Nonprofit Blog Carnival call for submissions: You are the future of philanthropy

NPBlogCarnivalBannerI am thrilled to be hosting the Nonprofit Blog Carnival this May for the third year in a row. This year’s theme is inspired by a TED Talks video filmed in 2007 of Katherine Fulton talking about the “future of philanthropy“. I’ve seen this video countless times, and I’m always inspired by it, which is why I’m using it as a springboard for non-profit bloggers this month.
Throughout the years, I cannot count the number of times I’ve spoken with non-profit friends who openly worry about who will step-up as their community’s next philanthropic movers-and-shakers. They point to the impact of globalization and how it has transferred wealth and philanthropic decision-making away from Main Street.
Watching Katherine speak reminds me there are forces at work that will likely reshape the future of our work. She talks eloquently about the “democratization of philanthropy,” which always makes me think about how the resource development tools in our exist toolbox probably need to be re-thought or tweaked.
Of course, rushing to embrace these changes too soon is fraught with peril as some bloggers like Future Fundraising Now blogger Jeff Brooks has warned us about in so many wonderful posts throughout the years.
For this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival, I’m inviting non-profit bloggers to first click-through and view Katherine’s TED Talks video and then write something inspired by her words.
Katherine Fulton
The following are just a few ideas I can imagine non-profit bloggers seizing upon as inspiration for what I anticipate will be amazing submissions to this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival:

  • Moving from closed-small-slow-fragmented-short to open-big-fast-connected-long assumptions
  • A new generation of citizen leaders
  • The democratization of philanthropy
  • Mass collaboration
  • Online Philanthropy Marketplaces
  • Aggregated Giving
  • Innovation Competitions
  • Social Investing
  • The Social Singularity

If none of these topics are appealing, I invite bloggers to participate in the picture frame exercise at the end of Katherine’s presentation.
During the month of May, DonorDreams blog is dedicating every post to bringing you videos of non-profit leaders, donors and every day people like you participating in Katherine’s picture frame exercise. If you are not a blogger but want to videotape yourself participating in the picture frame exercise, I am happy to post your vlog on my blog platform. Simply videotape yourself, upload it to YouTube and email me the link with an explanation of who you are and what town you live in.
How bloggers should submit their work for consideration?
You are welcome to write your blog post anytime during the month of May (or even submit a post you may have previously published); however, I must receive your submission by the end of the day on Monday, May 25, 2015:
How do you submit? Simply email the following information to nonprofitcarnival[at]gmail[dot]com:

  • Your name
  • The URL of your post
  • A two of three sentence summary of your post

We will publish the May 2015 Nonprofit Blog Carnival on Thursday, May 28, 2015 right here at DonorDreams blog.
Go visit April’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival
In April, the carnival was hosted by Craig Linton at his blog — “Fundraising Detective”  The theme was “A Celebration Of SOFII – Will You Inspire Or Invest?” . He challenged bloggers to submit 100 new articles and exhibits for SOFII (Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration).
If you’re interested in seeing what some very smart and talented bloggers submitted, click here.
Miscellaneous details?
Click here to learn more about the Nonprofit Blog Carnival and sign-up for monthly reminders. If you want to view the archives, then you want to click here.
I am very much looking forward to see what you decide to do and where you decide to take this month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Will the computer and smart phone kill fundraising face-to-face solicitations?

kids1Last week, I wrote a blog titled “How do you network?” which was based on a conversation I had with Henry Freeman, the owner of H.Freeman Associates LLC. That post was well-received by many of you, and afterward Henry followed up with a nice email thanking me for his “15 minutes of internet fame.” LOL  Of course, in that correspondence, Henry said something that struck me as interesting, which got me wondering about face-to-face solicitation techniques and the future of fundraising.
Here is what Henry wrote that got me thinking:

“One of the things that scares me about the vast amount of technology that enters children’s lives at a very early age is the impact it may have on their ability to grasp the deeply important human skills involved in simple face-to-face communication that involves far more than the words we speak and the facts we share.”

This paragraph formed a mental image in my head of my nephew and niece with their faces buries in their smartphones during a recent family holiday gathering. There were adults everywhere and none of the conversations were kid-friendly. So, they were bored and their phones were entertaining and full of interesting things like texting, emails, Snapchat, etc.
What got me thinking even more about Henry’s concern was a “Tech Shift” radio story I heard on Chicago’s WBEZ 91.5 FM today while driving to Indiana for a site visit with a client.
The interview was with Nick Bilton, who is a tech columnist at He recently engaged in a social experiment that yielded an interesting conversation about smartphones. Click here to listen to that interview. It is definitely worth the click.
In doing a little research for today’s blog post, I stumbled across another post “Picture or it didn’t happen” from Leah Pickett at WBEZ. In this article, she talked about her generation being brought up exclusively on technology and social media and the social behavioral changes that have ensued. This is also definitely worth a click.
As these things rolled around the inside of my head, the Illinois and Indiana snow-covered landscape passed by in one white blur, but the one thing my mind kept wandering back to was this simple question:
kids2I wonder if these influences on the next generation of donors and fundraising volunteers will have an impact on the art of face-to-face solicitation and the future of philanthropy?
The reason why this question is so important is because (as Henry so aptly points out all the time in his trainings) face-to-face solicitation is the most effective way to engage a donor. Good fundraising professionals know there are no other solicitation techniques (e.g. mail, email, telephone, etc) that come close to the level of effectiveness as a face-to-face visit with donor.
I honestly don’t have any answers today, but I think it is something worth thinking about because the answer could impact your organization’s approach to fundraising.
How? Here are just a few ideas:

  • re-investment in face-to-face solicitation training
  • investment in online “personal page” solicitation
  • inclusion of a variety of ePhilanthropy strategies (e.g. email, website, social media, crowdfunding, etc) in your annual resource development plan

I really don’t know. Maybe I’m just showing my age? But I think this is an important enough idea to spend a little time contemplating and asking the simple question of “What if?
What are your thoughts? Do you think the upcoming generation of fundraising volunteers could be impacted by the tech they’ve grown up with? If so, then what do you think the effect could be on resource development? Please scroll down and share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below.
On a different subject, I’m pleased to announce to the DonorDreams blog community that Henry Freeman is letting me share his fundraising videos with you. My plan is to share one video per month throughout 2015. If there is good viewership, then I’ll continue sharing even more of his videos in 2016. Henry is one heck of a great fundraising professional, and I suspect you’re gonna love his training videos.
Thanks for being so awesome, Henry!
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Happy #GivingTuesday everyone!

givingtuesday2Sorry about not posting something this morning, but I got to my hotel late last night (around midnight) and I was up five hours later for a 6:00 prospect identification/evaluation meeting. My request of Santa this year is more time added to the day and a few more weeks added on to the year.   🙂
However, when I got out of my early morning meetings and checked my overflowing email inbox, I was reminded that today is #GivingTuesday. I couldn’t have forgotten it even if I wanted because I had a ton of non-profit emails reminding me. I’m not kidding when I tell you that between my emails, LinkedIn messages, and Twitter  and Facebook feeds, I must have received 25 personalized solicitations.
Being sleep deprived and generally a softy when it comes to charitable giving, I decided to make my first ever #GivingTuesday donation. So, I weeded through all of the online solicitations and chose the one that I liked most and aligned with what I support.
Drum roll please?  🙂

Congratulations to United Way of Elgin!

Here is the text/copy of what they sent me in a Constant Contact solicitation:

Today is #GivingTuesday–Let’s ALL Make a Difference Today!
#GivingTuesday is an international movement to honor the spirit of giving during the holiday season. After the craziness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday reminds us that we are part of something bigger, and that everyone plays a part in making our world a better place.
Join United Way of Elgin in celebrating this day dedicated to giving back. You can participate instantly with a $30 gift to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program, which provides one free book each month to children under five in our community. Over 4,200 children received books through the DPIL in 2014–help us reach even more kids in 2015!
No matter how you choose to be a part of #GivingTuesday, remember that when you reach out a hand to one, you influence the condition of all. THANK YOU!!

I must admit that my charitable gift felt like an “impulse buy” like one I might have made on Black Friday because I obviously wasn’t planning on making this gift.
Hmmmmmm? Black Friday? #GivingTuesday?
I suspect a light just went off above my head.
dolly partonSuccessful #GivingTuesday solicitations probably utilize some of the same strategies that for-profits use to create the conditions for an impulse buy. Now it all makes sense. (I might not be quick, but I usually get there.)  🙂
So, here is what I really like about the United Way of Elgin’s #GivingTuesday solicitation:

  • It was big and colorful, which captured my attention
  • There was a picture that told most of the story
  • They asked for a specific dollar amount, which allowed me to not think about it very long.
  • It was project focused and very specific
  • The case for support was understandable in a few simple sentences
  • There were multiple links to the DonateNow page (so if I wasn’t ready to click after seeing the first link there were other opportunities late in the letter)
  • The letter was short, sweet and to the point . . . easy to read in a matter of seconds

Haven’t made your #GivingTuesday gift yet? There is still time left! Can’t figure out who to support? Why not click-through and check out United Way of Elgin’s Dolly Parton Imagination Library?  It will warm your heart to invest in early childhood education and literacy. It did mine!
Did your organization participate in #GivingTuesday? If so, what worked for you? What didn’t work? Please scroll down and share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Thanksgiving, donor stewardship and social media

gravy1Thanksgiving is a time when many non-profit organizations give thanks to their donors who support their mission with their time and money. Over the years, I’ve received Thanksgiving cards, thank-a-thon phone calls, and even a small little gift of gratitude from my favorite charities. However, the ALS #IceBucketChallenge has changed everything and set the bar higher for all resource development activities. So, I’ve spent days (if not weeks) thinking about how to use social media to steward donors during this time of the year. This morning I think I had my best idea yet. Let’s see what you think.
Let me first set the scene . . .
It is Thanksgiving Day and I’m sitting around my parent’s table with my siblings and their children. There is turkey, stuffing, green bean casserole, and more food than you can imagine. The table conversation is thick with things for which we are all thankful:

  • Mom is thankful for perfect children
  • Dad is thankful that Mom is happy
  • My sister is thankful that her kids are now all in school full-time
  • My brother is thankful that his second hip replacement surgery was successful

My teenage nephew whips out his smart phone and turns his video recorder on me. I unexpectedly stand up, grab the gravy boat, dump it over my head, and tell everyone why I’m so thankful for my favorite charity and all of my friends who I’ve solicited in the last year to support that agency. I end my testimonial by challenging by name my friends and family to take the #GravyBoatStewardshipChallenge. The video is posted to Facebook, goes viral and a new ePhilanthropy trend sweeps the nation, and this time it isn’t a solicitation phenomenon. It is instead focused on the ever-important stewardship function of your resource development program.
So, whatcha think?
Yeah, yeah, yeah . . . the gravy sounds hot and sticky and not as fun as ice water. OK, you’re probably right. I should go back to the drawing board and get a little more sleep tonight. (And to those of you who think I’ve lost my mind, let me assure you that my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek and I’m just trying to be funny.)
Even though my brainstorming might have come up a little short, this shouldn’t stop your organization from looking at social media as a stewardship opportunity this Thanksgiving season. Here are just a few other (and less sticky) ideas on how to use social media to give thanks to your donors:

  • Record short video snippets of staff, board and clients giving thanks for what your agency has accomplished in 2014 and express gratitude to the donors whose support made it all possible. Then post it to Facebook.
  • Twitpic a picture of something awesome happening at your agency and give it a stewardship caption.
  • Start work on a digital version of your annual report that you will upload to your website.
  • Create a YouTube video version of your annual report and send it to donors.
  • Commit to writing a monthly feature story focused on your biggest supporters, upload to your website and point all of your social media friends to where it is located online.

gravy2If there is one thing all of us should’ve learned from the ALS #IceBucketChallenge, it is that social media is a powerful tool in our resource development toolbox. While we’re all still learning how to use this tool, those who innovate and try new things will surely reap the rewards.
So, why not use social media this Thanksgiving season to steward your donors? Are you already doing something? If so, what is it? Do you have a crazy idea, but are too afraid to try it? What is it? We can all learn and support each other. Please scroll down and share your thoughts and ideas in the comment box below.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

How many year-end plates are you spinning at your non-profit?

spinning platesA few weeks ago I facilitated a training session titled “2014 Finish Strong: Year-End Strategies” for a group of non-profit professionals in New Mexico. Long story short . . . there were LOTS of things that non-profits try to do in the fourth quarter. Participants shared with each other what they were doing back home at their agency and we collectively talked about best practices.
The following is the laundry list of fourth quarter activities that we discussed:

  • Budget development
  • Resource Development Plan (aka fundraising plan)
  • Strategic Plan (or any other flavor of planning like tactical plans, business plans, program plans, etc)
  • Board Development & Board Governance activities (e.g. officers slate, expiring terms, new recruitment, orientation, year-end evaluation, etc)
  • Board Retreat
  • Thank-a-Thons (stewardship phone calls to donors)
  • Holiday Cards (holiday greetings and stewardship messaging to donors)
  • Starting to prep for creation of annual report (e.g. content creation, pics, theme selection, etc)
  • Financial Audit prep (e.g. RFP, hiring auditor, closing year-end books, etc)
  • Focused solicitation strategies with LYBUNT/SYBUNT donors
  • Targeted/Segmented year-end holiday mail solicitations
  • Phone-a-Thons (solicitation phone calls typically following up on mailing)
  • Online fundraising strategies (e.g. #GivingTuesday, etc)

Lots and lots going on in non-profit shops right now all across the country. The fourth quarter is exhausting!
What are you currently working on at your agency? Are some of those things the same as what you see on the aforementioned laundry list of projects? Please scroll down to the comment box below and either add to our list or share a best practice related to one of the items on the list. We can all learn from each other.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Ice Bucket Challenge: You know you've gone viral when . . .

going viralJeff Foxworthy has made a career out of answering a simple question: “You know you’re a redneck when . . .”  This morning I thought I’d do something similar with: “You know you’re fundraising campaign has gone viral when . . .” by describing how last week unfolded for me as it relates to the ALS #IceBucketChallenge.
Monday, August 18th
I am getting ready for bed and the local news is on my television. Before cutting away to commercial, the news anchor teases an upcoming segment. The video footage shows someone dumping a bucket of cold water over their head.
I turn the TV off and think to myself “What kind of stupid person dumps ice water on themselves, and how in the heck is that newsworthy?
Tuesday, August 19th
I’m in Rockford, Illinois having lunch with a non-profit executive director. Towards the end of the meal, he starts to lament about how he wishes his national office had the foresight to innovate something as creative as the “Ice Bucket Challenge.”
I must have looked stupefied because his next question to me was: “You’ve heard about this fundraising campaign, right?
When I told him that I had no idea what he was talking about, he proceeded to fill me in on the details.
Wednesday, August 20th
lightning in a bottleFellow blogger and fundraising genius — Jeff Brooks — publishes a blog post titled “What a weasel is going to tell you about the Ice Bucket Challenge“.
I forward it along to the executive director in Rockford with whom I just had lunch along with a few other fundraising friends with an “Amen” and” Hallelujah” because Jeff does a nice job of hitting the nail on the head when he says:

“The problem is the Lightning Factor. ‘Lightning’ has to strike for a campaign to go viral. And nobody has control over the lightning.”

On a side note, I’m beginning to see my Facebook feed fill with friends who are all dumping buckets of ice over their heads, making a charitable contribution to ALS, and challenging others to do the same.
I also saw on Google+ that my friend, Marissa Garza, had written a blog post titled “Haters Gonna Hate: Ice Bucket Challenge Edition.”
This is then first time I remember thinking “Uh-Oh . . . I wonder if someone is going to challenge me since fundraising and non-profit consulting is my line of work?
Thursday, August 21st
ALS icebucketchallenge1The day is winding down. The television is on, we’re into what will likely be the last show of the evening before going to bed, and my phone starts to blow-up. Needless to say, one of my former Boys & Girls Club of Elgin board presidents and good friend, Tim Williams, just completed the ALS #IceBucketChallenge, and I was one of three people he challenged.
My first reaction was: “I should’ve seen this coming sooner.
My second reaction was: “Yippee! I get to do something fun for charity and gain my 15 minutes of online fame by joining my friends in doing something crazy and for a good cause.”
My third reaction was: “What if I do this thing wrong? I don’t want the world to laugh at me. I better do some research. What will I say? Who will I challenge? How much should I donate?
I immediately go to Google+, dig up Marissa Garza’s blog post on “Haters Gonna Hate: Ice Bucket Challenge Edition,” and start my research.
Friday, August 22nd
I get it all figured out, and I take the challenge on my deck in the backyard. I dedicate my challenge to one of my very best friends — Jim Chambers — whose father lost his battle with ALS a number of years ago. I immediately come inside to my computer and donate $100  to ALS using their online donation page.
I bask for hours in the warm glow of philanthropy because the entire exercise from dumping ice water on my head to making the contribution felt really awesome and fulfilling.
Click here to check out my ALS #IceBucketChallenge video:
Later that evening, we attended a Kane County Cougars game with a friend and his children. His 10-year-old son, Mitch, was buzzing with excitement about getting called out by a friend to do the ALS #IceBucketChallenge.
I made the mistake of assuming that Mitch was just being a 10-year-old and getting all excited about the act of dumping ice water on himself and mugging for the camera. I quickly learned how wrong I really was, when I asked Mitch if he planned on making a small donation from his piggy bank to the ALS Foundation. The following response warmed my heart:

“No, I have a bank account and I’m trying to decide whether to donate $50 or $100.”

It was at that moment I realized the complexity of ALS #IceBucketChallenge. All of the following things seem to be going on simply as a result of a bucket of ice:

  • The ALS Foundation is raising a ton of money . . . last story I saw indicated this campaign has crested $110 million
  • There is a flood of new donors surging into the ALS Foundation’s donor database systems . . . it will be interesting to see what resource development strategies they employ to steward and retain these donors.
  • Millions of people are self-educating themselves about ALS.
  • The non-profit sector has another successful online fundraising campaign to evaluate as a case study.

My takeaways
I find myself marveling at how I experienced something so viral. I literally went from knowing nothing about this online fundraising campaign early last week to participating in it at the end of the week. If I had to describe what I felt, I would simply use the words “tidal wave” to describe the experience.
To Marissa Garza’s point, I am not a hater. I am intrigued by what is happening, and I am excited to see so many people get into philanthropy (especially when it comes to teaching kids about the power of philanthropy).
However, I totally agree with Jeff Brooks when talks about how non-profits are better served in focusing on fundraising basics rather than trying to catch lightning in a bottle by trying to duplicate the ALS #IceBucketChallenge.
What is your agency doing when it comes to resource development in the wake of this online campaign? Are you trying replicate it? Are you ignoring it and focusing on other fundraising basics and best practices? Or are you trying to find the next wave to ride? Please scroll down and share your thoughts in the comment box below because we can all learn from each other.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Donor stewardship postcards? They work!

UIUC student unionI have a confession to make. For years, one of the ideas I’ve shared with clients is that a postcard can be an effective stewardship strategy. The truth is that I’ve doubted the effectiveness of this strategy primarily because I had never seen it done well. Today, I’m able to say that I’ve seen the light and officially have become a believer thanks to my alma mater — University of Illinois (UIUC).
Let’s take a moment to review . . .
Back in December, I blogged about how the University of Illinois finally convinced me to make a contribution to the annual fund. I explained in that post how my first gift had been a long time in the making. Click here to read about the initial solicitation, the rejection, the expert use of donor management systems and the persistence involved in securing gift number one 20 years later. It really is a great story in fundraising persistence.
At the end of my December post, I said this:

“For the record, I am excited to now see how the university stewards its donors. Stay tuned!”

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the fundraising professionals at UIUC are good at stewardship. Here are just a few of the stewardship strategies they’ve used on me:

  • an automated gift acknowledgement letter
  • another letter from the Department Head  with a little handwritten notation on the letter
  • a letter from the President of University thanking me for my support and updating me on what’s been going on since I made my contribution
  • a number of different email communications
  • a postcard with some many different subtle (and not so subtle) messages

Have you done the math yet? I made my contribution in mid-December. It is mid-August and I’ve probably already received between five and seven stewardship pieces and countless marketing impressions with targeted messaging all designed to secure a second charitable contribution.
It was this last stewardship piece that convinced me that postcards can be an affordable and effective strategy for donor stewardship. I scanned the front and back of the postcard and inserted them below for your viewing pleasure.
UIUC postcard front
This is the front of the postcard. Here are some of the things that jump out at me:

  • The content of the picture conveys a happy graduate and implies that my support helped make her future very bright.
  • The picture also features the most iconic and powerful image that every UIUC graduate loves — Alma Mater. Every graduate I know has some story and happy memory associated with this statue. Just seeing it again on the front of the postcard brought a smile to my face and fond memories flooding back.
  • The two simple words — “Thank You” — are printed on the front of the card. In combination with the words “Illinois Annual Fund” in the lower right hand corner, I don’t even need to turn the postcard over to understand what they are trying to communicate to me.

A picture is worth a thousand words and this stewardship postcard exemplifies this in spades!
UIUC postcard back
This is the back of the postcard. There are 165 words used in the  letter. Here are some of the things that jump out at me:

  • I am updated and told what my charitable contribution is doing (In reality, my gift was made to a department scholarship fun, but that doesn’t stop them from giving me credit for lots of other great things)
  • I am thanked again in gracious tones
  • They specifically recognize that I was a first time donor (so this postcard is obviously targeted)
  • They specifically recognize that my first gift was secured as part of a solicitation to support the Department of Urban & Regional Planning
  • They tell me how I can make a second gift online (this time to the annual fund). Obviously, this stewardship tool is also a cross-channel  ePhilanthropy solicitation tool. It is also a crossover strategy to move me FROM a donor restricted gift to a departmental scholarship fund  TO the annual fund.
  • The words are few, but they are powerful and emotional. They are purposely used to repeated hit my heart. Here are just some of those emotional words and phrases: generosity, impact, invest, choosing, transformational, discovery, innovation, friends, makes a difference, shape the future, etc

We can learn a lot from this stewardship postcard. What do you see? What impressed you? What ideas are you walking away with and plan to incorporate into your next stewardship postcard? Please scroll down and share your thoughts in the comment box below. We can all learn from each other.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Don't text and drive, but please use it to fundraise!

Text messaging for solicitation (or stewardship) of donors

By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger
rose1For those of you who are new to the DonorDreams blog, I’m going chapter by chapter through Lon Safko’s book, The Social Media Bible and applying his thoughts to the non-profit sector in a blog on Monday mornings. Of course, it is Tuesday morning (because Erik just returned from his five month engagement in Texas & New Mexico and he got confused).
Last week, we explored marketing yourself through SEM — Search Engine Marketing — and this week we will explore maximizing your message through using mobile.
Do you remember back in January 2010 when The American Red Cross received an overwhelming response with text message donations after the Haiti earthquake?  Well, “overwhelming” equaled $41m! The Red Cross received 4.1 million messages valued at ten dollars each, 95% of which were from first-time donors.
Text Message Donations
Simply put, you advertise the fundraising phone number to potential donors. The donors send a text message, and 60 to 90 days later you receive the donation. Seems simple right?
There are some common frustrations that surround that simple equation, which are important to explore. Many non-profits have and are running similar campaigns as The Red Cross, but there are some large hurdles including the cost of processing.
Mobile Site Donations
As we have discussed through our journey in this blog, ensuring that your website is mobile friendly is critical. It also can provide the opportunity to raise funds. A downfall of text message donations is that there is a limit of $10. This, of course, can leave money on the table for your non-profit.
You can utilize similar methods as text message donations, but direct people to your website’s Donate Now button.
Text Message Cultivation
Beyond the usage of text messaging for the end result of raising money, you can utilize it to build your relationship with your donors to position them for larger solicitations in mind.
Send your donor a few quick messages every month (or even once a month) focused on how their contribution is making a difference. Using text messaging in this manner can keep your donors excited and engaged with your mission.
In a year-end campaign for the Humane Society, donors who periodically received stewardship messages via text contributed online with an increased response rate of 77%.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get texting!
I am very interested to hear your experiences (both good and bad) with utilizing text messaging for donations or engagement for your agency. Additionally . . . have you used text messaging to donate to an organization? Please share what you liked and disliked in the comment box below.
rose draft sig

A few tips for participating in your community's "Giving Day"

give local americaI may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but when I get beat over the head with something enough times over the course of a year it becomes obvious that I’m staring at a trend. LOL! In this case, I am referencing an increasingly popular activity sprouting up all over the place — Giving Day.
I was first introduced to the idea of a concentrated one day push while working with a client in Valparaiso, Indiana. Their local community foundation had organized a day where local donors could make an online contribution and designate it to any number of local non-profit organizations. Of course, there were incentives such matching dollars and contests.
As many of you know, I’ve spent the last five months in West Texas and New Mexico working with 18 different agencies on a variety of organizational capacity building activities. While I was down south avoiding a brutal Midwest winter, I was once again introduced to another statewide Giving Day in New Mexico. Like the one in Valparaiso, it was being sponsored by a handful of different community foundations.
Finally, last week I returned home from my temporary assignment and started wading through a ton of mail that was waiting for me. While sifting through that pile, I came across a letter from another agency promoting their community’s Giving Day and they were asking me to make an online contribution.
As I clicked around on Google, I discovered there is a national Giving Day initiative called “Give Local America!” being sponsored by communities, non-profit organizations and an online giving portal company called Kimbia.
As I said earlier, I may not be the brightest or the quickest, but I suspect that I’m looking at a trend in the non-profit sector.  🙂
The Knight Foundation defines a community Giving Day as follows:

“A Giving Day is a powerful 24-hour online fundraising competition that unites a community around local causes. Hosted by the area’s community foundation, the Giving Day raises money through a single online donation platform. A Giving Day is a great way to build community, connect donors to local nonprofits, teach organizations to use digital tools and generate excitement about your community foundation.”

The foundation developed an online “playbook” for people who want to organize one of these events in their community. If you’re interested, click here to check it out.
online givingAs I started playing around with these ideas in my head, I’ve come to the conclusion that this doesn’t necessarily have to be a community-wide event sponsored by a community foundation or a United Way. (However, I do think a community-wide approach organized by a foundation or United Way is preferable)
I believe individual non-profit organizations can take these same principles and develop a focused day of giving for themselves. Perhaps, it is something at the end of your Spring annual campaign pledge drive focused on smaller donors. Or maybe it is a year-end giving strategy with a Thanksgiving theme done in conjunction with #GivingTuesday.
Regardless of whether it is community-focused or agency-focused, there are a few simple best practices that power the successes associated with planning these events. You can find those best practices at the other end of the Knight Foundation link (see link above). If you aren’t planning such an event, but you’re participating in one, then here are a few tips for engaging the most number of people in making a contribution in your agency’s name:

  • challenge gifts are an important part of the call to action (don’t just rely on the challenge being offered by the organizer . . . additional matching gifts from your major donors will drive even more traffic on your behalf to the online giving portal)
  • pre-event publicity is crucial to raise awareness among your donors (e.g. targeted mail, email, etc)
  • day-of-event solicitation (e.g. emails, blog posts, Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn chatter, etc) are important strategies to drive online traffic to the giving page
  • post-event recognition and stewardship for an entire year leading up to your next Giving Day build loyalty and a strong base of sustainable giving

Does your agency participate in a community-wide Giving Day? If so, what best practices have you used and found work well? Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC!/eanderson847

Engaging others with webinars and online radio

Trainings, virtual meetings, advocacy!

By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger
So, in the first 13 chapters of Lon Safko’s book — The Social Media Bible — he establishes that social media is about so much more than just Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.  Safko continues expanding our understanding in chapter 14 when he writes about webinars and online radio.
Of course, webinars are seminars and trainings conducted over the internet; whereas, online radio is an audio program (or music) transmitted over the internet.
One of the pillars of a good board development / board governance plan is a training program. Unfortunately, this is a lot easier said than done.
When I was an executive director, I tried really hard to get board members to attend conferences. I brought trainers to town, and I even tried to integrate small training nuggets into our board meetings. The reality is that board volunteers are busy people and breaking away is always difficult.
Thanks to the magic of social media (and specifically webinars and online radio), non-profit professionals now have additional tools in their toolbox to engage board volunteers and other stakeholder groups.
webinarAt my previous agency, their national office made tremendous investments in webinars (aka distance learning). The following are just a few of the training titles I saw them offering:

  • Creating a Committee Work Plan
  • Holiday Mailings
  • Implementing a Resource Development Plan
  • Managing Donor Relationships: Using a Donor Database
  • Board Development 101
  • How to Create a Board Development Plan

If you really wanted, there is nothing stopping you from designing your own trainings and using webinar services to facilitate those distance learning events.
In addition to trainings, I also see some agencies use tools like GoToMeeting and Adobe Connect combined with conference call technology to host virtual meetings.
In my experience, there are some important things to keep in mind when it comes to webinars:

  1. Participants have many distractions from the home and office (e.g. email, phone calls, interruptions), and it is easy to lose your audience if your presentation isn’t highly interactive with lots of questions, polls and surveys. Ask questions of participants in advance of the webinar and answer them during the webinar.
  2. Distance learning is not the same as in-person trainings and meetings. Keep these sessions short and sweet (e.g. 30 to 45 minutes).
  3. Participants need to be reminded to show up because (for whatever reason) these virtual events are easier to not show up for compared to real-time events.

If you are looking for FREE webinars or pre-recorded webinars to use with your board members and fundraising volunteers, check out some of these resources:

Online radio
online radioMany people have discovered Slacker radio, but online radio isn’t just about streaming music while you workout.
Many decades ago, radio was a mainstay in our grandparent’s living rooms (before the advent of television). Once television squeezed radios out of the picture, many of us just listened in our cars as we drove from place-to-place.
Online radio has liberated radio from our cars and enables music and talk shows to be heard on our work and home computers. This, of course, opens up lots of possibilities for non-profit organizations.
The most obvious possibility was already cover by Erik Anderson on October 21, 2013 right here on the DonorDreams blog in a post titled “Have you discovered non-profit radio yet?“. In that post, Erik introduced us to the Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio.
If you haven’t checked out Tony’s online radio show about the non-profit sector yet, it is definitely worth it.
Of course, your non-profit organization can start its own online radio station. Why? Because it is another opportunity to get your message out there. It is marketing. It is prospect cultivation. It is donor stewardship. It can even be something you integrate into your agency’s programming with clients.
If you want to learn more, I suggest you go pick-up a copy of Lon Safko’s book — The Social Media Bible.
The Houston Chronicle also published an online article with a number of excellent links relevant to this topic. Click here to check it out.
How is your agency using webinars and online radio? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below.
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