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?
That 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?
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.
The annual eNonprofit Benchmarks Study from M+R Strategic Services and NTEN had good news and bad news. On the plus side, the survey of 55 national nonprofits found a 15% increase in email list size, online fundraising revenues were up 21%, and social media is reaching more supporters than ever (with Twitter followers up 264%). On the other hand, email response rates dropped, especially on fundraising appeals (-21%).
Why? The authors note that the response rate decline is a long-term trend, in part a reaction to nonprofits that keep sending email to unresponsive addresses. Then there’s Pale Shadow Syndrome, a theory I just concocted on the spot, which holds that successful innovators attract imitators who are but pale shadows of the originals, and audiences just get bored.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
The fundraising statistics are bleak. A new study from the Association of Fundraising Professionals finds that:
- For every $100 nonprofits raise, $100 is lost through attrition.
- For every 100 new donors, 107 donors drop off.
- Only 31% of 2009 donors gave again in 2010.
But help may be on the way. Jay Love, founder of eTapestry, has launched a new constituent relationship management (CRM) software product, Bloomerang, that is designed to be low-cost, easy to use, and aimed at both acquisition and retention. It won favorable reviews from two prominent fundraising consultants, Marc Pitman and Roger Craven.
First it was CNN’s investigative reports on a veterans organization that paid its direct mail fundraiser $60 million in fees to raise $56 million. That got the attention of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. In June CNN found that the same fundraising firm kept most of the $25 million it raised for the SPCA. Last month Bloomberg News ran an expose on telemarketing fundraisers for major national charities who keep 85% or more of what they raise. When prospective donors asked telemarketers what percentage went to the charity, the scripted answer was 70% or more.
Now you’ve got a problem. Even if you don’t use outside telemarketing or direct mail services, you could pay the price for donors’ diminished trust in nonprofit causes. Prospective donors have more reasons to hang up on all telemarketers – even when volunteers do the calling – and to toss out all direct mail, unopened – even if you produce it in-house.
You need to shore up donor confidence in your organization, and that takes transparency. Explain how much of their money goes directly into your programs. Share stories that show how their dollars make a difference.Give them reasons to believe, and remember to keep it donor-centered. It’s about them, not you.
Here’s help: Guidestar has produced More Money for More Good, a free guide to communicating your impact and performance to donors.
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.
An 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?
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.
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.
The 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.
Jump Start Growth, Inc., a nonprofit fundraising and consulting firm in Washington DC. Today, Paul tells about the importance of breaking the sound barrier.We welcome back Paul Jolly, Director of
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.
Derrick 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.
So many studies of social networking, fundraising and online marketing have been released in recent weeks that it becomes a major chore to keep them straight. The good folks at Nonprofit Tech 2.0 did us all a favor by compiling eight “Must-Read Reports for Nonprofits” into a single post, with links to all eight. A few highlights:
- The growth of online fundraising slowed last year, to only 15.8%, and 11.9% of online advocates also donated – nearly double last year’s figure (Convio Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index).
- Large nonprofits increased dollars raised online by an average 19%, with gift size falling about 2% (M+R and NTEN eNonprofits Benchmark)
Sometimes a nonprofit’s campaign can include a fine idea that, alas, doesn’t quite get it right. Like a long fly ball to the 385-foot alley of a ball park that falls in to be caught at 382 feet, the charity can be excited at what seems to be about to happen, only to trudge back to the dugout (or in our cases today ‘back to the glitzy communications agencies’) lamenting about what could have been.
Let’s return this Monday to a theme we led off with last Monday on high-concept advocacy plans that did not quite live up to expectations. The good folks at the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration (SOFII) provide us all with food-for-thought when it comes to campaigns that might have looked good in the pristine world of the conference room, but came up just short in the real world. And ‘just short’ can mean real human tragedy where the fight against hunger is concerned.
Human beings are wired to pick up visual cues before we pick up textual ones. Social media and the internet love visuals too, because visual communication can travel quickly through networks and beyond the original linguistic group. We did a story on the MKCREATIVEmedia Blog last week about the eBenchmark study of 2012 by NTen and M+R Strategic Services that highlighted the ongoing importance of email outreach. What better way to follow that up than with their infographic showing the power of email.
We call your attention to such metrics as the fact that 35% of all online giving in 2011 came through email, whereas all other platforms together made up the other 65%. Therefore, email remains the single biggest tool in a nonprofit’s outreach toolbox, but it should not be considered the only tool. But how to be successful with email?
In today’s post, I ask readers to imagine a world in which fundraising staff and programmatic work closely together with a variety of “programmatic” events in order to expose the organization to those very individuals who have the financial capacity to enhance and/or to ensure the organizations’ future. My prediction: your fundraising results will surprise you.
Given how much time, energy and effort tends to go into organizing fundraising events, I thought we might start with one question: Just what is a “fundraising” event?
What happens when you get corporate assistance to launch a new campaign, or pro bono development from a commercial ad agency? You can get some fabulous ideas and some valuable insights on establishing your brand. You can get your materials into some of the best publication and on some of the most visited sites on the web.
But as some of our colleagues at Sofii.org have discovered, you can also get a good deal of expensive nothing. The commercial backer or ad agency might not be sensitive to the constituents who want to be involved with various types of nonprofits. They might encourage outreach through channels that are quite unlikely to reach the people your charity traditionally reaches. They might give you a fabulous product on the design board (Indeed, I think it’s safe to say that they certainly will give you a fabulous design.) that falls flat in the real world. Let’s look at a couple of examples from Sofii.
Though weather in the mid-Atlantic continues to flirt with spring while staying surprisingly loyal to winter, it is the season to be planning summer festivals, fundraisers, and rallies. And if you really want to stay on top of your nonprofit’s schedule, start planning your end-of-year banquet as well (and use Tungle). But in this day and age, a nonprofit’s fundraising festival should be but one component of a multi-media plan to engage constituents, volunteers, and supporters both at the event and in the social networks of those attending.
We have recommended ‘Tweet Tables’ in previous posts, and today we draw on a really useful compendium of ideas from Trevor Jonas at Mashable.com.
Sean Triner is co-founder and “chief evangelist” of Pareto Fundraising, a direct marketing firm working in Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand exclusively with nonprofit organizations. Sean is a frequent speaker and consultant at international fundraising events. The interview was conducted by Don Akchin, a principal of Nonprofit Marketing 360 and a regular contributor to the MKCREATIVE blog.
NPM360: How is your direct marketing model different from the U.S. model?
SEAN: The key difference is volumes. The whole population of Australia is about 20 million. Also, the costs of things are extraordinary. Cars are 40%, 50%, even 60% more here. Petrol is 50% more than in the U.S. With such small populations and such extraordinary costs, to get a direct-mail package out costs literally three times as much. The printing is three times as much. The postal stamp is three times as much. The mailing-list purchase prices are up to three times as much.