Mon, April 07 2014

How to Rock Crowdfunding and Giving Days—Free Webinar

Caryn Stein's avatar

Director of Content Strategy, Network for Good

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Planning a giving day this year? Thinking of joining one? The power of crowdfunding and a dedicated fundraising event can attract new donors to your cause and help you raise more money, but it doesn’t happen by chance. Part of any effective giving day is the network of support and resources a community giving day can offer. To that end, we have an amazing session scheduled this week to help you get the most out of your efforts. Tomorrow, Lori Finch, Kimbia’s Vice President of Community Foundations, will join us to share a foolproof game plan for getting the most out of any giving day.

In this free webinar, we’ll cover:

  • How giving days work
  • The key strategies for crowdfunding success
  • What you need to do to take advantage of available resources and raise more money during a 24-hour giving event

Plus, we’ll have plenty of time to answer all of your burning questions. Whether or not you have a giving day on your calendar, don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about adding crowdfunding and giving days to your fundraising portfolio.

Free Webinar:  Crowdfunding Events—How to Drive Donations in One Day
Tuesday April 8, 2014 | 1pm EDT
Register Now.

(Can’t attend on Tuesday?  Register anyway to get access to the recording and slides. We’ll send them right to your inbox!)


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Mon, March 31 2014

Don’t Like the Answer You’re Getting? Change the Question

Melissa Raimondi's avatar

Content Producer, Network for Good

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

As the volunteer coordinator for Gift of Life Michigan, Kim Zasa sent volunteers to church fairs and festivals in the hope that people would want to become organ donors. Although she had 800 volunteers attending countless events, only 11% of Michigan’s residents were organ donors. Today that number is about 33%.

So what changed? How did Gift of Life Michigan recruit so many new donors?

According to a recent story on NPR, responses changed when Kim convinced the state to have DMV clerks ask customers, “Would you like to be an organ donor?” Putting your ask—and your resources—in the right place at the right time is the key to getting the results you want!

1.   Determine what’s not working—and be willing to experiment.
Kim had an army of volunteers at her disposal who were willing to drive long distances for a cause they believed in. When she didn’t see the results she wanted, she took action.

Is there an area of your nonprofit that isn’t seeing the results you’d like? Don’t just assume things will improve. Determine what’s working and what’s not, and then brainstorm about what you can do differently.

2.   Analyze how you’re using your resources.
Instead of sending her volunteers on road trips, Kim put them to work in other ways and employed stationary DMV employees to make the ask. These clerks regularly saw almost the entire adult population of the state, so they were well positioned to speak to more people than Kim’s volunteers were.

Are you using the resources you have—both time and money—to their full capacity? Are volunteers solving a pain point for you and helping you in the most beneficial way? If not, how can you modify their tasks to be more effective for your cause?

3.  Put your question in the right place at the right time.
Instead of making the ask in places where people weren’t already making decisions beyond ice cream or cotton candy, Kim combined the ask with an established routine. If someone wanted to become a donor at a festival, they had to take multiple steps and time out of their entertainment to sign up. Making the ask at the DMV made it easy for potential donors to say yes, with no extra action required.

Are you positioning your request in the best way possible? Does saying yes require multiple steps that make it less likely you’ll see the result you want? For instance, when you ask for donations online, do your supporters first have to click through multiple pages, or is it simply one click and done?

Think about how you can adjust how, when, and where you’re making an ask to better your odds of getting through to your target audience. Have you tried something similar? Share your results and suggestions in the comments below!

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Wed, March 26 2014

New Study: Are You Leaving Money in the Middle?

Caryn Stein's avatar

Director of Content Strategy, Network for Good

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Mind the gap.

That’s the advice in a new report on mid-level donor programs. The folks at Sea Change Strategies caution that nonprofits are missing out on a ton of money simply because they’re overlooking a committed and productive audience: middle donors —the donors who give more than low-dollar direct marketing donations, but less than major gift targets.

The Missing Middle whitepaperTHE MISSING MIDDLE: Neglecting Middle Donors Is Costing You Millions, by Sea Change Strategies’ Alia McKee and Mark Rovner, does double duty as a wake-up call and roadmap for creating effective mid-level donor programs. The study is based on interviews and data from 27 organizations and experts, including heavy hitters like Roger Craver and nonprofits such as The Nature Conservancy and the Human Rights Campaign. The free whitepaper includes:

  • 8 habits of highly-effective mid-level donor programs
  • A sample framework for a 30-day action plan
  • In-depth profiles of two highly effective mid-level programs

Fresh from the AFP conference in San Antonio, Alia McKee shares some more insight about The Missing Middle:

How do you distinguish mid-level giving from a major donor program? Is it simply the dollar amount or are there other things going on here?
Alia: It’s really about the dollar amount. Of course the definition of middle donor varies from organization to organization, but it tends to hover anywhere between $250-$9,000 cumulative in a year.

In the report, you touch on possible challenges on getting executive buy-in.  Can you give us some ideas on how to make the case for investing in a mid-level donor program?
Alia:1. Among the groups participating in the Wired Wealthy Study, donors at the $1,000 to $10,000 levels (annual giving via all channels) represented roughly one percent of the donor population, but were giving more than a third of the dollars. That’s a HUGE amount of revenue.
2. Middle donors are actually an organization’s most committed donors. They will be retained and upgraded far more than smaller donors and far more than major donors. They represent a very significant block of money, commitment and loyalty.
3. A functional and philosophical gap exists between direct marketing programs and major gifts programs. Hence, middle donors often receive lackluster treatment that is driven by attribution wars and resentment across the organizational divide. But their capacity to give is huge—so minor tweaks to their treatment can yield big results in revenue.

What was the biggest surprise for you in this research?
Alia:  Despite the fact that every fundraiser and expert we talked to universally agreed that mid-level donors are exceptionally valuable, they also agreed that most organizations haven’t made the kinds of investments necessary to make the most of this immense opportunity.

Can small shops pursue a mid-level donor program?
Alia:  Absolutely. Small changes in stewardship of middle donors can yield results regardless of an organization’s size. Of course, capacity is an issue. But many nonprofits we spoke to approached this creatively including:

  • Staff pizza parties to stuff personalized mailers to middle donors
  • Volunteer phone calls to middle donors thanking them for their support
  • More substantive content to middle donors culled from other organizational communications

Can your online efforts help your mid-level strategy?
Alia:  Digital outreach is not the silver bullet when it comes to middle donors. You must communicate with those donors across channels (e.g. be channel agnostic) and give them substantive communications in person, via phone, by notecard or by email. Ideally, you’d reach them through their self-selected preferred channels.

Just for fun:  Monie in the Middle or Malcolm in the Middle?
Alia:  Malcolm in the Middle, but only because of Bryan Cranston!

Get in touch with your Missing Middle. Download the report for free.


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Tue, March 18 2014

Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops: An Interview with Amy Eisenstein

Caryn Stein's avatar

Director of Content Strategy, Network for Good

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Pursuing major gifts: it’s one of those things we know we should do, but for some organizations it may seem too overwhelming—or even impossible. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way. Amy Eisenstein of Tri Point Fundraising has demystified major gift programs for small and medium-sized organizations. I asked Amy to share a little bit about her latest book, Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops.


What prompted you to write Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops?
Amy: I wrote Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops because it seems to me that most nonprofits are too reliant on the “hamster wheel” of fundraising—grant writing, event planning, and bulk mail. But given that as few as the top ten percent of donors give up to ninety percent of an organization’s gifts, I know that most small nonprofit organizations would raise significantly more money if they invested time and resources in raising major gifts from individual supporters. One of my main goals is to help all nonprofits raise more money so they can change and save more lives—this book will help small and medium-sized organizations that haven’t yet started soliciting major gifts to do just that.

What is the biggest hurdle for small nonprofits who are trying to implement a successful major gifts program?
Amy: There are actually two large hurdles: time and knowledge. Given that professional fundraising training is a relatively new thing, most fundraising professionals working today (particularly in small shops) have never been taught how to ask for four, five, or higher-figure gifts. Major Gifts Fundraising for Small Shops tackles both issues with an easy to follow, step-by-step approach that teaches everything readers need to know.

How do major gifts fit in with other kinds of fundraising an organization may be pursuing? Is there a magic formula for determining how much time/effort you spend on each funding stream?
Amy: Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula. It would be wonderful to have one, wouldn’t it? However, it is well known that major gifts (and planned giving) are the least expensive types of fundraising (events are typically the most expensive). In the book, I recommend that readers commit five hours per week to raising major gifts, which leaves them thirty-five hours or more for their other efforts. As their major gifts program becomes successful and fruitful, they will naturally want to spend more time in this arena. Success is a great incentive!

Do you have some examples of small orgs who have a great major gifts program in place?
Amy: Many organizations that participated in the Major Gifts Challenge on my blog (which was the foundation for this book) are starting to have increasing success with major gifts. I’ve heard back from readers whose organizations are receiving their first $10,000 gifts and from others that are asking for and receiving major gifts on a more regular basis.
In the book, you talk about building deeper relationships with major gifts prospects. How does this approach differ (if at all) from cultivating other types of donors?
Amy: We all know that fundraising is about creating and building relationships. Cultivating major donors is the same thing, but at a much deeper, more meaningful level. Most organizations build those relationships with lower-level donors by inviting them to a large event and/or sending them newsletters. With major gift donors, the cultivation process is all about in-person, one-on-one meetings—and more overall personalized approach.

Amy has a special offer for those of you who buy the book online today. Check out the details and keep us posted on how your major gift efforts are going at your organization.

Amy EisensteinAmy Eisenstein, ACFRE, is an author, speaker, coach and fundraising consultant who’s dedicated to making nonprofit development simple for you and your board. In addition to Major Gift Fundraising for Small Shops, she’s also the author of 50 A$ks in 50 Weeks and Raising More with Less.

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Mon, March 17 2014

Just Released: The Digital Giving Index

Caryn Stein's avatar

Director of Content Strategy, Network for Good

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

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, peer-to-peer fundraising, portal giving, and employee giving.

The latest Digital Giving Index looks at the patterns of online giving for 2013 and shows how donors give across channels. This data represents $190M in giving to 40,000 charities. Thanks to our friends at Plenty Consulting who helped us dig into the data to provide this great analysis.

Digital Giving Index

Online giving is thriving.

Online giving continues to grow at a faster clip than overall giving. For the second straight year, the we’ve seen double digit growth in online fundraising. This echoes other reports in the sector (such as the Blackbaud Index and Giving USA), and really builds the case for creating a strong digital strategy. At Network for Good, we see consistent trends even as online giving methods adapt to changing technology.

Nonprofit donation pages are still key.

So giving is going online, but where and how are donors giving online? On Network for Good’s platform, 61% of online gifts are still made through a charity’s online donation page. For the first time, we added in employee giving as a channel in the Digital Giving Index to show how this type of charitable giving stacks up. We’re seeing an increase in companies who want to offer their employees a way to give back. Network for Good helps provide that technology and we can see how those donations evolve over time. The number of employee donations grew by 83% from 2012 to 2013.

As more digital options become available to donors, they have more choices in how they give and to whom they give. Here are our latest stats on year over year growth in total donations for each channel. As employee giving and peer-to-peer giving become more widespread, they see a high rate of change, but together they still make up less than one third of the total donations we see on our platform.

Online giving growth rate by channel

Not all online giving is the same.
The rate of growth and size of average gifts vary from channel to channel. What we continue to find is that:

  • The channel matters
  • The context matters
  • The experience matters

This shows in the data: donors give more on branded giving pages vs. generic giving experiences, e-commerce-style solutions, or charity giving portals. (Branded giving pages are those donation experiences that look and feel like a nonprofit’s website or campaign materials.)

Donors’ average gifts are also higher on branded giving pages:

  • 12% smaller average gifts on giving portals
  • 20-30% smaller average gifts on generic giving pages
  • Compared to 2012 average gift size decreased by 4% on generic giving pages, but grew on branded giving pages by 4%

Online giving by channel

Volume and average gift size are affected by the seasonality of giving.
The December giving and disasters impact donation levels. These patterns are pretty consistent from year to year, yet show total giving ramping up over time.

Seasonality of Giving

At Network for Good we saw total donations on Giving Tuesday grow 73% from 2012 to 2013, so Giving Tuesday has really established itself as the kickoff for end of year giving.

During these giving spikes obviously gift volume goes up, but gift size also increases towards the end of the year: the largest gifts are given on December 31, followed by Giving Tuesday, and in response to disasters, such as Typhoon Haiyan. These same trends hold true for portal giving and employee giving. This is why it’s extremely important to have a solid online giving program in place, especially in December, but also to capture impulse giving and reactions to crises and events.

Giving is also social.
What we know about giving is that it’s a highly emotional act. It’s often prompted by personal ties, either to a cause or an organization. But giving is also social in that we are influenced very strongly by our networks as well as those we perceive to be our peers.

We can think of social media and peer-to-peer fundraising in the same way. Peer-to-peer fundraising as a concept isn’t new. People have been crowdfunding and raising money through events, contests, and marathons way before online giving. However, the power of social media combined with those peer networks—along with the ease of online giving—have enabled peer-to-peer giving to really take off online.

Peer to Peer Fundraising

It’s worth noting that nonprofits who’ve enabled and empowered their supporters to become active fundraisers are reaping the rewards. What we’ve seen is that nonprofits who add peer-to-peer campaigns to their fundraising portfolio actually end up increasing their core fundraising activity. So P2P doesn’t cannibalize traditional donors or donations, but rather, it’s additive for those who are doing multichannel online fundraising.

Check out the full infographic below, and visit Network for Good to access all of the Digital Giving Index updates.

The Network For Good Digital Giving Index
Digital Giving Index infographic courtesy of Network for Good

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