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GiveCentral Launches Predictions for Nonprofit Giving Survey

As a leading online giving provider, GiveCentral is committed to advancing industry research to help identify and understand emerging trends and challenges in the nonprofit community.  As such, bi-annually, we conduct a national nonprofit giving survey for professionals to gain insights on the state of giving.

We’ve launched the much-anticipated 2017 Predictions for Nonprofit Giving survey and would like to hear your opinions and insights.  As leaders in the nonprofit fundraising industry, we know you have your fingers on the pulse of giving trends. From giving preferences and levels to the increasing role technology plays in donations, your thoughts and feedback matter.  Would you help us by taking a quick survey?  

Click here to take the survey

With your help, the third edition of the GiveCentral Predictions for Nonprofit Giving Survey Report will once again reveal valuable insights on the state of giving while offering practical advice and best practice suggestions to ensure your ongoing fundraising success.  

Thank you for playing a role in this important initiative.  All survey participants will receive a copy of the final report.  Your time and participation are much appreciated.

Here’s to a successful 2017!

charitable giving by religion

The #GivingTuesday Countdown

#GivingTuesday – the global philanthropic movement celebrating and encouraging a national day of charitable giving – is one week away.  How are you celebrating it this year?  

Ideally, your planning is in the final “finishing touches” stage with your communications ready to roll and your online/mobile giving site ready to accept donations.  For some, however, we know that despite the best intentions your #GivingTuesday plans may still be in the works.  

With that in mind, we developed this quick-and-easy last minute #GivingTuesday Checklist to help you capitalize on this big day of giving and pull together a successful #GivingTuesday campaign:

  • Determine Your Campaign Theme and Goal

The first step is to figure out what you are raising money for and how much you aim to raise.  To make things easy, if you already have a holiday or end-of-year campaign in place, simply tie #GivingTuesday to that campaign.  It’s a great way to bolster the campaign and increase support.

If not, create a specific campaign goal that will resonate with your supporters.  Donors want to know what their donations support so be specific – i.e. raising $50,000 for a scholarship fund or $10,000 for sprucing up a local family shelter.  You may even want to consider taking a menu approach:  allowing donors to direct funds to multiple ongoing projects you  support.  

  • Craft Your Communications.

Compelling communications are the backbone of your #GivingTuesday fundraising campaign.  Donors are more likely to give if they know how their dollars help.  Be sure to craft stories that demonstrate the impact donations have on your campaign.  Use strong visuals to help bring your story to life and be sure to make it easy to give by including a link to your online giving page in every communication.  Your communications need to inspire and breakthrough the clutter of the day.  

Time won’t allow for a full donation page overhaul, but at the very least make sure your donation page references your #GivingTuesday effort and the donation options mirror your campaign.  And, be sure to add the highly recognizable #GivingTuesday logo to your page.   

  • Get Social

#GivingTuesday expertly leverages social media to encourage giving.  Be sure you create social content that is not only compelling but easily sharable.  Invite your supporters to share your story – and link!  

You can still make the most of #GivingTuesday but you have to act fast!  Happy fundraising.    

leisure, holidays, reunion, people and friendship concept - happy teenage friends hugging at summer garden party

Homecoming Fundraising: A Great Time to Connect with Alumni

This fall many schools and parishes are hosting homecoming festivities which are a fun way for students, parents and parishioners to show their parish pride!  As the name implies, homecoming is also a time to invite former students and parish members back to campus to keep them connected to you and your mission.

If you haven’t done so already, now’s the time to share details about your upcoming homecoming.  Alumni are an important constituent who can help you advance your mission.  Keeping them engaged in your organization can have significant payoff in the long run which is why they should already be part of your fundraising strategy playbook. Here’s a quick game plan to help you tackle this initiative during homecoming:

  • Create a special invite for alumni encouraging them to come back for homecoming festivities.  Distribute via traditional channels (bulletin, flyers at local establishments, local newspaper, email if you have that info, etc.) as well as socially on popular social sites.
  • If you haven’t done so already, create an alumni Facebook group and include details on how to join the group in your homecoming alumni invite.  You can use this group as a way to publicize homecoming events and so much more year round! Share news of the site with existing parish and school members and ask them to share with alumni they know.
  • Engage alumni ambassadors to help spread the news and get their classmates to attend homecoming.

 

Now that you’ve spread the word, on game day:

  • Have parish/school members staff a highly visible alumni table where attendees are encouraged to check in. Use the face-to-face greeting as a time to collect up-to-date email, phone and address information (use an ipad for quick and easy data collection) so you can add them to your ongoing communications outreach. Be sure to encourage them to join your alumni Facebook Group.  Create signage with the group name for easy reference.
  • Tap into alumni nostalgia and connection to the school.  Consider selling school spirit wear or car magnets so alumni can show their pride.  Use GiveCentral Go to collect sales on the spot!  Designate a project or program that money collected will support.
  • During halftime, make an announcement welcoming alumni and inviting them onto the field for special recognition.

In the week following homecoming, be sure to use the data you collected and send personal thank you notes to alumni who participated in homecoming activities.  Leveraging homecoming is a great way to kick-start or invigorate your alumni relations plan which should already be part of your fundraising strategy.

Fall

Fall Fundraising Tips To Boost Your Campaigns

Autumn is officially here!  As I look outside, I see the leaves slowly starting to change; turning that warm red and deep gold that signals Autumn has arrived.  

Fall is for layering and cozying up.  The same “fall rules” apply to your organization…it’s time to cozy up to donors and layer in some easy-to-organize FUNdraising activities to engage your supporters and/or raise funds to fuel your mission.  From tailgaters to Oktoberfest and Halloween parties, and everything in between, for many nonprofits fall is brimming with fundraising events.  It’s also an ideal time to prep for your year-end appeal.  Here’s some fall fundraising tips to keep in mind:

Show Donors Some Love This Fall

Making donors feel loved and helping them understand the important part they play in your mission is a key ingredient for successful fundraising.  That’s why you need to nurture donor relationships throughout the year, not just when asking for money.  Fall is the perfect time to “hunker down” and connect with donors to thank them for all they do to help your mission thrive, without asking for money.  Why not host a tailgater at your next football or soccer game?  Or, invite donors to a coffee where you share stories of the impact they are making.  These easy-to-implement activities will go a long way in showing your gratitude.  

Are you ready for some fun?

FUNdraising doesn’t have to be a chore (or a bore), it can – and should – be fun.  Fall is the perfect time to bring donors together – after being away for the summer – and there’s no better way to do that than planning a fun Fall Fest! Put your fun cap on and dream up activities that will draw donors to your event.  Remember the golden rule, you need to at least double your expenses to make any event worthwhile.  

Grab Them On The Go

One of the great things about fall is the weather and that means outdoor fundraisers.  GiveCentral Go is great for fundraising activities because you can accept payments on the spot, regardless of location.  The GiveCentral Go mobile app and card reader process payments on smartphones and tablets with the simple swipe of a credit or debit card. Funds are deposited directly into the online GiveCentral account.  Try GiveCentral Go at your fall fundraising events.

Avoid End-of-Year Pitfalls

 October is the beginning of the year-end homestretch. Our last idea of the fall fundraising tips series, is to set aside time in October to properly plan for your end-of-year appeal.  Create your fundraising plan and make sure you have the tools and team in place to make it your most successful year yet!  
A brand new season is on the horizon.  Are you ready to take it on?

Your donors' generosity peaks at certain times of the day and year.

Generosity Varies by Time of Day – When Do Your Donors Give?

When you’re appealing to the generosity of your donors, every second counts… and when that second happens matters, too. Your donors are busy, and their time is just as valuable as their money.So what’s a nonprofit to do? Make it easy for your donors to give when it’s most convenient for them by offering online giving!GiveCentral’s recent survey of over 800 American donors told us that people are far more likely to donate in the evenings (36 percent) or on weekends (26 percent) than during the “normal” business nine-to-five. That’s a lot of generosity you might be missing if you’re not ready for off-hours giving.

  (more…)

Small nonprofits get a five-star rating for their mission.

Small Nonprofits: How Do You Stack Up?

So your nonprofit isn’t as big as the United Way or Goodwill, but you’re still doing good work. But all the Big Research that you could compare your organization to is based on the big-budgeted, big-named orgs… how can small nonprofits measure up? What’s the best way to reach out to your donors in a way they’ll be receptive to? How do they prefer to give?Today we’re taking a look at another aspect of the Individual Donor Benchmark Report (IDBR), which takes a deep dive into the data of small nonprofits (anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000). And one of the biggest things they’ve discovered is that online giving presents a HUGE opportunity for you.The “Individual Donors” studied in this report generate about 36% of a nonprofit’s budget, giving an average of $435 apiece. (About half of that was “major” gifts over $1,000.) While gift size certainly varies by the size, focus, and organizational strategy of a particular nonprofit, that’s still money you want to ensure makes it into your budget.

Online Giving is Massive for Small Nonprofits

Now the big news: among nonprofits surveyed, the average growth in online fundraising between 2013 and 2014 was 403%. That’s incredible!Nonprofits with under $5,000 in online revenue are at the head of the class, with 1,083% growth in online giving from 2013 to 2014. While organizations with new online giving programs are the most likely to experience such explosive growth, even the 25% growth experienced by larger organizations is nothing to scoff at. That’s an amazing benefit to offering an online giving option to your donors!

bar graph showing the growth in the average online donation between 2013 and 2014 for four categories of small nonprofits
When your donors prefer to give online, you make sure it’s an option!
The average nonprofit is currently raising about 17% of its revenue online, and that number is growing every day. With the rate of growth mentioned above, it’s in your best interests to devote some resources to the exploration and development of an online giving program such as GiveCentral.

Recurring Donors Give More

Once you’ve got an online giving program in place, offering recurring giving options is a no-brainer. Letting your donors set up weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even annually-recurring gifts makes it incredibly easy for them to keep giving in the ways they prefer to give.  Letting them plan ahead lets you plan ahead, knowing that at least some of your revenue is essentially guaranteed. (more…)

Start your plan early!

Why Your Fundraising Plan is Critical in 2016

As the development director at a “small but mighty” nonprofit, Heather Yandow was interested in data to back up her fundraising plan.But while she was looking at reports and surveys to compare her organization to, she realized that the data from many reports like GivingUSA just surveyed the big guys… where the smallest organization they surveyed had a budget of $5 million.Now, if your budget is only 10% of that and you’ve got just one part-timer working on multiple fundraising projects at once, how can you compare your success?Realizing that research and information directed toward smaller nonprofits just didn’t exist, her studio later initiated a survey that would become the Individual Donor Benchmark Report (IDBR), answering questions similar to those she’d had herself.Now in its third year, the IDBR has become a reliable resource for smaller nonprofits (meaning those with a budget under $2 million), giving you the data you need to compare yourself to organizations with similar resources as you have. With the kinds of data contained in the IBDR, you can really see where you’re doing well and where you have opportunities for growth.

We Hold These Truths

With the data collected over the past few years, theIDBR has found some universal truths that have carried over from year to year. First, the single most important thing you can do as a small nonprofit is to make a plan. The single thing that really mattered, through all the data, was whether an organization has a fundraising plan. The plan is what ties everything together, makes the data correlate, and shows you just where your money comes from… or where it could be coming from.The second universal truth demonstrated by the IDBR is that there is a HUGE opportunity in online giving. Organizations with new online giving programs have the potential for massive, almost exponential fundraising growth, and even established programs saw 25% growth from 2013 to 2014. Online giving is one more channel through which your donors can give, and you’re missing out on that stream entirely if you’re not ready to maximize online gifts.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Understanding very well how much a difference in budget can affect a nonprofit’s fundraising ability, the IDBR offers benchmarks for organizations with varying amounts of revenue. Compare your own organization, at a glance, to small (under $200K), medium (up to $499,999), large (up to $999.999), and super (up to $2 million) organizations, with a nice “average” category included for good measure. For example, the average nonprofit raises 36% of their revenue from individual donors, but the various categories range from 25% to 57%.You can compare your numbers by total dollars raised, number of gifts, and even break things down by the issue your nonprofit seeks to address. Be reassured, though… every size of organization saw double-digit percentages in revenue growth between 2013 and 2014!The IDBR also looks at fundraising strategies and challenges, including a Fundraiser’s Wish List. Unsurprisingly, the top wish was “more help for fundraising activities,” and the number 2 item was a wish for more time to spend with donors.

It’s All in the Plan

The data expert at Third Space Studio collected the survey results from 87 different nonprofits and found that the ONLY thing that really matters is whether your organization has a fundraising plan. Everything else, no matter how well-intended, was “no better than a crap shoot” without a plan. And who wants to shoot crap, anyway?Two-thirds of the organizations polled say they have a fundraising plan, and using it at least “sometimes.” And the difference between the haves and the have-nots is significant. The IDBR found that there’s no correlation between staff time and revenue, or fundraiser salary and revenue, or number of donor meetings and revenue… unless you have a plan.It’s that plan that is key to your fundraising. The survey results show that “for every $1 more you pay your primary individual donor fundraiser, you are able to rase another $4.25.” So all you need is a plan to recoup that expense more than fourfold? Yes, please!With a plan, you can expect a full-time individual donor fundraiser to bring in about $280,000. With a plan, individual donor meetings can yield over $5,000 in increased donor revenue. With a plan, you are simply able to raise more money. So what are you waiting for? Get planning!There’s so much more in the IDBR that it might be overwhelming to try to sum up in one blog post. Check back here soon for more info on recurring giving, online giving, technology, communication, and even the people who make it all happen, or visit Third Space Studio to download your own copy of the Individual Donor Benchmark Report.Happy planning!

an older man with short hair and a grey button-down shirt about to write on a blank flip-chart

Ideas to Encourage Online Giving

Your donors want to support you, but they need to know what you need. They know your parish needs money, but how can you best express this to encourage giving?

Here are some creative ideas for communicating your expenses and their effect on the parish community:

Explanatory

These ideas reinforce your message of need with repetition, making your message familiar:

  • Discuss your message of need with your pastor, and ask him to consider weaving this message into his homily.
  • Place an advertisement in your bulletin asking parishioners to contribute to a specific initiative. Include a link they can type into their browser that goes to your GiveCentral page. (Try a link shortener to save space.)
  • Print up flyers with messages of stewardship and place them around your church, activity hall, and school (if you have one). Time and talent are just as important as treasure… it’s not always about the money, but connecting donors to your community events is shown to encourage giving when the time comes.
  • Send an email “newsletter” with messages about your various initiatives. Is your Women’s Club holding a flower sale? Are you raising money to repair the church steps? Is your choir holding auditions soon?

Interactive

These ideas ask your donors to take action on the spot:

  • Make sure to have a prominent link to your GiveCentral page on your parish website!
  • Place giving forms in the pews to encourage them to register for online giving. (Make sure to make it clear where the forms should be dropped off.)
  • Post helpers at the back of church after Mass to distribute registration cards or instruction sheets for online giving.
  • Hold a “Stewardship Table” in the church lobby or entryway to talk to people about online giving. If you can, have a computer or tablet available to help parishioners to sign up then and there.
  • Use social media to convey your message of giving! Facebook now lets you post a donation button (only for Pages), and you can also share links to GiveCentral on Twitter. People love photos, so you can share pictures of your events and the results of your campaigns.
  • Send a short email with a specific giving request. Include a link directly to the fund you’d like them to support on GiveCentral.

Demonstrative

These ideas show, rather than tell, what happens without giving:

  • What if you couldn’t pay your electric bill? Turn the lights and/or air conditioning off during Mass.
  • What if you couldn’t pay your gas bill in winter? Hold Mass with the heat turned low in the church. (Keep Sunday school and day care warm, of course!)
  • What if you couldn’t pay for songbooks? Remove the songbooks from the back of the pews… and consider replacing them with GiveCentral donation forms.
  • What if you couldn’t pay for music? Hold Mass with no choir or cantor to lead the parish in song.
  • What if the church had to close? Lock the doors of the church one Sunday and hold mass outside.
  • What if you had to merge with another church? Have congregations from two parishes attend the same Mass at one church
  • What if you could only afford one Mass? Hold just one mass on a particular Sunday (announced in advance, certainly).
  • What if you couldn’t pay for printing? Conspicuously remove all bulletins and flyers from the church for one week.
  • What if you couldn’t afford landscape maintenance? Consider letting the church lawns grow out, with a lawn sign explaining why.

And as always, remember that your donors want to know where their money is going. Let them know your plans for their donations, and also the outcomes. Show them the great results, and they’ll be encouraged to give again.

Do you have more ideas for encouraging giving? What has worked at your parish? Let us know in the comments, we can add them to the list!

slices of pumpkin, apple and berry pie on three separate white plates

Would You Like a Larger Slice of the Charitable Giving Pie?

Giving Grows, but Religious Donations Still Slide

Great news for nonprofits was just released this week: donations grew in 2014! According to Giving USA, charitable giving in the United States increased by 7.1 percent overall, rising to $358 billion. This is even higher than the amount projected in 2013 and a level of giving unseen since before the Great Recession. Individual contributions made up 72 percent of the increase, so you can tell that people are feeling generous.Another encouraging discovery: the ongoing upswing in charitable giving increased by 5.4 percent in 2014, far outpacing the five-year average growth rate of 3.4 percent.And once again, religious organizations received the largest share of charitable dollars (32 percent) and the estimated amount contributed to religion reached its highest value ever. The downside? As a percentage of charitable giving, religious donations remain in a 30-year slide. Dropping from 54 percent in 1987 to 32 percent today, religion is claiming an ever-shrinking piece of the charitable pie.So what is a faith-based nonprofit to do?First, be aware that there is ever-growing competition for your donors’ time, attention, and generosity.Excellent causes abound, and they’re all asking for the same dollars you are. Don’t let this discourage you from telling your story, but get comfortable with the idea that you might not be a donor’s top priority on a given day (and try again later, of course).Second, give your donors a reason to notice you and not the other guy.Inboxes are filled with tempting offers, social media is chock-a-block with interesting links, and other demands for attention are almost literally everywhere you can imagine. Consider what you are doing differently to stand out, and highlight what makes your cause unique.Third, follow up graciously.A thank-you note is certainly in order for every donation, but stories of what-happened-next speak to both donors and prospects alike. Demonstrating the good work that you do encourages potential donors to support your efforts and makes current donors consider giving more.The findings from the 2015 Giving USA report are encouraging, but this news is only the whipped cream on our delicious pie. Don’t eat your slice and assume more is always on the way! Many ingredients are needed and we’ve got to keep doing the work that mixes them all together.To learn how GiveCentral has helped hundreds of organizations find the right mix, just ask! Sign up for a webinar or contact us here

Electronic Giving : Realize the untapped generosity in your community

GiveCentral is an electronic giving platform built keeping the donor’s experience in mind. Our responsive mobile webpages and app allows your donors to give whenever and wherever convenient for them! Electronic giving comes with a lot of benefits. You can use this feature to recieve recurring or planned giving, supplemental funds, events and fees, festivals, raffles and galas or alumni giving. Online giving is growing quickly, especially recurring, monthly gifts. GiveCentral data shows that monthly online donors give 33 percent more than donors who give by check, and 94 percent more than a monthly cash donor.

Along with electronic giving, GiveCentral is a complete donor management system that provides your organization with one convenient, user-friendly tool to consolidate all fundraising activities, letting you spend more time connecting with your donors.

Collect donations via all major credit and debit cards, electronic check, mobile app and card reader, remote check deposit, web links and buttons or text messaging.

Get started today! To learn how GiveCentral can increase revenue for your organization, write to us at info@givecentral.org