Skip to main content
St. Raymond

USING ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS TO STRENGTHEN COMMUNITY AND GROW GIVING

 

With the end of the fiscal year looming, St. Raymond de Penafort parish needed to quickly raise $30,000 to cover a budget shortfall and keep parish operations on sound financial ground.  But how? The answer lies in a longterm commitment to nurturing donor relationships and regular communications that didn’t always ask for money.

St. Raymond de Penafort parish consistently uses the GiveCentral communications feature to create a dialogue with parishioners and strengthen the community.  Monthly emails celebrate the vibrant community and showcase stories about the good work ministries are doing, the success of the school children, parish happenings and much, much more.  Through these stories St. Raymond built intimacy, demonstrated how donor dollars were helping and kept parishioners engaged in and tethered to their shared mission.  

When the parish faced the budget shortfall, naturally they turned to their parishioners for help.  They sent out a different type of note, one that detailed the parish’s financial shortfall and asked for help.  The response was immediate and powerful, raising $30K in less than a week, wiping out the parish debt for the year.  

How GiveCentral Made a Difference

The positive response and outpouring of support was rooted in a strong relationship the parish built with parishioners through a commitment to consistent communication that went well beyond asking for money.  These regular electronic communications sent from the GiveCentral portal fortified the relationship between parish and parishioners and played a key role in the community coming together in a time of need. When the email came asking for financial help, parishioners didn’t hesitate to generously give.  What’s more, providing supporters a way to give electronically offered supporters a quick and easy way to answer the call for help.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but we were very pleased with the outcome”

  • Roberta Nicholas – Communications Coordinator/Accounting

How often are you sharing your story s to strengthen your donor community?  If you don’t have a donor communication strategy in place, it’s time to start planning!

Fall

FALL FUNDRAISING TIPS

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-focused 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.  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?

When it comes to giving, your first priority should be convenience for your donors.

The Age of Convenience

It’s the age of convenience. Everything – in every category imaginable – is geared toward making things easier and more convenient. We have a need for speed and ease!Today, we rely on the internet for just about everything: news, shopping, banking, socializing, and much, much more. Quick and easy is the name of the game in our increasingly online-focused world. Having instant – and seamless – access has become an ingrained part of our culture. As such, your donors expect the same level of ease and accessibility from your organization that they find elsewhere… and all from the palm of their hand.Regardless of where donors spend their hard-earned money – ordering groceries online, e-shopping, downloading music, paying bills electronically or supporting a worthy cause – donors are primed for and – quite honestly, expect – hassle-free online buying experiences. I know I do!To help ensure your supporters have a great giving experience, try these tips:

Make it mobile friendly.

Donors are on the go. Ensure you are optimized for mobile giving so donors can give anytime, anywhere, from any device. (more…)

Your festive events bring them in, now keep them around with year-round giving.

Tips on Inspiring Year-Round Giving

Spring is (finally) in the air and with the blooming of spring comes the season for marquee nonprofit fundraising events. From grand galas to spring fling festivities, these cornerstone events are an important part of the fundraising mix, often raising significant funds.

While extra emphasis is rightfully put on these annual high-profile and revenue-producing events, don’t take your eye off the eight ball. Year-round giving is critical to your long-term viability and is the engine that drives your mission. Steady, recurring gifts add up and are foundational elements to your fundraising success.

The most successful nonprofit organizations integrate traditional fundraising activities such as annual galas with online giving options and ongoing donor communications. Electronic giving is an effective tool to not only facilitate donations, but also deepen donor engagement which results in increased year-round giving. When adding GiveCentral to their fundraising tool kit, our clients report a growth of up to 50 percent in total donations.

You can inspire year-round giving by deploying the latest fundraising technology and creating meaningful donor touch points throughout the year. Try these proven GiveCentral tips: (more…)

closeup of a red saddle blanket with a large number 1 on a horse with its rider going to the derby

Drawing Lessons From The Kentucky Derby

Were you one of the millions of Americans who tuned into the Kentucky Derby this past weekend? I’ve always wanted to go and take in the action at Churchill Downs. While the Kentucky Derby is synonymous with mint juleps and big hats, as I watched the fastest two minutes in sports, I couldn’t help but draw analogies to fundraising.There are so many horses in the fundraising race. Donors are bombarded with messages and pleas for support from a wide array of organizations supporting a vast assortment of causes. How do you make your horse stand out? Here are a few “training tips” to help you take the lead and stay on a winning track:

Strong Storyline

Every horse has a backstory and the same goes for your organization. You’ve got to come out of the gates with a compelling reason for donors to “bet on” – or support – your mission. You need a clear, crystallized mission and a detailed plan on how you are going to tell it. Donors want to know the impact their donations are making in your organization, so be sure to tell them…and often! (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…)

The art of storytelling can improve your fundraising, and make it more fun to boot.

Tips to Perfect the Art of Storytelling

Happy National Tell a Story Day! Do you know someone who is a good storyteller? Someone who can captivate an audience with the tale they are weaving. Someone whose stories you always want to hear because they are engaging and entertaining. For me, that someone is was always my grandfather. We would listen over the dinner table and walk with him through the memories of his youth, his love of the backwoods of northern Minnesota and his passion for Notre Dame football. Nonprofits can learn a valuable lesson for good storytellers. Storytelling is a powerful communications tool that can set you apart from other nonprofit organizations vying for your donors’ time, talent, treasure and attention. As you are well aware, donors give for altruistic reasons, so connecting with them on an emotional level is key to capitalizing on their generosity and desire to give. Storytelling is a great and incredibly effective way to do just that!Donors like (and respond to) the warm and fuzzy that comes from supporting a cause. Make sure you are continually warming their hearts through compelling and inspired storytelling that brings your mission to life. Try these storytelling techniques designed to help you speak to donors’ hearts:

Remember the three C’s.

Be clear, concise and compelling. Verbose, meandering and mundane content will be ignored.

Tell the truth.

Being truthful and transparent are extremely important. Don’t take creative liberties and exaggerate your stories. Donors can separate fact from fiction, so don’t embellish for effect.

Be your authentic self.

Every organization has a personality. It’s the way you express and represent yourself — it’s your heart and soul. Be genuine and let your persona shine through so donors can better relate to you and your mission. Stories without personality fall flat. (more…)

Looking to connect with your donors? All it takes is a smile.

Connect with Your Donors: Tell Your Parish Story

Churches are lucky among nonprofits; time to connect with yourcommunity is built into religious life. For Catholics, that means Sunday Mass. And as you know, evoking an emotional connection with your parishioners is the foundation to getting them more involved in the community with their time, talent or treasure.While this is easy when they are sitting in the pew at Mass, how do you carry this connection on throughout their week? They have work concerns, children to care for, obligations with friends and family, and, of course, they have other nonprofits asking them, “donate to our cause.“The fact is, your parishioners’ attention is being pulled at by several other nonprofits, possibly many times each day. Compare this to the fact that they may only hear from you at Mass on Sunday. They might take home the bulletin, but that could just sit under a stack of bills. So how can you make sure your parish stands out?

Why Connect?

According to Giving USA, charitable giving grew 7.1% in 2014, and religious donations still hold the largest piece of that pie. However, that slice has been shrinking in comparison to other types of giving, a trend that has been going on for 30 years. This is due in large part to the influx of nonprofits reaching out to your parishioners, evoking a competing emotional connection for their organizations’ cause.So how can a church keep up? Well the good news is, a parish has an innate emotional connection to its parishioners – spirituality. Your parishioners get a very tangible refresher from hearing your pastor speak, so all you need to do is remind them of that refreshing feeling they get from your masses during the week. This will strengthen your relationship with your parishioners!

What’s Your Story?

Your parish already has a mission, and in it lies your story. Tell your parishioners a little bit about your church, and connect them to the history of your parish.

  • Why did your pastor decide to become a pastor?
  • Is there a message from the homily that could be repeated in a mid-week email?
  • How did you come to work at the parish? What about your colleagues?
  • What happened at your last big parish event, behind the scenes in preparation for the fun?
  • When was your church built? Is there a story of its founding you can share?
  • Can you share a weekly or monthly “Spotlight on a Parishioner” as an email or newsletter article?

Small stories like these are just the thing to help build up the sense of community that’s so crucial to your mission. Connected parishioners are engaged parishioners, and the more they feel like they’re a part of the church the more likely they are to volunteer, donate and participate. To help you share your story, I want to share a favorite, easy resource of mine with you.

Share Your Stories

My story-telling knowledge is inspired by a woman named Vanessa Chase. Her website, The Storytelling Nonprofit, is chock-full of resources, ideas, inspiration and motivation that you can learn from and adapt to fit your parish. I cannot recommend her website enough!Vanessa encourages non-profits to think of their donors as intimate relationships – and what keeps you supporting your friends, families, and loved ones more than the emotional connection you share with one another? It’s that emotional connection with your loved ones that is built so much by the stories you build together and tell one another, so Vanessa teaches us how to begin that conversation with parishioners and donors.Your parishioners come to you for a very intimate reason, and communicating your story with them not only validates their spirituality but also strengthens their desire to support your mission. Connect over stories and watch your community grow!

Get a head start on your spring cleaning!

Spring Spruce-Up

It’s Spring, at least according to the calendar (we celebrated the spring equinox on Sunday, March 20th). Now’s the time to start sprucing up your donor database to ensure it is up-to-date and accurate for your upcoming events, campaigns, appeals and communications. Here are some things to scrub for during this important housekeeping effort. GiveCentral can provide the “elbow grease” to help you get these done:

Expunge expired cards and failed payments.

For donors who have set up automated credit and debit card payments, you need to stay ahead of card expiration dates so you don’t lose income.

Discard duplicates.

Scan your system to ensure you don’t have donors in the system more than once (and merge the data into one file if you do). It frustrates donors to receive duplicates of your communications and sends the (wrong) message that you’re not organized and on top of things.

Bail on bounce-back emails.

Although you should be handling these as they occur, time often gets away and they pile up. Take the time to remove defunct emails from your list (it just slows down your auto distribution). But don’t stop there, if you have the donor’s phone number (and hopefully you do), give them a call to get an updated address so you don’t lose the opportunity to keep in touch via email.

Update expiring gifts.

If your online donation system allows donors to chose an end date for recurring gifts, you need to ensure you are encouraging donors to update their profile before their gift is set to expire.

Ditch the defunct event and campaign profiles.

If you are no longer fundraising against a particular event or campaign, be sure to remove it from the list of options from which donors select. Any cleaning professional will tell you the right tools make all the difference. Let GiveCentral do the scrubbing for you. Our system is designed to be the “muscle” that keeps your donor data files current so you can raise more money.We’re here to roll up our sleeves and put our system to work for you. Our system features make it easy to check these chores off your to do list. Feel free to reach out to to learn more. Happy Spring!

groundhog

What Does Your Groundhog Predict?

I for one am thrilled that Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow this morning… bring on spring! This annual ritual, where a groundhog predicts the arrival of spring, offers some interesting lessons:

  • Been there, done that. Do you sometimes feel like you’re stuck in Groundhog Day like Bill Murray was in the famous movie of the same title? If you are looking to change an outcome to a problem, you have to do something different or try something new. Small changes can lead to big dividends.
  • Avoid the communications rut. No doubt that communicating with your donor base is crucial.  But, just as important is ensuring your messages don’t get stuck in a rut and come off rote or insincere. When communicating with your donors be authentic and ensure you personalize them as much as possible!
  • Facts, not folklore.  While the tradition of this famous Phil predicting the weather is cute, it isn’t based on fact. Far from it! Punxsutawney Phil has been wrong nearly 40% of the time according to records.  Building a strategic plan grounded in fact is a must.  

In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing findings from a new, benchmark national study we conducted to uncover donor giving habits and preferences. The discoveries from the GiveCentral Insights on American Giving Report are sure to positively impact your strategic plan.

What other Groundhog Day lessons have you learned? We’d love to hear what you do to keep your forecast positive. Be sure to be on the lookout for the release of our donor insights report next week!