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’ll also be offering:
- $100,000 in Matching funds [from names of partners, when we have them] to make gifts go further.
- Visibility with Network for Good donors for featured nonprofits
- Two great platforms:
- Exclusive toolkits, expert webinars, specialized coaching and communications resources.
DonateNow – an easy-to-use customized online giving page that helps you inspire more donations
GiveCorps – powerful peer fundraising pages that help you get more from your supporters
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, having raised more than $1 Billion for nonprofits, and our leadership in 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.
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 6 simple steps to get you started.
The Big Six
#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
Want some help refining your online donation experience? Reach out to a Network for Good fundraising consultant for more info and a demo of our DonateNow fundraising service.
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.