Wed, July 29 2015

Your Fundraising Jargon Cheat Sheet

Liz Ragland's avatar

Senior Content and Marketing Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • How to improve emails and newsletters • Marketing essentials •

It’s 2015 and, yes, online fundraising is mainstream. However, many terms surrounding online marketing and fundraising can trip up nonprofits. When you’re making decisions about which software to use or campaign strategies to test, we want to make sure you and your colleagues aren’t confused when you come across a term you don’t use every day. That’s where our Online Fundraiser’s Glossary comes in! Take a look at the glossary, and tell us in the comments below if you can think of other words that should be on this list.

Here’s a quick snapshot of what’s in the glossary. Be sure to bookmark the full list.

The Online Fundraiser's Glossary from Network for Good
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Wed, July 22 2015

A New View of Grant Resources

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Cynthia Adams

A truly sustainable funding model is the holy grail of nonprofits. A great way to achieve that goal is by making sure you have a diversified revenue stream that includes individual donations, fees for service, and grant funding. A healthy organization can stack up these funding sources for a strong foundation that supports their mission. Grant seekers ask us for lots of advice, so we chatted with Cynthia Adams, president and CEO of GrantStation and a longtime friend of Network for Good, about a new way of approaching grant funding, including a recently launched resource called the PathFinder.

NFG: Cynthia, what have you found to be the biggest hurdle for nonprofits looking to secure grants?

Cynthia Adams: Actually, there are three significant hurdles. First you have to thoroughly identify what you need the funding for, which isn’t as simple as it sounds! Second, you have to identify the right grant makers to approach for the funding. And third, you need the skills to develop and write compelling grant requests.

Most organizations are familiar with the tried-and-true grant makers, but what are some overlooked sources of grant funding?

CA: I am very fond of looking outside the box when identifying potential funders for a project. For example, I like to look at national and international associations. These groups, especially those associations representing companies that manufacture goods, can often be fabulous sources of support. The Toy Industry Association offers literally thousands of donated toys via the Toy Industry Foundation.

What do you recommend to organizations that don’t have someone on staff who can take on researching, applying for, and managing grants? Does this require a full-time person?

CA: It depends on the size of the organization and the number of grant proposals you expect to submit. At GrantStation, we’ve just launched a new free resource called the PathFinder. It includes tons of resources in a searchable database to help everyone from novices to the most experienced individual in the areas of grant research, grant writing, and grant management.

We talk a lot about storytelling and reporting on impact for individual donors. Where does this fit in with grant funding?

CA: Storytelling is an integral part of the grant-writing process. You want to engage the person reviewing your proposal right off the bat, so opening your request with a true-life story is a great way to do that. I often include a case study or “story” in the statement of need as well.

What’s the smartest way for fundraisers to combine grant funding with making the most of gifts from individual donors?

CA: I had this rule of thumb when I was working as a development director for nonprofits: I would use any significant gift from an individual to leverage any grant proposal I was working on. So, if someone came by and made a $1,000 gift, and I was working on a proposal to upgrade all the office equipment, website, etc., I would ask that donor if I could use their gift to help leverage the grant. It worked for me!


Thank you so much, Cynthia, for sharing your insights on new ways to approach grant funding. For more help with expanding your funding base with grants, download our archived webinar with Cynthia Adams, Getting Started with Grants: How to Make Your Requests Shine.

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Tue, July 21 2015

What’s Your Ask: One-Time or Monthly Giving?

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Recurring Giving •

Did you donate to the relief effort for victims of the Nepal earthquake a few months ago? I contributed via GlobalGiving, thanks to the on-the-ground guidance of a friend living there.

Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund Image

Here’s the donation page I encountered, and I have to tell you, I was confused.

Take a close look. You’ll see that GlobalGiving asks donors to choose between one-time and monthly giving. In fact, rather than finding the emphasis on asap funds that I anticipated, the matching gift opportunity for monthly gifts motivated me to give that way.

My expectation of the emphasis on right-now, one-time donations was pure assumption, but the double ask spurred my curiosity on what the expert GlobalGiving fundraisers were up to. So I was thrilled to learn their take on the importance of monthly relief giving in the thank you email I received shortly after my gift:

Making a recurring donation is an easy way to ensure that your favorite projects receive ongoing support. … In the coming months, you’ll receive authentic progress updates as they are posted by the projects. You’ll know how your contribution is being put to work and the results that are being achieved.

A few days later, I came to understand even more via this project report email:

Thank you for being part of an incredible global community that is deeply committed to building and supporting a community of local nonprofits, who, after disasters, are often best positioned to provide the long-term recovery work that communities need long after the news stories have faded from the headlines.

Thanks so much to these fundraising experts who opened my eyes to the value of long-view disaster-relief funding. Not to mention the matching gift.

How do you decide whether to ask for a one-time or monthly donation or both? Please share your responses in the comments section. Thank you.

P.S. GlobalGiving’s twofold ask for a one-time and a monthly donation did confuse me. As a rule, I recommend making one ask—a single call to action—at a time. Nobody can do two things at once. Pushing your people to sequence two steps or to decide between two alternatives is work. It’s likely to diminish response.

But this example is tricky. The time sensitivity of disaster fundraising limits the opportunity for a series of one-at-a-time asks. The matching gift offer for monthly donations was time limited as well. However, many folks, like me, think of relief giving as a one-off. What would you have done?


With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build 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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Fri, July 17 2015

Watch this Brilliant Second-by-Second Storytelling Masterpiece

Liz Ragland's avatar

Senior Content and Marketing Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Marketing essentials •

After Caryn’s webinar on Tuesday, Storytelling with the Emotional Brain, I came across this video in my Facebook feed. It was posted last year, so you may have already seen it. Watch it now:

Wow. I mean… WOW. Doesn’t it hit you hard? This is storytelling to the max, revealed in one-second intervals. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what’s happening in every shot. I watched it four times before I noticed the news broadcast’s grim report and the newspaper declaring martial law.

This just great storytelling in general, but it also hits the eight essential storytelling ingredients that we recommend nonprofits include in their appeals. Here they are:

Emotion

1. Emotion

Lots of emotions run throughout the entire video. In the beginning, the girl is happy, cheerful, and silly, and then she’s scared, heartbroken, and defeated in the end. I’m sure you’re also scared for her and her family, right?

2. Compelling Opening

It’s a birthday party. Nothing special, but the plainness of the event makes you wonder what’s going to happen. Why is the birthday important?

Compelling Opening
a relatable protagonist

3. A relatable protagonist

This little girl could be your neighbor. Her grandma embarrasses her with cheek pinching. She plays in the park with her dad. Her schoolmate tries to sneak a kiss. She’s practicing her musical instrument. These are all totally relatable experiences for all ages in all pockets of the world.

4. Desire

It’s obvious that her family is trying to get to safety. You can tell they’re motivated to get out of the war zone they have been thrust into.

Desire
Ample conflict

5. Ample conflict

If the gunshots aren’t ample conflict for you, I don’t know what is.

6. Compelling imagery

Since the story is told with the face of a little girl, her experiences (both happy and scary) keep you watching.

Compelling imagery
Real details

7. Real details

There are just enough details in her typical day that we understand this girl lives a happy life and we see where her life takes a huge turn. The level of detail within each second is just enough for us to grasp the situation without making us take in too many ideas at once. The details in her face and in her expressions alone, regardless of the sounds and picture around her, are enough for us to figure out what’s going on.

8. What happens next?

This is where the video is a little unclear. Luckily, there is a call to action box on the YouTube video throughout the video displaying the text-to-give phone numbers.

What happens next?

If you missed this week’s webinar, no worries: Just download the archived version. You’ll get an in-depth explanation of these eight ingredients that were brilliantly illustrated by Save the Children’s video, as well as mistakes to avoid and the science behind storytelling’s impact on our minds (and hearts).

Storytelling for the Emotional Brain
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Wed, July 15 2015

Fundraising Data That Keeps on Giving: The IDB Report Is Back!

Liz Ragland's avatar

Senior Content and Marketing Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Big Thoughts on Giving • Fundraising essentials •

Heather Yandow

Editor’s note: This post was written by Heather Yandow of Third Space Studio and founder of the Individual Donor Benchmark Report.

What is the fundraising potential for small and mighty nonprofits? How can organizations expand their individual donor programs and see increased success? For nonprofits with budgets under $2 million, the guide to more strategic and successful fundraising is available now!

Download the 2014 Individual Donor Benchmark Report.

Record Year for Data

The 2014 Individual Donor Benchmark (IDB) Report, developed by Third Space Studio and BC/DC Ideas, is back with new data and resources tailored to a special kind of organization: small and mighty nonprofits with budgets under $2 million. Growing to a record-setting 87 participating organizations in 2014, the project continues to empower small and medium nonprofit organizations to understand their donor potential and enhance their fundraising strategies.

2014 IDB Infographic

Universal Truths of Fundraising

“The IDB Project is unique to the nonprofit sector because no other survey offers this kind of in-depth fundraising analysis to benefit nonprofits of this size,” said Heather Yandow, of Third Space Studio. “This year’s report uncovered some fascinating trends and offers vital resources every nonprofit can utilize to empower their fundraisers and see even greater success.”

Four years of data have been collected, and we’re starting to see trends emerge. From this year’s IDB Project, several “universal truths” were identified that will have a huge impact on how small and mighty nonprofits expand their fundraising:

  • The single most important thing you can do to strengthen your individual donor fundraising is create a plan.
  • The average small but mighty nonprofit raises 36 percent of its revenue from individual donors.
  • The average gift for nonprofits of this size is about $400.
  • About 16 percent of individual donor revenue is generated online.
  • About half of individual donor revenue is generated from donors giving $1,000 or more.
  • Fewer than half of all board members play a significant role in individual donor fundraising.
  • Higher-paid development staff = more donations. If you have a fundraising plan, for every $1 more you that pay your primary individual donor fundraiser, you are able to raise another $4.25.
  • More donor meetings = more donations. With a plan, each donor meeting yields more than $5,000 in increased donor revenue.

Yandow added, “Seeing such a huge increase in participation this year shows that smaller nonprofits find value in the IDB Project and have a proven need for this level of tailored data and established best practices. It’s exciting to see organizations so committed to understanding their data and learning new strategies to effectively increase their individual donor fundraising success.”

“It’s an exciting time to be a small and mighty nonprofit, and the IDB Project is further proof that your budget doesn’t have to be outstanding to create real, positive impact in your community or to set new goals for your organization’s fundraising achievement,” said Dawn Crawford, principle communicator of BC/DC Ideas.

Next Step to Successful Fundraising

Are you ready to get empowered? Fundraisers and leaders who take the time to participate in this survey are interested in making their nonprofit more successful, moving their cause forward, and building better relationships with activists, donors, and supporters.

The hope is that these nonprofits, armed with data tailored for small- to medium-size organizations, will feel empowered to take their fundraising to the next level of success. -

Results of the annual survey have been compiled into a specialized report and infographic to serve as a multimedia resource and guide to empower nonprofit fundraising success.

Third Space Studio, based in Durham, North Carolina, collected and analyzed the survey. BC/DC Ideas, a Raleigh-based communications firm, designed the report and infographic. Both organizations specialize in nonprofit strategy, communications, and fundraising.

Thanks to the generous partners of the Individual Donor Benchmark Project: Third Space Studio, BC/DC Ideas, Network for Good, NeonCRM, Delve Analytics, Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training, Little Green Light, and AGH Strategies.

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