I’m going to be speaking at the DMA Non Profit Conference next week. If you’re a Washington, DC-area native or are coming into town for the conference, come say hello.The DMA has asked me to share these details on the conference: It’s a great opportunity to gain insights into what other organizations like yours are doing in the fundraising world. Topics will include better ways to integrate your fundraising channels, build donor loyalty and improve your fundraising results. I’ll be speaking about what technology can and can’t do for fundraising. And toast and butter.Technology has enormous potential, but it’s all in how we use it. Technology is at its essence a delivery system. That means what’s being delivered will determine how much good comes of it. Adam Gopnik, a favorite writer of mine, compares technology to toast: “Our thoughts are bigger than the things that deliver them… Toast, as every breakfaster knows, isn’t really about the quality of the bread or how it’s sliced or the toaster. For man cannot live by toast alone. It’s about the butter.” He means the content of our ideas—the butter—is more valuable than the delivery vehicle —the toast of technology— that carries them. I’ll be talking about toast, butter and how to use technology in a way that drives more dollars.More details here.
A few years ago, Bonny Wolf told a great story on NPR that goes something like this:In Chicago, a friend cuts off the end of roast beef before she cooks it. She does it because her mother does it. Her mother does it because her grandmother did it. So one day, the friend asks her grandmother why for years she has cut the end off the roast beef. The reason? Her grandmother says, “because my pan is too small.”I love this story because it tells us so much of how humans think. We often do as we have always done out of tradition or habit or imitation without questioning why. We move within our personal frames of reference, over and over, back and forth, until our ways are ingrained and unquestioned.Established nonprofits and companies create cultures that inadvertently lock in this dynamic. It is a very hard thing to resist the comfort of checking the same boxes without even asking how they got there. Each of my children went through a phase where they asked “why?” about every last thing. It has passed. Things get familiar and they don’t feel the need to pose the question. I think familiarity is one of the biggest barriers to innovation. It’s why we pay for fresh eyes – like consultants. – to ask “why?”In the spirit of rejecting the familiar frame we’re given, here are four questions to ask yourself before you check the same old box:1. Why did we start doing this activity?2. What underlying purpose does this activity serve?3. If it’s because of problem, is there a way to solve its root cause and prevent even needing to do the activity in the first place?4.If it’s because of an opportunity, is there a way to go bigger?The box may not be needed after all. There may be better ways to spend your time.
Network for Good has two amazing webinars coming up – and (as usual) they are free with registration.*Nonprofit 911: How to Get More Followers on Social Media w/ Guy KawasakiThursday, March 21 at 1 p.m. EasternWhy isn’t your hashtag everywhere? When’s the best time for a Facebook status update? What does it mean when someone +1’s you on Google +? How come no one liked your picture, story, update, tweet, share, friendship, etc? You might be caught a social media slump!Tune in Thursday, March 21 at 1 p.m. Eastern to hear tech and social media expert Guy Kawasaki lead a free presentation giving nonprofits the insider scoop on garnering support via the most popular social media platforms.Register here.Nonprofit 911: The Decisive Organization: Building a Culture of Better Decision-MakingMonday, March 25 at 1 p.m. EasternBest-selling Switch author Dan Heath’s done it again! Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work hits shelves next week. He’s going to stop by and pre-release the most helpful decision-making practices to the Network for Good audience via a Nonprofit 911 webinar on Monday, the 25th at 1 p.m. Eastern. Join Dan Heath as he makes it easier for your organization to make that sound decision. Bonus: Dan will be giving away a free copy of his new book to 10 lucky nonprofits on the call.Register here.*If you can’t make the date for Guy Kawasaki, sign up anyway. You will get a recording of the webinar afterward! Dan Heath’s session is live only, so we won’t be sending recordings.
Today, I’m answering another reader question. Beth asks:Can you provide a basic (simple) framework to create a fundraising plan (or resources to do so) – for a brand new nonprofit and their completely new to fundraising staff? Thanks!Here’s what Network for Good recommends in our Fundraising Campaign in a Box. (You can get the whole free kit here. It has worksheets, templates, etc.)1. Figure out what you’re trying to accomplish.Any campaign worth its salt is about getting results. What results are you and your organization looking to achieve? When you’re planning your outreach, remember these three tips:There is no such thing as “the general public”…Instead, you need to segment your communications to be effective and targeted.Some audiences are more important than others. Think about your goals and who holds the key to your success. Lack of participation from primary groups can cause your campaign to falter or fail.2. Determine how you’re going to accomplish your goals (tell a great story).So – you have groups of people and actions you want them to take. How are you going to tell your story in a compelling manner? What themes, messages and ideas are you going to take from your arsenal of content to encourage action? Need inspiration? Read How to Tap into the Heart and Soul of Your Organization When You Write.3. Determine which communications channels you’ll use.There are a variety of online and offline channels that you can use to send the right message to the right audiences. Examples of online channels include your website, search marketing, email marketing and social networking. Offline channels include things like direct mail, paid advertising and public relations.4. Decide which resources you need to get the job done.Ensure that you have all of your tools and resources in place to make your job-and the jobs of your audience(s)-as easy, effective and cost-effective as possible.Is email an important part of your plan, but you’re still communicating with supporters via Outlook? (eek! Stop what you’re doing and read 5 Steps to Choosing the Ideal Email Service Provider)Is your website well-branded and easy to use, with a clear way to donate?Is your website set up to take safe, secure online donations? (I of course recommend Network for Good!)5. Determine who will execute your campaign steps.Accountability will make or break the success of a campaign. As much fun as it is to pass the buck, now is as good a time as any to decide which members of your organization, board or volunteers are responsible for the different portions of your campaign.6. Lay out how you will measure your success.In the case of holiday fundraising, this could be as simple as a dollar sign with a number after it. But take a moment to consider what other goals you may have. Wow your organization’s Board and leadership with conversation rates, list-building, website traffic and any other number results into which they can sink their teeth.7. Set your timeline and benchmarks.One of the defining features of a campaign is that it has a defined start and end. Now that you have planned out the ‘who, what and why’ questions of your campaigns, it’s time to determine the when. Continue to build your campaign plan by setting ownership and deadlines for the associated activities. Begin with the end in mind – if your campaign will run from 11/1 – 12/31, work backwards to be sure that all activities will happen in a smooth manner. Don’t use magical thinking to set deadlines! Run activities in parallel if you are worried about compression time-wise.Good luck!
In addition to your ongoing fundraising, advocacy and communication activities, there are times throughout the year when you need to lead your members through a series of actions. Whether it’s communication-list building, hitting a fundraising target to support a new program or structure, or gathering support for a community initiative (to name a few possibilities), you’ll get the most bang for your buck by conducting a targeted fundraising campaign. We’ve put together a step by step guide to the outreach,tracking, follow-up and other activities necessary to reach your goals. Download the free guide: Fundraising Campaign in a Box
3. Speak in story.Last, make sure you are describing what you do through story, not just facts and jargon. Stories make a cause relatable, tangible and touching. Remember, a good story has a passionate storyteller (you), clear stakes and a tale of transformation at its core. The NRDC, an organization focused largely on process and the work of lawyers and scientists, does an amazing job with storytelling all over its home page. There are heroes with a heartbeat to show every dimension of their work in stories. Many nonprofits have trouble making their missions relatable and exciting to potential supporters. I often get questions like this one from Deirdre:“As an organization with a mission that is a bit more abstract than, say, feeding hungry children or saving whales, we often struggle to make our work concrete. How can organizations dedicated to civic engagement or research create an inspiring story?”Whatever your issue area, these three tips will make your cause clear and compelling.1. Describe your mission as a destination.Don’t talk about your process or philosophy. Talk about your outcomes.Let me give you an example. Dan and Chip Heath, authors of Switch and Decisive, provide a great example from a breast care clinic as envisioned by Laura Esserman. She could have described her mission in ways that focused on the building or the philosophy. For example: “We are going to revolutionize the way breast cancer is treated and create a prototype of the next-generation breast cancer clinic.” Another poor choice: “We are going to reposition radiology as an internal, rather than external, wing of the clinic, and we will reconfigure our space to make that possible.” These all fall into the customary trap of talking about HOW your approach your work rather than WHAT the end result will be. (They also make the mistake of having no people in the description of their cause, but that’s the second point below.) What would be better? The Heaths nail it: “A clinic with everything under one roof—a woman could come in for a mammogram in the morning and, if the test discovered a growth, she could leave with a treatment plan the same day.” You can see the destination clear as day. 2. Give your mission a pulse.You have to talk about what you do in a way that makes clear its effect on people or animals. If you don’t have a heartbeat to your message, no one will care about your cause. Suppose you are advocating for quality schools. Don’t get so lost in descriptions of quality education and advocacy techniques that you forget to talk about kids! This is one of the most common mistakes I see. Always answer the question, “at the end of the day, whose life is better for what we do?” I like how Jumpstart talks about their work in early childhood education. They put it this way: “Working toward the day every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed.”
Dan Zarrella is one of my favorite thinkers on social media, because he mines massive amounts of data and bases his recommendations on hard science. This is relatively rare yet needed in the field of social media marketing, and so he’s well worth following.He recently analyzed 2.7 million tweets and concluded the following that people retweet when they are asked nicely as part of the original tweet. Conclusion? If you have something you want people to spread, ask them – with a pretty please.
How do I look for good photos?Stock photo sites host thousands of images— and you probably won’t find the best photo on your first attempt. Don’t get discouraged! For best results, ask yourself these questions before searching for that perfect photo that fits your idea of “woman, pink hat, outdoors”:1. What kind of photo am I looking for?Do you want an illustration, an up-close photo of a face, a wide shot of someone head to toe?2. What elements must be in the photo?Is this an invite to a fundraising gala or a 5K? Should the woman wearing a pink hat be in running gear or a formal dress with a pink feathery piece topping off the look?3. What emotion am I trying to capture or elicit in this photo?Are you trying to portray a breast cancer survivor after treatment or an energetic young woman finishing a 5K on behalf of your cause?4. Where am I going to use this photo?Whether you use the image for print, web or both makes a big difference in the resolution and e file size you’ll need. Don’t know which medium the photo will end up in? As a general rule, download the largest image you can afford. That way, you can use the image for a variety of mediums without any resolution issues.5. How do I know if this is a good image or not?Save a few of the images you like (download a sample or take a screenshot) and make a note of where you found them (include the ID number) so you can locate them later. Show them to your staff, volunteers or a loyal donor to see if the image captures the message you’re trying to convey.6. Do I have to use the entire image?If half the image meets all your needs but the random dog on the other side doesn’t add any value, crop it out. Beware: some sites don’t allow editing of images in any way.Dos and Don’ts Don’t use a stock image with a testimonial or a quote; it will diminish your credibility.Do use stock images that feature real people in natural settings (avoid white backgrounds).Don’t use random stock images that have nothing to do with your mission or organization.Do download a higher quality image if you plan to use it in a print piece in the future. You can always make a photo smaller but a low resolution image will never look good enlarged or in print.Don’t modify images unless you have the skills and expertise to do so. People can usually spot inconsistencies and know it’s an altered image.Do download royalty-free images to keep costs downDo read a site’s terms and conditions carefully. Some sites have very specific requirements on how the image can be used.Do select imagery with people taking some sort of action—especially one that reinforces your mission.Do select images that have high-contrast colors. It will catch the viewer’s eye and be better seen by the sight impaired.Don’t select images of people wearing current fashion trends if you don’t plan to change your photos frequently. These images tend to quickly look outdated and this perception can transfer to how people perceive your brand.Do select images with diversity. Our world is diverse; make sure you pick images of people who reflect different ages, genders and races. There’s not much that can stand-in for beautiful images of your organization’s work. But we know there are times when stock images might be your only option for adding visual interest to your nonprofit website, newsletter or fundraising appeal. This is especially true for new nonprofits, organizations that don’t have a photo-savvy staffer or NPOs who can’t afford to hire a pro. For organizations that work with children, victims of abuse or other issue areas where privacy is a concern, stock images can be a great solution when visuals are needed.Let’s face it: Stock images can look generic and incredibly fake. (How many women do you know who casually laugh while eating salad by themselves?) But there are some ways to find quality photos that fit your criteria and help tell your story. Follow our simple dos and don’ts for using stock images and learn how to find the best photos for your message.Here are a two examples of good and bad stock images: 1. Call for volunteers—bad example White background Nothing to do with the organization’s mission Not a lot of contrast in color Not capturing a real world situation2. Call for volunteers—good example (for a clean-up)Real people in a real settingHigh contrast in colorPeople are taking actionDiversity is represented3. Join our email list—bad exampleUnnatural settingNo action is taking placeUnless an animal shelter offers typing classes for canines, this has nothing to do with the organization’s mission4. Join our email list—good example (for an animal shelter)High contrast in colorsPhoto is in a real settingLooks genuineWhere can I look for good photos?Many websites sell photos:iStockphotoBig Stock PhotoPunchstockShutterstockIf you don’t want to buy an image, try your luck with Flickr’s Creative Commons gallery. Flickr, one of the largest communities for online photo sharing, has developed an online photo gallery that gives photographers the ability to share free, high-quality, downloadable images with minimal licensing requirements.Our friends at TechSoup have compiled a helpful list of sites that offer free photos for use. TechSoup also explains the basics for using images you find on the internet (when you have permission and when you don’t).
The latest release of Network for Good’s Digital Giving Index provides a snapshot of online giving for the first half of this year. This update looks at $71 million in donations to 20,000 charities on Network for Good’s online donation platform from January to June 2013. Check out the full infographic below, or visit Network for Good to view the index and all of our previous updates. Thanks to our friends at Event 360 for partnering with us to analyze this data.
How do you make sure you raise more through your fundraising event?This might sound painfully obvious, but it’s often overlooked by many nonprofits: Make sure to give attendees the option to give more at your event. Be appreciative of those who have purchased tickets and are attending your event, but recognize that a portion of your attendees will be ready and willing to do even more. Here are strategies for opening the door to more donations at your next event:Auctions & Raffles: Auctions, games, and raffles are popular ways to raise even more money. The best raffles and auctions feature items that tie back to your cause or reflect your community’s unique interests.Mobile Donations: Channel supporters’ good feelings into more gifts by reminding them that they can give on the spot via their mobile device. (Don’t have a mobile-friendly donation and events solution? Check out Network for Good’s affordable fundraising software.)Recurring Donations and Memberships: Create a “Donation Station” or membership kiosk that will help your loyal supporters set up a recurring gift or become members of your organization. Be sure to staff your booth to make this process personal, easy, and fun.Additional Gifts: Make it easy for attendees to not only register for tickets online, but to also give an additional donation.Illustrate Your Impact: When your donors feel like there is a real, tangible benefit as a result of their donation, they’ll be more likely to give again.Need an easy-to-use Fundraising Event and Ticketing tool? Schedule a personalized demo to learn how we can help you have your most successful event ever.