Fri, July 25 2014

It’s Time to Retire the Reception

Liz Ragland's avatar

Marketing Content Associate, Network for Good

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Wine and cheese tastings. Fancy dinners. Receptions. What do all these events have in common? They are generic. Any nonprofit can host these events. They are not special to your donors. They are not especially meaningful. To paraphrase Lynne Wester, The Donor Relations Guru, in our popular Nonprofit 911 webinar:  Donors gave you money. They can buy themselves dinner. Hosting an event to honor and recognize your donors is good practice, but make sure that the face to face experience you give them is unique to your organization.

So what kind of donor experience do I recommend? I want to see more unique, memorable, heart-warming experiences. Create an event, an interaction, or an entire day that allows your donors to learn about your organization and gives them an understanding and appreciation for how you are using their investment.

LexyTo help get your ideas flowing, I asked a fundraising pro (and personal friend) Alexis Lux, CFRE and VP of Development for the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, to share some donor experience ideas:

So why should a nonprofit host “donor experiences”?

Alexis: These experiences should bring a donation to life. You want this experience to feel priceless to them but it shouldn’t really cost you much. It creates a closer connection to the nonprofit.

Can you give examples of specific donor experiences hosted for one donor or just a few?

I have three examples that were unique experiences for major donors:


1) When I was in the development department at a heritage museum we invited a major donor to the summer camp the museum hosted. He actually led a lesson for the campers!

2) When I raised money for a community boathouse foundation, we would name a new boat after a major donor and they had the opportunity to christen it in the traditional way (with champagne). Later, I would send them a photo of our youth team training with their boat on the river.

3) I also helped university scholarship donors meet the students they were supporting. I tried my best to partner the students and the donors by similar interest. One of our donors, an older women who loves the theatre, had a wonderful time getting to talk to a theatre student and heard firsthand about one of the upcoming shows

Lexy on HorsebackWhat about a donor experience that would be appropriate for a larger group of mid-level donors?

Well, at the YMCA we host a cancer survivor support group and we invite donors to attend the sessions. I even attended once and we did chair yoga! It was a lot of fun and wasn’t anything “extra” that I had to plan.

Also, at the museum we had a private “artist talk” before each exhibit opened. It was pretty cool to have a famous artist give our donors a tour and explain his inspiration for each piece that was included in the gallery.

Any other things to keep in mind when it comes to hosting these types of experiences for donors?

I know my future is full of more galas & wine/cheese receptions than I want to admit, but it’s so much more meaningful when donors can see their gift in action. I encourage all nonprofit leaders to get creative when it comes to the way you interact with donors!

——

Thanks to Lexy for sharing examples of unique donor experiences! I hope that you’re inspired! Need help thinking of donor experiences your nonprofit could host? Have examples that have worked for your nonprofit? Share your questions and ideas in the comments below.

For more on donor relations and why your organization should rethink how you relate to all your supporters, download the archived presentation, Transform Your Donor Relationships.

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Thu, July 24 2014

Great neighbors, but no casseroles.

Jamie McDonald's avatar

Chief Giving Officer, Network for Good

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

My peers and I are the Tweens of adulthood. We are old enough to remember the milkman delivering to the doorstep, and young enough to appreciate the poetry of rap music—at least some of it. We are the children of the baby boom, and the parents of Millennials.

Growing up, we were defined by our neighborhoods. Our parents chose neighborhoods based on what today we call affinity groups: ethnicity, education, class, age of kids. Our social network was the neighborhood. Accomplishments were celebrated with neighbors, and challenges were tackled with neighbors, often accompanied by a casserole. Charity began at home.

Networked Neighborhoods

Between the 70s and today, neighborhoods ceased to be the centrifugal center of social networks. Yet the desire for connection remains. We 40- and 50-somethings watch our kids form “neighborhoods” on their Social Networks. Likes, status updates, and feedback have replaced the celebratory visit, but they reinforce the importance of celebration.

And importantly, a neighbor in need can draw support from a city of virtual neighborhoods. In the Dragonfly Effect, Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith tell an illustrative story: Sameer and Vinay, both afflicted with late-stage leukemia, used their networks to register 24,611 South Asian bone marrow donors in 11 weeks. There was an authentic need, clearly communicated, and “neighbors” around the country responded.

Networks will increasingly power nonprofits.

I recently re-read the Networked Nonprofit, by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine. It brings the networked nonprofit to life in this reflection.

Networked Nonprofits don’t work harder or longer than other organizations, they work differently. They engage in conversations with people beyond their walls — lots of conversations — to build relationships that spread their work through the network. Incorporating relationship building as a core responsibility of all staffers fundamentally changes their to-do lists.”

 

Strong networks also support cultivation of major donors and passionate evangelists who provide the backbone for nonprofits as they grow. And through social networks, charities and community organizations can become ‘causes’, moving digital citizens to fuel their missions with energy, engagement and - yes - money.

Millennials, in particular, say the charities they support are one way they express themselves, and 87% of Millennials in a 2011 survey said “my priority is to look after my family and community; charity begins at home.” And the home that Millennials are most closely tied to is the one they have chosen, in their networked neighborhood.

If causes can become authentic institutions of these networked neighborhoods, they will find a new group of supporters who will celebrate their successes and help them tackle their challenges…without the casseroles.

Follow Jamie on LinkedIn to get more insights on giving and mobilizing your community.

Photo credit: David K., plasticrevolver on Flickr

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Wed, July 23 2014

Enhance Your Fundraising Strategy with Powerful Images

Kera Tyler's avatar

Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Network for Good

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Marketing essentials • Social Media •

The power of imagery is undeniable. Visuals have a way of emphasizing a message and motivating viewers to act. Watch as I share some examples and walk through the best ways to stimulate and engage your supporters and donors through images.

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Wed, July 23 2014

How to Get the Most from #GivingTuesday

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Marketing membership organizations •

In 2013, Network for Good saw nonprofits raise $1.8 million on #GivingTuesday, kicking off December giving with gusto. #GivingTuesday 2014 is December 2 and many organizations are already putting their plans in place. Now in its third year, this annual fundraising event is expected to be even bigger. 

When done well, giving days like #GivingTuesday can generate excitement in your community, attracting new donors and additional donations for your cause. Creating your own #GivingTuesday campaign does require the right people, a good plan, and a lot of energy. How do you capitalize on the giving day trend while managing your other campaigns and fundraising efforts?

Never fear, help is on the way!


Whether you’ve already begun planning or are still trying to decide how to participate, we’re here to help you create a #GivingTuesday strategy that works. Next Tuesday, Network for Good’s Chief Giving Officer, Jamie McDonald, will share the secrets to a engaging, highly successful giving day that will help your nonprofit rally your community, attract more donors, and raise more money on #GivingTuesday, and beyond.

Free Webinar: Maximize #GivingTuesday to Meet Your Fundraising Goals
Tuesday, July 29, 2014 |  1pm EDT
Register

Jamie knows first-hand how to make the most of a #GivingTuesday effort. She planned, promoted, and executed a grassroots campaign that raised $5.7 million in one day during #GivingTuesday 2013. Jamie will answer your burning questions about #GivingTuesday and share details from the plan that made this campaign so successful.

Register now to reserve your spot in this free webinar. You’ll get an action plan for preparing and executing a winning #GivingTuesday campaign, plus you’ll get a sneak peek of some of the special events that Network for Good has planned for this December.

Don’t miss it! (Can’t attend the live session? No worries. Register in advance and we’ll send you a copy of the presentation and a link to the recording.)

 

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Fri, July 18 2014

Reboot with These 6 Summer Camp Strategies

Nancy Schwartz's avatar

Nonprofit Marketing Expert

Filed under:   Fun stuff •

Our daughter Charlotte’s world right now is probably familiar to many of you.

She’s in the middle of a blissful summer at a few different day and overnight camps. At the end of every day, her mind and creativity are stimulated, she’s made new friends, and she sleeps soundly with a smile on her face. Charlotte finishes the summer inspired, energized, and smarter than ever.

As a longtime overnight camper myself, I greatly envy her. Finally, this summer I decided to follow her summer camp strategy lead and am doing something completely different from the everyday. I’m taking a two-month sabbatical to refresh and restore—my first-ever break beyond a brief vacation since I rushed out of college to work.

For many, however, a sabbatical isn’t possible, so I wanted to outline effective approaches used by fellow nonprofit staffers and consultants. I became a reboot detective, determined to find what’s working since rebooting is so valuable and so productive in teeing you up for a great fall and beyond.

I did what I typically do when I’m looking for answers—ask my friends and colleagues. Here are some of the fantastic approaches I heard from our peers in the field:

Seek a different point of view. Gillian Ream Gainsley, who works in communications and development at the Ypsilanti District Library in Michigan, does something very surprising.

“My summer camp plan is to go to overnight camp. Literally. I’m on the board of a summer camp and spend a week volunteering there every year. It’s the most rejuvenating part of my year,” Gillian says.

“Mostly, it’s a fantastic break. But I do communications for a youth organization, so it’s a great way to take a deep dive into how kids talk and think and feel. You have a much better sense of what their (and their parents’) needs are after a week of 24-hour interaction at camp.”

 

Get together and get outside. Caroline Avakian, founder of Source Rise, which connects journalists with experts in international development, spends more time outdoors and with her family. “Not only is it necessary, but I find that it fuels my work and creativity, making me much more productive during my work time,” she says.

Make a commitment to doing summer differently. Unless you’re lucky enough to actually go to summer camp, as Gillian does, it can be super hard to pry yourself away from the day-to-day routine, no matter how much you want to. That’s where I often fall.

You’re much more likely to succeed in getting to your own version of summer camp if you formalize your commitment. I did so by telling a few close friends and colleagues about my plan and asking them to keep me honest. My husband is good at policing as well!

I’m not alone here. “I have to consciously cut down on work hours to do that,” admits Caroline. “But it’s worth it since my productivity shoots up when I do get down to business. I tend to goal-set instead of clocking in my hours, so as long as I feel I’ve met my goals, I’m happy. That said, my ‘summer camp’ goals tend to be more focused on strategic priorities and organization. That focus gears me up and preps me for the busy fall season.”

Take a new approach to the same old. Danielle Brigida, senior manager of social strategy and integration for the National Wildlife Federation, is one of the most creative people I know. She brings that creativity to the way she tackles her work, including her own version of summer camp.

Like most of us, a lot of Danielle’s day is spent tackling ongoing challenges. Although the challenges themselves don’t vary wildly, she spices up the way she approaches them: “I break out the sidewalk chalk and the Idea Frisbee in the summer. I grab whomever I’m working with, and I just toss the Frisbee around when we need to think up clever names or ideas around campaigns. We find that moving while we brainstorm really helps.”

Work your body, nourish your soul. Many of the folks I spoke with increase their physical activity when summer comes around or add seasonal treats like biking and waterskiing.

Danielle, for example, goes way beyond the Idea Frisbee. “I went out on a limb and signed up for a marathon in Iceland in late August,” she says. “So I’m mostly training for that and spending as much time outside as I can. I also try to balance the running with yoga.”

Connect with peers in the field to build satisfaction and smarts. Graphic designer Julia Reich uses summer’s slight dip in her firm’s client work to build relationships with other nonprofit marketers and, she hopes, find some strong strategic alliances.

How will you get a little summer camp this summer? Please chime in with your comments to share how you recharge and look at things differently.

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.

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