#LiveClass: Successful Fundraising with Imperfect Boards

Don-finalPlaying to Their Strengths

Visit The Knowledge Fountain website to find out about our latest course offering online: “Successful Fundraising with Imperfect Boards”, presented LIVE by Paul Jolly, of Jump Start Growth. Here’s a brief overview:

Ask a development director to complete the sentence “My board is  –” and 9 out of 10 automatically respond, ” – not engaged enough in fundraising.” Every nonprofit wishes it had a board populated by socialites and corporate heavyweights, who write big checks and enlist their wealthy friends as donors. Sadly, no one has that board.  But you can leverage the talents and strengths of the board you do have to make them effective and successful partners in fundraising. [Read more…]

#SOCIALMEDIA: Facebook Quietly Rolls Out ‘Gifts’ & Nonprofits Can Get Them Too

Message of a Facebook Gift
Didn’t Facebook develop Android integration?

Over this past spring Facebook has been expanding its Gifts service as a way to offer presents to family and friends. The service can be activated by clicking on the bowed gift box that appears on your organization’s News Feed or on the page of the person or nonprofit you want to give the gift to. Though the service is being touted as a way to connect to individuals and help them celebrate birthdays, milestones, promotions, etc., Facebook Gifts also offers opportunities to make donations to a small but growing number of nonprofits. How far will the service expand?

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#FUNDRAISING: Outreach Tactics & Technologies Need To Adjust To Demographics

Mail still best way to get donationsWith the texts and tweets and the touchscreens and with those crazy(-cool) Google goggles and whatnot, a nonprofit would be daft to send those old-fashioned appeals by mail. The cost of printing and stamps, the hassle of upkeep of a database of address, the imposition of making potential donors find their checkbooks buried ever-farther into their desk drawers… who would bother?

But an extensive whitepaper from the folks at Convio makes it quite clear that not only is the traditional through-the-snail-mail appeal still a great way to solicit support for your charity, it is the hands-down winner over all media outreach. As the chart to the left reveals, outreach by mail achieves incredibly high response rates. That said − and unsurprisingly − the impact of mailers fades as one moves down the age groups, as Generations X and (especially) Y choose to respond to other media as well. What media will carry the donation message into the future?

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#FUNDRAISING: Outreach Tactics & Technologies Need To Adjust To Demographics

Mail brings almost 1/2 of all donations - for now
Mail brings almost 1/2 of all donations – for now

With the texts and tweets and the touchscreens and with those crazy(-cool) Google goggles and whatnot, a nonprofit would be daft to send those old-fashioned appeals by mail. The cost of printing and stamps, the hassle of upkeep of a database of address, the imposition of making potential donors find their checkbooks buried ever-farther into their desk drawers… who would bother?

But an extensive whitepaper from the folks at Convio makes it quite clear that not only is the traditional through-the-snail-mail appeal still a great way to solicit support for your charity, it is the hands-down winner over all media outreach. As the chart to the left reveals, outreach by mail achieves incredibly high response rates. That said − and unsurprisingly − the impact of mailers fades as one moves down the age groups, as Generations X and (especially) Y choose to respond to other media as well. What media will carry the donation message into the future?

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#FUNDRAISING: Mobile Platforms For Donations Have Pros & Cons

iPhones ofer text donationsThat mobile communications devices like smart phones and tablets are the platform-of-choice for most people around the globe is a truism. Ever more business is being conducted over such devices as well, especially over tablets − and by ‘business’ we mean logistics, orders, and purchases, not just business calls.

Nonprofits have appreciated the impact of mobile devices for their work as well. The Red Cross’s famed text-to-donate drive after the Haitian earthquake of 2010 stands as one of the best-known early examples of such fundraising. But as the platform grows in scope and matures in form, what are some of the options out there that fit best with your nonprofit’s needs?

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#FUNDRAISING: Does Your Nonprofit Need Help Keeping Up With Its Growing Donor Base?

Open-Source CRM Package
OpenPetra’s Client Screen

Just this past week Idealware published its 2013 Field Guide to Software for nonprofits and charities. The staff at Idealware demarcate a number of areas that nonprofits and software developers have been collaborating, such as social-networking management, and gives reviews and how-tos on some of the solutions in the market. The book can be had via Amazon ($25) or directly from Idealware’s site ($20).

As you know, though, MKCREATIVEmedia has been tracking software developments for our clients for a number of years now, and we want to share some recent developments in the field of Customer Relations Management software (CRM). In particular, we have found some open-source and free platforms well worth considering to manage your donors and volunteers.

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#HOWTO: Let Your iPhone Connect You To Volunteers & Deserving Projects

Volunteer Match brings individuals & nonprofits togetherApple has not always been a forthcoming corporation when it comes to providing outreach for nonprofits and charities. Many lamented the early iterations of the iPhone for not allowing fundraising applications due to iTunes Store’s stingy policies. Indeed, nonprofits were not even allowed to develop apps if any money were expected to change hands. Though policy has not changed (and Apple still demands a $99 fee to have access to the storefront), many nonprofits are finding ways to leverage the iOS platform of the phone without running afoul with Apple’s lawyers. MacLife‘s A.J. Dellinger offers a compendium of eight such apps that use the iPhone’s OS, and we wanted to highlight a few of those apps to give you a sense of the directions developers are marking as they write software for the nonprofit sector.

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#DEVELOPMENT: How Much Cash Is Required To Land A Donation?

Woman charts customer relationships
What does it cost?

How often do nonprofits reach out to donors potential and actual online, yet have no real sense of how successful the outreach was? Did the time and money spent developing a program or launching a campaign prove to be worth the support? Dan Norris, founder of the online-analytics service Informly offers a tool to help you make that call. He also recently posted his somewhat-scientific results on using his ‘Cost Per Acquisition‘ (CPA) calculator to see what kinds of costs he was incurring to get people engaged with his for-profit business. Let’s see how the costs to acquire customers or donors can prove strikingly steep.

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#FUNDRAISING: Causevox Improves Online Outreach & Fundraising To 2.0

Widgets to turn on or off
Easy-to-customize donation pages

We have often sung the praises of the online charity-site platform Causevox. And we do so again as the good folks at Causevox have released a significant series of upgrades and integrations in version 2.0. It moved out of beta last week, allowing any charity or nonprofit to take advantage of the expanding toolbox. This is how the programmers put it last week on the company blog:

We found out that the key to success for online fundraising this decade is easy customization, community engagement, and content marketing. Our existing platform couldn’t accommodate that vision, so we scrapped it and developed, from the ground up, a new and improved CauseVox.

CauseVox 2.0 is our first step to revolutionize online fundraising.

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#VIDEO: Ken Sterns’s Book Offers Tough Love To Nonprofit Economy

Ken Sterns, former CEO of NPR, challenges the nonprofit sector
Ken Sterns, former CEO of NPR, challenges the nonprofit sector

Ken Sterns has served as CEO of National Public Radio, arguably one of the best-known nonprofits in the country. He supports The American Red Cross, and has served on the boards of a number of charities. So when his book, And Charity for All argues that the nonprofit sector is a huge part of the American economy, yet the least productive sector as well, people listen. And they should.

Mr. Sterns was recently interviewed at The Huffington Post, as he joined a roundtable (‘multiscreen’) discussion that included Alexander Berger at GiveWell; Dr. John Brothers, founder of Quidoo Consulting; and Rigo Sabarino, President and CEO of St. Barnabas Senior Services. The interview begins with him throwing down the gauntlet, wondering if the nonprofit community is even worth preserving.

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#INTERVIEW: Paul Jolly of Jump Start Growth Helps Us Plan for the 2013 ‘Ask’

Our interview with Paul Jolly
Paul Jolly, President of Jump Start Growth, Inc.

This past December, Paul Jolly, President of Jump Start Growth, Inc., talked about the spiritual side of fundraising, and how he works with nonprofits to help them appreciate the motives and desires of big donors. Paul’s company has many years of experience to bring to organizations that are trying to improve their success rates with big donors.

Today we are excited to bring you part two of our interview with Paul. We shift directions just a bit in this conversation to talk about the near future of fundraising. What seems to be the lay-of-the-land for 2013? What technological/communications developments should we keep our eye on? What is developing on the Jump Start Growth website for the new year?

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#FUNDRAISING: Paul Jolly of Jumpstart Growth Explores The Spiritual Side Of Donors

Paul Jolly's fundraising organization
The soul of fundraising

Raising money for a nonprofit or charity is tough work. With the focus of the organization on fundraising, it is not surprising that outreach tends to focus on the numbers (the thousands who benefit from the nonprofit’s work, the millions required to keep such work going, the hundreds of people asked to give…). In this first part of our video interview with Paul Jolly, Founder and President of Jump Start Growth Incorporated, we learn that the numbers really should be the last concern of a nonprofit or charity, not the first. For Paul and Jump Start Growth, the first concern is the personal, the spiritual, connection between the donor and the cause she or he wants to support. Where is your organization’s focus?

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#DEVELOPMENT: Do You Have Big Plans For Your Big Data? Not So Fast…

The latest buzz concept is ‘Big Data.’ Like most buzz concepts/ words, its definition leaves much up to the mouth of the speaker. Big Data, whatever the specifics, refers to the large amount of information that can be collected from online activity and exchange of information (on social networks, for example). The ability to aggregate such information from posts, streams, and online purchases creates some truly ‘big’ numbers. And they are only further extended with the collection of information from rewards programs and loyalty cards.

But Big Data can also trick us with impressive numbers like our Twitter followers or Facebook friends − but who within that number are encouraging each other to support our causes? Though ‘numbers don’t lie,’ statistics do, so an organization must know how it’s going to parse the data is collecting and what it hopes to achieve with the effort.

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#INTERVIEW: Rob Wu of Causevox Tells Us About Developments In Online Fundraising

CauseVox online donor acquisition
Causevox moves to version 2

Rob Wu is co-founder of Causevox, an online social-media and donor-acquisition platform, and he and his team have been working hard over the last number of months moving the online system to 2.0. We had the pleasure of talking with Rob a year or so ago, when Causevox first went live. The focus then was to create a ‘turn key’ website/social-media hub for nonprofits, which allowed them to customize the look and feel of the site to fit their ‘brand’ while also enjoying some advanced features like bulk emailing and email subscription captures.

The success of the platform has been phenomenal, as charities working from Africa and to the southwestern US have gotten connected with Causevox and have raised many tens of thousands of dollars over the last year. But the New-York based staff has not been sitting on its laurels. Let’s hear what Rob has to say in this first interview.

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#PHILANTHROPY: Evidence Of ‘Emerging Charitable Markets’ & How To Tap Into Them

Younger philanthropists want to be reached personallyAn article on yesterday’s E-Jewish Philanthropy caught our eye because the authors did a really interesting bit of research into the top givers in US in this calendar year. The study by Robert I. Evans and Avrum D. Lapin demonstrates how useful a careful parsing of statistics can be for fundraisers, and how that parsing can uncover shifting trends in the philanthropic world.

The ostensible foundation of their work was to try to explain why some 130 of the wealthiest Americans on the famed Forbes 400 list are Jewish, yet only about thirty of them have given gifts that break into the list of top donors as compiled by The Chronicle of Philanthropy. They have discovered not so much a shift in the habits of giving among Jewish donors but demographic and economic shifts that are opening what they call ‘emerging charitable markets.’ Who is participating in these markets?

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#FUNDRAISING: Paul Jolly Inspires The Big Ask To Raise Big Money

Nonprofits often ask for too little support
If you ask for less, you'll get less (and work harder on fundraising than on your projects)

We welcome back Paul Jolly, Director of Jump Start Growth, Inc., a nonprofit fundraising and consulting firm in Washington DC. Today, Paul tells about the importance of breaking the sound barrier.

Many good therapists will tell you your achievements are limited only by your attitude.  Organizations, as well as individuals, may have a mindset that limits what they can accomplish. Which means they work harder for less.

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#SOCIALNETWORKS: What Are You Doing To Improve Impact Of Your Facebook Page?

Facebook's outreach
Facebook can be the nexus of a still more powerful network

So your nonprofit or charity has its requisite Facebook page up. You’re posting updates and tweeting about upcoming events. All fine-and-good (and important). But what else could you be doing to energize your Facebook presence? Let’s face it, Facebook has hit some hard times recently. Even before the public IPO Facebook was one of the lowest ranked companies in terms of customer satisfaction. Since then, the stock has fallen over half its original price, and you might have noticed the advertisements as you sign in and sign out of your account as Facebook engineers struggle to find income streams.

But even if a few million of the users are fakes, Facebook remains the heaviest hitter in the social-networking league and we need to use it. The challenge is efficient differentiation and outreach − But how?

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#FUNDRAISING: Consider Moving Online Donors To Direct Mail Giving

First time online donors continues to grow
Tap into a steady growth of new online giving

Social networks can be so important for communicating with folks who support (or will support) your cause. The high speed and low cost of such outreach can offer huge dividends, but mostly those dividends are paid in good will and spurring interest. Online donations are certainly growing, but as a recent report from Blackbaud demonstrates, long-term support and larger donations still mostly come from responses to direct mail, even if initial support comes online. The effort for any nonprofit, therefore, should be to develop interests and first donations online, yet also to strive to engage those donors with direct-mail appeals to keep the support coming. What are the numbers to back up this strategy?

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#GRANTS: The Lawrence Foundation Can Help Your Environmental Or Health Program

About the Lawrence FoundationIn our ongoing periodic series on sources for grants, we have focused on foundations tied to the great tech companies of our day. In this installment we present a foundation not obviously linked to that sector of the economy, though in fact it is intimately entwined. The Lawrence Foundation was established by Jeff Lawrence and Diane Troth (spouses) in 2000 with some of the proceeds received from the acquisition of Trillium Digital Systems, which was a company Jeff started, by Intel Corporation. Over the last decade-plus, the foundation has offered over $3 million to projects concerning education, health, the environment, and disaster relief (local and international). How would your organization benefit from a relationship with the Lawrence Foundation?

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#DEVELOPMENT: Social-Networking Is Good, But Conversation-Building Is Better

Social networks and the power of one Difficult to say that social networks have already grown to be mature means of communication. Moreover, some platforms shoot wide and far (vis Facebook for everyone), while others target a specific subset of the social-media community (vis Epernicus for the scientific community). Figuring out how to negotiate those platforms can seem daunting. But we have some advice that might help ease the stress of trying to reach everyone. Don’t try to reach everyone. Well, it’s not quite that simple.

 

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#FUNDRAISING: The Holiday Season For Donations Begins Now. Ready?

Summer is when you plan your holiday fundraisingThe pools are open and busy. The grill has cooled down since the July-4th Picnic. The MLB All-Star Game is tonight. It’s July. One of the traditional/old-fashioned ways to disrupt the heat is to hold a “Christmas in July” party, and your nonprofit or charity should be having one. Why? To celebrate the good work you have been doing for the last six months, and to energize yourselves for the critical holiday season of solicitation and fundraising that should hit its peak in mid-November and continue right through the new year. Yep, the groundwork for a successful holiday season needs to start soon, like tomorrow.

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#COMMUNICATIONS: Break The Sound Barrier To Encourage A Conversation

Break the sound barrier to enjoy conversation with your donorsWe welcome back Paul Jolly, Director of Jump Start Growth, Inc., a nonprofit fundraising and consulting firm in Washington DC. Today, Paul tells about the importance of breaking the sound barrier.

Back in 1947, US Air Force pilot Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 rocket/plane. Fighter jets break the barrier with ease nowadays, but it’s not the only sound barrier that must be broken. The sound barrier that a fund raiser hopes to break through is the sound of his or her own voice. More times than I care to remember, I have sat in the living room or office of a donor, hauling newsletters and annual reports out of my briefcase, talking about programs, accomplishments, plans.  Blah, blah, blah. I am waiting for a signal from the person across the coffee table or desk, and he or she is waiting for me to stop talking.

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#SOCIALNETWORKS: NTEN 2012 Report Shows Real ROI Growth Over Past Year

Survey results of NTEN's questionnaire for nonprofits
Click to go to the report

Okay, so you have been developing your nonprofit’s presence on the staples of social media new for a couple of years. Facebook page? Check. Twitter account? Sure. But how much time do you want to put into keeping up with those outlets? Has your organization seen any growth in volunteers or donors thanks to the outreach on social media?

The 2012 Nonprofit Social Benchmark Report from NTEN is the fourth in this annual series, which means the surveyors have enough materials to start identifying longer-term trends and to offer meaningful statistics as to how social networks are changing communications and fundraising for nonprofits and charities. Spoiler Alert: Nonprofit use of social networks is growing, and with that use most nonprofits are enjoying significant returns on investment (ROI). Still not sure you want to commit resources to it? Please read on…

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#SOCIALNETWORKS: Twitter Continues To Expand Through Mobile Devices

Mobile phones and Twitter go great togetherThe Pew Internet and American Life Project has brought us valuable statistics and reported notable trends in internet use over the years, and a recent report focused on the growing use of Twitter as a means of social networking. Twitter could be described as a social networking platform that punches above its weight class. Twitter turned six this past March, and by its own accounts has some 140 million users sending some 340 million tweets a day. For the sake of comparison, Facebook has over 900 million.

Yet Twitter’s political and cultural impact is almost equivalent, even if it has only 15.5% as many users. Note the ‘Arab Spring’ as a ‘Twitter Revolution.’ How does Twitter have such an oversized geopolitical impact? The same reason local nonprofits should be developing a presence on the social network.

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#INTERVIEW: Derrick Feldmann, CEO of Achieve, Discusses The Millennial Impact Report Coming June 11

Derrick Feldmann HeadshotDerrick Feldmann is CEO of Achieve, a creative fundraising agency that produces The Millennial Impact Report, an annual research study of Millennial Generation donors. (The 2012 report will be released on Monday.) The agency also hosts the only national virtual summit, MCON, on Millennials annually. The interview was conducted by Don Akchin, a principal of Nonprofit Marketing 360 and a frequent contributor to the MKCREATIVE blog.

NPM360: You have made Millennial donors a specialty. Isn’t it a little early to be worrying about the Millennial donors?

DERRICK: Absolutely not! If we have an expectation that this generation of 20- to-30-year-olds will be future significant supporters of our causes, we have an expectation now to involve them. If you are an educational institution, if you are a nonprofit, if you are planning a capital campaign in the next ten years, and you want more donor support, you had better start working with them now. There is an imperative to work with this generation.

Organizations might not have them as a focus because they may not have the largest capacity to give right now. It’s been a bit tricky for some organizations to figure out parallel tracks of involvement for constituents who don’t necessarily have large capacity but in volumes could give a lot.
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