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

Is your agency like Goldilocks when it comes to online content?

goldilocksI’ve been blogging regularly since May 2011, which makes DonorDreams blog three years old next month. As with everything in life, there have been ups and there have been downs with things such as readership, content, and tech issues. I’m sure those of you who know me well, won’t be surprised to read that I tend to obsess over questions such as:

  • Is the post is too long or too short? Will people read it?
  • Is the headline going to capture readers’ attention and result in a click-through?
  • Is the email subject line going to result in a higher open rate?
  • Is the tweet too long or too short? Will it result in a RT?
  • Are my sentences too long? What about my paragraphs?

I know some of you are rolling your eyes and chalking these questions up to my obsessive personality. While this reaction is well deserved, the reality is that there is a science to how you compose your non-profit organization’s emails, tweets, blog posts, etc. And since you’re not emailing, tweeting and blogging just for the heck of it, I think it is important to understand the science behind these things, especially if you want people to read your stuff.
internet content infographicLast week, an old friend of mine from high school poked me on Facebook and posted an article from Kevan Lee at the Buffer blog. He does an awesome job of untangling the facts and figures while sharing some really great charts and graphs on this subject.
If you want your donors to read your Facebook posts, tweets, website and blog content, then this link is worth the click. Kevan even developed a wonderful little infographic to help you remember and use the content in his post. I’ve included it in this post for your review.
When it comes to evaluation strategies for DonorDreams blog, I have not been very fancy because I don’t have any money budgeted for those types of activities. The blog is just a labor of love. So, when I’ve wanted to know something (e.g. whether or not the theme formatting of the blog is attractive, etc), I’ve simply asked readers and friends for feedback. How did I do this? I went on Facebook and Twitter and asked.
Does your agency evaluate and play with content, length of content, and promotion strategies? If so, what have you found? What measurement strategies did you use? What did you do with what you learned? Please share your thoughts and experiences 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

Your agency can use Twitter to engage donors and supporters

Tweet this!

By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger
rose1I think the morning after the “big game” is a great time to unwrap the impact of utilizing Twitter. It was hard to watch the game without seeing a ton of hashtags encouraging viewers to follow the excitement or learn more about a company or product by following it on Twitter. Lon Safko, author of The Social Media writes about “microblogging” in chapter 13, which begs the question: “What is microblogging and what does it have to do with Twitter?
Simply stated, microblogging can be described as the act of sending a text message or sharing videos, photos, or  audio. It allows you to make friends, give and receive advice, and most of all, get up to the minute news. Of course, the most familiar microblogging tool is Twitter, which is something your non-profit should be using.
There are many benefits to Twitter, but to maximize those benefits it is important to first cultivate a strong community of supporters, and even more importantly, remain relevant. Twitter is not meant to set and forget. You need to provide real-time updates (e.g.  photos, videos and engaging questions are all great ways to attract attention).
Another way to utilize Twitter is as a fundraising tool. There are countless stories of successful fundraising through the power of Twitter. In my local community, Community Crisis Center, a domestic violence shelter raised over $150,000 in two weeks using Twitter and social media. This was unheard of in our community, but is possible with the right formula.
As I took a deeper dive into other organizations that have successfully raised funds utilizing Twitter, I stumbled on Twestival. Twestival describes themselves as, “The largest grassroots social media fundraising initiative in the world.”
twestivalHow does Twestival work?
Twestival is a movement that uses social media for social good by connecting communities offline on a single day to highlight a great cause. All local events are organized 100% by volunteers and 100% of the ticket sales and donations go directly to local non-profits who organizers identified as having an incredible impact.
What I loved about this group was that: 1) a volunteer had to register an organization . . .  a non-profit could not register themselves and 2) you receive a mentor to help make your “event” a success. This is a great way to gather support for your organization, but you need to  be careful. More likely than not, supporters will not be sustainable for the long term (e.g. donor turnover is very high among people who contribute to your twestival). However, it is possible these individuals might continue to follow you on Twitter or Facebook and become loyal investors if you work hard at engaging them.
If you plan on adding Twitter as one of your agency’s fundraising strategies, like any effort, it must be intentional, strategic and consistent. Maximize your efforts by highlighting volunteers, special events, and educating about your mission and how you are meeting your mission.
How have you used Twitter to engage donors or share your mission? Please share your experiences with raising money utilizing social media or specifically Twitter.
rose draft sig

Is your non-profit agency using Twitter wrong?

twitter1A few months ago, I had a horrible experience with my favorite airline. Long story short . . . delay, delay, delay, delay, loaded on the plane, equipment malfunction, delay, delay and finally up-up-and-away. A whole day was lost. However, in that catastrophe, I was able to learn something about Twitter and the new age of customer service. In the last few weeks, I’ve been reminded of this experience when two bloggers talked about Twitter. So, I thought I’d we’d look Twitter a little more closely today, especially as it relates to non-profit organizations.

Tweet: Customer service

As I sat on that airplane for hours with cranky passengers and screaming babies, I remembered something I had read in The Social Media Bible about a similar experience that the author — Lon Safko — had on a Continental Airlines flight. In his example (found on page 8), his assistant used her smartphone and tweeted about her experience making sure to copy the airline on her tweet. No sooner had she taken her seat and a flight attendant was bringing her a glass of champagne with an apology.

With this story in mind, I whipped out my cell phone and started tweeting my displeasure.

Sure enough, the airline’s customer service representatives were paying attention and asked me about the situation. They checked into other flights. They tried to help, and when they couldn’t do anything, they apologized and compensated me with some rewards points.

The point of this story? Twitter is a TWO-WAY communication channel that for-profit companies are learning to master.

I recently read a blog post from Rachel Sprung at Social Media Examiner titled “4 Examples of Excellent Twitter Customer Service“. If you have some time this morning, I encourage you to click-through and read Rachel’s post. She shared additional good stories about Jet Blue, Nike, Seamless, and Comcast. It is worth the click!

Tweet: Donor communication

twitter2I am on Twitter every day. I’m not there very long. I’m not a Twitter expert. I’m sure that I am doing lots and lots wrong in the eyes of social media experts. However, I do see lots of content and most of those who I’m following are non-profit organizations.

I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a non-profit organization with a Twitter account engage in a discussion with a donor, client, or almost anyone. I’m sure it happens, but I’ve never seen it and I’m following 1,808 people/agencies.

I recently read a blog post from Steven Shattuck, who is the VP of Marketing at Bloomerang. The post was titled “11 Mistakes Nonprofits Make On Twitter And How To Avoid Them“.  And oh yeah . . . does he hit the nail on the head! Here are just a few of the mistakes he points out:

  • Broadcasting instead of engaging
  • Talking too much about yourself
  • Neglecting hashtags
  • Not tracking results

I won’t share all 11 mistakes, and I also won’t tell you how to avoid those mistakes. Why? Because you need to click-through and read Steven’s post. As with the previous post by Rachel which I mentioned in the previous section, Steven’s post is also definitely worth the click!

Tweet: How should your agency use Twitter?

twitter3This is a tough question to answer because I suspect it may vary slightly from agency-to-agency. However, some of the better non-profit organizations are tweeting the following:

  • picture of the day (demonstrating impact of their programming)
  • sharing stories about clients, donors, volunteers and board members
  • thanking followers for sharing content (e.g. “thanks for the RT” or “thanks for the MT”)

Back in the stone age before there was Twitter, I knew non-profit professionals who would dutifully read the newspaper every morning. When they saw an article or something about a volunteer, donor or board member, they would clip the article and send it to the person with a kind note.

What is stopping your agency from clicking through a few of your Twitter followers profiles and re-tweeting or mentioning something about their content/tweet? After all, it is akin to clipping something out of the newspaper, right? And it sends the message — loud and clear — that you care enough about them to read what they are tweeting. Just a thought!

If you want to read more about what other agencies are doing with Twitter, here are a few good online articles that I’ve found:

How is your agency using Twitter? What is working? What isn’t working? How are you using Twitter to engage board volunteers? Donors? Clients? Volunteers? Please use the comment box below and share your experiences. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

Using a multi-channel approach for fundraising? Don’t forget ‘old school’ strategies!

multichannel1Have you ever intended to do something, but “life happened” and you dropped the ball? Well, this is what happened to me last week when I intended to write a post for the March Nonprofit Blog Carnival weaving together social media, fundraising and a multi-channel approach. While I missed the submission deadline, I’m pressing forward with the post because I think we can all learn something from the Community Crisis Center and their 2009 “Crisis Overnight” campaign.

In my hometown of Elgin, Illinois, our domestic violence shelter was experiencing a crisis of its own in 2009 because the nearly bankrupt State of Illinois kept falling behind on its accounts payable to non-profit organizations that it had contracted with to provide services (e.g. running a domestic violence program). In 2009, it was so bad that Community Crisis Center was owed $400,000 and cash flow management was becoming a challenge.

Years earlier, a staff person had written an article for The Courier-News newspaper focused on providing readers with a 24 hour look at what happens at Community Crisis Center. Looking a mountain of red ink, the executive director, Gretchen Vapnar, decided that a similar approach was warranted in order to generate public awareness about the center’s situation.

multichannel2The only difference this time around was that it was a different world. Newspaper readership was down. Internet usage was exploding. It was a brave new world, and social media experts like Ruth Munson and Sarah Evans advised the center to take their concept online. Here is what this campaign end up looking like:

  • Sarah Evans spent an evening at the center. She witnessed the impact that the center makes in the lives of everyday people, and she blogged and tweeted about her experience. (e.g. #crisisovernight)
  • In addition to bearing witness, she communicated a powerful case for support using a number of different online and social media platforms (e.g. Twitter, blog, Facebook, and YouTube).
  • Other non-tech channels were used by the center. For example, volunteers set-up camp outside the center and donors were invited to “drive by” and drop off donations. Staff also attempted to integrate a pre-existing direct mail campaign into the “crisis overnight” campaign.
  • The initial goal was to raise $150,000 in three weeks. Unfortunately, they didn’t achieve this goal, but they kept plugging away to get the campaign to go viral.
  • While they didn’t achieve their original goal, they did raise $161,000 in six weeks.
  • In the end, there were 756 online donors and the average size gift was less than $100/donor. There also was one sizable $40,000 gift from a local foundation.

If you want to learn more about this campaign, you can do a Google search on “crisis overnight.” You can also click here to view a SlideShare presentation by Sarah Evans.

The most interesting thing to me about this entire campaign was what the executive director had to say more than three years later when looking back on the entire experience.

First, Gretchen marveled at how “everything always comes down to the same things.”  What she is referring to is how the keys to success for this online campaign are many of the same best practices that work for traditional fundraising activities. She gave the following three examples to illustrate her point:

  1. Donors need to connected. (e.g. your agency needs to be visible to the donor or your mission needs to touch/connect with them).
  2. The “who” is still key. The person asking for the donation correlates greatly to your campaign’s success.
  3. There is a “trust factor.” Donors need to trust the organization will follow through and do what they said they’d do with the donor’s investment. If they don’t know the agency well, then the volunteer solicitor is leveraging their relationship with the donor to create that level of trust.

Old fashion fundraising strategies and best practices

Online tactics (e.g. website, email, social media, etc)



There was also one other interesting lesson that Gretchen shared with me. She said that sustained success requires that non-profit organizations put someone in charge of their ePhilanthropy strategy (e.g. hire an online community manager).

Has your agency tied to undertake similar online fundraising campaigns? If so, what were the results? What did you learn? Please share your experiences 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

How Storify can help non-profits raise awareness

storifyIf there is one thing Social Media is about, it’s sharing — sharing information, photos, videos, statistics. If it can be displayed on a screen, it can be shared. Sometimes, it can be hard to keep track of all of the items being shared on a single topic. That’s where Storify comes in. Today, we are going to look at how your non-profit agency can use Storify to share social media updates with the world.

What Is It?

Storify defines itself as:

“Storify helps making sense of what people post on social media. Our users curate the most important voices and turn them into stories.”

I like to think of Storify as a personalized social media newspaper. Every now and again, I’ll see a Storify link in my twitter feed. I will click it to find a collection of status updates, tweets, photos, and articles on a topic that was important to the user. As the recipient of the Storify story, I find it brings attention to articles or updates that I may have missed on a specific subject.

Why Use It?

Storify can be a great way to share with your social media followers updates on a certain topic. For example, let’s say your mission has to do with cancer research. Once a week, it might be nice to collect stories about the advancements in cancer research, put them all together in an easy to read format, and share it with others.

What I like is that Storify gives you a way to provide context to the articles to which you are linking. Many times the hardest job a non-profit organization has is educating the public about their mission. Storify provides an easy format to do just that.

Additionally, Storify is a great search engine for finding content on different subjects. Even if you don’t use Storify to share articles and updates with others, it can be used as a powerful search engine to find what people are saying about your organization and its work.

Furthermore, once you publish a story on Storify, the service will notify the people quoted in your story to let them know they are being featured in your story. This can help you raise awareness about your issue faster and facilitate networking connections through social media.

Finally, Storify offers complete flexibility when it comes to how you share your curated stories with others. You can share it as a link to various social media networks or embed it right onto you website. Storify provides you with the code to do it, which makes it as simple as copy and paste.

How to Use It

Signing up for an account is simple. Just go to Storify.com to get started.

The whole interface is drag and drop so it makes deciding where things go very simple. Use Storify to share news about upcoming events, issues important to your mission, or collect when your organization is mentioned elsewhere on the web to share with members of your team.

See how The Weather Channel used Storify to collect stories about the latest winter storm.

I would just like to note that I was not compensated in way to write this post. I just think that Storify is a powerful tool that non-profits could use to raise awareness.

What do you think? Is Storify a tool for your non-profit? Do you already use Storify? If so, what do you believe to be most impactful when using the service? Share answers to any of these questions below in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you!
Marissa sig

Creating a Social Media Policy for Your Nonprofit

We live in an age where information can be shared in less than a blink of an eye. Social media has made it possible to share photos, videos, and updates from anywhere. While this can be an exciting time and social networking can be fun, it is social-media-policy-examplesimportant to make sure there are guidelines in place for your nonprofit when it comes to participation in social media. Today we are going to take a look at questions to ask yourself when forming your social media policy for your organization.

There are two parts to forming a social media policy:

  1. Managing your organization’s social media presence
  2. Guidelines for employees’ personal use of social media and its reflection on your agency

When it comes to writing the first part of your social media policy, keep in mind the following questions:

  • Who on your staff is allowed to update social networks on behalf of your organization? Is it just one person? Is it a team of people? What skills should the person/people responsible for social media updates have?
  • In which social networks should your organization participate? Every network might not be right for your organization. Take some time to do some research and find out which networks are the most important in which to be involved. If your agency is already established on certain social media sites already reflect on if the community is active on this site and if it is worth maintaining. If in your agency doesn’t participate in a site is important to claim a log in on the network to so that no one else claims your organization’s voice on that network.
  • What type of updates are allowed? Nonprofit information can be highly sensitive. Deciding what information can and cannot be shared is critical. This includes deciding who can be included in photos and videos.
  • When can information be shared? Beyond what information can be shared, when it can be shared is also important to think about as well. For example, when can you announce an upcoming special event? Or announce a staff change?
  • What email should be used to set up accounts? You may want to consider creating a social@yourorganziation.org type email address to use by staff when creating new social media profiles for your organizations. This will maintain consistency even if the staff responsible for updating the network changes.
  • Do updates need to be approved before posting? If so, creating a content calendar might be helpful to help plan out updates to get approved.

When creating a social media personal use policy for your organizations staff, keep these questions in mind:

  • If an employee is listed as working for your organization anywhere online are there certain things about your organization that this employee can or cannot say? It is important for the employee to understand that they are a reflection on the organization and if they are caught saying certain things will there be consequences?
  • Are your employees allowed to use their own personal social media profiles on behalf of the organization and interact with supporters? If so, are there guidelines?
  • Can employees share photos from events or from within the office on their personal social media sites? If so, are there any restrictions?

These are just a few questions to keep in mind when forming a social media policy. As you can imagine it can be quite a project to undertake, but once you have one in place, your nonprofit’s social media presence can thrive under the guidelines you put in place. It is important to note that policies like this might have to be approved by a Board of Directors or overseen by an attorney. Also as a disclaimer, I am not an attorney, so please just take my questions as suggestions and a starting point when forming a social media policy. If you are looking for examples of social media policies, you can check out this site.

Have you put together a social media policy for your organization? What were some best practices you can share with DonorDreams readers? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!

Marissa sig

Setting your non-profit agency’s 2013 social media goals

new years resolutionsHappy 2013 DonorDreams readers! I hope the year has started off well for you. The beginning of new years are always a time of reflection for me. I like to look at what I did last year and see what I want to accomplish this year. This usually results in me making a number of lists that either get fully or partially completed by the end of the year. I thought, that in the first Mondays with Marissa post for 2013, we could sit down and look at how to do the same for your nonprofit agency’s social media strategy.

Whenever I take the time to look back on the year, I start by asking myself a bunch of questions about the year that just ended. When looking at social media, the same process can be helpful. Here’s a list of questions to ask about the social media success of your organization.

  • On which social networks did you have an account?
  • How many posts did you make on each network?
  • Which networks warranted the most engagement? This includes: likes, retweets, replies, comments, reblogs, ect.
  • What type of posts resulted in the most engagement? Were photos more successful than text? Did you experiment with videos? How did those work?
  • Which days were the most successful for encouraging engagement on each social media site? Are Tuesdays and Fridays your best Facebook days while Wednesdays and Thursdays are your best Twitter days? If you blog regularly, don’t forget to look back and see which days resulted in the most views and comments. Was there a pattern with the posts on those days?

Based on asking these questions, you can use the answers to help form your plan for 2013. These additional questions can help flush out the details.

  • Which social networks were least successful? Are they worth your attention this year?
  • Which social networks were were you not involved in last year? Would you like to try a new one?
  • Have you started a blog for your organization? If not, why? If so, do you have an email subscription service set up?
  • Based on your numbers from last year, what are your goals for 2013?

You may be wondering where you can get all of that data. Well,  Facebook Insights is a great place to start for Facebook. If you were using the application Think Up, you should have an archive of all of your numbers from last year. Twitter just made your history downloadable so that’s a place to start. Even if you aren’t able to get specific numbers as to which posts were the most successful thinking about your social media involvement in this way can help you set up some healthy goals for 2013.

I’d love to hear some of your social media goals in the comments below. Please take a moment to share what you’re most looking forward to accomplishing in the social media space in 2013?
Marissa sig

Evaluating your non-profit board volunteer prospects’ social reach and network

social reach1I was recently engaged in an engaging discussion about board development with a great group of non-profit board volunteers. The range of topics in that conversation spanned issues such as prospect identification, evaluation methods, prioritizing prospect lists, cultivating prospects, recruitment process, orientation, recognition, and evaluation.  It was one of those conversations that a facilitator loves because everyone was engaged and actively participating. There was an energetic dynamic in the room, and then someone asked a really tough question:

“How do we evaluate the scope of someone’s social network?”

This question stems from the discussion on the importance of diversity in your boardroom. After talking about the obvious (e.g. age, gender, ethnicity), these discussions always turn to the more difficult subjects including how to assess a prospective board volunteer’s social network and social capital. Of course, this is important because you don’t want a boardroom full of people who all walk in the same social circles.

Moreover, this is important because:

  • Fundraising — The collective network in your boardroom is related to the reach of your fundraising program, its appeals and potential future donors.
  • Board Development — Birds of a feather flock together, and the collective network in your boardroom will give birth to future boards. Board replicate themselves all the time!
  • Group-think — People who are close and come from the same walks of life can sometimes think alike, which can greatly influence board governance and important decisions.

So, what is the answer to the aforementioned question pose by this obviously super smart board volunteer?

Well, it is complicated and simple all at the same time. Ugh!

social reach3For decades (and probably centuries), board development committees have answered this question the old fashion way. They sat down around a table and talked it over. Those committees who were successful had a diversity of people sitting around the table and were able to assess a prospect’s social network in an anecdotal manner. They talked about what they see and hear about the prospect. Here are just some of the things they most likely talked through:

  • Does the prospect sit on other non-profit boards?
  • What church does this prospect belong to? Are they active? Who else belongs to that church?
  • What other groups does this person belong to? (e.g. Rotary, Kiwanis, country club, chamber of commerce, local booster clubs, etc) Who else belongs to those groups?
  • What else do we see this person’s name attached to? (e.g annual reports, donor recognition walls, local newspaper articles, etc)
  • How does this prospect’s network, reach, and social capital compare to what is currently sitting around our boardroom table?

This is what “old school” board development assessment work looks like. It is highly effective. It has a track record of working. It is highly dependent on a diversity of people with a diversity of perspectives engaging in such a conversation.

Of course, our 21st Century mindset and perspectives leads us to question old approaches and investigate new tools and approaches, and there is nothing wrong with that.

So, I recently opened up my board development toolbox and re-examined some very traditional tools such as:

  • board matrix
  • sample prospective board member information sheet
  • board candidate rating form

In doing that simple review, it occurred to me that there isn’t much substance to those tools from the perspective of assessing someone’s social network, social reach and social capital. The matrix does ask the board development committee to assess  “community connections,” and the information sheet also asks questions about your prospect’s affiliations and other non-profit board service. While these tools nibble around the edges, it wouldn’t be difficult to tweak these tools to more directly address the question posed by our board volunteer at the beginning of this blog post.

social reach2However, there are some “21st Century” tools that your board development committee might want to start using when talking through the issue of a prospect’s network. Consider the following:

  • Do a Google search on your prospective new board members during the evaluation phase of your process. Talk about the results of that search.
  • Look at their online social networks (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter). If no one around the table is connected to the prospect in that way, then: 1) that might tell you something in and of itself and 2) you might expand your reach and find someone on the board or among your network who is linked in such a way.
  • Use Guidestar to determine if they are associated with other non-profits in your community.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with the “old school approach”. In fact, one simple way that you can tweak this traditional approach is by including your prospective future board volunteers in the process. Asking them to help you answer a few questions about their network and their reach. If done appropriately, it wouldn’t have to feel awkward.

How does your non-profit organization tackle the question posed at the beginning of this blog post as part of its board development process? Please use the comment box to share your best practices. We can all learn from each other and save time by not re-inventing the wheel.  😉

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC

Five ways your non-profit can participate in #GivingTuesday

Last week I provided a few ideas about how non-profits can benefit from creating a donor drive modeled after Black Friday sales. This week I want to highlight a campaign that is taking off for the first time tomorrow (the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving) by name of  Giving Tuesday.

After standing in lines on Black Friday, running around to leftover sales on the weekend, and grabbing the best deals online (aka Cyber Monday), many corporations and non-profits want to turn the nation’s attention to the spirit of giving.

Let’s take a look at five things your nonprofit can do to get involved tomorrow.

  1. Make it easy to donate – If people catch wind that there is a movement called “Giving Tuesday” and cannot make a donation on your agency’s website, then you’re going to miss the boat. As Erik stated in his post a few months ago about end of the year giving strategies, Giving Tuesday could be beneficial to your organization meeting its year-end fundraising goals. So, make sure there is clear and easy directions about how to make a donation on your website. You can add a Donate Now button easily through PayPal.  If you don’t have time to make major changes to your site, at least put up a blog post or update that tells people where they can send their money.
  2. Link it up – Link to your website on every social media platform where you have a presence. Make sure to mention “Giving Tuesday” in your updates. People don’t want to go searching for where to go. Also, don’t forget to also send an email to your donors.
  3. Provide reasons to give – On a variety of social media sites, share photos of what your organization does with the money it receives (e.g. services, items purchased, your clients, events, facilities, etc). If you are looking to reach a goal for a certain fund or project, then Giving Tuesday is the perfect time to highlight those needs. You also want to mention something simple such as what a $20 donation can provide. Remember, crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter have started a trend of microfunding and people are more apt to give to your organization if they can see results.
  4. Give updates – Throughout the day, give people updates on how things are going. There’s a reason why telethons go to the “total board” many times throughout the broadcast . . . it encourages people to give and creates a bandwagon effect.
  5. Thank people – Thank individuals who either “retweet” your tweets or “like” or “share” your photos on Facebook. Acknowledging those who participate in Giving Tuesday will only help the movement grow. So, even if all you do is spread the word tomorrow, next year your organizations could benefit even more.

I hope that these tips help and your organization gets involved in Giving Tuesday tomorrow.

Even if your organization hasn’t given any thought to Giving Tuesday until reading this post, getting involved by spreading the word can help lay the groundwork for next year. In all off your updates, make sure to include the hashtag #GivingTuesday. The organizers of the Giving Tuesday campaign are showing tweets with #GivingTuesday on their site in real-time. Think of the exposure your non-profit will receive.

What are your thoughts about Giving Tuesday? Is your organization planning on participating? If your agency does participate, please come back here and leave us a comment on how it went.