Tue, September 16 2014

11 Weeks to Go: Launch Your #GivingTuesday Team!

Jamie McDonald's avatar

Chief Giving Officer, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Giving Days •

The Best December Ever

For the past several weeks, we’ve focused on making this the best December ever, beginning with the launch of the giving season on #GivingTuesday, and running straight through year-end.

In our first two posts, we shared thoughts on preparing for the giving season and whether to participate in #GivingTuesday.

Beginning today, we’re digging into the tactics for a successful December, with #GivingTuesday as the launchpad. First up: Building your #GivingTuesday Team

Enthusiasm + Planning + Execution = Success!

Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

Go Team

The most pivotal person on #GivingTuesday is the leader of your team – the Envoy of Enthusiasm.

Who is that passionate, committed, ORGANIZED, individual who can quarterback your #GivingTuesday team?

Perhaps it’s you, or your development director, or a young, enthusiastic staff member. Enthusiasm with tactical experience is a plus, but if you have to pick one key characteristic – focus on enthusiasm. Your leader is the starting point for your successful year-end campaign.

Next, focus on engaging the key team members - and loudest voices – among five key groups:

  • Staff
  • Board
  • Clients, participants, or alumni
  • Volunteers
  • Committed Donors and other potential Ambassadors

Key individuals from each of these groups will form the heart of your Giving Day team – and will largely determine your success. Be sure that they are willing to spend an hour or two a week on the campaign, particularly as you get close to the big day.

Encourage Team Members to Play to their Strengths

Engaging team members works best when they are asked to bring their talents or networks to the table. There are lots of talents needed for a successful campaign, so there should be a job for everyone who wants to participate.

Consider each of these roles as you build out your team:

Giving money

  • Direct donating
  • Challenge gifts
  • Matching funds

Raising money

  • Personal fundraisers launched on your behalf
  • Outreach to friends and family

Skill sharing

  • Marketing
  • Design
  • PR
  • Writing
  • Technology
  • Videography
  • Photography

Social Ambassadors

  • Sharing through social channels
  • Online or offline events


  • Goal setting

  • Campaign management
  • Database management


  • Outreach to community partners
  • In-kind support
  • Corporate support
  • Volunteer recruitment

Fill key positions with the best talent

Create a team structure that makes sense based on your organization’s size and structure. Once roles are defined, slot people into the position that best matches his/her interest and capabilities.

Then create a map that clearly lays out who is doing what, so everyone can understand how they fit into the overall campaign. This will build the sense of team, reinforce accountability, and will create a common understanding about the key contribution each team member is making.

And hopefully, it creates a visual depiction of the ways that all these small tasks roll up into big impact for the organization.

This is a simple example for a small organization:

Giving Tuesday Team Structure

Click to view larger.

Like a great party, it’s an opportunity, not an obligation!

Perhaps the hardest part of building your team is asking people to get involved in one more thing. But, think of #GivingTuesday as a virtual party for your cause, and it creates a spark for building your team.

The excitement about #GivingTuesday is for good reason - when done well, it has the energy and engagement of a great party, while attracting new donors and building awareness and donations for your cause.

And like a great party, #GivingTuesday depends on good planning and a little magic. Not to overstate the analogy, but these are a few parallels to consider…

  • Timing is key: everyone understands the importance of year-end to nonprofits
  • A unifying theme like #GivingTuesday creates excitement and engagement
  • Key people need to show up to make the party great
  • It’s got to be fun - games and activities can make a big difference
  • The execution details matter: flow, decorations, music
  • Party favors (rewards) can be an unexpected delight. Think about small, feel good items, like team t-shirts, wristbands or funny hats.
  • Sharing memories - stories, pictures - after the party keeps the good feeling going, and makes everyone want to attend next year.

We all want to matter

At its core, #GivingTuesday is about making people feel like they are part of something that is bigger than themselves.

We all want to feel like we matter, so keep letting teammates know that the goal can’t be reached without them. And life-changing goals are at the core of your campaign, whether they focus on feeding the hungry, housing the poor, healing the sick, educating the young, or caring for our environment.

Doing good makes us feels good. And when we do good together, the feelings are magnified.

That’s something we all want to be part of.


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Mon, September 15 2014

Two easy – yet lasting – ways to advance your nonprofit’s mission

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Nonprofit leadership •

(Editor’s note: Today’s post comes from our friends at the National Council of Nonprofits. Jennifer Chandler, Vice President and Director of Network Support & Knowledge Sharing, offers an easy way for your nonprofit to help advocate for charitable giving.) Jenny Chandler

If you could make two simple phone calls or send two easy letters to advance your nonprofit’s mission, would you do it? If yes, then please read on.

A ray of sunshine is peeking through dark storm clouds that have hovered over nonprofits the last several years. Those storms dropped the Great Recession, increased demands for services, declining donations, and reduced funding from government contracts. That ray of sunshine is finally within reach – but it is flickering. To keep it from disappearing again, we each need to act now, to advance our missions and serve our communities into the future.

What is happening?: The ray of sunshine is the America Gives More Act, which the House of Representatives passed in July with support from across the political spectrum. As we all learned from Schoolhouse Rock, the Senate now needs to pass the bill for it to take the next step to becoming a law. And your Senators need a little push from the nonprofit sector to make it happen.

Every community would be positively affected by the America Gives More Act. It would create benefits for all nonprofits, across all subsectors. Most notably, the legislation would make donations from individuals to nonprofits through April 15 eligible to be counted as deductions on the prior year’s taxes. For nonprofits, this means a potential new rush of donations around tax time, not just at the holiday season.

The work of individual nonprofits would also be strengthened by the America Gives More Act. For food banks and others tackling hunger, it would enhance incentives - and make them permanent – to help drive donations of nutritious food. To promote land conservation efforts, the bill would make the incentives for donating easements to preserve our environment permanent also. And to make giving a bit easier for older Americans, the legislation would allow older individuals to donate directly from their IRAs to any public charity and make this allowance permanent. This permanency will send charitable resources into communities that need them, instead of being used year after year by nonprofits to advocate for the incentives to be renewed by Congress. Lifting our voices now to make them permanent will allow us all to re-dedicate that time to advancing our missions.

Act Immediately: There is only a small window of opportunity left in September before Senators leave D.C. again for the mid-term elections. Once they leave, the window slams shut. Therefore, the charitable nonprofit community needs to speak up now before we lose this unique opportunity.

It’s up to us all to speak up. Join other nonprofit board members, staff members, and volunteers across America by delivering this simple message to your Senators: Don’t leave Washington in September until the Senate passes the America Gives More Act; our communities are counting on you.

  • Call your Senators’ local or Washington, DC offices (202-224-3121)
  • Text or Tweet your Senators
  • Write your Senators (see sample letter)

Learn more about the Act and what nonprofits can do to help.

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Tue, September 09 2014

Still on the Fence About #GivingTuesday?

Jamie McDonald's avatar

Chief Giving Officer, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Giving Days •

To do, or not to do, #GivingTuesday…

With 12 weeks to go, you are hearing about #GivingTuesday everywhere. In the press, and perhaps on your team, there are advocates and skeptics.

And we get it. Year-end is a critical time, and your team has a full plate. So is #GivingTuesday worth it?

From where we sit, the answer is simple: Yes!

We are unabashed supporters and believers in the #GivingTuesday movement. For most nonprofits the question should not be ‘if’, but ‘how’, to incorporate #GivingTuesday into your December giving season.

How does #GivingTuesday work (for your organization)?

The genesis of #GivingTuesday is pretty well known. It started with a simple idea – to be a counterpoint to the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. From a couple hundred nonprofits in 2012, #GivingTuesday is now an international day of giving around the globe.

Think about #GivingTuesday as disaster fundraising in reverse (Tweet this). In a disaster, the tragedy brings people together to rally around those in need by supporting organizations that can make an impact.

On #GivingTuesday, the movement rallies people around their desire to do good, to matter in their communities or their world. It’s not an obligation – it’s an opportunity to be part of something that’s big and meaningful and feels great.

And just as disaster relief organizations recognize how important it is to raise funds when there is heightened public awareness, all nonprofits can capitalize on the awareness and excitement of #GivingTuesday.

It’s all about the strategy, but there’s more than one approach.

The big opportunity is to launch December on #GivingTuesday and carry the energy and excitement straight through to New Year’s. Think of it as a chance to throw a virtual giving-season kickoff party for your cause.

The good news is that there is not just one “right” strategy.

Your #GivingTuesday goals can be about more than dollars raised.  Consider a goal focused on recurring givers, new donors, volunteers, in-kind gifts, or even social media followers.

#GivingTuesday can be a chance to tell fresh stories, to attract new or younger supporters, to accelerate your social media presence or to diversify your fundraising channels.  Beth Kanter shares some creative ideas about experimenting, measuring and learning in this video for #GivingTuesday Summer School.

The lessons you take away from #GivingTuesday can impact all of December—and your fundraising into 2015.

Ready? Let’s go!

We’re here to help with free training, toolkits, expert advice, and of course, great software.

Start by downloading our comprehensive Giving Days eBook. It is both a decision making and planning guide, and a week-by-week tactical outline sharing the steps your team can take each week between now and #GivingTuesday to launch a successful campaign.

Then every Tuesday, we’ll bring you new resources to get ready for #GivingTuesday.

And make sure your software is customized to delight and inspire your donors. We can help with two different fundraising platforms:

DonateNow – an easy-to-use customized online giving page to maximize donor conversion, plus baked-in expertise to help make you a better fundraiser

GiveCorps – a cutting-edge giving platform that offers donors a superior online giving experience, plus crowdfunding and peer-to-peer.

Talk to a fundraising consultant today to get expert advice about the software that will best meet your needs.

It’s time to plan for your best December ever!

More #GivingTuesday resources


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Mon, September 08 2014

Reclaim Back to School: How to Stay Energized, Relevant, and at the Top of Your Game

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Fun stuff • Nonprofit leadership •

Our daughter, Charlotte, recently started sixth grade, and the pumped-up energy at school that first morning really got me thinking.

“Back to school” is one of the definers of fall as we know it. It’s right up there with apples, the changing colors of the leaves, and Halloween.

Here are all these kids marching into the unknown for nine months of learning and growth. Some are thrilled to be starting again, others are longing for the pool or camp, but all have this incredible opportunity to be exposed to new content, to digest it in the context of what they know now, and to arrive on the far side with a fresh perspective and new skills. I’m envious!

Few of us have this kind of formal growth opportunity, but ongoing intellectual and creative growth is vital. It’s the only way to ensure that our marketing and fundraising content is relevant while fueling our personal satisfaction.

My call to action for you and me? Let’s reclaim back to school. Let’s schedule some learning—via conversation, reading, participating—into every day, even if for only five minutes. Learning is energizing, positive, and productive, but you have to make it happen.

Here are the five main methods I use to keep learning:

1. Read and watch content (blogs, e-newsletters, social media, books, videos) in the field, from nonprofits in all sectors, and from expert marketers—in the nonprofit world and beyond—and fundraisers. This helps me keep current on trends, models, needs, tools, and news.

2. Scan the world news, and process how it affects your work and the perspectives of the folks your organization strives to connect with.

3. Participate in hands-on group workshops and webinars, so I’m doing rather than just digesting. For me, the doing reinforces learning like nothing else.

4. Push myself to take on the next new challenge, and make sure there’s always a “next challenge” to tackle. Right now I’m focusing on developing several new training modules and a new small-group online learning program. You may think about how to meet the needs of an underserved part of your community or tackle a new donor segment.

5. Synthesize what I learn with what I know and share that with you in blog posts, e-news articles, speaking gigs, and training. This is the linchpin of my learning program, pushing me to put it all together—for you!

I guarantee I get my learning by scheduling it every day in “ink” on the calendar. This time-blocking approach works wonders for me.

Starting today, reclaim back to school as your own. Schedule time daily to stimulate your mind, nourish your soul, stay on top of the world you’re working in (and communicating into), refine your perspective, and build your expertise and impact—all prerequisites to creating the relevant content and calls to action that best engage the folks whose help you need to move your mission forward!

How do you keep learning even when your professional development budget is zilch? Please share your learning habits and favorite resources in the comments below!

With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build the 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 GettingAttention.org.

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Thu, September 04 2014

Crowdfunding: The Future of Annual Giving [Free Guide]

Jamie McDonald's avatar

Chief Giving Officer, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Crowdfunding •

What’s old is new again.

The most exciting evolution of the giving economy in the past ten years is crowdfunding. But crowdfunding is simply a new name for one of the oldest forms of fundraising.

Throughout history, communities joined together to support those in need. Crowdfunding is the 21st century version of this age-old process for harnessing the power of a crowd.

Crowdfunding today sits at the intersection between communities, online, social, and giving. And it is more than just a strategy for one-off projects; it should be a core strategy for annual giving. (Tweet this)

And nonprofits are just arriving at the party.

In a recent article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Erin Morgan Gore & Breanna DiGiammarino shared perspective on the power of crowdfunding for nonprofits:

“Used strategically, crowdfunding helps nonprofits build meaningful engagement, inform their work, spread their messages, and expand their donor base to increase their overall funding and impact.”

Crowdfunding the Annual Fund?

What? Really? We say, Yes!

And you know what’s really exciting? You already know how to do it.

Crowdfunding leverages the skills and experience that you use everyday as a fundraiser. At its most basic level, the process of developing a great crowdfunding campaign is a lot like developing your major donor outreach strategy.

“It’s not about restricted or unrestricted; it’s about the donor, and giving annual fund donors the same quality of experience its high-level donors have—more project choices, greater ability to direct their gifts, and expanded engagement,” according to Margaret Paine, the director of advancement communications at Middlebury College.

What are the parallels between crowdfunding and major donor engagement?

Rally a community of donors around a specific initiative.

With major donors you customize your outreach to appeal to their passions. It might be a new program, a giving society or an endowment. With annual fund donors, “project-ize” the annual fund, with giving opportunities that define the impact of your work. This may take the form of funding the cost of a client or an operating expense like new computers.

Tell an authentic, personal story.

Major donors get to meet staff leaders and clients to hear how their gifts will matter. With annual fund donors, your outreach should center on storytelling, bringing these same stories to life using technology.

Have a clear goal and impact statement.

With major donors, asks are often accompanied by a list of gift opportunities, sometimes with naming rights. With annual fund givers, defining impact also matters: what will a gift of $50, $100, $1,000 accomplish?

Inspire with strong visuals.

With major donors, personal on-site visits or detailed artist renderings are shared to bring your program to life for the giver. With annual fund outreach, pictures and video can also be the key to bringing the campaign to life.

Celebrate and use social ties to build momentum.

Major donors are publicized and invited to special gatherings. Annual fund donors can be recognized on social media and on virtual “donor rolls” on well-designed websites. Givers want to feel like they are part of a movement, and when they do, they will spread the word on your behalf.

Great technology makes you look like a pro.

Don’t let the technology scare you. Online giving technology with crowdfunding capability is a way to create efficiency for your team as you reinvent your annual giving efforts. It’s a tool for making crowdfunding easy, transparent and social.

And with software like Network for Good’s GiveCorps crowdfunding platform, it couldn’t be easier to get started.

Want to learn more about Crowdfunding and Nonprofits? Download our free starter guide and case studies.

Or, if you’re ready to speak with a crowdfunding expert about getting started, give us a call at 855-229-1694.

Salvation Army Image: commons.wikimedia.org


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