Wed, October 22 2014

The most important holiday for all fundraisers

Liz Ragland's avatar

Marketing Content Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Be Your Donor Collage

Thanks to the most-photogenic NFGers for reminding us why it’s important to #beyourdonor on October 24th!

Network for Good’s favorite holiday is this month. Although we do love Halloween, October 24this Be Your Donor Day and the reason why we celebrate big this month!

Sometimes fundraisers are so caught up in the day to day that we forget how important our donors are to our organization’s success. Without understanding how our donors interact with our organization, what the donation process looks like from a donors’ point of view, and how donors are thanked for their gift, we can’t do much to improve (or overhaul!) the process.

It takes more effort to bring in a new donor than to retain an existing donor. Once a donor starts a relationship with your organization, do your best to ensure that donor has a positive experience. That’s why we want all fundraisers to join in and celebrate this very important holiday.

Block out some time on October 24th and do an audit of your donor communication. Make sure your all your fundraising activities are donor-centric. Don’t know where to start? Here are some ideas:

· Your home page’s Donate Now button should take less than 5 seconds to locate and donors shouldn’t have to make more than one click to get to your donation page.

· Thank you letters should talk less about how much your organization does and should instead talk more about what a donor’s gifts does.

· Your organization’s contact information should be easy to find on your website, letterhead, emails, and gift receipts. And when a donor does call, promptly answer questions.

We recommend you download our complete Be Your Donor Day checklist and check out all your fundraising activities for “donor-centricness”. Be your donor on October 24th and be your organization’s fundraising superhero!

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Mon, October 20 2014

Love ‘Em Up Now to Boost Year-End & 2015 Support

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

This final quarter can shine as the time to generate the donations you need to move your organization’s mission forward, if you do it right.

In fact, 40% of online donors make their gifts in December, and that 40% to 60% of those gifts are made the last two days of the month according to superstar fundraiser Gail Perry. Offline giving is up as well in December, says Perry.

But…Just don’t wait until December to ramp up the start or strengthen your campaign, and don’t stop too early that month!

Start the Nurturing NOW with these 3 Simple Steps

1. Thank your current supporters—of all stripes—enthusiastically and frequently

That includes clients, board members, donors, volunteers, partners and others who help your organization move its mission forward. So many organizations lose out on prospective donations when they focus thanks on current and recent donors only.

Others who dedicate their time, passion and/or partnerships to your organization are just as loyal, and likely donors.

Thank them:

  • Meaningfully with personality and passion,
  • Memorably—Show, rather than tell, supporter impact with profiles of their fellow supporters (ideal for folks like board members or major donors) or client profiles and testimonials
  • Often, across all channels. For example:
  • o Fire up your program staff to thank program participants and the person who cultivates new donors to give them an extra personal (real signature or the occasional call—even if you can’t do it for everyone)

    o Get out there with your appreciation signage. If you have a physical plant where supporters work and/or visit, put those walls to work. Nothing brings on a smile—and a connection—than photo-driven success stories as surround sound!


2. The more personal and relevant the better

Segment your prospects by what youdo know about them is the most reliable way to do so.

Ways to segment include:

  • Donors: By average annual dollar value of gifts (e.g. High-dollar vs. middle vs. entry-level donors)
  • Volunteers: By length of volunteer involvement
  • Partners: By type of partnership (e.g. event sponsorship vs. advertising vs. collaborative program delivery)
  • Board members: and prospects; or five-year or more volunteers, two- to five-year volunteers and new volunteers)
  • Supporters who are already in two “supporter silos” but not yet donors—for example, a volunteer who is also the parent of a program participant. Their dedication is proven and current – these folks deserve special attention.

If the number of personal notes required is unreasonable, consider sending hand-signed custom holiday greeting cards to members of your Tier 1 network: Board members, loyal volunteers who are top prospective donors, donors (or at least some donors—returning, new, young or any other group that deserves special recognition). That personal signature makes all the difference.

We all want to know that our effort (be it money, time or attention) is valued. Don’t miss this natural opportunity to appreciate your supporters. And encourage colleagues, who many have slightly different networks, to do the same.

3. Reach out right now to rejuvenate relationships that have gone dark this year

In selecting and segmenting your lists, you’re likely to find a group of former supporters (don’t limit it to donors) who have gone quiet in the last year or six months.

Now’s the time to nudge them out of hibernation, by thanking them for their prior support and sharing stories that showcase how your organization has moved your cause forward in the last year. Focus on established programs they’re likely to be familiar with rather than new funding or volunteer needs.

Select the channel that fits best with each sub-group’s habits and preferences, and—if you have the data—feature messages that have generated response in the past. I recommend a multi-part campaign (preferably multichannel, try a mix of email and direct mail, with a call thrown in if possible for high-value supporters).

Most importantly—Don’t forget the strategic ask in this outreach. The strategy comes in the way you say it. After all, if you didn’t hear from a friend in a year would you call him up and ask for an invitation to his famed Oscars party? Doubt it.

Apply that same logic to your rejuvenation asks—love ‘em up first, then do the asking.

Get your nurturing going on all burners today! It’ll pay off this year and beyond.

How do YOU nurture your donors? Please share what works for you—and what doesn’t—in the comments below!

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Tue, October 14 2014

11 Great Online Giving Tips for #GivingTuesday and Every Day

Jamie McDonald's avatar

Chief Giving Officer, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Giving Days •

The countdown is on.

In exactly 7 weeks, or 49 days, #GivingTuesday will be here! For many organizations, #GivingTuesday will launch the giving season, fueling energy and excitement that will carry through to year-end. We’ve written a series of posts to help you make the most of #GivingTuesday.

Today, we’re focused on one of the most important year-end strategies for any organization: creating a compelling online presence and outreach campaign to inspire support.

11 to-do’s for #GivingTuesday and year-end campaigns that work online.

11 Tips

We could write a book on this topic (actually, we wrote a few!), but with only seven weeks to go, we’re boiling it down to the 11 ‘must-do’s’ for creating a giving experience that delights online donors, and gets them giving again and again.

1. Tell a story and define the donor’s impact.

Plan your campaign around an inspiring story about the impact that givers can have with their investment in your organization. Take your big need and break it down into chunks that a donor can understand. For example, the campaign for an animal shelter might focus on providing medical care for abandoned dogs in the shelter. If daily medical care costs $25 per dog, a donor will be able to decide how many animals they wish to support. Donors appreciate goals that are specific, clear, and actionable.

2. Gather campaign assets that reinforce your inspiring story.

Building and maintaining interest and excitement for your campaign is easier with a constant stream of fresh content. It will come in handy when you are writing blog posts, campaign updates, social media outreach and ambassador messaging. Assets include:

· Photographs

· Videos

· Testimonials

· Client stories

· News Articles

3. Create a single, crystal clear call to action.

Write your emails, direct mail and social outreach with focus around one clear, specific call to action. Don’t cram your outreach with every possible way for a donor to engage—pick one call to action for each outreach and give donors one possible action to take.

4. Make it easy to give on any device.

Make sure your donation experience is mobile ready. At least 30% of your email recipients will click through on their phone when you inspire them to give. Make it easy.

5. Use a consistent campaign brand through the entire giving experience.

Reinforce your campaign and call to action with a giving page that has the same images, video and story. Think about the best online shopping experiences: the image, description and call to action carry through from the email to landing page, to the shopping cart, to the receipt. We can help you get your DonateNow or GiveCorps page ready for your year-end campaign. (Network for Good clients can contact our Success Team for more tips!)

6. Make your giving form fast and easy.

Simplify your donation form by removing all but the essential fields. Get your donors through their donation with minimum friction. Don’t think of your giving form as a data collection tool, think of it as the last hurdle between you and a donation. Then keep the hurdle low.

7. Make your thank you communication personal and meaningful.

When your donor completes his donation, celebrate and acknowledge with a joyful, sincere personal thank you screen or thank you email—immediately. This is a final opportunity to reinforce the story and impact of the donation. Make your donor feel like they matter.

8. Make it easy to share.

When your donor is feeling the glow of making a difference, ask him to invite others to feel the same good feeling. Donors, particularly young people, view sharing as part of giving. In a recent Case Foundation post, Derrick Feldmann, Head of Achieve, said that Millennials view giving one’s voice as a tangible form of philanthropy. ‘A person who gives their voice might still give their skill, time and money, but they go beyond these endeavors to get others involved.’

9. Get back in touch within 30 days.

Reinforce that good feeling with active communication about the status of the campaign. A rule of thumb…communicate with donors about the impact of a donation within 30 days of making a gift. Give an update on the campaign and use this as another opportunity to encourage sharing. You’ve missed an opportunity if your tax receipt is your only communication.

10. Capture every potential dollar.

In your thank you email, encourage donors to take advantage of company matching programs. Point donors to a corporate matching program database, so that your donors can easily submit for employer matches without lots of extra work. There are several systems, including HEP Data and Double the Donation.

11. Encourage involvement.

Use your ongoing outreach to invite donors to engage with you in ways that don’t have to do with giving. They can subscribe to your blog, become a social media ambassador, participate in volunteer activities, answer a poll, sign a petition, and much more.

Implement these best practices today and you’ll be ready to delight your online donors this December—on #GivingTuesday—and everyday.

And if your online giving platform isn’t equipped to make these best practices easy, we’d love to help. Contact us to find out how to get a great online fundraising page that helps you win more donors who give more, more often.

Sign up and launch your page by December 2nd, and you’ll be part of our N4G Gives campaign.  Take advantage of matching funds, special trainings, and much more!

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Wed, September 17 2014

The Secret Sauce of Record-Breaking Year-End Campaigns

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Marketing essentials •

Come in close and listen hard. This is a secret I don’t want to broadcast to the entire world.

The secret sauce to ensuring year-end campaign success that I’ve seen work time and time again is this year-end checklist. Year-end campaign creation and management is a busy, often overwhelming process fraught with anxiety. This checklist is the best antidote I know, and it doubles as a surefire tool to propel you to your year-end victory lap.

Pinpoint Where You Are Right Now

Roll up your sleeves and take a long, hard look at this year’s fundraising results to date, both quantitative and qualitative. Note: If you have no idea what your results are, designing ways to measure success is a must for 2015.

Assess results against your benchmarks.

Review year-to-date results, and compare them to your benchmarks to see what’s working as hoped and what’s not.

This is easier with hard numbers, like those associated with online petition signing or registration, online giving, or other actions that you can directly track to their source. More challenging, but equally important, is drawing insight from quantitative information such as client, volunteer, or donor feedback and stories from the field.

Identify meaningful trends:

  • Which matches are working? Which target audience is responding to what campaigns, channels, and messages?
  • Who else should you be in touch with? Have any surprise visitors—groups you didn’t expect to engage with your organization—surfaced this year?
  • Who fell off your radar that you need to rekindle the relationship with before it’s too late? Who was a loyal supporter in previous years but has been significantly less responsive this year?

Outline Your Plan

Every connection you squeeze into 2014 allows you to deepen the relationship just a little more! So clarify your goal, think through what will be top of mind for these folks, and start reaching out right now.

Do more of what has worked best to engage your most loyal supporters while you have their attention.

Your trends analysis will also highlight the channels and messages that hit a positive nerve with each audience group. These are the ones you’ll want to replicate in the remaining weeks of this year. Use that info to shape some year-end-specific messages.

Go beyond online channels to share those messages. Although email is a timely and relatively low-cost format for targeted campaigns, print and social media campaigns can be great complements if resources allow. There is still time to get another postcard out the door, if it makes sense.

Ramp Up

Line up your team and budget.

Although the stats indicate that year-end is a productive fundraising time, you’ll have to work better and harder than ever from the get-go to generate gifts, because all fundraisers are onto the same stats.

Spend a few minutes with colleagues in your organization, ideally one-on-one, to ask for their help and to thank them for their help in making marketing a success (even if their role is very indirect).

Then, get your website, donation processing, and colleagues ready to respond.

Make sure your site features:

  • Recent stories about programs, including some programs introduced pre-2014 (to connect those folks who haven’t checked in much this year).
  • A big donate button on every page, with a “phone in your gift” number.
  • A recently tested online giving process.
  • Consistent messages and look-and-feel across your entire site, including the donation page. Avoid confusing donors; make it easy for them to feel confident in giving by making your donation process match the rest of your materials.

Prep your team to:

  • Be confident in sharing year-end messages.
  • Be ready for a flood of requests for help and info, especially in December.
  • Immediately share important feedback they receive on any component of last-minute marketing so you can correct the course if necessary.


Like most tasks, implementing your year-end campaign is a lot easier (and will be so much more successful) when based on a research-based plan. Don’t skip that step.

Write right.

Make sure your tone is personal and your call to action clear and easy to act on. Consider these five steps to a successful year-end email campaign.

This last recommendation is so important. If you skip it, you’ll risk undermining campaign success. If you do it, you’ll do great. Get on it!

That’s my year-end campaign secret sauce. What can you add? Share your tried and true practices 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

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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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