Tue, September 23 2014
The time is…NOW.
With year-end quickly approaching, and #GivingTuesday just ten weeks away, we’re hurtling toward the giving season. It’s that generous time of year that fundraisers count on to be sure that they are well positioned—and well funded—to fulfill their missions for another year.
Now is the time to solidify your #GivingTuesday campaign focus. Whether you are planning to raise money for a project or for general operations, creativity and communications can be the difference between a good and a great campaign.
Break new ground with #GivingTuesday, but don’t forget the basics.
Annual giving is rapidly growing online. And today’s digital donors are the lifeblood of your organization’s success in the long haul.
Traditional year-end annual giving campaigns use personal solicitation, direct mail, email and phone calls to raise unrestricted donations.
The high visibility of #GivingTuesday, combined with some creative thinking about the focus of your campaign, can be a powerful tool for building unrestricted giving also – it just requires a shift in thinking.
Start by structuring a Clear, Compelling Campaign
Great online fundraising is just great fundraising. In a recent e-book, Joe Garecht, the Fundraising Authority, makes this point well:
“Online fundraising mirrors offline fundraising… and in all fundraising, you have to make asks. This means that if you want people to spread the word about your online campaign, you have to ask them to – specifically and concretely.”
Even if you don’t want to fundraise for a specific project, like money to fund 20 instruments for a new school band, it’s still wise to ‘project-ize’ your asks so they resonate with online supporters.
Step One: “Make me feel like I matter.”
Every program and activity in a nonprofit can be reframed as a “project” that contributes to your mission, so donors can understand exactly why you need their support.
Here are examples of how to reframe your ask into inspiring projects, for different kinds of nonprofits:
- Direct Service: If you serve 500 people a year with a $1 million budget, frame your annual fund around the $2000 it takes to serve each client. You can also break it down into smaller chunks like funding 3 months of services for $500. Then build a story around an inspiring client that exemplifies your work.
- Advocacy: As an advocate for a cause, frame your annual fund ask around the number of people you reach each year with your message. So if you are an education advocacy organization trying to improve classroom performance, how many students lives will be changed by the policies you seek to enact? Bring this to life with the story of a student whose attendance rate – and grades - increased because of your work.
- Arts and Culture: If you are a cultural organization, like a museum or zoo, consider annual fund outreach around how many visitors you have in a year or how much it costs to care for the average animal each day. Build a story about a young artist who found her inspiration after seeing your collection.
- Place-Based: Urban, environmental, or organizations with a physical campus can structure annual fund asks around the square feet/miles of the area you focus on, or the number of people in your catchment area. One of the most creative campaigns we’ve seen was from Calvin College, who used this approach with great success.
Another effective example: a local clean streams organization serves a series of streams that are five miles long. They need to raise just over $1 million each year. We recommended creating a campaign around providing support for a yard of the stream. The math was easy: $1,100,000/8800 yards = $125 per yard of the stream. This kind of creative thinking repositioned their annual fund for success.
Why frame your outreach this way? Because at its core, your organization is about changing lives, and this needs to be made real and tangible.
In a recent post, Hilborn Consultants said it well “Donors…are feeling and living the giving experience. They want to save lives, make a difference, change the world. Donors give because they care, or have been moved or inspired in some way. How much they give, how often they give, whether they give just once or for the long term mostly comes down to how they feel about your cause and how they feel about the experience they’re having as donors.”
Step Two: Start NOW to build a campaign, not just a one-shot outreach.
So with a strong, inspiring project idea now in the works, it’s time to build your campaign. At their core, every campaign is about moving people to action – getting them to give.
It takes planning, a strong leader and capable execution to achieve your goals.
But how do you get your campaign going with everything else on your plate? Start at the beginning.
Here are 5 simple steps to get you started.
The Big Five
#1: Set a big goal — Your goal will be one of the most visible anchors of your #GivingTuesday campaign, so make it a motivator. The goal 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.
Your goal will likely include a fundraising target, but it can also include other important metrics:
· Number of donors, number of new donors
· Number of donors that set up a recurring gift (we love this as a focus for #GivingTuesday
· Number of volunteers that participate in an activity
· Participation (for orgs with an alumni base)
#2: Convene a passionate team and active advocates — The most important person on your Giving Day team is the leader, the quarterback of the day, who leads the team from planning to execution to evaluation. Identify the passionate quarterback and then focus on engaging the key thought leaders - and loudest voices – among five key groups:
- Clients, participants, or alumni
- Committed Donors and other potential Ambassadors
Engaged individuals from each of these groups will form the heart of your Giving Day team – and will largely determine your success. Make them insiders. Share your strategy, goals, and make sure they have really internalized the project you have defined. Help them find their passionate voice, so they are as excited to be part of this as you are.
#3: Create a unified, branded theme — In addition to your well-defined project, your #GivingTuesday campaign should stand out from your everyday marketing. At a minimum, tie into #GivingTuesday’s or Network for Good’s branding and marketing tools. Make use of their assets to associate your organization with the campaign, visually and thematically.
Or even better, if you have access to a graphic artist, or a creative streak yourself, create your own branded identity to put on all of your campaign materials, posts, and schwag. Use photoshop or a free tool like Canva.com to incorporate your colors or symbols into a GivingTuesday logo, all your own. Here are some great examples.
#4: Use your project/theme to create quality content and ‘drip’ it out — To help spread the word and sustain momentum leading up to #GivingTuesday, share your goals and project stories in a weekly “drip.” Create compelling, easy-to-share content for your ambassadors, and keep them engaged with new content each week, on a predictable day. Think tactically about how to include ready-to-use hashtags, Facebook posts and images, tweets, email copy, campaign logo, campaign-related photos, infographics, “Top 10 lists” and links to other engaging content.
#5: Gamify it! — Make the process fun for your ambassadors by creating engaging and rewarding incentives to participate. The most powerful tool on #GivingTuesday is matching funds, but there are other great ways to raise the excitement level – and make donors feel like they are part of something bigger than their own gift.
Special goals like challenges for new donors, most social posts, etc. add a level of engagement. If you have an active client or volunteer base, encourage supporters to set up fundraising teams to compete against each other for the most raised.
Gamification provides fun and engagement, and even more fodder for content creation and social sharing surrounding your #GivingTuesday.
#6 Get your online giving process in shape. When you’ve invested your time and passion into creating, coordinating and communicating your #GivingTuesday campaign, donors will beating down your digital doors. Be sure you make your digital experience welcoming and easy to move through. You don’t want to lose a single donor that reaches your site because they…
• Can’t find your donate button
• Feel it takes too long to donate
• Feel like you are asking for too much information
• Don’t associate your giving page with the campaign
If you need more strategies for #GivingTuesday preparation, be sure to check out these other resources:
Wed, September 17 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tue, September 16 2014
Filed under: Giving Days •
The Best December Ever
For the past several weeks, we’ve focused on making this the best December ever, beginning with the launch of the giving season on #GivingTuesday, and running straight through year-end.
Beginning today, we’re digging into the tactics for a successful December, with #GivingTuesday as the launchpad. First up: Building your #GivingTuesday Team
Enthusiasm + Planning + Execution = Success!
Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
The most pivotal person on #GivingTuesday is the leader of your team – the Envoy of Enthusiasm.
Who is that passionate, committed, ORGANIZED, individual who can quarterback your #GivingTuesday team?
Perhaps it’s you, or your development director, or a young, enthusiastic staff member. Enthusiasm with tactical experience is a plus, but if you have to pick one key characteristic – focus on enthusiasm. Your leader is the starting point for your successful year-end campaign.
Next, focus on engaging the key team members - and loudest voices – among five key groups:
- Clients, participants, or alumni
- Committed Donors and other potential Ambassadors
Key individuals from each of these groups will form the heart of your Giving Day team – and will largely determine your success. Be sure that they are willing to spend an hour or two a week on the campaign, particularly as you get close to the big day.
Encourage Team Members to Play to their Strengths
Engaging team members works best when they are asked to bring their talents or networks to the table. There are lots of talents needed for a successful campaign, so there should be a job for everyone who wants to participate.
Consider each of these roles as you build out your team:
- Direct donating
- Challenge gifts
- Matching funds
- Personal fundraisers launched on your behalf
- Outreach to friends and family
- Sharing through social channels
- Online or offline events
- Goal setting
- Campaign management
- Database management
- Outreach to community partners
- In-kind support
- Corporate support
- Volunteer recruitment
Fill key positions with the best talent
Create a team structure that makes sense based on your organization’s size and structure. Once roles are defined, slot people into the position that best matches his/her interest and capabilities.
Then create a map that clearly lays out who is doing what, so everyone can understand how they fit into the overall campaign. This will build the sense of team, reinforce accountability, and will create a common understanding about the key contribution each team member is making.
And hopefully, it creates a visual depiction of the ways that all these small tasks roll up into big impact for the organization.
This is a simple example for a small organization:
Like a great party, it’s an opportunity, not an obligation!
Perhaps the hardest part of building your team is asking people to get involved in one more thing. But, think of #GivingTuesday as a virtual party for your cause, and it creates a spark for building your team.
The excitement about #GivingTuesday is for good reason - when done well, it has the energy and engagement of a great party, while attracting new donors and building awareness and donations for your cause.
And like a great party, #GivingTuesday depends on good planning and a little magic. Not to overstate the analogy, but these are a few parallels to consider…
- Timing is key: everyone understands the importance of year-end to nonprofits
- A unifying theme like #GivingTuesday creates excitement and engagement
- Key people need to show up to make the party great
- It’s got to be fun - games and activities can make a big difference
- The execution details matter: flow, decorations, music
- Party favors (rewards) can be an unexpected delight. Think about small, feel good items, like team t-shirts, wristbands or funny hats.
- Sharing memories - stories, pictures - after the party keeps the good feeling going, and makes everyone want to attend next year.
We all want to matter
At its core, #GivingTuesday is about making people feel like they are part of something that is bigger than themselves.
We all want to feel like we matter, so keep letting teammates know that the goal can’t be reached without them. And life-changing goals are at the core of your campaign, whether they focus on feeding the hungry, housing the poor, healing the sick, educating the young, or caring for our environment.
Doing good makes us feels good. And when we do good together, the feelings are magnified.
That’s something we all want to be part of.
Mon, September 15 2014
Filed under: Nonprofit leadership •
(Editor’s note: Today’s post comes from our friends at the National Council of Nonprofits. Jennifer Chandler, Vice President and Director of Network Support & Knowledge Sharing, offers an easy way for your nonprofit to help advocate for charitable giving.)
If you could make two simple phone calls or send two easy letters to advance your nonprofit’s mission, would you do it? If yes, then please read on.
A ray of sunshine is peeking through dark storm clouds that have hovered over nonprofits the last several years. Those storms dropped the Great Recession, increased demands for services, declining donations, and reduced funding from government contracts. That ray of sunshine is finally within reach – but it is flickering. To keep it from disappearing again, we each need to act now, to advance our missions and serve our communities into the future.
What is happening?: The ray of sunshine is the America Gives More Act, which the House of Representatives passed in July with support from across the political spectrum. As we all learned from Schoolhouse Rock, the Senate now needs to pass the bill for it to take the next step to becoming a law. And your Senators need a little push from the nonprofit sector to make it happen.
Every community would be positively affected by the America Gives More Act. It would create benefits for all nonprofits, across all subsectors. Most notably, the legislation would make donations from individuals to nonprofits through April 15 eligible to be counted as deductions on the prior year’s taxes. For nonprofits, this means a potential new rush of donations around tax time, not just at the holiday season.
The work of individual nonprofits would also be strengthened by the America Gives More Act. For food banks and others tackling hunger, it would enhance incentives - and make them permanent – to help drive donations of nutritious food. To promote land conservation efforts, the bill would make the incentives for donating easements to preserve our environment permanent also. And to make giving a bit easier for older Americans, the legislation would allow older individuals to donate directly from their IRAs to any public charity and make this allowance permanent. This permanency will send charitable resources into communities that need them, instead of being used year after year by nonprofits to advocate for the incentives to be renewed by Congress. Lifting our voices now to make them permanent will allow us all to re-dedicate that time to advancing our missions.
Act Immediately: There is only a small window of opportunity left in September before Senators leave D.C. again for the mid-term elections. Once they leave, the window slams shut. Therefore, the charitable nonprofit community needs to speak up now before we lose this unique opportunity.
It’s up to us all to speak up. Join other nonprofit board members, staff members, and volunteers across America by delivering this simple message to your Senators: Don’t leave Washington in September until the Senate passes the America Gives More Act; our communities are counting on you.
- Call your Senators’ local or Washington, DC offices (202-224-3121)
- Text or Tweet your Senators
- Write your Senators (see sample letter)
Tue, September 09 2014
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
- Watch this video interview of Jamie McDonald for #GivingTuesday Summer School, highlighting tips and tactics for making #GivingTuesday work for your organization
- Access the archived presentation of our Top Tips for a Successful #GivingTuesday
- Register with #GivingTuesday National
- Download These Free Fundraising Guides:
- Nonprofit Guide to Successful Giving Days
- The Nonprofit Crowdfunding Craze
- Storytelling for Nonprofits