In our most recent webinar hosted by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Habitat for Humanity discusses their enormous success with Fundly and how they achieved it.
In this webinar the Habitat for Humanity team shares their insights and best practices on how they implemented Fundly and are using social fundraising to ignite two of its most innovative fundraising campaigns, the Global Village and Carter Work Project volunteer builds.
The goal was to empower volunteers to share their personal stories about their build experiences and to allow them to fundraise their build trip costs. Through the Fundly platform, Habitat was able to successfully reach the networks of their volunteer’s networks. Although there were some initial concerns around cannibalization of their existing donor base, Habitat for Humanity was surprised to learn that 84% of the donors through their crowdfunding platform were brand new to the organization.
Want to learn more about how Habitat for Humanity turned their volunteer base into fundraisers, and the myths and truths to campaign success? CHECK OUT the Chronicle of Philanthropy webinar co-presented by Habitat & Fundly:
Want to bounce off some ideas around crowdfunding after watching this webinar? Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org!
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I grew up in Oklahoma. I played in the creek down the street, built makeshift traps for horned toads, and fished off the dock of Boomer Lake in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Tornado warnings were a fact of life in Oklahoma. I remember kneeling in the interior hallways of Will Rogers Elementary School, organized by classroom, with textbooks covering the back of our heads and necks to protect from falling debris while we listened to the sirens and hoped we would be spared. I can only imagine how it would feel to then have the roof lifted, the walls disappear, and surrounding houses disolve.
It is truly a darkest hour for many people in Oklahoma right now. I am literally praying for the people I consider “my people” and worrying about how they will rebuild their lives. The truth is, Oklahomans are rugged, resourceful, and generous. So in the long run, they will recover, rebuild, and tell their grandchildren about the tornado of 2013. They will not, however, get their lost loved ones back.
The one thing I can take solace in is that my company, Fundly, has built a platform that can help right now. Although Fundly’s primary mission is to provide event fundraising capabilities to organizations with runs, walks, rides, dinners, galas, and benefit concerts, in times of crisis it is also a perfect platform for immediate relief. Giving through crowdfunding is:
For those in need it also becomes a convenient way to set up a recovery fund: for a family, a church, a school, a neighborhood…
We have already seen dozens of campaigns set up on Fundly to help in all of the above ways. We have seen over $800,000 raised in less than 24 hours (http://disaster-relief.fundly.com). I want to help every family and every church and every neighborhood in Oklahoma that is full of strong, believing, caring, resilient people who just need a hand right now. I know they would do it for me.
Take a look at the page. Find a campaign that speaks to you. Support Oklahoma in their time of need. Use your social network for good and help raise money for a campaign. If you have a reason to start a campaign, start one.
We are all part of this. Oklahoma would do it for you.
From time to time some of my nonprofit clients will ask me why they’re doing all this work to simply launch a crowdfunding campaign (note: launching a crowdfunding page on Fundly is easy peasy, but the prep-work and management required towards success still relies on dedication and hard work).
Our answer at Fundly is new donor acquisition! Allow me to elaborate further – new donor in terms of getting access to a brand new network of people who have never been part of your database before through your Fundly page AND new donor in the sense of reaching a whole new type of donor, the Millennials.
For years, nonprofit organizations have been trying to find ways to reach and engage with the Millennials. According to the recent Millennial Impact Report, 75 percent of young people donated to causes in 2011. Most gifts sizes the Millennials gave were $100 or less per organization. However, as we all know in nonprofits, no donation is too small and programs can still benefit from these contributions. 75% of all Millennials donating on average $100, that’s no small potatoes!
At Fundly alone, I just learned that 77% of donors are 44 years old or younger and 58% are 34 years old or younger. So where are you going to get your Millennials?
Congratulations folks – crowdfunding is the way or the tool that will allow your organization to reach and engage with the Millennials while enabling you to build your organization’s base of future donors. The beauty of it all is that you’re doing this while getting “free” promotion and still collecting small giving from those who already are onboard with your cause. The reason crowdfunding is the future is because it is the best method for engaging your future donors.
To learn more about Fundly and the Millennials check out CNBC’s recent article, Millennials Want to Donate to Charities, Save the World. Really.
Hana Yang | Customer Success Manager
Have any questions? Shoot me an email at email@example.com!
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Every year, millions of families flow through Disneyland’s amusement parks, gorging themselves on overpriced fast food and thrilling at themed rides. Why do all of these people spend exorbitant amounts of money on just a few days here? One reason: Disneyland has invested an extraordinary amount of energy, thought, and money into creating an experience for its patrons, to create what it calls “The Happiest Place on Earth”. People aren’t there for the rides or the cotton candy, they are purchasing the chance to transport themselves (or their children) to a land of princesses, Indiana Jones, and chipmunks.
What many fundraisers don’t realize is that their donors aren’t making a simple financial transaction when they donate—they are purchasing an experience. The experience of giving back, of contributing to a cause larger than themselves, or simply supporting a loved one. The experience that each donor is expecting or hoping for when he or she gives may vary by campaign, but if you use the tools embedded in the Fundly platform such as video, images, customized email templates, and automated thank-you notes, to name just a few you can significantly improve the overall experience for your average donor. And I promise you, when you deliver an incredible giving experience you will win ardent supporters, who will pass the word on to other potential advocates and donors.
As you work to build a captivating experience for your donors consider the following ideas:
If you engage your social network thinking of a donation as just a financial transaction you should expect a cold, impersonal response fitting of that approach. On the other hand, you can give them an experience they won’t forget, and you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by willing supporters and fellow change makers.
Give it a try, and let us know how it goes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Absolutely and here’s why! Volunteer fundraisers have a personal story to tell about your cause since it usually explains the reason(s) why they support your cause at all. That personal story is hugely valuable since a volunteer fundraiser’s mom is far more likely to throughly read and understand their son’s story than anything your cause could ever put in front of her. The same can be said for any of your volunteer fundraisers’ other personal relationships.
The stories that are shared will reach a universe of people you may have never known existed, which will help your organization fill the top of your cause’s new donor acquisition funnel. We’ll be writing more about the ‘new donor acquisition funnel’ soon, but to give you a quick understanding it moves people from just barely becoming knowledgable about your cause to understanding why supporting your cause makes a positive impact in the world and eventually it converts them into donors.
Start the process of tapping into your volunteer fundraisers’ social networks by sharing personal stories.
The most important personal story is yours, so tell YOUR personal story first. Leading by example is important and works well when asking others to do something they may not be comfortable with. Many aren’t as comfortable writing or expressing their passion, especially knowing that their words could make it into the worldwide web. As the champion of your cause, you shouldn’t hesitate to share your personal story with the world, so share it loud and proud!
Once you’ve shared your personal story with your networks, ask your volunteer fundraisers to write about how your cause impacts their lives.
To many people, asking them to write about how your cause has positively impacted their lives is like giving them a way to say ‘thank you’ to your cause. That can make writing a personal story an easy task since there’s no risk in saying ‘thank you’ nor will it be viewed as self-promotion, which are two of the most common fears when it comes to sharing a personal story.
As part of asking your volunteer fundraisers to write their personal story, you’ll want to instruct them to include a paragraph asking every other recipient to share their personal story. At the very least, your volunteer fundraisers will find that their friends and family will pass their story along. In some cases, you’ll even get some of your volunteer fundraisers’ friends and family sharing their own personal stories about your cause with their networks! To make your life a bit easier, here’s an example of a paragraph I’ve used to ask people to pass my personal story along:
“As you can tell, I’m passionate about CAMP and hopefully that’s rubbing off on you a bit right now. If it is, please share my story with everyone you know or share your own story!”
When asking your volunteer fundraisers to share their personal story, don’t forget to use your own personal story as an example of what you’re asking them to do. That might just end up being the reason why they feel comfortable promoting your cause with their personal story.
All that’s left for your volunteer fundraisers to do after their personal stories are written is to:
Give that a shot and let me know how it goes. We’re always interested in hearing from you!
You may reach me anytime with your thoughts, comments, or questions at email@example.com.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve seen the red and pink equal sign splashed all over Facebook these past few days. You may also know that the Human Rights Campaign started this trend by changing their traditionally blue and yellow logo to red and pink, then encouraging their supporter base to follow suit by using their newly colored logo as a profile picture.
That is Genius for a few reasons:
If you’re reading this and thinking, “hey, maybe that will work for my cause” then you’re wasting your time reading this post. GO FOR IT! Gaining visibility will drive traffic to your fundraising pages and traffic on your fundraising pages means you will see more donations.
Don’t hesitate by thinking you have to use a logo that is well understood and meaningful, either. Use a flat color and let everyone know that it represents your cause (when people don’t know what it means, it’ll draw interest)… Use an image of a person who has been positively impacted by your cause… Use any image that you don’t hate and go with it…
Your friends, family, colleagues and supporters wouldn’t mind simply changing their profile picture to something meaningful to your cause if it will make a difference. Try it out and let me know how it goes by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About a year ago a crippling disease took away my sons ability to live a normal life. He is a 3 year-old boy who will never know what it’s like to walk or even breathe without assistance. Getting this news was heartbreaking, it was life changing and it was eye opening. I was now made brutally aware of how unsafe the world is and how much need for awareness and funds there is in the world.
I saw the many, many disparate causes in the world that didn’t fall under a big enough umbrella to receive enough attention, support or funds. I felt helpless to help any of them, helpless to help my son. I was powerless to fund research or afford the medical equipment he needed.
I looked and looked and wondered where individual fundraisers, the under $20 million organizations, the communities, the nonprofits that didn’t have deals with major retailers or dozens of staff members could make a difference in this world.
Where was the place for a father trying to raise funds to afford medical equipment for his son?
I’d like to say I found Fundly, but that was my friend. He set up a campaign and sent it to me. We thought it was the best option, so we made some edits and activated the campaign, which sent it through our social networks. Within 24 hours we had $5,000, almost 70% of our goal. My jaw, along with some tears, dropped.
I discovered that I had a whole community of people, people who cared; people who wanted to help but didn’t know how; people who weren’t aware or just needed to be asked. Fundly gave me that way to ask and I hadn’t even realized it. We raised $19,500.
19 people clicked on the “Become a Personal Fundraiser” button on our Fundly page, raising between $100 and $2,500 each. I never asked a single one of them to do it, nor explain to them how to do it.
Working for Fundly I’ve since learned how we make it easy for people to rally behind a cause in a way that is difficult and cumbersome otherwise.
But before I knew about open graph integration with Facebook. Before I knew that Habitat for Humanity has found huge success with Fundly. Before I knew all the technical innovations that make Fundly work, I knew that through Fundly I could now afford a wheelchair for my son.
And that is why I believe in Fundly.
This weekend I spoke about “leading change” as a panelist at the Silicon Valley Education Conference (www.siliconvalleyeducationconference.org) in Mountain View, California. The conversation was so refreshingly honest and insightful, I thought I would share with you my takeaways.
If you want to be an agent for change–a leader of change–there are three things you can do:
Of course, whenever you are involved in change, the highs are high and the lows are low. When you are at your lowest, remember point #1 above. It is not about you. You are working toward a higher good. If this venture doesn’t work out, the next one will. The less you can focus on yourself and the more you can focus on the change you are making for good, the easier it will be to get through the low times. When you are able to stay focused and determined despite the odds, you will be surprised how often things break your way. Things that seemed impossible suddenly become possible, and pieces that didn’t fit before suddenly find a solution. This does not happen when you give up or get discouraged or distracted, but it happens a surprising percentage of the time when you stay focused.
I really enjoyed my co-panelists, Josh Edwards (Amazon) and Jessica Johnson (RBL Group) and the moderator, Maggie Goloboy (McKinsey). Thank you!
From time to time an interesting question comes up in our initial conversations with customers as they ask “How exactly does Fundly help me raise donations? Do you provide me with donors? Access to new potential supporters? If I connect my campaign to Facebook, won’t people come in droves to donate like I’ve seen on so many of your successful case studies?”
At first glance, it may certainly seem as though Fundly is the secret sauce driving outsized donations for organizations that use our platform. However, Fundly is just one piece of the puzzle in successful crowdfunding. Organizations must have an existing base of supporters that they can tap into in order to effectively crowdfund. Once that is in place, Fundly’s platform is able to kick-in and turbo charge the fundraising process in two ways:
Fundly Simplifies the Ask:
Ask any volunteer what the biggest barrier to fundraising is for them and the response is almost always related to the “ask”. The fear of imposing on someone on behalf of something you care about can be uncomfortable, inconvenient, and let’s be honest it can be a drag to get out there and pound the pavement. I know, I’ve sold countless Makahiki tickets as a Cub Scout in Hawaii.
This is where Fundly starts to shine! Countless design and development hours have gone into a ridiculously simple and easy product that allows anyone to create and promote a cause in just minutes. Seriously, check out this page created by an 8 year-old! From there Fundly automatically begins updating each volunteer’s Facebook Wall and other social networks with posts about their fundraising activities. That means little to no effort is required of volunteers to “ask” their friends and family members to support their cause.
Fundly Enables You to Tell Your Story:
You have a unique and powerful story to tell. There’s a reason that you and your colleagues invest countless hours and a great deal of energy promoting your cause. Your ability to harness this story and tell it will directly influence your fundraising results. Fundly helps you and your volunteers to tell your story in three ways:
Fundly isn’t a silver bullet for your fundraising needs… But it can be a powerful enabler that allows you to more simply and fully access, expand, and strengthen your existing community of supporters.
Give a Fundly campaign a spin if you haven’t already, and we’re always interested in hearing your thoughts, comments, or questions! You can reach me anytime at email@example.com.
Hi everyone, I’m Will, part of the product team here at Fundly. As always, we’re listening to your feedback, and working on ways to improve our product so that you reach your fundraising goals and impact the causes you care about.
We’ve been seeing that a lot of you are using the email system on our dashboard as a really effective tool for you to gain supporters and donors! With that in mind, we’ve made some improvements that we’re really excited about. I’ll share a couple that will help make you a fundraising machine:
Action Oriented Email Templates
Having trouble getting donors? Team members? Fundraisers?
We understand that pulling the right thing to say out of thin air is difficult, so we’ve created a handful of email templates for you. You can use them to build personalized emails that ask your friends for their help in making your campaign successful. Each template has a different purpose and specific calls to action that make it very easy for your friends and family to understand how they can help:
Save and Preview Email Templates
Using our default messages in the email templates as a launching pad, you’ll be able to easily customize and personalize your emails so that they really speak about your cause to your friends and family.
Once you edit the messages in the emails templates, you can preview your emails before sending them out to ensure their quality and you can even save those emails for later!
Connecting to Gmail and Yahoo
We know that getting new supporters, donors, and fundraisers through our email system was challenging since finding, copying and pasting your friends and family members email addresses can be tedious. We now aim to solve that problem by allowing you to simply import your contacts from GMail and Yahoo by connecting your GMail or Yahoo email accounts!
Don’t worry. Just like before, you can still send emails to your existing supporters, donors, and fundraisers by clicking on the ‘Add From List’ button.
Once your GMail or Yahoo email accounts are connected, you can quickly type in the names of your friends and they’ll show up just like they do when you send an email directly from your GMail or Yahoo Inbox!
Revamped Look for Email Templates, now Optimized for Action
We’ve revamped the aesthetics of our emails, but more importantly, we’ve optimized them to drive results.
While it’s still early, our data shows that the effectiveness of these new email templates has improved dramatically. We’ve seen a 160% increase in click-through rates for emails sent through the Fundly Email system!
Here’s an example email sent from the Get Donors email template:
One of the many ways we make you successful in raising money for the cause you care about is our “Two Days Left Reminder” email.
When your campaign has only two days left and you haven’t reached your goal yet, we automatically send out an email to all of your supporters to help you make one last push to reach your fundraising goal.
Last week, we also revamped our Two Days Left Reminder email to look better and make it more effective.
We’ve succeeded! By increasing the urgency and making the call to action very clear, the effectiveness of this email has skyrocketed with an 825% increase in donation conversions!
Sneak Peak of Fundly 2.0
We have collected all of your feedback, mixed in the insight from your successful campaigns, and baked it with Fundly love. We’ve come up with a drastically improved version of campaign pages with visual storytelling, allowing you to better communicate your causes’ mission through video and pictures.
We are always trying to make our product more effective and easier to use, and I am excited to listen to your feedback. If you have any suggestions or ideas for improvement, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Hi all! This post is a trouble-shooting guide for your crowdfunding campaign.
I often get questions and concerns from people who have launched a crowdfunding campaign and are not seeing the results they expected. More often than not, there is no reason for alarm, and some simple adjustments can get the campaign on track. Here is the checklist I work through with people to help them tune up their campaigns.
Question 1: How did you set your goal?
The rule of thumb for setting your fundraising goal is to plan for each individual fundraiser to be able to raise +/- $1,000. If you are raising money by yourself, set a goal of $1,000. If you have 4 other people actively fundraising for your campaign, set your goal at $5,000, etc. If you are trying to do this by yourself, and you have a $20,000 goal, it is likely you will be disappointed. And this part is important: EVEN IF YOU HAVE A LARGE MAILING LIST. Mailing lists are not good sources of donors, unless you have proven them to be so. A mailing list is worth as much as a mailing list is worth. So if you’ve emailed to your list before and gotten $5,000, then you are likely to get $5,000 this time. Don’t set your goal higher than that unless you have additional fundraisers reaching out to THEIR lists also. Here is a simple formula you can use for setting your goal:
By the way… if you follow the rest of the program, you will probably exceed this goal, but that is good… setting a reasonable goal and exceeding it builds momentum!
Question 2: How many people have you told?
Generally, if you are working with your friends–people who know and love you–it works like this:
So if you have raised $500, it’s probably because you told 100 people. If you have raised more, it’s probably because you have told more people.
If for some reason you are not seeing results like the ones above–in other words, you told 100 people, but you haven’t raised any money–there are a couple of other things you can check:
Question 3: How compelling is your story?
Take a look at your page. Imagine you had never seen it, and you arrived there through a referral from a friend. Does it compel you? Are you moved? Are you motivated to pull out your wallet and give away some money? If the answers to any of these are ‘no’ or ‘maybe,’ you probably could do some work on the page to get it there. This is important: FIXING YOUR PAGE WILL NOT SOLVE ANY TRAFFIC PROBLEMS. You can have the most gorgeous page on the planet, but if you are not telling people about it, it will not produce results. What we are addressing with this question 3 is CONVERSION, not traffic. You still need to tell hundreds of personal connections about what you are doing and get them to visit your page if you want to raise money. But I digress… let’s talk about how to make your page awesome.
Question 4: Does the beat go on?
The average person has to hear about something 6 times in order to respond to marketing. Have you sent a 2nd email? Made a 2nd Facebook post? A 3rd? 4th? 5th? 6th? You should be reaching out to the people you know daily. After they’ve heard from you 3 times they will know you are serious. After they’ve heard from you 6 times they will start to understand that other people are supporting, the campaign is gaining momentum, you are paying attention, and they are not going to be able to slip away quietly without you noticing.
You may be saying to yourself, “What? Daily emails? That could get annoying. I’ll do weekly.” Or, “I’ll send out one and see what happens. My friends will respond quickly.” Well…. I don’t recommend testing that theory. We have experience across tens of thousands of personal campaigns, and we know what works and what doesn’t, and it turns out that even your really good friends need reminding sometimes.
All that being said, you don’t have to literally send an email every day. I admit–that could get annoying. You just have to do something every day. Here are some things we have done to make it easier to keep a daily drumbeat going:
Basically, don’t ever let more than one day go by without an update to your “crew.” They will support and donate and promote if you keep them informed.
Question 5: What results should I expect by when?
This is the real question. Were you concerned about results because there is legitimate reason to worry, or do you just need to be patient? Let’s assume you set a reasonable goal, you have told enough people, you page is compelling, and you have continued the drumbeat daily. You are probably okay. But just to set you at ease, here is how a typical campaign plays out:
I hope these questions help you. As always, let me know of any comments or questions at email@example.com.
Here is a little success story about a sixty some year-old organization, which most of us have probably heard about. This is a large nonprofit organization with paid members who actively participate in the organization. The organization uses a very innovative fundraising approach of successfully leveraging their members as amateur volunteer fundraisers (AVFs).
A couple of times every year, the organization launches a fundraiser and recruits their AVFs to literally go door to door and raise money for the organization. Can you guess the one that I’m talking about? Bingo, the Girl Scouts!
So, what do they do? They motivate children, who are definitely amateurs and volunteering as fundraisers, to procure and sell cookies to you by going door-to-door. Not only does the Girl Scout organization sell you the cookies, but they also get really clever and get the kids (who’s going to say no to a sweet little girl!?) to write down all the information about your purchase. The kids obtain your address, your phone number, and exactly what you purchased.
Now do you think that there’s someone back at headquarters who is taking all of that information and aggregating whether Palo Alto buys more cookies than Mountain View or more cookies than Manhattan? I am sure they do. Do you think they use that list to improve and expand their lists? They certainly do.
So, if a Girl Scout club can figure out how to turn their members into amateur volunteer fundraisers, I’m confident that your organization can too. All it takes is a little bit of creativity and Fundly is here to help.
When I was in eighth grade I had the assignment to write a report about the Prohibition for my history class. My adolescent mind was excited to dive in and the more I researched the period the more excited I became. By the end, I had 8 pages about Al Capone and had submitted report, proud as punch.
A week later I received the report back with a big read “C+” on it and a note from my teacher stating that she wanted a report on the Prohibition, not a famous gangster.
I had lost my focus and my report lost its effectiveness as a result. That same trap lurks around the corner of every crowdfunding campaign. A crowdfunding campaign’s strength lies in its ability to be shared and when the positive impact of spreading the word about your cause isn’t well understood, people are much less likely to share your campaign or donate. Driving traffic to your campaign is goal number one. Staying focused on making your campaign shareable will do just that.
“Well, what does ‘keeping my crowdfunding campaign focused’ mean”, you may ask. It means that you need to:
Clearly tell your supporters about your cause’s goal and how spreading the word and donating helps you reach that goal. Say it on your campaign page, say it in an email to everyone you know, say it on Facebook, Twitter, etc… The more you share, the more your supporters will understand that sharing is important and easy enough that they can do it, too!
Think ‘elevator pitch.’ Most people want to make a difference in the world, but they don’t have the time or attention span to fully understand every aspect of your cause. In all of your messages, be sure to hone in on exactly what action you want people to take and why you want them to take that action. It’s always tempting to provide details on your cause because it’s so close to your heart and, to you, everything about your cause is important. If you stave off that temptation, summarize your cause’s goal in a few short sentences and direct people to take action they will act on your behalf.
Tie every piece of content on your page (pictures, text, video and giving levels) and every communication you send (email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to the goal you’ve clearly and concisely explained.
Don’t mix messages by providing updates on a new fundraising effort you’ve started and don’t create confusion by talking about unrelated events happening within your organization. Instead, stay focused on your campaign’s success by giving people updates on progress toward your goal, share with them how their donations are making an impact and let them know your fundraising deadline is approaching.
Make it simple. Make it meaningful. Make it shareable.
And keep your campaign “C+” free.
Donations are always a great way to show support for a cause, but most supporters can only give once in a short time period, if they can afford to donate at all. So how can someone support your cause without making a donation?
Answer: Spread the Word!
With that answer, not only will people feel like they have a way to channel their passion for your cause, but it also:
If you’ve watched our video “Crowdfunding Success in 2 Easy Steps,” you know that one of the keys to fundraising success is to drive traffic to your campaign page. Well, asking people to spread the word is just another way to ask people to help you drive traffic!
Spreading the word is crucial to ensuring you capture your supporters’ passion and realize the goals you’ve set forth for your cause.
Let people know they can channel their passion for your cause by becoming a:
The best part of using Fundly to recruit Supporters, Donors and Fundraisers is that ALL of them are given an experience that encourages them to spread the word about a cause.
If you are diligent about reminding folks to become a Supporter, Donor and/or Fundraiser they WILL get involved and you will reap the rewards!!!
Hi guys… it’s me, CEO of Fundly. I recently changed my title to Customer Experience Officer (keeping the same acronym, but focusing where my heart is–with our customers!)
Because I care about you and your success, I use this blog to communicate openly with you in a way I think will help you. It doesn’t do me or Fundly any good to convince you to try something that won’t work. If you should use a platform other than Fundly, I’ll tell you. And if you are trying to use Fundly, but you have mis-set expectations about what it will do for you, I’ll tell you that too!
So this post is interesting, because I’m going to unveil some things that seem self-serving, but I really am just trying to get at the truth. If you have comments / questions / corrections, please let me know!
Libby Leffler, head of social good for Facebook, has hosted Fundly a number of times at Facebook HQ–to work on product, to review roadmap, and to participate in her non-profit advisory council. When Libby saw what Fundly was doing with Facebook’s Open Graph, she said, “I don’t think you guys know how advanced you are. I haven’t seen anyone else in the fundraising space doing as much with Facebook Open Graph as Fundly is. You should do a press release or something!”
“I don’t think you guys know how advanced you are. I haven’t seen anyone else in the fundraising space doing as much with Facebook Open Graph as Fundly is. You should do a press release or something!”
-Libby Leffler, Facebook
“Okay,” you say… “this all sounds impressive, but can you break it down for me?”
The bottom line is that no other social fundraising platform is Open Graph certified, and it really, really matters.
Let me be clear. All of these platforms use Facebook. You can see ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons, you can use Facebook to register / authenticate…. many of them “seem” quite social. But here is what they don’t do and can’t do and why it matters:
In short, they leave the bulk of the value of your community untapped.
Let’s take a case in point to drive home the importance of this distinction.
It’s scary to be a fundraiser! Amateur fundraisers don’t necessarily know what to do, and you don’t have time to teach all 100 of them. It has to be dead simple. Meanwhile, they have assembled an impressive personal network that is available to them. This is who they will approach to sponsor them on the race. But if left to their own devices, they would type 5-10, maybe 25 names into an email, send it off, and then wait. They may send 1 or two reminder emails, but most people would feel at that point like they were being a nuisance, and they would leave it there.
Putting ‘like’ and share buttons on campaign pages doesn’t change this. The fact that you or your fundraisers created their accounts using Facebook authentication doesn’t change it either. The only thing that changes this is AUTOMATIC actions that the fundraiser doesn’t have to think about and that remind his/her network enough times for them to take action.
And the average person–no matter how good a friend they are–needs 7 reminders to take action on something.
So here is what the Fundly platform would do above and beyond what any of the participants do on their own through their own email or through “like” or “share” buttons:
Each of the emails would feature pictures of the recipient’s friends who are involved to drive a better sense of community.
All in all, for a $100K campaign, you could expect:
These social activities simply do not happen with platforms that do not leverage Facebook’s Open Graph API. And the result is that you miss out on millions of brand impressions, thousands of new donors, and 20% of the money you could otherwise collect.
Don’t take my word for it. Sign up on any of these platforms using your Facebook credentials, and then go to your Facebook timeline. Did anything show up there? Donate on any of them and then go to your Facebook timeline. Did anything show up? If not, then the platform you are using is not leveraging Facebook Open Graph, either because they don’t know how, they haven’t been approved by Facebook, they don’t think it is important, or they haven’t gotten around to it.
You owe it to yourself to choose a social fundraising platform that is truly social. This is how you will reach the friends of your friends and build and grow your community.
Questions? Comments? Fire away! firstname.lastname@example.org
Brave Fundlings show up twice a week at 7:30 am to be tortured by Jeff Kazmucha, our crossfit trainer. In this picture we are pretending to be happy. We actually want to puke.
Hello Fundly Community!
I am stoked to be here at Fundly and wanted to take a moment to share why I joined Fundly and what I hope to bring to the table.
I looked at a number of startups before joining Fundly, and there were several distinct reasons why this opportunity stood out:
What Do I Bring to the Table?
I’ve spent a large part of my time working with non-profits and social entrepreneurs—organizations like Ashoka, Acumen Fund, Kiva, and Teach For America. The culture, insights, and innovative program models that these incredible organizations possess will be leveraged on behalf of the organizations we work with.
I’ve taken a somewhat circuitous route to Fundly, but one that I think will serve the customers that I work with well. Most recently, I spent time at innovation and growth consulting shop Innosight, founded by Clayton Christensen. From working with hospitals in India to strategizing in boardrooms with Fortune 500 CEOs, the structured thinking, strategic planning, and impact-oriented innovation training that came with that experience will be applied towards helping our non-profit customers achieve their goals.
I’m passionate about seeing each one of our customers succeed, and look forward to meeting and working with many of you over the coming months. Feel free to contact me anytime at email@example.com.
Don’t let the recent wave of hacking headlines prevent you from launching (or continuing) your crowdfunding campaign, but do make sure you stress test your crowdfunding platform to ensure it stands up.
Here are six fundamental questions to ask your current or prospective provider to ensure your crowdfunding platform has your best interests in mind, is effectively protecting both your funds and your data, and is stable now and will remain so in the future.
Dear Fundly Community,
Recently, I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime – join a team of innovators in Silicon Valley to help YOU and YOUR nonprofits change the fundraising game by crowdfunding.
You see, I was raised in Puerto Iguazu, a town bordering Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. Since I was young I’ve been passionate about bridging communities through globalization, technology, philanthropy, education, and dance. After moving to the U.S. I dedicated my life to nonprofits. I graduated from Columbia University with an M.S. in Fundraising Management and then went on to work with a variety of causes ranging from capacity development at the United Nations Population Fund Agency (UNFPA) to teaching Zumba lessons to Latin and Asian seniors at the Hamilton Madison House in New York.
On Philanthropy Day 2012, I first encountered Fundly. I had decided to help my uncle’s nonprofit, Christian Asian Mission for the Poor (CAMP), which helps children by providing them with school uniforms. I searched a few online crowdfunding platforms, and decided to try using Fundly’s online platform.
I was floored when I began using Fundly to raise money for CAMP. At that point, I really didn’t understand just how much of an impact crowdfunding could have on my fundraising efforts. I figured Fundly would be similar to the fundraising tools I had used in the past (Blackbaud, etc.), but the experience of using Fundly to quickly and easily connect with my social network contacts was game changing. Beyond that, I quickly found that all of the contacts I reached out to could easily raise money just like me!
This was one of the most interesting and enlightening experiences I have ever experienced fundraising online — to see that the world knew what I was up to and they were empowered to support me and the organization. The results were awesome: My efforts clothed 50 children and sent them to elementary school!!!
I hope that gives you an idea of how stoked I am to be working for YOU at Fundly. How could I not be excited to share one of the best experiences of my life with you? I know that I can share that amazing experience and, who knows, maybe we’ll find out that having you and me working together yields an even better experience!
Looking forward to helping you make the world a better place.
Hi I’m Dennis, VP of Products here at Fundly. I’m really excited to be writing this new blog post today as we’ve been heads down working on a number of new things that will help all of our fundraisers be more successful in their fundraising! We’ve spoken to a fair number of our fundraisers over the last couple of months and have been making some huge strides in usability and performance!
Sometimes the best communication is straight-forward and direct with easy to follow directions. This email from the Rotary Childrens PlayGarden in San Jose caught our attention for the simple and concise way it explains to readers the many ways they can support the cause.
“We San Jose Rotarians are known for being a social group. From BBQs to wine events to rounds of golf, we sure do spend a lot of time socializing…
That’s where something called Fundly comes in. It’s not just a Web site, rather it’s a simple-to-use resource to reach out to your friends, coworkers and family to contribute to our Campaign to raise money from the community for the PlayGarden project
You can use Fundly a few different ways. You can be a “Supporter,” “Donor“ or a “Fundraiser“. What’s the difference? Allow us to explain:
Supporters can share the main fundraising page - www.fundly.com/rotary-playgarden - using email, Twitter and/or Facebook. It’s simple to sign up, just click on the first pop-up window that shows up.
If you want to be, and do, more with Fundly – simply become a Donor. You can become a Donor simply by clicking “Please Donate” on the main page, but that’s if you want to put a few extra dollars toward our Community Campaign.
But why stop there? Fundly is best-used as a tool for individual fundraisers to create their own personalized page, then use email, Facebook and/or Twitter to get the word out. A few “test pilots” have set up their pages, such as President Mike: www.fundly.com/mike-blach-rotary-playgarden
We also ask that you encourage your friends and family to share the video shown at today’s meeting. It can be accessed through this link: https://vimeo.com/rotaryplaygarden
We hope you feel inspired enough to share the video, and the Fundly site, and that you can pitch in to help us help you raise money from our Community!”
This social stuff is overwhelming. Just when you think you have caught up, the target shifts, and you find yourself struggling to understand the next MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest… You can always hire a consultant or ask your niece or nephew to help you understand social, but these approaches are temporary and generally superficial. You can ignore the changes, but you have a feeling you are letting things pass you up, and you worry you may be missing a tectonic shift.
You are right.
Social has changed the landscape of the Internet forever. Remember when you didn’t have email? I do. Or when the Internet showed up in your mailbox about once per week on a disc marked ‘AOL?’ Those days were only 15 years ago, and the next 15 years have similar changes in store.
In the last 5 years, “Web 2.0,” or the “Social Web” has replaced version 1.0 of the Internet. Web 2.0 refers to an Internet where publisher and consumer are one and the same. Everyone publishes, everyone participates. Where once upon a time brands could craft their messages and broadcast them to the consumer public, now the public crafts messages about the brands and communicates those messages to their friends.
Why does this matter?
The world has changed forever. Consumer brands are shifting advertising budgets from traditional media to social media as quickly as they can. 91% of experienced social marketers see positive returns from these investments.
“Okay, okay, okay…. I know that stuff is true. But my business is the business of philanthropy, and my core donors are not of this demographic. They write me checks. For the kids, I put up ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons, and I have a social media director who manages our Facebook page. I spent so much time and money last time around getting my online fundraising pages all working, I can’t possibly fathom doing that again.”
We all spent lots of time and money during the Web 1.0 phase integrating systems, customizing pages, etc. And now that everything works, we’re supposed to change it all again? For what?
This white paper is intended to help by answering two questions:
1) Why do I need to change?
2) How can I do it without letting it take over my budget and management bandwidth?
Question 1: Why do I need to change?
The answer lies in the nature of social media. The social web is an experience that feels a certain way. It is not transactional or ‘one and done.’ It is groups of people who interact with each other. On the social web, you know which product your friends like before you make your selection. You know where your friends went on vacation before you book yours. You see recommendations from friends on movies, books, TV shows… these all influence your decisions. Social means social. It means other people are there—people whom you know. It means people are having conversations and interacting with each other. For non-profit organizations, this is important. Why?
The #1 reason people cited for making an individual giving decision was “personal ties.”
Now think about your online fundraising program. If you are like most, you send out email appeals and drive people to a donation page. That is not friendly. That is not social. That misses the #1 reason for giving—personal ties.
Now consider if the email that got sent was from a friend. “Hi, Susie! I am supporting DoGood.org again this year, and I have signed up to rally 100 of my friends. Will you join me?” That is social. And that will get a positive response 10x more often than an email from your organization.
That’s why you need to change. Because all around you the world is changing, the fundamentals of persuasion have shifted overnight online, and if you don’t get out in front, you will find yourself way behind.
“But my donors are older,” you say. “My donors don’t give online. My online programs only account for 10% of my overall giving.” Okay. Consider this: every day, one of your older donors “graduates out” due to death or retirement or other circumstance. How are you replacing them? I’ll give you a hint: not with your current online donation form. 50% of the world’s population is under the age of 30. And this generation grew up with the Internet. For them, social media is the Web. Static donation forms that are hard to navigate and don’t pull their friends into the experience seem as arcane and out of touch to them as a rotary dial phone seems to us. Sure, it’s cute. But it’s not modern, it takes too long, and it’s going to dissuade me from making a lot of phone calls.
Here’s the good news. That next generation? They are generous. They give 50% more than the previous generation based on percentage of disposable income. Their gifts sizes are smaller, but they give more often. They want to give to causes that communicate with them. And they want to give to causes where their friends are.
Question 2: How do I make a change without disrupting my whole operation?
More good news. This is web 2.0. And along with web 2.0 comes Software as a Service 2.0 (SaaS 2.0). It used to be the case that if you wanted to roll out a new piece of software you had to buy it. And then you had to implement it, which meant hiring consultants to design and configure and integrate it. You were $10s or even $100s of thousands into a project before you could even start using your software.
Software is dead.
In the early 2000s I ran a SaaS 1.0 company. Our software was hosted, so you didn’t have to have servers onsite. But you still had to spend $100s of thousands implementing the software before you could get started using it.
That was then, and this is now. SaaS 2.0 means you can start using it today. It looks and feels like the consumer Internet. You create an account and launch a campaign. It really is that simple. That $100,000 project you did a few years ago to be able to take credit cards online and then log records of those donations into a database? Today my 84-year-old grandma can launch that same capability from her living room. She can create a great-looking donation page and be taking credit cards within 5 minutes. If she has a website, she can embed the donation page on her website just like embedding a YouTube video. And she can embed it on Facebook also.
What about the donation records? All there. Measurement and dashboards are all available at the click of a mouse.
Best of all, the whole thing is social. And I don’t mean social as in it has a ‘like’ button and a ‘share’ button. I mean really social:
At this point, it probably seems improbable that the $100s of thousands you spent getting web 1.0 systems up and running were all wasted. You probably think this new web 2.0 approach is overly simplistic and it couldn’t possibly account for all the customization you have done over the years to make your systems exactly match the way you conduct your operations.
You are right. It’s not a full replacement.
Here’s what you do:
If you feel like you are behind in social media, you probably are. If you are nervous about letting that go on for too long, you are probably right. If you wonder if your existing, old-school software company has the ability to bring you into the realm of the mobile, social web, they do not. Social is not an ‘add-on,’ it is a way of thinking that permeates the architecture of a solution.
At Fundly we have built the easiest-to-use, friendliest, most social and most fun fundraising platform on the market. It is trusted by some of the biggest names (Habitat for Humanity, Teach for America, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals), as well as small non-profits you may never have heard of. We would love to help you get started and bring your online fundraising into the new realm of social. We promise not to break the bank or usurp all your management time and energy. Instead, we will make it fun!
In this course you will learn how to set realistic goals and achieve them by recruiting, activating and training new amateur volunteer fundraisers. In addition you will learn how to organize fundraisers around specific fundraising events and campaigns.
This class demonstrates the experience our enterprise level clients receive including a “campaign tune-up” and retrospective on campaign performance.
Many of our customers come to us a bit wary of and unsure about putting together a crowdfunding campaign and having it go live. From their perspective, Online social fundraising is a strange animal, and they don’t know where to start. Well, today you’re in for a treat: this blog post features a video by Tom Kramer, Fundly’s VP of Marketing, as he shares two simple secrets for how to successfully launch and manage your crowdfunding campaign:
1) Build an Awesome Page.
2) Drive Traffic to View Your Awesome Page.
Oversimplified? Perhaps, but you’ll find over and over again in our most successful campaigns that in each instance they nailed these two principles. So what does Tom mean by each of these points? Let’s take a brief look at each one:
Build an Awesome page. What Tom means is to find a beautiful, inspiring, heart-tugging way to tell your story. If you’re motivated enough to start, or run, or work for a non-profit then it’s a pretty safe bet to say that you have a story and cause worth sharing. Figure out what that story is, and make sure your Fundly campaign page delivers that message loud and clear. Once you like what you see, test your page’s ability to evoke emotion with family and friends. Iterate. Revise. Improve. Launch.
Drive Traffic to View Your Awesome Page. Once you’ve refined your page to the point where you’re telling a simple, compelling story your primary job is to drive traffic to your page. Take stock of your resources and use whatever channels might be available to you to get the word out about your beautiful page. Email friends. Tweet and post a Facebook update about your cause. Ask your family members to post a message and link on their social networks. Think about how to access your networks and you’ll surprise yourself with the number of people you can reach.
Watch Tom’s video for more information, or feel free to send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If you haven’t heard of Ryan Reed, get used to the name” – Speed TV
The inspiring Ryan Reed is using Fundly to raise money and awareness for diabetes. Fundly is a proud sponsor of Ryan’s #16 car along with American Diabetes Association and Roush Fenway Racing.
By Dave Boyce – CEO, Fundly
Maybe we should get rid of “fundraising” from the term “Social Fundraising.” It distracts people from the true purpose.
The temptation when we hear the term “Social Fundraising” is to go straight to questions like, “How much can it raise?” ”Will it raise more than my existing programs?” ”How much does it cost as a percentage of funds raised?” ”Will it be cannibalizing my existing donations?” ”Could I get the same money a different way?”
All of these questions are missing the point.
“Okay, smarty pants. If you don’t think the point of Social Fundraising is fundraising, then what is it?”
New donor acquisition, full stop. Let me explain.
Let’s take an average Fundly campaign with 10,000 donors. 88% of those donors (8,800 donors) are first-time donors to the non-profit organization. In addition to donors, the campaign attracts “supporters” who don’t necessarily donate at first, but they agree to support the campaign by following its updates, sharing it on their social networks, etc. The ratio of non-donating supporters to donors is 1:1. Add those 10,000 supporters to the 8,800 new donors, and you have 18,800 people who are brand new to your organization and have opted to support your fundraising efforts.
How much would you have to pay to get 18,800 brand new, engaged supporters?
So what do new donors cost using Social Fundraising? $Zero. Less than $Zero. In fact, you make money while acquiring new donors and supporters.
And over time, we have found that donors who are sourced through social fundraising continue to engage. In fact, a donor who donates once is 10% likely to donate again within 90 days. A donor who donates twice is 25% likely to donate within 60 days. A third donation is 45% likely within 45 days. The more donors engage through social fundraising, the more they like it and come back for more. And since each interaction with Fundly generates exposure on that person’s social networks, they are also bringing their friends along with them. We do not yet know the average value of a new supporter generated through social fundraising (because it is still rising), but our estimates at the moment have the net lifetime value of a new supporter pegged at $120.
CLAIM: There is no cheaper or more efficient way to acquire new donors than through social fundraising.
The next question is how this happens… what are the mechanics that allow this to be true? How can it be that new donors are acquired for negative cost?
The short answer is that your supporters (Amateur Volunteer Fundraisers, or AVFs) do the work for you.
The longer answer is contained in other Fundly blog posts and in experiencing the platform for yourself. Or send an email to email@example.com we’ll explain how it will work for your organization.
As always, feel free to shoot any questions or comments my way at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Dave Boyce – CEO, Fundly
We talk a lot about Amateur Volunteer Fundraisers (AVFs). AVFs are the cornerstone to any successful social fundraising campaign. But where do they come from? You’ll often hear things like: ”Every donor a fundraiser,” and “convert your donors to fundraisers.” These statements are misleading.
You may also hear things like, “crowdfunding is growing to $500B,” or “you can crowdfund anything,” or “crowdfunding is lightning in a bottle.” So that may lead you to believe that if you launch a crowdfunding page, supporters and money will start pouring in.
If that were true, why do less than half of the crowdfunding campaigns on the major platforms like Fundly and Kickstarter succeed in reaching their goals?
Here’s the dirty little secret. Social is NOT the answer.
Well…. it’s not the whole answer.
A Fundly-style crowdfunding campaign starts with AVFs. These are people who are willing to raise money for you. That’s hard and scary. But these AVFs have signed up to something hard and scary–raise money for you. They will pour their personal network and their blood / sweat / tears and their reputation into this and ask their friends for money. It’s a big ask to get someone to sign up to be an AVF, and you will not be successful asking them to do that just based on them having donated to your cause.
“Hey, thanks for your $100, now would you like to shake down your friends for their $100?”
That doesn’t work. We’ve tried it.
So where do you find AVFs? AVFs are people with deep, personal connections to your organization or cause. AVFs are board members who are committed to your success, committee members who are actively working on your cause, volunteers whose lives have been changed and shaped by the work you are doing, survivors or alumni who have benefitted from your services… AVFs are people with deep, personal connection. Or…. AVFs are people you can sign up based on a team or event model. Corporations will sometimes commit to raise money for a cause. Or churches. Or sororities / fraternities. If you tap into one of these service organizations you can also find active AVFs.
But the truth is, you are not going to find AVFs through social media. It’s too big of a commitment. Social media can’t secure that big of a commitment in a meaningful way. You will have to make phone calls, have meetings, send email. Recruiting AVFs is hand-to-hand combat.
“What’s so social about that?”
“So where’s the ‘social’ in social fundraising?”
Ah…. now we’re getting to the crux of it. Once you have AVFs, the social begins. Think about how you are going to make these alumni, board members, committee members, volunteers, etc. successful at fundraising?
Short answer: Fundly
Longer answer: social media.
Each of these AVFs has a personal network of 300+ people on average. They keep track of this personal network in multiple places. Their close circles are on their mobile phone and in their email address book. Their professional contacts are on LinkedIn. Their extended networks are on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Quora, Tumblr, etc.
Fundly makes it easy for the AVF to connect all the sources of their personal network to their fundraising campaign, so they can reach out to the people who are most likely to give. FINALLY a productive use for social networks other than growing virtual crops or online gambling. 40% of the traffic to Fundly is referred by posts people have made to Facebook. It turns out when you have a passionate AVF who is raising money for your cause, their friends will pay attention and support them. They will click through on a Facebook post from a friend, even when they would not click through on a Facebook post made by you. Sorry–that’s just the way it works. :)
So that’s the answer. The ‘social’ in social fundraising comes into play after the AVF is recruited and activated, and she goes out to round up her personal network to support her in doing something she cares about.
You get the AVFs through hand-to-hand combat; they get you donations using their social networks.
Secret unveiled. It’s worked for 30,000 campaigns raising $300M on Fundly to date, and it can work for you.
As always, if you have any comments or questions, feel free to email me at:
Want more? http://awesome.fundly.com/blog-case-study
Children’s Miracle Network visits Fundly HQ and talks about their experiences with Social Fundraising and Fundly
See more at: http://givemiracles.fundly.com
Learn more at: http://fundly.com/resources
Anna and Henry talk about leveraging crowdfunding to raise awareness and money for their cause through their social networks.
Mike needs to raise money for Trolls. He gets some simple advice.
Dave and James discuss how to use Fundly to fundraise for an inspirational causes.
In this presentation, Tom Kramer will share how to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign. This presentation was originally delivered at the Independant Sector Conference in San Francisco, 11/15/12
The Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy
We all watched with horror as the details of the shooting at Sandy Hook have unfolded.
After the shock of “Why?” wears off we ask “How can I help?”
Crowdfunding offers one way for those who feel “powerless” to make a difference by offering direct assistance to those in need. When tragedy strikes, we are all well served to come together and unite – we are stronger as a group than as individuals. Be inspired by these individuals who felt compelled to act: http://fundly.com/c/sandyhook
What Can I do?
If you are directly associated with an individual or group impacted you should, by all means, create an account and raise money for those affected. Rarely do individuals ask for help directly, so it is completely appropriate to raise fund for them. After you’ve created a campaign, promoting the page is paramount. It is likely that others feel the way you do and sharing with them allows them to channel their “How can I help?” energy towards your chosen cause.
If you are not directly associated but feel passionate about raising money for a person or group, creating a campaign can still be a good way to go. But remember, launching a successful campaign is more than just creating a Fundly page. You need to be committed to ongoing promotion and support of the campaign. The best way to do that is to enable others to join in your efforts. Making a movement is more important that blazing your own trail.
If you are motivated to make a difference, but perhaps not able to commit to a longer engagement to a specific cause, you are best served by joining an existing campaign. Search on fundraising websites like Fundly for a cause that resonates with you (maybe counseling services inspire you more than tangible needs like funeral expenses). Then donate to that campaign or become a fundraiser in support of that campaign.
Will my Campaign Succeed?
In the times around a tragedy, the purpose of Crowdfunding is more than just raising money. The act of selflessly helping others provides us a way to channel our energies for positive purposes. If you set a goal of $2,000 and only raise $300 that is not a failure. It is a small success. Your campaign will be cathartic for you and for those affiliated with your campaign. And in times of need, sometimes the act of coming together for a common purpose IS the purpose.
Many of the big nonprofits and charities across the country have been in operation for a long time, establishing a strong reputation and slowly gaining supporters. But even the most well-known organizations had to start somewhere, typically as a small group fighting for a cause. Today, social media platforms allow big and small groups alike to make a difference to reach more people with minimal investment. Social platforms enable fast dissemination of information to drive donations and awareness.
Class Supports Peer: One such cause that has launched a campaign on Fundly.com is run by a group of classmates who attended high school with someone who was diagnosed with a left frontal brain tumor. As the young man continues to battle cancer through hospital visits, rehabilitation days and chemotherapy, the medical bills continue to rise. To help the patient pay for these costs, his high school class of 2001 peers are raising awareness and money to support his cause. Because the cause is being run by a few individuals and targeting a relatively small population, the social platform is ideal for easy sharing of information at little cost.
Community Supports Family: Similar to the campaign being run by high school classmates, a small community launched a Fundly.com account to help support a family afflicted by cancer. The husband and father, Joe, recently passed away, leaving behind a wife and son and a mountain of medical bills. The community is joining forces online to raise awareness of the husband’s passing and how small donations can make a big difference in the family’s life. The goal of the campaign is to not only raise money for the wife and son, but also encourage friends to reach out and offer condolences and support for the grieving family.
Wrangling Funds: Because medical bills can be so costly, many groups will turn to social platforms to raise money for specific needs to alleviate the financial burden on loved ones. While friends and family cannot help support a family through an entire illness, small contributions made online can be pooled together to make a dent in what may seem like an endless pile of bills. One such group is helping a wife and mother pay for a kidney transplant. The Fundly.com page explains that the woman’s sister is able to donate her kidney, but the cost of the procedure is beyond the family’s means. With minimal donations from people in the community, the family will be able to save a life and keep moving forward.
Keeping It Together: Just as medical bills can severely hinder a family’s ability to grow and prosper together, so too can issues with immigration and residency. One cause on Fundly.com is working to keep a small family together in the face of immigration reform. The husband and father of a family is at risk of being deported to Canada, with the potential of being banned from the United States. His wife and daughter, however, are U.S. citizens and would be without him if he is unable to complete the naturalization process. The social campaign aims to raise $3,500 to pay for his ban waiver, green card and legal fees to ensure he can stay in America and be with his family.
The Small Things: In light of the current economic downturn, many families are realizing the importance of even the smallest necessities that allow each member to function and thrive daily. When a mother of a 4-year-old recently crashed into a tree after her car’s brakes failed, injuring her husband, the family was left with a totaled car, insufficient insurance payouts and significant medical bills. Without a car, the family cannot support themselves, and thus a social campaign was launched to pool resources to get a car for them. Because it is a one-time campaign, the social platform is ideal to raise awareness quickly without costing the family even more money when seeking donations.
Project Support: Another way social fundraising efforts can help small causes is by providing financial means for business ventures. In the age of the internet, small companies can be launched quickly, centered on a website with minimal overhead. As a result, many entrepreneurs require small investments to start a new project, and social fundraising sites can help raise this money. One man who is afflicted by Crohn’s disease is looking to start a dating website to connect single people with similar conditions to one another. The website will not only build a strong community to support each other, but also send a portion of the proceeds to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.
One Small Voice: Just as social platforms are being used by communities to help support an individual or family, these platforms can also be used by one person to support a larger group. One person was recently moved by the services offered at the Daniel’s Music Foundation, which supports music education and performances for young students. After enjoying some performances, the individual is looking to help the foundation expand its operations by donating a room in its new location in New York City. The individual has experienced first-hand the potential of the foundation and what it can do for many young performers. He wants to ensure those services are available to more children, and hopes the social platform will connect the cause with like-minded donors.
Many student organizations or charities are going social, finding creative ways to raise money and awareness for their causes. Because the groups want to improve education and opportunities for youth, they are turning to modern technology and digital communications to spread the word and incite interest across the nation.
Bringing in students from abroad: One such student group is known as Jusoor, or Bridges, which is a network Syrians and supporters looking to enhance educational opportunities through development projects. The organization has established a membership program for students in Syria who want to come to the United States to study. The initiative has garnered 46 grants for emergency tuition to support participating students who cannot pay for the education. Most of the students in Syria who join the network are already enrolled in a university and are coming to the United States for diversity and cultural experiences.
The Illinois Institute of Technology is working with Jusoor and providing partial scholarships for 50 Syrian students totaling $1.2 million. The organization is hoping through the use of social media it can reach out to other educational organizations and student groups to raise funds and awareness.
Authors boost fundraising efforts: One student at Kent State University felt inspired to do her part to help those affected by the tsunami in Japan, turning to Twitter to gather information and create awareness. Famed author of the book “Fifty Shades of Grey,” E.L. James, saw what Alexandria Rhodes was doing and wanted to help her reach her goal of $5,000. In just three months, the social media fundraising campaign generated $70,000 in donations toward tsunami relief. With the addition of James’ support, Rhodes and her friends were able to collect donations from other students as well as 218 authors. The organization used Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms to reach out to famous and not-so-famous donors to surpass their goal.
Retreat calls for funding: A religious group in Saraland, Alabama, is also using social media and Fundly.com to raise funds for student opportunities. The student ministry of Pentecostals of Saraland has an annual youth retreat for local teens that aims to guide young adults through challenging years while providing support through the organization. The nonprofit religious organization has launched a social media fundraising campaign to spread the word to local teens who may want to participate as well as community members interested in supporting the cause.
Running for learning: Many marathon runners select a cause they wish to run for, and then fundraise to meet a certain goal before partaking in the event. One athlete looking to run in the Columbus Marathon in Ohio has selected the Robinson Community Learning Center as her cause, encouraging friends, family and community members to give what they can toward the center.
The runner holds a special place in her heart for the Robinson Community Learning Center in South Bend, Indiana, as she used to work there and help run after school programs, field trips, counseling and tutoring activities. Seeing what a difference the center can make in a student’s life first-hand encouraged the runner to support the organization after leaving her position.
Investing in awareness: A group at Virginia Tech known as PRISM (Pampling ReInventing Social Media) was first started by the Pamplin College of Business, which was looking to reshape its image. The organization decided to invest time and energy into creating a social media presence to improve personal communications with students and the community. PRISM aims to leverage social media channels to interact with the student body to achieve fundraising and awareness goals. The end result is a self-made media organization that provides a communication network within a college community that works toward agreed upon initiatives and projects. The group has teamed up with several nonprofit organizations such as Relay For Life, encouraging students to get involved and help make a difference.
As social media fundraising continues to develop, new reports are emerging to show some of the ways in which non-profit organizations are using the platforms to their benefit. Meanwhile, individuals and groups are hard at work raising money for good causes and events through a variety of online channels. Here’s a roundup of the week’s news in online and social fundraising.
The power of social media
Social Charity Index – Researchers in Great Britain recently released the results of the second annual Social Charity Index, which looks at the top 100 non-profits in the country to determine how they are using social media for fundraising and whether their approaches are effective, according to The Guardian newspaper. This year’s report found that charities with a smaller network of more engaged supporters tend to be more effective at raising funds through social media than some of the larger groups with hundreds of thousands of followers. Regardless of the amount of followers, however, organizations that engage with their supporters to get them involved in a cause find the most success.
Sioux Falls State Theater – Recently, the Sioux Falls State Theater in South Dakota embarked on a social media fundraising experiment to see how effective so-called “money-bomb” fundraising can be. The historic movie theater will spend 24 hours bombarding its Facebook fans with appeals for donations of just $5. The theater’s owners are hoping the campaign not only raises money to help renovate and reopen the theater, but creates an online audience even before any tickets are sold, according to local CBS affiliate KELO.
’8 for 80′ – Supporters of Colorado’s Proposition 80 recently embarked on a similar social media “money-bomb” campaign in support of their cause. According to The Weed Blog, Vote80.org recently held a 36-hour campaign to raise $8,000 to support the proposition, which calls for the legalization of marijuana in the state. The proposition recently received the endorsement of former Colorado Secretary of State Bill Bradbury.
4Brant – Recently, Brant Dye alerted his old high school buddies that he wouldn’t be able to attend their reunion because his testicular cancer had come out of remission and metastasized into his lungs. In response, his former classmates started a Fundly.com campaign to raise $620,000 to help with his treatment. According to the campaign, Brant’s friends chose Fundly for its good user experience and secure processing, and hope friends and family will share the campaign on their Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Funding the hearts and funding the arts
Have a Heart for Myles – With a few days left to go, the owners of Myles the dog, who was diagnosed with a rare heart condition that requires surgery, announced they had reached their $2,500 Fundly.com goal to fully fund the procedure. The rescue dog was diagnosed with Patent Ductus Arterosis, which can increase blood flow through part of the heart, causing it to work significantly harder. The procedure will limit blood flow, permanently fixing the condition.
Dance to the Beat – The Eau Claire School of Dance in Wisconsin held its first ever charity event on September 29, according to the Leader-Telegram. The “Dance to the Beat” fundraiser was a four-hour dance-a-thon to raise money for the American Heart Association. Teams of dancers collected pledges from family and friends for each hour of dancing.
Youth Orchestra of Bucks County – In an effort to give the children of the Youth Orchestra of Bucks County an opportunity to learn from renowned violinist Mark O’Connor and play alongside him in a professional concert hall, the YOBC recently turned to Fundly.com to raise $16,000. If successful, the group will perform at the War Memorial in Trenton, New Jersey.
Most companies and nonprofits have both a website and a Facebook page, but which one should have more maintenance time? Which web address is projected to get more traffic?
On Mashable, writer Samantha Murphy reports on a new study conducted by Lab42 which found that about 50% percent of consumers think a brand’s Facebook page is more useful than a brand’s website (see full infographic below). “In fact, about 82% of respondents said Facebook page is a good place to interact with brands. But one of the top reasons to follow a brand on Facebook is to print coupons and discounts. The study revealed that 77% of those who ‘Like’ a brand on Facebook have saved money as a result,” comments Murphy.
As a nonprofit, why should you care what is going on with Facebook and the influence it has on its consumers? Quite simply, developing trends in the for-profit world will eventually make their way to the philanthropic arena. Check out some of these stats from the same study:
As a nonprofit, there are some valuable conclusions that you can make from this study. First of all, peer pressure is alive and well regardless of your age. The more people you can get to “Like” your nonprofit, the more people you are likely to get to follow your nonprofit and spread the word of the great things your organization is doing. If the average Facebook user has 130 friends and 69% of users are likely to “Like” a product because someone else does, you have a strong chance at reaching a new audience.
Secondly, while 50% of users who believe a Facebook page is more valuable than a webpage may not seem like a majority, it shows the continued momentum that Facebook is having in social media. While many charities continually update and tweak their home pages, they often times neglect to post consistently on Facebook and update their timelines. A Facebook page may very soon require more attention as it becomes a destination for your supporters rather than just a side note.
Next, the frequency of your posts and the contact experiences of your donors certainly have an impact on your donor relations. Post too infrequently and donors don’t think of you. Post too many times a day and you become that pesky fly that buzzes around and is swatted at. A few times a week at different times during the day should suffice to reach all of your donors and their varying online schedules.
Finally, about one third of Facebook users don’t interact with a brand on Facebook because they don’t want to be contacted. Now here is the dilemma that many nonprofits face: if a donor felt that your cause was worthy enough to give to you once, they should be willing to give again. On the flip side, how long do you pester this person and spend valuable dollars on postage and mailers without getting any results? You could create a “one-time gift” check box and hope that others give since it is commitment free. On the other hand, it also depends on your type of charity. My best advice would be to try it out for a few months and see what your results are. A large part of fundraising is experimenting and the outcome is often times individualized to each organization.
Studies are published all of the time based on marketing research and technological advances. As a nonprofit and online fundraiser, it is valuable to assess and apply the results to predict the trends that are headed towards our industry. While not everything may apply or the estimated conclusion may not come to fruition, it’s better to create a hypothesis than to fall behind.
Check out the the complete findings from Lab42 study:
John Maxwell, author, pastor, and public speaker, writes, “Some people have a dream but no team – their dream is impossible. Some people have a dream but a bad team – their dream is a nightmare. Some people have a dream and are building a team – their dream has potential. Some people have a dream and a great team – their dream is inevitable.” Who is on your team?
One of the cornerstones of any nonprofit is the board members that come alongside the CEO to create a team of professionals with the wisdom, experience, and connections to make a dream a reality. Finding the right members with the skills and chemistry to work together can be a difficult, but this task just got easier with a new tool called “Board Connect” that is being implemented on LinkedIn.
Meg Garlinhouse, head of employment brand and community for LinkedIn, told Mashable, “There’s a huge supply and demand issue we’re trying to solve — more than 2 million non-profit board seats need to be filled each year and non-profit leaders are challenged with finding the right individuals to join those boards.”
Board Connect helps nonprofits find board members in three ways: 1) those who sign up get free access to TalentFinder to “amplify your ability to search and to reach out to your boards extended network.” This service is a $1000 value! 2) LinkedIn offers a free webcast interactive product tutorial to help you gain the skills you need to navigate their system and 3) you can receive exclusive content and make peer connections through the LinkedIn network.
LinkedIn also provides company pages so that your group can advertise your mission and gain supporters of like-mindedness to your cause. You can post updates, recruit volunteers, and make valuable connections with other who have a passion for your cause.
Finding the right board members to come alongside your organization is vital to the existence of your nonprofit. Not only can they provide valuable business advice and direction for you, but the connections that the professionals have in your area are priceless. I’ve worked with organizations that have had local news anchors as board members and the draw that a celebrity name brings can double your attendance to events. Not only that, but the pull that reputable professionals have brings much needed credibility and integrity to your name therefore causing more donors to trust you with their dollars.
The federal government ruled recently on whether small business startups can use crowdfunding as a method for raising capital, while individuals and organizations across the globe continue to use social fundraising to meet their needs. Here’s a roundup of the week’s fundraising news:
The SEC Rules!
Securities and Exchange Commission – Following the direction of President Obama, who included a provision calling for business crowdfunding in the recently passed JOBS Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission decided recently to establish a set of rules that will allow ordinary investors to work with emerging enterprises to create businesses and jobs, according to Forbes. While a lot of the details are still emerging – the SEC hasn’t yet ruled on full-blown business funding and the deadline isn’t until December 31, Forbes said – it is likely the new guidelines will change the nature of crowdfunding portals entirely.
Fundly in the news
Michelle Shutzer – When Michelle Shutzer decided to try a naturopathic approach to her cancer treatments, she found the therapies were not covered by her insurance. Though she was reluctant to ask for help, a friend convinced her to start a Fundly.com campaign to raise money for her treatment. The campaign, which was featured recently on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle, is fast approaching its $20,000 goal.
IIT-Jusoor Scholarships – Jusoor, which means “Bridges” in Syrian, is an organization that focuses on helping Syrians through education and other initiatives. Recently, the group partnered with the Illinois Institute of Technology to kick off a Fundly.com fundraising campaign with the goal of helping 50 Syrians travel to the United States to earn their undergraduate degrees. The campaign concludes at the end of September.
A.S.I.A. – The A.S.I.A. organization recently started a Fundly.com project it hopes will help raise money to sponsor two high school students for an Annual College Preparatory Educational Program and Black College Tour. The goal of the program is to help high school juniors and seniors visit historically black colleges and learn about some of the educational opportunities available to them. The tour will pass through Howard University, Coppin State, Morgan State and Bowie State before returning to Buffalo, New York.
Happiness is a warm bun
Hungry 4 Happiness – A new fundraising campaign from Project Happiness will use social media outreach and blogger calls-to-action to spread the word about a series of dinner parties being hosted as part of the “Hungry 4 Happiness” initiative. According to News-Medical.net, participants in the campaign will be encouraged to post pictures of their dinner on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which will enter them in a competition to win a two-month supply of coconut water from one of the project’s sponsors. All proceeds go to provide school supplies around the world.
Stop and smell the (virtual) roses
Flowers of Thanks – Across the ocean in England, the Meningitis Trust has created a new fundraising campaign it says is designed specifically to be shared online. The virtual “Flowers of Thanks” garden is a website where people can make a donation and plant a flower in memory of a loved one who was affected by the disease. The site accepts donations of £10 or more, and allows people to share their stories with others.
The Amazing Raise – A non-profit group in Richmond, Virginia, exceeded all expectations when it broke a fundraising record within eight hours of launching the 36-hour “Amazing Raise” campaign, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The state’s governor even remarked on the accomplishment via Twitter, noting that, “Folks are revved up and we love it!” Proceeds were disbursed among a variety of area groups.
Online fundraising can seem overwhelming and is often times left unattended to when nonprofits are accustomed to traditional fundraisers. You know that it is free. You know that millions of people are on Facebook. You probably also know that neglecting this form of development is costing your organization money. But let’s face it: who has the time or patience to create a schedule for incorporating online fundraising into your weekly routine? It may take less time than you think! Here are some ways to start using the internet and social networking sites in your strategies to raise money.
Make a Weekly Calendar – One of the best ways to organize your life and create consistency is to make a weekly calendar of how you want to schedule your duties. This also helps to ensure that everything on your “To Do” list gets done and that the important things don’t fall through the cracks. Here is a sample schedule you may want to start with for your online fundraising strategy:
Monday – Post on Twitter and Facebook at lunch time.
Tuesday – Post a blog and let your followers know via a link on Twitter and Facebook.
Wednesday – Update your followers on what major activity or goal your organization is working on. Post it around 5:00 pm. Scan your Facebook homepage for comments that supporters have written concerning your posts and reply to let your supporters know you’re involved and listening.
Thursday – Visit your nonprofit leader groups on LinkedIn for new ideas, advice, or ask a question to the forum.
Friday – Find an interesting quote, picture of your cause, or statistic to post on your social networking sites. Post it around lunch time.
Now this is not set in stone or a comprehensive calendar by any means, but it’s a starting point to get you in the habit of taking a few minutes every day to engage your donors and supporters through social networks. I also included a loose time frame, taking into account that the most successful posts are read before work, at lunchtime, right after work, and in the late evening when the kids are in bed.
Who Should Post on Facebook? – My social network includes variety of nonprofit organizations on Facebook and I’ve been noticing that some are posting on behalf of the nonprofit while others have their front man or woman posting the comments personally. Overall, I think it depends on the type of organization you are running. One of my friends is a motivational speaker and he posts comments on his personal life as well as where he is speaking and his success stories. On the other hand, another nonprofit I follow pertaining to disaster relief and food distribution writes solely under the name of their nonprofit. I think that it would also be wise to write on behalf of both the CEO and have a separate account for the organization; the CEO could certainly write from his or her perspective about where the company is headed while the umbrella account could post on upcoming events, general links on press coverage, and asking for donations for upcoming projects. Consider incorporating both into your social media routine. Supporters often times like to know that there is a face behind an organization, rather than giving blindly.
Do You Donors Know You’re There? – More than likely, your donors aren’t going to seek out your social networking profiles or may have visited your page and bypassed hitting the “like” button… so, ask whenever you can! On every newsletter, direct mail letter, event program, concert program, t-shirt, pamphlet, and webpage write “Like us on Facebook” or “Follow us on Twitter”. There’ a reason why so many products include it in their advertisements; over 250 million Facebook users log in EVERYDAY! When your name appears on their home page, they will remember you the next time they get that bonus at work, need to donate that used car, or want to get involved in a philanthropic organization. They also share updates and activities (such as “liking” your page) with their friends, which averages about 130 people per account. That’s a lot of people you could be reaching if they knew that they should follow you on Facebook!
Being a mom and an active member in my church means that, in one way or another, I’m always involved with fundraising or trying to get others to participate in different projects and activities. Add to the mix that I work with various nonprofits and write for an online fundraising company, and much of my time is consumed with figuring out the best practices to reach people and to create a successful atmosphere for giving. Here are some newer ideas that I have come across, which combine the convenience of online resources with the needs of school and church fundraising.
1) Evite.com: cool and practical. For holidays and friend’s birthday parties I’ve received several invitations from Evite.com, but it can also be extremely useful for clubs, banquets, and other informal events. The best part: it shows who is coming and encourages others to join in the fun. This could be great for a classroom party so you can see who is bringing what and which families are participating. RSVP tracking also allows you to gauge the amount of supplies you’ll need.
Now, I wouldn’t use this for events where people don’t know each other (that’s why this works well for schools, churches, and clubs with established communities) and it would be casual for expensive or formal events. However, it’s free, easy-to-use, and allows a platform for comments to get people excited about your event.
2) Pinterest: the best thing to happen to crafters since Martha Stewart. Yep, it’s time to start planning for those holiday craft fairs, bake sales, and boutiques! What better way to inspire parents and church ladies to get out those glue guns than sharing some amazing ideas from one of the largest growing social networking forums? Search for fun ornament ideas, recipes for baking delicious cookies, and examples of lovely table décor.
Word of Advice: If you haven’t planned your calendar for holiday events, do it now! November and December are the top months that organizations receive the highest donations, so decide how you are going to get your supporters involved. It is also an extremely busy time of year, so planning ahead is a must so that people can save the date of your event before they get too busy. You may also want to plan two or three different activities to allow options and accommodate busy schedules.
3) Think of a catchy phrase to stand out on Facebook. With Facebook, it’s easy just to scroll down the page and never really take notice of each post. And if there’s a video that someone has posted, the chances are slim to none that I’ll take the time to click on it. Sometimes, however, a post will catch my eye. A few days ago, this nonprofit post got my attention: a picture with a guy at his office desk captioned “Your boss is probably looking over your shoulder right now and wondering why you are on Facebook. Well tell him that it’s because you need to vote for [name of organization] to reach 1,000 votes to win airfare to further their cause. Click on the link provided to vote!”. This nonprofit posts daily pictures and press releases, but this was the first time I actually read their post and yes, I did vote! Write something that makes someone take notice and think twice. You could say, “We don’t want you at our event!… If you’re boring, apathetic, or a party-pooper, please stay at home. BUT, if you want to have a good time, join the party at _________.”
3) Get creative with your Fundly page. Break down your giving levels into what each amount will go towards. If you’re raising money for a school library, set a level saying $100 buys ten books. If you’re a church, explain that $50 will send 25 Bibles to China. Think beyond the basic “gold, silver, and bronze” names and apply the titles to your event or cause’s purpose. For the library, you could list the “John Steinbeck, Mark Twain, and Jane Austin” levels. You may also want to print these categories in your event program with the names of your supporters. Through giving online, you have the advantage to acknowledge the generosity of your supporters in the event program instead of after the fact which can inspire others to support your cause.
The bottom line: think about what you know how to do on the computer and with social networking sites and figure out how to apply it to your fundraising needs. You don’t need to spend hours researching new ideas or long periods of time watching lengthy tutorials. Just a little creativity can go a long way.
Now that the Republican and Democratic National Conventions are over, we are quickly approaching the finish line to see who will become the President of the United States. How will social media affect the outcome of this (and future) elections and what activities can we expect to see in our Facebook and Twitter feeds?
One way that we can predict future happenings is to see what took place in the past. Reporters Clive Cookson and Ling Ge wrote an interesting article in The Financial Times about an experiment that took place on Election Day in 2010. “On November 2, 2010, the day of US congressional elections, 61m Facebook users in the US saw a non-partisan ‘get out the vote’ statement at the top of their news feed. This ‘social message’ included a clickable ‘I voted’ button, a link to local polling stations, a counter showing how many Facebook users had already reported voting and, most importantly, up to six pictures of the individual’s Facebook friends who had reported voting.
“But 600,000 people were randomly assigned to a second group that saw a modified ‘informational message’ that did not show faces of friends. The third group, also of 600,000, received no election day message at all from Facebook,” explains Cookson and Ge.
The results were impressive: reminding people to vote via Facebook increased participants by over 60,000 votes. The group that was sent the “I voted” message sent another 280,000 voters to the polls.
“Social influence made all the difference in political mobilization,” said lead author James Fowler of UC San Diego. “It’s not the ‘I Voted’ button, or the lapel sticker we’ve all seen, that gets out the vote. It’s the person attached to it.”
SocialMediaMagic.com also agrees that voter numbers are likely to increase with the use of social media. In an article pertaining to the upcoming election, they comment that, “the 2012 candidates might prompt young supporters to record Youtube videos of themselves, their thoughts and why others should participate. These real world testimonials may be the hidden glue in an otherwise wayward social campaign.”
Social Media Magic also brought up the idea that QR codes will start to take a bigger role in campaigning (you know, those little black and white encoded squares that are found in a lot of advertisements. You take a picture of it with your smart phone to learn more about the product). “Seeking a way to interact closely with their voters, candidates might rely on QR codes connected to real world functionality, to send a message and prompt actions. These QR codes can help with a number of candidate problems, namely donations, endorsements and organizational ability.”
QR codes have also been taking a large role in fundraising efforts. It has been suggested that candidates place these codes on signs, banners, t-shirts, and other promotional materials to get the word out. It can also be a way to share exclusive updates, behind-the-scenes insights, or allow a set donation transaction with the click of your phone camera.
Whether you’re a small town politician or a local nonprofit, this upcoming presidential election is changing the way we think of fundraising. The candidates know that the more places they are at, the more voters they can connect with whether that be in person, online, or through a QR code. As they pave the way down this uncharted path of innovative social fundraising, the best thing we can do is watch and learn.
We’ve all seen or been asked to participate in extreme fundraisers: you know, the ones that say buy a raffle ticket for $1,000 to get a chance to win a million dollar home or if the group raises X amount of dollars, the leader will shave his head. Do donors really need that type of motivation to give? Is it worth the risk of funding and reputation to get a burst of donations?
Reporter Jason DeRusha gave an overview of this topic in Good Question: Do Extreme Fundraisers Pay Off? as he highlighted a local Minnesota Boy Scout troop who offered each boy who raised over $1,000 a chance to repel off of a 22-story skyscraper. “Many people are far surpassing that,” said John Marshall, organizer of the Boy Scouts’ Double Dog Dare fundraiser, “We have people raising $5,000.”
DeRush reports that “a survey of nonprofit fundraising found 80 percent of nonprofits raise money using events… But extreme fundraisers are risky, because they are very expensive to put on.” In this situation, insurance costs alone could be counterproductive to the dollars donated verses the fees to put on the event. Is it necessary to provide lures to encourage people to give?
In my experience, these extreme fundraising tactics are fine if you keep the prize in direct proportion to your fundraising goals and organization size. If you put a bunch of time and effort into advertising this type of gimmick, but come out with little or no money raised, the investment might be considered “worth it” if you were able to raise awareness for your organization. However, if the prize is grandiose and your organization is small, the payoff is rarely equivalent to the risk. Step back and gauge who your donor list consists of and what your potential is for success. Ask yourself a few questions: Can your supporters afford high priced tickets? Will this take away from their future gifts? If you promise a house as a prize and give a 50/50 check for $2,000, how will this affect your reputation? On the other hand, relative to DeRush’s example, repelling off of a building is a great reward for a bunch of Boy Scouts to raise money.
DeRush states that most fundraising dollars do not come from events.
According to the Nonprofit Research Collaborative, the vast majority of dollars come through direct donations from corporations and individuals.
I have to say that I concur. I have never met a donor that bought a raffle ticket or made a donation to help reach a crazy goal who then became a committed supporter; it’s usually a one-time gift without being a long-term investment.
So what’s the answer? Do you throw away your events and your attention grabbing hooks? Absolutely not! Count the cost of your innovative ideas and have realistic expectations of what the results will be. Part of being a nonprofit is accepting risk and relying on the generous donations of others, but being overzealous can cost you time, dollars, and, if it flops, it could be difficult to recuperate your good name and the trust of your supporters (two of the most important qualities every charity must guard).
Online fundraising is one way that you can have minimal investment with high potential results. It’s about building relationships to encourage long-term giving and support. It may not always provide the mega surge in giving that over-the-top fundraisers do, but you can reach more people and you still can have giving highs around important projects. It also doesn’t have to be one or the other. Advertise your events, goals, prizes, and outcomes using social media networks. You still need to create interest and intrigue your Facebook friends and Twitter followers.
Like anything in life, it’s all about balance. When you reach the most people you can in a variety of ways, that’s when your nonprofit has the best chance at fulfilling your purpose.
Over the weekend I heard a dynamic young speaker who was addressing the issue of giving misguided teens a purpose to help them stay on the right path. He made a statement that really stuck with me: “We want to do what no one else is doing to get those who have not already been ‘got’.” As I write this article several days later, I can’t help but think that this statement can have so many facets pertaining to the nonprofit world.
First of all, this idea is the perfect catalyst for many service organizations who want to reach the down-and-out, those chained by addiction, or for kids who seem to be slipping through the cracks in our educational system. What can you do that other similar organizations aren’t doing to reach those who feel like they don’t want or need help? How can you show that your group is beyond the sugar-coated stereotypes, is effective, and truly cares?
I’ve seen countless speakers in my years working with nonprofits and usually I don’t give much thought to them days after I’ve watched their presentations. What made this young man so different went beyond the fact that he was an unusually gifted speaker; his passion, research, and tangible plan made the whole room of parents and grandparents stand to its feet and applaud his vision. With a blonde Mohawk a mile high and looking like a professional wrestler, he was also cool enough to relate to the people he has a desire to help.
You can’t do much in this world without money, and that’s the second side of this statement that I want to address. What can you do that no one else is doing to get the donors that you don’t already have (and quite frankly, those who haven’t pledged their commitment to another nonprofit)? Fortunately 71 percent of American households give to charities (according to Dunham and Company’s annual New Year’s Philanthropy Survey), but on the down side it is only 3 to 5 percent of their gross income as stated on financialsamurai.com. That means that over 38 million households aren’t giving and that a majority of households have the potential to give more (because I personally think 3 percent is quite low on the generosity scale). That’s a whole lot of money with a whole lot of giving capability. Now what can you do to inspire those who aren’t giving, to give, and those who are giving, to give more?
This is hardly a new idea and is probably written on the job description of every development director. We spend hours of time at staff and board meetings trying to figure out how to raise more money and reach more people. Here are some ways that nps.gov suggests can boost giving for your charity:
There are some more basic ways to get what you haven’t got: get ideas from other nonprofits, ask your supporters what they would like to see more of, and have an open brainstorming session with your employees. Who knows what can happen when you ask the right questions?!
With public libraries, Kindles, iPads, mega bookstores, and periodicals all at our disposal, it seems that there never is a shortage of things for us to read. However, many people around the world lack this luxury that many so easily take for granted. That’s why Megan Weill, Peace Corps volunteer, started an online fundraising page using Fundly to help students in Kenya get the library resources that they desperately need to receive a proper education.
Megan is currently working at Shiduha Secondary School in Kakamega, Kenya which has approximately 200 students that come from her community and neighboring communities. Most of her students are very poor and a large number of them cannot even afford to pay their school fees. While this public school receives minimal funding from the Kenyan government to subsidize the small tuition costs, the sparse resources do not provide the money required to build a separate library building to house much needed English books for graduating students to pass their exit exams. With this in mind, Megan decided to set up an online fundraising website, rallying her friends and family in the U.S., to support her vision of building and furnishing a library with the supplies needed to give her students the best opportunity for a successful future.
Through Megan’s Fundly page, she was able to surpass her $10,000 goal (she raised $10,805!) with the help of 35 donors and 35 supporters: “We reached our fundraising goal and started building the library back in April and as of right now we only need to plaster the outside walls, install windows and doors, and paint the building”. She advises, “don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. I’ve found in my experience fundraising that if you are passionate about a cause, people will recognize that and help you out.”
Individuals and organizations alike are turning to social fundraising to help fund charities, pay for medical treatments and stand up for worthwhile causes. And soon, non-profits will be able to attend an event geared toward helping them make the most of social media in their fundraising campaigns. Here’s a roundup of the week’s fundraising news.
Social media for social good
Social Media for Non-Profits – On September 19, Columbia College in Chicago will host the next in an annual series of conferences to educate non-profit groups about the ways they can use social media to expand their reach and raise more money for their fundraising goals. Lecture topics at the one-day event include: “Getting your social media strategy off the ground;” “Google Plus for non-profits;” and “Leveraging social media for your events.” Registration information can be found online at www.socialmedia4nonprofits.org.
Greenpeace, U.K. – Recently, the British chapter of environmental activist group Greenpeace began contacting potential donors through social media to tell them about a new monthly giving program. According to Fundraising.co.uk, the new initiative, LiFE, offers donors a limited edition print, welcome pack and frequent communications in exchange for a pledge of at least £6 – about $9.50 – per month. The initiative is designed to give supporters more information about how their donations are used.
United Way, Oregon – The United Way in the Klamath Falls area of Oregon recently announced its fundraising goal for the next year: $755,000. According to local newspaper the Herald and News, this represents a 1 percent increase over last year’s target. The organization helps fund local groups that work with drug abusers and victims of domestic violence, as well as food banks and mental health counseling services.
Fundraisers take a ‘stand’
Oak Park and River Forest, Illinois – Lemonade stands are a classic way for children to raise money, but some residents in the Chicago suburbs of Oak Park and River Forest are using the stands to benefit a variety of children’s charities on the anniversary of 9/11. Over the last decade, the amount of money raised by the group has grown – last year, according to the Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, they raised more than $16,000 for the Thrive Counseling Center. This year, they hope to raise $20,000.
Love for Justin – On August 26, Justin Lake was severely injured by a drunk driver while vacationing with his friends in Tobago in the Caribbean. He was airlifted to Trinidad and then flown back to Atlanta in critical condition, and now his family is trying to raise $100,000 to cover the cost of his treatments. The ongoing Fundly.com campaign has so far raised more than $16,000.
We <3 Tanea – After Tanea Ysaguirre was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, her friends and family banded together on Fundly.com to raise money to help pay for her treatments. After just a short amount of time, they are 65 percent of the way toward their $5,000 goal.
Friends of Arash – Over the summer, Arash Bayatmakou broke his back after suffering a several-story fall. Although he has made enormous progress with his physical therapy and recovery, his family is struggling with medical expenses. Their Fundly.com campaign has so far been able to raise nearly $29,000 of their $35,000 goal, which they say will go to cover the cost of services and supplies that aren’t covered by their insurance.
Whether you are a large or small nonprofit organization, the great thing about technology is that you can always find someone who is paving the way. With a few clicks of the mouse and a few choice words typed into any search engine, you can have hundreds of examples and articles splashed across your computer screen. This can also be thought of as a downside, but here’s the good news! I scour the internet for you, so the Fundly blog can be your one-stop-shop for tips concerning social media fundraising. I like to think of myself as the Indiana Jones of online fundraising, my job may not be as adventurous, but I do find a few “hidden” gems along the way.
One such treasure in my hunt for helping organizations improve their online presence is 11 Nonprofits That Excel at Social Media by Heather Mansfield, owner of DIOSA Communications and principal blogger at Nonprofit Tech 2.0. Mansfield determined which nonprofit websites made the cut based on a basic set of criteria she uses when auditing nonprofits and their use of social media campaigns. Her criteria includes:
Measuring your organization’s website and social networks using Mansfield’s criteria, can help you to identify areas that could use a little improvement. You may not be able to cover all of the requirements to become one of the top 11, but it will give you tangible goals for improving the ways in which you connect with supporters and make an impact via the internet.
As Mansfield points out, managing social media is about change:
“There’s always room for improvement since social media best practices change as often as the tools themselves … a good social media manager understands this and evolves with their communities and quickly adapts as the tools themselves change.”
One of the great things about including a Fundly fundraising page in your social media strategy is that the engineers and designers understand that technology can change with the blink of an eye, continually analyzing success rates and user-friendliness. You may not have the budget to hire a full-time social media manager, but the ease of use provided by a Fundly webpage can definitely fit into any social fundraising plan.
I encourage you to visit Mansfield’s blog to view what websites made her list and see for yourself how they are excelling at social media and engaging supporters. Also, be sure to check out some of our top campaigns on Fundly.com by scrolling along our homepage to gain insight into how other individuals, nonprofits, and educational fundraisers are using their Fundly pages to raise money. Looking to others can provide great insight, inspiration, and challenge you beyond what you thought was possible.
The total charitable contributions by individuals, corporations, and foundations in the United States for 2010 was $290.8 billion. Of that number, individual giving was an estimated $211.7 billion*. So, who is getting all that money? More importantly, how can your organization claim more of it?!
Let’s break down the who, what, and where of charitable contributions. The Chronicle of Philanthropy conducted its own survey to pinpoint which states, cities, and metropolitan areas are the most generous. Here’s what they found:
Now that we know where the giving is taking place, how is it divided by sector? CharityNavigator.org has posted the following stats:
Now that I’ve bombarded you with facts, what can we takeaway from this information? There seems to be a strong common thread linking together the most generous cities, metropolitan areas, and the recipients of the largest portion of donations. Perhaps other nonprofit organizations can take a few pointers from religious organizations based on these statistics. First of all, donors tied to religious organizations often feel a moral and personal obligation to give. There is a higher sense of purpose which drives their generosity and keeps them faithfully giving. Secondly, there is a sense of community within these organizations that unites their supporters with one another and the organization itself. What opportunities are you providing for your donors to come together, connect with each other and your staff, and join together to further your cause? Informational meetings, facility tours, volunteer opportunities, Facebook groups, concerts, etc. are all ways to gather your supporters together for community development. Follow these up with accountability, relationship cultivation, and commitment, and your donors will begin to feel more connected to your cause.
Another takeaway: giving is up across the board. Though it may be a little ironic that numbers tend to rise in a recession, I contribute this fact to a couple of things: 1) there are more opportunities to give and more causes to give to and 2) it’s easier than ever to give. With the internet becoming more and more of an integral part of our daily lives, many causes are coming to the forefront of our consciousness through social media, e-mail, and publicized celebrity endorsements. Not only are we more aware of the news around us, but also of social conditions and hardships. Now, more than ever, we are living in an information revolution.
Back to the original question: who’s doing the giving? Apparently a whole lot of people.
*as reported by the Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University
With so much to do and so little time, it can be difficult to always determine what to post on Facebook or Tweet on Twitter on a regular basis. You know that you need a consistent presence using social media to stay in touch with your donor base, but some days or weeks that seems almost impossible. Well, fear not! I’ve scoured the web to find some of the most inspirational and informative quotes for you to cut and paste to encourage your donors and followers. You may also want to use this list as a way to create intro paragraphs for newsletter articles, create interaction on social media networks by asking your audience if they agree or disagree with the statement, or as text on a webpage to spur on others to give. (Some of these sayings may be more applicable to certain causes than others, but I tried to find a gamut of text to cover many bases.)
While the quotations can easily inspire others to get involved, they can also be catalysts for your own employees. The factoids clearly show the importance of nonprofits in the fabric of our society and the need for individuals to continue to support your cause on an ongoing basis. The best strategy is to maintain consistency using social media networks and to let your donors know what you are doing. Even these simple posts can cause supporters to get inspired by you and ponder what they can do to help.
Nonprofit fundraisers seem to be at an interesting crossroads with the tried and true ways of fundraising up against the ever-changing world of technology. While traditional newsletters, reply cards, and telephone calls are still valuable methods of achieving and maintaining donor support, nonprofit organizations are taking part in the transition to social media fundraising.
Kivi Leroux Miller, nonprofit marketing expert, conducted an intriguing and relevant study and posted the results in Six Ways Social Media Has Affected Nonprofit Newsletters. Some of her findings are quite surprising and I was impressed with how many organizations are combining traditional methods of donor relations with their online efforts.
Miller explains that, out of the 299 people who responded to her question “how your newsletter has changed, including how your organization’s use of social media has affected your newsletter, whether print or online,” one third said that it hasn’t. This percentage of respondents fell into one of the following three categories: they do not use social media at all, their audiences for both mediums are completely different, or they use these channels of communication for different outcomes.
Concerning the remaining two-thirds: I found the comments that Miller posted from her participants extremely helpful. Sometimes you know the answers, but it helps when someone puts words to your thoughts so you can create a tangible fundraising strategy. Here are some of the tips and ideas that nonprofit leaders provided regarding how they incorporate both social media and traditional newsletters into their overall strategy.
It’s obvious that both old and new methods of fundraising can certainly work together for the benefit of your organization and reach the maximum amount of potential supporters. Newsletters are valuable for providing in-depth content and reaching an audience who prefers customary forms of communication. Social media can piggyback on this form of donor relations by broadening your audience, making it more interactive, and refining what content goes into print. Just because more technology is being incorporated into the philanthropic world doesn’t mean that the baby has to be thrown out with the bathwater. Find out what is working with you and determine how to partner your past successes with new methods of fundraising.
We’ve all heard the saying “a picture is worth 1,000 words” and even on the computer screen this holds true. I am often times guilty of judging a book by its cover and a webpage by its graphics. With the fast-paced nature of the internet, it is important to ensure that visitors are drawn in to your page through visuals as well as calls to action. Here are some ideas to visually intrigue your page’s visitors to keep them from moving on to the next webpage:
1) Infographics are eye-catching (and cool) – I found this great infographic on typepad.com, which serves as a perfect example of the unique power of this type of visual. Sometimes simple bullet points can be too lengthy to hold a reader’s attention, but a stimulating graphic can support your point and pique the interest of the reader in just a few seconds. Consider generating an infographic to spice up a chart that shows an increase in the number of clients you are helping, a timeline of events that have helped you to reach your goal, or an Indiana Jones-style map plotting the route of your journey.
At Fundly, we’ve created fundraising pages that take the appeal of infographics into account, including a graphic at the top of the screen displaying the percentage of money raised, a thermometer to gauge this success, and how many donors/supporters your campaign has. Most people are highly visual and move through websites at the speed of light, the quicker you can convey your message, the better.
2) Take advantage of your space – I’ve browsed through hundreds of nonprofit websites and blogs and the ones that catch my eye make full use of the screen. If there is a lot of empty space, minimal text, or sparse graphics, I tend to think it looks amateurish and bland. This doesn’t mean that your website needs to be flashy, gaudy, or overdone – just as every news story needs a captivating hook, so does your webpage need visual interest.
The Kentucky Rescue and Restore homepage is a great example of creative use of a space. There is something about the color scheme, haunting pictures, and simple headlines that grab the visitor’s attention. It is artistic in its photography, yet poignant in its message.
3) Evoke emotion – I’ve mentioned this a few times before, but your website is a reflection of your nonprofit’s image and personality. It is important to keep your audience in mind and play to what will attract them to your page. When choosing images and graphics to tell your organization’s story, be sure to ask yourself, “what do I want my website’s visitors to feel?”.
On top of sharing compelling images of organizational need and impact, continue the story by showing the faces behind your organization. There is something genuine and sincere that donors find relatable about the people working to carry out a mission, which cannot be duplicated by simple bios.
4) It’s all about the content – This point may seem out of place, but your website really is all about the content. Yes, you need pictures and graphics to capture the attention of your audience and draw them in, but it’s the content that is going to hold the reader and invoke a passion. Too many bells and whistles can distract from the ease of use, and drawn out text can make it too difficult to decipher what is most important about your organization.
A great way to gain a little inspiration is to check out how top nonprofits are designing their websites and take a few tips from what they have displayed. Revisit your site with fresh eyes and see how yours measures up.
Over the weekend I attended an event and met a nice older gentleman who worked at a nonprofit organization. While I was discussing some of what we do here at Fundly, a glazed look came over his eyes and he just stood there smiling. I realized that so many times we take for granted that people naturally understand, and are involved in, the world of technology these days. Since you may be new to the nonprofit world, social media, or online fundraising, I thought it would be nice to take a moment to briefly explain some commonly used terms.
Blog – an informational website that has a particular theme and consistent updates. It is an ongoing commentary on topics of interest that allows readers to interact via comments, likes, and shares.
Crowdfunding – enlisting individuals to network and pool resources via the internet to support a cause or organization. For example, in the fallout of a natural disaster, many people log on to a popular website and donate to an organization aiding those affected by the destruction, sharing with and encouraging their social networks to do the same.
Like – supporting or showing approval to a comment made on Facebook. A virtual thumbs up!
Microblogging – mini updates of what you are working on, sharing articles that you like, or attaching pictures that you would like others to see. What people “post” on Facebook or “Tweet” on Twitter.
Online Fundraising – raising money for a cause or organization using internet resources, such as social networking sites and e-mail.
Post - status updates, comments, pictures, and shared content on Facebook.
Retweet – reposting what someone has already Tweeted for your followers to read.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – the process of improving the visibility of a website in a search engine’s organic search results, such as Google or Bing. SEO incorporates keywords into a website that will result in a higher ranking in search results and, ultimately, more traffic to the website. Think about what words people will type into the search engine to find out more information about your organization or topic and highlight those terms on your site.
Share – reposting others’ content onto your own Facebook Page to share with your friends or followers.
Social Media Fundraising – using social media networks (such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+) to raise money by sharing donors, updates, thank you’s, and supporters. This also entails encouraging donors and supporters to promote and share your cause.
Social Media Network – Facebook and Twitter are the two most popular social media networks. They allow people, businesses, and organizations to create a profile/account to connect with other people or organizations they know that are registered there. Once you approve of someone connecting to you on that site, you can read what they write and they can see what you write (also called a “post” on Facebook or “Tweet” on Twitter). Other popular Social Media Networks include: LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Tweet – comments that are made on Twitter.
Webpage – most websites have various links that are connected to the website. Picture the website as a book and each tab a separate chapter.
Website – the compilation of webpages that makes up a specific website.
Widget – “Widgets allow users to turn personal content into dynamic web apps that can be shared on websites where the code can be installed. For example, a “Weather Report Widget” could report today’s weather by accessing data from the Weather Channel, it could even be sponsored by the Weather Channel. Should you want to put that widget on your own Facebook profile, you could do this by copying and pasting the embed code into your profile on Facebook.” Wikipedia can say it better than I can!
If I’ve left any terms out that you would like to know more about, please leave a comment below. Also, if there is a relevant term that you would like to add, please post your idea in the comment section also.
In one newly launched campaign, a Seattle-based comic artist raised money to protect the legacy of a 19th-century inventor by tapping into the “electrifying” power of social media fundraising. However, this campaign was only one of many to see remarkable results as August began to wind down. Here’s a roundup of the week’s fundraising news.
Tesla museum fundraiser gets a jolt
Let’s Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum – Nikola Tesla was an inventor in the late 19th and early 20th century who was instrumental in bringing electricity to the world. But despite his enormous contributions to science and society, there is no museum honoring his work. Recently, artist Matthew Inman sought to change that, kicking off an online fundraising campaign to buy Tesla’s former laboratory in Long Island, New York, and turn it into a museum. After just a week, Inman had raised more than $1 million, far exceeding his $850,000 target.
Fans for Fruth – The Fond du Lac School District in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, has been raising money to revamp its Fruth Memorial Athletic Field, and is nearing its $800,000 goal, according to The Fond du Lac Reporter. The field has been home to Fond du Lac and St. Mary’s Springs’ football teams for more than 90 years, and is set to receive a new entranceway and pavilion, press box, concession stands, restrooms and increased handicap accessibility, the source said.
Michael Antcliffe – After being diagnosed with cancer in 2011, then-36-year-old Canadian Michael Antcliffe asked his friends and followers on Facebook to donate $10 to cancer research upon his death, according to the CBC. Last week, Antcliffe passed away, and so far his social media fundraising effort has raised more than $20,000 to help local cancer patients in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Glenn Craig, head of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation, told the source it “really shows … the power of social media.”
Before I Die Wall – Following the success of similar projects in cities around the world, Kimberly Gambucci recently turned to Fundly.com to raise money to create a Before I Die Wall in Phoenix. The concept, originated by artist Candy Chang, encourages community members to share their hopes and dreams for the future in a public space. Gambucci is hoping to raise $2,000 by October to complete the project.
The Boys & Girls Club of Salem – In New Hampshire, the Boys & Girls Club of Salem recently implemented a new donor platform that takes advantage of social media fundraising to achieve its fiscal goals, according to Virtual-Strategy.com. Within a week of using the new online fundraising platform, the organization was able to raise $15,000 to replace a gym floor, the group’s executive director told the source.
Epilepsy Society – Across the pond in England, the Epilepsy Society was able to increase its donor contributions by 15 percent over the last year, despite having cut its overall fundraising budget by more than 15 percent, according to Civil Society Media. Epilepsy Society Fundraising and Marketing Director Bridget Gardiner told the source that the increase resulted largely from a significant investment in social media fundraising campaigns.
Schooled in the art of fundraising
Fundraising for Education – Non-profits aren’t the only ones to have tapped the power of social fundraising. A growing number of students are taking to the platform to raise money to cover the cost of education. RedOrbit.com recently highlighted the story of one young man from Central America who was able to finance his education at Cornell University and move his family to Ithaca, New York, after sharing the story of the gang-related murder of his childhood best friend, and his ambition to improve public policies in his home country.
For-profit companies spend billions of dollars determining who uses their products and hire ad agencies to create the perfect hook. From “hot chicks” to annoyingly perky jingles, it is often times easy to determine who the target audience is. As a nonprofit leader, do you know who your audience is? What are you doing to appeal to your spectrum of donors?
There are a lot of great things about online fundraising, but one of them has to be the ability to change your website’s appearance and the variety of ways that you can target different donors. While product marketing generally focuses on one demographic, nonprofit marketing needs to appeal to a vast amount of people. It’s important to analyze who the majority of your donor base is, how to attract a younger donor to instill future giving, and determine what past campaigns have worked and why.
Huffington Post writer Jessica Prois reported on a new study published by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University, which determined that baby boomers and older women give an incredible 89 percent more of their income to charity than men.
Why is this study pertinent? I think it breaks down several misconceptions that we tend to have towards our donor demographics. Often times, the focus falls on the 35 and under crowd, with the assumption that they are the primary audience on social networking sites and are more skilled at using technology for social change. This study shows that the baby boomer generation is, in fact, just as active in fundraising through social media. Furthermore, while men continue to receive a higher paycheck then women, their female counterparts lead the pack in generosity.
Another important takeaway reveals that nonprofits need to take the time to analyze who is contributing the most to their cause, creating a strategy for future campaigns. While it is important to focus a large percentage of time and money on current donors, it is also important to incorporate opportunities for involvement for any gaps in the giving demographic you may have. Take your donor base into consideration when planning events and promotional graphics. These graphics can also be threaded throughout your campaign and website to draw potential supporters in visually. Check out some website examples that are using color schemes and images to grab attention, appealing to current and potential supporters.
LiveStrong.org is uses crisp graphics and a bold color scheme to appeal to a younger, athletic crowd.
Finally, and most importantly, define and illustrate the personality and image of your organization. Take a look at your employees and leadership team, are they a proper representation for the people you are helping and the donors you are trying to attract? Does your website or giving page portray your organization properly? Knowing who you are attracting and then creating an outreach plan can help you work smarter, not harder with your fundraising efforts.
I’ve worked with countless nonprofit leaders over the years and they all have a few things in common: an intense passion, extremely high expectations, and an incomparable work ethic. While these are all extraordinary qualities to possess, these traits can also cause a bad case of burn out. Since being exhausted is never fun (for you or your coworkers), here are some ways to prevent burn out and continue delivering for your cause:
Stop! One of the major causes of burn out is neglecting to take some time for yourself. A seemingly obvious remedy, the act of taking a little “me” time can be hard to accomplish with a long “to do” list weighing on your mind. This can be especially true in philanthropy, education, and child care, where there is a constant focus on meeting the needs of others. When there aren’t enough hours in the day, how in the world do you find time to take a breather from your impending tasks?
The best way to eliminate burn out is to prevent it. Try to set a consistent time of day when you take a walk around your building, synchronize your break time with a fellow coworker to chat, or just stand up and stretch. Do your best to also leave your workday at the office and focus on your family and friends. 95% of what we think is important can wait another day.
Drop! Get rid of what isn’t working. Take time to evaluate your projects, calendar, and events to measure input verses output during your work day. Sometimes our inner control freak comes out, clinging on for dear life – let go and delegate! While it may be easier said than done, trusting others allows you to focus on important aspects of your organization. Every task may feel important, but be sure to take the time to focus your efforts and avoid spreading yourself too thin.
Get rid of unrealistic expectations. As the leader your passion, dedication, and sacrifice will far exceed that of your staff. Though they are dedicated to your cause and organization, your employees may not be willing to put in 60 hours a week without overtime. Furthermore, not every supporter will attend every function, read every e-mail, or fund every project. It is a great feat to find qualified staff willing to work for and partner with your mission and monumental to have a donor show their support for your cause in any capacity.
Roll … with the punches. Some of the best leaders surround themselves with a trusted group of advisors who can handle problems when things don’t go as planned. Most of the time, supporters and volunteers won’t see a small hiccup in an otherwise flawless event or campaign. As cliché as the old saying is, “expect the best but plan for the worst.” Something is bound to go wrong when you are planning a major direct mail campaign, annual event, or important presentation. Do want you can to solve the problem and then let go. Holding on to a list of past problems or failures fuels burnout and distracts your focus.
Being flexible is also important as new fundraising trends spring up. Don’t stress about what you do or don’t know about online fundraising, social media, or phone apps. Build a strong support system of other nonprofit leaders that can provide encouragement and share valuable resources. Find out what works for them, what online resources they use, and what trends they tend to follow. Meeting with others who know what you are going through can be the best way to bring fresh ideas to the table and prevent you from spiraling out of control towards a sever case of burn out!
Non-profit organizations can put a lot of weight behind their social fundraising campaigns by adding video content, and one expert in the field recently offered some insight into the best ways to make an eye-catching fundraising video. Meanwhile, a Fundly.com campaign has captured the imagination of the fundraiser’s local community, spurring an incredible amount of donations in the last week. Here’s a roundup of these stories and some of the week’s other social fundraising news:
A video’s worth a thousand words
The DoGooder Non-profit Video Awards - Recently, Michael Hoffman, president of video agency See3 Communications, sat down with ReelSEO.com and offered some do’s and don’ts for non-profits that want to add video content to their fundraising campaigns. One of the points he stressed was that organizations should not focus on themselves, but rather the people they serve. Fundraising videos should also include a clear call to action, he said.
Social change and lemonade
Make a Stand - As we reported two weeks ago, 8-year-old Vivienne Harr recently embarked on a campaign to raise $125,000 to help end child slavery, and her cause appears to have caught on. Not only has the local media in her hometown of Fairfax, California, started reporting on her ambitious goal, media outlets around the world have picked up the story, leading to more than $20,000 donations in a single day. On her Fundly.com page, one supporter pointed out, “You made the news in Brazil.”
Local and international aid
Lisa King for Gaza, Mozambique - Habitat for Humanity helps build shelters for impoverished families all over the globe, and one woman has turned to Fundly.com to raise money for the cause. Lisa King is just shy of her $2,000 goal to fund her trip to Mozambique, where more than half the population lacks adequate shelter. King has nearly two months left to accomplish her goal.
The Center for Pranic Healing - One organization is hoping to relieve the suffering of humanity in a different way. The Center for Pranic Healing teaches people to use their energy to promote healing, health and happiness, which group leaders say will lead to a balanced life. The center has set a goal to raise $500,000 over the next three months on its Fundly.com campaign, to promote its teachings.
Fundraising for a song
Daniel’s Music Foundation - At age 12, Daniel Trush suffered a brain aneurysm and spent nearly three years in recovery. Today, at 27, he is fully recovered and has his own music foundation, which offers free music lessons to all individuals in the New York area who have disabilities, including children, veterans and the elderly. The $25,000 one avid supporter hopes to raise through Fundly.com will go toward establishing a space for the foundation in New York City.
Fundraising is for the dogs
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - Across the border in British Columbia, Canada, local celebrities were recently locked away in kennels, relying on friends to raise money for the B.C. SPCA to get them out. One prominent prisoner, Erin Cebula of Entertainment Tonight Canada, told regional news source The Province that she had “been doing most of [her] fundraising by social media.”
Charitable poker runs - One popular fundraising activity appears to be banned in the state of Kansas, according to Nonprofit Quarterly. During a motorcycle poker run, bikers ride from location to location collecting playing cards and hoping for the best poker hand possible. According to the state of Kansas, however, this constitutes gambling and is illegal. But one Kansas official has come up with an interesting workaround: Bikers can throw darts to try and hit their desired card, making it a game of skill instead of chance.
This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Discovery Channel’s ever-popular Shark Week! Here at Fundly, we too fall victim to shark mania, the annual celebration highlighting some of nature’s most captivating predators. From the first time I saw the movie Jaws to the many times I’ve watched the movie Deep Blue Sea on television, I love the suspense and action that these thrillers bring. I still have second thoughts about entering into the ocean!
What in the world does Shark Week have to do with online fundraising? Keep reading for some takeaways from these fascinating sea creatures…
1) Prevent your donors from feeling like prey – The shark fin in the water from Jaws and eerie music (da-nuh, da-nuh), sets the tone for sharks in popular culture. It gives the viewer a sense of feeling like they are being hunted (I’m coming for you!). How do your donors view you? Continually asking for donations, rather than truly connecting with people who are supporting your cause, can often times cause them to lose interest. Listening to comments and ideas goes a long way towards building trust between your organization and donors. Timely thank you’s, sharing of milestones and progress, and discussion about topics beyond your cause can also do wonders as you create lasting relationships with your supporters. Don’t be a fin and the water hunting for donations, show your face and tell your story to allow people to approach your cause in a positive way!
2) Don’t stay in one place, migrate! – Great white sharks travel thousands of miles to keep their bellies full, from the coastline to the deep waters of the ocean. As the weather changes and different species migrate, the shark explores different paths to avoid depleting one source of food and to find other means of surviving. Nonprofits can learn a valuable lesson from this: don’t spend the entire year feeding on the same limited resources. As a nonprofit leader, it is important to be mindful of your donors so they do not burn out and become extinct. Building a fundraising strategy that includes several types of donors and fundraising avenues will allow your nonprofit to sustain itself throughout the year. Look for new places to fish – like social networks, community mixers, or public events.
3) Getting “chummy” with your donors – We’ve all seen divers throw in buckets of fish parts into the water to attract sharks with the enticing scent of blood penetrating the water. To catch a larger shark with a fishing rod, the bigger pieces of bait need more hooks in them to hold heavier sharks. The same is true when you are looking to attract higher end donors. What type of bait are you putting on the line? Consider advertising, press releases, public relations, tax write-offs, and volunteerism to build community as part of their benefits. You also may want to honor individuals at annual events, create a major donor plaque to display in your front office, or highlight levels of giving in your annual report or quarterly newsletter. Even the simplest of thank you on social media can go a long way to help keep them on the line.
Here a few more key lessons from Shark Week:
In the last post, we highlighted five of our favorite nonprofit leaders that we find the most informative, innovative, and applicable for the nonprofit community. Here are five more useful blogs and nonprofit leaders to follow. (Please note that the list is in no particular order. Each expert brings something different to the table and they are all awesome!)
Brooks is great at finding current statistics, articles, and relevant blog posts, conveniently summing them up in one quaint package. His site is a treasure trove of information that varies from creating captivating content to syncing your online and offline fundraising strategies. When I read his posts, I want to print them and use them as checklists for future campaigns – they’re that good.
Heartfelt, real, and done right; these are the first words that come to mind when describing Kanter’s work. She has gorgeous pictures, compelling graphics, concise bullet points, and excellent content. From inspiring personal stories about her adopted children from Cambodia, to using social media to attract high level donors, you can’t help but walk away from her blog feeling refreshed and ready to make the world a better place.
Scrolling down the list of Pam’s past posts, you can’t help but say to yourself “I could really use that info!” Her posts are often times organized into lists, making them easy and quick to read, while providing useful information. She continually provides great ideas on how to maximize your nonprofit’s use of social media and content marketing You don’t have to be a marketing expert, Moore’s fun and informative blog provides the tips and advice you need to develop and maintain a winning strategy. (And it’s always entertaining when social media guru “Granny” stops by for a guest blog post!)
In the world of ever-changing technology, sometimes trying to keep up can result in my brain turning to mush. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the trends in the nonprofit world – a feeling that can easily get exacerbated when you add the the rapid growth of technology into the mix. It can be confusing attempting to apply the traditional ways of fundraising to the new platforms of social networking, but Mansfield easily incorporates online resources into any fundraising campaign. She uploads a plethora of samples, stories, and strategies that can benefit organizations regardless of their size or budget.
Askanase addresses social media, marketing, and fundraising with intelligence and practicality that is thought-provoking and clearly stated. Topics often times focus on content curation and social media strategizing, giving nonprofits tips on how to optimize their story and resources to make the most out of their online presence. She brings a fresh perspective and new resources to the table.
Godin’s blog is completely random (in a good way) and is the equivalent of trekking up the hill to ask advice from a meditative monk. Some days he focuses on technology, other days fundraising, and yet many times he simply provides a commentary on life. That’s probably why I like it – there are only so many articles you can read about content, what time of day to post on social media, and how to redesign your website. Sometimes you just need to take a step back. Godin balances thoughtfulness and pensive remarks with the business of philanthropy.
Running a nonprofit is like being the captain of a ship. You’re leading a crew to a specific destination only to have unforeseen storms stir up the waters, you may come across other ships competing for your hearty catch, and sometimes you just feel completely lost at sea. Fear not! There are those who have mapped out the course ahead of you and are willing to share tips and lessons from their perilous journeys. Here are five nonprofit leaders that you should keep an eye on by following them on Twitter or subscribing to their blogs:
Schwartz’s blog is a top pick, addressing issues that are in today’s headlines and applying them to the nonprofit world. From analyzing other nonprofit’s mistakes to cheering for Olympic gold, she clearly has her finger on the pulse of current events and boldly shares her opinions. Furthermore, she has great posts pertaining to topics that a majority of organizations struggle with, such as the entry on how to Make Your Nonprofit Messages Stick and her tips on training your staff to be great representatives for your organization.
Often times, the number one task that nonprofits focus on is getting the cash to carry out their mission. Rees has created an awesome blog that solely focuses on getting your hands on the much needed funding that seems to make the world go ‘round. Most nonprofits would agree that one complaint never uttered in this sector is “we have too much money”. With Rees’ suggestions, expertise, and a variety of resources, you can create a solid strategy to obtain your fundraising goals.
What I enjoy about Webb’s blog are her insights, examples, and out-of-the box way of thinking. Her prose is entertainingly quirky, while the information that she brings to the forefront is practical and applicable. Webb has researched the latest trends concerning the use of technology in fundraising while also emphasizing the building blocks for running a traditional nonprofit in an ever-changing world. Instead of scanning through hours of pages on the internet, her blog allows you to discover different schools of thought pertaining to the philanthropic world by highlighting the points of interest from different articles. Webb’s blog is seemingly like those yellow and black Cliff’s Notes pamphlets you deny using in college (without the bad rap)!
Technology can seem like a blessing and a curse. What was designed to make our lives simpler and more efficient, has made many of us confused and overwhelmed. Many nonprofits are left wondering what social networking sites they need to be on, how much attention should they devote to this medium, and where should they even begin in this whole process. Haydon’s blog does a great job at addressing these very issues, plus much more. He has also created an extremely helpful Facebook profile, The Nonprofit Facebook Guy, to keep nonprofits in the know about the latest features on the social network. Whether you’re a novice using the internet or a seasoned pro, you’ll find tips and valuable recommendations to stay abreast concerning online fundraising and social media.
Marketing is much of the lifeblood of any nonprofit. You could run the most effective programs in the world, but it wouldn’t mean a thing if no one participated or donated. In a world where we are blasted with advertisements on TV, the internet, and in our favorite magazines, it’s hard to stand out. With so many images and slogans vying for our attention, developing an eye-catching story and marketing strategy can be a struggle for many organizations. This struggle sometimes appears unsurmountable when there are countless other charities asking for money to support their worthy cause. Andresen explains the ins and outs of marketing, traps to avoid, and presents good examples of what can be done to overcome these challenges. She also discusses ways to insert new life into your marketing plans and keep donors tied in to your organization.
A recent roundtable discussion with the leaders of some of the most powerful social networking sites in the world revealed some of the many ways non-profits can use social media in their fundraising efforts, and gave clues to the future of philanthropy. Meanwhile, individuals and organizations across the country have been taking action to support their friends and communities – sometimes quite literally. Here’s a roundup of the week’s fundraising news:
The Fast Company - Recently, business media magazine Fast Company gathered some of the top brass at websites like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Zynga to discuss the impact social media has had on non-profit fundraising and philanthropy. Speaking to reporter Farhad Manjoo, Hunter Walk, director of product management at YouTube, said successful social fundraising campaigns have to have three components: “content, community, and a call to action.”
BraLaPalooza - A Chicago-based non-profit is using social media to get the word out about an upcoming event. Support1000 is an organization that collects new and gently-used bras to give to social services organizations that help women. The group recently took to Twitter and Fundly.com to spread information about BraLaPalooza, a one-day event on August 25 during which volunteers will sort and ship more than 15,000 bras to organizations around the world.
Support the troops
8-6-11 - Just over a year ago, 31 U.S. soldiers were shot down and killed in Afghanistan. Many of those soldiers were Navy SEALs. Recently, a Fundly.com campaign was started to raise money to help their surviving family members, and to honor their memory.
Honor Flights - On August 7, the Lafayette, Indiana, chapter of the Gold Star Moms held a charity event to raise money for a chartered flight to Washington, D.C., for local World War II veterans. These trips, called Honor Flights, allow these ex-soldiers to visit the nation’s capital and view the recently erected WWII monument. A flight scheduled for September already has 84 veterans signed up, and an October flight is more than half full, according to The Journal & Courier.
Zumbathon - A recent tragedy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, left three children orphaned. To help raise money to support them, their grandmother held a charity event on August 4 during which more than 200 attendees worked out to the popular dance-based exercise, Zumba.
Robert’s Frozen Custard - Another trio of orphans from Germantown, Wisconsin, were the beneficiaries of a supportive community recently when local merchant Darren Stamm announced he would give 100 percent of the profits from his Robert’s Frozen Custard Shop on July 31 to the youngsters. Hundreds of people lined up for this event, according to local Fox affiliate WITI. It was the first of three planned for the kids. The second took place August 11 at Fat Charlie’s Restaurant in Richfield, Wisconsin.
The Fleisher Foundation - An organization dedicated to heart health recently completed its fundraising goal through Fundly.com. The Fleisher Foundation announced this week it has raised more than its $10,000 goal in a campaign to promote CPR training and combat sudden cardiac arrest. The money was raised as part of the foundation’s annual 10k Mud Run, during which participants take to the Marine obstacle course at Camp Pendleton.
Healing Hands - A fundraiser was held recently in Bristol, Virginia, to benefit the Healing Hands Health Clinic, which provides healthcare to low-income members of the community who can’t afford insurance. Donors shared their personal experiences with the organization during the Cirque de Soleil-themed party and helped raise $100,000 to support the healthcare provider, according to the Bristol Herald Courier.
Like many people across the world, at one time or another over the past two weeks my television has displayed visions of uneven bars, Speedos, and track shoes. From pride to disappointment to empathy, my emotions have soared and ached with those competing and the stories attached to each athlete. There are some great lessons to take away from those representing the nations of the world in the London 2012 Olympic Games:
1) Success doesn’t come overnight. The majority of athletes competing have been training since they were around ten years old and will spend a minimum of $50,000 to get to the Olympics. While many are born with natural talent, they still need to be honed, refined, and strengthened to reach the global arena.
Nonprofits may not necessarily be training to compete, but they still should not expect instant success in the fundraising world. Other than causes helping natural disasters, rarely does a charity have money to pour into the initial stages of planning. It takes time to find people with a similar passion and to build trust with donors willing to contribute.
2) Stories foster connections. The 2012 Summer Olympic Games seem to be chock full of touching stories of athletes overcoming stacked odds. From South African runner Oscar Pistorius and his triumph of qualifying to participate in the games as a double amputee, to Gabrielle Douglas becoming the first African-American to win an individual women’s gymnastics gold medal. This is truly a year that inspires everyone to overcome whatever hurdles they may come up against.
The use of athletes’ stories to entice viewers is an extremely valuable lesson for nonprofits: it’s the biographies and story lines that touch hearts. I’m not a big fan of track and field, but I was riveted to my screen to watch Pistorius compete and I cheered him on with the rest of the world. The stories that you tell about your organization are the best ways to recruit people to your cause and allow them to become an invested supporter in the long run.
3) We’re all on the same team. Before the games began, a majority of Olympians that marched across the field at the opening ceremonies had yet to become household names. However, it really didn’t matter. The audience inevitably becomes attached to athletes that relate to their interests, whether it be because of interest in a particular sport or an attachment of pride in fellow countrymen.
As a nonprofit looking to get more donors, how are you relating to your donors? Educational and environmental issues draw in parents because the future of children is at stake. Cancer foundations tend to touch millions because so many have seen loved ones fight this common enemy. What common thread can you find that ties in your cause to individuals?
4) Strike while the iron is hot. It has been said that, as the Olympian with the most medals in history, Michael Phelps has the potential to earn $100 million in endorsements. From Head & Shoulders shampoo to Subway sandwiches, we haven’t seen the last of this stellar swimmer.
While the Olympics lasts only two short weeks, Phelps knows that now is the time to rake in the cash before it all becomes a memory. Nonprofits should do the same. If there is a news story pertaining to your cause, emphasize why your services are needed. If you just had a successful banquet, keep the momentum going by thanking your guests and scheduling meetings with larger donors. Resting on past accomplishments will delay future ones.
5) It’s not always a 400 meter dash. Running an organization is often a marathon, not a race. Conserve your energy, get knowledgeable people to coach you, and refuel when needed. It’s like the old cliché says: play smarter, not harder. When you have the right skills and tools at your disposal, you can accomplish more in less time. For example, using social media networks to share your cause and fundraising efforts will help you reach out to thousands of potential donors unlike any other platform.
Gone are the days of soapbox politics, trucks equipped with megaphones, and cardboard signs littering every intersection. Now the best way for a candidate to get their name out and reach voters is through mobile technology. From assessing voter sentiment to online political fundraising, the internet continues to become a staple in the modern day electoral process.
On the cusp of social media trends is the ever-increasing presence of Twitter. With the introduction of Twitter’s Political Index, up to the minute sentiments and public opinions are only a mouse click away. “Twitter teamed with data analysis firm Topsy and polling companies The Mellman Group and North Star Opinion Research in order to evaluate and weigh the sentiment of each day’s tweets regarding Barack Obama or Mitt Romney as compared to the 400 million tweets sent on other topics,” explains PCMag.com writer Stephanie Mlot. “Twitter doesn’t intend for the Index to replace traditional polling, but instead reinforce it, providing a better-rounded picture of the general public’s feelings toward the election.”
Adam Sharp, Twitter’s head of government, news, and social innovation commented on Twitter’s blog, “Just as new technologies like radar and satellite joined the thermometer and barometer to give forecasters a more complete picture of the weather, so too can the Index join traditional methods like surveys and focus groups to tell a fuller story of political forecasts.”
But really, how reliable is the information that is being posted concerning voter opinions on this new electoral resource? The first concern that comes to mind is that users of social media are probably in a younger demographic therefore skewing an accurate slice of what the voter demographic looks like. However, pingdom.com reports that the largest age bracket of Twitter users fall into the 35-44 year old category making up 25% of their audience and 64% of Twitter users are over the age of 35. (Just in case you’re interested, 61% of Facebook users are 35 and older.) Another question regarding reliability concerns whether or not the opinions voiced provide an accurate view of a slice of public opinion. Techland.Time.com shares that “the average Twitter user is a female, age 18-24, with a split between people making less than $30,000 and people making $50,000 – $74,999 a year. Most have a college degree or higher and live in an urban setting. The survey asked a random sample of 2,257 adults. Hispanic (18 percent) and African Americans (13 percent) are twice as likely to use Twitter than Whites (5 percent).”
So how does this political index actually work? BuzzFeed staff reporter Matt Buchanan has a great summary: “Topsy pores through every single tweet in real time, determines which ones are about Obama or Romney, and then assigns a sentiment score to each tweet based on its content. That is, whether it’s positive or negative toward Obama or Romney, and just how positive or negative it is. Add all the data up together and you have something like a real-time approval score for Obama and Romney, determined by what tens of millions of people are saying, which Twitter is going to release daily at election.twitter.com.”
Can you truly put your finger on the pulse of the nation just by logging on to Twitter’s Political Index? Sharp replies that the social media view often mirrors worldwide feelings regarding a candidate and that the last two years’ Political Index scores for President Obama often parallel his Gallup approval ratings, sometimes even foreshadowing future polling numbers.
The advantages to this new resource can be integral for future elections. Damage control, online fundraising, voter communication, streamlining hot topics, and political strategizing can enter into a whole new level with such a vast audience with information accessible in real time. The potential for this frontier is incredible and I am excited to see what happens next!
Q: If an NPO is just starting & isn’t reputable yet, what are some fundraising tips or ways to gain trust over social media?
A: Share your story in a way that connects with people emotionally and allows the passion for the cause to shine. It’s the human touch and common ground that causes people to relate to an organization and come along side to partner with them. Parents are particularly drawn to causes concerning children because of the strong bond they have with their own. People with a shared passion for the outdoors have a sense of camaraderie about environmental issues. Who is your target audience? In answering this question, it is important to consider the best avenues through which to reach out to that audience.
Sharing your impact is also important if the organization has been able to show some positive results thus far. Take pictures of your events and gather quotes from the attendees to post on your website and social media profiles. Share the progress you’ve made over the past year concerning people that you’ve aided, acres of rainforest that you helped to protect, or show pictures of the progression of a building project. Donors want to be a part of something life changing and great, don’t be afraid to tell them how great you are!
Finally, social media is just that… social! Here are the best ways to earn a great reputation: follow through on promises and get the backing of someone reputable to endorse you. Share success stories and use social media to promote the impact of your organization. Next, rally supporters around your cause. It could be as big as finding a company or local personality to state their support, or as simple as encouraging your friends on Facebook to “Like” your page. The best way to gain someone’s trust is to find someone they trust to recommend your nonprofit. Your Fundly page provides an avenue for donors and supporters to share each time someone contributes to a cause, encouraging others to join them.
Q: We’re in our mid campaign slump. Best way to crawl out?
A: Are you sharing those important milestones with existing supporters and others using email, Twitter, and Facebook? With this momentum, now seems like a perfect time to contact blogs, websites, and local media – ask them to share! Milestones are a great way to rally supporters to help you reach your goal!
If the tide is low for your organization, why not create some waves for yourself? Organize a free meet and greet with donors, potential supporters, city officials, local business people, or fellow nonprofit leaders – remind them of how great your organization and its impact are! Arrange a special brainstorming session with your board or staff to generate new ways to encourage others to give or reach an untargeted group of supporters. In the meantime, this is also a great opportunity to “clean house”. Consider renovating your website, testing what times of day get the best responses for your Tweets, or taking polls on Facebook to see what interests your donors. Now is the perfect time to do the things that you’re too busy to do the rest of the year.
Fear not, you’re not alone! Summertime tends to be the slow season for many nonprofits as their donors are on vacation and when kids are not at school so more money is spent on entertaining them. Hang in there!
Do you have a question about online fundraising for one of our Fundly professionals? Follow #fundraisingtips on Twitter every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. Pacific time. We look forward to helping you create successful online fundraising campaigns to promote your cause. If you won’t be able to attend the Q&A, leave your question in the comment section below and look for it in the recap next week!
|Caption: Across the country, people have been collecting money for a variety of causes. Here’s a roundup of the week’s news.Alternate Text: Across the country, people have been collecting money for a variety of causes. Here’s a roundup of the week’s news.|
In the wake of a tragic shooting, survivors and supporters are banding together to raise money to help victims and their families. Meanwhile, individuals and organizations around the world have been kicking off campaigns to bring social justice, spirituality and strength to those in need. Here’s a roundup of the week’s fundraising news.
Fundraisers for Aurora
Aurora, Colorado – On July 20, a shooting took place in a crowded movie theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora, leaving 13 dead and dozens more injured. In response, the families of victims, along with members of the local community, have initiated several fundraising efforts to help cover the cost of treating those who were wounded. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has been working together with one charitable organization to organize a text message-driven fundraiser in support of the Aurora Victim Relief Fund. So far, they have raised more than $200,000, according to the organization.
… And justice for all
Make-A-Stand – After learning about child slavery on a trip to California with her family, 8-year-old Vivienne Harr decided to help put a stop to it. To achieve her goal, Vivienne has built a lemonade stand and intends to use it to raise $150,000. She has also started a Fundly.com fundraising page so anyone can support her campaign by buying a virtual cup of lemonade. The pre-adolescent abolitionist is also enlisting the support of her fellow kids in starting their own lemonade stands for charity.
Badass Brooklyn – Another dedicated group of individuals has started a Fundly.com campaign to liberate a group of oppressed prisoners – but these captives are of the canine variety. Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue finds dogs in high-kill animal shelters in the South, buys them, vaccinates, spays or neuters them, and finds them a home with a caring family in the New York borough of Brooklyn. Every “Badass Friday,” the group asks followers to donate $5 – roughly the cost of a beer or coffee.
A higher calling
Shoreline Church – On September 16, the Shoreline Church in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, will open its doors and give its first service. Until then, the church organizers are attempting to raise $30,000 during the month of August through Fundly.com. The “30.30″ campaign – $30,000 in 30 days – is raising money to help cover the cost of everything from a sound system to the toys in the children’s area.
Golf to Conquer Cancer – Across the border in Canada, thousands of golfers are gearing up for what is being billed as the “world’s largest golf fundraising event ever.” During the one-day, nationwide Canadian event, slated for next summer, golfers will band together in teams of four and swing their clubs for charity. Proceeds will go to a variety of cancer research centers in each province.
A World Without Cancer – Back home, socialites in California’s Silicon Valley will gather together at the Third Annual World Without Cancer gala on August 24. Hosted by the American Cancer Society, the black-and-white ball will feature silent auctions, live music and gourmet dining for $175 per ticket.
Old-school social fundraising
Henderson County Education Foundation – An old-school form of social fundraising is alive and well in Henderson County, North Carolina. The HCEF on August 5 hosted an ice cream social fundraiser and membership drive. Membership fees support the education foundation’s operation costs and help fund other events, including a Fall Golf Classic and a barbecue expo, according to The Times-News.
Is it just me, or does it feel like we’ve always been in this recession? I vaguely remember a time when the housing market was strong, the stock market was steady, and pennies weren’t so tightly pinched. There just may finally be light at the end of the tunnel! According to a new study from Idealist.org on MarketWatch.com, things are looking up for the nonprofit world.
Idealist.org surveyed 1,000 nonprofit organizations this summer and came up with some interesting findings:
I can’t help but speculate why more dollars are flowing through the nonprofit sector. Is it because people have more expendable income to give? Are people feeling greater emotional ties to increasing necessity? Or is it simply easier to give and connect with an organization than ever before? Most likely, it is a combination of all three.
Regardless of the reason, increases in funding and salaries have caused more organizations to be on the lookout for new hires. The survey found that 32% of job seekers are interested in fundraising, and 36% of organizations need fundraisers. So while approximately one third of organizations are posting to fill these positions, here are things to consider as an executive interviewing candidates or a job-seeker creating a resume:
1) What online fundraising experience does the candidate have? According to nptrends.com, online fundraising in the United States surpassed $22 billion which was an increase of over 34% from 2009. The Chronicle of Philanthropy states that the nonprofits that raise the most online come from the social service, international, and health sectors.
2) What social networking skills does the candidate possess? A large portion of public relations, advertising, and volunteer recruitment is done online. While these three categories may not traditionally come under the fundraising umbrella, it still greatly overlaps in development planning. As an applicant, be sure to list your experience with social media networks and keep any online profiles you maintain professional. Interviewers and companies are increasingly turning to social media to further their knowledge of applicants – that keg stand profile picture might not be as appealing as it once was. As a job seeker, what image are you putting out there? As an interviewer, what type of person are you looking for to join your team?
3) What ideas does the candidate have to merge offline and online giving? Rarely is fundraising restricted to one medium or another. Look for innovative ideas to balance the two methods and make fundraising available to donors regardless of what avenue they are using.
With funding and hiring levels increasing, it seems obvious that now is the time to brush up on those online fundraising skills. As more dollars enter the philanthropy pool, it’s time to polish your fundraising strategies to ensure that you get your portion and that you find the right fundraisers to partner alongside you.
The best part of science class has always been the hands-on activities and experimentation – learning how and why things explode or creating your very own volcano. What kid doesn’t like to explore and discover the world around them? Unfortunately, not every kid has the opportunity to experiment with hands-on science education.
Enter the BioBus! Based in New York City, this Cell Motion BioBus is a science lab on wheels that runs on vegetable oil, with several donated microscopes onboard can be powered entirely by solar and wind energy. Retrofitted with four solar panels, a wind turbine, and a green roof, the BioBus’ goal is to make science accessible to all. This mobile lab reaches over 10,000 students a year, traveling to public schools across New York City and the country.
Li Murphy is a summer intern for this incredible nonprofit mobile laboratory. With the summer coming to a close, Li’s passion for the BioBus, and how it’s driving science education to communities that lack hands-on resources, stimulated her interest in joining the Mobile Lab Coalition conference in Seattle, WA – the only meeting of this kind in the country. There was only one problem: money. “I needed to fund my own flight and seize an invitation to join in representing the BioBus at the Mobile Lab Coalition. Without Fundly, I wouldn’t have had the guts to ask for the money I needed.”
Li decided the best way to raise the funds to make her trip a reality would be creating an online fundraising page with Fundly. In just five days, Li was able to raise $1,005 ($5 over the goal) in gifts from friends, family, and others.
What tips would Li give to other Fundly users?
While Carly Rae Jepsen’s catchy pop song has given hope that “Call Me Maybe” is enough to jump-start any relationship, we all know that meaningful relationships require a bit more effort. The relationship between fundraiser and donor is no different.
We’ve all been there before: walking down the street or out of the grocery store, when we come across someone hovering with a clipboard or sitting at a card table. We lower our head for fear of making eye contact, fake checking our watch for the time, or busily grab our phone to seem distracted and uninterested. However, we can feel the eyes of the solicitor stalking us like a lion to a zebra on the Serengeti.
“Hey! Let’s save the whales today! Get over here and talk to me!” they call out. We know that they are addressing us, but we pretend to be bewildered and “assume” that they are talking to the non-existent person behind us.
“Oh, you’re too good to talk to me! Whatever man!!” they taunt using guilt, the oldest manipulative trick in the book. A battle wars in our psyche that makes us want to shout back: ”Seriously?!! That is how you reflect your organization? That’s not going to get me to open my wallet for you, Buster!”
Here’s the bottom line: this type of fundraising rarely works and is generally going to come off as more annoying than a sincere call to action. The 5 minutes of attempting to coerce shoppers into a relationship with your organization is hardly enough to give them information about your cause, let alone convince them to donate. Unless you’re standing by a red Salvation Army bucket ringing a bell during Christmas time, you’re not going to get more than a few dollars. The Salvation Army has established a long history and reputation in holiday giving, a random organization asking for donations the other 11 months out of the year in this manner will rarely be effective.
For less time, effort, rejection, and manpower, online fundraising can give you much better results. A busy storefront may have 50 passersby an hour, but the average Facebook account has 130 friends. Though not all Facebook users check their accounts daily, you still can reach 50 people with just a minute’s worth of time. Furthermore, you can add a link to your website, add a fundraising page, and have your donors share their donation with their social networks. It gives your organization credibility and makes the donor feel more secure about donating, while encouraging them to develop a continued and invested relationship with your cause.
Investing in and following up with donor relationships is extremely important. While you may get a dollar thrown your way through face-to-face solicitations, online fundraising allows you to retrieve information about your donor including their region and e-mail address, and encourages them to take part in promotion on social networking sites. This allows you to give a proper thank you, they can write their contribution off as a tax deductible donation, and you have the ability to send out future requests for upcoming campaigns. What started off as “donate, maybe” has the potential to become an ongoing relationship.
One argument for making an ask on the street is that people can actually meet members of your charity in person. However, how many people actually stop and talk to the people manning the clipboard? They are few and far between. A better way could be to post a video interview or tour on your website or fundraising page for potential supporters to take in the heart of your vision, while giving a face to your cause.
So the next time you exit the grocery store and someone tries to ask you for a dollar simply smile, compliment their efforts, and offer them a little insight into the world of online fundraising.
Q: What do you expect to see in crowdfunding trends? Will crowdfunding startups drop off due to saturation?
A: We’re just getting started! Saturation means high demand for the new model of raising funds for good.Saturation drives competition, resulting in companies striving to create a better, more efficient ,and easy to use product at a lower cost. Just as with any new idea or trend, many companies jump into the market and only the strong survive. Think back to the mid 1990’s and the emersion of Starbucks. What started out as a few shops in the northwest soon blossomed into an every corner affair throughout the world. Many other chains jumped onto the java train and created a saturated market. While hundreds of Starbucks franchises closed and only the premium competition survived the winnowing process, the caffeine addiction clearly staked its claim into the fabric of our culture. It may not be the frenzy it once was, but the taste for high quality coffee at the drive through has even made its way onto McDonald’s menus.
Just as Starbucks altered our view of the simple beverage, so crowdfunding has incorporated its way into the psyche of nonprofit fundraising. Obviously natural disasters are never good, but from the American Red Cross efforts surrounding Hurricane Katrina to the tsunami in Japan, crowdfunding has become the new norm of joining the masses together for social good. Fundly is proud to be one of the first companies to unite social media with social good, and our statistics show that this avenue of fundraising is only getting stronger as donors gain trust and experience with online resources. The access to the multitudes and the convenience of the internet are incomparable to traditional methods of reaching potential supporters.
Q: If the industry is over saturated, will we see new crowdfunding sites dropping off because of not gaining favorability?
A: It’s safe to say some will be successful and some won’t. The exciting part is competition drives donations and an ever-improving product. The crowdfunding sites that will continue to go strong and gain favorability are the ones that listen to their customers, evolve with the ever changing use of the internet, and provide ease of use to customers. Every online company seems to ebb and flow (even the giants such as Apple and Yahoo!), but innovation seems to be at the core of its stability and longevity. At Fundly we are continually testing our product, partnering with our clients to gauge their successes (check out our weekly Fundly Spotlight), and analyzing market and fundraising trends.
Q: I’ve just started researching using your site. Can I add donations made in our office manually to a campaign?
A: Yes! You can add offline donations to the total and allow donors to receive updates on the campaign. The purpose of a Fundly fundraising page is to show your progress, celebrate those who donated, and share your cause with potential supporters. The Fundly dashboard allows you to easily add offline donations: from the dashboard, select “Enter Offline Donations” in the left-hand colomn and input the donor’s name, email, and amount donated. These donations will be reflected on your fundraising total and thermometer and will also appear in the export of donor data.
Do you have a question about online fundraising for one of our Fundly professionals? Follow #fundraisingtips on Twitter every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. Pacific time. We look forward to helping you create successful online fundraising campaigns to promote your cause. If you won’t be able to attend the Q&A, leave your question in the comment section below and look for it in the recap next week!
This week, a social fundraising campaign that captured the attention of the world came to its conclusion, while other initiatives around the country have only just begun. New technological developments could fundamentally change the way people donate to charities and events, and one philanthropic billionaire used his social connections to bring unprecedented levels of charitable giving to global outreach organizations. Here’s a roundup of the week’s events:
Bus monitor campaign just the start
Karen Klein campaign closes – An online fundraising initiative to benefit bullied bus monitor Karen Kline came to a close this week, netting a grand total of $703,833. A video of Kline being taunted by some of the children she was hired to protect went viral, eliciting an outpouring of support from people in 84 countries and all 50 states, according to the Christian Science Monitor. The fundraiser’s organizers are planning to launch a new social fundraising project that aims to raise $7 million to support anti-bullying campaigns.
Fundraising not child’s play, but benefits sick kids
Jack’s FUNraising Page – A social fundraising campaign benefiting children with rare diseases is inching closer to its $20,000 goal. Nine-year-old Jack Pullman from Worcester, Massachusetts, who was diagnosed with a number of interstitial lung diseases, started a fundraiser on Fundly.com to raise money to buy video games, board games, and other toys for the kids at the UMass Pediatric Infusion Unit. With $16,623, he’s more than three-fourths of the way toward his goal.
SeriousFun Children’s Network – Halfway across the country in Michigan, the SeriousFun Children’s Network is also hard at work raising money to benefit sick youngsters. This week, the organization hosted its “Night of Serious Fun” fundraising event, with the proceeds going toward opening a new camp that will serve hundreds of sick children in the state. The site, North Star Reach, will be open year round and feature a state-of-the-art medical center, according to the Observer & Eccentric.
Food and funds
An Lac Mission – A group of Buddhist monks in Ventura, California, will be hosting a fundraising party featuring a wide variety of vegetarian Vietnamese and Sri Lankan food. The event is designed to raise money to repair and renovate the monks’ temple, according to the Ventura County Star.
Taste of Camarillo – The monks aren’t the only Southern California group using food to raise funds, according to the Star. The Meadowlark Service League on July 29 hosted its 25th annual Taste of Camarillo fundraiser to help raise $150,000 for local charities. The event featured food from local vendors in Camarillo, California, as well as music from local groups.
Fundraising to stem the tide
Hamburg, Iowa – Residents of the small farming community of Hamburg, Iowa, recently banded together in an online fundraising effort to bring in $5.6 million to fix the town’s levees in preparation for flood season. According to The Wall Street Journal, last year’s heavy snows led to record-breaking floods, which overran the town’s levees, causing serious damage to farms and businesses. Residents are reaching out to potential supporters through social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.
Raising money on the move
Twentyseven Global – Recently, mobile application development firm Twentyseven Global announced that it had created an app to help facilitate social fundraising efforts. As social fundraising gains popularity, non-profit groups may start utilizing mobile technology to help bring in funds. Fundly.com offers a Facebook-based app to help users recruit supporters, post messages and process contributions within Facebook.
Buffet’s buddies demonstrate power of social fundraising
The Giving Pledge – Billionaire philanthropist Warren Buffet has used his social connections to enlist the support of 81 of his billionaire friends to donate about half their wealth to charity, according to Forbes. The source pointed to statistics that show people are 200 times more likely to give to a cause if asked by a friend.
We’ve all been on camping trips or visited state parks where nature seems to call and we really don’t want to pick up the phone. Unfortunately, there is no voicemail for these situations so we muster up the courage to march up to a fly infested outhouse, take one last breath of fresh air, quickly take care of business, and bathe in Purell afterwards.
While this is an occasional inconvenience for most of us, it is a way of life for much of the world. Now imagine taking this necessary function and converting it into a sustainable way to create fertilizer to improve farming practices in countries that are impoverished. That’s exactly what Fundly customer Ecofinder Kenya is doing with the money they have raised through online fundraising.
Mike Skuja, founder of the Center for Rural Empowerment and the Environment (CREE), realized that by supplying families with an Eco-San toilet the long term benefits to the community can be monumental. At a cost of only $950, “these toilets provide an easy and low-maintenance way to convert human waste to fertilizer through a chemical process of mixing the waste with ash, which, after several months can be safely used on cropland” explains Skuja. “These toilets are more sanitary than the existing pit latrines since they prevent the waste from seeping into the ground and contaminating the water table. Additionally, when combined with environmental education, these toilets help prevent human-wildlife conflict since more productive lands reduce the need for farmers to encroach on fertile wetlands territory, home to hippos and rare birds.”
When Skuja decided to create a Fundly page his goal was to raise $950 for the Otieno family who live on the shores of Lake Victoriain Kenya. Currently he has raised $956 with the help of 20 supporters and 21 donors. Skuja comments, “We have now raised the full amount, and are in the process of transferring the funds to Kenya to get the construction started. We will keep our donors and supporters updated as the construction of the toilet continues.”
What tips would Skuja give to other Fundly users?
A big thank you to Mike and Ecofinder Kenya for sharing their tips!
While the definition of entrepreneur is “an enterprising individual who builds capital through risk and/or initiative,” I consider many nonprofit leaders to be a type of entrepreneur who sacrifices the known to reap a harvest of the betterment of humanity. Risk and initiative are certainly characteristics of every philanthropic leader that I know, and the investment that they commit to a cause surpasses any dollar amount a checkbook can hold. However, there are a few things that nonprofit leaders can learn from successful entrepreneurs; after all, business acumen is the crux upon which social good can be performed.
Is There a Market for Your Product?
While most nonprofits aren’t selling a product in the traditional sense, they are selling their ideals, their burden for a cause, and methods for solving a problem. First of all, does the community you are seeking to help in fact want your help? As a nonprofit, focus on who your clientele is and who is willing to support your vision both financially and with manpower. What demographic are you appealing to? Consider what methods you can pursue to get more donors on board. Check the water before you dive into new projects or change the direction of your course. If you’re passionate about keeping the ocean clean, Arkansas might not be the best place to locate your charity. If you want to keep the tradition of folk music alive, Brooklyn may not provide an audience for your concerts.
Don’t Be Too Specific
I have a friend who has tried for three years to start a business with a product in a saturated market, he can’t make it as cheaply as the competitors, he has no experience in that field, and it is so specific appeals to maybe 2% of the population. Look around you: how many other causes in a 100 mile radius are addressing the same issue you are? Do you have a pool of potential donors to financially support a new project? Review the resumes of your board. Do you have a variety of expertise and advisors to create a successful outcome? Do you have a broad and relatable cause that people will want to be a part of? You may want to save the endangered four-spotted gerbil found on the eastern border of the Sudan, but it may be hard to get the masses to rally around you. Instead consider promoting the preservation of endangered animals in the Sudan emphasizing the cause and effect of the loss of these animals. How will this devastation impact your donors directly?
On the flip side, are you standing out from the crowd with a specific enough goal? Of course we all want a great education for our kids, but consider addressing an issue that others aren’t such as providing updated computer labs for inner city youth or making sure every school in your district has an after school tutoring program. Specify a reason why your nonprofit is different from the others and how you are catering to a need that others aren’t.
Do Your Homework
Count the cost before you invest your time, money, heart, and future into your nonprofit or a future project that you want to pursue. Find a mentor or advisor that can critically look at what you are trying to achieve, someone who can give you the honest truth about whether it is attainable, how to survive long term, and what you need to have in place before you get going. The most important part: take their advice! Learn from their mistakes so you won’t have to make your own and study their successes to map out yours.
Part of doing your homework should also include getting your website and online fundraising site up and running smoothly. Before asking people for donations, ensure that information on your organization’s website and social media profiles is up to date. If they are inspired to give, you want to make it as easy as possible and strike while the iron is hot. Once the moment has passed, it may not come back! Use cold hard facts and numbers to explain the need, detail how you plan on chiseling the problem down, and share how supporters can partner with you. For larger supporters, create a packet including the previously mentioned information plus a budget, business plan, and your credentials. The foundation you build upon today will greatly impact the results you have for tomorrow.
|Fundraising campaigns engineered by kids and for kids hit the news this week, along with other individuals raising money through social fundraising.|
Non-profit organizations aren’t the only groups taking advantage of the benefits of social fundraising. Individuals and communities have been finding success with this kind of fundraising as well.
This week, news emerged about a campaign to benefit kids in New York, and campaigns undertaken by children in Massachusetts and Washington. Across the pond, a new study came out showing the powerful ripple effect of big-dollar donations. Here’s a roundup of the most recent events in fundraising.
Cyril van der Haegen – The friends and colleagues of Rhode Island-based illustrator and conceptual artist Cyril van der Haegen have launched a fundraising campaign on Fundly.com to raise money to pay for his cancer treatments. In addition to soliciting online donations from friends and family across a variety of social media outlets, Haegen’s many artist friends donated original works to an auction that was held at Comic Con in San Diego from July 11 to 15.
The Commune Cares – After his insurance company rejected payments for end-of-life treatments, the friends of Wash Pratt-King banded together to raise money to help him and his wife, Tashi, through their difficult time. At just 23 years old, Wash was diagnosed with a deadly brain tumor. Now 25, the money raised through his friends’ Fundly campaign is going to defray the cost of his medical bills and day-to-day living expenses. Friends were so successful in their efforts, they have doubled the goal from $10,000 to $20,000.
Stepping Stones Learning Center – This organization provides care and education for children both with and without special needs in Rochester, New York, and set an ambitious fundraising goal of $350,000 to purchase a new facility and expand its space. The group has so far raised $155,000, and Stepping Stone leaders are optimistic that a Monte Carlo night and an annual 5k run/1k walk in August will bring in even more money.
The Pathway Home – Another group with an ambitious goal is well on its way to reaching it. The Pathway Home has so far raised more than $256,000 of its $600,000 target on Fundly.com, and with a deadline of September 30, it appears well positioned to achieve its goal. The non-profit residential treatment group is dedicated to serving veterans who received traumatic injuries, including amputations, PTSD and brain injuries.
Driving Mrs. M – Amputations aren’t limited to veterans, however. Recently, a third-grade teacher in Massachusetts, Anne Mekalian, lost both arms and legs to a blood infection contracted while in the hospital. Her students, moved by the plight of their teacher, embarked on a crowdsourcing fundraising campaign to help with her treatment and recovery. In addition to the online campaign, students set up lemonade stands across the town to raise money.
Good Cheer Food Bank – A food bank on Whidbey Island in Washington is getting a boost from a young local, according to reports from the Whidbey Examiner. JaNoah Spratt, 12, has been collecting money for the Good Cheer Food Bank in the town of Langley since the age of 7, and has so far raised more than $20,000 by soliciting matching donations from local businesses, enlisting his friends to help raise money and, in his latest venture, writing a book about community involvement.
Peer Effect Research – A new study from researchers at the University of Bristol in England has illustrated the “peer effect” of social fundraising. The researchers found that large donations tend to increase the size of subsequent donations. In their example, researchers said that a single “donation of £100 typically shifts average donations from £20 to £30,” and the effect lasts for roughly 20 subsequent donations, according to phys.org.
In the United States, it can be easy to take our educational system for granted. While there may be varying levels of excellence offered, the opportunities that a majority of students possess in our country are staggering in comparison to much of the world. With this in mind, Tanzania 365 was started by Marisa Ranieri using a Fundly online fundraising page.
Marisa is currently a senior at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, majoring in International Affairs with a focus in Africa and Contemporary Cultures & Societies. With a passion for East Africa, she came across some startling statistics in her research. Though the nation of Tanzania has committed itself to improving the opportunities of its youth, the most recent estimate shows that the current education system is about 85,000 teachers short of being efficient. Not only is this shortage severe, but half of all students do not pass primary school (elementary and middle school) and only 10% graduate from secondary school with the majority of these students being male.
Marisa realized that she had to do something to help this major discrepancy. Her project, Tanzania 365, will be a one-year online documentary of living in Tanzania while she dedicates herself to public service as a teacher in a rural village. While partnering with WorldTeach, an established 501(c)3 organization, she will venture into a foreign classroom to make a difference in countless lives.
With 23 supporters and 22 donors, Marisa has exceeded her goal of $3,650 by raising $4,245! She started off with a great strategy: her game plan was to get 365 donors to contribute $10 each to her cause. On her fundraising page she clearly states that the funds will be used to pay for ensuring internet connectivity, having a pay-phone charged with shilingi so she could contact people in case of emergency, and the cost of providing school supplies for a classroom of 40 plus students. Needless to say, her idea worked!
What tips would Marisa give to other Fundly users?
Nonprofit leaders are either inspired human beings with a passion for change or just plain glutton for punishment. I can think of few other careers where people work so hard for so little and come away from the office with a smile on their faces. Amongst running a complex business, managing a variety of personalities, attending a spectrum of events, and always being on their best behavior in case they find themselves in contact with a potential donor, these captains of the philanthropic world also wear multiple hats: ambassador, accountant, counselor, marketing manager, and errand boy. Connecting with other people who are in a similar position isn’t just a helpful idea, it’s a necessity.
Other than finances, it seems like one major thing that those who run organizations always lack is time. Whether it is due to running from meeting to meeting or following up on a dozen urgent phone calls, there never seems to be enough hours in the day. Fortunately with social media, a lot of connections and inquiries can be addressed in one place. Want to know what other organizations in your area are doing? Friend them on Facebook. Looking for some new fundraising ideas? Search for #fundraisingtips. Want to plug in with other leaders in the corporate world? Create an account on LinkedIn. Knowing where to look is half the battle.
While social media fundraising is one of the newest ways to garner funds, it doesn’t have to be complicated. The good thing is that with every new development, there are some great resources to provide updates for the common user. Mashable.com is an amazing resource that always has the most current and usable information pertaining to online technology. HuffingtonPost.com is also another resource I rely on for up to the minute news and predicting the social tides. If you just want quick tutorials, YouTube has a ton of hands on videos to show how to navigate social networking sites. There are also some great blogs written to help master the use of the web. (Personally, I do my best to find practical ways to apply online resources into your fundraising strategies. I’ve worked in the nonprofit world for over 15 years and I write about things I’ve learned or that I think will help the charities that I’m currently working with.)
Other resources to consider are the great conferences that you can attend or view online. Most conferences either do live streaming of the presentations or video it to be viewed at a later date. With the rise of social media, you can also follow along with most tech conferences on Twitter by following the appropriate hashtag.
If you live in or near the Silicon Valley, Social Media for Nonprofits is bringing their informative conference to the area on July 26, featuring an all-star lineup sharing practical tips and tools for leveraging social media for fundraising, marketing and advocacy. Fundly CEO Dave Boyce will be participating along with keynote Beth Kanter, plus Libby Leffler of Facebook, Meg Garlinghouse of LinkedIn, Deborah Alvarez-Rodriguez, CEO of Goodwill, Sarah Dines of Change.org, Dawn Andreas of Eventbrite, Lee Fox of KooDooZ, and media consultant Amy Gahran.*
Online fundraising (or running a nonprofit for that matter) can be a lot easier when you partner with others in the field. Connecting with other leaders through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, conferences, and doing a little internet research can maximize the most of your precious time.
*Discounted tickets are available for small nonprofits at $95. For for-profit and larger nonprofits, use the discount code “Fundly” to save $20 off $125 and $175 tickets. Conference registration includes access to the full day conference, breakfast, and lunch. For more information or to sign up, visit Social Media For Nonprofits – Silicon Valley
Q: When you don’t have a huge following, what are 3 good tips to get people to pledge?
Tip 1: Reach out to your small following and ask them to share with their contacts on social networking sites. Facebook has over 350 million active users and the average user has about 130 friends. With these facts in mind, it’s obvious why social media fundraising should be a top priority in your fundraising strategy. Even if you only have a following of 20 people on Facebook, it means you have the potential to get your organization’s name out to 2,600 people if each supporter shares your post or link. If just ten percent of those people are inspired by your mission enough to share with their contacts, you could possibly reach another 33,800 potential donors. Realistically not every one of the 130 friends checks their messages daily and the average post lasts on a page about 20 minutes, but where else can you spend a few minutes and zero dollars to reach so many potential donors? This is why it is critical to create thoughtful posts on a regular basis with intriguing pictures to stand out from the crowd.
Tip 2: Create an engaging story that is easy for people with a shared interest to relate to and rally behind. While Facebook is an awesome hook, there needs to some great bait on the line for donors to bite. Your story needs to be relatable, cause an emotional reaction, and honest. It’s not the most eloquent or detailed story that gets the best response, but one that is inspirational and heartfelt.
For each story, it is also important to include a photo to increase the memorable factor for the reader. In a society that is as visually driven as ours, we connect more with a person or location when we know what it looks like.
Tip 3: Contact local news and related websites to ask for coverage of your fundraiser. Not only does this provide legitimacy for people who are unfamiliar with your cause, but it connects you with people who are like-minded. Facebook casts a broad net, but partnering with related websites narrows down the audience to those who care about a similar cause. Local media is also a great resource to rally your community around your online fundraising campaign.
* This question also received an answer from another Fundly Campaign, Bruce Funds. They suggested: “Humanize your cause. Put a face on your needs, if possible.”
Q: Can online fundraising be used in conjunction with “old-school” fundraising events?
A: Online fundraising is a great way to rally supporters before the event and allow donations for those unable to attend. It is great for advertising, taking RSVPs, asking for volunteers, requesting donations for an auction, and for posting pictures after the event and thanking those who participated. We did a series back in May pertaining to event fundraising that you may want to check out: Event Fundraising Using Social Media.
Q: Is it ok for a kid to run a campaign?
I also wrote an article on this topic that will give you helpful tips and ideas for getting the next generation involved in philanthropic work: Getting Kids Involved in Online Fundraising.
Do you have a question about online fundraising that you want to ask one of our Fundly professionals? Follow #fundraisingtips on Twitter every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. Pacific time. We look forward to helping you create successful online fundraising campaigns to promote your cause. If you won’t be able to attend the Q&A, leave your question in the comment section below and look for it in the recap next week!
There are many reasons why kids should be involved in online fundraising: 1) They probably know how to use the internet and social media better than most adults. 2) It develops compassion and social responsibility towards helping others. 3) It gives them pride and a feeling of achievement when they work towards a project and succeed. 4) It allows them to hone their skills and develop maturity and responsibility. 5) It is an investment of their time beyond video games, television viewing, or hours of texting. Here are some ways to get kids involved in helping a cause through online fundraising:
Choose the Right Cause
It’s so much easier to reach a goal when you are passionate about the cause. Look online for different organizations that address a spectrum of issues (charitynavigator.org is a good place to start), research websites of organizations that focus on their topic of interest, or schedule summer field trips to local ones that touch your child’s heart – such as feeding the homeless or visiting a recycling center. For long distance topics such as preserving the rainforest or providing fresh water to remote villages, have your child write a list or report to show why these causes are important. Not only will they learn more about the outside world, but it will help clear the cobwebs out of their brain during the long summer months.
Most local organizations are always open to having volunteers, even kids. Sorting library books, ushering at community concerts or theatrical presentations, or picking up litter at local parks are easy ways for kids and teenagers to make a difference in their community.
Creating an online fundraising page is another way to raise funds and awareness for their project and help reach their philanthropic goals. On Fundly we have created easy to set up fundraising pages for any cause to reach any financial goal. We have many campaigns spearheaded by kids (with the help and consent of their parents) to raise money for schools and animal shelters or to help other children who are battling illnesses.
Online fundraising also gives kids the opportunity to get friends and family involved in something they care about. They can tell others the location and time where they are selling lemonade or having a car wash to raise money for their project, ask for donations for a book drive, or even ask others to start their own fundraising pages to reach their friends. The possibilities are open for a child’s creativity.
The Finish Line
While fundraising can be fun and foster motivation, be sure to have a clear end in sight – either a deadline or a financial goal. If a fundraiser lasts too long, they could lose interest or it may turn them off of participating in future efforts.
A finish line also allows for a celebration when a goal is met. Just as school fundraisers have a prize catalog, it’s important for kids who are fundraising independently to have a celebratory act to acknowledge their efforts. Call ahead to your local charity to meet with one of the directors to have your child personally deliver the money. This will give him or her a sense of importance. Send an e-mail from your child to the participants thanking them for their support and donations along with a report of the total dollars earned to teach your child to appreciate the help given. Consider taking pictures of the volunteer day or your child counting the donations and posting it on your Facebook wall to show how proud you are. It’s important to end on a high note to encourage future giving.
Nonprofits know that the future of their organizations is based on relationships built today. For an organization to stay alive and continue meeting the needs of clientele, it is important to touch the next generation of givers. Teaching our children today will build a stronger tomorrow!
So far, 2012 has been a good year for fundraising at educational institutions around the country. Many have set new goals, while others have shattered records with the help of social networking. Whether it’s to support operations, aid students in obtaining school supplies and learning materials, or to help colleagues in need, schools and colleges have been raising money like never before. Here’s a roundup of some of the week’s developments:
Urban Montessori: Urban Montessori, the nation’s first public Montessori, Design Thinking and Arts Integration school, is looking for donations to help pay for materials not covered by state funds, and the school’s leaders have taken to Fundly.com to garner support. The school needs classroom furniture, library books and supplies for art, design and music projects. With a deadline of August 1, Urban Montessori is already more than halfway to its $50,000 goal.
University of Wisconsin: Biomedical engineering students with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Standing Paraplegic Operating Room Device Group have kicked off a Fundly campaign to raise money for a project they hope will have far-reaching benefits. In 2010, Dr. Garrett Cuppels, an orthopedic surgeon, suffered a spinal injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down. The Madison team is hoping to raise $10,000 to help fund a new device that will not only help Dr. Cuppels return to his work at the operating table, but will help paraplegics around the country to gain increased mobility.
University of Southern Mississippi: Fundraising records for all previous years were shattered recently when the University of Southern Mississippi announced that it had raised $20.3 million during the 2012 fiscal year, the Hattiesburg American reported. While alumni donations and gifts from foundations registered in the millions of dollars, USM’s Vice President for Advancement told the source that the real outstanding success of the fundraising campaign was the $435,000 raised through independent student and faculty efforts.
Jefferson School City Center: Located in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia, the Jefferson School City Center will be the new home of several different groups dedicated to health and education. One of those groups, Common Ground Healing Arts, hosted a unique fundraising event to raise money to complete its therapeutic health facility: a sit-a-thon. The non-profit’s organizers enlisted the help of friends and colleagues in their fundraising efforts, according to C-Ville, Charlottesville’s news and arts magazine.
Oakland Public School Board: Over in California, the Oakland Public School system is gearing up for election season, but not the one most people are thinking of. Four seats have opened up on the local school board, and Great Oakland Public Schools is looking for $10,000 to help fund the candidates it supports. The Fundly campaign has so far raised more than half its goal.
Fundraising for the Arts: Recently, Agnes Gund, president emeritus of the Manhattan Museum of Modern Art, challenged her peers in the arts community to improve their online and social fundraising initiatives to keep up with fundraising in other sectors, reported Nonproftit Quarterly. Speaking to attendees at the Crain’s Arts and Culture Breakfast, she said: “We are late adapters of social media, of the interactive ways of dealing that are now common among the young,” according to the source.
Summer is undoubtedly one of the slowest times of year for fundraising; between expensive vacations and the distractions of having the kids home from school, many organizations struggle to have the same fundraising success that they find throughout most of the year. Here are some ways to conquer those summertime blues using online fundraising.
DO keep your social media schedule
Just because your donors may be slowing down a bit in the heat of summer doesn’t mean that you should. Keep posting your blogs, writing on Facebook, and sending out Tweets. Many people are taking time off of work which means that they are spending more time on their computer reading e-mails and commenting back on social networking sites.
If you don’t have a schedule in place yet for your online activity, create one. At least once a week consider posting a story or update on Facebook and a few times a week create Tweets about an interesting statistic or news story pertaining to your cause. You may also want to send out an e-newsletter quarterly.
DON’T neglect your donor relationships
As I’ve said, many people take vacation days off during the summer months to spend with their kids. This is the perfect chance to nurture a partnership with your supporters or potential donors through creating family activities. Plan a picnic, volunteer day, concert in the park, art fair, or any other event that can include the whole family. Long-term donations are built on relationships and involving children is an investment in your organization’s future.
Many teenagers these days also have Facebook accounts and e-mails and would love to hear from you. When they volunteer or attend a fun event, they really feel like they are a part of your organization’s community.
One more idea on this point: kids are bored during summer and parents are looking for ways to get them out of the house. Maybe a day camp, art lessons, or painting your offices could bridge this gap. Kids love to feel important and involved in making a difference. They also love to brag about what they’ve done. Imagine the publicity online and through texting that one teenager could contribute (plus you’ll make a ton of donor parents happy and invested in your organization.)
DO plan for the future
Depending on your type of organization, work may be a little slow right now. If you are an after school program, you probably have the summer off. Homeless shelters also have less clientele in the warm weather. This is the opportune time to plan for those busy holiday months. Research what other organizations have done by using Google searches, posting questions on LinkedIn, or conducting an online poll using Facebook. How can you get the most bang for your buck with holiday fundraising? What marketing tools can you fabricate now so that you won’t be rushed during your busy season?
You may also want to compile data pertinent to your charity through conducting A/B testing. Basically, create two different campaigns with singular varying factors to determine which gets the better response. After this initial mailer or web traffic, you assess which got the better result and go that route for future campaigns.
These slower months are a great time to do the things you wish you could the rest of the year including analysis, brainstorming, and data collection.
DON’T stop learning about online fundraising
It seems like every day there is something new to be learned on the internet. Why not play around on your social networking sites or check out some tutorials on YouTube? Look up video seminars on fundraising that you may have missed or browse through popular fundraising websites such as mashable.com, thefundraisingauthority.com, and charitystar.org. Online fundraising seems to be an ever evolving platform and there are hundreds of new ideas out there to try. Every campaign is an experiment to see what works for your specific group of donors. Who couldn’t use new ideas?
When Fundly was created four years ago, it was with the idea that social media networking was on the verge of exploding and that a tool was needed to harness this potential to raise funding for social good. Now, with clients ranging from established nonprofits, to smaller accounts helping individuals fighting illnesses, to political candidates, Fundly has crossed the $250,000,000 mark and has aided more than 25,000 clients in creating online fundraising pages.
“Fundly’s mission is to help more people give more, and we are delighted with our success to-date in advancing that mission,” commented co-founder and CEO of Fundly, Dave Boyce. “We are amazed and inspired every day by the generosity and commitment of Fundly’s customers and those who support their campaigns in such heartfelt and innovative ways.”
As the world’s #1 crowdfunding for social good platform, we strive to consistently create a quality product that is simple to set up and is easy for donors to give regardless of the size of the organization or fundraiser. Habitat for Humanity has launched more than 650 fundraising campaigns on Fundly’s platform with thousands of volunteer fundraisers raising more than $1.5 million to-date for building Habitat houses on four continents. Teach for America has also successfully incorporated Fundly into their fundraising strategy in 20 regions nation-wide to raise more than $400,000 to-date with the goal of partnering with professionals to ensure that all kids have access to an excellent education.
Social media can be intimidating for many nonprofit leaders as a new platform for fundraising and a medium for donor communication. With a staff of exceptional businessmen, software technicians, and systems operators ranging in backgrounds from Oracle to Google, this team has thoughtfully designed a free platform for nonprofits, politicians, and individuals alike to access the unlimited number of donors that can be reached through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other social networking sites. Not only is a Fundly webpage easy to set-up, but biweekly blogs are posted to provide a plethora of fundraising tips and there is a weekly Tweet Up for individuals to ask questions directly to our panel of experts. Fundly strives to help organizations in every aspect of fundraising to obtain profitable results.
Tom Kramer, VP of Marketing, sums up Fundly’s success perfectly: “Fundly’s growth is a testament to our inspiring fundraisers and their generous donors. We provide the platform, but they provide the passion. They have big goals and we love helping them. Here’s to the next $250,000,000!!!”
While most 9-year-olds are enjoying their summer vacation by traveling with their families, running through sprinklers, and counting down the days until they have to return to school, young Jack Pullman is battling several rare interstitial lung diseases (chILD) and journeys to the UMass Pediatric Infusion Unit for treatments. On one of these many visits to the hospital, Jack realized that something had to be done to update the electronic games and movies there that were few and outdated for the patients to enjoy while they endured their long procedures. With determination and the help of social networking sites, Jack has created an online fundraising campaign using Fundly to garner funds for new PlayStation consoles, games, and movies and to travel to a conference in San Diego to meet other children who are in a similar battle with lung disease.
Jack’s mother Melissa thoughtfully created their page with the following in mind: “I included all about Jack and his condition. What he was trying to do and what our goals were. The most important part I thought were the pictures and how things are worded. You don’t want to say too much so that they won’t read it, but you want to include enough information to get them involved.”
They certainly were able to get people involved; so far Jack has increased his fundraising goal three times, from $5,000 to $10,000 to $15,000, and ultimately to $20,000. He has currently raised $16,623 of his $20,000 goal with 162 supporters following his progress and 168 donating to his cause. In May, he was at $7,757 with 69 supporters and 70 donors; what a difference two months has made!
What tips would Melissa give to other Fundly users?
What do online fundraising and online dating have in common? Each requires you to set up a profile to pique interest of someone on the other side of the computer screen. Both require continual maintenance and interaction to reach the desired result. And, ultimately, both seek to foster an ongoing relationship between two parties. You are, at the end of the day, courting donors for your cause. Okay, call me crazy, but here are some great tips to follow:
What is special, unique, distinctive, or impressive about your organization?
For every basic cause or need, there are dozens of charities to address it. It’s easy to find hundreds of homeless shelters, PTA groups, political candidates, and medical research foundations out there. What makes yours stand apart from the rest? You may want to share that you are the only shelter in your area that has housing for families to board together. Maybe you have a project that was highlighted on the local news for reducing youth crime rates in your city. You might even be the only foundation researching the cause and prevention of a certain pediatric disease. Think about what you do that no one else does.
Additionally, consider boasting about the longevity of your nonprofit, the vast number of people who have been helped, or an award or accolade that you have won. Ponder successes that have set you apart and prove that your organization is strong and necessary.
What is the single most compelling reason you can give a person to be interested in you?
In this fast paced world of information overload, you need to convey as much information as you can in a concise way. I’m sure you can write a page of reasons why people should donate to your charity, but create a hook that grabs your potential supporter to encourage them to keep on reading. Your reason should be urgent, attainable, and thought provoking and contain one or two sentences.
What would happen if your cause didn’t exist? Why should readers take an interest in your cause above others? On your website or donation site, I would write a sentence about the most compelling reason why people should give to your cause in bold letters at the top of the page followed by about 10 facts, figures, and statistics backing up why something has to be done to solve these critical problems. How will people be affected if the problem isn’t solved? How will the donor directly be affected if something isn’t done? The best reason to give is when the problem hits home.
Don’t forget to run spell-check.
If you have misspelled words in your profile, it tells the world that you just don’t care about what you’re doing. Have several people proof read your webpage, e-newsletters, or direct mail campaigns and be sure to double check your Facebook posts. A misspelled word portrays that you are sloppy or uneducated. Also, click on your links to ensure that your donors are going to the correct website.
Do respond to the e-mails that you get.
If you were walking down the street and someone said hello, you’d probably say hello back. It’s the same protocol online. One great thing about social media is that you can contact people through posts and messaging saving about half of the time it would take to speak with someone directly. On the down side, it means that you have more people contacting you so the time that you may be conserving is negated. However, if someone e-mails you, asks a question on your Facebook wall, or gives you a compliment on Twitter, you should try your hardest to acknowledge their comments in a timely manner. Just as social etiquette dictates that you call back someone or send a thank you note for a gift, so does social media etiquette suggest that interaction is not only polite, but creates a stronger bond to your donor. Of course you may have to delegate this task to someone else and pick and choose which things to respond to, but even a simple line of gratitude makes a big difference.
Who are you attracting?
What does your website say about you and what kind of donors are responding to it? If your suggested giving amounts are too high, you’re probably turning off lower end donors. If your pictures are only of a certain race, sex, or age, you’re potentially leaving out a large population of supporters.
What is the call to action that you are looking for? Certain times of year and different projects that come up have varied needs. If you are looking for volunteers, reflect that on your webpage. Are you collecting school supplies for underprivileged kids? Use this theme to design your newsletter. Are most of your donors older? Create a campaign that’s primary focus is to get supporters from the next generation. Mix it up so that you have a broad base of partners joined with you in reaching your goals.
For both online fundraising and online dating, the purpose basically boils down to creating the best advertisement you can when someone is seeing the product on a one dimensional page. You need to generate interest, stand apart, and show your best qualities for an outcome of commitment.
Following the Supreme Court’s landmark June 28 decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the political fundraising field has been awash with donations to figures on both sides of the aisle. But the political arena is not the only beneficiary of donors’ generosity: Fundly has succeeded in passing a major monetary milestone. Learn more about these developments and others in this week’s news roundup:
Fundly.com – Social fundraising giant Fundly.com recently announced more than $250 million has been raised for the many causes and events that use its online platform. Among the national and international organizations to use the fundraising site to good effect have been Habitat for Humanity, whose volunteers have created more than 650 Fundly campaigns, raising roughly $1.5 million, and Teach for America, which has raised more than $400,000 for projects in at least 20 regions across the country, reported the Paramus Post.
“Fundly’s mission is to help more people give more, and we are delighted with our success to-date in advancing that mission,” Fundly CEO Dave Boyce said at the Personal Democracy Forum thought leader conference early this month in New York City.
Restoring Love – With just three weeks to go until its “Restoring Love” event, Mercury One has nearly reached its social fundraising goal of $125,000 on Fundly.com. The rally, which will take place July 26-28 at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas will include a day of religious and charitable outreach to local neighborhoods and organizations, followed by a day-long celebration featuring guest speakers and musical acts.
StudentMentor.org – StudentMentor.org has set a goal of $25,000 in its 2012 Fundly campaign, and as the year passes the six-month mark, they appear to be halfway to completion. The group is dedicated to providing academic support to students at the college level, 51 percent of whom fail to graduate within six years, according to stats from the organization. The goal for the year is to provide 500 students with one-on-one support from a mentor to help them graduate on time.
The American Revolution – Independent documentary film “The American Revolution” chronicles Boston radio station WBCN, which had an underground progressive rock format from 1968 through 1974. The filmmakers are approaching the halfway point toward their $250,000 goal, which will be used for post-production editing and promotional outreach. Donors can receive a ticket to the December 3 donor celebration event.
Blackbaud Social Score – Fundraising analytics firm Blackbaud recently announced the release of its new Social Score software platform, which is designed to help non-profits evaluate the influence of their donors on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. According to the company, organizations can use the data to increase awareness among potential donors and potentially increase their donor rolls and event attendance.
Political campaigns – The Supreme Court decision regarding PPACA has led to a surge in donations to congressional campaigns, according to the Huffington Post. Democrats in particular have reaped the reward of the high court’s healthcare endorsement, with House democrats alone raising a combined $2.3 million since the announcement. Interestingly, the donations are being made largely to congressional campaigns, which are seeing grassroots support surge in the runup to the November election. Donations of roughly $35 appear to be the average, the Huffington Post reported.
According to a Washington Post analysis, donations to congressional and senate campaigns during the 2012 election cycle have soared over recent years, topping $884.6 million as of March 31. This is compared with $685 million raised during the same period four years ago
Facebook can be a lot like your elementary school game of dodge ball: you step into the game and all of a sudden you have a ton of things thrown at you. You run, you duck, you block, and you have no idea who hit you. Maybe you’ll focus in on a specific ball and catch it and throw out a ball or two of your own, but when you walk away everything just seems to be a blur. Okay, so maybe it’s not quite so dramatic (or maybe I had a troubled childhood), but it’s clear that it can be hard to stand out in a sea of posts on Facebook. Here are some ideas that may help you to catch your donors’ attention and better participate in the game.
Whether you are on Facebook for personal reasons or professional reasons, we are all looking to get something out of it. It’s called a “social networking” site for a reason – your donors follow you to get updates, affirmation, information, and feedback. Are you meeting your donors’ expectations with your posts? As any investor in a stock feels part ownership in the business, so do committed supporters feel invested in the organization they financially contribute to. Create posts that update on current projects, affirm that dollars are needed, give information to show that you are making a difference, and respond to comments and posts with feedback of your own. Though donations may be the ultimate goal, people want to feel included rather than like an atm. Invest in their lives and they will invest in yours.
Make It Personal
As I was perusing through my Facebook home page I was looking at the organizations I have supported long term and realized that most are related to a personal attachment. When a natural disaster happens or someone asks for a contribution at a storefront, I may throw a couple of bucks their way but it is never ongoing. When I am asked for a donation from one of the organizations I support, I inadvertently think of the person I know who works there, their passion and integrity, and I am thrilled to be a part of something so important.
It’s vital to have your personality come across in your posts to remind your Facebook friends that you are an accessible, relatable human being. Isn’t that what advertising is all about: the human touch? So many brands and companies use celebrity endorsements to reach out to the consumers. As a nonprofit leader, you are the bridge to your “product” which is buying into your vision.
Switch It Up
You may post once a day, twice a day or even a couple of times a week. However, sometimes when you feel pressure to write something, your mind may go blank. Mix things up with these reader engaging ideas:
Facebook is necessary for online fundraising and relating to our donors. Once you create a game plan and accumulate an arsenal of tools to use this platform, you may be surprised at the outcome.
Online fundraising efforts are usually focused on that little donation button that is highlighted on our website, but creating traffic to the site is just as important. If people don’t know you’re out there, or what your organization is about, there is little driving them to give. Sree Sreenivasan touches on this in Using Social Media to Bring Attention to Nonprofits, discussing the importance of having your donors promote your organization to their friends on various social networking platforms. Sreenivasan writes, “Sending money, of course, remains the single most important way to support nonprofits. But social-media users have learned that you can also have an impact by paying with something else. Attention — your own attention and your friends’ attention.” He goes on to add “hitting ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ or retweeting a post from a nonprofit can bring awareness to new circles of users — and potential supporters. And nonprofits big and small are finding ways to harness the energy of their fans to get more awareness to everything they do.”
Flipping through the channels, there seems to be trends emerging among many television news stations: at the end of every program they comment “Like us on Facebook.” They are asking their viewers to take action and join their brand page while also inadvertently advertising to their social network. Many supporters are focused on socializing on Facebook and probably haven’t considered “liking” your nonprofit or “sharing” your post with their friends. Bottom line: ask. Depending on your charity, marketing buzz words are a good place to start.
A few examples: Please like us on Facebook…
You can also encourage your donors on Twitter to retweet your comments, therefore introducing their followers to your organization.
Another way to empower donors to share your comments and posts with others is to produce engaging content. Utilize the incredible statistics about your cause and share them in new ways to inform your followers. Find a heartwarming story that will pull at supporters’ emotional side. Explain how a new law or candidate is going to impact your organization and encourage supporters to rally for your cause. Post any media coverage that highlights your organization. Reinvent content to keep it interesting, relevant, and causes a reaction to bring interaction.
There is one organization that I work with that had a great idea: they created a beautiful invitation for an upcoming event and posted it on Facebook. Several of my friends have “shared” it so it has popped up on my home page about four or five times with comments of support from the person who forwarded it. I get about ten pretty pictures with sappy sayings each day, why not use a great picture of your organization’s work with a call to action written below?
Finally, on your Fundly webpage your donors can make a financial contribution or just show their Facebook and Twitter friends that they support your cause. We make it simple so that even the most inexperienced computer user can spread the word on your behalf. Social media fundraising reaches its potential when it has a domino effect to touch countless possible supporters.
We are getting asked some great questions from nonprofit leaders pertaining to online fundraising during our weekly Tweet Ups. Here are the expanded answers that will hopefully help with your social media fundraising goals.
Q: When sharing my story with potential donors, which works better: videos or pictures?
A: Both are great tools. Video can often captivate donors with a greater connection through music, voices, images, and words. It can give more depth to a story, show your personality, and create a stronger emotional pull. While having a professionally made video is great, it is also costly and time consuming. Depending on your cause and the size of the organization, an amateur piece that is interesting and sincere can be just as effective. (Consider the immense number of videos on YouTube.) On Fundly we have a broad spectrum of videos that are uploaded to fundraising pages which range from kids raising money for their schools to large organizations raising tens of thousands of dollars for their cause. While not every visitor to the page clicks on the play button, I’ve never known of a promotional video that hinders donations.
With that said, pictures are also extremely important for that reason: not everyone has the time or interest to watch a promo video. I believe that having some images are a must to grab attention and create a stronger emotional tie. Fundraising is about creating relationships and knowing who you are giving to, both the organization and the patron of the charity, which allows the donor to form a touchstone of who they are helping. In this fast paced and visual society, you need to grab attention and get your point across the fastest way you can.
Q: What is the best avenue to get people involved with my cause? Social networks, email, or street teams?
A: Email is definitely one of the most effective ways to communicate with supporters and has the capacity for the most information. Think about how you compiled your e-mail list in the first place; it was probably through an interest that a person had in your cause and gave a donation, volunteered, or filled out an information card at an event. With e-mails, you are communicating with people who care about your mission which is half the battle!
Social networks are also valuable for getting people involved with your cause. It casts a broader net than e-mails alone. While e-mails are reaching specific people you know, networking sites can advertise your cause to friends of your supporters therefore attracting potential donors.
Q: I have recently decided to run for office, what is the best way to jump start my fundraising campaign?
A: Tell your story, why you’re running, reach out to everyone you know, and encourage them to create personal fundraising pages. The best way for a candidate to get support is word of mouth. Generate interest on social networking sites and have your voters “Like” you on Facebook or tweet about your campaign. Advertise events, where to get signage, or how to volunteer using Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail.
Q: What do you find more effective: suggested giving levels or open donation forms?
A: Utilize both! Suggested levels help donors determine need and make the process easier, open forms give more freedom. Generically speaking, I would take the average donation amount and start a giving level at 50% of that amount then work up accordingly. For example, if the average gift was $50 I would increment the giving levels at $25, $50, $100, $150, and $200. I would also certainly leave a space for whatever the person could give emphasizing that no gift is too small. I would also consider the project that the donations are being used for and the supporters which you are including in your campaign. If you are raising money for school supplies for 100 kids, you wouldn’t necessarily ask for $200. If you are sending letters to your top donors to sponsor a new wing to your building, $200 is a miniscule amount. You may also want to use the formula that if 10% of your donors give to your project, how much would that average out per person and work from there.
Q: We are throwing a school fundraiser, is there a way to get students involved?
A: Getting students involved is always a good idea. Encourage them to create personal fundraising pages and set goals! What grandparent could resist little Johnny in a video asking in a squeaky voice “Could you please donate to my school’s library so we can have some new books?” (Check out this post for a great example used on Fundly.) Also, what kid doesn’t love a little friendly competition? You could have a contest and give a prize to the kid with the best video. You could have each class create a webpage and post how much each has raised. You could send e-mails to the parents to get them on board. Take a ton of pictures and post them online to keep the momentum going and to have inspiration for next year’s fundraiser. The possibilities are endless!
Due to the Fourth of July we will not be having our Tweet up this week. However, if you have a question about online fundraising that you want to ask one of our Fundly professionals, we would love to hear from you for our next Tweet Up! Please leave a question in the comment section below or follow #fundraisingtips on Twitter every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. Pacific time.
It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes a community to run a nonprofit. While many for-profit companies focus mainly on marketing and perfecting a product, it often times feels as though nonprofits are running two “businesses”. One side of their organization includes the day-to-day business operations that all companies have to oversee to ensure smooth operation. On the other side, they have a second list of management duties pertaining to fundraising and addressing the purpose of their cause with its countless projects. Garnering volunteers through social media is one way non-profits can juggle these additional tasks, while having supporters invest in the future of their organization. Here are some ways to recruit individuals to donate their time and talents using online tools.
This may seem terribly obvious, but many people would be willing to help if they only knew what the need was. Create a wish list/job list of what you need done in your organization and post it on your website.
For example, if you have an event or big campaign coming up, analyze every essential aspect and list specific jobs that need to be completed, how long the tasks will take, and how many people will be required to get the work done. Once you post your plea for volunteers on your website, Facebook, and Twitter, provide the necessary steps to sign up online. Construct an easy-to-use form specifying day/time options and what task they would like to work on along with the basic contact information.
Sometimes just knowing where to look can make all the difference. There are several companies, students, and other organizations looking for volunteer opportunities. Many large businesses offer a day off for community work to provide team building skills. High school seniors have a required number of volunteer hours that they need to complete in order to graduate. Connect with a high school counselor or vice principal and ask if you can leave forms for students to contact you to complete their volunteer hours. Countless college students are looking for internships for job skills and experience to put on their resumes. Organizations like the Girl Scouts or church youth groups want to reach out and get participants more involved in their communities.
There are also increasing numbers of online resources available to find individuals or organizations around you that may want to partner with you on a project. Check out websites such as Idealist.org, Volunteermatch.org, Sparked.com and Mediacause.org to get matched up with volunteers on short-term projects or for long-term commitments. The possibilities are endless!
Organization is the key to any successful project. You want your volunteers to walk away with a better understanding of what your nonprofit is doing, how you are doing it, and that you are accomplishing your goals. This may be the first or only time that those who also give financial support step in to your building to see what goes on first hand, so it can have a huge impact on future support. Being organized by having all of the supplies ready, having a neat and clean work space, and carefully using your volunteers’ time by not having them wait around is fundamental to showing that you are professional and considerate.
Secondly, record your volunteers’ experiences through interviews and pictures to post in a follow up e-mail, blog, Facebook post, or next year’s volunteer recruiting push. It will bring back fond memories for those who were involved, while also encouraging others to participate in the future.
The best way to ensure that your volunteers will come back is to show your gratitude. Provide refreshments, have a director greet and thank your guests, give a tour of your facility, and send an old fashioned, hand written thank you note. Of course the depth of your appreciation correlates with the amount of work done, the time dedicated to the task, and the skill level required, but every job deserves a thank you. Your supporter should walk away feeling needed and that their time was well-spent making a difference.
Online fundraising can have many difference faces and finding volunteers is just one aspect. Volunteers can save you money, be encouraged to financially donate, and can be ambassadors for your nonprofit to their friends. What is free has the potential to be priceless!
Fundly is excited to continue our weekly live Q&A on Twitter every Wednesday! We are getting some great questions and would like to expand on some of our answers. After all, there is only so much information you can give in 140 characters.
Q: How do I use social media to promote our fundraising efforts?
A: There are a ton of ways to use social media in your fundraising strategies. Consider sharing upcoming events on Facebook and adding little teasers about where it will be held, who your guest speaker will be, what project it will be benefitting, and pictures of last year’s event. You can also update the progress on a goal that you were fundraising for and display before and after pictures. Consider sharing a story about how your organization made an impact on one of your client’s lives.
Social media is also the perfect avenue for showing your appreciation to donors who contributed to your cause; it’s a fun way to highlight a people that have volunteered with your organization, advertise to others using social networking, or reach out to some of the respected people who support your cause. Finally, online resources can cast a huge net to acquire volunteers that can donate time and skills. Specify what you need and you’ll be amazed at the responses.
Q: Does online fundraising replace offline?
A: Not necessarily. Online fundraising can be effective in reaching out to existing donors with easy ways to give, while cultivating new ones. The variety of donors that you have probably varies by age, education, income, and involvement. Older donors may prefer receiving a letter in the mail, other donors may like to get a monthly e-mail, and still others just want to give a yearly gift or leave a bequest. Simply put, you need to meet your donors where they’re at. Just as one type of bait doesn’t appeal to all species of fish, the same applies to motivating your donors to give. To maintain relevance and to reach more donors, online fundraising and utilizing social networks are musts. You’ll stay connected to more donors and find potential ones in more effective and cost efficient ways than if you limited yourself to one avenue of fundraising. There is still much weight to be attributed to the personal touch of handwritten thank you notes, phone calls, and event fundraising.
Q: Should my organization’s social networks be focused on fundraising efforts?
A: Utilize social media tools to share stories and the impact of your organization is having on others, celebrate milestones, and to foster community. Let’s face it: no one wants to be constantly asked for money. Every Facebook post and Tweet doesn’t have to be an appeal, but it is a great way to stay in the forefront of your donors’ minds. Fundraising is a process which includes proving that there is a need, earning a person’s trust, and then showing appreciation. Online resources can successfully meet each of these steps. You may not be actually “fundraising” by asking for donations with every post, but you will be sowing seeds for a future harvest. Building a community online will integrate fundraising into an overall strategy of rallying supporters around your cause.
Do you have a question about online fundraising that you want to ask one of our Fundly professionals? Follow #fundraisingtips on Twitter every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. Pacific time. We look forward to helping you create successful online fundraising campaigns to promote your cause. If you won’t be able to attend the Q&A, leave your question in the comment section below and look for it in the recap next week!
As summer heats up, so too are fundraising efforts across the country. From viral videos to national campaigns, here’s the latest on the individuals, groups and organizations that are using social fundraising to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.
Outpouring of support for viral video victim
One particularly moving tribute to a woman in New York has gone viral through the power of social media and social fundraising.
A 10-minute video of an elderly bus monitor being viciously berated by the children she was meant to protect made its way onto the internet this week, sparking outrage and sympathy across the nation. A complete stranger, however, decided to make a difference by setting up a social fundraising effort to raise $5,000 and give the monitor a vacation.
As of June 22, with 29 days still to go, the campaign had vastly exceeded its goal, raising more than $517,000 from nearly 25,000 donors. A second social fundraising effort was started to reward the man who set up the original campaign. It, too, has already exceeded its goal.
Fundly campaigns to benefit America’s youth
Teach for America - Teach for America is putting a team together to compete in the Chicago Marathon. Each runner has an individual fundraising goal of between $750 and $1,250, depending on when they registered, and the organization as a whole is attempting to raise $125,000 through social fundraising on Fundly.com. Timeframe: ongoing until the race in October.
Youth Speaks - Young adult education and empowerment group Youth Speaks recently received a challenge gift of $150,000 toward its Future Legacy Campaign, which will fund 15 years of operations. To receive the matching funds, the organization turned to social fundraising through Fundly. Timeframe: If it can raise the funds by July 31, the group will be 75 percent of the way toward its overall goal of $1 million.
Teen pop sensation uses social fundraising to ‘make it better’
Music Makes it Better - Justin Bieber recently lent his star power to a new social fundraising campaign to benefit the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The hospital hopes to raise $25,000 to fund art and music therapy services for children.
Hope to Haiti 2012 - Charity organizations are still raising funds to help the survivors of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Hope to Haiti 2012 this week completed its goal of raising $200,000 to help rebuild homes, communities and lives by using crowdsourcing to reach donors.
FEC allows text donations to presidential campaigns
Presidential campaigns - Both candidates are using social media and other next-gen channels to bring in vast amounts of cash. President Barack Obama and GOP contender Mitt Romney are appealing to donors through text message. Donors to organizations like the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity have long been able to send money via text message, but the Federal Election Commission decided last week to allow campaign donations of up to $50 through text.
Youth making a difference through charitable donation
The Millennial Impact Report - A new report from young adult group The Millennial Impact found that 75 percent of people aged 20 to 35 gave to charity last year, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Not only that, members of this group were more likely to reach out to friends and family members to help raise money through social fundraising efforts. Roughly 70 percent of respondents to the survey indicated they were more than willing to solicit donations from loved ones.
With the Fourth of July quickly approaching, we would be remiss not to reflect on the incredible history that our nation was founded upon and the courageous men and women who sacrificed to preserve the freedom which we cherish. At Fundly we have hundreds of charities that we are honored to partner with through online fundraising, we think it’s only fitting to highlight Deshalamar Community Development Corp and their purpose to aid homeless military veterans.
Deshalamar is currently promoting their campaign using a Fundly site with the hope of raising $10,000 for their goal to open The House of Change Veterans Residence located in Amityville, New York. Clarice Miller, Executive Vice President, CEO, and Co-Founder of Deshalamar explains that, “post-traumatic stress disorder, when left untreated, causes many of our Vets to be homeless, while many turn to substance abuse. One in four of the homeless population is an American Veteran. Until we reach a day when not a single veteran sleeps on our nation’s streets, our work remains unfinished. Deshalamar Community Development Corp. is dedicated to doing our part to reach that day.”
When creating their online donation website (http://fundly.com/deshalamarcdc501c3), Miller was sure to include a brief summary about the struggles that veterans are faced with when they return home and a video detailing information about the organization itself and what they are striving to accomplish. Miller advises that “the most important things to include when fundraising online is information on the need and what we can do to address the need”.
Thus far, Deshalamar has raised $1,050 towards its goal and has 31 supporters and 35 donors. Miller credits their early success to adding a donation widget to their websites so that people who are not so computer savvy can easily give. They also utilize their Facebook fan page as well as team members’ personal Facebook pages by posting frequently, as much as twice a day. Finally, when posting the campaign they keep their supporters updated on their progress towards their fundraising goal. Miller advises that “People like to see that others are contributing to a cause and this helped as people made their decision to donate.”
So what tips would Miller give to other Fundly users?
At Fundly, we would like to express our gratitude for the many men and women who have served our nation in the military. We are excited to see Deshalamar raise money online for their amazing cause and it’s an honor for us to serve those who served.
Fundly held its first Twitter Q&A this past Wednesday and we were excited to hear from some of our clients as well as other nonprofit leaders. While you are striving to make the world a better place, our goal is to make online fundraising as simple and successful as possible for you. Here were some question highlights and expanded answers from our session for those of you who may have missed it.
A: First of all, start by tallying the number of current supporters on email and social media, then average response rate and donation size. For an example, a 2% email response rate would be great, while social media is usually less. The average donation on Fundly is $94.
Using these numbers, if you have 10,000 supporter emails and have been in regular contact with this group, applying the 2% conversion rate will give you 200 donors at an average donation size of $94 equalling $18,800. With this basic formula you can set an achieveable goal that won’t turn off your donors and will provide you with a reasonable number for cost projections.
A: Utilize network(s) where your followers are active and engaged. Don’t forget that email is one of the most effective ways to reach supporters and be sure to include that in your fundraising strategy along with social media promotion.
Generally speaking, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn are the most popular social media sites. Facebook has over 800 million users and half of them log on daily. Twitter has more than 140 million users and generates over 340 million Tweets daily. Google+ is gaining momentum and claims that 170 million people have upgraded to their social media tool. LinkedIn has more than 131 million members which is up 63% from 2010.These are the four biggest social media networks, however it is important to know where your supporters tend to be the most active and engaged. A small amount of research could save time and energy and maximize your campaign’s potential to reach the most donors.
A: Fundraisers are usually more successful when you have a defined timeline. There is no “magic” number, but several weeks give people a sense of urgency to give.
I would also take into account donation button placement – is it easy to find? Be sure to highlight the button and ensure that your donation process is easy to use. If it takes too much time to figure out or upload, you’re going to lose donors.
Finally, what else do you have on your webpage? Be sure to include success stories, inspiring pictures, and examples of where your donors’ dollars are going to. Advertise current projects that you are working on that will explain to donors how their contribution will make a difference.
Do you have a question about online fundraising that you want to ask one of our Fundly professionals? Follow #fundraisingtips on Twitter every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. Pacific time. We look forward to helping you create successful online fundraising campaigns to promote your cause. If you won’t be able to attend the Q&A, leave your question in the comment section below and look for it in the recap next week!
Education is the basis for a successful and prosperous future. However, with ever increasing tuition hikes and the challenge that many students face of balancing school and work, a college degree can seem like a far off dream. Astonishingly, 51% of all US students who enroll in college fail to graduate within 6 years. The good news is that there are people working hard to provide solutions to this problem.
StudentMentor.org is an incredible organization that was created to help low-income students earn their college degrees with the help of mentors in the industries in which they wish to join. Four out of five low-income college students fail to attain a bachelor’s degree by their mid-20s. With mentors who can encourage and give insight to these students, these statistics can be a thing of the past. StudentMentor.org has made a great impact in hundreds of young lives; 93% of students say their mentorship has made them more positive about their future and 85% say their mentor has helped them towards achieving their academic goals.
The next goal for StudentMentor.org is to raise their goal of $25,000 for the 2012 school year, which will provide 500 students with mentors. This organization turned to Fundly as a partner in achieving their fundraising goals and so far, they are halfway there. (Please visit their campaign page at http://fundly.com/studentmentor.)
Ash Jafari, founder and CEO of StudentMentor.org, has some valuable advice about creating your Fundly page and getting the word out. “We included a background about our organization, a video, our fundraising goal, relevant statistics about our outcomes, and the Fundly donation widget on our website. It’s important to keep your message relatively brief and concise since people will only take a quick glance at the page. Also, having media or visuals will help bring your words to life.”
With 31 supporters, 52 donors, and $11,420 raised, it’s clear that Jafari and his team are off to a great start with this campaign. “We are using Google Grants to target those people who are already interested in our cause and introduce them to our Fundly donation page. In addition, we modified our homepage so that the ‘Donate’ section appears in the top navigation bar,” explains Jafari regarding the tools they’ve used to reach new donors. “If it’s not working at first, change things up and keep iterating.”
Google Grants provides select 501(c)3 nonprofits with $10,000 a month in free advertising on Google.com. If you’re not taking advantage of this program, we highly encourage you to apply here. If your organization already has a Google Grant, don’t forget to create a campaign specifically designed to drive traffic to a donation page on your website.
We would love to hear what advice you have in creating a successful Fundly fundraising page! Please use the comment section below.
Whether your nonprofit has been around for decades or if you are just starting out, everyone could use a little advice when it comes to online fundraising. While I can’t give you a magic formula or sure-fire method to have your bank account explode, I CAN give you some helpful ways to maximize your online giving potential.
What’s the point of creating an amazing online campaign if your organization’s social network is minimal? The majority of non-profits have a Facebook or Twitter account, but if you are recently established, it may take a little time and effort to build up a list that will make your social media fundraising worthwhile.
One way to attract people to your page is to find a common ground. You obviously don’t want to steal other organization’s donors, but if there is an event or news story that you come across online related to your cause, comment on it and get your organization’s name thrown into the mix. Commenting on posts allows your Facebook profile to be seen by others interested in the topic. Find sites where people have a common passion for your philanthropic goals and let them know where to find you.
Another way to gain attention is to create thoughtful content with intriguing hooks so that current followers are compelled to first read it (which is always the first hurdle) and then share it with their personal networks. An extraordinary story, a captivating picture, or a thought-provoking quote can trigger others to repost your message.
It is also important to keep your supporters engaged so that they continue to read your posts and become a part of your campaigns. Consider creating online polls, asking simple questions, or generating stories that encourage comments. To acquire dedicated supporters, they first need to invest their time and heart before they are willing to donate their dollars.
I think one of the fundamental ways that many organizations fail in the fundraising department is their lack of focus. Donors want to know who they are giving to, that their contribution is making a difference, and that the goal has been reached. Without a tangible focal point, there is no way to feasibly share a success story to show your supporters that you are making great progress for your cause. While your umbrella mission statement may be to save the world, create bite-sized projects with measurable outcomes.
There are hundreds of amazing nonprofits using Fundly, and many successful ones have mastered this point. One example is the SF Goodwill Fund (check out their site: http://fundly.com/sfgoodwill). Their purpose is clearly defined: to help those in need and they are making a difference through their job skills program. Furthermore, they clearly explain the cost of the program and the goals they want to achieve. They have a clear, focused, accessible strategy with step-by-step descriptions of how they are planning on fulfilling their mission.
There are several things to take into account on your website for users to have a positive experience: first of all, what is the basic purpose of your nonprofit? This can be explained in two to three sentences as an overview. Secondly, what are the practical steps that you are doing to have your work come to fruition? Describe the project(s) that you are working on now and how this is helping you to further your cause. Thirdly, what credentials do you have that bring credibility and accountability to your charity? Explain your past experiences, training, and evidence to prove that the donations you receive are an investment that will produce a high return. Next, use success stories and pictures to to share results of your work. Finally, make donating fast and easy such as creating a Fundly donation page. If donors have to search a site for information or if it takes a while to make a contribution, they’ll probably move on.
These may seem like basic ideas, but when the foundation is strong you will have a stable platform for future growth. Spending your time wisely is something every charity needs to master, and online fundraising can produce incredible results. When you build a strong audience and appeal to potential supporters using social media tools, your potential for growth can be monumental.
Blogs can be great for finding tips and ideas to advance how you incorporate social media into your online fundraising strategies, but sometimes you just need someone to answer your questions. While consultants can be expensive and participating in forums can be confusing, finding an expert who will guide you in the internet maze to connect with donors is priceless. With this in mind, Fundly is excited to present their weekly Tweet Ups to help those who want the aid of our social media fundraising specialists.
You might be wondering, what is a Tweet Up? It’s basically a conversation that takes place when a bunch of Twitter users log on at a scheduled time and discuss a specific topic using the same #hashtag. The great thing about this resource is that it is an open online meeting where you can brainstorm, garner advice, and network with others in your field. (To learn more about Twitter chats, you may want to visit Quick Guide to Twitter Chats.)
As the largest online fundraising platform in the world, Fundly is eager to hear what questions you may have. Do you want to know how to utilize your social networks to promote your cause? Is your donation site stagnating and you need to find a way to inject new life into your campaign? Are you unsure of how to create a personal fundraising page? We would love to answer these and whatever questions you may have at our Tweet Ups!
How can you participate? Follow the #fundraisingtips hashtag on Twitter every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. PST. We look forward to helping you create successful online fundraising campaigns to promote your cause.
If you are unable to attend this week’s Tweet Up, feel free to leave your questions in the comment section below!
For anyone who has been in the nonprofit world for any length of time, you probably are familiar with the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the vision, connections, and education they bring to the philanthropic world. With over 50 years of experience working in the charitable fundraising realm, they have stayed abreast of the difference strategies and technological advancements that have changed the landscape of how we garner dollars to promote a cause. At the beginning of this week, the AFP put on its first annual AFP TechKnow Conference in Orlando, FL and has proven to be a forerunner in strategic planning combined with social networking.
At the core of the TechKnow conference is the idea that fundraisers should know what tech tools are available to them without using complex jargon. In this world of instant messaging, a tangled web of social network contacts, and a new language of communication comprised of 140 characters or less, fundraising has more opportunities than ever before. Without the basic knowledge of current media forums, these opportunities can be major obstacles in reaching donors and supporters. At the TechKnow conference, these barriers were torn down with informative presentations, interactive workshops, and in-the-know exhibitors.
With social media being at the hub of the varying topics presented at the conference, the many speakers brought valuable insights to the sessions such as Laura Howe, Vice President, Public Relations for the American Red Cross and her discussion on case studies using social media success in fundraising and reputation management. International fundraising consultant Adrian Sargeant, Ph.D. focused on donor retention using technological strategies. Other topics included donor engagement, collaboration, and taking your social media strategies to the next level. The event closed with Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak, his “vision for tomorrow”, and his challenge to nonprofit leaders: “Once you know something is possible, you can do it!”
Were you not able to get away to attend this extraordinary event? Obviously technology can come to your aid. Check out their website, http://www.afptechknow.org, for links to their Facebook page, to read up on Tweets posted from the conference, and to download valuable handouts that were distributed at select presentations. Online fundraising is a huge asset to any nonprofit organization. While this new cyber world can be intimidating and complex, there are great resources out there to help you tackle this medium to reach your fundraising goals.
Philanthropy and charities have been around for thousands of years. It seems to be an innate characteristic for humans to want to reach out to their fellow-man and lend a hand. While the methods of helping those in need and fundraising have changed, the basic motivation has remained the same. However, with the advancement of technology, the parameters of law, and the many ups and downs of the economy, fundraising in modern times are quite a bit more complicated that just feeding the hungry or aiding the sick. Here are some more lessons that smaller or more recently established nonprofits can learned from those who are seasoned in the field.
I’ve worked with many charities and have given to many charities. What keeps me faithfully giving to one and not another? It’s all about how I am treated. Yes, there are some causes that pull my heart-strings a little more than others, but as a donor I want to be acknowledged for the sacrifice I am making to donate to a charity and treated equally with those who can afford to give more.
Getting and maintaining supporters is all about building relationships. There are hundreds of mailers, e-mails, phone calls, and television commercials vying for attention and dollars. Getting someone to donate in the first place is half of the challenge; keeping them is the other half. Are you truly showing your appreciation? Are you sharing how their donation made a difference and furthered your mission? Do your donors feel important and needed? If you miss any one of these points, you just might risk losing your supporters.
Here are some great ways to show your appreciation: it may seem old-fashioned, but a hand written letter shows that you are taking the time to acknowledge the gift and giver. It adds that personal touch that an e-mail or post lacks. Second, posting thank you’s with donors tagged on Twitter and Facebook also shares who your donors are and can inspire others to give. It also gives credibility to your organization that you are trusted by respected individuals. Third, an event honoring your donors and thanking them for their support is a great way to strengthen their loyalty to your charity. Don’t make an ask or present a new project, just show how their funds have made a difference thus far. Consider it an investment towards future giving.
To piggyback on the last statement, donors want to see results. We’re all tightening our purse strings so the donations that we do give need to have some tangible results to make us feel good about our gifts. If one charity isn’t showing progress, there are ten more in line with their hands out ready to go to work. How are you showing your donors that their money is being put to good use? With charts, personal success stories, and vivid images, these tools bring the purpose of a nonprofit to life and touch the heart of the donor. Were you raising money for a building project? Show the progress of how the structure is being completed. Are you an after school program? Compare year-to-year stats on how many students you helped, how their grades have improved, and gather quotes from parents and teachers praising your program. Did you help a community rebuild after a natural disaster? Before and after pictures of the impact you have made speaks volumes. Giving is both extrinsic and intrinsic; donors want to help others while gaining a feeling of pride at doing good.
Online fundraising is a perfect way to show results. Donors can visit your site regularly to see how your goal is progressing, they can share your cause and web address with friends and associates, and online giving is the simplest way to contribute to a cause.
Online fundraising has been around for several years now and the time and analysis that has gone into experimenting with the best practices is monumental. In this billion dollar nonprofit industry, thousands of charities delve into the internet pool to connect with potential donors and supporters. Some have had good results, others have stagnated, while a rare few have soared to superstardom by raising millions of dollars. What discrepancies are found between these groups and what can you do to be on the higher end of the fundraising list?
Many organizations start off a project or campaign with a bang and then within a few months the dedication and persistency seem to fizzle out. What started out as weekly e-mails, monthly mailers, and intriguing hooks on Twitter slowly start to decrease into nonexistence. One major cause of this decline is not from lack of desire or commitment, but from being overwhelmed with multiple projects; most staff members are overextended and can’t address every issue that is placed in their in box.
Just as there is a food pyramid dictating your intake of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and carbohydrates, so should nonprofits create a time pyramid balancing input verse output. While all of your tasks feel important, how many are truly necessary? When you’re doing too many projects, very rarely can you do any of them well. When you’re creating your development and marketing time pyramids, consider how much time you should spend on donor events, online fundraising, donor appreciation, and supporter recruitment. What is the cost of your time, energy, and financial investment in relation to your return? All of these areas are important to regulate, but all of the projects that are created to nurture these areas are not all equal.
Your donors obviously care about your mission or they wouldn’t donate to your cause. However, every nonprofit has sub-sets of issues within your cause that appeal to different donors. Test which projects and areas appeal most to your donors. Are you a symphony? Maybe your donors are more interested in contributing to young musicians getting their start or they may be fond of supporting musicians putting on school assemblies for children. Are you a pet shelter? See if your supporters donate more to causes pertaining to animal rescues as compared to community adoption days. Experiment to see what hot topics your donors are most tuned in to.
Highlighting key issues that are in the forefront of the media is also a great way to tap into new donors and hang on to current supporters. The greater variety of topics you touch upon, the more likely you are to hit on an issue that touches more donors. Upload great pictures and a heartwarming story next to your donate button on your webpage and you’ve got an excellent foundation for increased funding.
Just as each donor is unique, so is their preferred method of giving and how they communicate with your organization. The older generation tends to respond to the traditional methods of direct mail campaigns and volunteer call lists. The younger generation is glued to Social Media and their cell phone. Some like to read e-newsletters once a week. Others like updates once a month or once a quarter. Too many letters or Tweets can be a turn-off to some donors who may feel overwhelmed. Too little communication and you’re out of sight, out of mind.
Bottom line: determine who your donors are and ask how they would like to connect with your nonprofit. Take a poll. Base your mailers on donor giving levels. Keep track of comments and giving based on how many posts you publish. Yes, this takes a lot of work and time, but what you invest now with bring invaluable information later.
Innovative schools in Silicon Valley pushed the limits of school fundraising with Fundly this Spring. Equipped with Fundly’s social fundraising platform and professionally developed collateral, they brought school fundraising into the 21st century.
Parents were able to create a personal fundraising page for their student, personalizing with photos, video, and a message to supporters. With this tool, they could reach family and friends around the globe to support the arts, technology, and teacher development with a simple online donation.
School fundraising is not new, but with budget cuts, larger class sizes, and a variety of student needs that need to be met, it has become an important part of ensuring success with both academic curriculum and extracurricular activities. While many teachers are overwhelmed with the daily duties of running a classroom full of kids and parents are filling in the gaps with volunteer hours, they don’t have the time or energy to dedicate to complicated fundraisers. Online fundraising has proven that schools can find greater success using the internet without investing more resources.
Fundly recently held the 12 Schools in 12 Weeks Online Fundraising Challenge to prove that schools could raise more money using social media than with traditional methods alone. Guadalupe Home and School Club, the parent-teacher organization supporting Guadalupe Elementary School, was one of the participating schools. While they had successfully held their walkathon fundraiser online in the past, Fundly was appealing because it came with communication tools to motivate families to sign up and built-in social media to make it simple to “share” the chance to support the school. The Home & School Club was given a Fundraiser’s Toolkit including a vinyl banner, fliers, posters, give-away items, and exclusive online features to promote their annual walkathon.
Going online can be a great way for parents to reach more people, but keeping the students engaged in the process is a must. That’s where student videos come in to play.
To emphasize this point, Fundly held a “Best Video” contest, in which its employees voted for their favorite student-created video. The staff was surprisingly passionate about their favorites and after much discussion and analysis, Fundly’s VP of Marketing, Tom Kramer, visited Guadalupe School to present “Best Video” winner, Alex, with an iPod Touch in front of all his classmates. Now Alex can practice his video-taking and -making skills all Summer to get ready for the next walkathon!
See Alex’s video for yourself (don’t worry, his mom approves):
With Fundly’s personal fundraising pages, being a part of your school fundraiser is as easy as typing a personal message and uploading pictures. Adding a video for maximum impact, and bringing the message of support back to the students makes all the difference. With links to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the ability to use credit cards to donate, and access day or night, it’s no wonder that schools are finding greater results when annual fundraising events are combined with the benefits of technology.
Whether it’s teaching about fundraising or doing it, I’m always intrigued by the coolest, most effective tech tools available.
Last month, 50 nonprofit leaders crowded into a room hoping to acquire some “magic” to fuel their organizations. My invitation from SCORE Silicon Valley to speak on the subject of fundraising was exciting and a little daunting at the same time. The challenge with the wide-open topic of “fundraising” was…Where to start?
Many of the attendees are founders and board members of organizations delivering programs like health services to Africa, private education, community access programming, and support for Leukemia patients. They got “in the business” to deliver a service, not to raise money. And many are shy about engaging with social media, a must-do in today’s world.
I decided to tackle head-on what was sure to be the elephant in the room: The fear and anguish associated with fundraising and the common misconception that fundraising is a sales pitch, asking/begging/bullying/guilting someone into giving their hard-earned cash away.
What better way than by pulling a cool tech tool out of my back pocket…PollEverywhere. A live online poll gauged the audience’s disposition to fundraising. Participants grabbed their cell phones, texted a response to a 6-digit number, and instantly we knew where everybody in the room stood on fundraising.
Which statement best describes your attitude toward fundraising?
Even many non-geeks in the room managed to put in their vote. As expected, reluctance to this 4-letter word (OK, so I’m stretching that a bit to “F-U-N-D”) abounded.
But why? I believe it’s because so many cause-based organizations have set the example of making their public outreach the “ask” rather than the “why”. The “ask” should come once supporters have been engaged with the organization and when it’s truly time.
A recent article from The Nonprofit Times shared the 5 top reasons people give:
All too often, nonprofits focus on #5 (their #1 pain point) without first and continually engaging supporters in reasons #1-4. Creating a relationship of trust between the supporters and the organization is paramount. After all, we are truly not giving money to the organization, we are facilitating a mission and community benefit, giving money through the organization to make a difference in the lives of others.
We walked through the essential components of the Relationship Cycle, building trust with supporters: Understand – Reach – Engage – Appreciate
An hour and fifteen minutes later, I reproduced the poll. And guess what? Moving away from the fear of the “ask” and the toward the fun and joy of building a relationship with supporters made a difference.
Once supporters are engaged, fundraising comes more easily. Using social media, online non-profit fundraising and other technology, alongside low-tech connections, makes it possible to create a global relationship with your supporters.
Stay tuned for part two of this five-part series, as I explore the first step of the Relationship Cycle: Understanding.
In this final installment of this series which focuses on utilizing social media networks to create successful fundraisers, I thought I’d include practical tips that are easily incorporated into your planning strategies. Every nonprofit that I know of seems to have more tasks to address than time, finances, and manpower can complete. Fortunately, social media and web usage can eliminate these obstacles.
Facebook is great because it connects friends of like interests. Are you coordinating a food and wine tasting event, a garden tour, or another fundraiser that is based on a specific theme? Post it on Facebook and have your donors “Like” it. This one small click of the mouse will then share your link your donor’s social network(s), therefore advertising it to many who may have a similar interest. The most important aspect of social media platforms is to get people talking and sharing how great your organization is and that your fundraiser is not to be missed. An invitation can get lost in a pile of junk mail, but encouragement from a friend can bring great results.
Many people neglect to give to organizations because they don’t know what the specific needs are. Create a tab on your website or list on your fundraising page citing different ways that supporters can contribute to your cause. You may need volunteers to usher at a concert, business owners could donate a gift basket for a raffle, or possibly a printer would be willing to donate product to your event in exchange for advertising.
Take advantage of free advertising on social media! Do you have a Facebook timeline yet? Before someone gives to your cause or takes the time to attend an event, they’ll probably check out your nonprofit online. There are hundreds of great charities vying for everyone’s time and money, why should people take the time to care about your nonprofit? A Facebook timeline is a great way to map out what accomplishments you have, what projects you are working on, what past events look like, and it can list comments of what your donors think of your organization. The cover photo is an amazing opportunity to showcase a photo to inspire, intrigue, and impress.
Events are a fun way to meet and greet donors while laying the foundation for a strong partnership. Online resources can get them there and help you organize a fantastic event. May you have future success in your event fundraising activities!