Month: October 2019

5 Tips for Designing Your Year-End Email Appeals

first_imgHere’s some great advice from Caryn Stein on the team here at Network for Good.It’s tempting to pull out every design stop in an attempt to make your year-end e-appeal stand out. Resist the urge to resort to visual overload as you design your year-end campaign. Keep these five pointers in mind for best results:1. Be consistent: Your email appeals should reflect your nonprofit’s branding and style. Use the same logo, colors and fonts that you use on your website, donation page and other fundraising materials.2. Keep it light: Don’t overdesign your email appeals. Keep the graphic load light and use simple uncluttered design. This helps your appeal shine and look more professional – plus it will be more likely that your message will be read.3. Use images wisely: Many email programs won’t display images automatically, so ensure that your images are a complement to your message, and are not your entire appeal. Use images that help illustrate the story you’re telling and create an emotional connection with the reader.4. Link images: More readers expect images to be interactive, so if you include photos or other graphics (like DonateNow buttons!), be sure to link them to your donation page.5. Include text links: Don’t forget to embed text links within your appeal – preferably throughout your message. Remember that the first link you offer will usually be the most-clicked item in your appeal.last_img read more

The number one quality of a great presenter

first_imgOne of my end-of year-traditions is to use any downtime to catch up on reading. I wanted to share some thoughts on the latest book I read, The Art of the Pitch. This quick and motivating read from the legendary ad guy Peter Coughter, who now teaches at the VCU Brandcenter, includes excellent stories that remind us how just how critical it is to master persuasion and presentation skills.Today, I offer a short post on the number one quality of a great presenter. Tomorrow, I’ll post on the number one quality of a great presentation.What’s the number one quality of a great presenter? According to Coughter (and I agree), it’s that you approach a pitch as a conversationalist, not a speaker. This advice is excellent, and it’s highly applicable to anyone advocating for a good cause.“It’s a conversation, only you’re the one doing most of the talking. A lot of people have a hard time with this idea,” says Coughter. “We’ve all been there. Sitting in a meeting, praying for it to end while the speaker drones on about something that is apparently important to him, but of no interest to us… Don’t be that guy. Just talk with us.”To talk with us, you have to know us, recognize us and converse about our interests. A great presenter is so focused on reflecting and connecting with us that we feel a part of the moment. Do that and everyone will be riveted.P.S. I’m also reading Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth. If you want fiction, not business reading, that’s my pick.last_img read more

You’re a salesman. We all are. Or should be.

first_img(Quick side note to those of you who subscribe to my blog via RSS or Feedblitz: Yesterday’s video didn’t render for you. I’m sorry it got blocked! If you didn’t get to see it, go here!)I am reading Daniel Pink‘s new book, To Sell Is Human. The central point of the book is this: Whether we’re employees pitching colleagues on a new idea, nonprofit staff trying to persuade people to rally to our cause, or parents trying to get our kids to do their homework, we spend our days trying to move others. As Pink puts it: “Do you earn your living trying to convince others? Like it or not, we’re all in sales now.”I agree with this – in fact, I’ve often said we’re all marketers, too. Pink says that means we need three skills – the ABCs. Not the old “always be closing” mantra of Glengarry Glen Ross, but rather attunement, buoyancy and clarity. He means the ability to connect, a sense of resilience and clarity of purpose. We all must learn to pitch, to improvise and to serve.“Selling isn’t some grim accommodation to a brutal marketplace culture. It’s part of who we are – and therefore something we can do better by being more human.”We would all make the world a better place if we embraced the fact we can’t just be right in our fight. The best idea in the world can’t advance without connecting to others. We have to persuade others to join our effort. And that isn’t dictating – it’s selling. Congratulations – you’re a salesman or a saleswoman. And I am too.last_img read more

The incredibly simple, science-driven way to connect and compel

first_imgOur brains are actually hard wired to relate to other people’s experiences. When we witness or imagine someone acting, our own neurons fire in the same way they would if we were undertaking the same action. That’s why your heart races when your favorite athlete soars toward the football or you feel fear and sorrow watching a mother struggling to save her child from flood waters.When we translate that empathy into helping another person, we have another reaction in our brains: We’re rewarded with happy feelings, thanks to a chemical dose to our brain’s pleasure center. I like to imagine (and there is some evidence) that the human race is somehow designed to commit to each other and accomplish great things in concert. I’ll give you an example. Watch this video and think about how you feel. It makes me happier – and kinder.In this ad, Coke has connected to these deep rewards of generosity. The purpose of this post is to ask, if Coke is doing it, why the heck aren’t you? Why aren’t you making people as happy as you could by making visible the acts of kindness that you commit every day, all day, at work? You can and should awaken these feelings in the people you want to move to action. It’s not manipulation. It’s being human.Please think about this clip and how your cause could be its star. The next time you send something a message out to the world, make sure:1. It tells a vivid story of someone doing good2. It shows the reaction of the person helped3. It inspires the rest of us to do the sameThis is the incredibly simple, science-driven way to connect and compel. And Coke shouldn’t be the only one doing it.You can and should, too.last_img read more

What do the best nonprofit websites look like?

first_imgI often get asked for examples of beautiful nonprofit websites. Good news – there is a great article highlighting 31 one of them (thanks to my colleague Allison for spotting it).Check out these inspiring examples here. Why are they good? Read what makes a good home page here.I especially like the Kidzeum, a Network for Good customer!last_img

Picture this: 2012 online giving illustrated

first_imgAt Network for Good, we found online giving once more on the rise in 2012. You can see the data illustrated via the 2012 Digital Giving Index infographic below, but one thing worth noting is this: donations made directly through nonprofit websites with branded giving pages raised six times more dollars than generic giving pages.Network for Good created the Digital Giving Index to provide insights and information on charitable engagement for both nonprofits seeking to strengthen relationships with donors and companies seeking engage with consumers and employees. This Index builds on data and observations from The Online Giving Study, released in 2010, and is updated quarterly to provide timely snapshots of the state of charitable giving. We’re excited to share the data in a new format—an infographic!(Trouble viewing the infographic? Go here.) Embed the above image on your site 2012 Digital Giving Index infographic last_img read more

New giving index shows healthy 2012 online holiday giving

first_imgNetwork for Good, along with PayPal and Blackbaud, has been participating in the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s new online giving index. The Q4 2012 results are out, and you can see the data and compare it to your own experience at the Chronicle site here. The headlines:-After a sluggish summer, giving rebounded at the end of last year, with 8 percent more gifts totaling nearly 17% more dollars than the same period in 2011.-Monday was the biggest giving day (probably a reflection of the fact that December 31, the biggest giving day of the year online, was a Monday in 2012).-Most online giving occurred at midday during the business week. At Network for Good, we’ve seen this hold true year after year.You can find more data here.How does this compare to your year-end giving in 2012?last_img read more

It has to be interesting to get shared

first_imgAwesome cartoon by Tom Fishburne, the MarketoonistJust a quick reminder as you kick off your day — make sure what you’re saying, sending or selling is worth sharing.Boring doesn’t get read. Boring doesn’t get shared. Boring doesn’t get funded.That’s why no one Tweets creamed corn.What does get shared? Something surprising, remarkably good, remarkably bad, visually striking, funny, moving, helpful or personally relevant.Try adding one of these elements – and a good story – to what you do today. It will be more likely to work – and to spread.last_img read more

What the latest online trends mean for your cause

first_img KPCB Internet Trends 2013 from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers How do think these trends will affect your organization’s fundraising and how you fulfill your unique mission? Chime in with a comment below! — Caryn Stein This week, Mary Meeker presented the 2013 Internet Trends report during the All Things Digital D11 conference. Meeker’s report is consistently a treasure trove of data, trends and opportunities within the digital world. This type of insight is incredibly useful for nonprofit fundraisers as we navigate how to effectively engage and inspire supporters in a rapidly changing online landscape.The entire report is worth a look, but here are a few especially important points for nonprofits:Mobile usage continues to explode.If you’re wondering whether mobile is important for your cause, consider this: there are now 1.5B smartphone subscribers. Plus, mobile traffic is projected to maintain its current rate of growth if not accelerate. To drive this point home, Meeker also reveals that smartphone users, on average, reach for their devices around 150 times per day. Wow!Takeaway: It’s critical for your cause to be mobile friendly. Make it easy for constituents and supporters to find, interact and give to you via smartphones.Rich content is ramping up.Digital photos, video and audio are becoming easier to create, refine and share. To effectively compete for attention in crowded inboxes, social streams or browsing sessions, stand out with original content that embodies your message. Takeaway: Incorporate multimedia formats in your online outreach to illustrate your impact, attract new donors and retain existing supporters.Sharing and connecting diversify.Social media platforms are still on the rise with sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr showing significant growth. Though Facebook was the only platform in the report to see a drop in usage from 2011 to 2012, it still sees the lion’s share of usage.Takeaway: Leverage social media to provide supporters another way to forge relationships with your cause and empower them to share your message with their networks.We live in an age of unprecedented “findability”. With such easy access to massive amounts of information online, it’s nearly impossible not to have full transparency — whether that’s coming from your organization or those talking about you. Takeaway: Understand what is being said about your cause online. What do readers find when they search for you? It is critical to take the lead in being open about your organization to build trust and loyalty.Other fascinating tidbits include emerging devices and formats that could prove to be powerful tools for nonprofit storytelling, fundraising events and reporting impact.• Tablets are showing more rapid growth than smartphones; they may also become the predominant type of large-screen computing devices.• Short-form and temporary content sharing (think Vine and Snapchat) are also seeing rapid adoption rates.• Wearable technology and other connected devices — such as Google glass, smart watches and activity trackers — are poised to transform how we interact with all of the information available to us online. You can view the full presentation below or via the KPCB website.last_img read more

Web Writing for Nonprofits: 4 Dos and Don’ts

first_imgDO Break Up Big Blocks of TextThe mere sight of long paragraphs can overwhelm time-strapped readers. Reread your Web pages as if for the first time, or ask a fresh-eyed coworker to check them out. Shorten or delete extra phrases and unnecessary sentences. Break long paragraphs into shorter ones. Even better: Extract key points into bulleted or numbered lists. Bonus tip: Short paragraphs are best, but don’t go overboard by breaking them into single sentences. Also, try to keep articles to a max of between 500 and 600 words. Writing effective content for your nonprofit website, blog or email newsletter requires a different strategy than writing for print. With so much tempting stuff on the Internet, you have just a few seconds to draw readers in, and then only a few minutes—if you’re lucky!—to hold their interest. It’s imperative to shape your content to maximize that brief time, which means getting straight to the point, organizing articles to fit how we read on the Web, and writing clear, keyword-rich headlines. Here are some do’s and don’ts for crafting great online content for your nonprofit website. DO Organize Stories for ScannabilityIt helps to know how people read online so you can organize your pages for maximum readability. Eye-tracking studies show that readers scan text first to see if the article is relevant to them. They typically skim the top of the page—skipping the parts that require scrolling to reach—plus any headings, images, and bold-faced terms. Effective Web pages are easy to scan quickly and pick out the main points. Put your most important information at the beginning of your article. Expand on that info with eye-grabbing elements like bold-faced subheads, captioned images, and bulleted lists. DON’T Bury the LeadReaders tend to skip the parts “below the fold,” as it were. You want to frontload articles with your most important points. The intro isn’t the place for long-winded dramatic anecdotes leading up to the true purpose of your story. Get straight to the point! Bonus tip: Be sure to include SEO-friendly keywords in your first few sentences. These are words readers are likely to use when searching for pages like yours. DON’T Get Too Cute with Headlines A good headline makes the subject of your story obvious. Headlines that are riddles, obtuse puns, or other cute wordplay will send readers elsewhere and make your content difficult to find in a Google search. Crafting compelling headlines for Web pages and blog posts is similar to writing effective email subject lines: Answer the question, “What’s this article about?” Be clear about what readers will find in your article. Include search engine-friendly keywords. Make it irresistible. Readers love headlines that promise quick lists (“3 Tips for Conserving Water”), how-to articles (“How to Keep Your Schools Safe”), and do’s and don’ts (like this piece!). Keep it short. Headlines under 50 characters are best; 30 to 40 characters are ideal. Follow these simple tips when writing email newsletters, Web pages, blog posts, and other online content and you’re likely to experience higher traffic and perhaps even greater engagement and giving from your supporters. Fundraising Takeaways Effective Web content mirrors how we read online, with the most important information at the beginning and text in easily scanned bite-sized chunks. Include compelling captioned photos and transform big paragraphs into bulleted lists to make your pages even more readable. Readers can’t resist articles with short, clear headlines that promise fun content like lists or how-tos.last_img read more

Online giving continues to grow — how to grow along with it

first_imgThe Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that online donations rose 14 percent from 2011, reaching $2.1-billion in 2012. The study was based on data provided by Blackbaud, Network for Good, and PayPal, and examined online giving totals from 115,000 nonprofits. This latest analysis underscores just how online giving is growing at a more rapid pace than overall giving, which had a growth rate of only 3.5% in 2012, according to Giving USA. Going beyond numbers, the Chronicle also highlights quotes and examples from several nonprofits — tons of good food for thought! (For more details on this online giving data, you can browse the information from the Chronicle’s annual survey of online fundraising or view the interactive State of Online Giving report.)So, how can your cause experience its own online giving growth spurt? Here are five recommendations:1. Get online and make it easy. You absolutely must have an easy way for donors to give online — a PDF download of your paper giving form doesn’t count. Get an online donation page that allows donors to quickly give and be sure you have the ability to track gifts and send thank yous. (Of course, we’re partial to Network for Good’s DonateNow service.) For more ideas on improving your online fundraising, read 6 Steps to Maximize Online Giving via Make it easy. This is so important, it bears repeating. Do everything you can to make it dead simple for your donors every step of the way. Remove anything that is a barrier or distraction. Remove unnecessary options or anything that may cause confusion — or it will cost you donations. When you think you’ve made your donation process easy, try simplifying it even further. Then ask yourself, is it easy enough?3. Foster the relationship. Online fundraising offers a unique opportunity to customize the giving experience and to forge ongoing relationships with your donors through your website, emails and social media. Use these channels as donor retention tools to keep your supporters updated on your success. Create a personal connection with a multichannel experience for happy and loyal donors.4. Encourage recurring gifts. Online giving makes this simple to do — make this a standard part of your fundraising appeals and donation forms. Again, make it easy for your donors to give a recurring donation and clearly show them the impact their ongoing support will have. Need some inspiration? Read 3 Ways to Encourage Monthly Giving.5. Go mobile. Your cause is already mobile, whether you’re ready or not. A good chunk of your email appeals will be opened on a mobile device this year. Make sure that your donors can give whenever — and wherever — the generous feeling hits. Do the latest trends in online giving match your experience? How do you plan to invest in online fundraising this year?posted by: Caryn Steinlast_img read more

Test your fundraising instincts

first_imgWhich Test Won? is a fun resource that regularly highlights A/B tests of emails, landing pages, and more. This week, Which Test Won? released their 2013 Email Testing Hall of Fame, a showcase of tests that nonprofit fundraisers can learn from. I was pleased to see the hall of fame included a fundraising test from a membership renewal campaign launched by People for the American Way. The test pitted a member drive letter featuring a fundraising thermometer vs. a letter with a virtual “membership card”. Which version do you think received the most donations? Click over to view the emails and vote to find out if you got it right, then come back and tell me if your instincts were right. Don’t worry, I’ll wait right here.Did you guess right? Were you surprised by the results? Scroll down for some thoughts (and spoilers) on this membership drive………While many factors likely affected the outcome of this test, here are a few things that probably tipped the scales in favor of winning version B: the renewal card letter.Strong and prominent call to actionIn the winning version, a bold, short, and clear call to action is centered at the top of the email. Version A also features a call to action to the right of the message, but it’s much longer and easier to overlook. Fundraising thermometerThe prominent feature in version A was a Statue of Liberty fundraising thermometer. When using tickers or thermometers in your campaigns, it’s best to wait to show progress when you HAVE progress. In this email, the progress bar isn’t even to lady Liberty’s kneecap! Showing an empty thermometer or low number of participants can actually discourage action — people want to know that others are supporting a cause and that they’re giving to a campaign that will succeed. (See also: Empty donation boxes.)Tangibility It’s hard to say if the visual cue of a “membership card” helped to improve results of the winning email, but a membership card in a renewal reminder helps to tie the letter to something more immediately recognizable. Skeumorphic elements — elements that mimic a real-life (think about the way envelope icons represent email on our phones and computers) — can make it much easier for a reader to associate an abstract or intangible idea with something more familiar and easily understood.PersonalizationIn addition to the membership card being a visual cue, this element also helps to personalize the email. When an individual sees their own name within an image or block of text, this catches the reader’s attention and makes them more likely to read carefully. This, along with the lead-in text, makes the email more about the reader than the organization.This test is a great reminder to regularly assess and experiment with your appeals and landing pages. No matter the type of organization or appeal, taking the time to test will ensure you’re getting the most from your outreach efforts. Even if you are positive you are using the right version. Even if — especially if– you’ve been sending the same templates or messages. Test it to learn something new. Or revel in the fact that you were right. (You could even take it a step further and show off your best victory dance.)Are you regularly testing your emails and landing pages? What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned? Chime in with your experiences in the comments below!last_img read more

5 Fundraising Metrics Worth Monitoring in Google Analytics

first_img[Editor’s note: Today’s post comes to us from David Hartstein, partner at Wired Impact, a web design company that builds websites for nonprofits. David shares some helpful hints on tracking and interpreting key fundraising metrics through Google Analytics.]Data can be daunting. Not only can the idea of delving into numbers be intimidating, but there are also a ton of terms you need to wrap your head around before anything makes much sense. And even after you have a grasp of the terminology it’s tough to know where to start.When it comes to measuring your nonprofit’s online fundraising efforts, it’s easy (and common) to get lost, floating amidst the sea of data available.What data matters the most? And how do you find it? While there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer, there is a common starting point.Everything Centers Around Online ProfitThe first key when measuring online fundraising is a sound mindset. Instead of giving every metric equal weight, remember:All the decisions you make with regards to online fundraising center around online profit.That’s the bottom line. If fundraising is one of your website goals, online profit should be your primary concern when measuring online fundraising. The metrics outlined below don’t matter in their own right. They only matter insofar as they ultimately lead to more overall dollars for your organization.Total profit from online giving is the metric that should keep you up at night. It’s the one that you should celebrate first and foremost when reviewing your website data. It’s the one that should determine if your website is a success (again, assuming boosting donations is one of your primary website goals).But profit isn’t easily tracked in most analytics tools since most tools are unaware of your expenses. So while you need to be mindful of your expenses, when using your analytics tool you’ll likely focus on revenue instead of profit.Become consumed with driving up your online revenue. Then, use the metrics below to determine how you actually make that happen.How to Configure Google AnalyticsBefore diving into the metrics, it’s worth noting that while we’re using Google Analytics here, you can likely measure similar metrics with whatever analytics tool you’re using. If you’re using a system outside of your website to accept donations, you should check out what analytics and reporting they have available.Also, while Google Analytics is incredibly powerful and free, it takes a bit of configuring to allow you to measure everything I outline here. The full details on configuration fall outside the scope of this post, but to get started, you’ll need to do the following:· Set up receiving a donation as a goal in your Google Analytics. (The easiest way is to create a “Thanks for Donating” page that users see after they donate and set this up as a Destination Goal in Google Analytics. If you’re using Network for Good’s DonateNow, a confirmation/thank you page is already created for you.)· Set up an advanced segment for Donors that includes users who complete your goal of making a donation.· If possible, set up Ecommerce tracking in Google Analytics to see actual revenue numbers.· If you’re using a third-party application to accept donations off of your website, set up cross-domain tracking (if possible) to pass data back to your Google Analytics account.If you need further help, explain what you’re looking to do to your web developer and ask them to get it all set up for you. Sometimes the setup gets a bit technical.But once it’s set up you’ll be able to see the following helpful metrics in Google Analytics.1. Landing Pages Leading to the Most DonationsA landing page is the first page a visitor lands on when they come on your site.Look at which landing pages are leading to the most donations, both in total revenue and total number of donations. Pick your best landing pages and examine what makes them so great. Do you have compelling stories or strong calls to action?But solely looking at donation totals can be skewed by traffic. Your most popular pages are likely driving more donations largely because they get more visitors. For that reason, it’s important to also look at the Ecommerce Conversion Rate. This rate shows what percentage of visitors landing on a given page end up making a donation. Pages with higher conversion rates are more efficiently convincing website visitors to become donors.Consider both donation totals and conversion rates together to determine which pages are most effective. Then use what’s working from these landing pages on some of your other popular landing pages to drive up online revenue.How to Find ItTo see which landing pages are leading to the most donations:1. Select your Donors advanced segment (outlined above)2. In the left sidebar, select Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages2. Traffic Sources Leading to the Most DonationsIt can also be beneficial to track which traffic sources are driving the most donations on your website. Maybe you’re getting a lot of traffic from one source (like search), but visitors from another traffic source (like your email newsletters) are ultimately making more donations.Knowing which traffic sources are driving the most donations can help you determine which ones are working and which ones may need more attention. You can also take what’s working from one traffic source and figure out the best way to apply it to another in order to drive more donations.How to Find ItTo see which traffic sources are leading to the most donations:1. Make sure All Visits is selected (instead of your Donors advanced segment)2. In the left sidebar, select Acquisition > Channels3. Average Value of a Donor from Each Traffic SourceIf you’ve set up Ecommerce tracking, calculating the average value of a donor from each traffic source can help you determine where to focus your energy. If visitors from a specific source tend to donate more on average, it’s likely worth trying to drive more traffic from that source to see if the trend holds.How to Find ItTo calculate the average value of a donor from a specific traffic source:1. Select your Donors advanced segment2. In the left sidebar, select Acquisition > Channels3. Perform the following calculation for each traffic source:Revenue / Unique Visitors = Avg. Donor Value for Traffic SourceRemember, you’re calculating the average value of a donor, not a visitor. To calculate the average value of a visitor from a given traffic source, you’ll need to view All Traffic instead of your Donors advanced segment.4. Referrals Leading to the Most DonationsA referral is when a visitor comes to your site by clicking a link from another website. This could be in a press release, in an article about one of your events, or in a comment you left on someone’s blog with a link back to your site.Drilling down into your referrals will show you what sites are worth your time and which ones aren’t producing the results you’d like to see.How to Find ItTo see which referrals are leading to the most donations:1. Make sure All Visits is selected2. In the left sidebar, select Acquisition > All Referrals3. Click the “Transactions” column header in the Ecommerce section to sort by number of transactions5. Popular Pages Prior to Visiting Your Donation PageThere are likely multiple paths a visitor can take to make a donation on your website. Tracking the page before a visitor comes to your donation page will show you what pages are resonating with your potential donors.Some pages (like a Get Involved page) will probably make sense. But others (like a particularly moving blog post) may surprise you.Figure out which ones are working. Incorporate whatever you think is working well into other popular pages whenever you can.How to Find ItTo see which pages are popular prior to visiting your donation page:1. Make sure All Visits is selected2. In the left sidebar, select Behavior > Site Content > All Pages3. In the list of URLs under the Page column, click the URL for your donation page4. Once you only see traffic to your donation page, click the blue Navigation Summary tab just above the graph5. Focus on the Previous Page Path list to see what pages visitors viewed before your donation pageThese Metrics are Just the BeginningWhile these five metrics can serve as a good starting point, they really are just the beginning when it comes to figuring out how to propel your nonprofit’s online fundraising forward. Some metrics that are interesting in your situation may not provide much insight to another organization.Figure out what data will help you tell the story behind your online revenue numbers. Then focus on those pieces of data that matter most to ultimately raising the amount of money you hope to raise online.Which metrics do you focus on when measuring your nonprofit’s online fundraising? Anything that doesn’t make sense to you or something you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments below.last_img read more

Are nonprofits recovering with the economy? Survey says…

first_imgThe 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 money26% will pursue an earned income model20% will seek funding other than grants & contractsThese 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. Get creative.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.last_img read more

How to create the ultimate donation page

first_imgAre you thinking about your year-end fundraising plans yet? Based on our recent Digital Giving Index data and trends from the last few years, Network for Good expects to again see at least 30% of annual online donation volume come through in December alone. Online giving is a generous procrastinator’s saving grace, but how much you raise online will depend on the donation experience you offer.Just like it does with any other tool, the success of your donation page (and in turn, your online fundraising strategy) depends on how you well you use it. The good news is that you can use the next several months to cultivate your donors and make sure your online fundraising game is on point. By taking the time to tweak and test your online experience now, you’ll reap the rewards at the end of the year.Here at Network for Good we launched a new free online course to help you assess and improve your online donation experience. The Ultimate Donation Page Course is a series of 10 lessons focused on online fundraising best practices and must-do tasks to optimize your donation page to inspire giving, reduce form abandonment, and increase your average gift size. The lessons include real-world examples, additional resources, and the key things you need to think about to be ready for fundraising this fall—and all year round. Bonus: these principles are easily adaptable to any other landing page that’s part of your nonprofit’s marketing outreach.The lessons help you think through things like:Which options are worth adding to your page and which you should ditchHow to pick the right image for your donation pageWhat to test and track with your online fundraising effortsYou can register for the course for free. You’ll receive new lessons via email every few days, and you can review them at your convenience. I urge you to check it out, then let me know what you think.last_img read more

It’s Time to Retire the Reception

first_imgWine and cheese tastings. Fancy dinners. Receptions. What do all these events have in common? They are generic. Any nonprofit can host these events. They are not special to your donors. They are not especially meaningful. To paraphrase Lynne Wester, The Donor Relations Guru, in our popular Nonprofit 911 webinar: Donors gave you money. They can buy themselves dinner. Hosting an event to honor and recognize your donors is good practice, but make sure that the face to face experience you give them is unique to your organization. So what kind of donor experience do I recommend? I want to see more unique, memorable, heart-warming experiences. Create an event, an interaction, or an entire day that allows your donors to learn about your organization and gives them an understanding and appreciation for how you are using their investment. To help get your ideas flowing, I asked a fundraising pro (and personal friend) Alexis Lux, CFRE and VP of Development for the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, to share some donor experience ideas: So why should a nonprofit host “donor experiences”? Alexis: These experiences should bring a donation to life. You want this experience to feel priceless to them but it shouldn’t really cost you much. It creates a closer connection to the nonprofit. Can you give examples of specific donor experiences hosted for one donor or just a few?I have three examples that were unique experiences for major donors: 1) When I was in the development department at a heritage museum we invited a major donor to the summer camp the museum hosted. He actually led a lesson for the campers! 2) When I raised money for a community boathouse foundation, we would name a new boat after a major donor and they had the opportunity to christen it in the traditional way (with champagne). Later, I would send them a photo of our youth team training with their boat on the river. 3) I also helped university scholarship donors meet the students they were supporting. I tried my best to partner the students and the donors by similar interest. One of our donors, an older women who loves the theatre, had a wonderful time getting to talk to a theatre student and heard firsthand about one of the upcoming showsWhat about a donor experience that would be appropriate for a larger group of mid-level donors? Well, at the YMCA we host a cancer survivor support group and we invite donors to attend the sessions. I even attended once and we did chair yoga! It was a lot of fun and wasn’t anything “extra” that I had to plan. Also, at the museum we had a private “artist talk” before each exhibit opened. It was pretty cool to have a famous artist give our donors a tour and explain his inspiration for each piece that was included in the gallery. Any other things to keep in mind when it comes to hosting these types of experiences for donors?I know my future is full of more galas & wine/cheese receptions than I want to admit, but it’s so much more meaningful when donors can see their gift in action. I encourage all nonprofit leaders to get creative when it comes to the way you interact with donors! ——Thanks to Lexy for sharing examples of unique donor experiences! I hope that you’re inspired! Need help thinking of donor experiences your nonprofit could host? Have examples that have worked for your nonprofit? Share your questions and ideas in the comments below.For more on donor relations and why your organization should rethink how you relate to all your supporters, download the archived presentation, Transform Your Donor Relationships.last_img read more

Unique Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits

first_imgUnique and Creative Fundraising Ideas for NonprofitsIt takes money to get things done, and coming up with unique fundraising ideas can be a challenge. Nonprofits have a never-ending need for financial resources, but supporters can get overwhelmed by constant requests, so fundraising for a cause requires careful planning.You want to reach out to existing supporters, but you also need to gain new ones. At the same time, you must strike a balance between honoring traditions and getting stale. The brainstorming phase alone can be exhausting! Here are a few uncommon fundraisers that you may want to try. If not, then one of them should at least get your creative juices flowing and inspire your own unique approach to nonprofit fundraising.Competitive Rivalries – Take advantage of the competitive spirit that gets aroused during the peak of sports seasons to bring some passion to charitable donations. Setting up challenges between rival businesses to see who can raise the most money for your cause isn’t new, but you can make it unique by having them pick team identities. You can even set up a Facebook event for the challenge where the teams can interact with each other which adds fun and spurs the rivalry.T-Shirts – Teespring and similar T-shirt printers have introduced a business model that is an amazing vehicle for funding for a cause and are some of the best crowdfunding sites for nonprofits because they offer a popular product, but there is no upfront investment on the part of the charity. You need to come up with a T-shirt design (which you can do as a contest that can potentially make money for the cause) and then promote the shirt design to your supporters. You get to set the cost and end date, and on that date, the printing company will collect payment for orders and print and deliver the shirts. If not enough people order shirts, you aren’t out anything since you didn’t have to buy them ahead of time to resell.Online Sales – Thanks to the popularity of Ebay, almost everyone is familiar with the online auction model, and online payments are so common that most people are comfortable making payments digitally, so it’s possible to do some nonprofit fundraising campaigns entirely online. You can also set up an online store where items sell for a specified price. This could be a way to sell donated items, such as artwork or services, or offer your branded items.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.last_img read more

Nonprofit Link Round Up

first_imgIt’s Friday the 13th, but never fear, because #donorlove is in the air! You can even send an #npvalentine courtesy of the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Here are a few of the resources and really smart people who caught our attention this week:What do donors want? Sandy Rees knows and she’s outlined 7 things donors want and 5 things you can give them. via Get Fully FundedRoger Craver offers his take on Hubspot’s 2015 Social Benchmark Report. via The AgitatorLearn the 9 things make people re-tweet your content, then check the share factor of your tweets using this cool tool. via FuturityWant to create a really compelling annual report? Think about this: “Yes, your annual accomplishments are important to share—necessary for funding and credibility in this age of transparency and results—but where is the donor in the story of your success? Can you tie your donor’s investment into a celebration of what you’ve done together?” via Big DuckNell Edgington shares 7 key questions that will help guide your nonprofit strategy. via Social VelocityDo you know when to use JPG, GIF, or PNG? Now you do, thanks to this helpful infographic. via Who Is Hosting This? Finally, for a laugh: Love poems to nonprofit staff (and boards!) via Nonprofit with Ballslast_img read more

The Only Thing You Need to Know About a Successful Sustainer Strategy

first_imgOnce you answer these questions, you’ll be better prepared to develop and optimize a sustainer program.Editor’s note: This post was written by Alia McKee, Principal at Sea Change Strategies. Alia is a veteran online communications and fundraising strategist with strategic chops and practical “in the trenches” experience developing brand-perfect integrated marketing and fundraising campaigns.Ready to rev up your monthly giving program? Take the Recurring Giving Challenge for access to Network for Good’s e-course on building a strong sustainer program. You’ll get the guidance you need to gain (and retain) more donors—plus, Network for Good clients are eligible to win Challenge Bonus Rewards for top campaigns. Find out more and sign up today! Two words: Lifetime valueOK, it’s a little more complicated than that. But understanding lifetime value is where a successful sustainer strategy starts.Too often organizations don’t recognize the tension between lifetime value and immediate budget goals. They want a sustainer strategy to increase their donor pool’s lifetime value, but they don’t want to sacrifice immediate revenue in the door. Rather than get that $15 a month gift (which averages to $180 in year one alone), they prefer the one-time gift of $100 because it looks better on the balance sheet for February. Internal attribution wars further complicate things. One group I work with actually attributes online sustainer revenue to an offline sustainer pool—disincentivizing the online team from deploying a sustainer strategy (e.g. disincentivizng increasing the value of a donor). Before you start listing out all of the tactics for soliciting new sustainers (of which there are many), first ask yourself:Is my organization judging the success of this program by lifetime value?Do we have the dashboard in place to track and report clearly on lifetime value?Do we understand the tension between lifetime value and immediate ROI?What are our business rules for attribution? How can we incentivize all fundraising staff to increase donor lifetime value?last_img read more

4 Ways to Frame Your Monthly Ask

first_imgOnce you’ve set up a monthly giving program that’s easy to understand and simple to join, there are many ways to ask supporters to join as sustaining donors. But you gotta ask. Here are four things to keep in mind when asking for recurring donations.1. Make It the First Priority.Get in the habit of inviting your community to become monthly donors. Whenever you ask for donations—on your website, in your email appeals, or a direct mail letter—ask first for a monthly gift, instead of just a one-time gift. When a donor is deciding on a donation amount, ask, “Would you like to make this a monthly gift?” It’s the fundraising equivalent of “supersizing” the order, with fewer calories and a way better outcome.UNICEF USA makes monthly giving the first thing you see on their homepage. They reinforce the ask with a reminder that the needs they address are ongoing.2. Start Small.Remember: small gifts add up, so always think about the annual contribution and not just the monthly installment. Focus on getting your donors into your program with a realistic and easy-to-swallow amount. Erica Waasdorp, author of Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant, offers this advice on setting your initial monthly ask amount for entry-level donors: start with your average onetime gift and start your ask at about a third of that. If your average single donation is $35, set your first monthly gift level at $10 (an ideal starting point), then bump up the ask to $15, $20, $35, etc. (Note: be sure to tailor your gift strings and appeals for different segments of your list. Donors who are giving a larger average one-time gift should be presented with larger monthly gift options that reflect their level of support.)The Liz Logelin Foundation encourages donors to give “$7 on the 7th” to help widows and widowers with young families. This campaign helps donors realize it’s possible to create a big impact for a small amount each month.3. Offer an Appealing Package.Describe the work you do in a way that relates to a recurring gift and shows a tangible tie to the idea of giving every month. What is the recurring need? How do these gifts add up to a specific and tangible impact? Make it easy for donors to understand exactly what each monthly giving level will water’s Pipeline program clearly ties an ongoing need to the solution the donor can provide through their monthly gift. Using language like “keep the water flowing” reinforces this concept and creates a strong visual that helps new and existing donors understand why ongoing support is so critical.4. Help Monthly Donors Feel Important.Not all monthly giving programs need special branding, but if you’re planning to give your program a unique name, make sure it reflects the importance of their commitment. The name should focus on the impact your donors make, not on your organization. Give monthly donors a special status and celebrate them in a unique way on your site. Then, back that up by reserving special perks for these loyal supporters, such as a sneak peek to your newsletter, first dibs on event tickets, or invitations to an open dubs their monthly donors as Guardians, which perfectly fits the role of these sustainers in the work of saving and protecting animals. It also taps into the identity that these supporters likely want to achieve. What animal lover wouldn’t want to be seen as a Guardian?Pinpoint the unique qualities of your monthly giving program and think about how they may appeal to your donors. Careful framing of your offer can go a long way in making your ask for recurring gifts stand out. You’ll create a better story in your supporters’ minds and inspire them to commit to monthly donations. Learn more about Recurring Gifts: The Key to Sustainability here.last_img read more