Mon, December 08 2014

How Did You Handle…? A Brilliant Change-Up for Your Year-End Campaign (and Beyond!)

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Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Read Part One and Part Two

This post wraps up our first topic in the new How Did You Handle…? series—specific how-tos based on your experiences.

Here’s the why and how-to behind a change-up likely to be relevant to your year-end prospects (and beyond):

Change-Up: Introducing a new fundraising spokesperson—one of our clients (that is, someone who’s been helped by our donors’ support).

Keeping It All About Our Donors, Not Our Organization

Traditionally, all year-end communications have come from our executive director, who reviews the past year’s work and impact. That’s how most organizations do it, after all.

But this year, we decided to ask one of our clients to share her story of what donors have done for her family, along with her thanks and a request for more support to help folks like her. We wanted donors to see for themselves the value of their donations, and we couldn’t think of a better way to make that happen.

Meet Julie, Our Spokesperson (and Beneficiary)

Julie is one of our food bank’s beneficiaries and the voice behind our 2014 year-end appeal for major donors—those who give $1,000-plus over the course of a year.

Julie is a successful businesswoman and mother in our community—just like so many of our major donors. She reached out to us after her life toppled to the point of needing emergency food, something she never expected to happen. We helped her feed her family when she had nowhere else to turn.

Her story is particularly powerful for major donors because it shows a different face of hunger—someone who went from living in the wealthiest area in our community to standing in a food line, and now working again and giving back, all thanks to the help of our donors. Best of all, Julie wanted to help.

Creating the Campaign

We began by inviting Julie to a face-to-face interview where she verbally “wrote” a letter to our major donors—her peers, in effect—about her experience with us. We built that conversation into a two-page campaign letter based mainly on Julie’s own words, and then powered it up with color photos, a first-time addition for our outreach to this group of donors. Since Julie requested that we not show her face, we used images of her hands holding fresh produce, carrying it in overstuffed bags, and placing bags of food into her car; these will be included as a series of stills at the bottom of each page of the letter. Specific images like this reinforce the reality of Julie’s experience for our donors in a way that’s hard to forget.

Thankfully, Julie recently started a new job and is eager to give back to the community by volunteering at the same food distribution site where she stood in line just a few months ago. We’ll feature this good news in a follow-up in our gift acknowledgement thank-you letter. In fact, Julie is so grateful for our donors’ help that she wants to add personal notes to these letters.

We’ll Keep You Posted

We think that sharing Julie’s story with major donors—featuring words and photos from someone just like them—is likely to motivate them to add to their support and/or get further involved in our mission in other ways.

Our hopes are high!

Source: Renee Thompson, director of philanthropy, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee

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Thu, December 04 2014

A post-#GivingTuesday Flowchart

Liz Ragland's avatar

Marketing Content Associate, Network for Good

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#GivingTuesday is over. Now what? Use this simple flowchart to determine your next steps:



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Wed, December 03 2014

How Did You Handle…? 2 MORE Examples of Change Ups for 2014 Year-End Campaigns

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Read Part One

This post continues our new How Did You Handle…? series—specific how-tos based on your experiences.

There’s still time to make productive changes to your year-end appeal! Here are more year-end campaign change-ups, attempted for the first time this year by some of your fundraiser peers (with early results where available).

1. Change-Up: Launching matching gifts for first-time donors (including those coming in on #GivingTuesday).

We secured two donors—one who is an absolutely new donor—to offer a dollar-for-dollar match (up to $1,000) for all first-time donors. We are also offering a separate $500 match to new online donors on #GivingTuesday.

As director of development, I pushed the match approach and found supportive donors. I was thrilled when our executive director jumped on board and found a matching donor for #GivingTuesday.

But that’s not all. Our executive director pledged a $500 gift if all staff members contribute to the campaign. Great news: Our board is already at 100%!

Goal: I had used the matching challenge in other types of campaigns and found it highly successful in increasing the number of new donors and total gifts. We’re hoping to achieve the same value this year. We’ll keep you posted!

Results to Date: Just starting our year-end campaign (our executive director hand-signs all appeal letters and adds personal notes to many of them).

Source: Alan Gibby, director of development, Shelter Care Ministries

2. Change-Up: Revising our channel and format mix for year-end appeals to include direct mail for prospects who don’t read our emails.

After digging into our email database statistics, we noticed that many of our donors don’t check their emails. Direct mail is our best hope for engaging these folks; this way we know they’ll receive an appeal. We’re sending them our first-ever direct mail appeal.

Goals: We hope to strongly encourage our consistent donors to increase their gifts and reactivate our lapsed donors.

Source: Kiki Fornito, development associate, Build Change

Note from Nancy: Other fundraisers reported very different changes in their year-end channel and format mix:

· “We are moving to an 80-20 split between email and direct mail outreach to members in our fundraising campaigns; the goal is to convert members to donors. Early results are positive,” reports Laural Bowman, political affairs manager with the Ohio State Medical Association.

· “We are reaching out via phone to donors as a supplement to our direct mail year-end campaign. Of course, we’re tracking what impact these calls, which are low cost but labor intensive, have on results, and we’ll use that data to fine-tune next year’s year-end approach,” says Jayme Hayes, president of Junior Achievement of the Eastern Shore.

Whatever your organization’s mix, the crucial takeaways are to always look hard at response patterns to year-end and other fundraising campaigns and to do more of what’s working and less of what isn’t.

If one of these approaches makes sense for your organization—based on data and anecdotes, not just gut instinct—see if there’s at least some small way you can incorporate it into remaining elements of your year-end campaign. It just might make a difference!

With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build strong relationships that inspire key supporters to action. She shares her deep nonprofit marketing insights—and passion—through consulting, speaking, and her popular blog and e-news at

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Mon, December 01 2014

Your #GivingTuesday Emails

Liz Ragland's avatar

Marketing Content Associate, Network for Good

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Tomorrow is the day!

You’ve got your donation page up and running, you’ve rallied your staff members, and your thank you messages are ready to deploy. But don’t forget to send your donors (and board members) a #GivingTuesday appeal! A successful giving day campaign includes an email appeal sent early in the day. In addition to inviting donors to give, use this email as an opportunity to invite supporters to help spread the word about your fundraising campaign.

I know you’re running short on time so there’s no need to start these emails from scratch. Borrow our board member and donor #GivingTuesday emails, make them your own, and program them to send tomorrow.

We can’t wait to celebrate this international day of giving with you! If you have any last minute questions re: #GivingTuesday, send us a Tweet: @Network4Good.

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Wed, November 26 2014

We’re Giving Thanks…For You

Jamie McDonald's avatar

Chief Giving Officer, Network for Good

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For the past several months, we’ve been focused on the fourth quarter, getting ready for year-end, and #GivingTuesday. The fourth quarter is a pivotal time of year for organizations that depend on year-end generosity to scale their impact.

Today, we want to take a step back from the coffee-fueled, I’ll-exercise-tomorrow, fourth-quarter craziness, and acknowledge you.

Every day, you dedicate yourself to serving others. Your activities as a fundraiser, service provider, advocate, or researcher are changing lives – and the world is a better place because of you.

At Network for Good, your mission is our passion and, in this week of giving thanks, we want to express our gratitude for your unrelenting passion to improve people’s lives. Thanks for your commitment, and thanks for letting us play a small role in your good work.

Today, we’re thankful for you. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Network for Good!

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