Fri, April 18 2014
Filed under: Fundraising essentials •
I recently had the chance to host a webinar with two of Network for Good’s DonateNow customers, Renee O’Donnell from SIFF and Katie Matney from The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio. Our goal was to understand how they’re retaining more donors through recurring giving at their respective organizations. With 70% of donors never returning to make a second gift, we were eager to learn from two peers who are building and retaining a large sustaining network of recurring donors.
While SIFF is primarily membership-based, The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio takes a more traditional view of recurring donors through their 1,000 Women campaign; however, during our Q&A session we uncovered four common themes despite the different approaches.
Here are four takeaways for executing a successful recurring giving program for your organization:
1. Start donors as recurring donors. A small, monthly recurring gift is an easy entry point for donors. A gift of $10 or $15 a month is easier to budget for than a gift of $50, and with services like DonateNow, those donations can be automatically processed—no extra effort for you or your donors. Our data shows that recurring donors give 42% more over the course of 1 year than a one-time donor does. In addition, your recurring donors will likely do more than just make a recurring gift. For both SIFF and The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, recurring donors make additional one-time gifts throughout the year, attend events, and encourage their networks to support and donate. In short, these recurring donors are the most loyal and generous supporters over time.
2. Thank donors within 48 hours. In addition to any automatic tax receipts you send after every donation, thank your donors for every gift within 24 to 48 hours. A thank-you letter, hand-written note, or phone call within that time frame is one of the easiest things you can do to keep a donor giving. However, for recurring donors especially, listen to the donor’s feedback. If a donor doesn’t want an acknowledgement every month, don’t send one. Listening and responding to a donor’s wishes makes him or her feel heard and appreciated—and more likely to give for longer! Both Katie and Renee suggest that fundraisers make thank-yous a team effort and involve everyone in their organization. Remember, it’s your donors who allow you to continue your mission.
3. Have a plan to engage donors once they get in the door. I love how Katie from The Women’s Fund described planning for the relationship you want with your recurring donors: How are you going to pick up these donors and take them with you on this ride towards social change? Keep your donors involved with frequent email updates, but pepper in personal touches. Take your recurring donors to coffee, write them a quick email, hold special events for them, and ask them for their feedback.Giving is highly personal, so make sure you understand what inspires your donors to give.
4. Make it manageable. The above advice may sound like it requires a lot of effort. While that can be true, both Renee and Katie offered tips to make this work at your organization:
Have a plan. Recurring donors are your most loyal supporters and they should be treated like it! Map out how your organization interacts with recurring versus one-time donors. Those with recurring gifts should receive more frequent communications. It’s easier to save time if you’re following a thought-out strategy and process, so set aside some time upfront for planning.
Make sure your plans allow you to achieve success. Don’t promise you’ll send hand-written thank you notes to each donor if you don’t have the resources. Instead, strive toward a signed letter from your executive director within 24 hours.
Make small but regular progress. By making a habit of doing something small every day to improve either the number or loyalty of your recurring donors, you’ll create a habit that allows you to be more effective and successful over time. Check out the article by Gretchen Rubin: “Best Advice: Make A Habit of Something Every Day.” Katie credits it for helping her start and maintain her donor acknowledgement program.
Thanks to both Katie and Renee for sharing their stories with the Network for Good community! For more tips on making recurring giving a part of your fundraising strategy, listen to the full recording of this webinar, Getting Donors to Give Again and Again: The Secret Recipe.
Wed, April 16 2014
Filed under: Social Media •
Editor’s note: Did you miss Social Media Week? Don’t worry, every week can be Social Media Week for your nonprofit with the advice in this guest post from Social Media for Nonprofits founder Ritu Sharma.
If your organization is looking to get in on the action, here’s a day-by-day breakdown of some easy-to-implement, yet highly effective tips to get your social engine humming.
Monday: Create an Editorial Calendar
The typical nonprofit only allocates .25 full time employees to social media, and actually, you’re better off if this is split between several people with different perspectives and areas of expertise. Let those voices shine. How do you coordinate efforts? A content or editorial calendar is a simple tool that clarifies who is posting what, where, and when: a simple spreadsheet or a Google calendar suffices nicely.
Tuesday: Find Your Killer Pix & Vids
Facebook and Twitter posts with photos attract twice as many likes, comments, shares, and retweets. Imagery is key to both grabbing attention and engaging folks: in fact, charity:water’s Photo of the Day tweets are a huge part of what drove them to 1.4M followers. And videos? Ronald McDonald House Charities relies on video storytelling to help bring the impact of their work to life in their Season of Giving campaign. Sharing these clips on social media has increased the number of responses and prompts others to tell their story.
Wednesday: ABT— Always Be Tagging
Social Media for Nonprofits keynote Guy Kawasaki says that taking the extra time to tag supporters in photos and videos is crucial. And think about it on a personal level: when’s the last time you got an email from Facebook saying you’ve been tagged and you didn’t click through to make sure it wasn’t a horrible photo of you? Once you get people to your page, then the engagement can begin and they can help take your message viral.
Thursday: Keep it Simple
Remember to keep your posts pithy and to the point: less is more. The optimal tweet is 130 characters says Facebook for Dummies author John Haydon, and incredibly, he discovered that Facebook posts should be kept to 80 characters to maximize impact. So keep it simple and short: that’s part of the secret to going viral and engaging the “Kevin Bacon” effect, says Nonprofit Management 101 author Darian Rodriguez Heyman. But end those posts with a question to double response rates— people are much more likely to chime in if you ask vs. tell them something.
Friday: Follow the Leaders
Many nonprofits find Twitter perplexing. The simplest, cheapest, and best way to grow your follower base there is to follow others, especially those who are leaders in your field (i.e. other nonprofits, academics, journalists, etc.). Typically 20-30% of these will follow you back, plus you’re also creating a pool of resources that can give you a sense of what’s going on in your industry. Be sure to be a good twitizen and retweet valuable posts: it’s a great way to build up social currency.
There is no shortage of other tips I could share, but we’re out of days! If you want to learn more, I invite you to join us as the premier nonprofit social media for social good conference series returns to Seattle, WA this month. Use discount code “N4G” to save $30 on your registration. Social Media for Nonprofits—Seattle, April 28th, 2014: Register Today!
About Ritu Sharma:
Ritu Sharma is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Social Media for Nonprofits. Under her leadership, the world’s only series dedicated to social media for social good has earned a 92% approval rating from over 4,500 nonprofit leaders across the world. She is a public speaker, consultant, and event planner and heads up programming, marketing, and event logistics for the series. Previously, she produced Our Social Times and Influence People’s North American Social Media Marketing and Monitoring conference series and started a web development and social media business, which leveraged an international team of programmers and designers across India, Romania, and the US.
Tue, April 15 2014
Filed under: Nonprofit leadership •
The Nonprofit Finance Fund’s 2014 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey is out and the report has some sobering insight on how nonprofits have fared during the economic recovery. While 80% of respondents reported an increase in demand for services, 56% of those surveyed were unable to meet demand in 2013. Nearly half of these groups also reported a 5-year decline in government funding.
The good news is that as some funding sources change or dry up, many organizations are exploring new ways to support their programs. According to the survey, in the next 12 months:
- 31% will change the main ways in which they raise and spend money
- 26% will pursue an earned income model
- 20% will seek funding other than grants & contracts
These organizations are also exploring new partnerships and investing in resources to help them survive:
- 49% collaborated with another organization to improve or increase services.
- 48% invested money or time in professional development.
- 40% upgraded hardware or software to improve organizational efficiency.
Still, with over a quarter of nonprofits surveyed reporting a deficit in 2013, there is still a lot of work to be done. Do these challenges sound familiar? Check out the full report to see how your experiences compare.
If you’re facing tough times, here are some critical steps to consider:
Perform a reality check.
Take a hard look at your situation and make sure everyone in your organization understands the issues you’re facing. Assess your existing revenue streams, your projected funding, and your true cost of operation.
Doing things the way you’ve always done them isn’t going to get you any further than where you are now. Explore new ways to diversify your income and collaborate with other organizations and businesses in your community.
Tap your champions.
Now is the time to reach out to your most ardent supporters. Not only are they likely your organization’s best advocates, they are a rich source of feedback. Work with them to expand your network and empower them to fundraise on your behalf.
Invest in your resources.
It may seem counterintuitive, but without well-trained staff and the right infrastructure, you’re putting your organization at further risk to lose talent. You’ll also miss opportunities to take advantage of new technology and gain efficiencies. Ensure your team has the right tools and training to get the job done.
Note: Next week, I’ll be at the Nonprofit Capacity Conference where I’ll lead a session on funding your mission in a rapidly changing digital landscape. If you’re in the DC area, I encourage you to join us to collaborate with like-minded colleagues and take away new ideas for building a sustainable organization.
Fri, April 11 2014
Most organizations go to great lengths to carefully craft a mission statement, outline a vision, and develop a tagline to clarify their place in the world. But it’s important to remember that these elements aren’t meant to be stored away as archived material in your annual report. These core beliefs should be an everyday yardstick for all of your communications.
As you work to react to changes in your community, crises, and fundraising ups and downs, it can be tempting to try anything to see what may stick. Something similar happens when there’s a marketing trend or a new channel to explore, like a new social network. When you feel this urge, it’s important to think about how you answer these four questions:
1. Who are you?
2. What is your purpose?
3. How do you accomplish your work?
4. What are your values?
Answering these four key questions will ultimately help you answer a fifth: are your actions and outreach consistent with your organization’s core identity? If not, it’s time to take a step back to ensure everyone in your organization knows and understands your brand—and how you bring it to life.
Mon, April 07 2014
Filed under: Fundraising essentials •
Planning a giving day this year? Thinking of joining one? The power of crowdfunding and a dedicated fundraising event can attract new donors to your cause and help you raise more money, but it doesn’t happen by chance. Part of any effective giving day is the network of support and resources a community giving day can offer. To that end, we have an amazing session scheduled this week to help you get the most out of your efforts. Tomorrow, Lori Finch, Kimbia’s Vice President of Community Foundations, will join us to share a foolproof game plan for getting the most out of any giving day.
In this free webinar, we’ll cover:
- How giving days work
- The key strategies for crowdfunding success
- What you need to do to take advantage of available resources and raise more money during a 24-hour giving event
Plus, we’ll have plenty of time to answer all of your burning questions. Whether or not you have a giving day on your calendar, don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about adding crowdfunding and giving days to your fundraising portfolio.
Free Webinar: Crowdfunding Events—How to Drive Donations in One Day
Tuesday April 8, 2014 | 1pm EDT
(Can’t attend on Tuesday? Register anyway to get access to the recording and slides. We’ll send them right to your inbox!)