Data and Narrative – Why the Balance is Important

Data and Narrative – Why the Balance is Important

While meeting with During a recent discussion about mission-driven and fundraising communication, someone mentioned, “You can’t share a narrative without stats and you can’t share stats without the narrative.” This sentiment is a nice reminder to start off the year. Nonprofits must strike a balance when communicating the quantifiable effect of their work and sharing the stories of success. Most readers will recognize that this is true, but may not stop to consider why this is important. For fundraising-related communication both of these aspects appeal to different individuals.

Some donors are most inspired when they feel the human connection and hear the first-hand experience of those that are benefitting from a program or organization. For this group, the data is nice, but doesn’t mean as much as a real story that shares experience and perspective.

Others approach giving from with a “Spock-like” viewpoint. The human emotion isn’t important; they want to ensure that their contribution is having a statistically relevant influence on the society around them. To them the human stories are nice, but aren’t the reason to give – as one individual’s experience is less pertinent than the broader reach and effects.

These two examples are endpoints. Most supporters are somewhere between them when assessing motivation for giving. Balancing narrative and data ensures that you’re reaching all of your audience and addresses other important factors. Sharing data that is definable and relevant to your work builds transparency and trust. Sharing stories reinforces to your audience that you’re invested and connected to the experience of those benefitting from your work.

As you work on communication in the New Year remember why this balance is critical. Below are a few links from the last week that may be helpful for you.

  1. It’s resolution time! Ashley Thompson of NPEngage shares five resolutions for fundraising.
  2. Twitter received a mixed response when a rumor was published that they’re considering changing the character limit from 140 to 10,000. Ash Read of Buffer shares thoughts and reflections.
  3. Jimmy Daly of Vero explains why your newsletter may not be working and provides advice on making it better.
  4. REJOICE. Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10 will likely be killed next week. Owen Williams of The Next Web has the details.
  5. Forbes published their 30 under 30 of social entrepreneurs. It’s a great read if you want to be inspired and hopeful (or feel old).
  6. Your long read of the week – Will Oremus of Slate explains how Facebook builds their algorithm.


Fundraiser Pages for Facebook – What Does It Mean?

Fundraiser Pages for Facebook – What Does It Mean?

This week Facebook announced the development of a new tool that will allow nonprofits to host fundraising activities and collect contributions directly on Facebook.

The new fundraiser pages are structured similarly to event pages. They allow users to contribute to a fundraiser, share the page with others, and will show progress toward fundraising goals. The program is being piloted by several national organizations in anticipation of a wider roll-out in early 2016.

What does this mean for the nonprofits and social enterprises? How will this impact ongoing work? Will it replace other fundraising website platforms? There are three key areas for organizations to think about.

Ladder of Engagement

For those that have a large Facebook audience this tool could provide an opportunity to move users up the ladder of engagement. If an individual likes an organization on Facebook, but isn’t actively engaged with the organization, it is less likely that they’ll be regular donors. Most organizations struggle to move social media users up a rung on the ladder of engagement. This is a great opportunity to do so.


Obviously, the cost of implementation is going to key for many nonprofits. Matt Petronzio of Mashable shares, “Facebook is not currently charging its partners for using the products, but it will eventually implement a fee that covers operating costs at some point in 2016. The goal is to break even, not make a profit, the company says, and Facebook says it will charge a fee that is on par or less than the industry standard.”

If Facebook charges a set-up fee, it may not be palatable for organizations that have limited budget for fundraising platforms or a small Facebook community. If Facebook uses a percentage of donation system – ideally give the donor an opportunity to cover the processing fee – it could be a game-changer for nonprofits and social enterprises. Many fundraising tools work very hard to integrate social media communication into their platforms. Facebook will be able to do this seamlessly and more effectively than any of them can.

Facebook Algorithm

How fundraisers pages are prioritized in Facebook’s algorithm is a key consideration. One of the potential advantages of this opportunity is that your fundraising campaign has the potential to reach a much larger percentage of your users than linking to a third-party fundraising link.

If the fundraiser page reaches the same limited audience that sharing a link to a third-party fundraising platform, the impact is limited. It will be interesting to see how this is prioritized in Facebook’s complicated algorithm.

Facebook’s announcement is exciting and has the potential to change the online fundraising marketplace. We’ll keep you up to date on new developments! Until then, enjoy these links from the week.

  1. There is a new Google+! Check out Google’s official blog to read what’s new and exciting.
  2. While Twitter’s decision to change from favorite to like was derided by some users, Drew Olanoff of Techcrunch reports that the change led to a 6% increase in likes.
  3. A Google Report shares that YouTube helps drive more donations to nonprofits. Heather Joslyn of the Chronicle of Philanthropy reviews the details.
  4. Christina Farr’s article on using technology to manage diabetes is a great read and includes a quote from Michael Chae – friend of SCC.
  5. Susan Carland found a unique way to deal with internet trolls. She donates $1 to UNICEF for every troll-y tweet that she receives. Kristen Brown of Fusion explains and shares examples of tweets.
  6. Finally, many in the nonprofit space have relied on Rick Cohen for their industry news and thoughtful commentary. Nonprofit Quarterly is one of my favorite places to catch up on news and Cohen’s writing was a large part of that. Cohen passed away this week. Our thoughts go out to his family and colleagues. The comments on this NPQ post share incredible stories and appreciation of his work.

Image for article: Facebook

Three Ways to Retain Top Volunteers and Supporters

Three Ways to Retain Top Volunteers and Supporters

I reconnected with a friend recently. During our communication, I asked about a fundraising volunteer project that I had worked with her on previously. She shared that she was still supporting it and over the years she had raised over $30,000. And then added, But it somehow never seems to be enough (as in, I’m only as good as the latest amount I donated and / or raised)”

This is something that a lot of nonprofits struggle with. How do you convey a sense of urgency to donate/fundraise while respecting the incredible and generous donations/fundraising efforts previously made? This week Caryn Stein of Network for Good shared five ways to recruit passionate volunteers. The list is a great starting point. There are follow-up questions to consider. How do you keep your passionate volunteers engaged? How do you avoid donor fatigue and burnout? How do you highlight an organizational need while respecting previous contributions? Below are three options that may help your organization respect your supporters and ensure that they don’t feel like you’re asking too much or too often.

Segment emails by giving history

Any fundraising appeal should be segmented by giving history. The language and call-to-action needed to retain a gift is different than the message used to move someone up the ladder of engagement to become a first-time donor. Your segmentation doesn’t need to be so finite that you mention the previous donation amount and date – it simply has to acknowledge what their previous support enabled your organization to do and what a contribution during this funding cycle will be used for.

Assign an actual relationship manager

Allocating time for relationship management isn’t easy for many nonprofits. There often isn’t enough time and staff to focus on mid-level supporters. This is a lost opportunity. Too often nonprofits use email blasts to manage their engaged constituents instead of developing a one-to-one relationship. Not every relationship manager needs to have major gift experience and know how to ‘make an ask’. Every employee can have some part in ensuring that quality relationships are formed and sustained. Listening to the supporter and building trust will help continue engagement. Assign relationship managers to supporters and give them the tools needed to preserve those relationships.

Build a long-term plan

As you cultivate a relationship with a supporter, you get an understanding of why they support your cause. As part of this conversation, it’s important to listen to what their interests are. How can they continue to build engagement and find new challenges? Someone who fundraises for your organization isn’t always going to want a new challenge to be just be raising more money. At some point they might like to be more involved with the planning of an event, joining your board of directors, or engaged in a different way. Building a plan and fitting that into your organization’s strategy and communication will help ensure that the individual sticks with you.

These suggestions will help you sustain and grow your relationship with passionate volunteers. And these links will help you keep up to date on news from the week.

  1. Miranda Paquet of Constant Contact shares tips on how to get more engagement from your email list.
  2. Your millennial giving trend link of the week – Mark Hrywna of the NonProfit Times discusses a recent study that states millennial donations and volunteering are influenced by their peer group.
  3. David Cohen of Adweek reviews data on how Facebook users spend their time.
  4. If you’re looking for some inspiration John Rampton of Inc. highlights eight companies that are having a positive impact on their community and the world.
Four Ways Your Nonprofit Can Listen

Four Ways Your Nonprofit Can Listen

In a recent meeting someone said, “Listening is a skill that never goes out of fashion”. This sentiment is especially true in the nonprofit world. Listening to your donors, volunteers, or individuals that your programs serve is critical to building and sustaining support. Below are four areas in which your organization may be able to do a better job of listening.

Why do you support this cause?

How often are you able to ask and understand an individual’s reason for donating or volunteering their time with your organization? Knowing why someone is supporting your cause is important for sustaining that relationship. Why did they pick your organization over your peers? Can this help in future communication? If you hear that they like your organization’s research program or grass-roots approach, you’ll be able to better communicate with this supporter in the future.

Post-event survey

Many organizations send out a post-event survey to participants. How often are you able to sit down and assess that feedback? What do you do with that information once it is collected? For surveys in which the respondent provides their contact information, it is important to follow-up with them after their survey. Thank them for taking the time to reply, address negative feedback they had, or ask follow-up questions that may be helpful for future planning. This is an opportunity to hear their feedback and help them understand that you’re listening.

What communication do they want to receive?

Many nonprofits have wide-variety of communication topics that they send their supporters across a number of different channels. Asking an individual what type of message and channel they want to be communicated with is a great way to ensure that you’re listening to them. Knowing when to segment messages and when to include them in an email group or mailing list illustrates an understanding of what they need.

Face-to-face communication

Philanthropic support is often driven by the cause – someone chooses to give to an organization based on their mission. Sustained giving is often driven by the relationship manager. As a supporter builds a relationship with an organization they grow closer to the individuals they interact with at the organization. The best relationship managers know when to talk and when to listen. This attentiveness isn’t related to just their involvement with the nonprofit, it should be focused on the individual. What are their interests? What are they passionate about? Knowing this information allows you to be better support them as a relationship manager.

Below are a few links from the week that we enjoyed.

  1. Frank Barry discusses the trends in mobile fundraising.
  2. Ruth McCambridge highlights recent diversity information released by The Council on Foundations.
  3. Donor complaints are something that we’ve all had to deal with. Jeff Brooks discusses two types and the best ways to deal with them.
  4. David Cohen of Social Times shares data from Social Code’s analysis of Facebook Ad pricing by age.
  5. Jeanne Bell of CompassPoint and Stephanie Roth of the Haas, Jr. Fund are seeking stories of fundraising success.
The Immunity to Change Model

The Immunity to Change Model

Change is hard. Not exactly a revolutionary statement, but one that is important to consider as you try to embark on a new challenge or program. Both personally and professionally, changing behaviors and seeking new outcomes is inherently difficult. But why is it so difficult? And in what ways do we each contribute to slowing down this progress?

The Immunity to Change Model, pioneered by Robert Keegan and Lisa Lahey, attempts to help define these issues. In assessing the behaviors you commit that run counter to your goals, identifying areas where you may be unconsciously fighting against (like your immune system) your efforts, and analyzing the assumptions that you bring with you that stall your progress, they provide a basis for attempting to better understand the change process.

The model breaks down your improvement needs into the following steps through their Immunity Map:

Identify Your Goal

What have you been striving to accomplish that you just can’t seem to get off the ground? From a personal perspective, an easy analogy is the New Years’ Resolution. For an organization, these goals can include being more proactive on social media, updating your website, or finding a new revenue stream for fundraising.

Behaviors That Work Against Your Goal

Eating that bag of chips instead of a salad is a quick way to break your resolution to eat better. Similarly, relying on volunteers to continue to run your social media can be hindering your ability to be more proactive. Delaying progress on a new website because of resource limitations counts as a behavior counter to your goal as well, as does not attending a networking event or hesitating in making the ask to a donor when considering your longterm fundraising goals.

Hidden Competing Commitments

By far the most difficult area to identify in the model are your hidden competing commitments – the word hidden is used very deliberately here. What they mean by hidden commitments are the obligations and ideas that you may not realize are affecting your ability to change. Maybe you grabbed that bag of chips because the salad place had a long line, and you hate being late to meetings for fear of disappointing others. The fear of disappointing others is your hidden commitment – the main factor (while not obviously so) that is affecting your ability to carry out your improvement goal.

Organizationally, this can be even harder to identify, as numerous individuals may have reasons to delay or obfuscate new ideas or approaches. Using our previous examples, you may continue to rely on volunteers for social media because of the fear of seeming reckless of donor dollars if you invest in an area that’s value is not easily understood by most. Perhaps you keep delaying the new website because of a fear that the time necessary to complete this project will keep you from launching that new program initiative that you know more obviously relates to your work. And finally, in not sending that email to a new donor, you might be afraid of the rejection that might come, and a fear of the disappointment that person or your leaders might have in your failure.

This is where you can have an a-ha moment – that can tie into multiple areas of your life and work outside of the goal you are assessing. Another way of thinking about the hidden commitments is – if you were to do the opposite of your current behavior (grab a salad and show up late), then what are you most concerned about happening? Why is that?

Big Assumptions

Once you have identified your hidden competing competencies, you then need to identify the “big assumptions.” These are the ideas and opinions you bring with you that are derailing your progress.

To wrap up our resolution example, the assumption you may hold is that the opinion you have of your timeliness is more important than your individual health. For our organizational examples, you might be assuming that donors won’t understand the importance of investing in new resources outside of direct services; that the website isn’t affecting the success of your other programming; or that in failing to secure the donor you are approaching now, you aren’t possibly opening up another opportunity with that person or with their network.

If you’d like to learn more about this model and possible use cases, check out their EdX Course that should be starting up again soon.

The Immunity to Change Model won’t decide a course of action for you or your organization, but it is a tool to help discover why you aren’t hitting your goals. Why you aren’t being more effective at new initiatives or outreach. And at SCC, we sure do loving thinking about the “why.”

Here’s a simple goal for you to accomplish this week – read our links to stay up to date on important topics – you should definitely assume they will help you be a more effective leader:

  1. We’ve run across this many times – when can we use images we find on the internet on our own social media or blog posts?
  2. Fellow UCLA and Dance Marathon alumni Jaemin Yi discusses the 3 mistakes to avoid when writing a nonprofit video script.
  3. Elizabeth Chung dispenses her 3 important parts of a strong donation page.
  4. Expect a decrease in likes on your Facebook page – Greg Kumparak from Techcrunch explains why.
  5. John Haydon outlines 3 strategies to increase website traffic from Facebook.
  6. Real life examples of relevancy – Shana Masterson shares a few examples of email communication sent on Valentine’s Day.
Four Questions to Help You Review Your Donor Thank You Autoresponder

Four Questions to Help You Review Your Donor Thank You Autoresponder

As year-end giving quickly approaches, it is important to ensure that your online donation platform is being utilized most effectively. Below are four questions to consider when you’re evaluating content on your donor thank you autoresponder email.

Are you actually saying Thank You?

Thanking your constituents who donate seems obvious, but it can be overlooked. Say thank you early and often. Use this email effectively to express your gratitude – you can include a special note from your Executive Leadership, a key volunteers, or constituent that you serve.

Are you reinforcing the need?

Your donors are giving for a reason. The thank you autoresponder should illustrate the impact that their donation will have. Share a story, recent statistics, or link to an infographic that helps them understand how their contribution will be spent.

Does your donor know they’ll receive future emails?

Once this individual has made a donation they should be receiving future email communication from you. Ensure that they understand you will be communicating with them in the future. Mention that they’ll receive periodic updates so they know how their donation is being spent. Setting this expectation at the outset of your communication will help the donor know that they’re not being spammed.

Is there a secondary call-to-action?

If your donor opens the thank you email, it’s helpful to include a secondary call-to-action that they may be interested in. This could be connecting on social media, sharing their reason for donating, or learning more about upcoming volunteer opportunities. Cater the ask to meet your organizations needs – just ensure that you don’t ask them for a donation again!

We hope these four questions will help you strengthen your donation page. Another helpful link for your year-end planning is a blog post from earlier this year – we shared six tips to help strengthen your post-donation landing page.

We found these links interesting and thought you might enjoy them as well:

  1. Beth Kanter discusses how Giving Tuesday can help connect with and engage young constituents.
  2. Transparency is a critical topic for foundations. Jason Ricci, founder and CEO of Fluxx Labs, details how Fluxx works to be transparent on the Glasspockets blog.
  3. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation announced an expansion of their research program which is due to great success from a venture philanthropy program they’ve developed.
  4. Looking for other content distribution methods? Kevan Lee shares 17 tools for owned, earned, and paid content distribution channels.
  5. Can a hospitals develop a sharing economy? Ben Schiller explains the impact it could have for hospitals.
Writing Fundraising Appeals Without Data From Your Prior Year

Writing Fundraising Appeals Without Data From Your Prior Year

This week John Haydon wrote a piece that discussed how using certain types statistics in your fundraising appeal can be detrimental to your development efforts. Haydon’s article is an excellent read.

For many small nonprofits creating compelling statistics can be a problem. It’s critical for your fundraising potential donors to understand how their donation is tied to the work that is being done. Statistics can help make your ask more compelling, yet many nonprofits struggle with developing appropriate statistics.

How do you go about using data to create a sense of urgency if you don’t have the time or internal resources to explain the impact of your donation? Many nonprofits – especially those with limited staff – struggled to create accurate estimates of what $100 helps to support.

Below are three tips for organizations that may not have data from their previous year to associate with dollar-values:


Help your donors understand your impact by sharing the stories of the constituents you serve. Sharing the stories of the individuals you support is important because it fosters greater understanding and broadens perspectives. It also highlights the tangible ways that your organization helps individuals. Instead of saying we help feed families, you’re able to share exactly how you helped the Miller family.

Use Future Goals

If you’ve mapped out upcoming goals you can begin to associate giving with future needs. “Donate $100 to help us facilitate trainings for educators” is less compelling than “Donate $100 to help us provide an additional 50 trainings for educators in 2015”. As you discuss your 2015 goals think about how you can build them into your year-end asks.

Share Highlights Segmented by Audience

Sharing highlights from your previous year is helpful, but it’s even more compelling if you segment your message by audience interest. If you know that individuals in your audience group adopted cats from your animal rescue organization – segment your message to share prior year highlights that are specific to cats. Audience segmentation can also be a challenge for time-strapped nonprofits, but the practice can have a very positive effect on giving rates.

We hope these tips help if you’re struggling with developing the proper data for your year-end communication. Below are a few links for the week that you may enjoy.

  1. Are you using video on Facebook? If not, you need to develop your strategy – Annie Pilon of Small Business Trends explains why.
  2. Marlene Oliveira provides tips on how to use your audience to crowdsource your blog.
  3. The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy did research that found giving is extremely high from young single women who are not religiously affiliated.
  4. Victor Luckerson of Time details Twitter’s plans for growth and changes in 2015.
  5. Let the 2015 trends and planning articles begin! Elizabeth Chung of Classy shares the five bad marketing habits to break in 2015, while Avi Dan of Forbes prognosticates on the 11 marketing trends to expect in 2015.
  6. Karen Strauss of Ketchum penned a thoughtful blog piece about ageism in marketing and the negative perceptions that a boomer faces in her industry.
Your Supporters Don’t Care About Your Internal Goals

Your Supporters Don’t Care About Your Internal Goals

Most nonprofits develop internal goals for events, programs, and communication. These goals are critical to the ongoing operation of the organization and integral to develop messaging strategy. If increasing event participation numbers are more critical than increasing fundraising, you can shift your communication focus to team building and recruitment.

When developing your external communication it is important to focus on how why your work is important. Too often, we see external communication tied to internal goals.


– We’re so close to our goal of $100,000. Please donate today!

– Help us reach our goal of 5,000 walkers.

– We’re trying to collect 22,000 pounds of food this October.


What do these numbers mean? Why should your supporter care? These goals can have value in outbound communication but only if the recipient knows why these goals have been determined.


– We’re so close to our goal of $100,000. Please donate today! Reaching our goal will help us save 200 baby elephants.

– Help us reach our goal of 5,000 walkers. If we reach this goal, ABC Company will donate an additional $5,000 that will help us educate 10 additional classrooms!

– We’re trying to collect 22,000 pounds of food this October. This food will ensure that 1500 local families get health food during the holidays.


This small difference makes your message more personal and relevant to the reader.  While the impact of these goals may be obvious to staff and board members, many of your readers will not have the same level of organizational understanding. While this clarification may seem obvious, staff writing content often overlook it.

Below are a few links from the week that we found interesting. We think you might as well.

  1. There is a lot of interesting social media info and opinion in this HubSpot AMA with Dan Zarrella, social media scientist at HubSpot.
  2. It may be time to review your social media practices – Neil Patel shares seven social media tactics that are outdated.
  3. Joe Boland provides advice for nonprofits looking to save money – review your credit card processing fees.
  4. The Rock and Roll Marathon series is being sued by a volunteer who claims the for-profit company that runs the events is exploiting volunteers. Jon Gugala of Deadspin shares the details.
  5. On the subject of marathons, Matthew Futterman of the Wall Street Journal wrote about why the NYC Marathon has reduced slots for nonprofit organizations.
Fundraising Event T-shirts – Can We All Agree to Just Stop?

Fundraising Event T-shirts – Can We All Agree to Just Stop?

As we move into autumn, many nonprofit organizations are wrapping up their active/outside fundraising events. In many parts of the country, local parks are jammed with charities rallying their participants before winter weather hits. Many of these events will provide their participants with t-shirts.

T-shirts are a staple of fundraising events for a variety of reasons. Participants that walk in a lot of event can expect t-shirts. If everyone is wearing a branded t-shirt, it creates a great visual for photos and video. If individuals wear their t-shirts after the event, it helps to create better brand/cause awareness.

With that said, t-shirts are awful. They are one of the most time-consuming aspects of events for nonprofit staff. Participants complain about the design, quality, and size – even when they’re being given the t-shirts for free. T-shirt procurement and logistics can absorb an incredible amount of staff and volunteer resources. Individuals are less inclined to keep their t-shirts and wear them after an event. And as the price of cotton fluctuates, t-shirts are more expensive.

While the negatives outweigh the positives, organizations continue to use t-shirts as an incentive for participation. Many nonprofits and event staff don’t have the opportunity to try something new. T-shirts are known therefore t-shirts are safe. If you’re thinking of venturing away from t-shirts here are five alternatives:

Tote bags

As cities, counties, and states increase bans on plastic bags, tote bags are increasingly valuable. Tote bags help achieve what t-shirts used to do. Some participants will use them often and are reminded of your organization and cause. Tote bags are a great alternative for a registration gift and aren’t reliant on sizes.

Something related to your organization’s work

A t-shirt is generic which is why it was a safe option. Depending on your organization’s mission you can tailor an incentive or registration gift to match the work that you are doing. Doing this allows you to align your gift with your organization’s goals and messaging.

Gift Card

If you event would like to continue providing incentive gifts to top performing participants, gift cards are a good alternative. Some fundraising events that operate a retail store on-site give top performers a coupon or gift card to the retail area so that they can pick out an item that they will use.

Opportunity Drawing

Create an opportunity drawing for your event by purchasing or procuring an in-kind donation of an item that your participants might like. iPads are particularly popular of late, but any sort of technology item will appeal to the largest group of your participants.


If you want to keep things simple, eliminate incentive or registration gifts all together. Not only will this help your ROI, but it will save staff and volunteer time. Be honest with your participants and explain why the decision was made.

We hope these ideas inspire you to think creatively about alternatives to t-shirts. Similarly, we hope these links inspire your work and provide some knowledge and enjoyment.

  1. On the subject of donor incentives, Anna Dilernia from the Knight Foundation provides interesting data and analysis on fundraising strategies they have used.
  2. The Koret Foundation is being sued by the founders widow about the direction of the foundation. Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross of SFGate convey the details for a acrimonious legal battle.
  3. Courtney Greenwalk from M+R shares tips on developing relationships with members of the press. The cat gifs are an added bonus!
  4. Why do donors opt out? Sarah Lange from NPQ discusses what may cause her to stop donating to her alma mater.
  5. Millennials are a topic that many nonprofits discuss – Fusion produced a large millennial survey and results.
A First Hand Account of Fundraising on Social Media

A First Hand Account of Fundraising on Social Media

Last year, I started a Fantasy Football league with several of my female friends in an effort to get them more involved in an interest I was passionate about. I sent weekly emails with tips and advice, as well as wrote brief manager spotlights that included fun information about each person. It was, to be candid, a roaring success.

This year I wanted to host the league again, but unfortunately it just wasn’t that easy. Because of the recent legal rumblings around the NFL, it was challenging for me to essentially endorse a sport that was having such issues involving violence and women. Which is when I started a fundraiser on Crowdrise for the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH), based out of Austin, TX.

Nonprofits are always on the lookout for new revenue streams, and online fundraising, specifically peer-to-peer campaigns, have been a request we hear time and time again from our partners.

But what does this mean for the people you are reaching out to? What are some of the challenges they face when fundraising on behalf of your organization?

This fundraiser has been an educational journey, even for someone with years of experience working in fundraising from an organizational perspective. Here are some of the main takeaways I learned.

Posting to Facebook isn’t as effective as it used to be


I definitely noticed that my exposure on Facebook was smaller the more I posted to the platform, very likely due to Facebook’s algorithm. While we have long known that fundraising asks coming directly from organizations struggle with reach on social media, it is discouraging that individuals also now have issues connecting with their full network when attempting to fundraise on behalf of organizations.

Direct, personal appeals still work best


Speaking directly to friends and family about why I was participating, either through email or in person, was far and away the most effective way to get donations. This is something nonprofit professionals have known for a long time – personal appeals work best. But it is important for organizations to remember, when reminding fundraisers about the importance of personal appeals, that there are times when the fundraiser may feel reticent to ask their network yet again for more money for the cause. This is where you can help.

Personal appeals from the organization have a real impact


Despite how amazingly busy NDVH must have been during this time period, they sent individual thank you emails to all my donors, with personal touches about the fundraiser I was hosting. This was beyond what many would think to do – but it really had an impact. I had several donors mention to me how impressed they were that the organization took the time to thank them personally.

Sometimes life gets in the way


Even with my experience in fundraising, and my knowledge of how important it is to continue to communicate with my network for fundraising success, life still can derail even your best fundraising efforts. From work, to family, to other responsibilities, fundraising appeals can quickly go to the back burner. As an organization, you need to do your best to be understanding of the many commitments your fundraisers may have, and try not to be too pushy. Yes, you have fundraising goals and expectations – but a fundraiser is going to be much more likely to support you and your cause if you are empathetic to their work, as opposed to pressuring them to do more.

It is worth mention again – the National Domestic Violence Hotline has been incredibly encouraging and positive throughout, sending me multiple thank you’s for my efforts. Considering how busy they have been over these last few weeks, it is truly inspiring to be working with them in this capacity.

Below are links from the last two weeks that you may enjoy.

  1. Issie Lapowsky of Wired provides an in-depth look at Heifer International.
  2. #GivingTuesday is quickly approaching! Jaime McDonald of Network for Good shares tips on creating a successful campaign.
  3. Allyson Kapin of FrogLoop highlights some of the key data from a recent Online Fundraising Scorecard released by Dunham and Company.
  4. Want to learn from top email designers? Observations & Answers interviewed five email designers about their tips and best practices.
  5. Rick Cohen of NPQ writes a thoughtful piece on a recent study of millennial giving. A great quote from his article – “Making judgments about the behavior and interests of millennials compared to boomers is fraught with the danger of oversimplification”.
  6. Personalization of content and segmenting of communication is a key step to increase engagement and fundraising. Erin Hogg of Marketing Sherpa pens a white paper on the incredible growth the Portland Trail Blazers had after instituting dynamic ticket pricing.
  7. Michelle L. Chaplin publishes an article through NTEN on why failure needs to be an important part of nonprofit culture.
  8. Due to algorithm changes, Facebook has become more challenging for nonprofits without a budget for social media. Inside Facebook explains why it is important to still try to acquire fans.