#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:
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#whatgiveswednesday | young (non)donors week four | venting session

It’s time to air our grievances!

What are the biggest complaints about fundraising practices targeted at young people??? 

I asked people on Twitter and here are the answers I got back:

  • “I’m a small-sum monthly donor – I find big $$ asks are too much to handle in one go!”
  • “Lack of philanthropy education within the student market, impact reporting, and not customizing the ask are key to me […] Also think more needs to be done in terms of boosting online donation programs and infrastructure to support”
  • “Not saying thank you annoys us!!”
  • “They assume I’m hip and trendy. I assure you, I’m neither.”
  • “General lack of interesting, accessible gift opportunities that appeal to the change-making #millennial soul.”
  • “That I need something in return for my gift.”
  • “Anything that suggests an obligation or guilt. We need opportunities to help solve problems #inspiration”
  • “No opportunity beyond the ask for further engagement/involvement with the organization!”
  • “Bad stock photos”
  • “Giving info pages & donation forms that aren’t mobile friendly.”
  • “There’s a general lack of areas of support that pique my interest and inspire me to give.”
  • “Msgs that are too wordy, & too official/top-down sounding. Too many fields req’d to complete gift online”
  • “Emails that aren’t personalized, aren’t designed for mobile and calls when the caller has no info about me.”

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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

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

National Philanthropy Day

Happy National Philanthropy DayWhat Gives’ readers!

As a Canadian and a fundraiser, I couldn’t be prouder that Canada has become the first country in the world to permanently recognize November 15th as National Philanthropy Day® (NPD).  Bill S-201 has given us the opportunity to officially honour the work of charities, donors, volunteers, corporations, and foundations.

I found this quote via the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and I absolutely love it:
“What makes philanthropy so special is that no one is required to give of themselves. There are no national laws or regulations which mandate that you must volunteer or get involved. Philanthropy is so powerful and inspiring precisely because it is voluntary—that through the goodness of our hearts, through our need to connect, through our desire to see a better world, we come together to improve the quality of life for all people.”

Today I will be making an effort to tweet more than usual, sharing some great quotes about philanthropy that I find.  Be sure to tune in and follow me at @fundraisermaeve.

For more on National Philanthropy Day, the current state of philanthropy, videos, celebrations, contests, and more, check out Canada’s official NPD website (supported by AFP): www.nationalphilanthropyday.com.

Also, join the conversation on Twitter by tweeting what you’re doing to change the world in an online contest presented by AFP with support from TELUS. The five most inspiring, innovative and creative tweets sent to #npdTELUS will earn the senders a $500 contribution to the charity of their choice.

 

Written by Maeve Strathy

livestrong
Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past 6 years.  Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Email

Why don’t people give???

I participated recently in an “interview” with an individual who is working to develop a social media strategy for the Development & Alumni Relations department at a higher-ed institution.  His intention was to get my input on what alumni want from their alma mater and how that might be provided through social media.  I was pleased when alumni giving made its way into the conversation and intrigued by his approach to the topic; he asked me, “Why don’t alumni give???” What a great question!  And one that definitely applies to all forms of fundraising – not just educational.  There are, of course, a myriad of reasons people don’t give.  Drawing once again from my experience as an Annual Giving phonathon caller, I heard reasons including a negative experience at the university, still paying off student loans, big transitions in life with big costs attached (getting married, buying a house, starting a family), and sometimes a plain old “not interested”. But then I thought, “Why DO people give?”  And as any good fundraiser knows, the #1 reason people give is … say it with me … because they are asked!!!  Yes, it’s often that simple!  So, would that mean that the opposite is true???  Do people NOT give because they’re NOT asked?  Well, let me say this, rarely do fundraisers hear from their prospects that they’re not being asked enough… So, what is it?  Perhaps people don’t give because they’re not asked right. What do I mean by that?  Is it that best practice fundraising approaches should be thrown out the window?  Not at all!  My thought is that we’re doing a great job except that we’re not giving our prospects enough info on HOW to give.  We’re telling them who to give to (our organization), when to give (now), why to give, what amount to give, where to designate, but are we giving them the right options at that point on HOW to make their gift?  And I’m not talking about which credit card to donate with… It’s my belief that many people don’t give because (a) they think only enormous major gifts matter and (b) they don’t know their options.  For example, I donate regularly to four causes, and in all four cases I’m a monthly donor.  Are we as fundraisers making options like monthly giving clear when we make our ask?  This is just one example, of course, but I think it’s part of a key “toolkit” we ought to be sharing.  A $240 gift may seem intimidating, but $20/month might not… So I told this individual I had my social media interview with that sharing quick updates on Facebook and Twitter, not asking for donations but informing people on how to make them, could be a potential way of engaging more alumni in giving… I guess we’ll see if it works! Food for thought… Why do YOU think people don’t give???

 

Written by Maeve Strathy

livestrong
Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past 6 years.  Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Email

Is this philanthropy?

I think my fellow fundraisers would agree that our feeling about philanthropy isn’t that you should try to give, give, and give to every organization that approaches you. In fact, my fellow fundraisers would probably say, “JUST SUPPORT OUR ORGANIZATION!” But I digress…

I just read a great piece by Julie Blais Comeau (a.k.a. @EtiquetteJulie) in the Huffington Post, entitled: “Sticky Situations: Saying No to Charity”. Thank you to my sister (and fellow fundraiser) @arundelgibson for tweeting about this article.

In @EtiquetteJulie’s piece, she talks about the steady flow of requests for donations in her workplace – one colleague is doing a run for the cure, another has a child whose school is selling chocolate bars to fund raise… the list goes on. I’m sure this has happened to you, or something similar. Julie discusses appropriate ways to say “no” to your coworkers when this occurs, all of which are very tactful and helpful.

This article made me think about something I once heard James Fleck, Canadian businessman and philanthropist, say:

Philanthropy is balancing your passion and your resources.

Would you consider it philanthropy if you dropped a loonie into one of those Salvation Army collection boxes?  Would you consider it philanthropy if you gave a homeless person your spare change?  I’m not saying it isn’t helpful or worthwhile to do this, but I’m asking: Is this philanthropy???

My thought is that I’d rather make one meaningful contribution per year to an organization that I feel passionately about, and that I want to invest in. What do you think? Please comment here with your thoughts, ideas, and musings. OR, even better, email me at maeve@whatgivesphilanthropy.com to discuss getting involved with What Gives??? as a guest blogger.  I’d love to have you on board!

 

Written by Maeve Strathy

livestrong
Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past 6 years.  Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Email

Lift your message above the torrent

Lift your message above the torrent (1)

I just read a great article via www.charityinfo.ca“Winston Churchill – a Twitter natural?”

Please enjoy Janet Gadeski’s piece for yourself, but in essence she is discussing taking the power of Twitter to what we do in fundraising. What is the power of Twitter? What some argue is the deterioration of the English language (or any language) and our ability to express ourselves, I would argue is actually a very positive and neat evolution of expression. On Twitter – if you didn’t already know – all posts (tweets) have to be 140 characters or less; it’s called microblogging. Yes, sometimes I take shortcuts by typing “U” instead of “You”, and yes, sometimes I use sentence fragments, but that’s just utilizing my precious characters carefully. Moreover, as Gadeski says, it’s about packing a punch in your tweets and turning them into “pithy, memorable” messages, and that’s not easy!

My high school English teacher once quoted Mark Twain (though I may be attributing this to the wrong author) from a letter he’d written to a friend: “I did not have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one instead”. My teacher quoted this after assigning us a 200-word paper — not exactly tough when I consider the lengthy papers I’ve written before, but as we all know, it’s easier to blather on with no word limit than it is to make a really solid point in a confined space.

When I say bringing the power of Twitter to fundraising, I don’t mean tweeting to your donors, though that’s good, too! I mean working to create short, to-the-point, concise messages.

As Gadeski writes, “Pithy, memorable messages – just what we want as fundraisers. In our accelerated world, even an elevator speech may be too long to remain in the brain. Every day, thousands of messages stream towards your donors, in every medium in the brain. You may be retreating as far as you can from the whole notion of Twitter, but you have to admit that conciseness will lift your messages above that torrent.”

Follow me @fundraisermaeve!

 

Written by Maeve Strathy

livestrong
Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past 6 years.  Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Email