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It’s Almost Time to Go Back To School: Are You Planning Your Supplies Drive?

back to school supplies

It’s almost August.  Which means it’s almost time to welcome your students back to school. You’ve probably started planning and making necessary upgrades to your classrooms.

School supplies are always something both teachers and families plan for. You can never have enough supplies. Especially considering stressed school and family budgets.

Consider organizing a fun and easy back-to-school fundraiser or a supply drive. There are many families who have supplies lying around the house they would love to give away. You will be surprised how many will show up to support your initiative. After all, everyone knows that every penny counts when you have a child at school.

Another way to go about this is to organize a buy from a catalogue, where families can order supplies for their children every month from the catalog provided by the school so that the proceeds go directly to the school. The parents will also appreciate the one-stop shopping experience. Buying from one provider in one store online of offline is always helpful.

Here are few things to keep in mind as you organize a drive for school supplies:

  • First, ask the teachers to note down all of the missing equipment and supplies that the school needs at the moment.
  • Advertise your efforts properly. By handing out flyers about your charitable drive you can inform people to participate and show their support. You need to make your request visible at all the right places like the local mall, at stores and churches.
  • You can also advertise by email to the parents and send them proper invites with dates mentioned and ask them to spread the word among family and friends.
  • Let the world know too. Reach out to the local media for a wider publicity.
  • Use social media to your advantage. Facebook and Twitter might be the best platforms for you to promote your event, reach out to donors. You might even attract and engage new donors who are interested in supporting education. We can help with crowdfunding. Just let us know.
  • Arrange the list of thing you need based on priorities. Not all will be able to provide you with everything so the least you can do is make it clear and understandable to them you essential needs.
  • Be sure that you are accurate about the time, date and venue for the drop-off of the donated supplies. Always keep the queries of the donors satisfied. If you give them good response it will be easier for them to donate.
  • Partner with the right people, those who can provide you with a great location for drop-offs of the donated items, a clean and appropriate collection site. Make sure the boxes are nicely stored and are not mishandled.
  • Keep your volunteers informed about the location of drop off and make use of them cleverly to ensure the proper handling caretaking of the boxes of donated supplies. The volunteers are essential as they will later help you to and deliver the supplies from the collection site to the school and later to classrooms.
  • In the end be thankful to your generous donors. Keep in mind to send out ‘thank you’ notes either on paper or online. You will also need to thank all the volunteers for their help.

Back-to-school fundraiser can go a long way and create a positive educational environment. Don’t let time restrains, assumption that the initiative will be a waist stop you from taking action. An action that not only makes it possible for the school to purchase necessary supplies for the children to have an enriching educational experience but also further strengthen your community. Wait no more. Start planning and reaching out to families.

How to Write a Better Donation Thank You Letter (And Why It Matters)

donation thank you letter

You sure know someone who can get anyone do what they want. An executive to give their limited time, an expert – their ideas, philanthropists  – their financial support. What is the secret? It’s not that hard. You just say “thank you” and “please”. And say it from the bottom of your heart.

As you sit down to write a memorable donation thank you note consider these 10 points:

  1. The timing

According to 2016 Burk Donor Survey direct mail matters. Forty Four percent of the respondents used direct mail for their giving. Your letter should ideally be posted in less than 48 hours because the faster the letter reaches the donor, the better you will be remembered. The letter would confirm that you received the donation. It will also make an impression about the efficiency of your organization and its thoughtfulness.

Many organizations are now acknowledging contributions by email. There is a chance that your email might get lost in a full email box or sent to the junk folder. Selecting a good subject line will help your letter reach the donor.

  1. Originality matters

When writing your letter, be human, be creative. Make your first line matter.  Continue by telling a story.  Perhaps an outcome of a cause you received a gift for.

  1. A delicate, personal touch holds the key

When your letter is personal, it touches the cords of the donor’s heart. A mass email message will just put off the recipient. Fundraising managers can ensure personalization of the letter by at least mentioning the name of the donor and the amount that has been donated.

  1. No need of lengthy lines

Keep it short. Keep it simple. Just as you would in real life. Remember the message is simple – you are grateful.

  1. Human touch is important

Try to give your letter a personal touch. Find your voice and use words that sound like they are on behalf of a living, breathing person, rather than an organization. Your words must express a heartfelt gratitude for the wonderful deed that the donor has done rather than being too formal.

  1. Stay away from being too pretentious

Your thank you letter must express your feelings but at the same time not exaggerate. Being too loud or showy will disengage the reader. Rather, using a positive, uplifting tone and perspective, will make donors feel good and help in your fundraising efforts.

  1. Connect back to the campaign

When you write the letter, mention the cause or the campaign you received the donation for. You can also give a brief description about the things that you plan to do with the money and how it will help the cause. This will reassure the donor that their contribution has been put to good use.

  1. Say no to digital signatures

While we live in a tech savvy world, when it comes to signing the letter, avoid using a digital signature. Instead, get the concerned person or authority to sign the letter personally. This will add sincerity and show that you have taken the time to acknowledge contributions and are genuinely thankful.

  1. Include a tax receipt and invite the donor

You can include a tax receipt along with the letter and also invite the donor to come over and visit your organization. Offer a first-hand experience of how your nonprofit works. While the last thing you want to do is ask for more in your thank you letter, including a reply envelope might do the trick.

A brief and genuine letter appreciating your donor’s contribution can be a lot more than just an acknowledgement. It can open the doors to future gifts.

4 tips for Donor retention with Email Marketing.

Donor retention

We all have donors who no longer engage with us or haven’t made recent contributions. However, rather than seeking to acquire new donors, it is more productive to re-engage with these lapsed donors who are more likely to take action as they are already familiar with your organization and the processes. Here are some tips to help you succeed on this path.

Preventive strategies VS curative techniques

Organizations must seek to optimize donor experience and satisfaction by understanding their behavior. This is the best way to “hold” them, keep them active and limit the loss of donors. On the marketing front, this satisfaction requires a thorough personalization of the actions and operations undertaken. The goal is to offer your donors tools or services that really interest them.

Prevention is better than cure. But how do you begin to recover lapsed donors, once you have identified them? In this blog, we will discuss 4 innovative methods that will help you connect with lapsed donors again.

  1. Identify donors through segmentation

The first thing you need to do is to identify lapsed donors in your CRM by grouping them into a segment. This presupposes, of course, that you have a minimum of information about your donors and that you know their behaviors.

After consolidating these donors you can better align appeals based on donor interests.

  1. Know when to stop

You have to know, at some point, to draw a line on the donors who really do not react at all to your solicitations. Repeated recalls can quickly be perceived by donors as a form of unwanted invasion and may evoke resistance to appeals. It is important to respect their decision.

  1. Surprise to revitalize donors

Create messages your donors will love. Send them emails that are out of the ordinary. The idea is to try to be as inventive as possible without falling into provocation and exaggeration. Try to make your donor feel a sense of urgency and at the same time provoke a click.

  1. Offer your lapsed donors a satisfaction/opinion questionnaire

If your donors are not actively engaging with you, maybe they have good reasons. Is your process a hassle? Do you send too frequent emails? A donation route that they do not understand?

Your dormant donors probably have a lot to teach you. Questionnaires are always appreciated by donors. They feel valued because you show them that their opinion counts.

These techniques should not make you forget that the main goal is to actively engage donors in the future. For this, we will recommend that you place donor satisfaction at the heart of your marketing strategy.

Donor Giving

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…)

Storytelling

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.

Related : Storytelling and Transparency Encourage Giving

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…)

storytelling nonprofits

Connect with Your Donors: Tell Your Parish Story

Churches are lucky among nonprofits; time to connect with your community 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!

Related Articles: 

Storytelling and Transparency Encourage Giving
Tips to Perfect the Art of Storytelling
What’s Your Narrative? Stories worth telling.

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!

tax deductible donations

Tax Time: Top 10 Reasons Donors Give

The mad dash to file personal income tax returns is on! With the April tax deadline looming, we thought it would be interesting to share insights on what drives donors to give. Hint: tax deduction doesn’t even make the top 10!Knowing the motivating factors behind charitable giving is critically important for successful fundraising. According to the recently released GiveCentral Insights on Nonprofit Giving report, altruistic motivations are the primary drivers for charitable giving. Overwhelmingly, Americans donate out of the goodness of their hearts, not because they have to or should for tax purposes. Faith and the desire to help others trump tax breaks.

Understanding why donors give is one piece of the fundraising puzzle. Armed with insights on donor behaviors, your challenge is to create strategies that tap into donor motivations. Communications should be a cornerstone of your strategic plan. From a compelling content marketing strategy to inspired storytelling, demonstrating how donor contributions make a real and meaningful difference to your mission can have a direct impact on your funding. Knowing how important a comprehensive communications plan is to your success, we will continue to share ideas and tangible tips on how to maximize your communications, so be sure to check back frequently. In the meantime, I’m signing off so I can go finish my taxes!  

Donor Preferences

Understanding Donor Preferences Means More Money

Individuals account for nearly three-quarters of the nation’s charitable contributions. While the reasons why they give vary, once thing is certain: The request to give resonated with them emotionally and motivated them to take action. Our recent Insights on Nonprofit Giving report revealed major motivators and donor preferences for charitable giving, including:

Motivating Factors

  • Want To…Not Have To Or Should. On the whole, Americans donate because they want to support causes that will help others or society. Fewer than a quarter of donors (22 percent) do so because of an obligation or sense of duty. Giving because it’s how they were raised was also cited as a reason to behave charitably (29 percent).
  • Helping Hands. To help people in need was the most often cited reason to give (58 percent), followed by feeling fortunate and wanting to give back (39 percent) and for religious reasons (29 percent). Contrary to popular belief, only 15 percent of respondents said they give for the tax deduction.
  • Emotional Connection. Nearly 20 percent of survey respondents said they were emotionally moved to donate by someone’s story, making donor communications a key component of every marketing plan.

Giving Preferences

  • Online Giving On The Rise. While donating in-person in cash is still a “comfort zone” across all age groups, electronic giving options are popular, with one in three Americans indicating such. Significantly, those with higher incomes show greater preference for electronic methods. In fact, 18 percent of those earning under $20K showed preference for electronic giving methods, whereas 44 percent of those earning more than $100K showed preference.
  • Credit And Debit Trumps Transfer. While 23 percent of those 18-34 years old said they prefer using credit or debit cards on computers, tablets and mobile devices, only 8 percent prefer using money transfer services on those devices for giving. The same preference for credit and debit payment options versus money transfer services holds true across all age brackets.
  • Regional Giving Differences. People living in the West donated the most, contributing to charity twice as much as people living in the Northeast ($1,224 and $599 on average respectively). Those in the South contributed on average $660, leaving those in the Midwest in last place with a $587 average total.

What’s The Takeaway?

So what does this all mean? Understanding the why behind donor contributions helps you nurture and strengthen those relationships, setting the stage for future donations and a long term relationship. It’s important to have both a strategic fundraising plan and sophisticated, multi-function tools in place to capitalize on your donors’ desire to support your cause.


Get The Survey ReportDownload a copy of GiveCentral’s Insights on Nonprofit Giving report, which features easy-to-implement recommendations borne from survey findings.

asking for donations

Storytelling and Transparency Encourage Giving

Consistent, regular donations help fuel your church and its mission, but asking for money can be uncomfortable and even intimidating. Your confidence in making the ask can be boosted by one simple technique: transparency.

Through our experiences and best practices, we have compiled four simple Steps to Success for being transparent with parishioners to help you receive the offertory your church needs to grow and thrive.

1. Tell Them Why

The most important part of transparency is telling your donors how their gifts are being used. People can be hesitant to donate their hard earned money if they don’t know what that gift is going towards.

How can you do this most effectively? There are plenty of ways to demonstrate your need for the money necessary to keep your organization operating, many of which can be tailored to your audience. Examples include:

  1. Putting together a complete list of expenses and make it readily available. Depending on your circumstances, you can keep an updated list on your website, in your bulletin, or anywhere you know your parishioners will see it.
  2. Highlighting one expense per month on which to focus your fundraising efforts.  Tackling expenses one at a time helps keep folks from getting overwhelmed and draws attention to individual, tangible needs.
  3. Placing GiveCentral enrollment forms (or instructions on how to register online) in frequently-used spaces and places where people naturally congregate to chat after Mass.

Through our experience at GiveCentral, we have witnessed a variety of ways to showcase the funds needed to keep church doors open. Check out our list of Giving Ideas for some additional inspiration.

2. Ask for Donations

Now that you have told your donors why you need the money, it’s time to ask for donations. To some this may feel a bit uncomfortable, but by maintaining a level of transparency about what the funds are going towards it will become easier to show parishioners why they want to give. Explain why their donations are so important to your ongoing mission and day-to-day operations, and consider trying some of our Giving Ideas as new ways to ask for donations.

When you are asking for new donations, be sure to share specific details about your initiatives. Who will they help? What support systems will be put in place? How will your efforts make an impact on the community? Research has shown that when you can demonstrate a donor’s personal connection to a cause, the more likely they are to say “yes” to supporting that cause.

One way to make asking for donations easier is to spread out the work.  People say that friends and family hold the most influence over where they donate their time and money, so tap into your community for vocal supporters and ask them if they are willing to help advocate on your behalf. These trustworthy messengers can boost the transparency of your message by speaking authentically and impartially about the good work you do.

3. Say Thank You

Immediately after receiving a donation, sending a letter of thanks is a must that shows them your appreciation and acknowledges their support. GiveCentral’s receipts are automatically sent after each donation is made, and they do say “Thank You,” but a personal message from you makes all the difference.

And of course, the first letter of thanks should not be the only one. Every few months, thank your donors again. Whether it be via email, letter, card or phone call, get in touch with them just to say thanks for their generosity and for their participation in your activities. This is a great opportunity to tell them (perhaps again) how much their donations have helped your organization accomplish. And remember, this shouldn’t be used as a platform to ask them to give again but simply an acknowledgement of your gratitude.

4. Provide Updates

While you’ve already told your donors where the money is going, it’s just as important that they see their gifts put to use. This is truly transparency in action: you asked them for a gift, told them what you would use it for, and are now ready to show them the results.

For example, if they were donating to make repairs to the church, consider how you will send updates on the status of those repairs. If they donated to help fund church groups, have members of the group speak about the impact of donations or write a note to include in your newsletter. Seeing the outcome of their donations will make people feel more comfortable donating again as well as form a connection between your parish, their donation, and the fantastic results.

GiveCentral offers tools and support to help you send email updates, which help keep donors up-to-date on the initiatives they are helping to support. Learn more about our communication portal here, or participate in our discussion community.

Ideas to Encourage Online Giving

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!