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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.

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.

market research nonoprofit association

Market Research for your Non-Profit Association~the 7 Golden Rules.

Before you start a major marketing campaign for your non-profit association or plan to introduce a new product or service, you need to be sure that your donors want what you are offering. Imagine working hard on a new service for months only to find out that your audience just isn’t ready for it!

Research surveys can help you find the interests of your community, provide a thorough understanding of your existing business and also help explore new opportunities in the marketplace.

Conducting a survey however, can be more difficult than it seems. At least for quality results.

Here are some tips from us at GiveCentral to help you get started.

Set up a survey to probe your non-profit association’s community with these 7 golden rules.

1.     Before getting started ask yourself

The survey must be specific to a target because its nature and the conclusions to be drawn will depend greatly on the target. You can survey your volunteers or employees to make improvements within the organization.

You can also know the satisfaction of your donors and the prospects of their growth.

  • What question are you trying to answer?

Write the problem to which this survey responds. Poll Rule: A survey always answers a question.

2.       How to structure it?

Some tips to increase your response rate:

  • Choose your non-profit survey title and subtitle
  • Consider adding a description where you set the context, explain the issues involved in the survey and why it is important that they complete the survey
  • Give an end date to the survey, and put it forward so as to avoid procrastination. It’s now or never!
  • Start with broad questions and get into the details as you go.

3.      What kind of questions to ask?

Questions should be short. Between 5 and 15 words. The respondent does not want to spend too much time taking questions. Answering your survey should be easy and quick.

Questions must be clear. Use simple and appropriate vocabulary. Even if the questionnaire is aimed at professionals, avoid the use of jargons.

Questions must be relevant. Stick to a subject. The respondent must understand why you are asking a particular question.

Also be careful not to ask personal questions. Even if your survey is anonymous, you would lose in response rate.

4.     What kind of survey response options to use?

There are two formats you can choose from- structured (where the respondent is allowed to select a response from pre-existing choices) or unstructured (open-ended) response formats.

While the structured formats are used for greater efficiency and ease, the unstructured survey response formats are a more popular choice for qualitative research.

Some advantages and disadvantages of the most frequently used survey formats for market research are:

Single choice closed question

+ Fast and simple

– Limit

Closed multiple choice question

+ More open but still easy to strip

– Some proposals are sometimes chosen without real conviction

Ranking

+ Allows accurate comparisons and results

– Difficult to put in place

Open question

+ Leave a Reply

– Long to answer: may scare the respondent (be sure to leave the answer optional)

– Little response rate

– Long to strip

5.      Who will be your target audience?

Sample and population

  • The population is the number of people who make up the group you want to interview.

For example, if you want to better understand the behaviour of your donors, your population is the number of donors your non-profit association has: 150 for example.

  • The sample is the number of people in this population who responded to your survey.

You send your survey by email to your 150 donors. Only 50 respond: this is the size of your sample.

How large should my sample be compared to my population?

The table below shows you the size of the sample you need to get meaningful results.

Market Research for your Non-Profit Association- the 7 golden rules

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: https://www.surveymonkey.com/mp/sample-size/

Thus, it can be seen that the larger the size of the population, the less the proportion of respondents to be interviewed.

When is a sample representative of my population?

A margin of error of 5% and a confidence level of 95% according to the sample size shown above guarantees good reliability and very significant results.

6.     How to administer the non-profit survey?

There are multiple ways to administer a survey depending on the size of the population and the number of questions you may wish to ask. Each method has its pros and cons.

Face to face:

+ Helps if the questionnaire is complex / long

+ High response rate

– Costly and long

– Long analysis

By email:

Send a questionnaire + a cover letter + return envelope or propose a return by hand

+ Accessible to all: can reach all our members without exception

– Low response rate

– Expensive

– Long analysis

Online survey:

Put your non-profit online survey on the website, and send an invitation to reply by email. You can use solutions like Google Form, Survey Monkey and GiveCentral’s donor management system.

+ Automatic scoring

+ Anonymity of responses if desired

+ Allows some tools to have a graphical view of the results

– Need to have internet to answer: discriminating (less and less however)

The people who respond to the surveys must be randomly selected if our population is to be represented. Be careful, therefore, that administering your online survey does not distort the results. There is a risk of missing out on the representation of elderly people without internet access, those who rarely consult their emails or rarely visit your website.

7.     What to do with the results?

The analysis of the results is an essential step.

The results must make it possible to answer your initial questions and put in place concrete actions.

Be sure to remain objective in your analysis, because some answers can be misinterpreted. To remedy this, you can work with several hypothesis.

It is important to communicate the results of your non-profit survey to the community.

People who have taken time to answer your questionnaire will be delighted to have this information. Your non-profit association can use various communication tools such as, the website, monthly newsletter or email.

Storytelling for nonprofits

What’s Your Narrative? Stories worth telling.

By Patrick Coleman

What’s Your Narrative? Powerful Storytelling for Non Profits.

Humans are literally built to learn through stories.  Storytelling is a fundamental way to communicate, one that pre-dates the earliest pre-historic cave paintings. Since the beginning of humankind stories have been used to share knowledge and have been central to handing down history and traditions.  StorytellingI venture to guess, just about now, you are thinking about the stories of your ancestors you’ve been told along the way.

More than a buzzword for marketers and communicators, storytelling has evolved into one of the most powerful marketing tools for organizations today (both for-profit and non-profit alike). Check out this infographic from OneSpot on the science of storytelling.   

According to OneSpot, Americans consume an average of 100,500 digital words daily and 92% of these consumers want stories.  Storytelling engages the head and the heart and makes the connection personal.

Storytelling for non profits.

Ensuring your organization has an interesting narrative is essential. Well-crafted stories engage donors, raise awareness, demonstrate a need and illustrate the impact you have on your community.  Compelling stories connect people to your organization and your mission.  Remember these topline content guidelines when crafting your stories:

Elicit Emotions.  

Use emotion to connect on a human level.  Facts and figures are important, but stories are memorable. Your stories need to move the reader — make them feel something and ideally propel them to take action.

Appeal to the Senses.  

Use language that paints a picture and enables the reader to experience the story.  If you were writing about food you’d use descriptors that would make the readers’ mouth water.  Apply that same tactic to your writing.  

Focus on Why not What.  

Tell supporters why you do the work you do.  Dimensionalize “the what” by showcasing the outcomes – or the “why” of your work.

How is your organization using storytelling to enhance your fundraising?  What insights and tips can you share?  We love a good story, so be sure to share!

Charitable Giving

Charitable Giving On the Rise for Second Consecutive Year

The numbers are in… 2015 was another record-setting year for charitable giving. According to the recently released Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report of Philanthropy for the Year 2015*charitable giving topped $373.25 billion in 2015, making it the highest single year of giving to date. The annual report is a publication of Giving USA Foundation in partnership with Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.According to the much-anticipated annual report, total giving grew 4 percent in 2015 (when adjusted for inflation) representing an increase of $14.21 billion over 2014. It’s the sixth consecutive year of charitable giving growth. That’s great news for nonprofits.“If you look at total giving by two-year time spans, the combined growth for 2014 and 2015 hit double digits, reaching 10.1 percent when calculated using inflation-adjusted dollars,” said Giving USA Foundation Chair W. Keith Curtis, president of nonprofit consulting firm The Curtis Group, Virginia Beach, Virginia. “But these findings embody more than numbers—they also are a symbol of the American spirit. It’s heartening that people really do want to make a difference, and they’re supporting the causes that matter to them. Americans are embracing philanthropy at a higher level than ever before.”

Charitable Giving: By The Numbers

Here’s a look at some of the other findings from the report:

  • Charitable contributions from all four sources – individual giving, foundation giving, charitable bequests and corporate giving – increased in 2015, with those from individuals once again leading the way in terms of total dollar amount, at $264.58 billion.
  • Not only did individuals give the most; by upping their 2015 gifts 3.8 percent when measured in current dollars (and 3.7 percent when inflation-adjusted), they were responsible for two-thirds of the year’s overall increase in total giving.
  • Of the nine charitable sub-sectors—religion, education, human services, foundations, health, public-society benefit, arts/culture/humanities, international affairs and environment/animals—all but one (foundations) had growth in charitable donations over 2014.
  • Giving to religion still ranks first in terms of total donations received (32%), more than double the next highest sector (education). At $119.30 billion, 2015 religious giving increased 2.7 percent in current dollars.
  • Giving to International Affairs saw the highest percent increase over 2014 (17.5 percent in current dollars). As the report points this significant increase may be due to the growth in the number of active international charitable organizations; use of more strategic fundraising methods; and increased focus on international issues among foundations.

The report details a variety of other interesting findings that are worth the read. You can download the full report or a free highlights report here. *Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015, a publication of Giving USA Foundation, 2016, researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Available online at the Giving USA store.

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 Nonprofit

Small NonProfit

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…)

National Volunteer Week

Three Cheers For Volunteers

Mark National Volunteer Week with an Appreciation Activity

National Volunteer Week, April 10-16, offers a chance for you to show your volunteers how much you appreciate them and value the work they do for your organization.It’s no surprise, volunteers are the backbone of nonprofit organizations. Volunteers help with fundraising, lend their expertise to your organization and help spread the word about your mission. They fuel your programs and services and help you fulfill your mission.  In short, you wouldn’t be where you are today without them.National Volunteer Week is the perfect time for you to praise your volunteers and show your gratitude.  Here are some simple ideas to help you get your ideas flowing:  

Send a note of gratitude.  

A simple thank you note goes a long way.  Show your appreciation by sending volunteers a handwritten, personal note.  In today’s world of texts and emails, a handwritten note will stand out.   

Host a thank you coffee or cocktail reception.  

Invite volunteers to come together to raise a glass in celebration of their hard work.  But don’t stop there, you may want to consider hosting the gatherings on a quarterly basis.  Consider giving each volunteer in attendance a small token of your appreciation.  

Showcase volunteers.  

Spotlight volunteers and the incredible work they do by including features on them in upcoming newsletters, bulletins and/or on your website.  Show  volunteers some love and let them know how valuable they are to your organization.  Small gestures like these can go a long way to fortifying these important relationships. Want more inspiration?  Points of Light – the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service – is the host of National Volunteer Week.  Visit their website for free National Volunteer Week resources.

fundraising plan

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!