Thanks to Katya and Jocelyn Harmon for this week’s session on how to thank donors. It’s amazing to me that some nonprofits still don’t always acknowledge gifts, other than a generic auto reply (and sometimes not even that). And don’t only communicate with your constituents when you’re asking for money – this is a year-round dialogue.
Reconnect with donors by giving new options of engagement
Increase fundraising for participant-led events
Use social media to reach the next generation of supporters
Improve multichannel engagement/integration
Evaluate website’s effectiveness
Some of my thoughts:
Despite the recession, online giving continued to be a strong fundraising source. If you already accept online donations and regularly communicate with your constituents, congratulations. But if you haven’t worked to optimize your forms and don’t analyze how well your email marketing is working, you’re probably leaving money on the table.
Don’t obsess about the ‘best’ tools to use for online fundraising. It’s more important that you select a vendor / product that will likely be around for awhile (ask colleagues at other nonprofits for recommendations) and that you consider how it will connect to your other systems.
Social networking is not a fad. Yes, it’s still better to make sure your web site, database and email marketing strategies are in place first, but don’t overlook tools such as Facebook and Twitter. Remember that conversations about your cause and organization are going on all the time; make sure you’re a part of them.
Fundraising is everyone‘s responsibility, not just the development department. Ideally, marketing/communication and fundraising/development strategies should be planned together since one supports the other.
Still think that your constituents won’t respond to online fundraising initiatives? Think again; use all available channels and let your supporter decide which to use – direct mail recipients often choose to respond online.
Nten offers two new articles covering online giving: Steve MacLaughlin offers an optimistic overview, showing how online giving continues to increase despite difficult economic conditions and why an integrated (online + offline) approach is best; Rebecca Higman and Katya Andresen discuss how nonprofits can continue to engage constituents after their initial online gift, promoting recurring gifts and by remembering to thank them for their support.
Two events coming up soon: nonprofit marketing guru Kivi Leroux Miller offers an online fundraising bootcamp on Nov. 4, focusing on optimizing your web site and online donation page, targeted email marketing and using social media; her advice is always on target. If you specifically need help with email, take a look at next week’s Boston Email Fundraising Bootcamp, featuring experts such as Idealware‘s Laura Quinn and Firefly Partners‘ Maureen Wallbeoff. While social media is the hot topic of the moment, email will be with us for a long time and should be a centerpiece of your online strategy.
This week I had the pleasure of participating in Nten‘s first Online Nonprofit Technology Conference. While on a much smaller scale than the annual spring event, the two days of online webinars featured some of our sector’s brightest stars and allowed an opportunity for much more interaction with the presenters than is normally possible at the live event. Some highlights:
Network for Good‘s Katya Andresen reminded us that raising awareness of our organizations isn’t enough, it’s to ‘get someone to take an action.’ She also recommended we let the constituent be the messenger for our cause (much more effective than if message comes directly from organization). She implored us to focus on the donor when designing our web sites, not on the organization structure, mentioning Kiva and DonorsChoose as examples of how to do this right.
ConmmonGood Career’s James Weinberg described how social networking sites are replacing online job boards. As a way to encourage staff longevity, he suggested finding ways to change job responsibilities even if the position doesn’t change. If nonprofits can’t create opportunities for staff to advance, it is their responsibility to help them move elsewhere (not sure how many nonprofits would agree)
Idealware‘s Laura Quinn offered a sneak peak at her Field Guide to Software, to be released later this year. She added that the choice of donor database is probably the most critical decision (and to make sure everyone in organization is comfortable using it)
Beaconfire‘s Michael Cervino discussed using benchmarks from sites such as PewInternet and e-Benchmarks-Study to measure how well our organizations are performing, also showing how Google Analytics funnels can be used effectively. He also described how online surveys are best used frequently with few questions. (I added this is a great way to add data to help segment your database)
Philantech‘s Dahna Goldstein discussed how to help staff deal with change, e.g. making sure that staff are fully involved and kept informed
Consultant John Kenyon and American Lung’s Rusty Burwell discussed online communications and the importance of inter-department collaboration. See my previous post on this topic. In response to my question, John stated emphatically that social media will never replace email as the main communications medium.
Thanks to Holly and the NTen staff for putting on another great program, and congrats also to Holly for being recognized by Nonprofit Times in the Top 50 Power and Influence!
Probably the best book explaining the benefits of ephilanthropy I’ve seen to date is Ted Hart’sPeople to People Fundraising. Multiple experts from nonprofit organizations and vendors / consultants who service nonprofits offer detailed strategies on why nonprofitsmustbegin to embrace integrated fundraising techniques. Some memorable takeaways:
Traditionally an organization’s web site has been under the control of either IT or marketing. Whereas their goals and objectives may be well intended, it is fair to say that their core focus is not development oriented. Development is often shut out from many of the Web conversations…Nonprofit organizations need to take a much more holistic focus of who controls and contributes to the overall online presence; marketing, IT and development are just three of the contributors.
Many organizations hae been quick to jump on the online bandwagon without creating an effective strategic plan. For example, it’s easy to ask people to visit your web site or leave an email address. But without an effective plan forhowyou wil use email addresses and how your online activities will integrate with your offline activities, you may be creating more problems than solutions.
To develop integrated campaigns, an organization may not need to restructure,but it will have to to rethink how the departments within the organization interact with each other.
Some of the book’s contributors, many which I’ve heard speak at conferences and other industry events, include Blackbaud’s Steven MacLaughlin, Convio’s Sheeraz Haji, Network for Good’s Katya Andresen as well asTed Hart, who has long been an expert on this topic since founding theePhilanthropy Foundation. Many case studies from nonprofits that have successfully utilized integrated fundraising strategies are profiled, as well as many ways to take advantage of social networking sites.
If you still think that collaborative campaigns won’t work in your organization, take a look at this book and find out why it’s so important.
People listen to wired fundraisers. People donate because they trust the messenger, not primarily because of the importance of the cause.
Not every wired fundraiser excels, but some can raise thousands for the charities they support.
Tools such as widgets and social networks are especially helpful in making personal fundraisers effective.
Smart charities embrace the wired fundraiser rather than try to control the process.
I’ve said in the past that fundraising needs to be a joint effort of many departments within an organization, not just development. But now Katya explains how “technology enables anyone to be a fundraiser, anywhere online.” As nonprofits, we should give these motivated supporters everything they need to be successful because they will help us to reach audiences that we would have never been able to access, no matter what marketing strategies we use.