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

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

Happy #GivingTuesday!

givingtuesday2The turkey has been consumed (and so have the leftovers). Black Friday came and went with only a few bumps and bruises for Americans. Cyber Monday also came and went with consumer dollars flying all over the information super highway. Are you ready for one last hurdle? Today, is #GivingTuesday, which is the day that the non-profit sector is trying to establish in the minds of Americans as the day to make online charitable contributions of time and money to your favorite charities.
Two years ago, DonorDreams blog featured this ePhilanthropy inspired holiday in its “Mondays with Marissa” series with a post titled “Five ways your non-profit can participate in #GivingTuesday“. In 2013, we spotlighted this special day in a post titled “Is your non-profit ready for the homestretch of 2013?
This holiday is so new that I almost forgot about it this morning until I opened my email inbox.
My first #GivingTuesday solicitation came from an organization named A Safe Haven. Their email highlights a “challenge” that ends tonight to instill a sense of urgency among its donors.
The second email solicitation this morning came from Mikva Challenge. This organization is promoting a link to a video featuring one of their members. The video highlights their client participating in a program they call Project Soapbox.
Out of curiosity, I went to Google this morning and did a search on #GivingTuesday. Believe it or not, there are three paid ads featured at the top of my screen for the following agencies:

My magic crystal ball broke a long time ago, and I normally have a hard time predicting the future. However, it looks like #GivingTuesday, which is only a few years old, is starting to take root.
Of course, none of my favorite local charities appear to be participating this year. As I soaked this thought in, it got me wondering:

  • Is your agency participating in #GivingTuesday this year? If so, what do your efforts look like?
  • What strategies are you using to attract online donors?
  • Did you participate last year? If so, what did you learn and what changes did you make between last year and this year?
  • If you decided not to participate this year, why not? What went into making that decision for you?
  • If you are looking at next year as your first foray into #GivingTuesday, what do you need to do in order to get your agency well positioned?
  • Are you doing other things online at the end of the year that don’t correlate to #GivingTuesday?

Please scroll down and use the comment box to share your thoughts and experiences.
Here’s to your health! (And Happy #GivingTuesday)
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

Is your non-profit ready for the homestretch of 2013?

yearend5Don’t look now, but we are seven weeks away from drinking champagne and celebrating the end of 2013 and the start of a Happy New Year 2014. It is this time of the year when non-profit organizations are super busy. Many of you are closing out your fiscal year, and almost every non-profit with a pulse is executing its year-end giving strategy.
According to a survey by Charity Navigator, respondents reported that they expect to raise 40% of their annual revenue budget between Thanksgiving and New Years.
Holy Cow! Year-end giving is a big deal for many non-profit organizations, which is why I’m dedicating today’s post to just a few giving strategies I see being employed or talked about by my friends.
Traditional year-end appeals letter
There are many different “schools of thought” on how to craft the perfect year-end appeals letter. I’ve seen all of my favorite bloggers weigh-in on this subject. The funny thing is that each and every one of them have a slightly different take on the same subject.

  • Long letter vs. short letter
  • The importance of cross-channel promotion or not
  • Send the letter early or closer to Thanksgiving

mailboxesI just finished helping a client with their year-end mail appeal. The executive director called on Friday to report the letters were delivered to the post office and we both did a little happy dance. The next thing on his year-end fundraising task list is preparing for the phone-a-thon follow-up the week of Thanksgiving.
If you are like most non-profit organizations, you are doing something traditional like sending a letter. Hopefully, you’ve already sent it or are very close to doing so, but here are just a few thoughts of my own on this very popular subject:

  • The letter must be emotional and pull at heart-strings
  • The letter must tell a story about impact and not focus on your agency’s needs
  • A matching gift is a tremendous incentive that sets you apart from lots and lots of other appeals
  • Go light on the stats and data . . . let the story be the feature and sprinkle outcomes data into your story sparingly
  • Don’t be overly fixated on restricting your letter to one page . . . tell your story
  • Use lots of white space, pictures and graphics
  • Keep in mind how readers read . . . write your letter accordingly (e.g. personalized salutation, ask for a specific contribution in the first paragraph, influential signature, catchy post script)
  • You need to design a great outer envelope . . . entice people to open the envelope and read your request or your awesome letter is worthless (e.g. handwritten names and addresses on the outside envelope)
  • Follow-up . . . organize your board members in a phone-a-thon and send a follow-up postcard or another appeal before New Years Eve

If you don’t like my suggestions or are looking for more advice, here are a few additional links to bloggers who are amazing:

Amazon-Smile-300x300Holiday shopping appeals
Perhaps you didn’t notice, but there are lots and lots of people spending lots and lots of money on gifts for family and friends. Something about “’tis the season“.
With this is mind, there is a big year-end giving trend that has materialized over the last decade or so where non-profit organizations try to tie their year-end appeal to those shopping habits. It is typically rooted in cause-related marketing efforts as retails try to differentiate themselves from their competitors, seize the halo effect and drive foot traffic through their doors using charitable goodwill.
I can almost hear those cashiers asking, “Would you like to donate a dollar to . . .”
A good friend of mind and fellow blogger — Dani Robbins — just informed me via Google+ that Amazon.com has a new charitable giving program called AmazonSmile. In a nutshell, Amazon shoppers will be able to donate 0.5% of their purchase to a charity of their choosing (as long as that charity can be found on Guidestar AND is registered with Amazon).
Is your agency participating in AmazonSmile? Click here is you want to learn more.
giving tuesday#GivingTuesday
What?!? You haven’t heard of #GivingTuesday?
I guess you get a pass because last year was the first time the non-profit sector attempted to get this “national day of giving” off of the ground.
In a nutshell, there were 2,500 giving partners located in all 50 states. More than 50 million people worldwide helped promote this day by posting, tweeting and generally talking about it on social media. Both Blackbaud and DonorPerfect reported an increase in giving resulting from these efforts.
Will your non-profit organization participate in the second annual #GivingTuesday this year? If so, then . . .

  • Mark your calendars for Tuesday, December 3, 2013
  • Start developing your online giving strategies to promote this opportunity to your donors
  • Get registered as an official partner

For more info, click here to read the #GivingTuesday FAQ page.
You might also want to do a little research on #GivingTuesday best practices. Hubspot published a great post titled “12 Ways to Amplify Your Giving Tuesday Campaign” that you may want to check out.
What does the homestretch look like for your non-profit organization’s fundraising efforts? Please use the comment box below to share. Why? Because we can all learn from each other, and it is the season of giving, of course!  😉
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

What is your non-profit agency’s year-end giving strategy?

Facts are facts, and there is only one week left before non-profit organizations enter the fourth quarter of the year. The reality is that the fourth quarter is challenging for all companies because of the holidays, year-end evaluations, and a race to close budget gaps; however, the last three months of the year are especially important for many non-profit agencies.

According to a 2011 year-end survey conducted by Charity Navigator, the average respondent said they “. . . receive 41% of their annual contributions in the last few weeks of the year“.

The end of the year is even more critical for those non-profits whose revenue model contains ePhilanthropy strategies. The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Jessica Dickler reported last year that a study conducted by Network for Good estimates that “. . . one-third of all online giving for the year occurs in December . . .” She added that “. . . 22% [of online giving] happens in the last two days of the year“.

All of this explains why my inbox is getting bombarded with emails providing tips about year-end fundraising strategies.

With so many people wanting to give to charities during the holidays, a non-fundraising person might wonder what all of the fuss is about. After all, it kind of sounds like “shooting fish in a barrel”. Right?  But don’t fool yourself! The holiday season comes with special challenges that don’t exist at other times of the year. For example . . .

  • Time is at a premium (e.g. holiday parties, shopping, etc), and no one has any time to sit down with a volunteer solicitor with a pledge card.
  • There is lots of noise (e.g. lots of commercials, specials, sales, and initiatives), and it is hard to breakthrough with your messaging without a bazooka cannon.
  • There is lots of competition (e.g. every non-profit organization is asking) compared to earlier in the year when your annual campaign might only be up against a few other similar campaigns at the same time.

I suspect that these challenges are part of the reason why 60 corporations and non-profit organizations are attempting to launch a social media campaign the Tuesday after Thanksgiving called #GivingTuesday.

I won’t even try to use my remaining space to provide you with a “Top 10 list” of tips because there are so many great resources available. However, I will take this opportunity to implore you to be thoughtful and put a plan together on how your agency will navigate the fundraising seas during the fourth quarter of the year. (Pssst . . . and you should put that plan together quickly. Maybe by Friday of this week)

The following are just a few great online resources I suggest you check-out:

Is your agency gearing up for the fourth quarter? What fundraising strategies are in your year-end plans? Do you have any fun new donor segmenting ideas, email tactics or social media plans? Please scroll down and 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