Year-End is Coming………

My colleague Mackenzie and I are responsible for Blakely‘s monthly internal campaigns. They’re internal marketing campaigns, really, meant to make our colleagues laugh, think, feel supported, or get inspired.

May’s internal campaign looks like this:

Year-End?! What?!?! It’s early May!!!

I hear you. We thought Christmas in July was crazy, but the truth is that if you’re planning on doing an integrated, year-end campaign that starts with your holiday mailing and ends with your final e-blast on December 31, it’s time to start thinking about it. Seriously.

Why does year-end matter so much? First and foremost, this is when donors think about charitable giving the most. They’re in the giving spirit thanks to the holiday time period — they’re thinking about family and time together, and maybe they’re feeling really grateful for what they have, and a little emotional about those in need.

And even though at the end of the day donors are not purely motivated by tax credits, it is an incentive to make your biggest impact when the calendar year is wrapping up.

What’s our role as fundraisers? Since we know where donors’ heads are at, it’s time for us to be out there — reaching the right audience at the right time with the right message. That’s becoming increasingly difficult to do; there are more charities than ever competing for donors’ attention. We used to be able to send a beautiful holiday mailing to donors and prospective donors and that was that. Now that mailing can’t stand on its own; your overarching message needs to be supported on different channels shared in different ways to different audiences. It needs to be big, strong, powerful, and integrated.

So what do you need to be thinking about? It’s still early days in terms of planning, but here are some of the things you want to start pondering:

  1. Organizational Activities: You’ve heard me talk about the gin & tonic approach before, I think. It’s about mixing all the different departments at your organization so that you’re working together — for your donors’ sakes. Too often your marketing department has something totally different going on than you at year-end. See what you can do about aligning efforts so that donors aren’t seeing messages that don’t look like they’re coming from the same place. And if you can’t get marketing on board, ask them what they’re planning and see if you can align with it — as long as it’s not sacrificing donor experience, fundraising best practices, etc.
  2. Fundraising Proposition: Start thinking about what area of funding you want to put in front of donors. What’s your greatest funding need right now? What will inspire donors the most when they’re thinking about you? Whatever it is, it needs to be able to be shared across a number of communications on different channels, so you’ll want to be able to talk about it – and bring it to life – in a few different ways over the course of the campaign.
  3. Story: What story/ies are you telling to bring that fundraising proposition to life? How can you put it into context? Whose story will you tell? What will tug at donors’ heartstrings? Like the fundraising proposition, this story needs to be big enough to tell a few times in a few different ways, so make sure you have a good one — and lots of content to support it (interviews, videos, photos, etc.).
  4. Channel Strategy: The above speaks more to the creative strategy, but you’ve got to be thinking about how you’re sharing your message — is it mail only? Mail and email? Mail, email & landing page? Mail, email, landing page, video, Facebook ads, Google ads, Search ads, and a TV spot? Whether you’re keeping it simple, or getting your message out everywhere, start figuring out what that looks like, for the sake of budgets, content planning, and donor experience.

That’s it for now! Not too painful, right? But if you start pondering the above, you’ll get yourself into the year-end fundraising game. Brace yourselves… but we’re all in it together!

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Written by Maeve Strathy

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Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in fundraising for eleven years.
Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

Guest Post: Five Must-Haves for Online Fundraising Success

Almost every nonprofit organization has embraced the Internet to help spread awareness for their cause, gain supporters, and raise money through online donations. When looking at the online fundraising campaigns that achieve the greatest success, they seem to include five critical elements.

  1. Enhance Digital Efforts & Go Mobile
    People are spending a greater amount of time online each year. In fact, over 11 billion searches are conducted each month on Google alone. Just like any business with an online presence, your organization not only needs a website, but it should include some important elements: simple, clear messaging, easy navigation, and, with more than 80% of internet users also using a smart phone, mobile optimization is key. By using fundraising software, such as DoJiggy, you can easily build a mobile-optimized fundraising website to manage all details for your fundraising event including: registration & ticket sales, collecting online donations, progress tracking and reporting.
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  2. Pay More Attention to Social Media
    Today more than 55% of Americans have social media profiles presenting a unique opportunity for the non-profit sector. Social media gives nonprofits an easy way to reach out to their donors, build and nurture relationships, and communicate news and updates. Facebook and Twitter are staples in the non-profit world. But remember it’s not just being present…it’s engaging. Don’t just post about your own charity, but find other organizations doing similar things and help them spread the word – retweet, share their posts, and chances are they’ll return the favor. Don’t forget about other networks that are rapidly growing, like Instagram and Pinterest which give you a unique opportunity to share visual imagery and attract more people to your cause. LinkedIn and Google Plus are also great ways to connect with other communities and talk to your peers.

  3. Communication Tactics to Engage with Different Generations
    When thinking about communication efforts, be sure to consider how your message will reach different generations. Some older donors may prefer letters sent in the mail, email newsletter updates, or personal phone calls. Keep in mind that in just a few short years, Millennials will make up the largest portion of the workforce, thus controlling a large portion of funds, and therefore will be critical to your fundraising success.  This generation relies heavily on the information they find on the Internet. They engage via social channels so be sure to have a presence here and give them the tools they need to share. They also look for organizations to be open and transparent, so including testimonials could be a nice tactic.pic2
  4. Free Online Resources for Participants
    In this day and age where information is so accessible, people are always looking online for help. By offering helpful fundraising resources to your supporters, you not only show them you care, but you can actually help them perform better – which results in greater success for your charity. Offer fundraising check-lists and timelines to help them plan. Offer tips for soliciting donations or sample donation request letters. Post short videos that explain more about the cause and give them sample pitches to use so they are prepared when they seek donations. You can even offer some stock images for people to use in their social posts or sample “tweets” for them to simply copy and paste when sharing your message.
  5. Analyze Metrics & Make Improvements
    Evaluation has always been an important part of any fundraising campaign. Yet, finding actual statistics used to be much more of a challenge. People distributed surveys or estimated attendance for events. Today data is easier to come by than ever before. Using tracking and analytics tools, like those included with DoJiggy’s fundraising software, allow your organization to better understand your donors and the results of your fundraising efforts. Did more donations come in from email campaigns, social sharing, from sponsor sites or blog posts? You can also use data to find out what your prospects are interested in. By looking at Social media, you can see which posts get the most engagement, likes, and clicks. Use this information to help with your future branding and messaging.

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Written by Kari Kiel

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Kari Kiel is the Marketing Director at DoJiggy – a company that’s been providing affordable, easy-to-use online fundraising software solutions for nonprofits, schools, churches & community organizations for more than a decade. www.DoJiggy.com

 

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**SPONSORED POST** Email maeve@whatgivesphilanthropy.com for more information about advertising on www.whatgivesphilanthropy.com.

#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week ten | let’s take a brief look back, shall we?

Wow! Can you believe we’re already on Week 10 of #whatgiveswednesday? Time is flying!

I thought this milestone was a good opportunity to look back at weeks 1 through 9 and ask, “What have we learned so far?”

I re-read the first 9 posts and already some clear themes are coming through. Here they are:

ONE: TRANSPARENCY
I’ll talk more about communicating with young donors in a sec, but transparency on its own was one of the most important factors I identified after re-reading the posts. Charities must be transparent when communicating with (young) donors. Make your impact known, allow donors to see stats and metrics on their impact, and let them know without a doubt that you did exactly what you said you would with their money.

TWO: INVOLVE
As Sheena Greer told us in her awesome #whatgiveswednesday guest blog post, “We are going to give our time first and our money second.” You’ll show young donors just how transparent and trustworthy you are when they get involved and have a “behind the scenes” look at who you are and what you do. Make it fun and social for them, and the money will follow.

THREE: RESTRICTED
The trend is that all donors – young and old – are moving away from unrestricted giving. It goes hand-in-hand with the changing approach to philanthropy; it isn’t guilt or obligation-driven anymore, so there isn’t a willingness to just pour funds into a general fund and impact… who knows what? Make your giving opportunities more exciting, specific, and cause-driven.

FOUR: MAKE GIVING EASY
If you’re investing in your young donor program, you better have an easy online giving form that’s also mobile friendly. End of story.

FIVE: COMMUNICATE
In addition to being transparent, there are other important factors in your communication with young donors: be clear, be concise, tell stories, use images, integrate short videos, include user-generated content, and be authentic. Don’t use an institutional voice; get existing young donors – a.k.a. “gen y besties” – to tell their stories for you, just like Carolyn Hawthorn suggested in her #whatgiveswednesday guest blog post.

It’s not that complicated, but there’s still more mystery to be solved! Tune in on Wednesday, April 15 for our next segment. Thanks for reading!

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Written by Maeve Strathy

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Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past eight years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | LinkedIn | Email

#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week nine | guest post: boom! what? harness the millennials!

I recently attended a conference in Seattle, WA (Academic Impressions Young Alumni: Establishing Lifelong Relationships) and was inspired to “guest blog” about my trip.

Full disclosure: When I was in high school, the Macarena was the biggest dance craze. As such, I am fully aware I can never be part of the Millennial movement (although I’ve seen some great mashup-revivals of those moves recently…)

However, just as I can appreciate great feminist literature or how Bill James could influence major league baseball without ever playing pro ball, I’ve been turning my professional attention to this next great generation: The Millennials (aka Gen Y) despite not being “one of them.” I’ll try not to focus on the myth that they don’t give (and get off my lawn, you meddling kids!) because it’s simply not true (87% of millennial employees donated to a nonprofit in 2013) but rather how our collective mindset and paradigms need to change to allow this group of highly creative, socially motivated folks to connect their money with their passions.

First, this is the #ShowMe generation. Having instant access to information (accurate or not) has trained them to expect to see the impact of their gifts immediately and in a way that aligns with their passion or sense of self. Thank you Facebook and Google Analytics! Make sure your donor relations strategy allows your students and younger alumni to access stats and metrics on the direct impact of their gifts. Also, tie their support to tangible projects that will impact their donor experience. Disinterest in donating to general funds is also trending.

Second, this group has been connected via the internet most of their lives. They know how to navigate web and mobile devices and have no patience for multiple click thrus or ugly websites. Is your content accessible and mobile friendly? 83% of Millennials currently use a SmartPhone and in 2014, mobile access surpassed desktop access. Invest in your marketing and communications online strategies for this group and be intentional.

Third, remember when commercials used to be 30 seconds and YouTube videos were 5 minutes long? Now, we see 6 second Vines, video viewing rates dropping off after 48 seconds, and if it doesn’t fit in 140 characters, it’s not worth saying. Be clear, be concise, and be honest. Every generation has its own vernacular, be sure to use images and short videos for millennials. User-generated content is great and sometimes preferable to “institution-produced” adverts. When Arthur Brisbane said, “a picture is worth a thousand words” I’m not sure he was ready for Instagram, where 8 million pictures and videos are posted every hour. Every HOUR!

And finally, keep in mind that Gen X and Millennials are set to inherit $40 trillion (with a “T”!) in the next 50 years. Can you afford not to speak their language?  

The better we all do as an industry to change our stewardship and donor relations strategies, the more connected, engaged, and INVESTED this key demographic will be. Boom! What? Harness the Millennials!

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Written by Ben Seewald

unnamedGrowing up, Ben Seewald wasn’t like every other kid, who dreamed about being a doctor, or a kangaroo, or an astronaut – he always wanted to work with phenomenal people in Alumni Relations at a University. Ben is living his dream at Queen’s University as an Alumni Officer, working on student and recent graduate engagement programming.

Connect with Ben via:
LinkedIn

Guest Post: The #1 Mistake Online Fundraisers Make

There is nothing more frustrating than not hitting a goal you’ve set. Especially when it comes to fundraising.

You start dreaming big and thinking of all the things you’ll do with the hundreds of thousands of dollars you’ll raise.

Then when you miss that goal, you feel like you’ve failed. Worse yet, you feel like you’ve let down the folks who actually did donate.

That’s not a good feeling.

Many times, missing a goal comes down to one thing: setting unrealistic goals.

What’s Realistic?

The most successful online fundraisers have two things going for them: strong online assets, and a plan to promote their campaign using those assets.

Through my job at WeDidIt, I’ve been able to look at the lots of successful crowdfunding pages and their traffic statistics.

I learned that a campaign’s performance is predictable. I can look at a page’s traffic and give you an idea of where each of those visitors came from (email, Facebook, Google, your organization’s website, etc).

Better yet: I can tell you how much money it probably raised.

It’s a great party trick. If the party you’re at is full of nonprofit people…

How I Do It

It’s all about averages.

By taking the total amount raised and dividing that by the total traffic a page received, we can get a dollars per visit value (how much, on average, each page visit is worth). This figure works out to $9/visit (it’s actually more, but I round down to be conservative).

We can reverse engineer this to figure out how much traffic your page needs to generate to raise a specific amount.

Want to raise $1000?

$1000 / $9 = 111 visits to the page. You’ll need at least that much to make it happen.

On average, here’s where that traffic comes from:

  • Email: 56%
  • Facebook: 25%
  • Your website: 10%
  • Search: 5%
  • Twitter: 3%
  • Other: 1%

Right away, you can see email is the biggest driver of traffic.

It makes sense then to set your goal based on how healthy your email list is.

If your email list is small or has a low open/click rate, setting a huge crowdfunding goal is not realistic.

For example:

If you want to raise $15,000, you’ll need about 1670 visits. 56% of those have to come from your email list, or 935. That means 935 people on your email list have to open the email and click the link to the page.

If your email list is 10,000 addresses strong, you’re in good shape!

If it’s 500 addresses…you get the idea.

Just as you would run a 5K before taking on an IronMan race, setting realistic crowdfunding goals helps you experience more success and have something to build on.

If you’re interested in those crowdfunding stats, I put together a handy little tool I call the Crowdfunding Calculator. It allows you to plug in how much you want to raise, then breaks down how much traffic you’ll need, where it needs to come from, and gives you an idea of whether your online assets are strong enough to support that goal.

I offer it for free to the nonprofit community, all I ask for in return is that you tell me what your biggest fundraising headache is (so I can get ideas for a my next tool to make!). Click here to check it out!

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Written by Andrew Littlefield

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Andrew is a marketer and nonprofit fan for WeDidIt, a startup based in Brooklyn, New York dedicated to helping nonprofits raise more money and reach new donors.

Connect with Andrew via:
Twitter |  WeDidIt Blog

Guest Post: Five pointers for creating the most engaging donation web page possible

The Internet has created a new way for charities and non-profits to collect donations from supporters around the globe. Even smaller charities with limited budgets are able to market and use social media to effectively spread their message.

Web design and page layout are often overlooked when creating a donations page, but both play an important part in how effective an online fundraising campaign can be. Since the homepage is the online headquarters for most fundraising campaigns, make sure it’s set up to accept credit cards, in-kind donations, provides a list of events, and comprehensively outlines the mission and goals.

 

Create positive and original content that promotes discussion and sharing.

(1) Offer Something to See and Do
The campaign’s mission and goals should be outlined and easy to find, including how any donations are spent and whether or not they are tax deductible. Use images to enhance the story, and stay away from text-heavy pages. Videos are a great way to tell the story and evoke emotion, and updates on the campaign’s progress should be included when goals and milestones are reached.

People are more willing to donate when the funds are being put to good use and progress can be seen. Offer users a forum to discuss the cause and exchange ideas with one another.

Create a “donate” button that stands out from the rest of the site.

 

(2) Provide Multiple Ways to Donate
In addition to setting up the campaign’s website to accept credit cards, donations should be able to be accepted via text message, PayPal, social media, and through the mail. In addition to accepting credit cards, offer the option to donate cash, checque, or money order.

Users shouldn’t have to navigate all over the site to make a donation, so add a way to donate money right on the campaign’s homepage. PayPal offers a “donation” button that can be setup with minimal code.


(3) Spread the Word
In order for a campaign to be successful, people must know about it. One of the most effective ways to spread the word is through the use of social media. Create a Twitter account, Facebook page, and blog. Stay active on the accounts by creating positive content, engaging your supporters, and promoting conversation. Post thought-provoking updates that people will want to share with their networks.

Link the campaign’s social media accounts to the homepage so users can easily navigate between the two. Add “Like” buttons to stories and videos, and blog about the fundraiser’s progress as often as possible. Include images, videos, audio, and other rich media within the blog posts, as well.


(4) Create an Online Store
Although this may be a bit harder for those on a tight budget, it’s never a bad idea to offer products that can be purchased directly through the website. This includes t-shirts, hats, buttons, bumper stickers, pens, and other novelty items that promote the cause. Make sure a portion of all proceeds go back towards the charity, while other funds may be used to help offset administrative costs. These types of products are an additional way to market the campaign offline, too.


(5) Recruit Volunteers

The more help the campaign has, the better. Provide a way for people to get involved and lend a helping hand. Send out a monthly newsletter with information about local events and appearances. Create street teams that spread the word by going door-to-door or by holding events in public places.

If people are passionate about the cause, it may be easy to find others willing to volunteer their time and effort. Include ways people can help directly on the homepage, and provide contact information for those looking for more information.
By creating thought-provoking and engaging content, offering an easy way for people to donate, and sharing the message through social media, any fundraising campaign has the potential to be successful. It’s also a great idea to accept in-kind donations for those who are unable to donate money.

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Written by Brian Flax

Brian Flax is a freelance writer based in the Washington, D.C. area. He is experienced in a variety of topics including technology and Internet-based applications. Follow Brian on Twitter @BrianFlax.

Image courtesy of photoraidz / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net