Tue, October 14 2014
The countdown is on.
In exactly 7 weeks, or 49 days, #GivingTuesday will be here! For many organizations, #GivingTuesday will launch the giving season, fueling energy and excitement that will carry through to year-end. We’ve written a series of posts to help you make the most of #GivingTuesday.
Today, we’re focused on one of the most important year-end strategies for any organization: creating a compelling online presence and outreach campaign to inspire support.
11 to-do’s for #GivingTuesday and year-end campaigns that work online.
We could write a book on this topic (actually, we wrote a few!), but with only seven weeks to go, we’re boiling it down to the 11 ‘must-do’s’ for creating a giving experience that delights online donors, and gets them giving again and again.
1. Tell a story and define the donor’s impact.
Plan your campaign around an inspiring story about the impact that givers can have with their investment in your organization. Take your big need and break it down into chunks that a donor can understand. For example, the campaign for an animal shelter might focus on providing medical care for abandoned dogs in the shelter. If daily medical care costs $25 per dog, a donor will be able to decide how many animals they wish to support. Donors appreciate goals that are specific, clear, and actionable.
2. Gather campaign assets that reinforce your inspiring story.
Building and maintaining interest and excitement for your campaign is easier with a constant stream of fresh content. It will come in handy when you are writing blog posts, campaign updates, social media outreach and ambassador messaging. Assets include:
· Client stories
· News Articles
3. Create a single, crystal clear call to action.
Write your emails, direct mail and social outreach with focus around one clear, specific call to action. Don’t cram your outreach with every possible way for a donor to engage—pick one call to action for each outreach and give donors one possible action to take.
4. Make it easy to give on any device.
Make sure your donation experience is mobile ready. At least 30% of your email recipients will click through on their phone when you inspire them to give. Make it easy.
5. Use a consistent campaign brand through the entire giving experience.
Reinforce your campaign and call to action with a giving page that has the same images, video and story. Think about the best online shopping experiences: the image, description and call to action carry through from the email to landing page, to the shopping cart, to the receipt. We can help you get your DonateNow or GiveCorps page ready for your year-end campaign. (Network for Good clients can contact our Success Team for more tips!)
6. Make your giving form fast and easy.
Simplify your donation form by removing all but the essential fields. Get your donors through their donation with minimum friction. Don’t think of your giving form as a data collection tool, think of it as the last hurdle between you and a donation. Then keep the hurdle low.
7. Make your thank you communication personal and meaningful.
When your donor completes his donation, celebrate and acknowledge with a joyful, sincere personal thank you screen or thank you email—immediately. This is a final opportunity to reinforce the story and impact of the donation. Make your donor feel like they matter.
8. Make it easy to share.
When your donor is feeling the glow of making a difference, ask him to invite others to feel the same good feeling. Donors, particularly young people, view sharing as part of giving. In a recent Case Foundation post, Derrick Feldmann, Head of Achieve, said that Millennials view giving one’s voice as a tangible form of philanthropy. ‘A person who gives their voice might still give their skill, time and money, but they go beyond these endeavors to get others involved.’
9. Get back in touch within 30 days.
Reinforce that good feeling with active communication about the status of the campaign. A rule of thumb…communicate with donors about the impact of a donation within 30 days of making a gift. Give an update on the campaign and use this as another opportunity to encourage sharing. You’ve missed an opportunity if your tax receipt is your only communication.
10. Capture every potential dollar.
In your thank you email, encourage donors to take advantage of company matching programs. Point donors to a corporate matching program database, so that your donors can easily submit for employer matches without lots of extra work. There are several systems, including HEP Data and Double the Donation.
11. Encourage involvement.
Use your ongoing outreach to invite donors to engage with you in ways that don’t have to do with giving. They can subscribe to your blog, become a social media ambassador, participate in volunteer activities, answer a poll, sign a petition, and much more.
Implement these best practices today and you’ll be ready to delight your online donors this December—on #GivingTuesday—and everyday.
And if your online giving platform isn’t equipped to make these best practices easy, we’d love to help. Contact us to find out how to get a great online fundraising page that helps you win more donors who give more, more often.
Sign up and launch your page by December 2nd, and you’ll be part of our N4G Gives campaign. Take advantage of matching funds, special trainings, and much more!
Wed, October 08 2014
#GivingTuesday – what for many will be the launch of the December giving season – is now just 7 weeks away. Gulp.
Your year-end campaigns are just about ready to go, but making the most of December is probably in the back of your mind all the time. Perhaps you’re asking yourself if there is anything else you can put into motion today that can move the needle at year end.
Yes! Try a peer fundraising campaign.
The Power of Peer Fundraising
Social, Personal, P2P or team fundraising are all names for the same concept: harnessing the power of your supporters and their networks to scale your impact.
At their best, peer fundraising campaigns center around a passionate desire to make an impact on a problem or cause, and then “recruit” supporters based on a shared interest in the cause or in honor of the friendship with the original project sponsor.
Once in a while, peer fundraising campaigns catch fire. That was the case this summer with the Ice Bucket challenge. It started when 29 year-old Pete Frates, stricken with ALS, sought to bring attention to the disease, and to inspire others to support research toward a cure. He challenged friends to dump ice on their heads, and Pete’s network sparked into action. His friends took the challenge and in weeks it was everywhere on social media.
From June to August, more than 3 million donors gave more than $100 million dollars to the ALS Association.
Your superheroes – no cape required.
Campaigns like the Ice Bucket challenge are the exception for sure, but their lessons are transferable to every peer fundraising initiative. They’re effective because supporters, who often reside in the background of your fundraising, move front and center, and become the heroes of the story. We want to root for their success.
And when combined with a few key elements, peer fundraising leverages your team’s limited resources, spreads your story, and attracts new supporters.
What does It take? Sponsors with genuine passion for your cause, plus…
· A little creativity
· An authentic need
· A personal appeal
· Social sharing
Make it easy for peer fundraisers
Empower your supporters to get going, now.
1. Suggest a theme and goal for your supporters. Use your #GivingTuesday campaign to frame a peer-to-peer campaign that is appealing and easy to launch for your supporters. If you’re still lacking a focus for year-end, here is a post that can help you plan a great campaign. Then break your campaign into a target for your peer fundraisers in $500-$1000 range.
2. Make it fun! Encourage your peer fundraisers to focus on opportunity, not obligation, in their outreach to friends and family. Give them tools to keep the excitement high with regular email updates tracking the progress of the campaign.
3. Focus on impact. Be sure that fundraisers and their supporters understand how their dollars will impact those you serve, specifically.
4. Keep it short: a month or less. Use the excitement of #GivingTuesday to keep momentum high and the time commitment low for your peer fundraisers. A timeframe of about a month is just about right. Encourage your fundraisers to launch on November 1st, build excitement toward Thanksgiving and end on December 2.
Make P2P work for you: three paths to success.
1. For small or leanly staffed organizations: Start where you are.
The simplest way to start a peer fundraising campaign is to focus on the tools you already have. You have your inspiring mission, more than a few enthusiastic supporters (think staff, board, volunteers, clients), and services that need support. Define a campaign, enlist peer fundraisers, educate them on the basics above, and let them run with it.
Then, optimize your online giving page with proven software, like DonateNow. With DonateNow, your site will be branded, mobile-ready, and easy for your donors to navigate.
Then simply provide your fundraisers with sample emails, or let them create their own, and drive people to your main online giving page. Ask them to acknowledge the fundraiser they’re supporting in your dedication field.
This is not the most sophisticated method, but a functional, quick-to-launch approach.
And organizations using DonateNow for #GivingTuesday will automatically receive matching funds!
2. For organizations with more staff capacity: take advantage of a P2P platform.
Nonprofits can set up a campaign by creating a “team” page on a peer-to-peer giving platform. Check out our partner site, CrowdRise, the best P2P site out there!
With CrowdRise, you can create a page with your colors and logo and enable your peer fundraisers to set up sub-pages for their individual campaigns. They’ll be able to set an individual goal, see their progress, donor scrolls, and where they stand relative to other fundraisers. Here’s an example.
You can create challenges and competitions among team members that add an extra fun element to the campaign. And you’ll see the overall results of everyone’s fundraising with clean, comprehensive reports.
You can then manage the messaging, the updates, and progress of the campaign. This approach is a great way to give your staff greater control of the whole initiative while also making it easy for your fundraisers to get their pages set up and launched.
CrowdRise will also be holding its Epic Annual Holiday Challenge, including a major campaign on #GivingTuesday, to be revealed soon!
3. For larger organizations or those planning to use peer fundraising as an ongoing strategy: have your own P2P site.
Some organizations are naturally suited to peer and project-based fundraising. These include animal support, disaster relief, schools, health care, disease, and many others. Organizations like these can equip themselves to host peer fundraising and crowdfunding campaigns all year round with GiveCorps, our private label peer fundraising platform.
With GiveCorps, not only can you run a great #GivingTuesday P2P campaign, but you can do race fundraising, birthday fundraisers, crowdfunding campaigns, project based fundraising, and annual giving campaigns.
A GiveCorps site is yours, closely mirroring the look and feel of your main website. Take a look at how the Community Coalition for Haiti uses GiveCorps for personal and project-based fundraisers.
Want to learn more about how GiveCorps can work for you? Request a demo and get started, just in time to get ready for #GivingTuesday.
Tue, October 07 2014
Filed under: Giving Days •
If you’re a fundraiser, you’re seeing news about #GivingTuesday everywhere.
And the buzz is for good reason - #GivingTuesday is not only the launch of the giving season, but has become an international celebration of generosity. And your donors, prospects, staff and volunteers are likely to be hearing a lot about the big day – from you or someone. So, it’s time to solidify your #GivingTuesday plans.
GivingTuesday, when done well, can have all the excitement and engagement of a great party, while building awareness and donations for your cause. It can also carry good feelings forward through the December giving season to boost your overall year-end fundraising efforts.
What will make it a great day?
Like a great party, the secrets to #GivingTuesday success combine great planning with a little magic. And like a party theme, your campaign goal is the part of the plan from which everything else stems.
If you ran a #GivingTuesday campaign last year, you have a benchmark against which to think about 2014. If you’re in your first year, setting goals will be an educated best guess. Achieving your first year goal is where the (Planning + Luck) = Success equation comes in.
Dollars are likely to be one of the key elements you measure, but it doesn’t need to be your only goal. These are a few goals to consider instead of, or in addition to, funds raised:
· Number of donors
· Number of new donors
· Number of volunteers/hours (if you are including an activity)
· Number of recurring donors
· % Participation among key groups – like staff
Build a pyramid
Even if you don’t have prior experience with #GivingTuesday, you can do some predictive planning around logical paths to your goals.
Giving pyramids are a simple way to add a quantitative element to planning your dollar goal. They let you sanity check your goal by putting it on paper, rather than just guessing.
How do you build a giving pyramid? Let’s take one example: Your nonprofit would like to raise $50,000 on #GivingTuesday. If you’re a small nonprofit, just eliminate zeroes from this example.
Here is one illustration of how to predict a path to success with a giving pyramid:
· $50,000 Goal
· 8,500 donors in data file
· 255 Donors if you achieve 3% participation (and you’ll definitely attract new donors too, so this should be a safe bet)
So how might this set up in a giving pyramid?
Now create your own giving pyramid and think it through. If it feels ambitious but achievable, then it is a great place to start with a first year goal. If it seems too easy to achieve, boost the dollar amount. Too much of a stretch? Dial back.
Leverage with matching funds
One of the most powerful tools on #GivingTuesday is matching funds. Consider identifying a lead donor for your #GivingTuesday campaign who is willing to donate marketing fuel to your campaign engine, with matching funds.
Even a small amount of matching fund dollars can provide significant benefit to a campaign. If you can raise as little as 5% - 10% of your total fundraising goal in matching funds, there are simple but effective ways to use this to amplify your campaign.
These are a few ways to deploy the dollars effectively:
· Match a % of dollar raised up to the amount of matching funds you have. So if you have $5,000 against a $50,000 goal, match $1 for every $10 raised until you reach your goal.
· Match the first gifts every hour up to an hourly amount. So, if you have $10,000 in matching funds, match the first $1,000 each hour for the busiest ten hours of the day.
· Match only gifts up to a certain amount. If one of your goals is number of donors, rather than just dollars, cap your matching funds at $100 or another amount that reflects your likely average gift.
· Match gifts that further other objectives, like donors that set up recurring gifts. In this instance, consider doing a bonus match for a monthly donation, since these are an organization’s most engaged supporters over time.
Your goal will be one of the most visible anchors of your #GivingTuesday campaign, so make it a motivator. It should be big and meaningful enough to get people excited to work hard. If it’s too attainable, it will feel like just another day at the office, and it will be hard to motivate your team.
Everything you do for the next eight weeks depends on motivation and focus; set that goal today, and start planning your giving party on December 2nd!
Tue, September 30 2014
Resources, Training, and $100,000 in matching funds for the Network for Good community.
Proud partners in the #GivingTuesday Movement
In 2012, a group of visionary nonprofit leaders at 92Y and the UN Foundation had an idea: to take back the giving season after the shopping binge of Black Friday and CyberMonday. With little flourish, they announced the first #GivingTuesday, to take place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
And from day one, the extraordinary goodness of the idea caught fire. Turns out, lots of people were clamoring for a December that meant something more than a new TV, toy, or necktie.
Today #GivingTuesday is an authentic international movement, with generous citizens and nonprofit organizations of all sizes – all around the world – joining in.
At Network for Good, we’re passionate about #GivingTuesday, as a celebration of generosity, and as a movement to make the holidays a true season of giving.
Announcing N4G Gives: Network for Good’s campaign for #GivingTuesday
With the growing importance of #GivingTuesday, we’re excited to announce N4G Gives, a special campaign to unleash generosity on #GivingTuesday 2014. We’re offering a combination of free and ‘for-clients-only’ resources to arm small and medium nonprofits with the best guidance and tools available to get ready for #GivingTuesday.
True to our mission, we’re providing ALL nonprofits with free tools, tactics, training and motivation to make this the best December ever.
And for Network for Good clients, we’re also offering:
- $100,000 in Matching funds from the Network for Good Generosity Fund, to make #GivingTuesday donations go further.
- Visibility with Network for Good donors for featured nonprofits
- Exclusive toolkits, expert webinars, specialized coaching and communications resources.
- Two great platforms:
DonateNow – smart and proven effective donation pages, with built-in coaching and expertise, that compel donors to give – all while eliminating the work of managing online payments.
GiveCorps – a crowdfunding and project-based fundraising platform that attracts more donors and empowers your supporters to raise money and share your mission through their own stories.
Equipping the small guys for success
We’re making this exceptional commitment this year because we’ve closely followed the #GivingTuesday movement and watched how large nonprofits have fully incorporated it into their marketing and year-end fundraising calendars.
With N4G Gives, we want to level the playing field by equipping small and medium nonprofits around the country with the best guidance possible to make #GivingTuesday the beginning of a great giving season.
The N4G Gives campaign is part of our overall commitment to help nonprofits advance their work, not only through milestone events like #GivingTuesday, but all year round through our work to help them build capacity, sustainable funding, and donor retention.
Experience to drive results
The expertise Network for Good brings to the #GivingTuesday campaign for small and medium nonprofits is unparalleled. It comes from being the largest online giving platform in the country, with more than 10,000 nonprofits using our services today. We’ve raised more than $1 Billion for nonprofits, and have participated in #GivingTuesday since it launched.
And, we were the leaders of the BMoreGivesMore campaign that raised $5.7 million on #GivingTuesday 2013. The BMoreGivesMore campaign was the second largest #GivingTuesday initiative ever, and earned Baltimore the title of the #mostgenerouscity in America.
It’s all about you
While the big numbers validate our experience, this campaign is all about you—the nonprofits that are caring for the needy, curing the sick, advocating for the voiceless, and championing a healthy environment.
You’re the reason we do what we do. You’re the real warriors in the battle for a more compassionate and generous community.
We hope that N4G Gives makes your work a little easier and makes your impact even greater.
Ready to get started on your #GivingTuesday campaign?
To get updates on N4G Gives, and to get involved with the campaign, sign up today. We’ll send you the latest announcements, training opportunities, and resources to help you succeed this December—and beyond!
Mon, September 29 2014
Filed under: Nonprofit leadership •
An organization’s ability to accomplish its mission is only as strong as the organization’s infrastructure. As you fight to make the world a better place, how do you make sure you’re providing a nonprofit workplace that fosters fairness and complies with the necessary rules and regulations? I recently had a chance to catch up with the Aina Gutierrez, author of Walking the Walk: A Values Centered Approach to Building a Strong Non-Profitand Deputy Director of Interfaith Worker Justice. Her new book is an easily digestible, yet comprehensive, practical guide to organizing and improving internal operations and finances.
NFG: What drove you to write this handbook?
Aina Gutierrez: The national nonprofit I work for, Interfaith Worker Justice, has a network of more than 40 affiliates that are small organizations with less than 10 staff. Part of my job in the last twelve years has been to train these groups on the subjects outlined in the book (office administration, fundraising, financial management, board development and human resources).
There were two trends I saw in talking to these groups and other small nonprofits I’ve been involved with. The first is that most small groups struggle with these “back office” issues because there were few training resources and materials for those that juggle multiple roles and don’t have the time (nor passion!) around building systems and procedures. And yet, many of them were really struggling with personnel issues and managing their budgets. It caused many staff and board leaders stress and burnout.
The second is that many of the policies and procedures of small nonprofits don’t seem to reflect the values that the organizations espouse in their programmatic work. A number of staff work for low pay and few benefits. Most small organizations don’t have access to constructive feedback or support. I felt strongly about the need to reflect the organization’s values in the way it operates, and that a written resource might be the best way to do that.
NFG: The book is geared toward small nonprofits with fewer than 10 employees. We work with many organizations who also have volunteer “staff” or staff members who are running their nonprofits on the side? Can you share some advice for those situations?
AG: Sure. It’s pretty amazing, but the smallest nonprofit isn’t that much less complicated to run than a more established organization. Both have boards, raise money, file government forms and have policies.
This can be tricky for groups without paid staff, or with part-time staff. There’s never enough money or time to accomplish everything.
NFG: Can you share some advice for those situations?
AG: So I would recommend that your readers do a quick assessment of each area outlined in the book and highlight parts that seem important to the organization that are missing. The book has chapters on staff, board, office systems and management, government requirements, finance, and fund development. And just start working on it, bit by bit. Include a few tasks in the organization’s workplan, or find a board member or two that are willing to help. There’s a lot of information online and from allied organizations that can be easily adapted and used for small nonprofits. It’s really just being aware of the back office work that needs to be done and doing a little bit at a time.
NFG: There’s an entire section on building and managing your board. We hear from many nonprofits who struggle with this relationship. Why do you think this is often such a difficult piece of the puzzle?
AG: I think any institution made up of passionate people who bring with them varying ideas and perspectives will not be without its share of internal struggles. An organization’s board is no different. Managing the board can be very rewarding, but it can also be frustrating at times.. And, as staff, it can sometimes feel like its not worth the time and energy to build a strong board, so it falls by the wayside.
But, it is worth it. The key is to continue to recruit and develop leaders that care about the organization and have something wonderful to contribute to its success. If someone doesn’t have a skill set or experience to help, or creates a lot of drama, or brings a different agenda to the table, or doesn’t want to do any work – that person shouldn’t be on the board. It can be time consuming to recruit and keep the right people for the job, but a small group of people that really connect and are willing to work can help build the organization in some really incredible ways.
NFG: What are some of the challenges you’ve observed in nonprofits who don’t have strong administrative systems?
AG: Oh goodness, there are so many stories. Every nonprofit I’ve worked with has at least one horrible story that cost a lot of time, energy and usually money to fix. I certainly have made plenty of own mistakes in this area!
The biggest challenge with organizations that don’t have strong systems is that it’s not an efficient way to operate. Pulling together a 300 person mailing shouldn’t be an all day job. But if your database is disorganized, the printer jams the envelopes, and you have to run to the post office to buy stamps, it can take hours. It impacts the important work that the group should be doing. And its super frustrating for the staff!
Having weak systems can also cost a lot of money. I’ve worked with a number of groups that miss government filing deadlines and have to pay late fees. Or groups that order office supplies last minute and pay expensive overnight shipping for a meeting. Or, groups that miss grant deadlines because there are not good tracking systems for applications or reports. These things all cost the organization a lot of money, and there often isn’t money to go around.
NFG: What are the payoffs for getting it right?
AG: One of the biggest rewards of those with good administrative systems is that they are able to engage more people in their work. Organizations that are able to efficiently communicate with their constituents and potential supporters via email or direct mail are more likely to receive more donations and support than those that don’t communicate. Donors that are assured the organization is run well will continue to give and often give more. Board members that are better connected or informed about the work will more likely be better engaged and provide more help.
Having good administrative systems is really the backbone of any strong nonprofit organization. It has a direct impact on its programmatic work and financial viability.
NFG: This book is obviously a great guide for emerging organizations, can established nonprofits learn a trick or two as well? Should these organizations re-assess their processes? How often?
AG: Yes, definitely. I encourage readers of more established groups to first review the policies and practices outlined in the book and make sure they have similar structures in place. Second, take a look at their own policies through a values-centered lens and see if there are areas that don’t reflect the organization’s values. And third, consider if its time to update a few things. For example, my organization recently looked at our healthcare plan to see if we should try the state-based exchange through the Affordable Care Act. It didn’t make sense for us to change right now, but it is likely something that will impact our healthcare benefits in the future. Even long time organizations should try and keep up on policy changes that could benefit small nonprofits.
All organizations should look at the administrative and financial progress made every year. Don’t look at everything, but when the organization is making its annual goals and objectives, it should include some work on internal policies and procedures. Incorporate this work incrementally into the organization’s board and staff and new things will be done every year. Progress is something to feel good about!
Thanks to Aina for her insight and for providing a handy guide to policies and processes that can sometimes feel daunting. For more tips and insight, check out Walking the Walk: A Values Centered Approach to Building a Strong Non-Profit.