This is a really important guest post. If you are in the business of fundraising in any way, it’s recommended reading. Please also share it, because our sector needs to see this data and act accordingly. Thanks to the author, Jay Love, for putting this together in such a compelling way. Jay is the former CEO of eTapestry. He is currently CEO of Bloomerang and SVP of Avectra while serving on numerous local and national nonprofit boards. He’s very smart about this topic. By Jay LoveEver since the Urban Institute and the Association of Fundraising Professionals created the Fundraising Effectiveness Project a few years ago, I have been tracking the results religiously. They provide a near real-time scorecard on what is driving the bulk of charitable giving in our country. The headline of the results is this: Repeat donors matter most. But we are terrible at keeping them. The good news is we could double the fundraising results of most nonprofits by doing a better job keeping our donors. Just imagine what impact such an increase could have on virtually all charity missions!What’s wrongHere’s my team at Bloomerang’s visual analysis of just how badly we’re doing – and why I’m an advocate for doing better. What jumps out at you here is the comparison of the commercial sector customer retention average result of 94% versus the charity sector donor retention result of 41%. That is a drastic difference by any means of comparison. I do not believe the donor retention percentage will ever be the same as those derived from customers paying for a service they use daily, and in most cases where they spent decent sums of money implementing. However, as the bottom right corner block of information states, there are nonprofits who achieve a rate of 70% or higher. Every organization should establish a goal for what their donor retention should be. Unfortunately, many organizations are not aware of their current rate or if they know it do not share it with either their staff or board. What to do about itTo fix this problem at your nonprofit, you need to start with your own data. Track the various retention rates below, comparing those rates with the ones I share here. As the old adage goes, what is measured is what improves. Some key retention rates to track are:1. First Year Donor Retention Rate by Dollars2. First Year Donor Retention Rate by Number of Donors3. Repeat Donor Retention Rate by Dollars4. Repeat Donor Retention Rate by Number of Donors5. Overall Donor Retention Rate by Dollars6. Overall Donor Retention Rate by Number of DonorsCoupled with the above, are the added measures of tracking “upgrades” and “downgrades”. Together these metrics provide solid data to use for establishing individual key objectives and goals. Next, read the recommendations of Professor Adrian Sargeant. His website will give you an MBA in Donor Retention principles and practices here. My hope is each of you reading this post garners an insight or a concept that allows you to improve your organization’s retention levels enough to truly double the lifetime value of your donor database.
Happy New Year!We’re still tabulating results at Network for Good, but a first look at the numbers suggests December was good to most nonprofits. While the average number of online donations per nonprofit looks flat compared to 2011, the average size of gift is larger, so most of the thousands of organizations that fundraise through our platform saw about 10% more dollars this December than last. How did you do?As we head into the New Year, please don’t forget the number one priority you should have today: Thanking your donors. It’s the single most powerful way to raise more money in 2013. And it’s the right thing to do.
One of the most powerful things nonprofits can do is to make the impact of gifts more visible to supporters. If you don’t, you are likely to lose your donors and volunteers — as well as the chance to build morale and excitement among your staff.Here’s how to show how donations are used by illustrating impact:1. Provide clear and simple information on how money will be used. The more tangible, the better. For example: “Buy this backpack and our company donates $1 for school supplies for kids who can’t afford them.” Research shows that specificity boosts giving and purchasing. Vague statements don’t work as well — and they fuel skepticism among consumers.2. Show, don’t just tell. It’s not enough to talk about the problem you’re addressing — you need to make clear you have a compelling solution that is making positive change. That means you need to show your impact vividly. Tell stories, use images and draw on the power of video to bring to life the difference being made every day.3. Choose your messengers wisely. The best way to prove you have a positive impact is to get someone else to say it. Endorsements, ratings, seals of approval and testimonials are great ways to build trust with consumers.
Update: I corrected the links to the webinar, and they should be working now. Some folks had trouble accessing them earlier due to a coding error on my part. Did you know that you could have fantastic pro bono marketing experts helping your organization? No? Then you should attend the next Network for Good webinar. Here’s the description.Effective marketing is absolutely critical for organizations to succeed in winning hearts, minds and donations for their cause — yet 68% of nonprofits lack a dedicated marketing role. Does this sound like your organization? We can help.Join Aaron Hurst, President and Founder of Taproot Foundation, and Meg Garlinghouse, head of Social Impact at LinkedIn, to learn how to harness the power of pro bono resources and professional networking to get top-notch marketing support for your nonprofit.This free webinar will show you how to master these key skills:-Learn what pro bono resources are available and the right way to work with them-Find out how to use Taproot’s “Powered by Pro Bono” tools to find free marketing help -Discover how to use LinkedIn to recruit professionals with marketing expertise for your boardRegister here.
posted by Caryn Stein, Director of Content Strategy at Network for GoodThe team here at Network for Good recently released two updated resources on social media: a Social Media Mini Guide for Nonprofits and the Nonprofit Social Media Checklist. You can download both of these resources for free (registration required), and they’re focused on practical tips coupled with real examples to help you think about the best way to incorporate social media in your outreach. Here’s an excerpt from the guide:How can you stand out on social media? Think outside the box when presenting your stories via social channels. Here are a few creative ways to frame your content:• Invite your supporters on a journey. Take readers on a journey to your field sites, local outreach events and through video, photos and up-to-the-minute updates. Use a combination of formats to really capture the full experience.• Curate an exclusive exhibit. Have a collection of artifacts, illustrations or thank you notes from constituents? Show them off and let them speak for you.• Make your fans part of the action. Share a play-by-play of live events or behind the scenes activities with a virtual “back stage pass”.• Create a serial drama. Never underestimate the power of a cliffhanger — tell your story in installments over several days or weeks. Use hashtags, photo albums and landing pages to link the pieces together.Nonprofit friends in the DC area: don’t miss out on a great opportunity to learn how to effectively use social media for social good (and network with your colleagues) at the Social Media for Nonprofits conference DC on Monday July 15, 2013. There are still scholarships available and you can also get $20 off registration with the code “N4G”.
Take a look at your home page. Does it need some work? Use our free checklist to help you assess your nonprofit home page and tackle the items you need to improve to make it easy for donors say “yes” to your cause. Nonprofit Home Page Checklist Whether they ultimately give online or offline, donors are looking at your nonprofit website to find out more about your organization. With that in mind, here are some nonprofit home page tips you can use to make sure nonprofit’s website makes a good first impression.Your nonprofit website has a lot of work to do, and your home page is one of the most important assets you have to communicate with potential donors. Your nonprofit home page should be CLEAR: Clear: Quickly communicate who you are and what you do.Lean: Focus on what is important and remove the rest. Too much clutter is confusing and can be a deterrent. Engaging: Include images, quotes, and the beginning of a story to elicit emotion.Action-oriented: Make it easy for visitors to take action, like make a donation, join your mailing list, or volunteer.Reassuring: Let potential donors know that your organization is one they can trust.
Jay Baer’s Youtility truly puts smart marketing to the test.The book’s premise is that marketing should be ‘about help not hype.’ Instead of the now-antiquated push marketing (Think: The earth is polluted! Children are starving! Our nonprofit is remedying these problems!), Baer argues the collaborative economy and nature of social media leaves consumers wanting help from nonprofit and corporate brands, not more marketing speak.Your cause is important. If it’s important enough to dedicate a staff to, it’s important enough for people to support your cause. It’s entirely reasonable—and advisable—to share all the great work you’re doing with current and potential donors. That said, there are certain factors worth considering as you’re crafting any external communication (either to gain new supporters, or retain past donors).To do that, ask yourself and your team, what is the audience you want to cultivate? When you have an answer, consider Baer’s three questions below, and apply them to your marketing efforts.1) How does your audience discover information? Are they using a search engine? Personal referrals? Perhaps they rely on social networks?Focus your marketing in the areas in which your audience already resides. There’s no need to create communities if yours already exists somewhere! Tap into those networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to share relevant, timely, and helpful information.2) What are their preferences for communication? Are they big on personalized communication? Use the preferred tools to connect deeply with your audience.Let’s say your audience prefers personalized emails. If your staff doesn’t have the bandwidth to drop their day-to-day work and e-penning notes, consider dedicating one hour a week to meeting your targets’ preferred communication needs. When you connect with a prospective audience in the way they want to hear from you, you open up the possibility of transforming passive supporters into active cause ambassadors.3) What motivates them to take action? It’s likely something personal. If your audience doesn’t have a personal connection to your cause, how can you make it personal? Can you relate it to a local event?A deluge of images relating to your cause may not be the best way to communicate your cause. Consider getting more personal, and explain how individuals can get involved to make a true difference. Demonstrate the impact of donations—you may be surprised at how compelling of a case you’ve now made!Question for discussion: When have you used a personal appeal successfully? Did it surprise you?
1. Talk about your own story.Instead of trying to sell the great things your nonprofit is doing, speak about your personal story. How does your work support a mission you’re passionate about?2. Ask about the story of others.Ask your donors, your board members, and your other would-be partners what they’re passionate about. How did they become involved with your organization? What keeps them interested?3. Make it a story of “us.”Make the connection between your interests and the interests of others. Show people how their passions and your passions can have a similar impact, then instead of saying to your partners, “Will you help me?” Reframe the question as, “How can we work together?”4. Join together.Now, create an action plan from your new partnerships. Instead of viewing your donors and board members as one-time givers, they can be partners who bring resources to the table.To learn more on how you can turn your “customers” into new partners, access the archived webinar presentation of Nonprofit 911: Build Your Generosity Network with Jennifer McCrea and Jeff Walker. Instead of viewing donors like customers, change the relationship so that your donors, board members, and CEOs are your partners helping you gain more resources for your cause. Thanks to the new book The Generosity Network, here’s how to do it:
The new Online Fundraising Scorecard report from Dunham+Company and Next After points to some key areas where nonprofits may be falling short in their online campaigns. The study looked at 151 charities and rated the online giving experience in four main categories: email registration, email communication, donation experience, and gift acknowledgement. The full report is packed with interesting tidbits that should keep nonprofit fundraisers busy as they compare their own experiences to the benchmarks in this survey. Here are four tough questions that this study asks—ones that you need to answer as you evaluate the effectiveness of your online fundraising program:Are you making it easy to sign up for your emails?The Scorecard reports that 76% of charities made it easy to find their email sign-up form online, but 66% of those prompts offered little in the way of incentives for donors to sign up. To grow your email list and build relationships with potential supporters, make it simple for your fans to find your subscription box and sign up for updates. Be sure to frame your subscription options in a compelling way and make it clear to your readers what’s in it for them. Would the average person want to read them in the first place?Once they join your list, supporters expect regular, high-quality communications that fit their preferences. Follow up on your promise to your readers and offer email newsletters, updates, and alerts that have easy-to-read content and clear calls to action. Researchers found that 54% of emails from the nonprofits surveyed were not optimized for mobile, even though nearly half of email opens in 2013 were on smartphones. Even if donors could read the emails on their mobile devices, the study reported that 1 out of 3 organizations sent emails with multiple conflicting calls to action. For your emails to survive a crowded inbox, make them easy to read and easy to take action from, no matter where or how they’re being read.Are you making it easy to give to your organization online?Let’s make this simple: if you’re putting up roadblocks that prevent your donors from giving quickly online, you’re losing the battle. Sadly, only 16% of donation pages reviewed in the study were optimized for mobile viewing and 65% of organizations examined required 3 clicks or more to complete a donation (ack!). As donors have more and more options to give online, it’s critical that your donation process is fast, easy, and painless. (Tip: Download our donation page checklist for more ways to optimize online giving.)Do you have an amazing post-donation experience in place?We were glad to see that almost all (99%) of the organizations in the study thanked donors for their online gifts. However, researchers found that many nonprofits are still missing out on ways to further engage donors immediately following the donation. Just 27% of the groups in question offered donors a way to share the donation opportunity with their networks, and only 37% presented donors with more ways to take action and find out more about their impact once completing their gift. A donation confirmation is a great opportunity to keep that “helper’s high” going while the donor is feeling great about your work. Use this moment to reinforce that feeling and invite donors to become champions for your cause.Thanks to the folks at Dunham+Company and Next After for such an insightful report and the useful tips included with the findings. At Network for Good, we are pleased to offer online fundraising tools that help nonprofits confidently answer all of the questions above. Let us know: how do your organization’s online fundraising efforts compare to those reviewed in the study? Where could you use some help? Share your thoughts in the comments and we’ll offer suggestions and resources for your situation.
If you didn’t see the online fundraising results you were hoping for in 2013—or you’d like to do even better this year, Network for Good has a new tool that can help. The Donation Page Grader will help you assess your donation page so you can see if you’re getting the most out of your online efforts. Take this short quiz to get your donation page grade and suggested resources to help you take your online fundraising to the next level. Click the image below to get started.See how you fare and come back and share your results. Then, consider these three basic requirements any online donation experience should satisfy:1. It should make giving easy. This can’t be stressed enough, so we’ll say it again and again. Don’t make your donors think too hard about giving to your organization. This includes enabling your supporters to quickly interact via mobile and social: does your donation page offer donors easy ways to give and share on the go?2. It should keep donors in the moment of giving. When a prospective donor lands on your donation page, each component should reinforce their decision to give while making it quick and easy to complete their donation. This means it should closely match your nonprofit’s branding, campaign materials, and message. Make your donation page an extension of the conversation you’re having with your potential donors so there’s no disconnect.3. It should help start your donor’s relationship with you off right. Donor retention really begins before a donation is made. If it’s confusing, difficult, or frustrating to give to your cause, you’re not starting your donor’s experience with your organization on a positive note. Your donation page should also help you quickly thank donors with a powerful post-donation experience and email acknowledgement, plus give you the information you need to cultivate these supporters over time.