Wed, March 18 2015

Rich Details for Record-Breaking Results (Case Study)

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Dizzy Gillespie

Image: Roland Godefroy

“When the new antenna went live, you’d swear that Dizzy Gillespie was playing right next to you.”

I can easily visualize this scene—and hear it. Can you?

In fact, this appeal excerpt from WBGO (New York City’s premier jazz radio station) made the listening-enriching value of the station’s new antenna crystal clear—by showing, not telling.

Compare this with the way another station introduced its new antenna:

Replacing the equipment and moving it to the higher elevation immediately improved the strength of the signal, says Tyron, increasing the broadcast penetration within the licensed area (approximately a 35-mile radius from Claremont); improving the signal reach for areas like Covina, El Monte, San Bernardino, and Riverside; diminishing interference with the signal; and resulting in fewer drops of the signal.

Blah, blah, blah. Beware the curse of knowledge. This writer has been cursed, forgetting that the people she wants to engage aren’t exposed to the specifics at the memorable gut level like she is. As a result, she (like so many nonprofit writers) writes in broad, vague strokes—or dull minutiae—that are forgotten in a flash.

Instead, pepper your fundraising messages with rich, memorable details to make them:

  • Authentic: The right details give a story a much greater presence, a feeling of real truth.
  • Unique: Getting specific is often the fastest way to make content rise above the average. The details distinguish your message from those that would otherwise sound similar. Shout out and shine!
  • Convey much more with fewer words: Specific words and images can clarify a message much faster than a long-form narrative explanation of the core point.
  • Transport the reader: Like a good movie or compelling novel, where you get completely absorbed in the story, rich details can draw your audiences into getting lost in your message. As a result, readers are far more likely to remember it, act, and spread the word.

How do you use rich detail to show (not tell), bringing your prospects and supporters into your organization’s story? Please share your experiences in the comments.

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Tue, March 17 2015

Recurring Giving Campaign Spotlight: Windcall Institute

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Recurring Giving •

The Windcall Institute is dedicated to nurturing and developing resilient leadership among community and labor organizers engaged in the work of social justice in low-income communities and communities of color.

Their programs bring community organizers together to reflect and renew their energy to go back out and do good work.  The organization is based in Oakland, California, but has programs across the country.

Holly FinckeAs part of the Recurring Giving Challenge, I received a message from Holly Fincke, Windcall Institute’s Executive Director since 2006. Windcall is a Network for Good client and Holly was looking forward to seeing the Challenge leaderboard so she’d know what they were up against! I love Holly’s enthusiasm!  She was also generous enough to share about Windcall’s plans to boost monthly giving.

Network for Good:  Tell us a bit about your existing monthly donors.

Holly Fincke: We were already thinking of launching a monthly giving campaign, so this was great timing for us. We have a handful of existing sustainers, including our board members and a few others. We do an online campaign every fall where we reach out to the alumni of the program and ask them to share our appeal with their networks.

Windcall does have a core group of loyal donors that give year after year. When you go through the experience of our programs, it’s really transformative, so we find that our alumni are inspired to give back.

NFG:  What is your strategy for your monthly giving campaign?

HF:  We’re kicking off a two week campaign starting March 16 through April 3 focused on bringing our loyal donors in as sustainers.

For this campaign, we wanted to target consistent givers (our alumni, allied members). To reach them, we’re rolling up our sleeves and our board is calling 10 donors each.

One of our major donors has offered up a double match for monthly donations.  So, if someone makes a sustaining gift,  that yearly amount will be doubled.  We approached the major donor for a match. Most major donors want to see their contribution leveraged to the fullest, and they get that we are trying to build our donor list and a predictable stream of donations.

Major donors and sustainers are special and both deserve special treatment. We send something special to these groups each quarter. For example, one of our residents wrote a poem that we sent to the donors. This allowed those supporters to remember and relive the experience they had. When you talk to alumni about supporting future participants, it helps to say, “someone you know applied, someone from your state applied.”  Programs that have alumni from them have a built-in advantage. Alumni want to give back because they know better than anyone the benefits. 

We will also send an email to our general list, but our focus is on those core donors. Our match and the Network for Good prize money will help motivate people to act.

Holly QuoteNFG:  Why monthly giving?

HF:  We award 3-4 residencies at a time, and we need to plan for this far in advance given that community and labor organizers are so busy Therefore, we have to know the funding is coming and be able to sustain this.  We wanted to even out our income flow and be able to better plan, so we know we can meet those commitments. We also wanted to increase gifts from existing donors, so we’re asking those who currently give $100 per year to become sustainers with a $15 monthly pledge, which nearly doubles their donation.  We are pushing this message to people who have a great affinity for Windcall.

NFG:  What is your campaign goal?

HF: We want to get 20 new sustainers from our group of 60 core donors.

NFG:  How are you involving your board?

HF: We’ve asked our board to call on a list of 10 donors each. Considering our goal, it makes it doable for them to get two or three monthly sustainers from their list of 10 contacts. They’re equipped with:

• Details about the match
• A list of folks and contact information
• An email template
• A phone script
• A deadline to reinforce urgency

To keep the board pumped up, I am not waiting until the end to show them the impact of their outreach. I send the board members periodic updates throughout the campaign and call them. This allows them to see their progress and see long-term impact add up. It’s all about keeping them energized.

NFG:  Do you have one piece of advice for other nonprofits that are starting a monthly giving program?

HF:  Find a match, even if it’s not big one. In our online campaigns, we always have a match and it really helps. Pairing that with a deadline motivates people to give. Even a modest one, such as someone who will match the first $1,000, can make a difference. Even if you don’t have a major donor, you probably have someone or a few people who would put up $500 or $1,000 to help get you started.

Thanks to Holly for sharing her insight on monthly giving with the Nonprofit Marketing Blog community! To learn more about Windcall Institute, visit

There’s still time to join the Recurring Giving Challenge for step-by-step guidance on creating your monthly giving program online, plus Network for Good clients are eligible to win their share of $10K in Challenge Rewards. Not a client yet? Contact our team of fundraising consultants to learn how you can raise more money online.

Recurring Giving Challenge

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Fri, March 13 2015

Is Peer Fundraising Right for Your Organization?

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Crowdfunding • Fundraising essentials •

Is Peer Fundraising Right For You?

Peer-to-peer fundraising—also known as personal fundraising, social fundraising, or simply P2P—happens when nonprofits empower supporters to raise money on their organization’s behalf. These types of campaigns allow causes to extend their reach far beyond their core network, raising awareness and attracting new donors.

The power of peer giving is hard to ignore. At Network for Good, the volume of dollars and number of donations going to nonprofits through these social fundraising campaigns has grown significantly over the last few years. As we become more connected with each other through mobile technology and social media, it’s easier to leverage our networks (and the ease of giving online) to raise money on behalf of the causes we love.

How do you know if your organization is ready for a peer-to-peer campaign? Here are five things to consider:

You have a solid online fundraising program in place.
Before branching out, nail the basics first. You’ll have a sense for what works and what doesn’t, plus you’ll have many of the tools in place that you’ll need for a successful social fundraising effort. You must have a donor-friendly way to accept online donations for all donors, every day. You also want to make sure you’re getting the most from your email marketing, social media, and your other communications channels to support your outreach.

When you’ve mastered the fundamentals, you can expand your online fundraising scope to include different types of social fundraising campaigns.

You have 5-10 passionate advocates you could recruit to raise funds on your behalf.
Before adding peer-to-peer fundraising to your mix, think about the core group of supporters you will activate to become fundraisers for your cause. You may have more than 10 (which would be amazing), but having a handful of folks you know you can turn to will help get your campaign off the ground. Consider inviting these key advocates to join in the early planning of the campaign to ensure they’re even more invested. If you don’t have a list of ambassadors that comes to mind, spend time cultivating those relationships now.

You have a concrete case for giving.
Ok, this is always important, but it’s doubly so when it comes to peer fundraising efforts. Your case for giving will serve two goals:  recruiting fundraisers and inspiring donors. You should be extremely clear on why someone should give to your cause, how the money will be used, and what impact a donation will have. Make it easy for fundraisers to understand how their network effect will amplify that impact. If you can’t clearly articulate your case for giving, it’s unlikely your fundraisers will be able to do so. (Need some help crystallizing your case for giving? We have a guide just for that.)

You have board buy-in.
This is important for many reasons, but one of the most overlooked aspects of peer-to-peer campaigns is that they can be the perfect opportunity to involve your board (and your board’s influence) in fundraising for your mission. They get to work their network, and you get closer to your goals. In many cases, these campaigns are simply a more structured way to enable what is likely happening already with events, house parties, and personal phone calls.

Of course, it’s likely you’re also going to need their stamp of approval for trying a new strategy and getting the tools you need to succeed with a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.

You’re ok with letting go of your message. 
This is scary for most organizations, but remember:  great social fundraising campaigns rely on the ability for your message to be carried far and wide by those outside your organization. We know that donors are more likely to give when asked by a friend or someone they perceive to be a peer. There’s a level of trust and authenticity that is hard to replicate at an organizational level. 

Prepare to equip supporters with communications tools and encourage fundraisers to add their personal stamp to their outreach for best results. If you’re comfortable with loosening your grip on your message (just a little bit!), you’ll be rewarded with loyal fundraisers and new supporters to welcome to your organization.

These steps are really the pre-work for a successful social fundraising strategy. Nail them now, and you’ll be set to transform donors into fundraisers with a peer-to-peer campaign.

Ready to get started with peer fundraising or want to improve your current program? Let’s talk. We have a suite of tools—and the support and expertise you’ll need—to help you create a successful campaign.

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Wed, March 11 2015

More! Build Stronger Donor Relationships Right Now: Ideas from Fellow Fundraisers, Part 2

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Big Thoughts on Giving • Fundraising essentials •

Read Part 1 here

Have two minutes? Please tell us what you’re doing to strengthen donor relationships and/or what’s in your way. Thanks!

You have some fantastic fundraiser peers. Kudos to all of you who generously shared your path to stronger donor relationships or boldly put out there what’s getting in your way!

Here’s how one fundraiser is switching it up to build stronger donor relationships:

Investing the time to nurture personal relationships with key donors.

“I’m going to take a larger role in our major donor program by developing [stronger] personal relationships. I hope to start meeting with several of them one-to-one in the next few months to get to know them better [and to] learn about their interests and why they support our organization so generously.”

—Kathleen Kennedy, program and development coordinator, Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection


Growing a personal relationship with the donors who count most—whether it’s you, a colleague, or board member who develops it—is vital to keeping them close. It’s one of the key components of your ongoing stewardship process.

Keep in mind that “counts most” can mean either just existing major donors or other folks you feel have the potential to get there, like midlevel donors on the cusp.

Face-to-face visits are most effective. But make sure you find other meaningful ways (to those donors, not you) to stay in touch between the personal calls or visits. Stewardship isn’t a “once and done” project.

Log what it takes time-wise, plus any expenses, for your personal relationship building agenda. Then use that data, plus anecdotal outcomes, to gain leadership support to allocate your time and budget here. Everything takes time, and when you do something new, that takes time away from something else. Be prepared to make your case!

Here’s the greatest challenge this fundraiser faces in strengthening donor relationships:

I just can’t get close to donors anymore, especially the most important ones.

“So many high-capacity donors are making themselves inaccessible—much more so today than 10 years ago. They won’t take a meeting (“I’m just fine without seeing you in person”), they use donor-advised funds, or they hide behind unlisted phone numbers and assistants. They still give, but on their terms alone.”

—Mimi Evans, regional development director, Catholic Relief Services

Mimi, you’re right. Donors, high capacity and otherwise, are tired of being pummeled with content and asks and of the lack of privacy. So, like the rest of us, they’ve found ways to keep themselves sane.

Here are four recommendations for you:

  1. Accept that some high-capacity donors don’t want high touch.
  2. Stop trying to cross the moat to these donors. That’s bound to alienate them big-time rather than bring them closer. “Their terms” are your terms. Listen, learn, and respect what they want.
  3. Find a bridge. Look around and see who in your organization, including board members, knows each high-capacity donor—as a friend, colleague, or fellow community member. There’s a far better chance they’ll be able to make a visit or a call than you will. Train and support them to up the chances of a productive conversation.
  4. Try something completely different. Gail Perry’s “surprise and delight” method of donor cultivation has huge potential. It’s too late for Valentine's Day, but how about a “Welcome to Spring” card or an invitation to a behind-the-scenes tour, if that’s important to a certain donor? Definitely worth a try!

What are your recommendations for Mimi? Please share your ideas in the comments section.

Read Part 1 here

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Tue, March 10 2015

Introducing The Millennial Donor Playbook

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Crowdfunding • Fundraising essentials •

It’s likely that most of your nonprofit’s individual giving comes from donors who are Baby Boomers or older. So, why should you care about Millennials now?

Young supporters represent the leading edge of technology adoption and online behavior, and this behavior actually influences how other age groups interact with your cause. If you want to know where donor engagement and digital giving are heading, look to Millennials to understand how all generations are evolving online. Of course, Millennials are also active donors, advocates, nonprofit staff, and volunteers in their own right.

Millennial Playbook iconThat’s why Network for Good teamed up with Kari Saratovsky, Chief Engagement Officer of Third Plateau Strategies and co-author of Cause for Change: The Why and How of Nonprofit Millennial Engagement, to create The Millennial Donor Playbook, a quick guide to attracting and retaining young donors, volunteers, and advocates for your organization.

The playbook is meant to guide your nonprofit fundraising and marketing efforts as you think about how to engage young supporters (while you do all the other stuff on your task list).

Download your copy of the guide to learn:

• Why Millennials may be your cause’s secret weapon
• How to inspire these supporters to become recurring givers, advocates, and peer fundraisers for your mission
• Tips for optimizing your social channels and communicating with young donors

BONUS: We’re lucky enough to welcome Kari for a free Nonprofit 911 webinar this Thursday, March 12, at 1pm ET. Register now to reserve your spot and find out how to make the most of the Millennials in your midst. (Can’t attend? Register anyway and we’ll send you the slides and a recording of the session.)

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