The headline of this post is the gist of a depressing new report from CompassPoint and the Haas, Jr. Fund: UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising. Based on a national survey of more than 2,500 development directors and executive directors, the study documents heavy turnover and vacancies in development director positions, a lack of basic fundraising systems, and key board and staff leaders who aren’t sufficiently focused on raising money. On top of that, one in four nonprofit leaders reported that their previous development director was fired.Sorry to hit you with that news this morning. I hope it doesn’t describe your situation!Here are the key findings – quoted from the study team.1. Organizations are struggling with high turnover and long vacancies in the development director post.• Executive directors at organizations where the development director position was vacant said the posts had been open for an average of 6 months. Almost half (46%) reported vacancies even longer than that.• Half of development directors said they expect to leave their current jobs in two years or less; and the rate was even higher for smaller organizations.• Forty percent of development directors aren’t committed to careers in development.2. Organizations aren’t finding enough qualified candidates for development director jobs. Executives also report performance problems and a lack of basic fundraising skills among key development staff. • Asked about the last time they tried to hire a new development director, more than half of executives (53%) said the search produced an insufficient number of candidates with the right mix of skills and experience.• Nearly one in three executives are lukewarm about, or dissatisfied with, the performance of their current development directors.• One in four executive directors (24%) said their development directors have no experience or are novice at “current and prospective donor research.” Among the smallest nonprofits, the number was 32%. 3. Beyond creating a development director position and hiring someone who is qualified for the job, organizations and their leaders need to build the capacity, the systems, and the culture to support fundraising success. The findings indicate that many nonprofits aren’t doing this.• Almost one in four nonprofits (23%)—and 31% of organizations with operating budgets of under $1 million—have no fundraising plan in place. In addition, 21% of organizations overall—and 32% of organizations with operating budgets of under $1 million— have no fundraising database.• Three out of four executive directors (75%)—and 82% of executives among organizations with operating budgets of under $1 million—say that board members are not doing enough to support fundraising.• Twenty-six percent of executives identified themselves as having no competency or being a novice at fundraising. Further, among executives who said that asking for contributions was one of their main duties, 18% said they dislike it.• Just 41% of development directors said the partnership between them and their executives on fund development work is strong, compared with 53% of executive directors.• A majority of development directors reported only little or moderate influence on key activities such as getting other staff involved in fundraising or developing organizational budgets.• Significant numbers of development directors questioned the effectiveness of their organizations’ fundraising efforts.OK. Enough of the problem. What the heck do we do about this? Please weigh in. In the meantime, the study team recommends that we:1. Embrace the importance fundraising across organizations2. Elevate the field of fundraising – As explained by Kim Klein, “Money is one of the great taboos in our culture. We are taught not to think about it or ask about it… As with the subjects of sex, death, mental illness, religion, politics, and other taboos, people say little about their experiences with money. With people so carefully taught that it is rude to talk about money, it’s certainly not an easy task to ask for it.”3. Strengthen the talent pool4. Train boards differently5. Treat fundraisers like the key staff they are with appropriate transition planning6. Invest in building grantee fundraising capacity7. Do more with technology and the innovation it allows8. Set realistic fundraising goals9. Share accountability for those goals10. Fundraisers and executive directors should both show greater leadershipSomeone who is trying to help re-imagine fundraising is Jennifer McCrea. She even teaches a course on this at Harvard. I recommend you check out her blog, along with this report, for more ideas.What do you think can be done?
Guy Kawasaki, co-founder of Alltop.com, founding partner at Garage Technology, and former chief evangelist of Apple, is one of the most sought after speakers there is. And he’s agreed to present a Network for Good webinar for nonprofits on how to shape and self-publish your organization’s story.Join us for this free webinar Tuesday, January 22 at 1 p.m. ET. Register here. (If you register, a few days later you will receive a recording of the webinar so you can enjoy it even if you’re not available Tuesday. Since I always get a flurry of emails of readers telling me they did not get their recording, please note: it takes a couple of days and it may be in your spam filter. Please check there if you don’t receive it.)
This week, I published a personal post on my LinkedIn blog. I thought I’d share it here. I was asked by LinkedIn to post on the theme of “my best career mistake.” You can view the original post here. I welcome your reactions and thoughts.Eight years ago, I found myself scraping the tops off store-bought cupcakes in my kitchen at one in the morning. I was replacing the obviously baker-applied icing with hand-applied frosting so the cupcakes would look passably homemade when I brought them to my daughter’s school the next day to celebrate her birthday.What would possess me to do such a bizarre thing? Shame. Or, to put it more fully, it was the mistake of trying to do it all well – and the fear of facing in myself that I could not.Back then the icing switch-up seemed a better idea than turning up at school with obviously store-bought birthday cupcakes. After all, the school staff had made clear that home-made snacks were strongly preferred, and every other mother seemed capable of bringing lovingly hand-prepared, organic treats on birthdays. But I’d worked late that night, so the best I could do was cosmetic surgery on baked goods. My daughter didn’t care. A cupcake was a cupcake in her view, and we were going to bake a cake together that weekend when we celebrated as family. I was the one who cared. I was afraid of being The Bad Mom. Just as I feared being The Bad Worker when I was late to work because of school activities.It wasn’t about what other people thought that was the problem. It was what I thought of myself.Fast forward to last month, when I was on a panel discussing Women in Leadership. Every woman alongside me publicly admitted the same fleeting fears – and the same feelings of failure and fraudulence in their lives and careers. We know we can’t do it all, but that doesn’t stop us from feeling bad about that fact on any given day. It was an enormous relief to admit this – and talk about how we handle it.This theme arises in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and hearing it from someone that accomplished was another revelation for me. I’m glad she admits her own similar moments – and irritated by dismissal of how important this admission is. I’ve read many negative reviews of the book. Most boil down to one or all of these statements: – Shut up, Sheryl: This book is a solution in search of a problem, or it addresses the wrong problem. Women aren’t holding themselves back in the ways you say.– Mind your own business, Sheryl: You shouldn’t be telling other women how to lean in.– Easy for you to say, Sheryl: You are privileged and so leaning in works for you (you have lots of help). It won’t for the rest of us.I’m distressed by these reactions because many of them miss the point and make quite clear the critics haven’t read the whole book. And because fear of this kind of judgment of a life is exactly what drove me into the kitchen to fake my cupcakes.I feel it’s time for us to discuss, honor and learn from however we struggle or succeed – whether it’s from someone who has made it big or is making it day by day. To me, this is a major point of the book and the very purpose of this post. Having these conversations, openly, is good for everyone.Sandberg writes,“We all want the same thing: to feel comfortable with our choices and to feel validated by those around us. So let’s start by validating one another. Mothers who work outside the home should regard women who work inside the home as real workers. And mothers who work inside the home should be equally respectful of those choosing another option.”In addition to calling a truce in the gender wars, we should also find a peace with ourselves. By overcoming our own insecurities regarding our own paths, we can focus on something bigger and better: how all of us – men and women – can better support each other’s growth. We should find ourselves in fewer hidden cupcake moments and instead in more soul-searching, constructive reflection. As Sandberg notes: “We need to talk and listen and debate and refute and instruct and learn and evolve.”I’ll share my choice: to work outside the home and be a mother, however imperfectly. I try to lean in as well as to stop hiding that it’s sometimes hard despite my relative fortune. So I’m fessing up about those silly fake cakes and sharing what I wish I’d known in the wee hours eight years ago: We all have paths to take, whoever we are, and those ways of living all have trade-offs. We gain, not lose, power by owning that imperfect reality, living it without shame and learning from whoever else is willing to share their experience.To me, the real art of the lean-in is admitting the fear of falling short on my own path and pushing onward anyway. If I’d known it eight years ago, I would have showed up at school with plastic-encased, professionally frosted cupcakes in all their store-bought glory. And I would have known what mattered was that I was there, learning in to the experience of working motherhood and finding a way to be there to celebrate the most important of birthdays. After all, it doesn’t get any better than that.
A new study conducted by Good.Must.Grow has found consumers are apt to like and buy products from socially responsible companies – but they also question the claims of corporations who say they are committed to the greater good.In the poll of 1,015 Americans, nearly a third of respondents claimed to have sought out socially responsible companies and a quarter said they avoided buying products from a company specifically because it wasn’t socially responsible. A majority (60%) of the study participants said buying goods from socially responsible companies was important to them, though a good deal tended to trump that consideration.That’s good news for those of us pitching cause partnerships to companies. But it’s important to bear in mind another finding: Consumers are skeptical too, and 63% only sometimes trust a company’s claims that it is socially responsible.It’s important for nonprofits and companies to build trust with the right partnerships. Here’s my advice:1. Find the fit. Consumers are more likely to believe and embrace a company’s cause-related efforts if they’re reasonably aligned with their brand. For example, an athletic footwear brand is a better fit for anti-obesity sports programs than a fast food company. Seek out companies with values aligned with your nonprofit.2. Show the money. Make sure your corporate partner practices complete and total transparency about the cause-related efforts. How many dollars went where, to what end? Help consumers see the resulting impact on real world problems.3. Walk the talk. Choose a company that shows it’s a good corporate citizen in how it treats its employees, customers, suppliers, etc. Cause-related efforts that are strictly advertising ploys will spark skepticism. Consumers can smell crass corporate self-interest a mile away.The bottom line? Find the right partner so consumers will embrace the partnership.
I’m excited to announced that today, Characters Magazine is live. Master storyteller Mark Rovner and I founded this literary magazine to feature the writing of people who work for good causes and to inspire better storytelling in our sector. You can read it free online here. Thanks to everyone who submitted – as well as to the amazing editor and designers I highlighted in the following introduction included in the magazine. It was a labor of love to put this together, and I’m especially grateful to Mark for his partnership and creativity — as well as his willingness to take over the full reins going forward. He’s a Character, and so Characters couldn’t be in better hands.This magazine was born over breakfast one year ago, when I showed Mark the moving short story I’d been reading on the metro that morning. It was a prize winner in the Mississippi Review written by my cousin, Elisabeth Cohen, and it launched an impassioned conversation about why storytelling matters.The story was called “Irrational Exuberance,” which happens to be an apt term for the creative process. We fall in wild love with an idea, yet when we set it down in words, it becomes a deflated and devalued bit of what we imagined. This is the maddening twin truth of story. It packs such power that every other form of communication is flat and feeble by comparison. And yet, as Flannery O’Connor said it so well, “Most people know what a story is, until they sit down to write one.” A cracking good story could change the world, if only we could write it.We are hell-bent on trying, along with you. That’s because we spend much of our waking hours working with good causes, and we know that there are thousands of people among us who hold within them extraordinary stories. That includes you. Maybe it’s the story of who you are or what you do or why you came to care for a cause. Maybe it’s an incomplete tale, a slice of everyday experience, that – if told – would transport us out of ourselves and thrust us into your shared space, never to be the same. We don’t know what your story is, but we do know this: You must summon the irrational exuberance to try to set it down. Because it will make a difference in a way that taglines, mission statements or technological bells and whistles cannot. It is a direct conduit to someone else’s heart, because it came from your own.Because we think this is so important, we decided that morning to create Characters. It’s both a call to tell your story and celebration of good storytelling by people who are seeking to change the world. The first law of story is to show, don’t tell, so we are not telling you how to write a story (as if we could). We are showing you stories that matter. We called it Characters because in these pages are authors – characters trying to do good in the world – along with the characters within their own experience and imagination. It’s a motley, entertaining and inspiring crowd you will most certainly want to meet. Thank you to everyone who brought together these characters. First and foremost, Elisabeth, who agreed to be its editor. It is only fitting as she was the original character who started this story. Taughnee Stone and Jake Van Ness created the stunning design, and we are grateful for their talents. And last, but most important, thanks to everyone who had the courage to tell their story, in public, in these pages and on the Characters website. You show a cracking good story can be told, and that we can write it.
If you have the resources, tweet multiple times per day (about three to five depending on your audience). You can post more often on Twitter than on Facebook because Twitter’s feed moves faster. The return on investment for fundraising events equals increasing donations, raising awareness, and maximizing ticket sales. So how can you influence the ticketing life cycle and encourage more people to attend your event? Leverage social media to make your next fundraising event a success with these lessons from nonprofit social media expert Ritu Sharma.1. Create a calendar and a planBegin planning your social media campaign 6 to 8 weeks before your event, plan backwards from the date of the event, and keep track of your digital communications with a social media manager like HootSuite or TweetDeck. “Creating a content and communications calendar is one of the most underutilized but best things that a nonprofit can do,” Ritu explained. You already know the name of your keynote speaker, where the event will take place, and other key details, so capitalize on this knowledge: Prescheduled messages now to save time as the event nears and let you focus on other areas. You should also begin posting this information to your website and local community calendars.2. Use social media to maximize engagement and tie it all together with dataCreate a digital registration page with your branding using a tool that includes social sharing such as Network for Good’s Event Ticketing and Registration software. It’s this last part-social sharing-that’s the key: People are 60% more likely to share your event registration after they’ve signed up.Create unique links for each of your social media sales sources (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and email campaigns) so that you can track registrations and donations from each. You can also create unique links for big partners so that you’ll be able to identify which partners and sources were the most helpful, drove the most traffic, and ultimately brought in the most registrants and donations. Measure your results throughout the campaign in order to tweak your outreach strategy.Once your registration page is live, make sure that people know about it! Create a Facebook event and cultivate your community with active posting and responding. If your weekly reports show that Facebook is leading to the highest number of donations and ticket sales, you can focus your efforts on what’s working.3. Continue to leverage social channelsWhen others interact with you, even to find out about an event, they want to know what’s in it for them. By posting more useful, beneficial, and educational content than promotional content, you’ll see the greatest response and be perceived as a group with value. It’s this balance that will help grow your online community to propel you and your event forward.Promote on Facebook:Post regularly with pictures of last year’s event and attendees, as well as this year’s upcoming performers and auctions. Create a hashtag for your event to include in all posts, such as #NFGgala. That way your attendees can easily follow your event and tweet about it, too. You can also create your own groups for your community, organization, and event. Invite all attendees to your group on LinkedIn and share exclusive content with them.4. Keep the conversation goingOn the big day, prominently display your event’s hashtag and project the Twitter conversation in real time using free services like Twitterfall.com. Then after the event, post videos and attendees’ stories on Facebook, ask for feedback or share an email survey, thank your attendees on Twitter, and write recaps of the event on LinkedIn. As a final step, be sure to analyze your tracking and analytics to determine which social channels were the most effective for getting registrants and keeping supporters energized.Social media can help you drive registrations for your fundraising event, as well as keep the conversations going after the event is over.(Image Credit: Ritu Sharma/Social Media for Nonprofits) Before you start posting in a group, look at the culture first, and then look for ways to add value with your content so that members will view you as a contributor and not as self-serving. Just like with influencers, adding value to a group on LinkedIn is another way to create name recognition. If your registration rate is low, try a direct message Twitter campaign. Download a list of all of your Twitter followers to Excel, segment them by location, and then target them with an individualized message. When most Twitter users receive a direct message, they also receive an email from Twitter alerting them. Don’t forget to say thank you. Your manners are important on Twitter, too, so remember to acknowledge everyone who helps you promote your event.Link up:LinkedIn is great for reaching communities, not just individuals. Members form groups with others based on shared interests and similar careers have the most traction. Invite attendees to RSVP on Facebook after they register. Tag VIPs, attendees, and partners in your Facebook posts.Tweet it out:Discover your cause’s top 10 influencers and then spend time cultivating a relationship with them. Retweet their content and send them messages so that they’ll take note of who you are and you’ll build brand recognition with them. Then, when you are gearing up for your event, they’ll be more willing to share it. If you send these influencers a premade tweet, chances are high that they will share your message, but not if you hadn’t cultivated a relationship with them.
Directed by internationally acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog, From One Second to the Next is a documentary-style PSA in AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign. The film is a sobering look at the consequences of texting and driving. It features the heart-wrenching stories of the victims of these accidents, as well as interviews with some of the drivers who caused the tragedies. At almost 35 minutes, it’s much longer than your typical viral video, yet it’s an extremely compelling and effective way to get the point across.I’m sharing this video today for two reasons:1) It’s a serious message that should be shared and discussed. (As the mother of a teen who’s about to get behind the wheel this year, I’m probably even more sensitive about this topic.) 2) It’s also an amazing example of the single most important ingredient in powerful storytelling. No, you don’t need a famous director or high production value to make people stop, think, share, or act. But what you do need, at the core of every story you tell, is real, relatable, and raw emotion. If you watch the video, I’d love to know what you think. In the comments, please share how you’re tapping into your real, emotional stories to help draw support for your cause.
Because a fundraising event can be expensive, it’s important to maximize your investment with a targeted outreach strategy. Your goals should be to increase ticket sales, improve word of mouth buzz, create more invested supporters, and ultimately raise more money. But if you focus on just one more thing, your marketing can be exponentially more effective.When planning an event, it’s important to ask: “Why will people attend?” Event360 suggests guests come because of an …1. Affinity to ParticipantsThis is especially true for fundraising events like marathons, where attendees might come to cheer someone on, or if there will be a guest speaker or entertainment, a guest might attend for that speaker or performance.2. Affinity to an ActivityIf you have an activity such as a golf tournament or a wine tasting, someone who loves the links or is deeply interested in wine collecting might attend for the activity.3. Affinity to a Third-Party GroupGuests whose employers have a relationship with your nonprofit or a relationship with a corporate sponsor might attend to support them.4. Affinity to a CauseYour guest might be passionate about the beneficiary of your event, such as animals or the environment.5. Affinity to an OrganizationIf someone is a dedicated fan of your organization, he is more likely to attend your event.Remember, people might have one or more reasons to attend your fundraising event. It can be challenging to address each type of attendee, but it can also be a great opportunity to gain new supporters. Start with your invitations and registration pages, which should answer:1. Why them? What’s in it for your guest? Do you mention the activity or sponsor they might be interested in? Why are they receiving your invitation, and why should it matter to them?2. What for?What’s the impact of the event, and what’s going to happen as a result of it? Do you clearly state what will happen to the proceeds you raise?3. Who says?Do you make it clear who the invitation is coming from? If your guest has an affinity to a participant or an activity, are you interesting them with a quote from a sponsor, a celebrity, someone who attended last year, or someone who benefitted from the event?4. Why now? Is there a date sensitive element you can include to encourage participation, such as early bird pricing of a limited number of VIP tickets?When crafting your marketing strategy, think about your different types of guests so that you can market to everyone and maximize your donations. Network for Good’s Event Ticketing and Registration software can help you communicate your message to attendees and raise more money for your mission.
It’s no secret that mobile is quickly becoming the platform of choice for many, but these stats really drive the point home. Nonprofit marketers should heed these trends and factor mobile into their communication and fundraising strategies to effectively attract and connect with donors in the coming years.56% of all American adults are now smartphone adopters. Source: Pew Tweet this.American adults spend an average of 141 online minutes using mobile devices. Source: AdAge Tweet this.61% of active users view emails either exclusively on a mobile device or use mobile and desktop interchangeably. Source: YesMail Tweet this.75% said they are “highly likely” to delete an email if they can’t read it on their smartphone. Source: Constant Contact Tweet this.20% of Internet traffic is expected to come from mobile by the end of 2013. Source: KPCB Tweet this.23% of smartphone users have made a purchase on their phone. Source: Nielsen Tweet this.66% of consumers over 60 open emails on a mobile device. Source: Constant Contact Tweet this.32% now bank using their mobile phones. Source: Pew Tweet this.61% say they have a more favorable opinion of brands that offer a good mobile experience. Source: Latitude Tweet this.The percentage of donations made on mobile web browsers has grown 205% in the last 12 months. Source: Artez Interactive Tweet this.Need some help thinking about how to incorporate mobile into your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy? Download this free whitepaper from Network for Good and PayPal, Why Mobile Matters: A Guide to the Mobile Web.
At this week’s Social Media for Nonprofits conference in Washington, DC, Avi Kaplan, Director of Online Strategy for Rad Campaign, challenged organizations to think about how they can break through the noise on social media when we live in a BuzzFeed world. Avi says the key to standing out is to focus on the right audience in the right context with awesome content. Here are just a few of the tips he shared with the crowd.Connect with the right people.Keep in mind that your social media universe is comprised of three segments: your die-hard supporters, people who are likely receptive to your message, and those who just aren’t that into you. Get more from your database. Look at your current donor list, email list, and social media followers. What do they have in common? Seek out “lookalike” populations as you connect with influencers and use this insight to inform paid social promotion.Prioritize. Don’t waste time on audiences that aren’t in your sweet spot. Focus on the people who are already passionate about your cause, interested in your issue, or are supporters of your organization. They will help you reach more like-minded folks and create ripples from your social media efforts.Understand the return on investment for specific audiences. Some segments of your audience are great sharers and likers, but other segments might be more likely to take actions like making a donation or volunteering. Learn the behaviors of each of your segments and plan your outreach accordingly.Connect in the right context.Being timely, relevant, and top of mind means hooking into the bigger picture. What else are your supporters interested in or talking about? Find appropriate ways to capitalize on trends, breaking news, and even memes to tap into the familiar. Don’t miss your opening. Social media conversations move fast. What may be timely today may be passé tomorrow. If it takes you a few weeks to create, approve, and publish content, you’ve missed the moment. Create a social media system nimble enough to react quickly and find your organization’s share of recent news or trending topics.Plan ahead. If you don’t have an editorial calendar to help you plan your content for social media and beyond, it’s time to create one. Avi shared that as part of your content calendar, you also need a “context calendar”—this is a space on your editorial calendar where you’ll plot out holidays, key milestones, seasonal topics,and more. Unlike breaking news or unexpected memes, these are events you can prepare for well in advance. Optimize timing. Tools like Buffer, Followerwonk, and Tweroid can help you understand the best times to reach your audience and schedule your messages for maximum effect. This is especially important if you have limited time to spend on social media management and content creation. You need to get the most out of the effort you’re putting in.Connect with awesome content.Once you’ve zeroed in on your primary audience and understand the power of context, it’s time to think about the content that you’ll share. Go beyond reposting the same pieces again and again and get creative with visuals and topics that are top of mind.Steal. Are you down with OPC? Other people’s content, that is. Some of your best social media interactions will come from curating content from other sources, or creating derivative works. Reach out to collaborate, offer credit, and use discovery tools like crowdtangle to find amazing stuff to share or emulate. (Social media coach Andrea Vahl offers some other ideas for finding compelling content to share.)Learn what’s working through analytics. Don’t just mindlessly blast your followers with updates that are boring them out of love for your nonprofit. Measure which channels and topics result in the most engagement and action.Experiment and take risks. Put a plan in place to manage your social outreach, but remember these platforms are flexible and forgiving. Since the flow of social is much faster than other channels, you can learn quickly and adapt. Try new things to see what works with *your* supporters.Need more ideas for social media content? Download our new guide, 101 Social Media Posts, for suggestions that will help your nonprofit connect with supporters on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more.
Cynthia M. Adams of GrantStation.com recommends creating a true grantseeking strategy that culminates in a master calendar. So how do you make your calendar, and what should inform your strategy? Your secret weapon is a grant decision matrix.How to build a grant decision matrix.Use a spreadsheet tool, such as Excel or Google Docs, to score each potential grant on your own universal criteria.Focus on the aspects that are important to you, such as a grant’s timing, credibility, your relationship with the parent organization, and the work required for submission. The weight you assign will probably depend on the size of your organization and how long writing a grant will take you. Do you have dedicated grant writers, or just volunteers?Think about creating criteria such as, “Each grant must take less than 10 hours to write,” and then question how much weight they should have.Once you’ve developed your criteria and weights, run a few test cases against it to determine which scores signal “go apply” and which mean “stop and rethink.” You can also start with a preliminary, no-score matrix of yes and no questions. It will take some time and discussion to create a scoring system that works for you, but creating a grant decision matrix is an important step for identifying the right grantmakers for your projects.Creating your calendar. You’ve created a matrix, thought about which projects need grants, and researched potential funding sources. The key to following through on all of your hard work is to create a calendar of grant tasks. These tasks can include completing forms, securing a match, writing a proposal, writing a cover letter, or getting board approval. Once you’ve set all your deadlines on a calendar, you’ll be able to see what will work and what time periods may be a challenge.Creating a grant decision matrix and a master calendar are important steps to getting the best grants for your organization, but they’re just a one piece of your grants strategy. To learn more about grantseeking and to see planning examples, access the archived presentation: Building a Powerful Grants Strategy. Content calendars are all the rage. They’re an effective way to track your content production and marketing efforts, but have you ever thought about making a grantseeking calendar? Building a grantseeking strategy around a thoughtful, strategic approach will save you the time and heartache of applying for grants that aren’t a good fit for your nonprofit and help you identify the best grants for your organization. Credit: Cynthia M. Adams/GrantStation
It is frequently lamented, but an accepted fact, that attention spans are much shorter than what they used to be. Combining that fact with the knowledge that any time someone is reading your message online, they have email, social media, instant messaging, and other websites competing for his or her attention. It’s easy to see why your message has to be focused and to the point.Keep Presentations Focused to Hold Your Readers’ AttentionYou have a lot of background knowledge about your cause, and much of it should be on your website so that curious or skeptical potential donors can find out what you are really about, why your work is important, and who you serve. Journalists can also be great allies, and making your story easy to discover and interpret can be a big help in getting their attention.On the other hand, when you send an email or make a social media post while fundraising for a cause, you must very briefly emphasize the importance of the cause, state what you want people to do, and include a link to your donations website.Logically, it would seem that providing more information would get better results, but bearing in mind the competition for your readers’ attention, you can appreciate the contrary viewpoint — hit fast and hard.Stories Are Still ImportantStories are an important part of engaging readers, so don’t take this to mean you have to just state dry facts! Do, however, keep your stories brief. It’s tempting to share a lot of history to emphasize just how bad a situation is, but in email and social media you need to tell the story in as few words as possible.Devote a whole page on your website to each case history if you wish. That can be very meaningful to committed donors, but to get them there, you first have to grab their attention and turn them into donors.Graphics Help Summarize StatisticsOne way to provide a lot of information (particularly statistics) easily is by putting it into graphs and charts. Your readers are not likely to be in a math-lesson frame of mind, so again, keep it simple, but share your numbers in an easily interpreted graphic.Make sure to include color in the design, and label all parts clearly so readers who are not experienced at interpreting charts will understand what the data represents.By making the most of a few words in social media and email, you can engage readers, and once you get them to your website, you can provide all the information they want to turn them into committed donors.Network for Good has a blog with more free information on how to be successful at nonprofit fundraising. We also have specialists available to discuss how we can help you get the most out of your fundraising efforts, so contact us today or call 1-888-284-7978 x1.
Does the idea of creating video content intimidate you? It’s okay—you aren’t alone. Many nonprofits are wary of diving into video, fearing it’s too difficult or expensive, but a simple one- to two-minute film can really hit home and connect people to your cause. It can also be affordable and easy. The most important thing, like any other story you tell, is to make it compelling.Ready to roll camera? Here are the keys to creating engaging videos for your nonprofit:Focus on the quality of the story, not the quality of the video. Instead of getting bogged down in technical stuff, remember that your video is really about the story you’re telling, whether it’s about your mission, a person who benefits from your organization, or the volunteer who actively supports your cause. You don’t need fancy equipment or a big production crew. All it takes is a simple camera that can shoot video, a YouTube account, and a good story.Make it short. Your audience’s time and attention span is short, so your video should be too. Aim for a length of two minutes or less.Keep it tightly focused. Like all good nonprofit stories, your video should focus on just one idea or one or two people. This might be someone who benefits from your mission, a volunteer, a donor, or even a board member.Give it a logical flow. No matter the subject or how short, your video should have a beginning, middle, and end.Include a call to action. Don’t just leave viewers hanging with a great story. Guide them at the end to take the next step in becoming active supporters. Invite people to volunteer. Give them a link to register for your event or donate to your cause.Include your nonprofit’s branding. People need to know the video is coming from your organization. Make sure to communicate your organization’s mission statement and include your logo.Use humor. If you can make people laugh, they’re more likely to remember your message, connect with your cause, and share your video. Of course, humor isn’t appropriate in every context, but try to keep the tone light when you can.Make it easy to share. Always include social media icons or a shareable link wherever you post your video. Encourage viewers to share it with their social network.Now you know the secrets of great video. Here are some stories you can tell:Tell people who you are. Share your organization’s mission, vision, and history.Spread awareness. Talk about your current campaign or the cause you’re promoting.Inspire action. Invite people to participate in your next event or campaign.Share your impact. Show the results of your nonprofit’s mission. Highlight hitting your goals for past year or what you hope to achieve in the coming year.Personalize your mission. Put a face to what you do by featuring staff members, beneficiaries, volunteers, and board members talking about their involvement with your nonprofit. Adapted from Network for Good’s Nonprofit 911 webinar “How to Use Content to Boost Donations” with Taylor Corrado from HubSpot. Download the full webinar here.
Do you know how your nonprofit’s email stats compare to others in your field?Depending on your specific industry, the numbers could differ quite a bit.Every year, Constant Contact gathers and examines over 200 million emails from our customers to give you a better sense of how your results compare to others in your industry.Here are a few interesting stats from our October 2014 data:While nonprofits in the Arts and Education industries have open rates of about 25 percent, religious organizations have the highest open rate by industry at over 30 percent.And while religious organizations have a click-through rates of just over 7 percent, membership organizations come out on top with 9 percent click-through rate on average.Visit our Comparison by Industry Chart to see all the updated stats we have available.Once you have a better idea of how your nonprofit compares to others in your industry, you might be interested in how you can improve your own personal numbers.To help you get started, here are five questions to ask before hitting send on your next email:1. What’s in it for my audience? If you want people to open your emails you have to provide readers with something valuable.Think about why your subscribers signed up for your emails. What are they hoping to get out of it? What expectations have you set? Are you providing them with all the information they need?Make sure you’re including useful content such as case studies of the work your nonprofit is doing. That gives your subscribers a clear picture of how their donations and support are being used. Your audience will feel closer to you because they’ll have a better understanding of the difference your nonprofit is making.2. Is my subject line making a good first impression? Your subject line is one of the most important lines in your entire email. To capture readers’ attention, avoid using generic subject lines like December Newsletter. Instead think about what will inspire them to open your email. You might want to ask a question, include a deadline, or incorporate a list.One of the most important things you can do is keep your subject line short. Staying around 40 characters in the best way to ensure your complete subject line will be readable on all devices. Sometimes even a one word subject line can have a good impact.Here are a few examples:· Last Chance: Register for our Holiday Event· 4 Big Ways You Can Get Involved· Have You Done Your Part?For more inspiration, use these 12 subject line tweaks.3. Can people recognize your emails?Especially around the holidays, many nonprofits send out emails with more red and green than usual. Creating holiday-themed messages can be a nice touch, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about your brand.Every email you send out should include your logo to reinforce your organization’s brand. You may want to look for opportunities to bring in your company colors, or add your mission statement to your email signature.These little additions add a level of familiarity and make each message a reflection of your values. You can create a customized email template to save yourself time and establish consistency.4. Are you making it easy for people to take action? In order for an email to be effective it has to be easy for readers to consume and clear what their next step should be.Be sure to preview it on a couple different devices before sending. As more and more people are opening emails on mobile devices, you want to make sure the text is big enough to be readable.You also want to make sure you have a clear call to action. One smart approach is to make sure you’re giving readers a way to take action near the top of your email. That way, they can see your call to action right away even if they don’t scroll through the entire email.5. Are you providing opportunity for further connection? Email is one of the best ways to connect with your audience because you’re reaching them in a place they likely go every day — their inbox. Still, don’t underestimate the importance of connecting with your audience in multiple places.Provide buttons to the social media channels you’re active on, as well as any blog or podcasts that you manage. The more opportunities your audience has to connect with you, the more likely you are to stay fresh in their minds.When your audience connects with you on social media, there are great opportunities for your organization to get in front of their audience when they interact with your content. Likes, retweets, or shares translate into valuable social media endorsements that will peak interest with a whole new audience.Ready to improve your email marketing results?Get started today: grab a sticky note and jot down what you want your audience to get out of your next email.Stick this reminder somewhere visible in your workspace and let it guide you through your next email.Be sure to check back with your reports after to see if there’s anyimprovement in your opens or click-through rate.
Tomorrow is the day!You’ve got your donation page up and running, you’ve rallied your staff members, and your thank you messages are ready to deploy. But don’t forget to send your donors (and board members) a #GivingTuesday appeal! A successful giving day campaign includes an email appeal sent early in the day. In addition to inviting donors to give, use this email as an opportunity to invite supporters to help spread the word about your fundraising campaign. I know you’re running short on time so there’s no need to start these emails from scratch. Borrow our board member and donor #GivingTuesday emails, make them your own, and program them to send tomorrow. We can’t wait to celebrate this international day of giving with you! If you have any last minute questions re: #GivingTuesday, send us a Tweet: @Network4Good.
Starting Number of DonorsRetention RateDonors Remaining After One YearDonors Remaining After Two YearsDonors Remaining After Three YearsTotal Donations, with an Average Gift of $500 1,00027%2707219$9,500 1,00015%150223$1,500 1,00050%500250125$62,500 If your organization is like most nonprofits, you concentrate your fundraising efforts on donor acquisition. That’s understandable! Donors are your organization’s lifeblood, and they need to be inspired each year to support your good work.The dirty little secret of development is that only 27% of donors in a given year will give again the next year. So, 73% of your hard-won donors love you one year and leave you the next.What does that equate to in real numbers? Here’s the eye-popping reality if you’re a development pro: A retention rate at the national average of 27% means only 19 of 1,000 donors will remain after three years. Donor acquisition is expensive! The cost to acquire a donor is five to six times the cost to retain an existing supporter. Increases in donor retention are powerful. In the table above, you can see that a 1.8x increase in retention, from 27% to 50%, results in a 6.6x increase in donors and donations!Give love to get love.There is a way to keep more donors engaged with your organization: Genuine gratitude combined with great communication.The first step is to make the commitment to communicate with donors regularly and meaningfully. Author and researcher Penelope Burk recommends as many as 12 touches per year when stewarding donors.Mix your methods and messages. Make thank you calls. Write personal notes. Share a client’s story. Extend invitations to events and client activities.Make it about the donor, not you. Genuine gratitude is not a stock “thank you for your donation” message. It is authentic and conveys the three Ms:You matter—your donation accomplished something tangible.You made a difference in someone’s life.Your gift was meaningful, no matter how big or small.Whenever possible, include visuals or a video. This video from ARC effectively brings to life the impact made possible through donors’ generosity.Need help with your thank you letters?Download our email template to help you get started.
Fundraising Software Can Help You Launch Your Next Fundraising EventIn 2013, more than $20 billion was received by non-profits in the form of online donations. The fundraising software that your organization uses can make it easy for donors to give, thereby increasing the success of your event fundraising, or it can be a roadblock if it frustrates donors when they try to make a contribution.Online Fundraising Tools Make Non-Profit Event Management Simpler and More ProfitableEvent fundraising is a great way to raise money while engaging with donors and building community. Engaging supporters in a positive experience with your organization reassures them that they are supporting a good cause and inspires additional giving.Share the Love—Publicly Appreciate Your DonorsOne of the main reasons that donors stop supporting non-profits is lack of communication from the organization resulting in a feeling that their contribution is not appreciated. Hosting an event provides a fantastic opportunity to interact with donors and express appreciation.If you have speakers, take the opportunity to showcase donors by asking them to speak about why they support your organization. Their enthusiasm will have a strong influence on their peers at the event, but you don’t have to let it stop there. Social media gives you a way to post their pictures, along with quotes, to spread their message of support to those who are not at the event.A fun way to really show your donors how much you appreciate them is to make a wall of fame with their names on it, or better yet, a red carpet photo booth. Making them feel like VIPs will make the event fun for them and they will be happy to share the pictures with their friends. You should also share the pictures on your website and in social media. (Plan in advance by reviewing your organization’s publicity policies and having release forms ready if necessary.)Incorporate Fundraising Software with Your Event to Increase DonationsEvent fundraising traditionally centers on ticket sales and the live event, but there are several ways to use fundraising software to encourage additional donations.Mobile Donations: An increasing number of people are making their donations with mobile devices. Supporters will be feeling strongly connected to your cause at the event. Some people think ahead and bring checkbooks to non-profit events, but many don’t, so remind them that they can make donations right then and there with their mobile devices.Memberships and Recurring Donations: Online banking and mobile devices make it easy to set up a recurring donation or pay for a membership on the spot. Take advantage of the generosity inspired by an event to get donors to sign up for these forms of long-term support.Additional gifts: Non-profit fundraising software can help increase donations even before the event. When you send out invitations or reminders to purchase tickets online, be sure to make it easy to make an additional donation. Donors who know they will donate more than the ticket price may want to make an additional donation right then, and it also allows those who will not attend the event to make a donation.Since 2001, Network for Good has helped over 100,000 nonprofit organizations raise more than $1 billion online. To discuss how we can help you get the most out of your fundraising efforts, contact us today or call 1-888-284-7978 x1.
“When the new antenna went live, you’d swear that Dizzy Gillespie was playing right next to you.” I can easily visualize this scene—and hear it. Can you? Convey much more with fewer words: Specific words and images can clarify a message much faster than a long-form narrative explanation of the core point. Compare this with the way another station introduced its new antenna: Authentic: The right details give a story a much greater presence, a feeling of real truth. Instead, pepper your fundraising messages with rich, memorable details to make them: Blah, blah, blah. Beware the curse of knowledge. This writer has been cursed, forgetting that the people she wants to engage aren’t exposed to the specifics at the memorable gut level like she is. As a result, she (like so many nonprofit writers) writes in broad, vague strokes—or dull minutiae—that are forgotten in a flash. Transport the reader: Like a good movie or compelling novel, where you get completely absorbed in the story, rich details can draw your audiences into getting lost in your message. As a result, readers are far more likely to remember it, act, and spread the word. In fact, this appeal excerpt from WBGO (New York City’s premier jazz radio station) made the listening-enriching value of the station’s new antenna crystal clear—by showing, not telling. Unique: Getting specific is often the fastest way to make content rise above the average. The details distinguish your message from those that would otherwise sound similar. Shout out and shine! Replacing the equipment and moving it to the higher elevation immediately improved the strength of the signal, says Tyron, increasing the broadcast penetration within the licensed area (approximately a 35-mile radius from Claremont); improving the signal reach for areas like Covina, El Monte, San Bernardino, and Riverside; diminishing interference with the signal; and resulting in fewer drops of the signal. Image: Roland Godefroy How do you use rich detail to show (not tell), bringing your prospects and supporters into your organization’s story? Please share your experiences in the comments.
A great board member offers so much to your organization, from specialized professional expertise to high-level fundraising. It can be a challenge to build an A-team board—or even know what to look for—so we asked Rachel Muir, vice president of training at Pursuant and founder of Girlstart, to shine some light on the subject. Here are the five traits Rachel recommends looking for when recruiting for your board. Great board members hold themselves and the organization accountable. Quality board members know it’s not just the organization holding the bag. They take responsibility for their actions and the role that they play in supporting and advancing your cause. They’re passionate about the mission. It’s that passion that allows your board to be successful in recruiting other people to your organization. You want to put board members who feel a strong connection to your work front and center in all you do since their passion gets other people excited about your mission. They open doors to donors—and are donors themselves. Your board’s enthusiasm for your mission furthers your message and compels others to give. Part of enticing new donors includes the board demonstrating their own financial investment in your mission by being donors themselves. Incidentally, having board members who are donors is increasingly important when your nonprofit seeks funding such as grants for capital projects. They focus on the mission with a view to the big picture. Sometimes boards can get involved in micromanaging an organization. That isn’t the best use of their time or your nonprofit’s time. A great board leaves the details to staff and volunteers and keeps its collective eye on the big picture to help your nonprofit stay on track. They aren’t afraid to ask the hard questions. A great board member is ready and willing to ask questions that could shake things up a bit. These could include questions about fiscal accountability or your organization’s overall direction and future. It’s easy to “go along to get along,” but real progress often comeswhen people are willing to speak up, even when it might feel uncomfortable or means expressing an unpopular opinion. So, once you’ve found someone who seems like a fantastic board member, what’s next? Set them up for success from the very start. Make sure every board member knows what your nonprofit expects from their service. Rachel suggests using this downloadable board contract that you can customize to suit your organization’s needs. Want more great ideas from Rachel Muir for helping your board become more engaged and proactive? Download the complete Nonprofit 911 webinar, 10 Tips to Get Your Board Fundraising in One Hour, right now!
Making a recurring donation is an easy way to ensure that your favorite projects receive ongoing support. … In the coming months, you’ll receive authentic progress updates as they are posted by the projects. You’ll know how your contribution is being put to work and the results that are being achieved. Take a close look. You’ll see that GlobalGiving asks donors to choose between one-time and monthly giving. In fact, rather than finding the emphasis on asap funds that I anticipated, the matching gift opportunity for monthly gifts motivated me to give that way. But this example is tricky. The time sensitivity of disaster fundraising limits the opportunity for a series of one-at-a-time asks. The matching gift offer for monthly donations was time limited as well. However, many folks, like me, think of relief giving as a one-off. What would you have done? My expectation of the emphasis on right-now, one-time donations was pure assumption, but the double ask spurred my curiosity on what the expert GlobalGiving fundraisers were up to. So I was thrilled to learn their take on the importance of monthly relief giving in the thank you email I received shortly after my gift: P.S. GlobalGiving’s twofold ask for a one-time and a monthly donation did confuse me. As a rule, I recommend making one ask—a single call to action—at a time. Nobody can do two things at once. Pushing your people to sequence two steps or to decide between two alternatives is work. It’s likely to diminish response. A few days later, I came to understand even more via this project report email: Thank you for being part of an incredible global community that is deeply committed to building and supporting a community of local nonprofits, who, after disasters, are often best positioned to provide the long-term recovery work that communities need long after the news stories have faded from the headlines. Did you donate to the relief effort for victims of the Nepal earthquake a few months ago? I contributed via GlobalGiving, thanks to the on-the-ground guidance of a friend living there. How do you decide whether to ask for a one-time or monthly donation or both? Please share your responses in the comments section. Thank you. Thanks so much to these fundraising experts who opened my eyes to the value of long-view disaster-relief funding. Not to mention the matching gift. Here’s the donation page I encountered, and I have to tell you, I was confused. With refreshing practicality, Nancy Schwartz rolls up her sleeves to help nonprofits develop and implement strategies to build 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.