Skip to main content
GiveCentral's 2016 Insights on Nonprofit Giving report uncovers Americans’ charitable giving habits.
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!  

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.

donor communication

Time is Money

The words of Benjamin Franklin –“Time is Money” – are particularly apropos for nonprofit organizations. There never seems to be enough time in the day to get it all done, particularly for those organizations running on skeleton staffs. Nonprofit executives often wear many hats, which can keep them from spending enough time developing donors. Wouldn’t it be great to have a mini-me to help get things done and free up time to spend engaging donors and actually fundraising?But how? One way is to put the right fundraising tools in place. Sophisticated tools developed specifically for the nonprofit sector can increase efficiency and productivity. The outcome? You reclaim time for activities that can increase your bottom line.One of the most impactful, must-have fundraising tools is a system in which to track and communicate with donors. Without an effective system you needlessly spend time chasing down information or contacts and likely miss fundraising opportunities as a result. If your system can’t provide informative reports with a push of a button, or provide a easy way to stay in touch, valuable staff time is being wasted. How does your current system compare to the platforms available today?GiveCentral consolidates fundraising, reporting and communications activities in one convenient place. Partnering with GiveCentral is like adding a super-smart, seasoned and productive member to your team to help ease and streamline the workload. Advanced system features put real-time analytics, comprehensive reports and integrated communication templates at your fingertips. GiveCentral saves staff time and hard-earned money on accounting and data management and makes it easier than ever for donors to support your mission.Does your system stack up?

Spring Spruce-Up

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!

Happy St. Patrick's Day

May the Luck of the Irish Be With You!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! It’s been said that everyone is Irish on March 17th. That saying must not be blarney because it’s etched on a beam in the famous Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland. In honor of my namesake’s feast day, here are a few Irish-themed tips for your fundraising success:

Don’t rely on LUCK to lead your fundraising strategy.

To be successful, you need to have a strategic marketing and communications plan in place designed to inspire giving all while making it easy for your donors to do so. Without one, you won’t see much green!  See how GiveCentral was able to help one customer increase donations and grow their database.  

Avoid the BLARNEY.

When communicating with your donors (and you should be communicating often) ensure your communiques are conversational in tone and are sincere and honest. Make it short and sweet and don’t use jargon. Most importantly appeal to your donors emotions!

Wit and Wisdom.

Famous Irish playwright, novelist and poet Oscar Wilde once said: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” As an organization, showcase and communicate your unique mission and stay true to who you are: your authentic self. GiveCentral can help you find the pot of gold at the end of your fundraising rainbow. Let us show you how! Sláinte!

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.

US Presidential Polls 2016

Red Gift, Blue Gift: How Giving Crosses Party Lines

It’s Super Tuesday. As thousands of voters head to the primary polls, I thought it would be interesting – and fun – to look at charitable giving patterns along political party lines. Our recent Insights on Nonprofit Giving report revealed some interesting partisan similarities and differences.

Where Party Lines Agree

According to the national survey, regardless of whether people identify as red or blue, they donate for the same reason – wanting to help people in need.What’s more, generally speaking, Democrats, Republicans and Independents prefer the same methods of giving – with top preferences being cash in-person and checks in the mail. For example,

  • In-person with cash:
    • Republicans, 33 percent
    • Democrats, 29 percent
    • Independents, 32 percent
  • By mail with a check:
    • Republicans, 28 percent
    • Democrats, 31 percent
    • Independents, 32 percent
  • By credit or debit card using a computer:
    • Republicans, 19 percent
    • Democrats, 23 percent
    • Independents, 19 percent

Where Party Lines Diverge

We are, however, divided when it comes to how much we give.Average contributions over the last 12 months by Democrats and Independents are roughly the same: $598 and $596, respectively. Republicans, on the other hand, average nearly double that amount at $1,146.

When looking at the median amounts, there is somewhat less deviation, though Republicans still lead the pack at $300, with Democrats and Independents in a dead heat at a median amount of $200.Other relevant statistics include:

  • Republicans may favor tax breaks: Republicans were almost twice as likely as Democrats to indicate they’d made a charitable contribution for a tax break: 19 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Though these statistics are generally within the survey’s margin of error, it may still be something to consider.
  • Feeling fortunate motivates Democrats more: Only 36 percent of Republicans gave because they “felt fortunate and wanted to give something back,” while that’s what inspired 42 percent of Democrats to give. In both cases, this was the second most popular reason to make charitable donations.

Democrats and Republicans rally together

The most popular reason for giving – “I wanted to help people in need” – was chosen by 56 percent of both Republicans and Democrats.

Across the board, the reasons cited for giving were altruistic. 58 percent said “I wanted to help people in need.” A significant 39 percent told us, “I felt fortunate and wanted to give something back.” And tied for third place were religious reasons and “It’s just part of how I was raised,” at 29 percent each. Only 15 percent of those polled indicated they donated because they “wanted a tax deduction.”While the survey results won’t tell us the candidates that will come out on top, it does provide some interesting insights. Perhaps we’re in less of a race than we might have thought.GiveCentral’s Insights on Nonprofit Giving report is full of other insights, tips and recommendations. Be sure to get your free report!Get The Survey Report

nonprofit communications

Time Will Tell

Put yourself in your donor’s shoes. The frenzy of the morning rush. Workdays packed with meetings and deadlines. Add to that the round-the-clock demands of family and you can understand that finding time to make a contribution to your nonprofit doesn’t top your donors’ “To Do” list.Being aware of obstacles that may keep your donors from supporting your cause will help you identify solutions to the fundraising pitfalls they present. After all, it’s not that they don’t want to support you; it’s just finding the time to do so! A recent GiveCentral study found that 73 percent of people prefer to give in the evening, late at night, or on the weekends. In other words: when your nonprofit’s office is closed.The only thing surprising about this? That so many nonprofits aren’t optimized to take donations online! If electronic giving isn’t part of your offerings, you are negatively impacting your fundraising potential and likely frustrating your supporters. That’s because one in three Americans prefer to donate online, according to the Insights on Nonprofit Giving report. GiveCentral makes it easy for your supporters to give when they have the time to follow through on their desire to donate and lets them set up a repeating gift on the schedule that’s best for them.

Story Time

What other learnings can one extrapolate from donor time preferences? Think about the time your email communications are scheduled. Make sure they hit inboxes in the late afternoon or early evening so they are near the top of the long list of emails. This easy-to-make change can help keep your outreach from possibly being buried by hundreds of email marketing requests that can divert donors’ attention away from you! Take a scan of your personal inbox and you’ll see what I mean. Emails from your favorite stores or causes often arrive in the wee hours of the morning. Shift distribution times and you can stand out by avoiding the morning email traffic jam!The Insights on Nonprofit Giving report is full of other insights, tips and recommendations. Be sure to get your free report!Get The Survey Report