Thu, September 19 2013
Filed under: Fundraising essentials •
How many of your first-time donors go on to give again? What kind of impact would it have on your fundraising if you could retain more donors each year? We’ve asked two of the best fundraising experts to share their secrets. Join our free webinar on Tuesday, September 24 at 1pm EDT to learn from Jay Love and Tom Ahern as they show you how to create a communication plan that will help you retain more donors and raise more money. Register here.
If you’d like to see more long-term benefits from your year-end fundraising and donor acquisition efforts, you do not want to miss this session.
Turn First-Time Donors Into Repeat Donors
Tuesday, September 24th 2013 1 pm EDT
Wed, September 18 2013
Pumpkin spice lattes are back and we’ve been experiencing cool, fall-like mornings here in Washington, DC, two signs that year-end fundraising season is almost here. It’s tempting to put off your planning for a few more weeks, but don’t give in to procrastination. Proper planning now is like insurance for a strong fundraising finish in 2013. Take a moment this week to assess your progress toward your year-end campaign plans. Here are five ways to make sure you’re ready:
1) Review your results.
Figure out what’s working for your nonprofit—and what’s not. Take a close look at response rates from this year, and revisit last year’s December giving patterns. Which messages performed best? Which groups gave more? Spend time analyzing your data so you can build on what works for your audience, and make improvements on the rest.
2) Set a goal.
Decide what you’re trying to accomplish this year. Be specific and make sure everyone in your organization is on board. Post your goal in a prominent place to help keep everyone moving in the same direction. Remember, for goals to be useful, they must be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Check out these tips for setting a fundraising goal.
3) Create a plan.
As the saying goes, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” There are a lot of pieces that go into a fundraising campaign, and you’ll be more successful with a detailed marketing plan that includes a timeline, budget, and assigned responsibilities for each action item. Network for Good just published a new nonprofit marketing guide that will help you organize your outreach strategy and clarify your message.
4) Craft your key messages.
More than any other time of year, your giving season fundraising appeals will need to stand out and inspire. You can’t wait until the last minute and hope a well-written, effective message will come to you in a dream. Begin mapping out your messages now and refine your story, calls to action, and images. There’s still time to collect testimonials and success stories that will illustrate your impact and prompt donors to give. (Need help making the case for giving? We have a step-by-step guide to crafting a compelling appeal.)
5) Test your process.
Now is the time to put yourself in your donor’s shoes and thoroughly test your donation process, website, emails, and any other donor-facing elements. Identify any pain points and fix them now while you have some time. None of the above steps will matter if your supporters get hung up on your donation page, are stymied by your website, or can’t reach a real person when they attempt to contact you. A few hours of user testing now will save you a lot of time—and lost donations—come December.
I’d love to hear where are you in your year-end fundraising planning process. Share your progress in the comments!
Mon, September 16 2013
Filed under: Fundraising essentials •
In the latest Fundraising is Beautiful podcast, fundraising veterans Jeff Brooks and Steven Screen answer the question, “How many appeals should you send?” They highlight the importance of not only the number of appeals you send, but what those appeals contain. Here are the two key elements:
1) Frequency: Nonprofits are often afraid to send too many appeals, but the more you send, the more you raise. While there is likely a threshold of how many is “too many” for your audience, it’s unlikely that your organization is anywhere close to that point.
2) Relevancy: Instead of blasting your supporters with the same message on repeat, take the time to optimize your appeals to speak to the reasons why donors are giving to your cause. Segment your list into key groups, then personalize your message to fit each. This is especially important when reaching out to those who have already given to your cause—the message they receive should be different than the one you’re sending to a brand-new contact.
For more insight on the right way to reach out to your donors, listen to the full podcast for tips from Jeff and Steven.
How many appeals do you typically send during your year-end fundraising campaigns? Do you plan to increase that this year?
Thu, September 12 2013
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
I’m a huge fan of case studies. They’re an incredible tool to showcase your nonprofit’s work, demonstrate social proof, and gain more supporters. Jay Baer’s Youtility explains the power of case studies in greater detail, but here are a few ways you can use this approach to support your fundraising and marketing efforts:
1) Get testimonials. Tell the story of why people support your organization. Ask questions such as:
Why are you passionate about this issue?
When did you start learning about this issue?
Why do you choose to support our organization?
By gathering this information, you’ll not only have endorsements for your cause, but you can also use responses to inform your marketing and donor recruitment strategies.
2) Document how you spent money. Did you dedicate a large portion of funds to operational expenses? Why? What impact did it have? Once you explain that to donors, they’ll better understand how you fulfill your mission, and why it’s important to have operational expenses. Every penny of your budget doesn’t have to go to on-the-ground work, but you do have to demonstrate how operations are vital to ensuring the services you provide are making a positive change.
3) Survey those you help. Ask your constituency how they’ve found your services. Do they see your nonprofit as a vital member of their community? Would they be able to get where they are without you?
If those answers affirm your work, ask respondents if you can use a quote in your case study. Most will be happy to help. In some cases, if you provide them with links and social media messages, they’ll share the study with their network, too. If the answers bring up questions or poke holes in your work, pay attention to that. That’s a great opportunity to take feedback and turn it into something positive.
Have you created a case study before? What were the results? How did you share it with supporters?
Mon, September 09 2013
Filed under: Writing •
When you’re making the case for giving, a powerful story is hard to top. At the same time, putting together a vivid and compelling story is typically more difficult than it sounds. The good news is, the results are well worth the work.
To help you get your storytelling mojo working in time for year-end fundraising season, you can learn from the same storytelling masters that brought you Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Up. The talented folks at PBJ Publishing created this wonderful infographic of Pixar’s storytelling rules.
These are all great guidelines to keep in mind for any writing or storytelling project, but I think #11 is my favorite: “Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.”
What’s your favorite storytelling tip?