Tag Archives: fundraising

Make Your Voice Heard This #GivingTuesday

Much has been written about developing strategies for effective #GivingTuesday fundraising. As roughly a third of donations occur during the last 3 months of the year, the stakes are high.

Kivi Leroux Miller’s blog post highlights catchy email subject line ideas including:

   – It’s #GivingTuesday. Be a Hero.

   – Our #GivingTuesday Challenge for You

   – Stand Up to Trump on #GivingTuesday

And in today’s political environment with more and more people feeling their voice no longer counts, letting them know that they can vote with their philanthropic dollars may restore their faith in doing good. The right story can make donors feel they can still make an impact – right in their own community.

To help engage both existing and new donors:

 * Find the story that inspires donors to give in challenging times.

 * Make your pitch relevant to them by focusing on local benefits.

 * Keep the dialog going beyond the initial thank you.

 * Share data throughout the coming year to show their contribution is working.

One of the best resources I’ve found is a short free e-book entitled, How to Kick Butt & Take Names on #GivingTuesday, published by Firespring.org.  For tips on building your campaign page to the use of color and the emotions they invoke, visit their website – e-book download button can be found at the bottom of their homepage.

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Filed under Donor Stewardship, Marketing, Non-Profit

A Tale of Donors and Volunteer Firemen

Fireman and puppy

Recently, I received an annual fund donation request to support volunteer firemen in a town in New Jersey, where my grandmother had once lived. I’ve always lived in Ohio (where volunteer firemen are not as common) and can recall having to explain the concept of someone voluntarily running into a burning building. It conjured up images of ordinary civilians braving heat and flames to save families and puppies alike.

Years before I entered the nonprofit world, I received a similar request from the same organization. It had been mailed to my Ohio address, as my grandmother had spent her last months living here. At that time, I called N.J. to tell them she had passed many years ago and asked to have her name removed from their mailing list.

But now as a nonprofit consultant and grant writer, I viewed this most recent donation request with different eyes. Given my grandmother had lived in that N.J. town roughly 20 years and that her brothers had been volunteer firemen, I felt compelled to donate. I could have merely stuck a check in the envelope and send it off with no explanation, but I opted to enclose a note.

After all, we give to feel good about doing good. And in the case of memorial gifts, we give to keep the memory of a loved one alive.

So, I briefly explained my grandmother’s sudden passing from lung cancer, the family’s history of volunteer firemen and that I, her sole granddaughter, was donating in her memory. And of times spent at her N.J. home, lying in bed at night with the sound of the fire alarm sounding – wondering if one of my great-uncles would be fighting those flames. The note was all but six sentences long.

I have to admit my donation was also an experiment. I was curious to know how, or even if, they would acknowledge my donation. I’ve donated to many nonprofits over the years, but this time really was personal – on a different level. So I mailed my check and I waited.

It’s been over two months since my check cleared and still nothing. I wasn’t expecting to be asked to serve as grand marshal in the next town parade, but a letter of thanks would have been appropriate. Ironically, donations were being handled by a bank that has the word Stewardship in their name.

So, what do volunteers (firemen or otherwise) and donors have in common?

The need for recognition – regardless of the level of bravery or size of the donation. A thank-you for helping out when it was needed the most. Development staff, who at times feel like they spend too much time putting out fires, know this but yet it often gets lost in the effort to keep the fundraising process moving forward. Nonprofits enter into an unspoken commitment when they send out annual fund appeals, one that implies in exchange for acknowledging their need for financial assistance, we the donors will be recognized. No balloons or marching bands necessary.  

What experiences or thoughts do you have on donations not being recognized and how organizations might develop a better strategy to address donor recognition and foster stewardship?

P.S. Here’s to donors everywhere that continue to give regardless of recognition, to nonprofits that get it right and to volunteer firemen who risk their own lives to save others.

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Filed under Non-Profit

Fundraising Millennial Style: Crowdfunding

Due to the overwhelming level of support, online fundraising in the wake of Hurricane Sandy was deemed a watershed moment for nonprofit fundraising efforts. By tapping into technology, nonprofits can capitalize on human emotions and a desire to help in times of tragedy.

With crowdfunding, charities of all sizes can solicit donations from large numbers of people, who in turn can engage their extended network of family members, friends and colleagues, through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Using websites like Fundly, Indiegogo  and Causevox, nonprofits can reach millennials not already in their donor base and cultivate the next generation of donors.

In an interview with Nightly Business Report, The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s web editor, Cody Switzer, summed up the benefits of crowdfunding – getting donors involved in your cause at that small level is a good way to get them to the next level, and make them lifetime donors, especially those younger donors who have years and years to give.

In 2012, while the holiday fundraising perennial, the Salvation Army, collected $147 million in their ubiquitous red kettles, they also added $2 million in donations through online kettle bell ringers. You could have almost heard coins landing in those virtual buckets.

And that amount of money can buy a lot more than Kibbles ‘n Bits®. The Warrior Canine Connection, a charity that breeds and trains service dogs for wounded veterans, used a live puppy cam to engage potential donors. Co-founder Molly Morelli’s fundraising efforts went viral when a large foundation starting broadcasting the puppy cam feed to their constituents.

Learn more about growing your online fundraising efforts:

You hear lots about crowdfunding, but what is it?

Millennials Want to Donate to Charities, Save the World. Really

The Effect Crowdfunding Has on Venerable Nonprofits Raises Concern

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Filed under Non-Profit, Social Media