistakes, and some tips for how to avoid them:

Donor Communication Mistakes to Avoid

1. The “One and Done”

Sadly for some donors, the only “communication” they receive from the nonprofits they support is a donation receipt. Others may receive a nice thank you letter, but not much else.

How to avoid: Plan a series of ongoing communications with your donors. In addition to your nonprofit newsletter, provide quarterly updates for donors on the impact of their gifts, and show what goes on behind the scenes to make it happen. Create an editorial calendar and include your donor outreach as one key component to track.

2. The “Me Me Me”

Some causes suffer from nonprofit narcissism. They mean well, but their messages are devoid of one key ingredient: the donor. People who support your work also want to feel like part of your team.

How to avoid: Instead of talking only about the work you’re doing, reframe your communications to underscore how the donor is making your work possible. Use the word “you” more than “we”, and highlight the work of individual donors and volunteers to bring these stories to life.

3. The “Broken Record”

All too often, I see organizations sharing the same updates over and over. This is great … if you want to bore your donors. Unless you’re sharing success story after success story, your donors may wonder if you’re doing anything new or making any progress.

How to avoid: This is another way an editorial calendar can help you improve your donor communications. Create a list of stories, events, announcements, and seasonal topics that are relevant to your cause—and your donors—then, plot them out on your calendar to incorporate variety in your newsletters, impact updates, and social media outreach. Stuck for ideas? Ask your donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries for their input. They have a different perspective than you and probably have some fresh suggestions. Another option: tap your board to share a short update or quote for you to use in your next message.

4. The “Word Vomit”

Are you guilty of sharing too much information? When it comes to your donor outreach, is “verbose” an understatement? If your messages feel like solid walls of text, your supporters are less likely to bother reading them—and may feel like you don’t respect their time.

How to avoid: In most cases, people scan more than they read. This means that short, skimmable text works best, especially online. Use a “tease and link” strategy in your emails if you have longer stories to share. To make your messages even more readable, cut any acronyms, jargon, or insider language that will leave donors scratching their heads.

5. The “Disconnected”

Do you ever feel like you’re talking, but no one seems to be listening? Most often, this is because you’re not communicating in a way that reflects what your donor wants to hear. This often happens when organizations aren’t in sync with why their donors give.

How to avoid: Talk to your donors to understand why they care about your issue and what prompted them to give. Ask for feedback on your communications and let your donors have a say in how they hear from you. Try segmenting your donors by how they came to your organization, their level of giving, or by the specific programs they support. Then, communicate with them based on these parameters to make your message more relevant.

6. The “Show Me the Money”

You know that relative who never calls—except when he needs something from you? Don’t be that guy. When donors only hear from you when you have an appeal, they may start to wonder what happened to the money they already gave you.

How to avoid:  Implement a “share vs. ask ratio” in your organization’s communication. Plan to send a certain number of cultivation or update messages for every time you send an appeal.

(For more donor stewardship ideas, try our checklist.)

‘Fess up: are you guilty of any of these mistakes? What would you add to the list? Which communication missteps bug you the most? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Mon, March 03 2014

Where to Find NFG at NTC

Annika Pettitt's avatar

Senior Communications & Success Specialist, Network for Good

Filed under:   Fun stuff •

We’re really excited to have this year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference right in our back yard here in Washington, DC. If you’ll be in town for the conference, please make sure you stop by and say hi. We’d love to see you!

Here are all the ways you can get in touch with Network for Good while you’re at NTC:

NTC Science Fair: Visit us at booth #235 to meet our team, take a picture in our photo booth, pick up some NFG swag, and learn about how to make the most of Network for Good’s online fundraising tools. Don’t forget, the Science Fair is open to the public. So even if you’re not registered for the conference, come by to say hello!

Breakout Sessions: Join our Director of Content Strategy, Caryn Stein, for two breakout sessions on Friday, March 14, 2014

Progressive Party: Come meet the whole Network for Good team and help us celebrate processing $1billion in donations! We’ll be providing food, drinks, and tons of fun on Friday, March 14, 2014 from 9-11pm ET in downtown DC.

We hope to see you at one (or all!) of these events next week.


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Fri, February 28 2014

How great content can help you raise more money

Caryn Stein's avatar

Director of Content Strategy, Network for Good

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

Next week, we have a treat for nonprofit fundraisers and communicators alike. Taylor Corrado, Nonprofit Marketing Manager of HubSpot will join us for a free webinar to talk about the ins and outs of great content for nonprofits. As far as I’m concerned, HubSpot is one of the very best examples of a company who gets it right when it comes to publishing useful resources and delighting their audience. So, what does all of this content business have to do with you? Here are five ways content can help your fundraising efforts:

1. Great content helps you get found. Organizations who regularly post high-quality, relevant content have a better chance of ranking higher in search for keywords that supporters are using to find similar causes.

2. Great content gives your supporters something to talk about. If you want your fans to help you spread the word about your cause and the work you do, you’ll make it a lot easier on them if you’re providing information that is compelling and sharable.

3. Great content helps you illustrate impact. Remember all of those success stories you have tucked away in a file somewhere? Those great nuggets help you show donors exactly what their contribution will do. This helps you make the case for giving and allows you to put a human face on your cause.

4. Great content builds authority. Donors and partners want to know that you know your stuff. Writing pieces that demonstrate your experience and knowledge of your issue area will help you become even more credible. (Bonus: this also helps when reporters are looking for reliable sources for a story, which will help you get more attention.)

5. Great content reinforces trust.  Hand in hand with points 3 and 4 above, content helps you show who you are to your prospective donors. This type of transparency boosts trust, which can remove mental roadblocks to giving.

To learn how to make this happen for your organization, join next week’s webinar (details below). Once you’ve registered, share your burning questions about content in the comments. What types of content are you creating?

Free Webinar: How to Use Content to Boost Your Donations
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 | 1pm EST
Register Now.
(Can’t make it for the live session? Go ahead and register—we’ll send you the recording so you can review it at your convenience.)

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Mon, February 24 2014

5 Fundraising Metrics Worth Monitoring in Google Analytics

David Hartstein's avatar

Partner at Wired Impact

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Websites and web usability •

[Editor’s note: Today’s post comes to us from David Hartstein, partner at Wired Impact, a web design company that builds websites for nonprofits. David shares some helpful hints on tracking and interpreting key fundraising metrics through Google Analytics.]

Data can be daunting. Not only can the idea of delving into numbers be intimidating, but there are also a ton of terms you need to wrap your head around before anything makes much sense. And even after you have a grasp of the terminology it’s tough to know where to start.

When it comes to measuring your nonprofit’s online fundraising efforts, it’s easy (and common) to get lost, floating amidst the sea of data available.

What data matters the most? And how do you find it? While there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer, there is a common starting point.

Everything Centers Around Online Profit

The first key when measuring online fundraising is a sound mindset. Instead of giving every metric equal weight, remember:

All the decisions you make with regards to online fundraising center around online profit.

That’s the bottom line. If fundraising is one of your website goals, online profit should be your primary concern when measuring online fundraising. The metrics outlined below don’t matter in their own right. They only matter insofar as they ultimately lead to more overall dollars for your organization.

Total profit from online giving is the metric that should keep you up at night. It’s the one that you should celebrate first and foremost when reviewing your website data. It’s the one that should determine if your website is a success (again, assuming boosting donations is one of your primary website goals).

But profit isn’t easily tracked in most analytics tools since most tools are unaware of your expenses. So while you need to be mindful of your expenses, when using your analytics tool you’ll likely focus on revenue instead of profit.

Become consumed with driving up your online revenue. Then, use the metrics below to determine how you actually make that happen.

How to Configure Google Analytics

Before diving into the metrics, it’s worth noting that while we’re using Google Analytics here, you can likely measure similar metrics with whatever analytics tool you’re using. If you’re using a system outside of your website to accept donations, you should check out what analytics and reporting they have available.

Also, while Google Analytics is incredibly powerful and free, it takes a bit of configuring to allow you to measure everything I outline here. The full details on configuration fall outside the scope of this post, but to get started, you’ll need to do the following:

· Set up receiving a donation as a goal in your Google Analytics. (The easiest way is to create a “Thanks for Donating” page that users see after they donate and set this up as a Destination Goal in Google Analytics. If you’re using Network for Good’s DonateNow, a confirmation/thank you page is already created for you.)

· Set up an advanced segment for Donors that includes users who complete your goal of making a donation.

· If possible, set up Ecommerce tracking in Google Analytics to see actual revenue numbers.

· If you’re using a third-party application to accept donations off of your website, set up cross-domain tracking (if possible) to pass data back to your Google Analytics account.

If you need further help, explain what you’re looking to do to your web developer and ask them to get it all set up for you. Sometimes the setup gets a bit technical.

But once it’s set up you’ll be able to see the following helpful metrics in Google Analytics.

1. Landing Pages Leading to the Most Donations

A landing page is the first page a visitor lands on when they come on your site.

Look at which landing pages are leading to the most donations, both in total revenue and total number of donations. Pick your best landing pages and examine what makes them so great. Do you have compelling stories or strong calls to action?

But solely looking at donation totals can be skewed by traffic. Your most popular pages are likely driving more donations largely because they get more visitors. For that reason, it’s important to also look at the Ecommerce Conversion Rate. This rate shows what percentage of visitors landing on a given page end up making a donation. Pages with higher conversion rates are more efficiently convincing website visitors to become donors.

Consider both donation totals and conversion rates together to determine which pages are most effective. Then use what’s working from these landing pages on some of your other popular landing pages to drive up online revenue.

Landing Pages

How to Find It

To see which landing pages are leading to the most donations:

1. Select your Donors advanced segment (outlined above)

2. In the left sidebar, select Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages

2. Traffic Sources Leading to the Most Donations

It can also be beneficial to track which traffic sources are driving the most donations on your website. Maybe you’re getting a lot of traffic from one source (like search), but visitors from another traffic source (like your email newsletters) are ultimately making more donations.

Knowing which traffic sources are driving the most donations can help you determine which ones are working and which ones may need more attention. You can also take what’s working from one traffic source and figure out the best way to apply it to another in order to drive more donations.


How to Find It

To see which traffic sources are leading to the most donations:

1. Make sure All Visits is selected (instead of your Donors advanced segment)

2. In the left sidebar, select Acquisition > Channels

3. Average Value of a Donor from Each Traffic Source

If you’ve set up Ecommerce tracking, calculating the average value of a donor from each traffic source can help you determine where to focus your energy. If visitors from a specific source tend to donate more on average, it’s likely worth trying to drive more traffic from that source to see if the trend holds.

How to Find It

To calculate the average value of a donor from a specific traffic source:

1. Select your Donors advanced segment

2. In the left sidebar, select Acquisition > Channels

3. Perform the following calculation for each traffic source:

Revenue / Unique Visitors = Avg. Donor Value for Traffic Source

Remember, you’re calculating the average value of a donor, not a visitor. To calculate the average value of a visitor from a given traffic source, you’ll need to view All Traffic instead of your Donors advanced segment.

4. Referrals Leading to the Most Donations

A referral is when a visitor comes to your site by clicking a link from another website. This could be in a press release, in an article about one of your events, or in a comment you left on someone’s blog with a link back to your site.

Drilling down into your referrals will show you what sites are worth your time and which ones aren’t producing the results you’d like to see.

All Referrals

How to Find It

To see which referrals are leading to the most donations:

1. Make sure All Visits is selected

2. In the left sidebar, select Acquisition > All Referrals

3. Click the “Transactions” column header in the Ecommerce section to sort by number of transactions

5. Popular Pages Prior to Visiting Your Donation Page

There are likely multiple paths a visitor can take to make a donation on your website. Tracking the page before a visitor comes to your donation page will show you what pages are resonating with your potential donors.

Some pages (like a Get Involved page) will probably make sense. But others (like a particularly moving blog post) may surprise you.

Figure out which ones are working. Incorporate whatever you think is working well into other popular pages whenever you can.

All Pages

How to Find It

To see which pages are popular prior to visiting your donation page:

1. Make sure All Visits is selected

2. In the left sidebar, select Behavior > Site Content > All Pages

3. In the list of URLs under the Page column, click the URL for your donation page

4. Once you only see traffic to your donation page, click the blue Navigation Summary tab just above the graph

5. Focus on the Previous Page Path list to see what pages visitors viewed before your donation page

These Metrics are Just the Beginning

While these five metrics can serve as a good starting point, they really are just the beginning when it comes to figuring out how to propel your nonprofit’s online fundraising forward. Some metrics that are interesting in your situation may not provide much insight to another organization.

Figure out what data will help you tell the story behind your online revenue numbers. Then focus on those pieces of data that matter most to ultimately raising the amount of money you hope to raise online.

Which metrics do you focus on when measuring your nonprofit’s online fundraising? Anything that doesn’t make sense to you or something you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments below.


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Fri, February 21 2014

5 Favorite Nonprofits to Follow on Social Media

Caryn Stein's avatar

Director of Content Strategy, Network for Good

Filed under:   Social Media •

In honor of Social Media Week, I asked a few of our favorite nonprofit experts to weigh in with their personal picks for nonprofits who are hitting it out of the park on social media. Here’s what they had to say:

Mark RovnerMark Rovner
Principal, Founder & CEO, Sea Change Strategies

Audubon Society

National Audubon Society

Where I follow them: Facebook and Twitter
Why they’re so awesome: Social media manager Elizabeth Sorrell knows her audience and feeds them a generous supply of bird photos, interactive challenges, and conservation news. She’s made the Facebook page incredibly fun and lively, and the extremely high level of engagement is testimony to that.

Darian Rodriguez HeymanDarian Rodriguez Heyman
Co-Founder, Social Media for Nonprofits


Where I follow them: Twitter
Why they’re so awesome: Everyone talks about how amazing charity:water is at outreach, but one specific thing they’ve done on Twitter to get to over one million (!) followers is their “photo of the day” campaign. They use the assets they have incredibly well, and that’s the key to their success.

Alia McKeeAlia McKee
Principal, Sea Change Strategies and founder, Lifeboat

Amnesty International

Amnesty International
Where I follow them: Facebook and Twitter 
Why they’re so awesome: They are timely, relevant, authentic. They use engagement data to optimize their social media communications. They use social media as a listening tool to tap into what their supporters are thinking and feeling about human rights. That info gets communicated to the fundraising and advocacy teams and informs integrated campaign opportunities. 

David HartsteinDavid Hartstein
Wired Impact

No Kid Hungry

No Kid Hungry 
Where I follow them: Twitter, Facebook, and Google+
Why they’re so awesome: From the name of the organization to the information they share, No Kid Hungry does an awesome job of communicating their mission in a clear way. On social media, they vary the content they share to provide a wealth of value to those interested in ending childhood hunger in America. Despite their sizable following, they take the time to engage with individuals, responding and thanking supporters publicly. No Kid Hungry sets a great example for all types of organizations.

Joe WatersJoe Waters
Selfish Giving and author of Fundraising with Businesses

Mount Vernon

George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Where I follow them: Twitter and Pinterest
Why they are awesome: They do a wonderful job creating unique content for their site and promoting it on social networks. For example, in October they really captured the macabre spirit of Halloween. They had a great post on people who had claimed to see Washington’s ghost through the years. Thanks to their activity on Twitter, I recently discovered a detailed post on how Mount Vernon looked when Washington lived there in the 18th century. Finally, Mount Vernon doesn’t restrict their content to text. They also have an active YouTube channel. Check out this video on Washington’s dentures! As a guy who follows and loves history, Mount Vernon really makes it come alive!

Want to improve your organization’s social savvy? Download our free social media guide.

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