Fri, January 23 2015

Link Round Up

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Marketing Content Associate, Network for Good

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We love reading amazing content from across the sector. Here are a few nonprofit marketing and fundraising resources that stood out this week:

Link Round Up
  • We're big fans of the crew over at GrantStation and their 5 quick tips for launching your grantseeking in 2015. (via Guidestar)

  • If you are a Google Analytics user, you must try this add-on for Google Sheets. If you're not a Google Analytics super user, send this link over to someone who is and I promise you will make their day.

  • accidentally sent a message meant for a very specific segment of their list to their entire database (2.1 million phone numbers). If you’ve ever made a mail merge error or mass email mistake, you feel their pain (and embarrassment). They followed up with a great idea: an apology in the form of a playlist, featuring songs that used humor to poke fun at their mistake. This fun apology might not work with one of your major donors but for DoSomething’s audience, teenagers, it was a hit. (Via Chronicle of Philanthropy)

  • We all know stories are key to grabbing supporters’ attention and inspiring them to act. Jeff Brooks, one of our all-time favorite fundraisers, shares his presentation on how to tell stories that motivate donors to give. (via Future Fundraising Now)

  • Is it time to ditch the dating metaphor when it comes to donor relationships? (via Achieve)

  • Nonprofits in space? Consider a “moon landing” event for your organization to rally public interest in your cause. (via MarketingSherpa)

Have a must-read story or resource you’d recommend? Share it in the comments section below!

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Wed, January 14 2015

A Familiar Face on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List

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Marketing Content Associate, Network for Good

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In the 2014 Forbes 30 Under 30 list there was a familiar face on the list: Julie Carney from Gardens for Health International.

Julie, and two other young women, co-founded Gardens for Health International in 2010 to promote agriculture as part of the solution to large-scale public health challenges. Since then, they’ve helped over 2,000 Rwandan families and partnered with 18 health centers to combat chronic childhood malnutrition.

We’re a big fan of Julie and Gardens for Health because of the important, life-changing work they do. We’ve had the opportunity to get to know this organization and their mission because they are one of our DonateNow customers. We’re such big fans, we even wrote a case study about their success as stellar fundraisers.

Congratulations Julie! And to the Gardens for Health team: keep up the good work! We can’t want to see what you accomplish this year.

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Thu, January 08 2015

10 Thank Yous That Delight Donors

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Marketing Content Associate, Network for Good

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Year-end is over! Now what? First, take a deep breath and give yourself a few moments of calm. Second, start showing those donors some love with a thank you.

A basic thank you letter is a perfectly acceptable way to show a donor some gratitude. But if you want to go above and beyond and add some creative flair to wow your donors, go for it!

To help get the creative juices flowing, I collected some favorite thank yous that I’ve personally received and some submissions that our nonprofit friends have sent us. All of these thank yous share a few things in common that you should apply to your messages of gratitude:

  1. There is just one (or one primary) message: THANK YOU.
  2. Receipt information is not included. Read why Lynne Wester, one of our favorite donor relations experts, says you should never combine a receipt with a thank you.
  3. There is no second solicitation.

Kudos to all fundraisers who shared their thank yous!

Written Thank Yous

Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS)

After donating to this organization’s #GivingTuesday campaign, this email landed in my inbox the very next day. I love that CASS made this thank you very donor-centric.

CASS letter

(Click for larger)

Bonus: I received this handwritten postcard from the CASS team in the mail this week:

CASS postcard

(Click for larger)

Honor Flight Capital Region

After the April Honor Flight visit, donors received this thank you letter that recapped the day’s events along with a keepsake photo of the veterans who visited the National World War II Memorial.

Honor Flight

(Click for larger)

Honor Flight Letter

(Click for larger)


Gardens for Health International

Gardens for Health asked some of its constituent communities to take photos with customized thank you signs. In a world where mass communication is the most cost-effective route, personalization at this level is often unexpected.

Gardens for Health International 1 Gardens for Health International 2

Here2There Ministries

Here2There Ministries sends its donors paper currency from a country in which the organization worked. Quite the souvenir!

Here2There Ministries

HealthFinders Collaborative

Showing the people who are most affected by a gift hits a home run in the donor’s heart. HFC donors received a thank you in the mail with a special message from 14 of the nonprofit’s clients.

HealthFinders Collaborative


Grassroot Soccer

Grassroot Soccer put together a great Valentine’s Day thank you video featuring handmade valentines, soccer tricks, and a fantastic musical performance from the Grassroot Soccer community.

Save the Frogs

Save the Frogs produced a short and low-key holiday thank you video featuring the organization’s founder surrounded by the sounds and sights of Congaree National Park in South Carolina.

YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City

In addition to the fun and joy that students get from participating in the Y’s programs, it looks like these YMCA regulars had a great time putting together thank you video for donors.


Although GTECH’s staff talks about physical purchases that help their organization run, their video makes it clear how these supplies have an impact on many Pittsburgh communities.

If you have a favorite donor thank you message (one that you wrote or received), share why it made you smile in the comments section.

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Mon, December 22 2014

Our Top 10 Posts from 2014

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Our Top 10 Posts from 2014

Here at Network for Good, we’re reflecting on 2014 and planning for the upcoming year. We’re locking down webinar topics and presenters for next year, putting the finishing touches on some incredible—and free!—fundraising eGuides, getting posts queued up for this blog, and brainstorming ways to help nonprofits raise more money online (because that’s what we’re here for!).

But before we dive into 2015, we want to share with you our top blog posts from 2014. Drumroll, please…

  1. Why Recurring Giving Matters [Infographic]
  2. 6 Types of Stories That Spur Giving
  3. 7 Ways to Make 2014 the Year of the Donor
  4. 5 Rules for Thanking Donors
  5. 10 Social Media Stats for Nonprofit Marketers
  6. 11 Great Online Giving Tips for #GivingTuesday and Every Day
  7. 3 Steps to a Powerful, All-Organization Team of Messengers
  8. Creating the Perfect Campaign for #GivingTuesday
  9. Why the #IceBucketChallenge Works
  10. Tops 6 Donor Communication Mistakes to Avoid

BONUS: Even though this post is from December 2013, it was #11 on our list: 10 Ways to Thank Your Donors

Have any ideas for posts you’d like to see in 2015? Share your suggestions in the comments.

On behalf of the Network for Good team, thank you for being loyal readers of the Nonprofit Marketing Blog. We wish you a happy holiday season!

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Thu, December 18 2014

What Nonprofits Can Learn from Salvation Army Bell Ringers

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Marketing Content Associate, Network for Good

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joeEditor’s note: This post was written by Joe Waters, author of Fundraising with Businesses and Cause Marketing for Dummies. You can also check out Joe’s work on his blog Selfish Giving.


I’ve always admired The Salvation Army bell ringers. In addition to donating their time and ringing their signature bell in all sorts of terrible weather, the program raises a sack of money that rivals Santa’s. Last year, kettle bells raised $136 million nationally for The Salvation Army’s mission, which includes food, shelter, addiction recovery assistance, after-school programs and many other services for the needy.

The secret to The Salvation Army’s success isn’t a secret at all—or a complicated fundraising strategy. They have an iconic brand that resonates with people during the holidays, and they work their butts off in December to raise as much money as possible with kettle bells. If you’re a nonprofit and want to stop reading now you should remember that brand and hustle matter. But bell ringers can teach you a lot if you’ll only take a moment to stop and learn instead of hurrying by.

3 Lessons from Salvation Army Bell Ringers

1. You can’t just stand there anymore. People are more distracted than ever these days. They have a lot on their minds and their heads are buried in their smartphones. Savvy bell ringers sing songs, dance and will do anything else to get the attention of passerbys. “You’ve got to get people’s attention and remind them that we’re here,” said one bell ringer to the Wall Street Journal. “And sometimes the bell just doesn’t do that.”

Nonprofits have to do everything they can to earn the attention of supporters. Even if you don’t physically sing and dance like a bell ringer, people want a song and dance to move them to act. An extreme example of what Wine to Water did earlier this year to expand its supporter base.

Wine to Water was founded by Doc Hendley, a former bartender turned do-gooder. MSLGROUP, a global public relations agency, adopted Wine to Water after one of its managing directors saw the charity profiled on CNN Heroes. Doc knew that Wine to Water needed to do something dramatic to cut through the clutter and get people’s attention.

With the help of two Napa Valley wine experts, they developed and launched the Miracle Machine, which claimed to turn water into wine in three days.


Fabulous, right?

One publication thought so. Business Insider ran the first story on the Miracle Machine.

That’s all it took!

The mainstream press picked up the story and the Miracle Machine appeared in at least 600 publications, and it was read over 500 million times! A Kickstarter board for the machine generated 7,000 requests for more information on the product.

But underneath all the allure and fascination with this revolutionary product was a GOOD secret. The Miracle Machine was a fake! Two weeks after Business Insider ran its story – the hoaxters came clean. The true miracle is not turning water into wine, but wine to water. That’s the work of Doc Hendley’s organization Wine to Water.

This bell-ringing program from Wine to Water brought in millions of new supporters.

2. It takes a team (of volunteers). While most kettle bells have just one volunteer, the best bell ringers know that you need a team to be a top ringer. That’s the advice of Tom Bomil, a two time winner of the Salvation Army’s Christmas Eve Bell Ringing Contest in Lowell, Massachusetts.

“The key thing is you’re not doing it all by yourself. My name may be at the forefront, but I’m just the captain of what is really a team thing, not an individual effort,” said Bomil to the Lowell Sun. “My co-workers helped me. My brother came out for an hour. They all helped us ringing the bell,”

Bomil’s message is clear: you can’t do it alone. And you can’t afford to accomplish all your goals with paid staff. You need volunteers. But many nonprofits balk at the large-scale volunteer programs that could transform their organizations.

Take the example of Austin Pets Alive! which has gained local and national attention by relentlessly focusing on an everyday tragedy: the unnecessary euthanizing of dogs and cats.

Since 2008, APA! has generated thousands of pieces of content, largely created by a team of volunteers. Thanks to their efforts, Austin is the country’s largest “no-kill” city. “No-kill” means at least 90 percent of strays are not euthanized.

The APA! takes their work seriously. They have around 100 volunteers writing blog posts, pet bios and producing videos starring dogs and cats in need of homes. They also contribute content like how-to guides for no-kill advocates and adopter resource information for new pet owners.

If you take volunteer engagement as seriously like The Salvation Army and Austin Pets Alive! do you’ll can make someone’s Christmas wish come true!

Adam Sowers on Flickr

3. Technology is your friend with benefits.

The Salvation Army has been raising money with red kettle bells since the 1890’s. And while it raises the bulk of its money from this traditional tactic, the nonprofit hasn’t hesitated to embrace technology and try new tactics. They include:

  • An online red kettle program you can join to collect personal donations.
  • An iPhone app that lets you ring your own bell and collect donations.
  • Red kettles with QR codes that take donors with smartphones but no cash to an online donation site.
  • Another mobile option is text-to-give. Just send a text to 4-1-4-4-4 with the words REDSHIELD. You’ll receive a confirmation text and a link to a mobile website.
  • A hashtag campaign that encourages Americans to share personal reasons for donating with the hashtag #RedKettleReason.

If a century-old organization can embrace social media, online giving and mobile technology, so can you! Businesses especially are looking for digitally savvy nonprofits that can keep pace with their own online and mobile efforts. After hosting an online red kettle program that raised $50,000, the fourth largest pizza delivery company in the country, Papa John’s Pizza, created a Red-Kettle Cookie. Through December 28th, Papa John’s will donate 50 cents per cookie sold, up to $300,000, to The Salvation Army.


Adopting technology and being cutting edge hasn’t been easy for The Salvation Army - and not everything works. But like any army they’re focused on pushing forward. So should you.

Start Your Own Kettle Fundraiser


While The Salvation Army’s fundraising strategy is no secret, here’s something you might not have realized. Salvation Army red kettles are just donation boxes (aka coin canisters). But instead of being outside near the entrance or exit, donation boxes are inside the store right next to the register.

A lot of nonprofits dismiss donation boxes as old-school and a huge hassle. But when done well, these programs can raise thousands of dollars locally and tens of millions of dollars nationally!

Here’s how to execute your own successful donation box program.

Target busy stores. With donation boxes, the more foot traffic there is the more money you’ll raise. It’s a numbers game in that your odds improve as you see more people. Sure, you can put a donation box in a tailor’s shop. But how many customers does a tailor see each day? Not as many as a supermarket, coffee shop, or bakery.

Cash is king. A while back a car dealership called me about doing donation boxes. I told them to choose something else. How many people are buying cars with cash, much less quarters, nickels and dimes? Target businesses where people pay with cash.

No tips allowed. Tip jars are popular at many businesses. But your coin canister won’t be if you try to replace the tip jar with your donation box. Employees depend on the tip jar! A Starbucks barista once told me that tips added $50 per week to her paycheck. If you include your charity canister alongside a tip jar, one will go missing. And it won’t be the tip jar!

Front and center. I’ve seen donation boxes in the strangest places, including a men’s bathroom in one store. The best place for a donation box is right in front of the cash register. Don’t give people an excuse to say no. A donation box anywhere except at the register is just begging to be ignored.

Security is key. Theft is a big problem with donation boxes, especially with the round canisters with the slot in the top. It’s demoralizing to the business and the nonprofit when they get swiped. Either empty canisters regularly to discourage thieves, or invest in heavy-duty donation boxes that can’t be stolen. Whatever you do, make security a priority.

Donation boxes are an excellent way to begin a partnership with a business. The USO has grown its donation box partnership with convenience store chain Kangaroo Express into a million dollar program. The fundraiser includes special events with patriotic show cars visiting KE stores and customers showing their appreciation for troops with recorded messages aired on the Salute Our Troops website.

Looking for more examples of donation box fundraisers? Here are 39 example of donation boxes that are sure to educate and inspire!

One request: don’t set up your donation box next to a red kettle. December is for The Salvation Army! You have eleven other months to amass your own pot of gold. When you do see a red kettle this month, give generously and know that the bell ringer is a call to action for the new year. The poets words ring true. “Never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Joe Waters shows do-gooder nonprofits and businesses how to create win-win partnerships that raise money for good causes and increase stakeholder loyalty. He blogs at Subscribe to his podcast CauseTalk Radio on iTunes!

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