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.


Go!


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 GettingAttention.org.

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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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Tue, September 02 2014

LUCKY 13: Thirteen weeks to plan for the best giving season ever – starting with #GivingTuesday

Jamie McDonald's avatar

Chief Giving Officer, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Giving Days •

Crunch time!

Can it be…Labor Day weekend is really behind us? 2014 is in the home stretch and that means it is crunch time for nonprofits.

In fact, 30% of the projected $300 billion in total annual donations to charities are made in December — and 10%, or $30 billion, come during the year’s last 48 hours. (Source: NY Post, December 2013)

For most nonprofits, it’s make or break time. And for donors, whether they are motivated by making an impact or by the tax year, December underlines the urgency of giving.

Countdown to #GivingTuesday

The movement that has changed the December giving season since 2012 is #GivingTuesday. It started with a simple idea – to be a counterpoint to the consumerism of Black Friday and CyberMonday. From a couple hundred nonprofits in 2012, #GivingTuesday has grown into an international day of giving with organizations and donors around the globe joining the movement.

Traditionally, year-end givers to nonprofits are loyal supporters or those with personal ties to an organization. Now, nonprofits can harness the energy of #GivingTuesday to engage new donors, and to extend and amplify the giving season.

We know first hand. Last year we led BMoregivesMore, the campaign to make Baltimore the most generous city in America on #GivingTuesday. Nonprofits that participated in BMoreGivesMore reported that between 20% and 60% of donors on that day were new. And more than 80% who shared their results said that they had a comparable or better December overall!

13 Tuesdays to go: We’re here for you.

Despite all the excitement and opportunity of #GivingTuesday, your team has a full plate planning for year-end already. So how do you capitalize on #GivingTuesday?

Network for Good is launching N4G Gives, a national campaign to launch the giving season on #GivingTuesday.

Beginning this week, we’re offering a combination of free and client-only resources to get your team ready. We’re arming ALL nonprofits with the tools, tactics, training and motivation to make this your best December ever.

And for Network for Good clients, we’ll also be offering:

• Two great platforms:

• DonateNow – your customized online giving page to maximize donor conversion

• GiveCorps – a cutting-edge giving platform that offers donors a superior online giving experience, plus crowdfunding and peer-to-peer.

• Exclusive toolkits, expert webinars, specialized coaching, and communications resources

• Matching funds to make your gifts go further

• Visibility with Network for Good donors

What’s the first step?

Start by downloading our comprehensive Giving Days eBook. According to nonprofit thought leader Beth Kanter, it’s a “terrific, free eBook with lots of tips and planning templates to help your organization decide whether to participate.”

Then every Tuesday, we’ll bring you new resources to get ready for #GivingTuesday.

It’s time to plan for your best December ever!

Ready to get started? Our team can help you get your site ready for #GivingTuesday. Set up a time talk with a fundraising consultant today and get a free demo.

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Fri, August 29 2014

How Crowdfunding Can Transform Alumni Giving

Jamie McDonald's avatar

Chief Giving Officer, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Crowdfunding • Fundraising essentials •

“Over the past decade colleges and universities of all stripes have struggled with a truly stunning national decline in alumni participation rates: More than a third fewer alumni make a gift of any size to their alma mater today compared with alumni 10+ years ago.”
Cara Quackenbush of Eduventures

The cost of college, the rise in student loan debt, a weak economy, and uncertain job prospects have all contributed to the rapid decline in alumni giving.

These are issues that advancement offices can’t control.

But there are many factors that drive participation and giving that ARE in the hands of Higher Ed advancement pros and marketers.

The fix for declining Higher Ed participation rates is a reinvention of the Annual Fund.

Think (and act) like a Crowdfunder

The most exciting evolution of the giving economy in the past ten years is Crowdfunding. And Higher Ed is just arriving at the party.

Crowdfunding sits at the intersection between communities, online, social, and giving. It is more than just a strategy for one-off projects; it should be a core strategy for annual giving.

According to Andrew Gossen, Senior Director for Social Media Strategy at Cornell, “Crowdfunding is far more than just a tool for raising money online. It’s also a means of driving participation, teaching a culture of philanthropy, communicating effectively, mobilizing constituents’ networks on behalf of the institution, building and cultivating a donor pipeline, and a fantastic mode of stewardship.”

So, how can you take advantage of this new way of looking at your annual annual fund? I recently presented some ideas with Dayna Carpenter of University of Maryland Baltimore County during this year’s eduWeb conference. Download the presentation for more inspiration for transforming your alumni giving program.

Crowdfunding in Higher Ed Presentation

 

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Thu, August 28 2014

Think your data is too overwhelming? Start here.

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

In the recently released Individual Donor Benchmark Report, the folks at Third Space Studio and BC/DC Ideas looked at fundraising data for organizations with budgets under $2 million. The report contains a wealth of information—including insight on donor communication, recurring giving programs, and technology use—that can help small and medium nonprofits understand how to best reach potential donors.

The research also observed data practices of small nonprofits. Not surprisingly, these organizations often struggle to collect and use their own data to optimize their fundraising approach. Since this information can make a huge difference in the success of a campaign, how can fundraisers make the time to dig into their data to identify new opportunities and communicate more effectively with donors? Consider these three tips on getting started from Third Space Studio’s Heather Yandow:

1. Start small.
It can be overwhelming to think about all of the types of data you could be collecting. If you’re just starting out, focus on tracking just a few key metrics like number of donors, number of new donors, and average gift. Also consider the reports built into your database and fundraising tools.

2. Get the most bang for your buck.
Understand which metrics have the most impact on your fundraising program and start there. Are you struggling with keeping donors year after year? Take a closer look at your retention rate by type of donors (volunteers, activists, major donors) or by channel (online, direct mail, events). Are you considering moving from direct mail to online only? Try an experiment with a subset of your donors and track the results. (Try this simple worksheet to design and track your experiments.)

3. Make it easy for Future You.
Keep a record of how you define your metrics and how you measure them.  A year from now, you may not remember if lapsed members meant someone hadn’t given in one year or two – or if you counted people who bought tickets to your special event as donors. Be sure to capture those distinctions, including how you tricked your database into giving you the data you wanted, in a safe place so that Future You can calculate the data in the same way next time around.

How are you using your fundraising and marketing data to shape your approach with potential and existing donors? Share your tips and challenges in the comments below!

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