Mon, July 14 2014

7 Strategies for Mobilizing Millennials

Jamie McDonald's avatar

Chief Giving Officer, Network for Good

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Marketing essentials • Nonprofit leadership •

(Part two in our series on the Millennial Impact Project)

Millennials: A powerful force for change.

Earlier this month, I shared my perspectives on the 2014 Millennial Impact Report and MCON14. Hopefully, that post got you thinking about how Millennials are shaping our culture and social sector in profound new ways.

As a refresher, this is a summary from Derrick Feldmann, President of Achieve, on the growing significance and power of Millennials:

Approximately 80 million Millennials live in the U.S. today. Collectively, they spend about $300 billion annually on consumer discretionary goods. And by the year 2020, they will make up 50% of the workforce.

Soon, Millennials will no longer be the “next generation;” rather, they will be the majority of your co-workers and employees. [And I’d add, the majority of your donors and supporters.]

Millennials are building a culture that knows how it feels to contribute to a cause and attempt to solve social issues…It is not overstating to say that a big part of the nonprofit sector’s future relies on its ability to respond to these young people’s charitable inclinations.

Invite them. Inspire them. Seven steps to get started.

How do you begin to engage Millennials? Here are seven ways you can bring Millennial energy, innovation and advocacy to your organization.

1. Bring Millennials onto your team. Hire Millennials. Invite one or two to join your board. Even if you have a give/get for board members, encourage Millennials to run a race or do a crowdfunding campaign as a way to fulfill their commitment. They’re worth it. With their robust social networks, youthful passion and idealism, they can contribute in ways that are more important than money. Think of Millennial team members as beacons that can shine a light on your organization with huge networks of friends, family and colleagues.

2. Inspire with images and video. Shift your marketing focus from facts and data to people and impact stories. Check out how our client, the United Way of Central Maryland uses a beautiful image and video to present a clear, simple fundraising message. Click here for a guide to using visuals effectively.

3. Enlist with emotion on social channels. Inspire young supporters to share your mission by capturing their attention in your social channels with emotion: empathy, humor, pain, triumph. Investments in photography and video can pay big dividends, as inspiring content is more likely to be shared. The campaign of actress Lauren Luke, Don’t Cover it Up, inspired women, especially Millennials, to confront partner violence, not to “cover it up.”

4. Empower them to get involved, not just to give. Inspire Millennials to volunteer based on their top motivators for getting involved: Passion (79%); Meeting people (56%); Gaining expertise (46%). Get them involved through activism, professional groups, and leadership opportunities. The United Way of Central Maryland has built a passionate base of Millennial supporters with its Emerging Leaders United program, by focusing on these motivations.

5. Focus on your website. Meet Millennials where they are: online (and on their phones). With the rise of social media, many organizations focus their online outreach, updates, and photos on these platforms, often neglecting their core website. Your website is the center of your online universe - the sun to your orbiting social media planets. And leaving out of date or generic information on a website is a major turn-off for Millennials, and everyone else!.

Also, your website has to be mobile-friendly. 87% of Millennials are carrying smartphones everyday. A mobile-friendly online environment will keep mobile users engaged and enable impulsive action from an impulsive generation.

6. Launch a monthly giving program. One of the hottest trends in philanthropy mirrors a trend we see in consumer purchasing: the growth in subscription giving. According to the report, 52% of Millennials are interested in giving monthly. A small monthly gift can really add up over months and years. Here are some recommendations on how to start your monthly giving program.

7. Move them to action by ASKING. You’re changing lives every day. And everyday you need support. Millennials want to be inspired, to inspire others, and to make a big impact with their actions and generosity. Tell them how they can help: start a fundraising page, sign a petition, recruit volunteers, host an event, join your leadership. It starts with an ask.

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Fri, July 11 2014

What is your biggest fundraising challenge?

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

We recently asked our nonprofit Learning Center community about their biggest fundraising challenges. These fundraisers and marketers overwhelmingly indicated that acquiring new donors was the biggest challenge, with 61% choosing this as their top issue, followed by diversifying funding sources (16%), donor retention (9%), and increasing demand/staff constraints (both coming in at 7%).

Fundraising Challenges graph

There’s a lot that goes into a successful donor acquisition strategy. Once you have a strong marketing plan in place, it’s important to understand how to effectively tell your nonprofit’s story and make the case for giving to actually convert your target audience into donors. We have two free guides that will help you do just that:

Storytelling for Nonprofits

How to Make the Case for Giving

What’s your biggest fundraising challenge and how are you working to solve it? Share your story in the comments below and we’ll feature selected responses in an upcoming post.

 

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Wed, June 18 2014

Fundraising + Marketing = Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Marketing essentials •

Imagine: You’ve worked long and hard to grow a strong relationship with your communications colleagues (or, if you’re on the communications side, with your fundraising colleagues). You all know that working as a team to solicit, gather, and share insights on supporters is the path to strong and lasting relationships that motivate greater giving, plus desired actions on other fronts.

Note: If you haven’t launched this partnership yet, do it right now!

You’ve put in the time and sweat to build this vital partnership within your organization, and you’ve probably seen some payoff already. But all too often, once we get some satisfaction, partners begin to take each other for granted. This happens in the vital fundraising–marketing partnership as well as in love.

Here are four ways to keep the fundraising–marketing partnership alive and productive:

 

1. Work hard to understand the other person’s point of view.

Strong relationships come from understanding the other person’s point of view, even if you don’t share it. Put the same effort into understanding your marketing partners as you do with your prospects. Avoid futile arguments, and remember that the objective is not winning but what’s best for your partnership (and your revenue).

2. Know that it will take work.

Despite what you may have heard in John Lennon’s famous song, love isn’t all you need. Successful relationships require hard work.

Fundraising and marketing are nerve-racking professions—you’re the folks your organization counts on to keep it going. Plus, we all have quirks and habits that can grate on our colleagues. Stressful times are when many relationships flounder. Jump on the bumps as they appear to keep them small.

3. Encourage each other to grow.

Mutual respect is the foundation of every successful partnership. That means appreciating and accepting your marketing or fundraising partners for the wonderful, unique human beings they are. And vice versa.

Your marketing partner may want to grow in ways you don’t like or team up with you on strategies or experiments you’re uncomfortable with. Preventing their growth will stifle both them and you—because your communications partner will treat you the same way. Tit for tat.

Instead of tamping each other down, it’s far better to encourage your marketing or fundraising partner to continue building her skill set and confidence, and vice versa. It’s the only way a good partnership will flourish.

4. Keep the spark alive.

Whatever you do, don’t let this partnership flicker and die. Not after you put so much into it!

I frequently see this chain of events after a successful partnership ramp-up: Contentment sets in, you start taking the communications folks for granted (and vice versa), and you gradually fall back to your old ways. You rarely reach out, and collaboration slows to a halt.

Keep it alive by making the effort to share new adventures. Refresh this crucial partnership: Take brainstorming meetings off-site for a change. Bring a program colleague into the discussion. Collaborate on a working session where, together, you’ll build your colleagues’ understanding of current and prospective donors, train them in dialoguing to strengthen relationships, and ask them to share the insights they gain.

Follow these four steps for a fundraising–marketing partnership that equals true and long-lasting success in engaging your supporters for the long run and makes your workdays more satisfying than ever.

Want more tips? Download the free guide: 7 Steps to Your Best Nonprofit Marketing Plan Ever.

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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Mon, June 16 2014

3 basic rules for raising more online

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Websites and web usability •

Don’t let the speed and convenience of technology suck the life out of your fundraising. Online or off, you must connect with your donors and inspire them to take action. When creating your online giving strategy, keep these three rules in mind:

1. Keep donors in the moment of giving.
2. Make it easy.
3. Focus on the relationship with the donor.

Here’s a quick slideshow that helps illustrate these key qualities:

Download the full webinar recording and slides, then register for the free Ultimate Donation Page Course to get more in-depth guidance on optimizing your online fundraising.

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Wed, June 04 2014

Rethink how you approach lapsed donors

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Conventional wisdom says it’s more cost effective to retain donors than acquire new donors. Of course you should spend a fair amount of your time tending to your active donors, ensuring they’re seeing the impact of their donation and making them a part of your community. In this case, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure. But what do you do if these supporters stop giving? Write them off and move on? 

Not so fast, says donor retention expert, Lisa Sargent. In a recent newsletter, Lisa outlines her perspective, complete with a Monty Python reference. She offers superb examples of what to test with your lapsed and long-lapsed files (especially multiple or long-time lapsed givers), instead of immediately purging or ignoring these former donors.

As you assess your own approach, consider these five things before addressing your lapsed donors:

Lapsed donors probably don’t consider themselves “lapsed.” Be careful how you reach out to these donors—many may consider themselves to still be active givers to your nonprofit. Just because they’re not giving at the frequency you prefer, that doesn’t mean they don’t feel they’re important contributors to your cause. Acknowledge their contributions and make sure to let them know the difference they’ve made. In most cases, your next outreach to this group could be considered an “impact report catch-up.” 

Different segments have different needs. As you build relationships with donors, remember that you have affinity groups who have specific motivations for giving, and give in different ways. Create a cultivation plan with these variances in mind, and do the same for those who have skipped a donation. Preventing a lapse is the best solution, but early intervention can help bring a portion of these donors back from the brink. (Alan Sharpe has a top-notch framework for a ‘win back’ letter.

Engage them with something different. It’s likely these so-called lapsed donors are still interested in supporting your cause in some way. Offer something new to this group, such as surveys, advocacy tools, volunteer opportunities, or event invitations to assess if they’re still interested. These activities will help keep your cause top of mind and communicate the impact of your work, which will allow you to build a case for giving again.

Look in the mirror. Is your donor stewardship model all it could be? Perform an audit of your donor communications from the point of giving throughout the lifespan of that donor. Then, compare that to a timeline of your donor churn rate. These are the critical moments at which you need to prepare compelling, proactive outreach. If you already have communications just before these time periods, it’s time for an overhaul. (Need some help? Listen to our recent webinar with Donor Relations Guru, Lynne Wester.)

Have a conversation. If a long-time or high-dollar donor stops their support, it’s time to pick up the phone and find out more. Use this as an opportunity to reach out and understand if everything is ok—for both your donor and your organization. Is something going on in your donor’s world that interrupted their support, or have they been soured by a miscommunication? Perhaps they’ve outgrown their current relationship with you and are unsure of other opportunities to do more with your cause. Be prepared to embrace any and all feedback—it’s likely to be an eye-opening conversation that could change your understanding of your donors.

So when do you cut them loose? Some fundraising advisors say never, while other experts say to take a hint after one year. I say: it depends. Look at the reasons why donors may stop giving to your organization and your fundraising cycles. Understand those first, then put a process in place to remediate, reactivate, or retire these contacts.

How do you handle your “lapsed” donors? Chime in and share your experiences below!

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