#GivingTuesday – How to Be a Winner

Apple with heart 300x198 #GivingTuesday   How to Be a Winner

Have you considered making #Giving Tuesday a gift to  your donors?

In my last post, #Giving Tuesday, Win or Lose Day? You’re in Control I talked about the origins of the day and all the good intentions that went into its creation. Yet I’ve heard from many, many nonprofits that they just don’t have the bandwidth to develop and promote one more fundraising initiative during this very busy time of year. I’ve been there, and I empathize.

Sometimes the newest bells and whistles are simply a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing in the end.  But rather than reject the notion of #GivingTuesday out of hand, I began to wonder if there were ways to jump on the bandwagon without cannibalizing other types of year-end fundraising.  Or without burning out staff and volunteers. Or without confusing donors who feel like they’re being asked for this, that and every such thing.

I noted that I love the idea of using #GivingTuesday to celebrate and thank our donors. We don’t thank our supporters nearly enough, so why not have a day dedicated to donor love?

I think there’s a way to make #GivingTuesday about both giving and getting. And I promised to share an example with you in my last post.Continue Reading

#GivingTuesday – Your Win or Lose Day? You’re in Control

Apple with heart 300x198 #GivingTuesday   Your Win or Lose Day? Youre in Control

What does #Giving Tuesday mean to your nonprofit? To your donors?

Giving Tuesday. What’s it all about? Read about the origins here. It’s one of those things that sounds good on paper, but in actual implementation it can be less than ideal. Why? Because it comes right smack dab in the middle of most folks annual campaigns. So there’s often little time to do it right. And it can cannibalize other fundraising efforts.Continue Reading

Find Yourself Failing at Fundraising? Put on Your Radiator Cap!

Radiator cap 300x198 Find Yourself Failing at Fundraising? Put on Your Radiator Cap!

Put on your radiator cap and spread the joy of your mission far and wide!

Do you find yourself sinking into a fundraising hole?

If so, you’re not the first. And you won’t be the last.

I’m going to tell you how to begin to dig yourself out!

First, stop blaming others. It’s not because so-and-so foundation just pulled their grant (how dare they?).  It’s not because the government just cut back funding in your area (those bastards!). It’s not because your development director is lazy (why can’t she work 70 hours?)… and it’s not because your board doesn’t give enough (they’re so stingy!).

Sure, some of those things may be happening.  ButContinue Reading

8 Nonprofit Lead Generation Take-Aways from the Ice Bucket Challenge

ice bucket champagne bottles 300x199 8 Nonprofit Lead Generation Take Aways from the Ice Bucket Challenge

Celebrate what your nonprofit can learn about social media and fundraising from the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Whether you fall into the “it was just dumb luck” or the “whoa… that was brilliant” camp when it comes to evaluating the recent Ice Bucket Challenge social media + fundraising phenomenon, there is certainly much to be learned.

I’m still amazed at the pooh-poohers who are wringing their hands over the fact that it’s highly unlikely ALS will retain more than 30% of these donors because these donors are new and new donor retention rates are abysmal . True, but… they secured over 3 million donors! So, at bare minimum, they’ve got 3 million “leads.”Continue Reading

October Nonprofit Blog Carnival Call for Submissions: Tricks or Treats – How Do You Get and Sustain Major Gifts?

ScreamPumpkin 255x300 October Nonprofit Blog Carnival Call for Submissions: Tricks or Treats – How Do You Get and Sustain Major Gifts?

H E L P! I need major donors!

I’m majorly S C R E A M I N G with delight to be hosting this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival!

So majorly, in fact, that the subject this month is TRICKS or TREATS – How Do You Get and Sustain Major Gifts?

Tell us your tricks – the ones that work! Do you HAUNT prospects through a series of managed ‘moves’?  Do you fly in on a BROOMSTICK and just drop in spontaneously? How do you put them under your SPELL?

Tell us some treats – ways you wow your donors! Smile like a JACK-O-LANTERN every time you think of them; then figure out a way to let them know? Give them lots of virtual CANDY (seriously, do you use social media for any part of your major gifts strategy)?Continue Reading

What My Mother Taught Me and How it Informs My Fundraising Practice

 

Manners Polite and Rude 300x300 What My Mother Taught Me and How it Informs My Fundraising Practice

Do you toss good manners, along with common sense, out the window when you cross the threshold of your nonprofit?

Why and How to Invoke the Power of Thank You

My mother was known for having impeccable manners. At her memorial service, it seemed as if every other person who shared a memory talked about her manners. They did so not in a nitpicking way, but in a loving way.  It seemed she always knew just the right thing to do to show her appreciation.

Maybe that’s why I love writing thank you notes.  Seriously, it’s my favorite thing to do in all of fundraising.  And it’s undoubtedly why, when I first heard Penelope Burk speak in 2001, it completely changed my approach to the practice of development.Continue Reading

6 Traits of Relationship-Building Nonprofits + 4 Most Effective Ways to Retain Donors

Bad day 6 Traits of Relationship Building Nonprofits + 4 Most Effective Ways to Retain Donors

Your donors have bad days too. Learn to be a friend.

Donor retention has continued to plummet every year for the past seven years.  It’s really, truly an awful problem. For some unknown reason, all that hard work you put into acquiring new donors is, seemingly, being wasted. Why?

I recently asked folks what ONE word they would use to sum up what is needed to transform donor loyalty. I received some interesting answers and thought I’d share them with you, along with my comments, here. First, let me remind you of my own Big Secret — the one principle I’ve found that makes the greatest difference to long-term, sustainable fundraising success: Continue Reading

The Big Secret – One Word – to Transform Donor Loyalty

SECRET 300x300 The Big Secret – One Word – to Transform Donor Loyalty

What ONE principle can change your donor relationships from short- to long-term?

In a recent post about building donor loyalty I promised to reveal my personal #1 SECRET the one principle that makes the greatest difference to long-term, sustainable fundraising success.

I’m going to share that principle here; then I’m going to turn this principle into a word – actually three variations of the same word – that you can use to transform the way you’ve been doing business.

Are you ready?Continue Reading

How to Create an Ice Bucket-type Challenge for Your Nonprofit: A Formula for Success

fallon ice bucket hed 2014 How to Create an Ice Bucket type Challenge for Your Nonprofit: A Formula for Success

Jimmy Fallon and friends prepare to take the Ice Bucket Challenge

Are you wringing your hands because your boss or board wants you to come up with a viral social campaign to rival the “Ice Bucket Challenge?” Oy!

I was first introduced to this phenomenon one evening as I was watching the Jimmy Fallon show on t.v. Jimmy, some of his crew and his band all dumped buckets of ice water on their heads; then challenged the New York Jets to do so as well (Jimmy had been challenged by Justin Timberlake). I had no idea why they were doing it or what the “Ice Bucket Challenge” was about.Continue Reading

It’s Not That Hard: 6 Secrets to Succeeding with Online Fundraising

6 spheres 300x225 It’s Not That Hard: 6 Secrets to Succeeding with Online Fundraising

The biggest secret? Everything works TOGETHER. No silos.

Julia C. Campbell and I were clearly separated at birth, and I’ve told her as much. Because I tend to agree – in spades – with everything she writes.  [Plus, her middle name is Claire, so what further proof is needed?]  Her recent article, 6 Ways Nonprofits Are Getting Online Fundraising All Wrong, is no exception.

Here are Julia’s 6 tips, to which I’ve added a few of my own thoughts (although they’re really not my own because there are no new ideas – and Julia and I think the same)!

1) Online fundraising does not work in a silo.

Julia reminds you that no fundraising or marketing effort works in a silo. This is SO important! Just building it isn’t enough. Whatever it may be. A blog. A Facebook page. A Twitter profile. A donation landing page. You name it. Sorry. They won’t call.  They won’t write.  They won’t wax on rhapsodically about your finer qualities. The most they might do is notice you out of the corner of their eye; then move on.

ACTION TIP: Convene a multi-disciplinary communications team. It’s on you to work it – together – as a full organization invested in engaging those folks who share your values. Whatever you do online must be supported by what you do offline. And vice-versa.

2) Online fundraising does not work if your website sucks.

And, by the way, these days if your website isn’t optimized for mobile it sucks. Because I’m willing to bet that a huge percentage of those who intentionally search for you, encounter you serendipitously, or open email from you, do so via mobile devices. And you’re losing them because…  you’re just so user-unfriendly. In fact, a recent study by Papilia, Donor Conversion: Why Mobile Optimization Is an Urgent Matter, revealed that more than 20% of online giving comes from mobile devices but more than 50% who attempted to make a mobile donation dropped off. And they’re not going to wait until they get back to their desktop computer to check back. You’ve lost them for good. That should be totally unacceptable to you! What are you going to do about it? Also, if you only have one generic Donation Landing page, your website sucks.   The spider whose web isn’t sticky won’t catch any flies.  What’s on your landing page that will get folks stuck there? Folks want to give for the purpose/campaign that moved them. If you don’t reassure them – right away on the landing page – that this is how their gift will be allocated, then they’re going to jump ship. “Your gift reduces economic inequality” is not the same as “Yes! I want to send a kid to college today.” The average donation made through a branded checkout page is 38% larger than the average donation made through a generic page.

ACTION TIP: Check out this edition of the nonprofit blog carnival. It’s all about how to build, maintain and evaluate a great nonprofit website.

3) Online fundraising does not work if it is not easy.

Make your donation landing pages inviting, easy to navigate and persuasive. Research has indicated that websites lose 40% of visitors with every click – so make sure yours count! In fact, make your entire website a nice tasty treat for folks!  “What’s the nicest thing your website does for your constituents” is a question I sometimes pose to my clients. It turns out that one of the nicest things you can do for folks is make it really easy for them to have a conversation and give/receive feedback. Your website can be a way you collect/consolidate what is happening in multiple media channels so that constituents who wish to can find everything from a single portal.

ACTION TIP: Hubspot offers a free Nonprofit Guide to Calls to Action and Landing Pages to help you turn strangers into supporters.

4) Online fundraising does not work if no one knows about it.

This is a variation on just building it isn’t enough. You’ve got to work from a plan. Every chance you get, let folks know where to find you online.

ACTION TIP: Telling a great story in your e-news, blog, mailed newsletter, fundraising letter, web page or Facebook post? Include a “Donate!” link. Never waste the dose of inspiration you’ve provided. Don’t just leave would-be donors wishing they could give the story a happy ending. Take them by the hand and SHOW them how to do it!

5) Online fundraising is not a substitute for a major gifts program, planned giving program or annual campaign.

Online tools are a complement to nonprofit donor moves management. You’d be silly not to use them. But don’t abuse them. Just because you can doesn’t always mean you should. If your mail campaign is not as effective as you wish it were, throwing it out in favor of an email campaign is probably not the answer. My hunch is that you’d be better off going back to basics and clarifying your messaging. Get crystal clear on why your mission matters, and what’s in it for the donor if they join you.

ACTION TIP: Become a consummate “drip” story teller. Your donors want an ongoing tale. A little today. A little next week. And so forth. There’s no better delivery mechanism for “drip” storytelling than social media. And don’t get hung up on thinking it’s just Facebook or Twitter. It’s lots of things… email; texting; LinkedIn (where a lot of professionals, aka donors, are); Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, Yelp… if you start to ask, you’ll be surprised to find out what your donors are doing digitally.

6) Online fundraising does not work if you do not communicate your impact to your donors.

You can’t raise money if no one knows what you do. You really must integrate and adapt your marketing to support your fundraising. Don’t leave marketing staff, or your executive management and program staff either, to their own devices.  They’re apt to wax on and on about how wonderful you are, your newest Board member, and your years of service to the community. Readers will be exposed to graphs and pie charts and all sorts of impressive statistics designed to impress people and engage their rational minds. No, NO, no. That’s not going to serve your fundraising purposes. More and more the research reveals that people give from the heart, not the head. From emotion, not reason.

ACTION TIP: Develop a storytelling culture. Stop a minute to consider what you’ve got to “sell.” Your “program” or “service.” Right? But you’ve got to make it about more than that. Those are commodities. You’ve got to make it about hope, or ego or fear or empathy. Something emotional. The best nonprofit stories spin a tale of misfortune, struggle or conflict; depict a protagonist you come to care about, and then show your donor how to be the hero who creates the happy ending.

Year End Appeals Course 2014 cover 11 266x300 It’s Not That Hard: 6 Secrets to Succeeding with Online Fundraising

Back to School means Back to Giving Season

Speaking of showing your donors what’s in it for them…

One of the best ways to rock your annual appeal is to fill it with content that rewards your donor for acting. Learn how to do this — and much, much more — in my upcoming 5-week E-Course: Your Ultimate Guide to Successful Year-End Appeals. Typically nonprofits raise as much as 50 to 80% of their annual income at the end of the calendar year. Learn to take advantage of this time when donors are feeling most generous. Your annual appeal is a terrible thing to waste! Check out the curriculum here or grab the Early Bird deal and register here.  Full satisfaction guaranteed — or your money back.

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