Tue, April 29 2014
During an NPR pledge drive in February, a Philadelphia-area radio host (apologies that I haven’t been able to find him) mentioned an online debate over the origin of the term crowdfunding. According to Social Media Week and Fundable, modern-day crowdfunding began around 1997 when a British rock band raised funds online for a tour. (Wikipedia takes us back to 1884!) But our local radio host had a different opinion, saying that thanks to pledge drives, NPR had been crowdfunding long before that.
When I picture a pledge drive, I see people manning the phones. But when I picture crowdfunding, I see the Internet and cool causes.
So what’s going on here?
The answer is simple: Sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and CrowdRise have rebranded “pledge drives” to be more fun and cutting edge, and with that came a new name. The truth is, simply changing a name is a great way to develop a new brand identity and connect more successfully with a target audience. Have you heard of Quantum Computer Services or BackRub? That’s AOL and Google, respectively. (Can you imagine “BackRubbing” last night’s final Jeopardy question?)
Is the name of your nonprofit hard to pronounce? Do you have trouble getting it all out in one breath? Does it only mean something to the people within your organization? If the answer is yes, consider how you can tweak it to fit the work, personality, and impact of your nonprofit.
Don’t like the terms? Change them!
Perhaps changing your name is going too far. Maybe you love your name and have a great reputation, but you can’t get anyone to come to the “Saturday Morning Cleanup.” Try repackaging events to focus on the fun aspect, such as the “Reservoir Preservation Walk” on Saturday mornings, when volunteers relax with each other and beautify the local reservoir.
Think about the terms you use to identify your nonprofit and your programs. Making some smart updates can significantly improve your marketing efforts and refresh your branding.
Have you implemented a name change to breathe new life into an initiative or make a program feel more inviting? Share your experiences in the comments below!
Mon, April 28 2014
Filed under: Fundraising essentials •
Are you thinking about your year-end fundraising plans yet?
Based on our recent Digital Giving Index data and trends from the last few years, Network for Good expects to again see at least 30% of annual online donation volume come through in December alone. Online giving is a generous procrastinator’s saving grace, but how much you raise online will depend on the donation experience you offer.
Just like it does with any other tool, the success of your donation page (and in turn, your online fundraising strategy) depends on how you well you use it. The good news is that you can use the next several months to cultivate your donors and make sure your online fundraising game is on point. By taking the time to tweak and test your online experience now, you’ll reap the rewards at the end of the year.
Here at Network for Good we launched a new free online course to help you assess and improve your online donation experience. The Ultimate Donation Page Course is a series of 10 lessons focused on online fundraising best practices and must-do tasks to optimize your donation page to inspire giving, reduce form abandonment, and increase your average gift size. The lessons include real-world examples, additional resources, and the key things you need to think about to be ready for fundraising this fall—and all year round. Bonus: these principles are easily adaptable to any other landing page that’s part of your nonprofit’s marketing outreach.
The lessons help you think through things like:
- Which options are worth adding to your page and which you should ditch
- How to pick the right image for your donation page
- What to test and track with your online fundraising efforts
You can register for the course for free. You’ll receive new lessons via email every few days, and you can review them at your convenience. I urge you to check it out, then let me know what you think.
Mon, April 21 2014
Filed under: Fundraising essentials •
Two keys for your organization’s financial success are to diversify funding sources and foster giving at every donation level. Having distinct strategies for your entry level, mid-level, and major donors will allow you to customize your relationship with these audiences and communicate to them in a much more effective way. This is especially important when pursuing major donors. If done well, your major gifts program can lead you to other donors and become a cornerstone of your fundraising strategy.
Tomorrow we’re hosting what might be the most important webinar you’ll attend all year. Fundraising expert Michael Brodie will join us to offer a clear framework for your major gifts program and show you how to involve your board in the process. Michael is the managing partner at Brodie Collins Consulting and has over 35 years of experience helping nonprofit clients to develop strategic fundraising plans, create case statements, and provide support for capital and endowment campaigns. Whether you’re looking to create a major gifts program at your organization or need to revive an existing major donor list, this session will give you the tools you need to identify the right prospects, make the ask, and tap your board to raise more funds.
Free Webinar: Major Gifts 101
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 | 1pm ET
(Can’t attend the live session? Register to receive a copy of the slides and a recording of the presentation by email.)
Fri, April 18 2014
Filed under: Fundraising essentials •
I recently had the chance to host a webinar with two of Network for Good’s DonateNow customers, Renee O’Donnell from SIFF and Katie Matney from The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio. Our goal was to understand how they’re retaining more donors through recurring giving at their respective organizations. With 70% of donors never returning to make a second gift, we were eager to learn from two peers who are building and retaining a large sustaining network of recurring donors.
While SIFF is primarily membership-based, The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio takes a more traditional view of recurring donors through their 1,000 Women campaign; however, during our Q&A session we uncovered four common themes despite the different approaches.
Here are four takeaways for executing a successful recurring giving program for your organization:
1. Start donors as recurring donors. A small, monthly recurring gift is an easy entry point for donors. A gift of $10 or $15 a month is easier to budget for than a gift of $50, and with services like DonateNow, those donations can be automatically processed—no extra effort for you or your donors. Our data shows that recurring donors give 42% more over the course of 1 year than a one-time donor does. In addition, your recurring donors will likely do more than just make a recurring gift. For both SIFF and The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, recurring donors make additional one-time gifts throughout the year, attend events, and encourage their networks to support and donate. In short, these recurring donors are the most loyal and generous supporters over time.
2. Thank donors within 48 hours. In addition to any automatic tax receipts you send after every donation, thank your donors for every gift within 24 to 48 hours. A thank-you letter, hand-written note, or phone call within that time frame is one of the easiest things you can do to keep a donor giving. However, for recurring donors especially, listen to the donor’s feedback. If a donor doesn’t want an acknowledgement every month, don’t send one. Listening and responding to a donor’s wishes makes him or her feel heard and appreciated—and more likely to give for longer! Both Katie and Renee suggest that fundraisers make thank-yous a team effort and involve everyone in their organization. Remember, it’s your donors who allow you to continue your mission.
3. Have a plan to engage donors once they get in the door. I love how Katie from The Women’s Fund described planning for the relationship you want with your recurring donors: How are you going to pick up these donors and take them with you on this ride towards social change? Keep your donors involved with frequent email updates, but pepper in personal touches. Take your recurring donors to coffee, write them a quick email, hold special events for them, and ask them for their feedback.Giving is highly personal, so make sure you understand what inspires your donors to give.
4. Make it manageable. The above advice may sound like it requires a lot of effort. While that can be true, both Renee and Katie offered tips to make this work at your organization:
Have a plan. Recurring donors are your most loyal supporters and they should be treated like it! Map out how your organization interacts with recurring versus one-time donors. Those with recurring gifts should receive more frequent communications. It’s easier to save time if you’re following a thought-out strategy and process, so set aside some time upfront for planning.
Make sure your plans allow you to achieve success. Don’t promise you’ll send hand-written thank you notes to each donor if you don’t have the resources. Instead, strive toward a signed letter from your executive director within 24 hours.
Make small but regular progress. By making a habit of doing something small every day to improve either the number or loyalty of your recurring donors, you’ll create a habit that allows you to be more effective and successful over time. Check out the article by Gretchen Rubin: “Best Advice: Make A Habit of Something Every Day.” Katie credits it for helping her start and maintain her donor acknowledgement program.
Thanks to both Katie and Renee for sharing their stories with the Network for Good community! For more tips on making recurring giving a part of your fundraising strategy, listen to the full recording of this webinar, Getting Donors to Give Again and Again: The Secret Recipe.
Wed, April 16 2014
Filed under: Social Media •
Editor’s note: Did you miss Social Media Week? Don’t worry, every week can be Social Media Week for your nonprofit with the advice in this guest post from Social Media for Nonprofits founder Ritu Sharma.
If your organization is looking to get in on the action, here’s a day-by-day breakdown of some easy-to-implement, yet highly effective tips to get your social engine humming.
Monday: Create an Editorial Calendar
The typical nonprofit only allocates .25 full time employees to social media, and actually, you’re better off if this is split between several people with different perspectives and areas of expertise. Let those voices shine. How do you coordinate efforts? A content or editorial calendar is a simple tool that clarifies who is posting what, where, and when: a simple spreadsheet or a Google calendar suffices nicely.
Tuesday: Find Your Killer Pix & Vids
Facebook and Twitter posts with photos attract twice as many likes, comments, shares, and retweets. Imagery is key to both grabbing attention and engaging folks: in fact, charity:water’s Photo of the Day tweets are a huge part of what drove them to 1.4M followers. And videos? Ronald McDonald House Charities relies on video storytelling to help bring the impact of their work to life in their Season of Giving campaign. Sharing these clips on social media has increased the number of responses and prompts others to tell their story.
Wednesday: ABT— Always Be Tagging
Social Media for Nonprofits keynote Guy Kawasaki says that taking the extra time to tag supporters in photos and videos is crucial. And think about it on a personal level: when’s the last time you got an email from Facebook saying you’ve been tagged and you didn’t click through to make sure it wasn’t a horrible photo of you? Once you get people to your page, then the engagement can begin and they can help take your message viral.
Thursday: Keep it Simple
Remember to keep your posts pithy and to the point: less is more. The optimal tweet is 130 characters says Facebook for Dummies author John Haydon, and incredibly, he discovered that Facebook posts should be kept to 80 characters to maximize impact. So keep it simple and short: that’s part of the secret to going viral and engaging the “Kevin Bacon” effect, says Nonprofit Management 101 author Darian Rodriguez Heyman. But end those posts with a question to double response rates— people are much more likely to chime in if you ask vs. tell them something.
Friday: Follow the Leaders
Many nonprofits find Twitter perplexing. The simplest, cheapest, and best way to grow your follower base there is to follow others, especially those who are leaders in your field (i.e. other nonprofits, academics, journalists, etc.). Typically 20-30% of these will follow you back, plus you’re also creating a pool of resources that can give you a sense of what’s going on in your industry. Be sure to be a good twitizen and retweet valuable posts: it’s a great way to build up social currency.
About Ritu Sharma:
Ritu Sharma is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Social Media for Nonprofits. Under her leadership, the world’s only series dedicated to social media for social good has earned a 92% approval rating from over 4,500 nonprofit leaders across the world. She is a public speaker, consultant, and event planner and heads up programming, marketing, and event logistics for the series. Previously, she produced Our Social Times and Influence People’s North American Social Media Marketing and Monitoring conference series and started a web development and social media business, which leveraged an international team of programmers and designers across India, Romania, and the US.