Mon, April 27 2015
Editor’s note: Our thoughts are with those affected by the massive earthquake and aftershocks in Nepal. You can help. To donate to the relief efforts, visit our disaster response page.
We’re in the last few days of our Recurring Giving Challenge—check out which campaigns are sitting atop our leaderboard and are in the running for their share of $20K in challenge rewards!
You’ve put a lot of work into recruiting recurring gifts from your supporters. Once you have monthly donors on board, you can just coast, right?
Even though they have set up and committed to a recurring gift, you still need to cultivate and build relationships with these donors. While thanking monthly donors isn’t much different than thanking donors in general, there is one big difference: you have a lot more riding on monthly donors, as their lifetime value is likely to be much greater than your average one-time donor.
Use your thank you letter as an opportunity to show gratitude, but also to lay the groundwork for a long-term relationship. Donor gratitude is so important we have an entire guide devoted just to this very topic. Here are four musts for your thank yous to monthly donors:
1. Be prompt.
In addition to an immediate, personalized confirmation that their gift was processed successfully, you should thank your sustainers within a few days of setting up their recurring donation. Have a plan in place to make this happen quickly and make it a priority. Your goal is to keep that warm fuzzy feeling going as soon as possible after the gift was initiated. You may wish to send an email, a written note, or follow up with a phone call. It wouldn’t hurt to do all three over the course of those first few months once someone joins your monthly giving program.
2. Be personal.
In addition to addressing the donor by name, sign your thank you letters from a real person. Promise me that you won’t send thank yous that start out with “dear friend” or “dear supporter.” Not only is it boring and mechanical, it sends a signal of “we can’t be bothered.” Also, get creative with who signs your electronic and mailed letters–a board member, a volunteer, or a beneficiary can add significance to your acknowledgement. Make sure there is a real live human behind your stewardship efforts.
3. Be genuine.
Express your sincere gratitude and let your monthly donors know what their ongoing support will mean for your organization. Tell a short, emotion-filled story or share an example that shows the human impact of a recurring gift. Remind the donor what they are making possible. Tug at the heartstrings and bring your mission to life. This reinforces your donor’s decision to give an sustaining gift.
4. Be specific.
I covered the idea of specificity earlier this month, but it bears repeating because it’s so important. Include details about when, why, and what the donor is giving and which programs or results their recurring gift will support. All donors want to know that their gift is making a difference, and rich details help donors know their gift was noticed and appreciated.
Want more help thanking your monthly donors? Download our Recurring Donor Communication Guide and Templates for examples you can use today.
Fri, April 24 2015
Filed under: Fun stuff •
Network for Good works with so many amazing nonprofits and we want to introduce you to them and the great work they are doing! As part of our Recurring Giving Challenge we’re highlighting members of our leaderboard who are producing compelling, creative campaigns to recruit recurring donors and build a sustainable fundraising model for their organization. Today I want you to meet True Impact Ministries, a customer using recurring giving to sponsor children and the current holder of 4th place on our leaderboard.
Meet True Impact Ministries
Like so many nonprofit organizations, True Impact Ministries has changed and molded its mission to meet the needs of the communities it serves. Ten years ago, when True Impact’s founders Andy and Susie Stewart first began their work, they brought a small team of volunteers to Uganda to help build a modest school house. It was the beginning of an ever-expanding mission that now includes orphan homes, water structures, and medical care.
True Impact Ministries believes they have the ability to help ordinary people make an extraordinary impact on the lives of people in impoverished areas of the world. Since their humble beginnings in 2004, through the establishment as an independent nonprofit 3 years ago, they’ve proven this to be true. Their groups of volunteers have grown from just a handful to 35 volunteers planning their visit to Uganda this June! And as their mission grows, so too has their circle of supporters.
In 2006 True Impact Ministries completed their second building project, an orphan home and rainwater collection system in Naama, Uganda. With this project they’d solved a problem by providing shelter, and created another by taking on the care of children in need. Building projects alone would not provide the schooling, medical care, food, and clothing these children needed to thrive. It was a problem they embraced by creating their first sponsorship program, a funding strategy that has helped them provide continual support for the children they serve.
Creating a Real Connection
One of the keys to their sponsorship program’s success is in TIM’s ability to create a lasting connection between their donors and volunteers and the children they’re supporting. From individual pictures and descriptions for every child on their sponsorship page, to their use of fun and approachable videos on social media, they work to create a true connection that makes a sponsorship more than just a donation.
Fri, April 24 2015
Where is online giving going? How do you capture more digital dollars for your cause?
To make a smart plan for your digital giving spend and online fundraising strategy, you need to understand how donors are giving online. Since 2010, Network for Good has published the Digital Giving Index which looks at online giving trends across the Network for Good platform, including both branded and generic donation pages, social fundraising sites, portal giving, and employee giving.
The Network for Good’s Digital Giving Index data represents $233 million in giving for 2014 representing donations to 45,000 charities. While online donations still represent less than 10% of all charitable giving, the growth of online giving continues to outpace the rate of growth for overall giving. In 2014, the donations on Network for Good’s online giving platform increased 23% over 2013.
Here are a few key takeaways from our giving data:
The Channel Matters
Donors give differently depending on the online giving channel they use. While we see portal giving spike during times of disaster or at the end of the year, we still see the majority of online donations coming in through a nonprofit’s website via an online giving page.
Average gift size also fluctuates depending on the channel. The largest average donations come in through employee giving, as these donations are often influenced by corporate matching gifts.
The Experience Matters
Think all giving pages are the same? For online donors, the giving experience matters.
Year after year we find that nonprofits raise more on branded giving pages vs. generic giving experiences, e-commerce-style solutions, or charity giving portals. Donors are more likely to give, give larger amounts, and initiate more recurring gifts on branded giving pages that look and feel like a nonprofit’s website or fundraising campaign. This makes sense as these types of giving experience offer donors an easy and cohesive experience that keeps them in the moment of giving.
The Rise of Social Fundraising
Social fundraising itself isn’t new, but the power of social media combined with personal networks—along with the ease of online fundraising pages—have enabled this type of peer giving to really take off.
The impact of peer fundraising and socially-driven campaigns has increased dramatically as the tools and communication channels that make it easy for donors to advocate on organizations’ behalf have become mainstream. Social fundraising has seen explosive growth over the last few years, with donation volume growing 70% in 2014. Better still, the average donation amount for gifts through these campaigns has grown 52% just in the last year.
Want more insight on social fundraising and how you can use it to expand your reach? Download our free Secrets to Social Fundraising Success guide.
Big Giving on Big Days
It’s no surprise that giving fluctuates over time. We know that average online donation amounts shift with events, such as disasters or giving days, or seasonality. Donors give the largest gifts at the end of the year and during #GivingTuesday.
Of course, December still drives a big share of annual giving. In 2014, 31% of all dollars came in during the month of December with 12% of annual giving happening on the last three days of the year.
To make the most of these big giving days, it’s crucial to have a solid online giving program in place with a donation experience that fully expresses your case for giving.
View and download the full infographic, and grab a copy of our new companion Online Fundraising Report for more insight on how donors are giving online and how you can make the most of your digital strategy.
Wed, April 22 2015
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
More and more nonprofits are using visuals to tell their story, illustrate impact, and create a case for giving. But creating visuals can sometimes be costly, time consuming, and seemingly impossible without advanced software. At Network for Good, we see clients using visuals in amazing ways to share their stories, engage donors, and raise more money in ways that are effective, easy, and—guess what?—FREE! We've compiled a top 10 list of tools and techniques to help you incorporate more visuals into your organization's work.
10. Keep it simple! Start by taking and sharing pictures of your team and the people, places, or purpose you serve. Pictures taken with your phone are totally okay!
9. Empower your constituents to help. Ask volunteers, board members, and others involved with your organization to take pictures and send them to you. Then you'll have options to choose from when you need a photo.
Martha's Table is encouraging their community to share #IAmMarthasTable photos on social media to celebrate their 35th anniversary.
8. Have pictures, but they need to be edited or jazzed up? Check out Picmonkey, a great free photo editing service.
7. Once you create a great image, make sure it's correctly sized for every social media channel. Our friends at Constant Contact created a great cheat sheet to help you size all your images.
6. Do file names like JPEG, PNG, and GIF confuse you as much as they confuse me? Here's a helpful chart to show you when to use what file type.
5. Still don't have a picture you want to use? Check out this helpful list of stock image sites to find a picture to fit your need.
4. Share your impact using an infographic. Check out Picktochart, a fantastic infographic creator that's free for nonprofits!
3. If you haven't discovered Canva yet, go check it out! Canva is our favorite tool on the marketing team here at Network for Good—and we're pretty sure it'll be your favorite too. Plus, it's free!
2. Join us tomorrow for our next Nonprofit911 webinar, “The Art of Social Media,” featuring Guy Kawasaki, chief evangelist at Canva. Guy will be talking about how to build your online presence and how to use visual tools to do so! Register now!
We made this graphic with Canva!
1. Have fun and be creative! The days of posed headshots and perfectly positioned group photos are behind us. People engage with brands and organizations in fun, organic, and unique ways. Might we suggest a social media selfie contest?
Tue, April 21 2015
Filed under: Fundraising essentials •
Social fundraising is empowering your supporter base to fundraise on your behalf. Social fundraising is also known as peer-to-peer fundraising, P2P, or personal fundraising.
Think beyond the walkathon
When you think of social fundraising, you probably think of a walkathon, dance marathon, or another event that social fundraisers will attend. Although this is the best-known type of social fundraising, you don’t have to have an event to justify launching a social fundraising campaign.
Project-focused vs. mission-focused fundraising
The most successful social fundraising campaigns are project-based campaigns. Project-based campaigns drive support and excitement about a specific initiative. It’s much easier to encourage social fundraisers to reach out to potential donors with a project-based ask than with a broad appeal.
More often than not, when you send an appeal to donors, you are asking them to support your mission. You might feature a story about a client or a recent success, but the story is usually directly related to your day-to-day programming and not a specific need. I like to call this mission-focused fundraising. You are asking donors to support what you do every day. Donors’ dollars help you accomplish your mission.
Project-focused fundraising asks donors to fund something specific. There’s a fundraising goal in mind and (usually) a deadline. Here’s an example: A food bank needs to upgrade its freezer by the end of the summer. The board has been recruited as social fundraisers to hit a $15,000 goal.
How do you recruit social fundraisers?
In a traditional fundraising model, you (the nonprofit) send appeals to acquire donors or ask existing donors to give again. In a social fundraising model, you must recruit and motivate supporters to step into the role of fundraiser. Then, you empower these fundraisers to ask their social circle for donations.
Your social fundraising campaign will be the most successful when you find advocates who are excited to serve as fundraisers. Start by reaching out to five to 10 loyal supporters. They could be board members or longtime volunteers. Begin recruiting with people you know and those who know your organization’s mission. Equip these social fundraisers with the tools they need to recruit donors: email templates, a social fundraising donation page, FAQs, and confidence.
When to host a social fundraising campaign
Social fundraising campaigns see the most success when the campaign has a firm deadline. Without a date for an event (like a walkathon) on the calendar, how do you set a deadline and put pressure on your fundraisers to bring in donations during a defined time period? It’s not that hard, but you need to get creative.
Think about the timing of holidays and celebrations throughout the year and how you could easily piggyback on these dates. If your cause has an awareness month, use those 30 days as your social campaign timeline. If your cause works with single mothers, a campaign ending on Mother’s Day would be a good fit.
Or think about the nature of your work and any natural timelines that arise. Do you host a summer camp? Organize a social fundraising campaign a month before campers arrive, and announce the total dollars raised during the first meal the campers share together. Does your food bank host a big Thanksgiving meal? Craft a campaign in November that ends on Thanksgiving.
Are you ready?
Although this is not a new model of fundraising, it is evolving thanks to technology and the new ways we share stories and communicate. Social fundraising might be something your supporters have been waiting for. Are you ready for it?