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Why Churches Should Offer E-Giving Solutions

Online giving options are simple no matter what your cause is or who your donors are. Not only is it easier but also secure. Institutions of faith and religion are no exception. While traditional way of collecting offerings at churches still stand, the ability to donate online and through your phone remotely has greatly increased collecting efficiency.

Technology is changing habits. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s report, the age group of 18-49 years makes up the major part of the population of our society today, about 63 percent.  And in future, as this generation moves into middle age they will bring along their knowledge of technology to make their life easier. This will have a significant effect on the collection capability of the churches, which for the time being are dependent only on weekly church attendance.

In a   by the Gallup Organization, based on over 150,000 it was found that only 35 percent of the total attended church weekly. The rest admitted to rarely attending the church and some even agreed to not attending at all for months.  Based on this survey it is hard to agree to the traditional form of donation collection in churches. Right now the attendance to churches is the only guarantee to collecting offerings. Add to that the cost of handling cash, budgeting and lack of collection strategy and giving becomes a challenge.

Here are some of the reasons why your organization should consider e-giving:

Popular consent

The majority of people  use online payment methods for paying bills and other activities. A large majority admitted to writing checks only when donating to a church or any other non-profit which could not offer online payment method. Some churches who adopted online giving saw an increase in the number of donations every year. Though the success of programs likes these depends mostly on how they are introduced and promoted, most people find it more convenient than the traditional method.

Decrease in use of checks

Seldom will you find someone who carries a checkbook to services.  Most of the time rarely do we carry a lot of cash in our wallets. So if the church offers only these two methods of donating, the person will either give nothing or donate as little as he/she has at the given time. We know that with the boom in digital transactions people mostly use their debit or credit cards, or other online transaction methods to manage their finances.

Reliable collection option

Many programs which offer online payments have the feature of Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT). Basically, people can transfer funds to the payee on a fixed timeline. How one can use this is by designating the church as the payee and then the payment will happen automatically on a weekly basis or bi-weekly, however, the account holder wants. This makes it very convenient for the church to collect donation throughout the year.  The flow of donation is stable and reliable too. Many churches that have adapted to this trend have seen an incredible increase in donations. Especially families that are traveling during summer vacations like to keep their faith alive and do make the donation even when they are away.  Many people who travel a lot can sometimes feel disconnected to their faith. With this option, it will be easier for such people to make donations from remote locations to their home church and feel connected and faithful to their faith. Time and space become the least concerning factor when using EFT and the church can concentrate on the faith of the congregation any worry less about how to collect donations.

Hike in donations

Online donations gain increased popularity – think of crowdfunding you recently participated in as one example. The ease, convenience and securing are the main three factors.  These will only, in turn, generate more donations.  Churches that offer the option have seen about 40 to 45 percentage of people using their credit card. Donation capability has increased 8 to 10 percent.

Safety

Safety is a major factor in any transactional process. Safety is taken seriously on all levels and are regulated by strict banking guidelines.  Updates and reviews to make sure there are  no loopholes are ongoing. Most importantly banks have necessary guidelines to which a merchant should adhere to. Any software solution you choose has to meet these guidelines in order for any transaction to be made with a bank. So, weather you are making a payment or donating to a church your transaction as well as personal information is treated with utmost security.

Ease of Donation

As mentioned before online transaction gives the great capability to people to donate at their leisure. Many families who can’t schedule their weekly church visit can still schedule their weekly support with electronic fund transfer. They don’t have to be concerned about attending each and every occasion to support their faith. With e-giving, they can donate regardless of their busy schedule. They can also frequently donate as much as it’s affordable to them and predict a budget for their own convenience. Giving the ability to manage how they donate can greatly increase the donations.

Broadening supporter age group

Baby boomers make the majority of donors today. But the younger generation who are also enthusiastic about supporting their faith are large in number. This new age demographic that is tech savvy and uses their mobile devices for most of their finances, will generally be inclined to use online payment methods.  Giving them the option of online payment will only draw them more towards supporting their church.

E-giving is a trend. It is here to stay and will only grow exponentially every year. Church leaders must react to this change in donor behavior and adapt accordingly. Learn more about our online donation management tools  .

Event checklist for easy nonprofit fundraisers.

Event checklist for easy nonprofit fundraisers

When you plan your fundraising year for your non-profit one event a year is a must. Though more demanding than letters, emails, calls or speeches, fundraising events have many unique benefits, including connecting and engaging with your community, getting people to rally for your cause and generating goodwill for your organisation.

The benefits of a fundraising event can be far greater than the challenge of organizing one, if the event is executed correctly. Here is an event checklist for you to get started:

  • Identify Your Target Audience

The first step in organising any fundraising event is easy enough – to know who you would like to reach out to. Would your cause appeal more to men, women or families? Would it be worthwhile targeting teenagers? Or would your cause resonate more with seniors?

Once you have defined your audience, a lot will begin to take shape; simply because the type of events that appeal to seniors are very different from ones that target teenagers.

  • Define your goals

The more focused your goal is, the more successful your fundraiser will be. Would you like to organise a non-ask event that aims to create awareness and build preference? Alternately, if you wish to raise funds, decide on the amount of money you would like to raise. A common practice is to aim to raise at least 10% of what you spend. Either way, make your goals measurable. Ideally, it is good to have one main objective along with multiple secondary ones. For example, while the main objective may be to raise $5000, the secondary objective could be to get 25 people to volunteer for your cause.

  • Plan the day of the event

Start by choosing a suitable date and venue. You will also have to book a speaker and make arrangements for catering and entertainment. When choosing the venue keep in mind the number of attendees, facilities you could use, and accessibility. When finalising the date, you would have to consider the availability of your speaker and catering and entertainment providers. Treat this as an  opportunity to involve other members of your organisation by reaching out to them for their preferences and recommendations.

An essential part of your fundraising event would be the arrangement for attendee registration. Consider creating a form on your website for the visitors to fill out.  Ask your attendees to include information like emails, phone numbers, postal addresses and more. By further building out your list of contacts you are shaping the success of all your future fundraising efforts.

  • Set a budget

Any fundraiser organised to raise money should give your nonprofit return on its investment. To decide how much you need to invest, calculate your overall spend for the event. Amongst others the costs to consider include venue, catering, entertainment and speaker fees, printing & mailing costs, travel expenses, licensing fee & permissions, marketing & advertising and photography.

Once this amount is decided, it is important to not exceed your spend beyond it. Every effort should be made to stay within the budget.

  • Build your team

Organising an event can become overwhelming when left to one or two members of your organisation.

To build an internal event planning team, define the different roles and their respective responsibilities. Start with team leaders and work through, all the way to the volunteers.  Cover roles in hospitality, marketing, guest and public relations and more. Create productive working relationships by establishing clear responsibilities and authority and building trust amongst team members.

Working together will get more done in lesser time. Here are some great tips to find, motivate and engage your volunteers.

  • Look for sponsors

Corporations often support causes as a way to give back to the community or for corporate benefits. Start your search by reaching out to possible sponsors, educating them about your cause and telling them about your fundraising event. Let them know who you plan to target and how you plan to promote the sponsor.

Bringing a corporate sponsor on board will make it easier to raise money through the fundraiser. It will make more funds available to organise a better event, and help you reach a larger number of people.

  • Promote your event

This is one activity that can be undertaken without limits. To promote your event, use all channels of communication – both traditional media like letters, leaflets and print advertisements as well as new media that includes your website, social channels and emailers.  Your event’s target audience will help define whether to focus more on traditional media or new media. For example, if you wish to reach senior citizens, focus more on traditional channels whereas to reach a younger audience, focus more on new media. Deploy an effective content marketing strategy and involve members of your organisation to get the word out. The more you promote, the more attendees will register; resulting in more donations at the fundraiser.

  • Measure your achievements

Once your event is over, it’s time to evaluate your performance. What went well and what didn’t? Did you manage to achieve your goals? What are the press reviews like? Could you have done things differently for better results? What are the learnings? How could you apply them to future fundraising events?

Hopefully, you would also have a fresh list of registrations or donors. Use these lists for future goal setting, planning and acquisition.

  • Follow up after the event

Once your fundraising event is over, it may seem that there is nothing more to be done. However, just by going one step further you could make your next round of fundraising a whole lot easier.

Reach out to all those who were part of your event – attendees, volunteers and sponsors – and get their feedback. What did they think of the event and the preparations? What was it that they liked best or least? This information is sure to help you in the future.

Lastly, even though you would have thanked your donors during the event, follow up after the event with a final, personalised thank you message.

These small efforts go a long way in keeping participants engaged and building lasting relationships.

Use the above checklist to ensure the success of your event and make raising money easier, both during and after your fundraiser.

Best Nonprofit Conferences To Attend This July & August

nonprofit conferences calendar 2017

We all are lifelong learners in one field or another. Learning from peers, thought leaders is an opportunity to see who’s doing what but also to network and stay connected. Below is a list of events and conferences you do not want to miss. Topics range from fundraising and grants to marketing and communications, and nonprofit technology. So, here we go:

  1. AMI Nonprofit Marketing Conference | Jul 10 – 12 | Washington D.C.

At this conference, organizations will learn how to reach a larger audience on a limited budget, and transform their marketing dollars into maximum impact. Attendees will gain insights and expertise from top and brightest minds in the nonprofit sector and learn the best practices and technologies that can make their time and money most effective.

  1. National Urban League Annual Conference | Jul 26 – 29 | St. Louis, MO

It is the nation’s largest civil rights and social justice conference. It will provide participants with unmatched professional, business development, civic engagement, and networking opportunities. During the four power-packed days, attendees will take the advantage of networking events, sessions and workshops led by industry experts. This conference will focus on health, education, justice, business, and the economy.

The purpose of the conference is to engage participants in the discussions of pressing issues facing Americans and solutions to address these challenges. The major issues to be discussed are:

  • Social and economic inequality across America
  • Improving education in disadvantaged communities,
  • Increasing jobs and job training,
  • Health and quality of life issues that threaten the lives of Americans and other minorities,
  • Creating quality affordable housing options and small business opportunities in American communities.
  1. Bridge to Integrated Marketing and Fundraising Conference | Aug 2 – 4 | National Harbor, MD

It is the premier conference of, by and for fundraising professionals. It explores the latest, techniques, strategies, and innovations in direct marketing and fundraising. This will bring you and your organization to the next level. This year, above 2,000 fundraising professionals from every sector will gather for three energizing days of workshops, networking, panels, and more.

This conference will cover areas like:

  • Solutions to Your Tactical and Strategic Marketing Challenges,
  • Practical Insights and User-friendly Ideas to Improve ROI,
  1. Netroots Nation 2017 | Aug 10-13 | Atlanta, GA

Online organizers, labour and organizational leaders, grassroots activists, Social justice advocates, independent media makers, and bloggers will join this conference for four days of practical training sessions and networking opportunities.

The conference will feature:

  • 90 panels
  • 45 training sessions
  • Inspiring keynotes
  • Film screenings
  • Tons of networking and social events
  1. YNPN National Conference 2017 | Aug 11-14 | Atlanta, GA

This conference will cover areas like professional development, networking and more. It brings together nonprofit leaders and professionals from across the country. Here, you will grow your own leadership, and learn about new tools to improve your communities.

  1. ASAE Annual Conference & Expo | Aug 12-15 | Toronto, (Int.) Canada

This conference is open to association professionals, consultants, higher education professionals, industry partners, federal government employees, corporate meeting planners, and attorneys. It will fuel your work as leaders with practical ideas and colleague support.

  1. 2017 Chicago Non-profit Conference | Aug 28-30 | Chicago, IL

Avail the opportunity to connect with hundreds of fundraising and marketing professionals. At this conference, industry leaders will exchange innovative, game-changing marketing and fundraising ideas that generate fruitful solutions to help stronger relationship with donors. It will also focus on improving public awareness.

5 Common Nonprofit Fundraising Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

fundraising mistakes and how to avoid them

To be able to effectively , you would need a strategy along with a team dedicated to your cause. While it is hardly possible to create a fool-proof fundraising campaign, there are certain common mistakes that you could watch out for.

Inefficient goal setting

Often nonprofit organisations believe that a noble cause itself is enough to attract donors and contributions. This couldn’t be farther from the truth since there are more than several thousand noble causes vying for donor attention. That is why it falls upon your organization to help a donor understand your work and its impact. Donors also need to feel that your cause is more important than others. One of your fist goals should be to ensure donors understand that your non profit is offering something of value.

Set your goals both long and short term. Often, when faced with fund shortages, organisations cut back on short-term fundraising programs even though they are profitable. This is a mistake, because it dries up a steady stream of small funds.

Once defined, ensure you stay focused on the decided goals. So, if you’ve decided to organise a non-ask cultivation or a “Thank You” event, ensure it stays so by making no fundraising asks at the time.

Further, when you set a target for your fundraising, make sure it is thought through. Be sure to include elements like the operating budget and campaign management costs that tend to get left out.

A well-designed campaign execution plan is one that details all the phases involved. Set your goals for each phase of every campaign and designate roles and responsibilities. Any successful campaign requires a team of dedicated people that can connect with donors and help them understand the positive change their funds will bring, as well as take on other responsibilities.

In the end, be prepared to adequately measure your performance against the set goals. Evaluate the impact of your activities and ensure use of metrics that are a good fit for your organisation.

Ineffective fundraising events

Amongst other things, a successful fundraising event needs research, financial planning, event preparation, arranging backups and contingencies as well as management of the different phases of the event.

While your fundraising events should target both small and big donors, it’s essential that during the course of your event, all attendees feel welcomed and well treated. Pay attention to your guests and their preferences; don’t make them wait and be a gracious host. Brief your speakers and make sure they don’t bore your audience with lengthy speeches.

Events should also be tailor-made to suit organisational goals – both short term and long term. Another common mistake is to have a fundraising event without a theme. Make sure yours has an exciting one.

To avoid unplanned developments, every fundraising plan should have all aspects detailed out and discussed amongst team members. It’s never too early to start planning your event, so ensure you’re not losing time waiting to start off.

More often than not, fundraising events either come out losing money or hardly covering costs. To ensure your event is not one of these, make a clear outline of all costs that are likely to be incurred during every aspect of an event and plan for their recovery.

Poor donor research

Effective fundraising requires proper donor or prospect research, so that you are able to focus your efforts on your best prospects and make fundraising easier.

Extensive research on the organization’s database of donors must be carried out. Segregate and list donors who have given the largest donations in the past, those who have donated the most often and the newly inducted ones. This will bring clarity about your current donors and open up ways to find new ones.

You could also use one of the many available tools for creating prospect profiles. To get more comfortable with your choice of tool, run yourself through it first.

Also, create different approaches for different target groups, since using the same approach for all donors doesn’t work.

Once prospects are segmented segregat, allocate the required time and resources for relevant fundraising activities.

Not maintaining communication with donors

For successful fundraising efforts, it is important to maintain communication and build lasting relationships with your donors. People who donate, do so only because they are vested in your cause and are able to relate to it. It makes them happy to see their hard-earned money being put to good use and making a positive difference.

Not updating donors regularly about organisational developments is a recurring mistake. Periodic updates informing donors about your nonprofit organization’s current projects, your achievements, future goals and plans, sharing results of received donations and thanking them for their gifts are some of the ways to keep donors informed and involved. This ensures that the lines of communication are always open and makes fundraising much easier.

Successful fundraising appeals also use multiple channels of communication – digital, traditional mail, email, events, radio and more.. The more frequently you communicate, using varied modes of communication, the better will be the results of your fundraising efforts.

Solicitation of social media followers

While soliciting funds on social media may seem like an easy means of fundraising, asking for donations from individuals immediately after they have liked your posts or started following you on social media platforms could backfire.

Auto generated replies and direct emails that track social media followers and keep sending them messages with an ask gives the impression that your organization is solely focused on solicitation. Such asks could make fans wary of your communication or even make them unfollow you.

It would be a much warmer welcome to followers if initial interactions provide information about your organization, its work and its achievements. This will help cultivate and build lasting relationships, providing ongoing opportunities for solicitation.

So, what do you think? Have you experienced any of these fundraising mistakes? Comment below to share your perspective with our readers.

8 Fundraising Email Strategies To Drive High Response Rates

Fundraising Email Strategies

Your non-profit engages in email marketing and the first thing you do is send an email to your supporter and potential donor appealing to them to come forth and donate to your charity. Now you sit and wait for any replies or donations. After several hours when you open your inbox you find that not only there haven’t been any replies but also no donations have been made. What did go wrong?

Besides fundraising events, fundraising emails also provide significant support and steady income source for many non-profits and charities. But not all organisations are similar and you have to think of a way to stand-out form the rest. Without understanding the art and science of email marketing a lot can go wrong. The window of opportunity to convince a donor to make any donation is very narrow.

Here are few fundamentals that if kept in mind will ensure high response to your email fundraising campaign:-

  1. A Compelling Story

It is necessary to draw the attention of your target audience towards your fundraising effort. Create a compelling and engaging story that is relatable and stands true to the cause that the charity supports. The very first step when your mail your supporter is to define the subject line for your mail. It doesn’t necessary needs to explain the content of the mail but should be interesting enough for the recipient to click it open. Have fun with the subject and be provocative. Always keep a clear narrative of your campaign that should be specific to certain segment audience. As long as you understand to treat your target donors with a specific engagement strategy you can be sure that your supporters will always be around to help.

  1. Specific Appeal

Make sure the purpose of the fundraiser is clear to the recipient. Keep it simple, clean and clear. Always make your objective understandable and perceivable to act upon. Your donor will only be interested in donating if he/she can relate to the cause and find your initiative practical and doable. So don’t blabber away in long words about your plans of how your will use their money, but keep it concise and simple and talk only about the executable actions so that the people get motivated to donate to something they understand.

  1. Mobile Phone Adaptability

Most people these days keep their social networking majorly to the phone than to their laptops or desktops. The preference on mobility to their online social life is understandable. So your email format should be adaptable to a mobile phone also. Almost 53% of the emails opened today are on mobile phones. Keep the important graphics and links and minimize texts. Optimize the graphics for mobile phone screen, resize the images and enlarge any buttons you want them to click for donation or any other information related link.

  1. First Things First

Make your appeal to be the first thing visible on your email. The call for support should be featured prominently in your mail, probably the first thing on the email. Don’t push the reader into scrolling further down before they actually understand what you are asking for. Often fundraiser emails can have multiple/conflicting call-to-action. Be careful about what kind of information you are feeding into your email. If you give the recipient too much to consider they will probably think twice before they donate. Just keep it specific and prominent.

  1. Build Relationship

Another important habit is to build trust and relationship with your donor. When asking for donation amount, you can tell what specific amount will help you achieve. If you can include a brief but heartfelt story of the impact you will create with the donated money, it will go on to impress the donor and boost your trustworthiness remarkably. Further ahead in future also keep cultivating your audience by regular feeds of your success stories. People donate because they’re compelled to be part of something bigger, something that will help them make the world a better place. Always convey to your audience that they can ‘help change lives’. The power of empathy and need to help others is one major reason people are always ready to donate.

  1. Be Creative

Remember, an email is not your organisation’s annual report. It is not a letter or request or a short essay of your plans. The only purpose that your email serves is to motivate your community and prompt giving. You don’t have to share your stories in detail but more importantly provide a format that will lead your audience to click just a button to land on your website. So forget about formatting your email in the formal and boring style. Keep it fresh and innovative. You need to entice your audience and not bore them.

  1. Test and Learn

Test every factor related to likeability of your email campaign and use that data to improve in future. Make sure you get the most information out of the campaign. Readers’ preferences and response to specific promotion style should keenly be studied. Constantly research, change, test, calculate again and then change again. It takes time to reach perfect sync with your donor, so invest that time.

  1. Be thankful

Generosity of the donors is one thing that keeps a charity running for years. Philanthropy has greatly helped charities to function efficiently and perform its duties well. Though at its core it is altruistic, it would do no harm to send a thankful note to your donor. This not only generates goodwill but also keeps your supporters’ numbers intact for future.

Electronic mails count for almost one third of the total online fundraising today. Emails have proved to be the most efficient and cost-effective way to raise money for non-profits. The outreach of your brand value to the target audience is enormous and efficient, and the response rate is also quicker. Tapping into this medium can greatly increase your performance as a charitable organisation.

What Makes Givecentral Different From Other Fundraising Apps?

What Makes Givecentral Different From Other Fundraising  Apps?

As a non-profit organization you have three main objectives – raise funds, build lasting relationship with your donors  and do that efficiently. Our GiveCentral Go app provides lasting solutions for your nonprofit!

GiveCentral Go does more than fund collection. Using GiveCentral Go you can collect funds securely and efficiently, generate engagement and donation reports in one place.   GiveCentral uses technology to design innovative solutions that promote online giving for the non profit community.

GiveCentral Fundraising App

Why is GiveCentral App Unique?

On the one hand GiveCentral integrates accounting and communication tools in one convenient place, helping managers and administrators save precious time and effort.  On the other hand it makes it easy for donors to support a cause.

How GiveCentral App Works:

Our robust web-based giving tools lets donors like you contribute from anywhere, at anytime, without installing any software. You can make a one-time donation or recurring gifts, or just allocate funds for a chosen category. Payments can be made by all major credit cards or electronic checks and are secured using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption. Donors then receive emails confirming their transactions and can also view or save all information related to their payments. GiveCentral makes giving easy, convenient and quick.

Addressing the most pressing needs of administrators, GiveCentral consolidates all collection, fundraising and communication activities in one place, helping non profit organisations raise more money, in less time. From planning fundraising categories to generating reports, this donor management app helps get a lot done easily, including tracking payments that have been received or the ones that are delayed. Reducing paperwork and improving accounting and data management, GiveCentral makes life easier.

Both GiveCentral, our online donation tool, and GiveCentral Go, the mobile app and card reader, use our distinctive approach to accept electronic donations.

Customize It, Use It, Love It!

Compared to other donor management systems, GiveCentral has some of the most sophisticated capabilities. It enables non profit organisations to create a unique online presence through a customizable donation page on the GiveCentral website. This page can be designed to meet your organisation’s specific needs. Also, independent administrator accounts can be used to manage donor accounts, send out communication or make changes to fundraising events. Marketing materials like email templates, donor signup cards and more are available for free, along with ongoing technical support by phone, email and webinars. Our effort is to ensure long term sustainability of organisations like yours.

Mobile Friendly

GiveCentral Go is a mobile app and card reader that allows the processing of credit card and debit card transactions on mobile devices. It can be used with iPhone, iPad, iPod and Android devices, for both real-time as well as preauthorised  transactions. It eliminates the use of POS machines and the need to establish separate merchant accounts for each fundraiser, making fundraising a lot more convenient than before.

What makes GiveCentral a truly unique donor management app, is our unending effort to innovate and do better. Unlike most church apps, GiveCentral is continually evolving. Based on feedback from our clients, we keep improving it.

Our app also lets you learn. Our large resource base of blog posts, press releases, articles, webinars and videos help you stay informed, and efficient.

Do all your fundraising, in one

Easily set up giving categories online for a wide range of fundraising activities – from church collections to scholarship funds, from events and fees to merchandise sale.

Access an unmatched donor management system

Our sophisticated donor management system has features that other church apps are unable to match. From ease in setting up to building lasting relations, GiveCentral partners your journey every step of the way. Generate comprehensive reports, review real time analytics and use these to reach out effectively.

Communicate in new and exciting ways

From requesting donations to acknowledging donor gifts, reach out through customised email messages. Manage recipient lists and link back to your website or social media to keep your community engaged.

Ensure security and confidentiality

With GiveCentral, donor information is never compromised. Personal information is shared with no one other than the recipient organization. Credit card and bank account numbers remain confidential.

Our servers are protected, industry standards for online payment security are applied and information related to transactions is transmitted using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption.

While quarterly audits are performed by an independent third party to ensure the GiveCentral website meets PCI DSS requirements, internal audits are performed at least once every month.

If you are looking to enhance your fundraising, and work with more efficiency and less stress, GiveCentral is the right choice for you. It is a donor management system that is sophisticated yet easy to use. It is further differentiated from other church apps by having the lowest processing fees in the marketplace.

To take advantage of its superior features, all you have to do, is reach out to us.

Benefits of Giving To Charity and some positive effects of donating.

Benefits of Giving To Charity

In our busy lives, we hardly can find time to help others, even though we so much want to. The empathy of others plight is the great connection that we feel as humanity in whole. But given the fact that we are living such a fast-paced life that this connection we want to feel, takes a back-step. We can’t all volunteer for a charity or organize humanitarian efforts and a regular day, but what we can do instead is support a charity and give in whatever way we can so that they are enabled to do such tasks and dedicate time to making things better in the world.

Of all the things you can do besides volunteering work is to donate to a charity. Although this also can be restrained at some times as money can be too tight at home. But even with a situation like this, there is hardly any reason to turn your back on charitable giving. Because we often give away our money unconsciously, like asking a waiter to keep change after your meal because you don’t need loose change jingling in your pocket.

But when it comes to consciously donating the money we often think of a reason not to. Often excuses like, ‘oh my donation hardly matters for such a huge cause’ or something like ‘the charities are all scams and the money won’t go to the deserving’.

When giving to charities even small donations matter a lot. People are equally aware of the poverty and misery around the world, and some people genuinely feel sorry about it. But most think it is hardly in their power to bring any changes. When the truth is that they hold most of the power.

And I use ‘they’ because we often miss the bigger picture where a whole community comes together to help someone. A collective effort always means success. Looking at the efforts as individually someone’s alone might be discouraging for a person. But when we look at what is possible at the hand of a group of people or a mass of supporters, the task becomes less daunting.

Charitable giving is the only way to solve poverty. Intervening in a poor society in an effective way can help break the cycle of generating one poor generation after another by that society.  Helping a community by providing it with effective healthcare will also reduce any future downfall of society and economy. Medical aids can help in the growth of that community’s financial support. And when this happens, that community will become self-dependant. When giving in an effective charity your donation in accumulation directly correlates to the progress of the receiver not just for today but for generations to come.

But money is the last thing that unites us, what does is the empathy to help each other. Not only is it beneficial for the society as whole but also to each one of us at a personal level. Some positive effects of donating are as follows:-

Feeling of Bliss

In a controlled experiment done by the National Institutes of Health, where the test subject was asked to donate a portion of their salary in whatever way, whatever amount seemed fit and whenever they wanted to donate. With these open parameters, the participants donated at their will. But it was found that with every donation there was an increased activity in the pleasure center of the brain. It is surprising to realize, even by the participants who might have seen giving away their hard earned money away, as a negative thing. But when they realized that their donation was bringing smiles on the receiver’s face, when they realized their little loss is actually a big gain for someone else, their attitude towards the act of donation became positive.

Benefit for Others

You might live in a country or a place where hardships are relevantly smaller than the ones in lesser developed countries. While we can wait for the right charity to come along seeking our help for their cause, people who are in need of your support right at this moment. There won’t be a right time to donate (donate whenever it is possible) and there is no right amount to donate (donate whatever little you can). Your money will help someone and help them to help someone else in return. What we fail to realize is that our one act is just a part of the chain reaction that will create a better community and hence a better world.

Tax Exemptions

Speaking of personal benefits, your donation helps in reducing your taxes. When you file for the tax return every year just mentioning your IRS approved transactions of donation, done throughout the year will help in reducing the amount of your taxable income. This is really helpful as ultimately it will end up in you paying a lot less money in taxes than originally.

Giving is convenient

Donating to a charity is the easiest way to nurture your philanthropy activity.  Yes, you can go ahead and vouch for volunteering for any charitable organization, but with the fast paced world today it is hard to engage yourself in such activities. It can often deter people from helping out. What they don’t realize that donating is equally liberating feeling.

Building Purpose in Life

Often we think about what we are meant to do in our life. Most spend time earning and saving money to survive and live a life of content. But what we don’t pay attention to is our own desire to make a prominent effect in the world and find a purpose.

There are others who have the same feelings and when a charity brings these people to work for a cause, their shared belief in the cause and their humanitarian ideologies will inspire others also. Being able to make an impact with your efforts in the real world will give the desired meaning and purpose to life. The simple act of giving can anchor your life and give a new navigation to it.

Inspiring the Next Generation

Kids often learn from their parents. If you are thrifty your kid will be empathizing towards the need of others. This, in turn, will create a chain reaction of generations to come that won’t care to help anyone else and the world will end up in selfish hands. So do donate whenever it is possible and then let your kid know. Talking to your kid about how your little effort will help someone, will only inspire the next generation and the ones to come after, to care.

Creating a Circle of Motivated People

Sharing the success story of the charity which you support will increase your respect in the eyes of your friends and family. When you become an active part of social charity you not only become an inspiration for your peers but also create a circle of motivated and inspired people who will be encouraged to donate and give to charities.

Helping in any Measure Possible

You don’t need to be a millionaire and make substantial donations to be able to see changes that you want to influence. Remember even an ocean is made of only small drops of water. Your donation might be small but in a bigger perspective, it is an integral puzzle piece that makes the whole charity a success. Even a dollar that you donate can mean a day’s meal for a child in Africa. So the truth is you don’t need much to become someone’s hero.

Improving Your Own Respect for Money

Another good effect of donating on a regular basis is that you yourself get more careful about your finances. When you understand the little amount you donate is capable of initiating big changes and change someone’s life, you realize the value of money. And with time you steadily make a constant effort to be reasonable with your expenses.

So now you know how giving can elevate not just a society in general but also you. One of the best things you would ever do with your money is to give some of it to charity. The emotional value of donating is unparalleled. When you donate money, that money is no longer just a piece of paper. The one who receives it, for them it is a bag of rice or a blanket for cold weather. When you can see our money with that perspective, your meaning of giving will change for forever.

Even if the donating is blissful in a biblical sense, what really makes us happy is the understanding that when donating people on both ends, the one who donates and the one who receives the donation, both are equally benefited.

And this knowledge is the basis of the foundation of a prosperous world. By giving away we solidify our common welfare. A smaller donation has an equal effect as the bigger one. And when everyone realizes the success stories of the donation, our stories become an inspiration to one who hears, which ultimately creates a collective consciousness.

Easy Fundraising Ideas for 4th of July.

Easy Fundraising Ideas 4th July

Individual donors are the main source of charitable giving per the latest Giving USA Annual Report on philanthropy. To understand your donors, how to reach and engage them effectively as we approach the Independence Day we’ve put together some creative ways for you to consider. But before we get started let’s have a quick look at how the art of fundraising has changed and evolved over the years.

First mentions of fundraising are described in the Christian Bible and many other religions too. The focus has always been to connect the donor with the cause. Traditionally fundraising was done by people going door to door, or going around in the streets to raise funds. Fundraising events were also organized to raise money for institutions like churches, schools or charities. But in the new era, the new forms of fundraising are taking over the traditional face-to-face events. Since the introduction of the internet into our daily lives, fundraising has become effectively more efficient and easy now being done online too.

Holding fundraisers around a holiday has always been effective. 4th of July is probably the biggest event in the history of the United States. It is the largest national holiday and the best time for summer fun. Including the Independence Day celebration into your fundraising activity can help interact with your community and engage.

When it comes to your non-profit organization, the joys of the holidays and fundraising can go hand in hand. Leveraging the fact that schools are out and offices are closed and everyone is looking forward to socializing and having some fun, you can be the organizer of that excitement. Those very holiday activities can become your fundraising opportunity.

Here are some easy fundraising ideas to help you start planning your appeal:

Selling Flags

The patriotic feeling in the general population is high during the holiday. Lots of people want to show their patriotism by putting up flags at their homes. Your fundraising event can involve a flag sale. Small flags are easy to produce and sell in big numbers.

You can also arrange fun activities for kids to keep them and their parents engaged during the event. You can charge the parents a small fee for the activities, like painting your own flag. You can even turn it into a contest for greater engagement.

Flag Hoisting

This activity is for mostly the older folks, for the purpose of involving people from all age groups. There are many elderly folks who are good donors. These people usually can’t hoist a flag at their homes, on their own. A fundraising activity can be about asking volunteers to help them with putting up the U.S. flag in their homes and yards.

Flag raising can be very useful fundraising activity. It can be done on a subscription basis where a family can pay for the flag, where you can rent not only the flag but also necessary accessories. Right from the flag post to the ropes, you can ask for donations.  Training the volunteers in the proper procedure of flag raising is an additional community building opportunity that will pay-off in the long run. Not just for the 4th of July, the flag raising activity can be used all year round, like on Presidents Day, Flag Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day. You can also charge the subscriber on yearly basis and make them members, and provide the service on the quarterly basis or whenever a holiday requires.

Community Run/Walk

With the weather nice and warm we all are looking forward to being outside. So why not organize a run / walk. Any kind of run or walking event done as a community will attract people in crowds. You can have a sponsored run that may attract considerable donations from sponsors.

Capitalizing on the number of people an event like this is likely to attract consider offering snacks and beverages for purchase that will go towards your charitable fund. Working with the neighborhood businesses for additional fundraising is yet another avenue for you to consider. Inviting local artisans to set up booths to sell their art will promote the image of your charity and attract more donations.

Private Fundraising

Independence Day evokes pride and can result in a exercise of special generosity among certain donors. Keep in mind this unique ‘giving spirit’ as you approach your top 5 donors. Special occasion community dinners or silent auctions will most likely appeal to your high-potential donors.

In Honour Of……

4th of July can be a great day to remember our fallen heroes. Local community heroes can inspire people to come forth and help your cause. Asking people to give in honor of Benjamin Franklin or in honor of Andrew Jackson, is just some examples. Reach out, speak to your community and great things can happen.

Fourth of July themed Party

A themed party can be another way to attract your donors. Everyone loves a good themed party. You can have independence punch/drink, flag goody bags, flag canopy, etc. You can either charge an entry fee for the party or arrange for a costume competition, where people will pay a minimal amount to enter the competition.

Film Screening

Put a fun spin on movie nights. You can host a public film screening of any patriotic film or any other which will be popular with your community. These screenings can be hosted in big public parks to lower the cost of arranging the event. You can also get in touch with a local business with a large warehouse or a space big enough, to provide a venue for your charity event. You can charge for tickets for the movie and as well for the popcorn and other snacks and beverages.

Benefit Concerts

Concerts are always fun and attract a wade demographic. So, consider arranging for a benefit concert. You can invite a few local performers, seek sponsorship from local businesses and make an ask. Staff and venue size are important considerations as you plan for an event like this.

A benefit concert has multiple sources of funds. Selling tickets for the concert, providing beverages and snacks and selling concert/charity-themed t-shirts and merchandise can help in generating revenue. You can also take the performance online and urge the online donors to donate through the online portals.

Event Promotions

Any idea you end up going with done correctly will be a good source of fundraising. Publicizing your event correctly is a major factor in the success of your effort.

Use social media advertising to let people know of your event. Social media helps you to reach thousands of people instantly and helps in sending them reminders for attendance and keeps them updated about any changes. Be sure to communicate the objective of your initiative. The more your community knows about you and your plans the more they will participate with true intention and open heart.

You have a variety of options to connect with individuals, raise funds and awareness about your organization and its mission during the holidays. At the end of the day fundraising is about connecting with your supporters, developing a long-term relationship to support your organization. So, wait no more. Plan your event and reach out to individuals!

Individual Giving Sets a New Record in 2016 Giving USA Study Reports

Americana sets  a new individual giving record in 2016, according to Giving USA Annual Report on Philanthropy released June 13, 2017.  It has been the fifth time in the history of their research that non-profits have experienced an increase in the amount of donors. With a major leap in individual donors, the amount of donation diverted to religion is also greater.

With 32% of the total donation amount gone to religious establishments, religious charities have become one of the major non-profits in America today. Last year alone donations made to religious institutions came up to almost a hundred and twenty-three billion dollars, which is an increase of 3% since last year. It’s is the highest amount ever in the history of this research, even with the inflation adjustment. It is the sixth consecutive year that the religious philanthropy has seen an increase. However, on a closer look, it isn’t as great as one would assume. In the five-year average growth in this category, it has been the slowest growth year in comparison to all other categories.

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Institutions coming in the religious category are congregations houses of worship, national religious entities, and missionary societies. But the drop in the average growth in the religious donations in these institutions are broadly based on two factors.

Related: Individual Giving On the Rise |  Charitable Giving Statistics 2017

Donor Behaviour

Memberships of churches and synagogues has seen an overall decline. The number of people who used to go to church weekly has also declined in the recent years. There are fewer people in the country who make a donation to their house of worship to strengthen their relationship with it.

Donation Accounting Methodology

Per the report findings, the major concern in general census is that the method of accounting in these religious institutions for religious giving is not as contemporary as it could be. The traditional method of bookkeeping and basic computation power might be making the donation management a bit exhausting task. The methodology for the accounting can be improved.

There are still some variations in the results of the report. For example, if a hospital foundation, even if it has religious affiliation, will still be counted in healthcare.

Giving USA Foundation has been investing resources to improve the approach of religious non-profits in attracting and maintaining its donors. If the current methodology of accounting is improved upon a lot more clear result can be procured.

In religious category total giving is spurred largely by individuals. For the start, the donor-receiver relationship matters more than just the numbers in the value of donations, and thus should be a priority concern.

Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy was released to the public at 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday, June 13, 2017.

Individual Giving On the Rise | Charitable Giving Statistics 2017

Americans gave $390.05 billion setting a record in giving to various non-profits all across America, states Giving USA’s Annual Report on Philanthropy.
All donor types, except the bequest category, increased since last year. The total growth in charitable giving has increased 2.7 %, though many acknowledge it as a moderate growth. Even though there was a drop in mega gifts of more than $200 million, the collective donations by individual donors have gone up 3.9%. The smaller amounts still made it to be the majority of the donations and the individual donors made up to 72% of the donors.
According to the Giving USA Report, American philanthropy has seen its third consecutive year of growth. And with the increasing number of generous donors, there is only a positive growth in years to come.

Related: Individual Giving Sets a New Record in 2016 Giving USA Study Reports

The infographic below, created by The Giving USA, The Giving Institute illustrates the numbers and giving trends by sub sectors.

Giving-USA-2017-Infographic

About Giving USA.

Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy is the longest-running and most comprehensive report on charitable giving in the United States. The annual report of 2017 was released on 13th June.