Tue, August 18 2015

#GivingTuesday Success with a Staff of One: Q&A with CASS

Liz Ragland's avatar

Senior Content and Marketing Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Giving Days • Nonprofit leadership •

Last year, Network for Good customer Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) had a great #GivingTuesday campaign and won our prize for Best Social Campaign. The organization raised more than $17,000, came in fourth on our leaderboard for number of donors, and exceeded its original goal by 43%.

Because I experience and witness street harassment in Washington, DC, I can see the immediate importance of CASS’ mission. CASS mobilizes the community, through online and offline activism, to end public sexual harassment and assault in the DC metropolitan area. The campaign caught my eye and I was inspired to donate to it on #GivingTuesday. After I became a donor, I was delighted to receive some of the best post-donation communication ever! CASS has become one of my favorite nonprofit customers that we serve in DC.

Because CASS had such great success on #GivingTuesday 2014, I wanted to do a Q&A with Zosia Sztykowski, the nonprofit’s executive director, to find out how they put together an amazing campaign with just one paid staff member.

How did you plan and set goals?

Zosia Sztykowski: We set a very ambitious goal for our end-of year-campaign—triple what we had done in the previous year—and based on our experience, we knew we’d have to get a strong start on #GivingTuesday for that to work. #GivingTuesday and New Year’s Eve are always the best giving days for us.

How did you reach out to donors before, during, and after?

ZS: We started reaching out to donors four weeks in advance with soft touches via email. A week or two before, we gave all of them a call and asked folks to pledge. During the campaign, we reached out via email and social media. Afterward, everyone who donated received a special thank you email and a handwritten card.

What surprised you the most about #GivingTuesday?

ZS: It’s amazing how generous everyone is even when every other organization is asking for donations at the same time. There’s something very touching about that. It really is a day about giving in the broad sense of the word. In 2014, we managed to quadruple what we raised in 2013 on #GivingTuesday because of this generosity.

What is the number one piece of advice you would give to nonprofits doing #GivingTuesday for the first time?

ZS: Plan, plan, plan. Read about others’ successful strategies. Get your emails and your social media materials ready well in advance. Know that you’ll need all hands on deck on #GivingTuesday. Have a schedule—but be prepared to throw it out the window if you come up with a better idea at the last minute.

How did you manage it all with very few paid staff members? CASS only has one paid staff member, right? And how did you make sure volunteers followed through with their commitments to help make it great?

ZS: Yup, just one—me! Needless to say, I had some pretty serious tunnel vision going in late November/early December. But our volunteers are one of our strongest assets. They get the word out and solicit people in their networks. Every time we run a campaign like this, we don’t just reach multiples of our dollar goal, we also multiply the length our donor list, and I think this is directly attributable to our grassroots strategy. If a volunteer team is well organized and engaged—trained, prepared with all the materials they need, and knowledgeable about the organization and its fiscal needs—then they will follow through. Better yet, they’ll make it fun. It’s really about starting a conversation with volunteers that continues throughout the process.

What will you differently this year?

ZS: We’re planning to reach out to more big donors way in advance to build a lot of momentum for #GivingTuesday.

Thank you, Zosia, for sharing these details with us! If you want to put on a great #GivingTuesday campaign in 2015, we can help. Sign up to get Network for Good’s #GivingTuesday resources sent directly to your inbox.

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Mon, August 17 2015

The Key to Raising More This Year

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

You might have a marketing plan, a shiny new website, and a fundraising appeal that has been triple-checked, but the key to raising more this year will come down to really knowing and understanding your donors.

When you truly understand your donors, you can communicate more effectively with the best timing, more relevant messages, and the right ask. And the only way to get smarter about these critical elements of donor communication is to be able to collect, manage, and efficiently analyze your fundraising data.

Not sure how to accomplish this? We can help.

If you want to get more out of your fundraising and donor relationships this year, tomorrow’s free Nonprofit 911 webinar is for you. My colleague Jonathan Gibbs, Network for Good’s VP of Product, will share the best practices in selecting, implementing, and getting the most out of a donor management system. Jonathan will also offer some smart tips on overcoming the common challenges nonprofits face in managing donor data. 

Register for this free session now.  (Can’t attend the live session? Go ahead and register and we’ll make sure you get the slides and the recording in your inbox shortly after the webinar.)

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Fri, August 14 2015

Don’t Forget the Why

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:  

Keep it Beachy Clean Stickers

On a recent family vacation, I loved seeing these stickers on trash cans along the boardwalk and on the beach. As part of Virginia Beach’s “Keep It Beachy Clean” campaign, messages like “Thanks for not littering! You just kept a pelican from making bad choices.” or “Thanks for not littering! You just made a whale want to come back next year.” added a bit of humor to a reminder of why the message mattered.

It’s also a good reminder for all nonprofit marketers:  when asking someone to do something—whether that’s making a donation, volunteering, or putting trash in it proper place—don’t forget to tie your ask to why it matters. Why should they care? Why will it make a difference? Connecting a simple anti-litter message to the easily identifiable wildlife that would benefit from that action kept the “why” top of mind for all beachgoers.

How are you keeping the “why” front and center for your donors?

 

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Thu, August 13 2015

How to Set a #GivingTuesday Goal

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Giving Days •

Are you ready for #GivingTuesday 2015? This annual day of generosity continues to grow, and we expect this year’s event to be even bigger. According to a recent webinar poll, 30% of nonprofits are planning to participate in #GivingTuesday for the first time and 39% are planning to do more for #GivingTuesday than they did last year.

Whether you’re launching your first #GivingTuesday campaign or planning a triumphant return, the first step in planning your success is to set your sights on a clear goal for your team and supporters to rally around.

Total dollars raised is an obvious metric to measure, but it shouldn’t be your only goal, as a giving day like #GivingTuesday is a unique opportunity to boost donor acquisition, re-engagement, and retention. Here are a few other important goals that you may want to work into your plan:

  • 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, board, alumni, clients

Think about what kind of campaign you’d like to run this year and which goals make the most sense based on your approach.

Where Do You Start? Build a Pyramid

If you ran a #GivingTuesday campaign last year, you have a benchmark you can use to make 2014 plans. If you’re in your first year, you’ll need to base your goals on what you know about your past campaigns and donors.

Another way to plan your overall donation goal by using a giving pyramid. A giving pyramid allows you to visualize and breakdown your donation goal by donor level. Creating the pyramid helps you sanity check your goal by plotting it out, rather than just guessing.

Here’s an example of a giving pyramid for #GivingTuesday:

  • Dollar goal: $8,000
  • Existing donors in your database: 1,500 donors
  • Achieving a 3% response rate: 45 donors
Donor Chart

Map out a giving pyramid using your dollar goals and your number of donors. 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.

Want to build your own #GivingTuesday donor pyramid? Download our template and input your goals, number of current donors, and expected response rate and we’ll do the calculations for you.

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Tue, August 11 2015

An Inside Look at The 4 Pillars of Donor Relations: Q&A with Author Lynne Wester

Liz Ragland's avatar

Senior Content and Marketing Associate, Network for Good

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Filed under:   Fundraising essentials • Recurring Giving •

Today, donor relations expert Lynne Wester will join us for a free Nonprofit911 webinar: Donor Retention Isn’t Speed Dating. You don't want to miss it! Register now!

Lynne is not only an expert on donor retention; she has spent her career in donor relations and is known as the Donor Relations Guru. Earlier this year I published a Q&A with Lynne about her new book, The Four Pillars of Donor Relations. Enjoy this encore blog post and don’t forget to register for Lynne’s webinar!


Lynne Wester

If you aren’t familiar with Lynne Wester’s work in donor relations, you are missing out. Last year she presented an amazing webinar (one of our highest attended!) on donor relations and ever since then I’ve been hooked on the topic of donor relations and Lynne’s wise words on this important work that many fundraisers don’t (unfortunately) know much about.

Since the webinar, Lynne has published a book, The 4 Pillars of Donor Relations. It’s a great resource for any fundraiser who wants to increase their donor retention rate (aka everyone).

I did a quick Q&A with Lynne so you could understand what the book is all about.

BONUS: She shared the names of a few organizations who are excelling at donor relations. If you want to see what a great donor experience looks like, consider giving a small gift to one of the organizations she mentions.

How did you first get interested in donor relations?

Lynne Wester: I guess you could say I’ve been in donor relations since I was a child and my mom made me write thank you notes before I could play with my Christmas and birthday presents. But in reality, as a career, it came at Rollins College where I got my start writing thank you notes for leadership and my career blossomed from there. I am so blessed to be able to spend a lifetime helping others express gratitude.

Of the four pillars of donor relations (acknowledgement, stewardship and impact reporting, recognition, and engagement) where do you see nonprofits struggle the most?

LW: By far, it’s in stewardship and impact reporting. Nonprofits don’t take the time to tell the donor the impact and power of their gift, where the money went, and how it was spent. Instead, they’re too eager to obtain the next gift which leads to horrific retention rates.

We have to make the donor the hero and tell a story, not overwhelm them with news and information about the organization or ask them for more money. First we have to thank them, and then tell them the impact their money had. It’s a simple formula, really.

We get this question all the time and I think you’re the right person to weigh in: what is a GOOD donor retention rate?

LW: If the average first-time donor retention rate is 27%, and that’s the average, I would want to keep at least HALF of my first-time donors. It has nothing to do with the size of the organization, but rather the mindset and the attitude of gratitude that one possesses. Large or small, holding onto half of the people that invest in us shouldn’t be too high of a goal.

If your “team” that is responsible for donor relations is just one person, or 50% of one person’s workload,  what do you recommend they focus on first? What has the potential to have a big impact in a short amount of time?

The past has no power over the present

LW: The first thing is thanking without an ask. There is NO such thing as a soft ASK, that’s like being partially pregnant. So, sincerely thank your donor in a timely manner and then, once you’ve spent their funds, tell them the story of the impact their funds had on the people your organization serves.

I always tell my clients the amount of the gift is the LEAST important thing. The behavior is the MOST important thing. To have bottom line ROI impact focus on two groups first:

  1. first-time donors
  2. loyal or consecutive donors

This will really move your needle. You have to hold onto your first-time donors, otherwise they will never become loyal donors.

What is the most meaningful message you’ve received from an organization after a gift was made?

LW: I would have to say that the most meaningful messages I receive in a consistent manner come from the folks at charity:water. They make me feel important, they show me the impact of my donations, no matter how large or small and they make me feel very valuable and essential to the process.

Do you have any good examples of monthly giving programs that were branded as a “society” or “member” vs. a monthly giving program that had no separate branding? Do you know of any research that shows this works well or not?

LW: I give monthly to two organizations that do a great job of this. I’m a member of charity:water’s Pipeline, their monthly giving program, and I think this does a great job of keeping me informed, telling me why my support is important, and making me feel inextricable to their mission. Also Make-a-Wish does a great job with their monthly program and it has a brand. They call it the “wishmaker” club.

But honestly, being a part of a club is not why I give monthly. Just as powerful is my monthly gift to Livestrong, as a cancer survivor, they don’t need to brand me with a moniker or anything like that. They do a great job ensuring I have a sense of belonging and importance to them. Their donor relations and impact communications are spot on and I’m so proud to support them.

If we want to see what a great donor relations experience looks like in reality, who should we make a small donation to and experience it ourselves?

LW: charity:water, Whitworth University, Livestrong, and Kalamazoo College

Thanks to Lynne for giving us a peek into the topics covered in her book and for sharing her recommendations with us. For more of Lynne’s thoughts on donor relations, follow her on Twitter.

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