Mon, January 26 2015

The Ultimate Donation Page Guide Sneak Peek

Liz Ragland's avatar

Marketing Content Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Websites and web usability •

The Ultimate Donation Page Guide

I’m excited to announce that we’ve just published our most comprehensive resource featuring all of our best practices and helpful tips for building successful online donation pages. The Ultimate Donation Page Guide is 27 pages of helpful tips and best practices that guide you through the process of building a fantastic online donation page (or refining an existing page) that gets donors to give, give big, and give again.

You can use this guide as a helpful resource throughout the year, or, if you’re motivated to overhaul your online giving process right now, you can use it as a step-by-step guide to thoroughly navigate every detail that will help your online donation page perform better.

Here’s an excerpt:

Constructing a Proper Donation Page

A lot goes into creating effective donation pages, but that doesn’t mean a lot should go on them!

How Clutter Steals Donations from Your Cause

All too often, nonprofits give people too many ways to leave their donation page without completing a gift, including:

  • Too many fields. Online usability experts generally agree that when a form includes a lot of fields, a visitor is less likely to complete it.
  • Too many links. Links or navigation elements that lead visitors away from your donation page increase the odds that a prospective donor will click away without completing it.
  • Too much text. Additional text on your page requires your donor to do more work and can trigger “fine print” skepticism.
  • Too many images. Photos on your donation page seem like a good idea but can confuse and distract donors, especially when the images don’t communicate why a donation matters.
  • Too much complexity. More complex options on your page make potential donors less likely to complete your form.
  • Too many steps. The more pages there are to complete, the more likely a donor is to abandon the process.

When it takes us more time or effort to do something, we’re less likely to do it at all. It’s just human nature! In other words, all that extra “stuff” = work.

Tip: Before adding anything to your donation page, ask yourself, “Will this make it easier for donors to give?”

This guide goes beyond just constructing a better donation page. You’ll also find:

  • The secrets of donation page design
  • Calls to action that get results
  • Giving options that make a difference
  • The brain science of online giving
  • The mechanics of testing and tracking (and a step-by-step guide on how to do an a/b test)
  • Optimizing special campaigns
  • The wonders of a great post-donation experience
  • How to get more people to your donation page

Download the guide now and let us know what you think!

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Tue, January 20 2015

Next Frontier of Storytelling in the Nonprofit Sector

Liz Ragland's avatar

Marketing Content Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Writing •

Vanessa Chase HeadshotEditor’s note: This post was written by Vanessa Chase, founder of The Storytelling Non-Profit. You can check out more thoughts on storytelling on her blog. Or, if you’re in the mood to watch a webinar on storytelling, you can download the archived version of her Nonprofit911 webinar.

Storytelling is quickly becoming part of the everyday fabric of nonprofit fundraising and communications. While some might suggest that storytelling is simply the latest and greatest trend, much evidence suggests that it’s a fundamental type of human communication working its way into organizational communications. We are entering a new era where organizational communication will no longer be sterile, dry, and boring. Instead, it will sound human. This is the new standard that storytelling and narrative communications are bringing to our sector.

As we hit the ground running in 2015, I anticipate seeing a greater volume of storytelling from nonprofits. This probably comes as no surprise to you. More organizations of varying sizes and causes will hop on the storytelling bus. They will find unique ways to talk about their impact, great staff, and amazing donors. We will hear these stories through the written word, photos, videos, and more. A great many stories will be told online because of the range of formats available to tell them. Many online story platforms are considered to be more interesting and engaging than print.

What else can we expect to see in 2015? Here are two emerging trends that will likely come to the forefront this year.

Storytelling in Stewardship

Donor retention has been a hot topic over the past few years. It is a well-known fact that for many years, organizations were losing more donors than they were retaining. Last year, however, reports showed that the sector retention rates are on the rise. This can largely be attributed to organizations putting a greater emphasis on donor stewardship. Thank you notes, phone calls, and other little touches all add up. What’s more, stories are the perfect type of content to use in stewardship materials. They naturally illustrate impact and outcomes while connecting people through shared emotional experiences.

This year, I think we’ll see more nonprofits overturning conventional approaches to donor stewardship and utilizing stories as a key part of stewardship content. Union Gospel Mission uses stories in its newsletters to show donors how they make the organization’s mission possible. Rather than sharing a ton of dry statistics, the YMCA of Greater Vancouver uses stories in its annual report to talk about impact.

Storytelling in stewardship tip: Take a look at your current thank you letter. Look for the instances where you talk about impact and see if you can find a relevant story to include that will help donors visualize their gift in action.

Community Storytelling

One thing I value most about storytelling is that it communicates emotions and experiences in a way that helps people empathize with each other. This is how connections are made and communities are formed. Nonprofits are uniquely positioned at the center of many constituent groups and have the opportunity to facilitate storytelling between members of their community. Online or offline, donor or nondonor, it doesn’t matter where or who. What matters is that in these various places, we invite people to share their own stories. The benefit of this practice is creating stronger communities to which people truly feel they have a tie.

There are many examples of how organizations crowdsource community stories, which are then shared on websites and social media. The University of Arkansas’ annual giving program has a special landing page where donors can share their stories. The university then uses donor stories on its giving website. Here’s one example:

U of A Stories

Community storytelling tip: Reach out to your active social media followers and ask if they have a story they would like to tell. Encourage them to share a story about their passion for the cause or a personal connection they have to your mission. If you want to get the best stories, a phone conversation or in-person meeting is best.

These are just two storytelling trends we’ll see in 2015. With so many rapid changes in digital media, we’re bound to see even more exciting storytelling techniques emerge.

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Thu, January 15 2015

2014 Year-End Giving Results in Big Win Online for Nonprofits

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

It’s no secret that year-end giving is an important source of donation dollars for most nonprofits. Last year was no exception and we saw a lot of “generous procrastinators” giving big online in December 2014. When we looked at organizations who received donations on the Network for Good platform in both December 2013 and December 2014, we saw an 18% increase in total donation volume year over year.  A few other important notes about year-end giving results:

  • The total number of donations also grew year over year. In December 2014, 22% more donations were made to charities through Network for Good compared to December 2013.

  • As expected, #GivingTuesday was a big driver of December donations on the Network for Good platform in 2014, with over $4.5M raised on December 2. This represented a 148% increase over total donation volume on #GivingTuesday 2013.

  • December giving also accounted for 30% of all online donations made to nonprofits through Network for Good in 2014, with 10% of all annual giving happening on the last three days of the year. This stat has remained consistent for the last 5 years, underscoring the significance of year-end giving on overall fundraising results.

  • The average gift size for the month of December also increased by 6.5% compared to 2013.

Want more insight on how online giving is growing? Stay tuned! In February, we’ll release our Digital Giving Index, which will take a closer look at online giving trends. We’ll share where, how, and how much donors gave across our digital channels in 2014.

How did your year-end fundraising campaigns perform? Chime in with your experiences in the comments and let us know what you plan to build on—or change—in 2015!

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Mon, January 12 2015

Donor Love Part Two: Get Clued into Stronger Donor Relationships—Recommit to Your Privacy Policy

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Donor Love

Got 2 minutes? Please tell us what you're doing to strengthen donor relationships, and/or what's in your way. Thanks!

Let me guess! You:

  • Can’t see how your organization’s privacy policy relates to donor loyalty.
  • Rely on your tech colleagues to handle everything related to your privacy policy.
  • Are done! You know your organization dealt with its privacy policy way back when as you launched your first website and bulk emails. What’s to talk about?

Get a clue!

Here’s why recommitting to your privacy policy is an important step to stronger donor relationships:

1. Donors are sharing more personal data than ever before. Your organization relies on insights drawn from that data, so you want to keep it coming.

Consider Colonel Mustard. The data your organization has on him has greatly expanded in breadth and depth since he first shared his name and email address seven years ago to subscribe to your e-tips on healthy eating.

By now, Colonel Mustard’s data spans multiple interactions across programs, campaigns, channels, and time. What was once anecdotally noted is now systematically tracked and easily accessed and analyzed—seven years of activity, from his initial $20 donation to your nonprofit’s anti-pesticide campaign, through unsubscribing to that tips email, volunteering to share your curriculum in with Rotary Clubs in the region, rowing and fundraising in your Top of the Charles crew fundraiser two weeks ago, and, just yesterday, sharing your “ask a friend to volunteer” email with two of his friends.

2. Colonel Mustard knows you’re harvesting his data.

You show him that you know in your customized year-end thank you email that hit on his volunteering and his involvement in the recent race. He loves that personal connection—it makes him feel like a real and valued part of your organization and impact.

3. He knows his profile—preferences, habits, and actions—is valuable to your organization.

He invests his data with your organization in exchange for a relevant, connected, and engaging experience—like that thank you email.

4. That’s the kind of useful and unified experience required to drive Colonel Mustard’s next action.

But you need his data to deliver it.

5. You have these key insights about the Colonel’s because he trusts you to protect his data.

This is where your privacy policy comes in. Fail—with an outdated, incomplete, or unsupported privacy policy—and he’ll break up with your organization fast, furious, and forever.

6. Keep the trust! Review, revise, and recommit to your privacy policy.

  • Does it cover how your organization captures, stores, and uses all donor, volunteer, and participant data? Most policies focus solely on contact information.
  • Do you convey to your donors what you’re doing, privacy policy-wise, emphasizing the value to them?
  • Are roles and responsibilities for privacy policy development, implementation, communications, and updating clearly outlined and assigned?

The trust you build in committing to a thorough, respectful privacy policy will enable your organization to source the data that sharpens your insights, strengthens your relationships, and motivates more of the actions you need.

How does your organization show your donors love? Please share what’s working, or what’s getting in your way, here.

Read Donor Love: Part One

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

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Tue, January 06 2015

Donor Love Part One: 7 Ways to Keep Donors Committed to Your Cause

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Donor Love

Got 2 minutes? Please tell us what you're doing to strengthen donor relationships, and/or what's in your way. Thanks!

Honoring your donors—and prospects—is, hands-down, the most effective approach to building strong and lasting relationships with the folks whose help you need so very much.

It’s no surprise that donor retention is an absolute priority (again) for 2015. Yet the specific how-tos of donor retention success remain elusive for many organizations. This should help...

Here’s my recommended path to donor retention recommendation in 2015: Simply R-E-S-P-E-C-T your way to strong and long-lasting donor relationships.

  • Respect donors’ wants, even when they aren’t what you want; for example, they don’t want to hear from your organization.
  • Enlist your colleagues—fundraising and beyond—to segment donors as precisely as your time, expertise, budget, and tools allow to give every donor the most personalized outreach possible each and every time.
  • Start up a donor advisory board of folks willing to share five to 10 minutes per month to help you boost your donors’ satisfaction level. You’ll get golden insights, and they’ll feel even more connected!
  • Put together an all-organization donor listening team. Ask for help from your colleagues, and demonstrate the WIIFM (“What’s in it for me?”) with specific, tangible examples. Then train, support, and thank them.
  • Execute a simple system to log, share, and analyze donor info and insights. Ensure that it’s accessible throughout your organization; otherwise, there’s not much value in it.
  • Correct your course at a moment’s notice! Your agility in adjusting your fundraising approach to fit what’s vital right now to your donors and their recent interactions with your organization is a must.
  • Take stock of what isn’t working with your donor retention program—both stats and anecdotes/feedback—and ask the donor advisory board how to do better!

Follow these seven steps, and I guarantee you’ll jump-start your donor retention program. But don’t stop here. Dig even deeper via guidance from the most brilliant donor retention gurus I know, Roger Craver and Tom Ahern.

What tops your donor retention to-do-list? And what's getting in your way of making it happen? Please share your goals and challenges here. (It will only take two minutes!)

Read Donor Love: Part Two

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

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