Mon, April 27 2015

4 Thank You Musts for Monthly Donors

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Recurring Giving •

Editor’s note:  Our thoughts are with those affected by the massive earthquake and aftershocks in Nepal. You can help. To donate to the relief efforts, visit our disaster response page.


We’re in the last few days of our Recurring Giving Challengecheck out which campaigns are sitting atop our leaderboard and are in the running for their share of $20K in challenge rewards!

You’ve put a lot of work into recruiting recurring gifts from your supporters. Once you have monthly donors on board, you can just coast, right?

WRONG.

Even though they have set up and committed to a recurring gift, you still need to cultivate and build relationships with these donors. While thanking monthly donors isn’t much different than thanking donors in general, there is one big difference:  you have a lot more riding on monthly donors, as their lifetime value is likely to be much greater than your average one-time donor.

Use your thank you letter as an opportunity to show gratitude, but also to lay the groundwork for a long-term relationship. Donor gratitude is so important we have an entire guide devoted just to this very topic. Here are four musts for your thank yous to monthly donors:

1. Be prompt.
In addition to an immediate, personalized confirmation that their gift was processed successfully, you should thank your sustainers within a few days of setting up their recurring donation. Have a plan in place to make this happen quickly and make it a priority. Your goal is to keep that warm fuzzy feeling going as soon as possible after the gift was initiated. You may wish to send an email, a written note, or follow up with a phone call. It wouldn’t hurt to do all three over the course of those first few months once someone joins your monthly giving program.

2. Be personal.
In addition to addressing the donor by name, sign your thank you letters from a real person. Promise me that you won’t send thank yous that start out with “dear friend” or “dear supporter.” Not only is it boring and mechanical, it sends a signal of “we can’t be bothered.” Also, get creative with who signs your electronic and mailed letters–a board member, a volunteer, or a beneficiary can add significance to your acknowledgement. Make sure there is a real live human behind your stewardship efforts.

3. Be genuine.
Express your sincere gratitude and let your monthly donors know what their ongoing support will mean for your organization. Tell a short, emotion-filled story or share an example that shows the human impact of a recurring gift. Remind the donor what they are making possible. Tug at the heartstrings and bring your mission to life. This reinforces your donor’s decision to give an sustaining gift.

4. Be specific.
I covered the idea of specificity earlier this month, but it bears repeating because it’s so important. Include details about when, why, and what the donor is giving and which programs or results their recurring gift will support. All donors want to know that their gift is making a difference, and rich details help donors know their gift was noticed and appreciated.

Want more help thanking your monthly donors? Download our Recurring Donor Communication Guide and Templates for examples you can use today.

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Fri, April 24 2015

How Giving is Growing Online: The Latest from the Digital Giving Index

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Big Thoughts on Giving • Fundraising essentials •

Where is online giving going? How do you capture more digital dollars for your cause?

To make a smart plan for your digital giving spend and online fundraising strategy, you need to understand how donors are giving online. Since 2010, Network for Good has published the Digital Giving Index which looks at online giving trends across the Network for Good platform, including both branded and generic donation pages, social fundraising sites, portal giving, and employee giving.

The Network for Good’s Digital Giving Index data represents $233 million in giving for 2014 representing donations to 45,000 charities. While online donations still represent less than 10% of all charitable giving, the growth of online giving continues to outpace the rate of growth for overall giving. In 2014, the donations on Network for Good’s online giving platform increased 23% over 2013.

Digital Giving Index 2014

Here are a few key takeaways from our giving data:

The Channel Matters

Donors give differently depending on the online giving channel they use. While we see portal giving spike during times of disaster or at the end of the year, we still see the majority of online donations coming in through a nonprofit’s website via an online giving page.

Average gift size also fluctuates depending on the channel. The largest average donations come in through employee giving, as these donations are often influenced by corporate matching gifts. 

Donation by Channel

The Experience Matters

Think all giving pages are the same? For online donors, the giving experience matters.

Generic vs. Branded

Year after year we find that nonprofits raise more on branded giving pages vs. generic giving experiences, e-commerce-style solutions, or charity giving portals. Donors are more likely to give, give larger amounts, and initiate more recurring gifts on branded giving pages that look and feel like a nonprofit’s website or fundraising campaign. This makes sense as these types of giving experience offer donors an easy and cohesive experience that keeps them in the moment of giving.

The Rise of Social Fundraising

Social fundraising itself isn’t new, but the power of social media combined with personal networks—along with the ease of online fundraising pages—have enabled this type of peer giving to really take off.

The impact of peer fundraising and socially-driven campaigns has increased dramatically as the tools and communication channels that make it easy for donors to advocate on organizations’ behalf have become mainstream. Social fundraising has seen explosive growth over the last few years, with donation volume growing 70% in 2014. Better still, the average donation amount for gifts through these campaigns has grown 52% just in the last year.

Growth by Channel

Want more insight on social fundraising and how you can use it to expand your reach? Download our free Secrets to Social Fundraising Success guide.

Big Giving on Big Days

It’s no surprise that giving fluctuates over time. We know that average online donation amounts shift with events, such as disasters or giving days, or seasonality. Donors give the largest gifts at the end of the year and during #GivingTuesday.

Average Gift by Date

Of course, December still drives a big share of annual giving. In 2014, 31% of all dollars came in during the month of December with 12% of annual giving happening on the last three days of the year.

Generous Procrastinators

To make the most of these big giving days, it’s crucial to have a solid online giving program in place with a donation experience that fully expresses your case for giving.

View and download the full infographic, and grab a copy of our new companion Online Fundraising Report for more insight on how donors are giving online and how you can make the most of your digital strategy.

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Tue, April 21 2015

What Is Social Fundraising Anyway?

Liz Ragland's avatar

Senior Content and Marketing Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Social fundraising is empowering your supporter base to fundraise on your behalf. Social fundraising is also known as peer-to-peer fundraising, P2P, or personal fundraising.

Think beyond the walkathon

When you think of social fundraising, you probably think of a walkathon, dance marathon, or another event that social fundraisers will attend. Although this is the best-known type of social fundraising, you don’t have to have an event to justify launching a social fundraising campaign.

Project-focused vs. mission-focused fundraising

The most successful social fundraising campaigns are project-based campaigns. Project-based campaigns drive support and excitement about a specific initiative. It’s much easier to encourage social fundraisers to reach out to potential donors with a project-based ask than with a broad appeal.

  • More often than not, when you send an appeal to donors, you are asking them to support your mission. You might feature a story about a client or a recent success, but the story is usually directly related to your day-to-day programming and not a specific need. I like to call this mission-focused fundraising. You are asking donors to support what you do every day. Donors’ dollars help you accomplish your mission.

  • Project-focused fundraising asks donors to fund something specific. There’s a fundraising goal in mind and (usually) a deadline. Here’s an example: A food bank needs to upgrade its freezer by the end of the summer. The board has been recruited as social fundraisers to hit a $15,000 goal.

How do you recruit social fundraisers?

In a traditional fundraising model, you (the nonprofit) send appeals to acquire donors or ask existing donors to give again. In a social fundraising model, you must recruit and motivate supporters to step into the role of fundraiser. Then, you empower these fundraisers to ask their social circle for donations.

Your social fundraising campaign will be the most successful when you find advocates who are excited to serve as fundraisers. Start by reaching out to five to 10 loyal supporters. They could be board members or longtime volunteers. Begin recruiting with people you know and those who know your organization’s mission. Equip these social fundraisers with the tools they need to recruit donors: email templates, a social fundraising donation page, FAQs, and confidence.

PFTC Screen Grab

When to host a social fundraising campaign

Social fundraising campaigns see the most success when the campaign has a firm deadline. Without a date for an event (like a walkathon) on the calendar, how do you set a deadline and put pressure on your fundraisers to bring in donations during a defined time period? It’s not that hard, but you need to get creative.

Think about the timing of holidays and celebrations throughout the year and how you could easily piggyback on these dates. If your cause has an awareness month, use those 30 days as your social campaign timeline. If your cause works with single mothers, a campaign ending on Mother’s Day would be a good fit.

Or think about the nature of your work and any natural timelines that arise. Do you host a summer camp? Organize a social fundraising campaign a month before campers arrive, and announce the total dollars raised during the first meal the campers share together. Does your food bank host a big Thanksgiving meal? Craft a campaign in November that ends on Thanksgiving.

Are you ready?

Although this is not a new model of fundraising, it is evolving thanks to technology and the new ways we share stories and communicate. Social fundraising might be something your supporters have been waiting for. Are you ready for it?

social fundraising guide
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Thu, April 16 2015

The Key to More Effective Donor Communication

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Marketing essentials •

To truly connect with donors and inspire them to become a part of the work that you do, you need to speak to them. Really speak to them. This means getting extremely clear on the message you’re trying to send, and making it incredibly relevant to why they care about your mission in the first place.

This is why the key to more effective communication is specificity

When your emails and other communications are specific, they can be more relevant, interesting, and authentic. Your job as a marketer or fundraiser is to definitively answer the question, “Why me?”  You can’t do that with broad and generic messages. Generic messages are not just typically boring; studies have shown that vague statements can introduce skepticism among readers. Definitely not the feeling you want to evoke!

How do you make your message more specific, and in turn, more relevant? Think about the unique stories your donors have when they relate to your cause. Group donors into meaningful categories based on:

  • their giving history/habits.
  • the programs they support.
  • how they came to your organization.
  • their ongoing relationship with your organization.


When you can segment your supporters into specific groups that speak to these qualities, you can tailor your messages just for them. A personalized, relevant message will make it much easier for you to break through and hold their attention.

For best results, your comprehensive communication plan should include:

  • a list of key segments for your organization
  • how your organization defines each segment
  • the historical and projected fundraising results from each group
  • the specific tactics and messages that will help you build relationships with each type of donor

Map out how each segment relates to the rest of your audience and which triggers move someone from one group to another. If you don’t have this data, start by talking with your most loyal donors to find out what has them giving year after year. Then, put a plan in place to regularly collect and track this information. 

How do you make this happen? The right tools can transform your communications approach. A customer relationship management (CRM) system, such as Salesforce, or a donor management solution, like DonorPerfect, can help you organize and track these crucial details about your supporters and enable you to segment and communicate with your donors more effectively, strengthening their relationship with you and improving your fundraising results.

Want to find out how to combine your online fundraising efforts with better donor management? Learn how Network for Good’s platform integrates with the top solutions and see how you can boost individual giving for your nonprofit.

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Mon, April 06 2015

Increasing Your Monthly Gifts

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

Read more by this author

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Recurring Giving •

The Recurring Giving Challenge is in full swing and our top contenders are on the leaderboard. Check out the campaigns in the lead to get inspiration for your own monthly giving program. The challenge runs through April 30, so there’s still time to join!

Monthly donors are so valuable because they give more over the course of one year vs. one-time donors, and they’re more loyal, with retention rates of 80% or higher. They’re also more likely to build on their investment once they’ve seen the impact their gift can have. The good news is that by upgrading monthly donors even by just a few dollars per month, you can raise 20-30% more from per sustainer each year.

So, how do you do it? Here are four tips on increasing monthly gift amounts from existing recurring givers:

1.  Have a solid stewardship plan in place. Before you even think about asking a monthly donor to upgrade, you must have regular communications going out to thank your sustainers and tell them how their gift is being used. In addition to a great thank you letter, celebrate your monthly donors in your newsletters and reach out to them to show them how they are helping you accomplish your mission. They need to know their gift is making a difference before they’ll give more.

2.  Illustrate the impact. Be sure to answer the question “What for?” in your upgrade appeal. What more will be accomplished if they increase their contribution? How many more meals can you serve or patients could you treat with the additional contribution? Remember: be specific and show the human impact that will result from the increased amount.

3. Show your social proof. Donors are more inclined to take action if they see that others doing the same. Let your donors know how many others have already upgraded and offer a testimonial from another donor who has increased their gift. You’ll establish a social norm that signals to the donor that the action you want them to take is one that is seen as the right thing to do.

4. Make it incredibly easy to do. Just as with the initial set up of the monthly gift, you want to remove every roadblock that might get in the way of your donor and the path to increasing the monthly contribution. Make it easy for them to upgrade with clear instructions and a system that will allow them to log in and update their monthly amount, as well as any contact or payment details that may have changed. Have a plan to follow up with donors who have indicated interest in upgrading, but have not yet done so. They may just need a little help or personal encouragement.

How soon?

Once your donors have committed to recurring gifts, when should you ask them to up the amount? Here’s what we learned from Erica Waasdorp during one of our Nonprofit 911 webinars:

An upgrade ask between nine and 12 months is ideal. First, make sure payments are coming in regularly and that your communications plan is in place (thank you emails, tax letters, contact plan for things like expired or canceled credit cards, etc.). Then make the ask, and remember even small, incremental increases add up!

Want more tips on creating and maintaining your monthly giving program? Check out the other posts in this series, or download our free Quick-Start Guide to Recurring Giving.

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