Wed, July 15 2015

Fundraising Data That Keeps on Giving: The IDB Report Is Back!

Liz Ragland's avatar

Senior Content and Marketing Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Heather Yandow

Editor’s note: This post was written by Heather Yandow of Third Space Studio and founder of the Individual Donor Benchmark Report.

What is the fundraising potential for small and mighty nonprofits? How can organizations expand their individual donor programs and see increased success? For nonprofits with budgets under $2 million, the guide to more strategic and successful fundraising is available now!

Download the 2014 Individual Donor Benchmark Report.

Record Year for Data

The 2014 Individual Donor Benchmark (IDB) Report, developed by Third Space Studio and BC/DC Ideas, is back with new data and resources tailored to a special kind of organization: small and mighty nonprofits with budgets under $2 million. Growing to a record-setting 87 participating organizations in 2014, the project continues to empower small and medium nonprofit organizations to understand their donor potential and enhance their fundraising strategies.

2014 IDB Infographic

Universal Truths of Fundraising

“The IDB Project is unique to the nonprofit sector because no other survey offers this kind of in-depth fundraising analysis to benefit nonprofits of this size,” said Heather Yandow, of Third Space Studio. “This year’s report uncovered some fascinating trends and offers vital resources every nonprofit can utilize to empower their fundraisers and see even greater success.”

Four years of data have been collected, and we’re starting to see trends emerge. From this year’s IDB Project, several “universal truths” were identified that will have a huge impact on how small and mighty nonprofits expand their fundraising:

  • The single most important thing you can do to strengthen your individual donor fundraising is create a plan.
  • The average small but mighty nonprofit raises 36 percent of its revenue from individual donors.
  • The average gift for nonprofits of this size is about $400.
  • About 16 percent of individual donor revenue is generated online.
  • About half of individual donor revenue is generated from donors giving $1,000 or more.
  • Fewer than half of all board members play a significant role in individual donor fundraising.
  • Higher-paid development staff = more donations. If you have a fundraising plan, for every $1 more you that pay your primary individual donor fundraiser, you are able to raise another $4.25.
  • More donor meetings = more donations. With a plan, each donor meeting yields more than $5,000 in increased donor revenue.

Yandow added, “Seeing such a huge increase in participation this year shows that smaller nonprofits find value in the IDB Project and have a proven need for this level of tailored data and established best practices. It’s exciting to see organizations so committed to understanding their data and learning new strategies to effectively increase their individual donor fundraising success.”

“It’s an exciting time to be a small and mighty nonprofit, and the IDB Project is further proof that your budget doesn’t have to be outstanding to create real, positive impact in your community or to set new goals for your organization’s fundraising achievement,” said Dawn Crawford, principle communicator of BC/DC Ideas.

Next Step to Successful Fundraising

Are you ready to get empowered? Fundraisers and leaders who take the time to participate in this survey are interested in making their nonprofit more successful, moving their cause forward, and building better relationships with activists, donors, and supporters.

The hope is that these nonprofits, armed with data tailored for small- to medium-size organizations, will feel empowered to take their fundraising to the next level of success. -

Results of the annual survey have been compiled into a specialized report and infographic to serve as a multimedia resource and guide to empower nonprofit fundraising success.

Third Space Studio, based in Durham, North Carolina, collected and analyzed the survey. BC/DC Ideas, a Raleigh-based communications firm, designed the report and infographic. Both organizations specialize in nonprofit strategy, communications, and fundraising.

Thanks to the generous partners of the Individual Donor Benchmark Project: Third Space Studio, BC/DC Ideas, Network for Good, NeonCRM, Delve Analytics, Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training, Little Green Light, and AGH Strategies.

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Mon, July 13 2015

Summertime Shifts: Keep Connecting Through Fireflies, Fireworks, and Family Vacations

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

Summertime Shifts: Keep Connecting Through Fireflies, Fireworks, and Family Vacations

Nothing is more important than crafting content that’s relevant to your readers. But it’s challenging when they’re distracted by the delights of ice cream, the beach, and after-dinner badminton.

Summer is just different. Even though schooldays ended eons ago for most of us, our focus, attitudes, and readiness to act change as the weather warms. Over the years, I’ve heard from many of you that you feel the same, as do your supporters and prospects. And you’ve asked me how to connect in the context of sizzling summer distractions.

Here are three ways to up your summer communications game:

  1. Change timing and/or frequency. A quick poll of nonprofit communicators found this to be the most common summertime shift.
    • No Friday sends.
    • Send less frequently.
  2. Shift your topic, tone, and/or language to make it seasonally relevant and fun.
  3. If you know your people are on email less and Facebook more, follow them where they are. This applies whatever the season.

Here’s more summertime shift guidance from some of the best fundraisers and communicators I know:

  • Make your content more fun, light, active, and short attention span friendly, advises Kivi Leroux Miller from Nonprofit Marketing Guide.

  • Craft your asks to be short, sweet, and personal, like this creative appeal from Food for the Poor, suggests fundraiser Pamela Grow.

  • Be aware that you’re communicating to people who are on or just back from vacation, says John Haydon. That could mean sending an email twice (with a fresh subject line the second time), with round two going to those who didn’t open the first, and extending a campaign period into early fall.

Whatever summertime shifts you consider, it’s ideal to base them on what you know about your people, anecdotally and/or via data on last summer’s responses. If possible, measure before and after each shift, and make only one change at a time so you know what does or doesn’t work.

What summertime shifts do you make in your fundraising campaigns and communications? Please share in the comments section!

More Summer Stuff


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 GettingAttention.org.

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Wed, July 08 2015

3 Musts for Better Stories

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Everyone knows that storytelling is a win for nonprofits, but not all stories are created equal.

To truly resonate with your readers, your story needs to have three essential ingredients:

A strong emotional pull. Stories should make us feel something. Happy. Sad. Outraged. Inspired. All of these emotions can make an impact, but above all else, an amazingly effective message needs to make your reader feel, then act. Not think, then act. Not think, then feel, then act. FEEL, then act. Don’t disconnect these two steps. Lead with a strong pull of emotion, engage your reader’s senses, and then ask them to take action.

A singular focus. Resist the urge to pack everything into one story—you’ll only confuse your reader. Stories work best when they are rich, yet simple, and are laser-focused on one message, one issue, and one person. You likely have many stories to tell, but focus on telling one distinct story at a time for best results.

A clear tie to the reader.  Your audience should quickly and clearly understand why your story matters to them. Does it tap into something they have experienced? Does it affect the community they love? Think about how to incorporate details that are meaningful to your supporters, then underscore your donors’ role in the story. Are they the hero? What can (or did) they make happen?

There are many components that come together for an amazing story, but without these core elements, your message will fall flat. How are you incorporating all three into your donor communications?

Need some help writing more effective stories for your nonprofit’s outreach? I’ve got your back.

In our next free webinar, I’ll walk through a simple framework for more compelling stories that will help you connect with donors, raise more money, and retain supporters by reporting your impact in a highly memorable and relatable way. Register now to save your seat for Storytelling with the Emotional Brain. (Can’t attend the live session? Never fear. Go ahead and register and I’ll make sure you get a copy of the slides and the recording.)

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Tue, July 07 2015

Make ONE—and Only ONE—Call to Action (Case Study)

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Marketing essentials •

Remember when you were 15 and your mother would tell you to clean up your room, call your grandmother, and come down to dinner all within the same five minutes?

Remember how frustrating that was? How even if you wanted to do everything your mom asked—not every teen’s desire, for sure—there was no way you could, so you just didn’t do anything at all.

I was thrown back there when someone handed me this card during a recent visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I think you’ll see what I mean:

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Count the calls to action featured on this small postcard:

  1. Share your memories and photos online, tagged with #Met145. Or is it @metmuseum?
  2. Celebrate with a 145th anniversary cocktail, dessert, or menu.
  3. Donate at this extremely long URL to build the future of the Met.

By presenting three calls to action and two ways to approach one of them, the Met confuses us—or at least me—rather than spurring us to act. And it’s frustrating! Assuming we want to support the museum’s mission, we don’t know which action is the priority.

As much as I admire the Met’s marketing finesse and programmatic commitment and love visiting its provocative, refreshing galleries and special exhibits, this card campaign could be easily improved by reducing it to just one call to action.

Most important, I urge you to use this example as motivation to review your organization’s calls to action. Ask people to take just one action at a time, because that’s all any of us can take. Put these individual calls to action together in a series, like steps in a staircase, to create the bigger action your organization wants. It works!

What are your challenges in crafting calls to action that engage your people and motivate them to act? Please share them in the comments section and I’ll respond. Thank you.

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Thu, July 02 2015

Peer Pressure for Good

Liz Ragland's avatar

Senior Content and Marketing Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Social Fundraising •

After I read this article in Chronicle of Philanthropy and this one in the Huffington Post, I couldn’t get this song out of my head. “Under pressure…” Queen’s lyrics aren’t really describing the type of pressure featured in either of these articles, but the main theme is clear: Pressure changes things—it makes action happen.

What kind of pressure does a fundraiser need to use? Peer pressure. Peer pressure can make action happen. Here’s how: We are strongly influenced by our family, friends, and networks. When someone we know makes it clear that they support an organization or when we see them volunteering or donating, we are more likely to do so too.

The Millennial Impact Study found evidence of this in its research, specifically in how peer pressure affects workplace giving. Younger donors are more likely to be influenced to give by their colleagues and peers and not by those in leadership.

“Nearly half of the young people surveyed for the 2015 Millennial Impact Report said they were likely to donate if a coworker asked them to, while only a fifth said they’d probably do so at the request of their companies’ chief executives. Sixty-five percent of millennials said they were more likely to volunteer if their coworkers participated, while 44 percent said they were more likely to if their supervisor participated.”

A study featured in the June 2015 issue of the Economic Journal found that the average donation on a social fundraising page pressures donors to align their gifts with what seems to be the norm.

“[C]ontributors were more likely to give bigger sums when the average donation spiked, and their decisions had little to do with their feelings about the cause.”

How can fundraising professionals leverage peer pressure for good? Here are a few ways:

  • Try social fundraising. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to host an event to launch a social fundraising campaign. Social fundraising is simply empowering your supporter base to fundraise on your behalf. Social fundraising is also known as peer-to-peer fundraising, P2P, or personal fundraising. When you equip your supporters to raise money on your behalf, you’ll not only expand your donor base, you’ll also create a deeper bond with those who serve as social fundraisers. Win-win!

  • Be sure your donation pages include a sharing feature. Make it easy for donors to spread the word about your organization. After donors give through Network for Good donation pages, nonprofits can draft suggested tweets, email text, and more, and all the donor has to do is hit “share.”

The Secrets of Social Fundraising Success
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