Fri, May 01 2015

Nonprofit Link Round Up

Liz Ragland's avatar

Senior Content and Marketing Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fun stuff •

Nonprofit Link Round Up

A recent study from Dunham+Company reported that only 42% of U.S. churches give congregants an option to tithe online. But, 70% of non-church nonprofits offer online giving options. As our recent Digital Giving Index reported, and Dunham+Company's research confirms, online giving is outpacing overall giving. Have you made an online donation to your nonprofit recently? Was it easy? Take our test and find out.

Are you disconnected from donors? Do you even know what they want from your organization? A recent study shows that you are most likely ignoring donor preferences. via Chronicle of Philanthropy

If your nonprofit is exploring a rebrand, it's crucial that you involve your board. You need them to feel confident in the direction your nonprofit's brand is headed and you need them to trust the process. Big Duck has some tips on how you can do a better job of looping in your board during the rebrand process.

Your mission statement is not your organization's story. Your mission statement can be exemplified by telling stories, but there is no need to inject your statement in these stories. Instead, focus on the people you are serving and the problems you are tackling and let your vision and mission shine by demonstrating the impact you are making on people's lives. via John Haydon's Blog

You might think it's impossible to retain donors who give through a disaster giving campaign but Sean Triner disagrees. He's proposed a journey for new donors who give through emergency campaigns by leveraging quick communication, asking for a second gift at the right time, and retargeting ads. via 101fundraising

Since Give Local America! is this coming week it's a good time to review this infographic published last year: Who Gives to Crowdfunding Events? Bottom line: it's not just younger donors who give small gifts, donors who fit a wide range of demographics give on giving days. via Kimbia

Have you responded to the call for donations to help those in Nepal? Donate to one of ten nonprofits who are working to help those who are recovering from the earthquake.

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Thu, April 30 2015

Nonprofit Spotlight: Homeless Children’s Playtime Project

Annika Pettitt's avatar

Customer Success Manager, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fun stuff •

Network for Good works with so many amazing nonprofits and we want to introduce you to them and the great work they are doing! This week we want to introduce you to someone close to our home office here in Washington, DC. We love supporting our customers with great online fundraising tools and in real life: this weekend we’ll be putting on our running shoes and hitting the trails for the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project’s annual Defenders of Play 5k.

Meet Homeless Children’s Playtime Project

Nonprofit Spotlight: Children's Playtime Project

Creative play is vital to a child’s development. It encourages confidence, self-expression, and exploration. Children experiencing homelessness often lack access to safe places to play in shelters and transitional housing. Luckily, families in DC have The Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, an organization committed to nurturing healthy child development and reducing the affects of trauma among children living in temporary housing programs. With a large volunteer base and program sites across the city, Playtime Project gives young children and teens a safe space to play while lifting up the voices of families to ensure that safe, supportive shelters and affordable housing remain priorities in the District.

Supporting Volunteers

Playtime volunteers supervise play rooms, coordinate events, help with administrative duties, fundraise, and advocate for the needs of homeless families. Without volunteers, communications and outreach manager Kelli Beyer readily admits that Playtime wouldn’t be able to accomplish what it has. Last year, Playtime trained 376 volunteers who made a weekly commitment to working with the organization. With no full time coordinator, recruiting, training, and supporting these volunteers is a team effort. It’s clear their effort to recognize and celebrate volunteers as the vital asset they are has paid off: nearly 50% of new volunteers say they heard about Playtime from another supporter. It’s that level of passionate engagement with the organization’s mission that makes Playtime such a success.

Why We’re Running with Playtime

Not only do we love the mission, we can’t resist the opportunity to dress up, have a little fun, and defend kid’s right to play!

Homeless Children's Playtime Project 5K Homeless Children's Playtime Project 5K Homeless Children's Playtime Project 5K

For more 5K photos, head over to their Facebook Page (and like them while you’re there)!

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Wed, April 29 2015

Your Storytelling Questions Answered: Q&A with Vanessa Chase

Liz Ragland's avatar

Senior Content and Marketing Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Marketing essentials •

Last month, Vanessa Chase, founder of the Storytelling Non-Profit presented a Nonprofit911 webinar on how to incorporate storytelling in email appeals. The webinar was amazing, and I highly recommend you watch the archived version. Because so many people listened in, there were tons of great questions, but we didn’t have time to answer them all during the Q&A portion of the webinar. I gathered some of those questions and asked Vanessa if she could answer them here on our blog. Read on to hear Vanessa’s tips on donor surveys and her recommendations for how to include visuals in your email appeals.

What was your inspiration for starting the Storytelling Non-Profit?

Vanessa Chase

Vanessa Chase: I’ve been a fundraiser for a number of years, and I absolutely love the profession! A couple of years ago, I was working as a development officer. As much as I enjoyed working directly with donors, what I really loved was donor communications. But I noticed how ineffective donor communications tend to be, so I started to research and test narrative in communications. It led me to find that using stories not only helped us raise more money, it deepened the relationships we had with donors. Shortly after that, I started writing on my blog about what I was doing and sharing my learnings about storytelling with other fundraisers. My main mission continues to be finding ways to help nonprofits improve donor relations through their communications.

In your webinar, you mentioned that surveying donors is a good practice all nonprofits should do. Do you have examples of donor surveys that I can share with our readers?

VC: Surveying is one of the best things nonprofits can do to improve their fundraising programs. Through surveys, we can gauge donors’ satisfaction, identify ways to improve their satisfaction, and communicate with them more effectively.

Here are some sample survey questions, and here’s a copy of a survey I received from Union Gospel Mission.

If a nonprofit’s mission breaks out to three distinct program areas, do you recommend including stories on all three program areas in an appeal, or should you just stick to one area? Does that give donors the full story?

VC: This is a great question. One of the things nonprofits struggle with the most is trying to figure out which stories to tell, especially if they have a lot of programs. In appeals, I think it is always best to make a specific ask for a specific program. These tend to have the best conversion rates, because the asks are very tangible and donors can wrap their minds around what they are giving to. The trick is figuring out which of your programs garners the best response from donors, and then leveraging those stories for undesignated fundraising.

One of the things I recommend nonprofits do is create an editorial calendar for their storytelling over the course of the year. It’s helpful to know what your fundraising plan is, and then decide what stories you will tell and when. That way you can coordinate stories and messages across channels.

During the webinar, we had a lot of questions on the topic of using visuals in emails. There is no doubt that visuals complement stories. Do you have any recommendations for using photos versus using none in email appeals? Are videos worthwhile? Have you seen any research on this?

VC: I’m sure there is research on this topic, but unfortunately I haven’t come across it yet. You can think about the principles of direct mail here. We all know that what is "above the fold" is important. That can make or break the donor reading the rest of the letter. I think the same is true for emails. Once someone opens it, you want to make it easy for them to engage with. I have seen a number of nonprofits use an image above the fold of the email. But it is usually not just an image. They will overlay text on the image—typically the call to action—and hyperlink the image to the donation page. It kind of acts as a giant "donate" button right at the top of the email.

Do you have any suggestions on how to share stories that are specific enough to be moving but not so specific that they risk breaking confidentiality?

VC: Confidentiality is extremely important when you’re dealing with vulnerable populations and issues, so from an ethical standpoint, your organization should prioritize confidentiality. I recommend changing the person’s name and any details that could make them identifiable. Additionally, before you use the story, give the person a chance to read it to make sure they are comfortable with how they are portrayed.

Can you share examples of great email appeals that implement storytelling best practices?

VC: Here are two examples worth reading: This is from Splash, an organization that works to provide clean water to underserved populations, especially children, and this appeal is from Women Against Violence Against Women.

We’re partnering with Vanessa to see how nonprofits are currently leveraging stories in their communications. And we want to hear from you! Please fill out this short survey on your storytelling practices. Thanks! And thank you, Vanessa, for providing great examples and inspiration to help nonprofits tell better stories.

Storytelling for Nonprofits
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Tue, April 28 2015

Why Social Fundraising Works

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

How does tapping into the power of relationships transform a simple ask into a more effective, inspiring call to action? This week’s Nonprofit 911 webinar is all about leveraging the social nature of giving to grow your donor base and raise more money for your cause. Join us this Thursday at 1pm ET to learn how to create your own social fundraising campaign. Today’s post is a taste of what we’ll cover.

So, why does social fundraising work so well? Why can’t organizations get the same results just sending out direct appeals to their audiences?

Why Social Fundraising Works
While giving is a highly emotional and at times deeply personal act, at its core, most giving is social. Our personal experiences and social ties often drive our decision to donate to a cause. Giving is how we relate and give back to our community and how we seek to improve the world for our fellow man.

Giving is also social in that we are strongly influenced by our family, friends, and networks—as well as those we perceive to be our peers. When an appeal for funds comes from someone in our networks that we trust, we’re more likely to act.

Here’s why social fundraising campaigns can inspire a wave of new supporters for your cause:

Social fundraising is based on a two-way relationship.
Traditional fundraising appeals are often one-sided, broadcast messages. These promotions can move people to act, but they don’t easily capture the emotion or relationship that can drive giving on a massive scale. Social fundraising puts the message in the mouth of the person who is most likely to prompt a donation:  someone the audience knows. The experience of supporting a good cause becomes one that people can have together, which makes it even more powerful.

People give to people.
A personal fundraiser is often more persuasive it comes to evoking emotion and inspiring action. Messengers from outside an organization are often more credible than the organization itself. That’s why an outside messenger, such as a donor that fundraises for an organization, has the potential to cut through the communications clutter.

The message is based in story.
There is no more powerful way to move people to action than through a compelling story. Storytelling often comes more naturally to supporters, who may have a personal stake in the cause. Stories told by people we know feel more meaningful than stories distributed by an organization. The more authentic a message is, the more likely people are to act. The effect of these personal stories is a powerful recruiting tool when you are looking to spread your message and recruit new supporters.

Social norms are powerful motivators.
You may think that you left peer pressure behind in middle school, but what our friends, family, and colleagues do still holds strong influence over the actions we take. Humans tend to want to conform to the social norm—what we feel is the standard, accepted behavior. Social fundraising campaigns are a great way to establish a social norm of giving. When others see that friends, family, and their extended networks are coming together to support a good cause, it’s hard to resist joining in. Think of it as peer pressure for good.

So, tapping into social giving can make a big difference for your fundraising results, whether you implement some of these tactics in your next appeal, or decide to launch a more structured event.

Want more ideas? Download our new guide, The Secrets of Social Fundraising Success for more tips on how to get started on what to look for in technology that makes peer-driven fundraising easy and fun.

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Mon, April 27 2015

4 Thank You Musts for Monthly Donors

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Recurring Giving •

Editor’s note:  Our thoughts are with those affected by the massive earthquake and aftershocks in Nepal. You can help. To donate to the relief efforts, visit our disaster response page.

We’re in the last few days of our Recurring Giving Challengecheck out which campaigns are sitting atop our leaderboard and are in the running for their share of $20K in challenge rewards!

You’ve put a lot of work into recruiting recurring gifts from your supporters. Once you have monthly donors on board, you can just coast, right?


Even though they have set up and committed to a recurring gift, you still need to cultivate and build relationships with these donors. While thanking monthly donors isn’t much different than thanking donors in general, there is one big difference:  you have a lot more riding on monthly donors, as their lifetime value is likely to be much greater than your average one-time donor.

Use your thank you letter as an opportunity to show gratitude, but also to lay the groundwork for a long-term relationship. Donor gratitude is so important we have an entire guide devoted just to this very topic. Here are four musts for your thank yous to monthly donors:

1. Be prompt.
In addition to an immediate, personalized confirmation that their gift was processed successfully, you should thank your sustainers within a few days of setting up their recurring donation. Have a plan in place to make this happen quickly and make it a priority. Your goal is to keep that warm fuzzy feeling going as soon as possible after the gift was initiated. You may wish to send an email, a written note, or follow up with a phone call. It wouldn’t hurt to do all three over the course of those first few months once someone joins your monthly giving program.

2. Be personal.
In addition to addressing the donor by name, sign your thank you letters from a real person. Promise me that you won’t send thank yous that start out with “dear friend” or “dear supporter.” Not only is it boring and mechanical, it sends a signal of “we can’t be bothered.” Also, get creative with who signs your electronic and mailed letters–a board member, a volunteer, or a beneficiary can add significance to your acknowledgement. Make sure there is a real live human behind your stewardship efforts.

3. Be genuine.
Express your sincere gratitude and let your monthly donors know what their ongoing support will mean for your organization. Tell a short, emotion-filled story or share an example that shows the human impact of a recurring gift. Remind the donor what they are making possible. Tug at the heartstrings and bring your mission to life. This reinforces your donor’s decision to give an sustaining gift.

4. Be specific.
I covered the idea of specificity earlier this month, but it bears repeating because it’s so important. Include details about when, why, and what the donor is giving and which programs or results their recurring gift will support. All donors want to know that their gift is making a difference, and rich details help donors know their gift was noticed and appreciated.

Want more help thanking your monthly donors? Download our Recurring Donor Communication Guide and Templates for examples you can use today.

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