Fundraising

Matching Your Call to Action with Your Audience

Matching Your Call to Action with Your Audience

This week Elizabeth Chung from StayClassy wrote an article that detailed how nonprofits have access to a much larger network than they often anticipate.

The piece is focused on the importance of utilizing extended networks for event and fundraising promotion. A specific example that is used is when a UC San Diego alumnus sent communication to the leadership of his alumni network throughout the United States. The communication included,

“AS A LEADER AND FELLOW TRITON, I AM ASKING FOR YOUR HELP TO SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS CAMPAIGN.”

While the StayClassy piece is specifically sharing best practices to help spread messages, it also leads to an additional important point. In the example above, the call to action was specific to the audience it was being sent to. Instead of asking alumni network leaders to donate – the ask was specific to spread the word about the campaign. By asking the alumni leaders to share the information to an even wider audience, the volunteers was able to maximize potential fundraising.

In our rush to publish content or achieve our organization’s most immediate goals (often income-related) communicators can fail to ensure the call-to-action is segmented to the correct audience. Just as your content may vary based on audience group, your specific call to action may need to be adjusted.

I was recently mailed an invitation to a nonprofit kickoff event happening on the East Coast. While I had previously donated to this organization, as a Bay Area resident, it was unrealistic for me to attend their kickoff.

The communication had a single call-to-action – attend our kickoff event. Extending an invitation like this to donors is an option to help increase event attendance. While I applaud the effort, the call-to-action didn’t match the recipient. Asking me to share information about the event to friends/family/colleagues who live in that area would be a stronger ask, as the organization clearly knows that I live in California because they mailed the invitation to my house.

When developing segmented communication, it is important to ask – what is the outcome that is most appropriate for this audience? At times it may differ from the outcome that is most needed for your organization.

If you’re looking for a specific call to action, we have one for you. Read our Tumblr. We share news items or blog posts that we think are helpful, informative, or thought provoking. Here are a few links from the week that we also enjoyed:

  1. Let’s start with the Ice Bucket Round-Up! The Wall Street Journal details how nonprofits are already asking “How can we create our own Ice Bucket Challenge?”. Alison Fine weighs in why it’s taken off. StayClassy addresses some of the challenges of the campaign and shares some personal stories. Finally, this week’s #fundchat was all about the #IceBucketChallenge.
  2. Vero provides advice on how to maintain email communication with audience members who chase “Inbox Zero”.
  3. Twitter experimented with adding favorites in people’s timeline. As Christina Warren from Mashable writes – feedback wasn’t positive.
  4. The polarizing Dan Pallotta is organizing a three-day march to raise $1m for the Charity Defense Council, an organization Pallotta is starting to, “counter negative media stories about charities, run advertisements promoting the nonprofit sector, and act as a legal defense force.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy has the details.
  5. Laura Vanderkam from Fast Company shares five strategies for creating a file for the ideas that you or your team think of but can’t implement yet.
  6. What do you do during conference calls? Gretchen Gavett of HBR discusses the findings of a survey that InterCall created. Fun fact to remember during your next conference call – 47% of people use the restroom during calls.
Reflections on the Ice Bucket Challenge and “Viral” Fundraisers

Reflections on the Ice Bucket Challenge and “Viral” Fundraisers

The Ice Bucket Challenge. In case you haven’t followed nonprofit or social media news over the last two weeks, individuals are pouring buckets of ice water on themselves. This action has primarily been to support the ALS Association and it has gained immense popularity as celebrities, athletes, and company executives have taken part. It reached a tipping point when ALS Association’s Massachusetts Chapter volunteer Pete Frates, who has ALS, shared a family member’s ice bucket challenge on Facebook and Twitter.

Since the challenge has taken off, a number of articles critical of Ice Bucket Challenge have been published. Ben Kosinski wrote an article on Huffington Post that related the #IceBucketChallenge to slacktivism. Kosinski writes,

We’re using the #IceBucketChallenge to show off our summer bodies. We’re using it to tag old friends. We’re using it to show people we care. We’re using it to feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. We’re using it to promote ourselves, in one way or another.

Jacob Davidson of Time, whose father passed away from ALS, discusses concern of the overall impact the challenge is having and how campaigns like this can be better developed,

In an age where hashtag activism and information-free awareness campaigns are becoming more and more common, we should be very conscious of how to make viral trends as useful as possible.

As the news cycle evolves, there are also articles criticizing those that are critical of the challenge. Some of this is due to clickbaiting headlines like Kosinski ‘s “#IceBucketChallenge: Why You’re Not Really Helping”. While this has lead to an angry comments section, the greater thesis in Kosinski and Davidson’s articles are valid. Some of the people participating in this challenge for not doing it for charity or ALS. That is the nature of a “viral” fundraiser or awareness campaign.

In November 2009, Medline Industries and Providence St. Vincent Medical Center partnered to create a“Pink Glove Dance” video to raise awareness of breast cancer. The video became popular and groups of people recorded similar videos. If you search, “Pink Glove Dance” on YouTube, you will find a lot of people dancing with pink gloves on. Some videos are connected to fundraisers for breast cancer awareness. Some videos are just people dancing with pink gloves on. Any “viral” campaign is going to attract individuals who are unaware of the original purpose of the video or are participating for self-serving reasons.

The existence of these individuals, does not detract from some the positives of the Ice Bucket Challenge:

  • The ALS Association reports that over a two week period they have raised $7.6 million in donations – that compares with $1.4 million raised during the same two-week period last year
  • Google searches for ALS have increased significantly
  • While we haven’t found this confirmed from the ALS Association, it is likely that page views on mission-focused webpages like, “What is ALS” and “Symptoms of ALS”, have increased
  • The ALS Association has 145,918 new donors over the last two weeks– this new donor base can be utilized for a number of different engagements

What does this mean for nonprofits and the staff and volunteers that support them?

The most immediate byproduct of the Ice Bucket Challenge’s success is that every nonprofit staff person involved in communications or income development will inevitably hear an executive or leadership volunteer say, “We need to create our own Ice Bucket Challenge”.

You will see more organizations and individual fundraisers developing challenge-based peer-to-peer fundraising. If your organization is interested in developing a similar challenge there are four key points to keep in mind.

Make it Simple

A challenge is usually a difficult task. It’s critical that over-ambitious fundraisers don’t create something that is too challenging and unsafe. Create something that is safe and simple. Everyone should have access to whatever they need to perform the challenge.

Make it Personal

This challenge was extremely personal to Frates and his family. Frates is very active with fundraising for the ALS Association and shares his story often. While Frates learned about the idea from other ALS supporters who had participated in the challenge, the concept itself didn’t start with ALS. A “viral” cold-water challenge has existed for months and wasn’t initially connected with any sort of fundraising campaign.

Some articles that are critical of the Ice Bucket Challenge have used Matt Lauer and Martha Stewart as examples of celebrities that have taken part in the challenge but haven’t mentioned ALS. Matt Lauer’s ice water bath took place on July 15 and he challenged Stewart on that day. Frates shared his video on July 29.

While the Wall Street Journal reports that the ice bucket dumping started on the golf circuit, many attribute the first connection from the cold-water challenge to charity was in June by Arizona women’s basketball coach Niya Butts. Several NCAA women’s basketball programs began participating to raise funds and awareness for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Their hashtag was #Chillin4Charity and an article on their website describes how Butts created it.

Another reason these campaigns went “viral” is that it was individual people asking for help via social media, and not the organization directly. Social media is a much better platform for fundraising when your participants or volunteers doing the asking, instead of the organization directly.

All of this information highlights that anyone can participate in a challenge. But, if individuals share the reason they’re passionate about the cause they’re supporting – like Frates and Butts did – your campaign will greatly increase the potential for success.

Provide Instructions

Those that are critical of the challenge, especially Davidson’s article, mention the need for a stronger connection to the cause. This is very important to ensuring the long-term success of your challenge-based peer-to-peer fundraising.

Ask your initial fundraisers to specifically mention the organization, why it’s important to them, and link to your donate page.

Using Mark Zuckerberg’s challenge as an example – the positives are that he links to the ALS website and clearly connects the challenge to the cause. Unfortunately, he doesn’t mention that he plans to donate and refers to the ALS Association as the “ALS foundation”.

You won’t have control over what people write and say. But you can do your best to ensure they have suggestions on what to include.

Have Realistic Expectations

Your fundraising challenge will not end up on the Tonight Show. That is the reality from which you need to operate. Setting high expectations and ambitious goals is a great motivation for work, but your expectations also need to be connected to reality. Develop goals for the number of participants, new donors, and measurable social media impact. This particular challenge reached a its tipping point due to Frates’s connection in the sports world as a former professional baseball player.

These tips will help you think about how to implement similar challenge-based peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. If you’re looking for other articles and tips to inspire you, I suggest our Tumblr. Below are a few links from the week.

  1. Tom Watson, Forbes contributor, discusses the advantages and challenges of fitting #GivingTuesday into your year-end planning.
  2. In an amusing and strange experiment Mat Honan of Wired liked every Facebook post he saw for two days. His article describes how his feed evolved and the affect it had on his friends’ feed.
  3. Rick Cohen of NPQ shares five ways to get your unsolicited grant proposals read.
  4. Does your nonprofit have a retail fundraiser? Your campaign may entirely depend on the retailers cashiers. Jennifer Askjaer and Sally George provide seven tips that encourage employees to be ambassadors for your retail fundraiser.
  5. Do you need sample matching gift letters? First Giving has you covered.
  6. What is your biggest phobia? The Canadian Cancer Society has created a crowdfunded fundraising program that allows fundraisers the opportunity to confront their fears. Gabriel Beltrone of Adweek highlights the program.
Six Tips to Strengthen Your Post-Event Communication

Six Tips to Strengthen Your Post-Event Communication

Post-event communication planning is critical to the long-term success of an event. Whether you’re implementing a fundraiser, conference, symposium, or advocacy-related action, building on the momentum of your activity will help sustain volunteer or donor engagement.

This is an area that can be unintentionally neglected by event staff. Any reader that has planned a major event knows that post-event exhaustion will be detrimental to sustaining communication. You’re exhausted, have to unload boxes, process registration forms, and battle a post-event cold. Soon you realize it’s been two weeks and you haven’t thanked your participants or sent a post-event survey. These tips will help you plan before the event starts.

Create a calendar

Calendars spur action. They help you think about specific dates that you want to send communication. How long after the event do you want to get a note to participants? When do you want to follow-up after that? When do you need specific thank you calls or notes mailed? Creating a calendar helps to ensure that you’re on track and helps to prevent lapses in communication that result from event exhaustion.

Start early

If possible, start your post-event planning 60-90 days before your event. Often you won’t have the time to spare in the weeks leading into the activity. Carve out time in advance of your event to write thank you emails and draft your post-event survey. These can be edited with specific content as you get closer to the event.

Vary your social media

There is a tendency after a major event to provide social media updates that just relate to the recent activity. Be sure to mix in content that will appeal to attendees and those followers that were unable to make it. Ensuring that some messages speak to larger organization messaging will ensure that you don’t alienate your audience with just event photos.

Thanking sponsors

When do you need to thank your sponsors? What is included in their sponsorship package? Mapping out the best way to highlight and thank your sponsors is important to sustaining their sizable contribution. If you haven’t recently read your sponsorship package, revisit it. Ensure you’ve met your agreed upon needs and if possible exceed them.

Thanking volunteers

Most small and and mid-sized nonprofits rely on volunteer support to help implement their events. Don’t forget to thank them with a segmented message. It’s easy to lump their email into the general thank you message, but volunteers have a unique investment in the success of the event. Structuring a message with the intended audience of just day-of volunteers is important to their long-term engagement. Building a specific post-event survey to assess their experience is also helpful to ensuring you’re getting the best information from your event.

Hand-written notes and calls

These make a huge difference for all event supporters. Prior to the event make a list of the people you anticipate will need special recognition and start writing notes or making calls as soon as you can. One event staff we worked with left voicemails for colleagues who volunteered while she drove home from her fundraising event. While these calls were often loopy due to her fatigue, knowing that their support meant so much to her kept them coming back in future years.

These suggestions will help you begin your post-event communication planning. As we were without a blog post last week (due to an event), we’ve provided a double dose of links for the last two weeks. For a more steady diet of content, please follow our Tumblr.

  1. Facebook’s algorithm can cause headaches for many social media managers. Epolitics.com shares advice on how to live with their changes. Mashable chronicles how Nestle handles the challenges that the algorithm can present.
  2. On the subject of Facebook, they’re rolling out a save function. Fast Company provides the details.
  3. Fundraising platform StayClassy has had two helpful blog posts over the last week – tips on effective volunteer-driven fundraising videos and best practices in communicating with donors.
  4. If your organization use Google’s products, than this post about how to integrate their tools into your website design may be helpful.
  5. Here is a list of free and discounted tech services available to nonprofits.
  6. Repetition is often necessary for nonprofit fundraising. Repetition is often necessary for nonprofit fundraising.
  7. Our friends at M+R walked readers through how Planned Parenthood Action Fund moved so quickly with engaging and thoughtful in light of the Hobby Lobby decision. M+R also highlighted some of their favorite mistakes from emails (and showed that they have similar taste in tv shows).
  8. Calling volunteers and donors is hard. Peer to Peer Nation explains why they may be avoiding your calls.
Nonprofit Summer Reading

Nonprofit Summer Reading

As summer approaches NTEN began a discussion on their message board that discusses the best nonprofit summer reading. While some folks escape work with their summer reading selections, we tend to relax with the non-fiction variety. We’ve provided a few books for your perusal as you build your summer reading list.

Niki

Made to Stick – Chip & Dan Heath – We’ve captured the main points of this book in a previous blog post about simplifying your complex narrative, but we wanted to include it here again. This book simply and directly captures that elements that make some stories more memorable and effective than others.

Start with Why – Simon Sinek – Broken down simply, Simon Sinek details that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. In studying the leaders who have had the greatest influence in the world, the book captures that they all think, act, and communicate in similar fashions. People like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers might have little in common, but they all started with why. I frequently return to this book and its passages when stuck on a problem; his direct way of reminding you that the why is of the utmost importance has gotten me to see the bigger picture of problems, and be able to be more effective because of it.

Justin

Moneyball – Michael Lewis – Most of you have likely read this book or watched the movie. While it can be a divisive subject for sports fan, it was published a few years after I started my nonprofit career and greatly influenced my work. For small and mid-sized nonprofits to survive they need to look for market inefficiencies, take calculated risks, and properly evaluate staff and volunteer talent. I re-read this book every 4-5 years and this summer is a great time for you to revisit it.

The Powers to Lead – Joseph S. Nye Jr. – The book focuses on evaluating leadership attributes. It leans heavily on history, research, and case studies which I find more compelling than anecdotal stories.

The Nerdist Way – Chris Hardwick – This is definitely an out-of-the-box selection. Hardwick’s book is a mix of self-help and biography. This book covers a lot of different areas but the sections on time management and seizing your inner monologue have been very helpful for me.

 

If you’re looking for some interesting reading in electronic form, check out our Tumblr. For further reading, here are a few highlights from last week. This will be our only blog post this week. We’ll be returning the week of May 26.

  1. Karen Anderson from LYDIA Urban Academy shares five ways to fundraise more effectively in the education sector.
  2. Social Media Today discusses where social media should fit in your organization.
  3. Twitter announced a mute button is coming! Digital Trends has the details.
  4. The Chronicle of Philanthropy hosted an online chat that discussed opportunities to increase fundraising based on donor data.
  5. The Atlantic published an article this week that led to a bit of debate. If you haven’t read it yet, it focuses on the reasons that criticism is vital for philanthropy.
  6. Finally, in a bit of crossover from our personal and professional lives – Network for Good highlights four things that nonprofits can learn from the NBA playoffs.
Incremental Improvements to Your Digital Communications Strategy

Incremental Improvements to Your Digital Communications Strategy

Nonprofit time and resources, especially when it comes to digital communications (social media, email marketing, website design, analytics review) can be exceptionally sparse. When considering making improvements in these areas, it can seem as if there is an endless list of tasks and modifications to make. Where should you start? How do you prioritize?

You can’t change everything at once – no matter your good intentions. Which is why incremental improvements are one of the safest bets in improving your digital communications. Here is how we typically break this down:

Sustain

With an ever changing digital and online landscape, just keeping up with all that is new can be overwhelming. By focusing on what is needed to maintain your current reach, you will allow yourself to better understand the commitments and outcomes possible. Simple sustaining steps can be a dedication to posting to Facebook three times a week; sending out four fundraising emails a year; or reviewing your website once a quarter to examine if information and resources are up to date. These simple steps might not expand your reach, but will keep you fresh and engaged with your audience.

Breakthrough

With a firm base of practices and strategies, you can start to experiment with ideas that go beyond the simple best practices that you have used up to this point. In “Breaking Through”, you are looking for ideas and practices that will help set your nonprofit apart.

From segmenting messages to your audience, to syncing social media accounts with event platforms, to making data informed decisions thanks to utilizing analytics, you have the ability to take an extra step towards improving your brand and impact.

But breaking through does not mean you have to come up with these ideas on your own. One of the best things that you can do as an organization with limited means is to assess what other organizations are doing that you admire. By emulating their techniques, you can also help your own organization better communication with your constituents.

Game Change

Despite its corny title, game changing ideas and strategies are the final step in improving your digital communication plans. These ideas can tend to seem riskier at the outset, whether due to being a brand new technology or platform, the time and resources necessary to implement, or because of the potential struggle in approval from those less familiar with these ideas or technologies. But it can be difficult to grow or expand your audience by only playing it safe and maintaining the status quo. How are you planning on reaching more people?

The best way to think about your game changing strategies is this – in a perfect world, what would you want to be doing in the online space? Who do you want to reach? How do you want to communicate with them? It sounds like an idealistic and daunting task, but in doing so, you will have the opportunity to best reach those with whom you are trying to connect.

Another game changing idea? Following our Tumblr for up to date links throughout the week. Here were a few of our favorites:

  1. Social Media Today shares ten ways that you can use AB testing to increase email open rates
  2. A recent poll of 650 women who work at nonprofits revealed interesting data on gender-based hiring and donation solicitation. The Chronicle of Philanthropy provides the details and an infographic.
  3. NPQ conveys four lessons from digital marketing that can be applied to crowdfunding.
  4. SumAll compiled research on the best and worst times of day to share content on social media platforms.
  5. Razoo Foundation highlights four nonprofits that are maximizing their impact.
Weekly Roundup for April 25

Weekly Roundup for April 25

Meetings, deadlines, and computer issues, oh my! A busy week for Social Change Consulting culminates with our favorite activity – the sharing of links.

Follow our Tumblr for links throughout the week. Here were a few of our favorites:

  1. Business 2 Community discusses the tangible cost of saying ““We Can’t Afford Fundraising Software.”
  2. Do you struggle to write evergreen content for your blog? Kevan Lee shares a great guide for evergreen content ideas.
  3. SmartCause Digital tackles seven SEO tips to help your nonprofit’s website.
  4. One of our favorites, Dan Pallotta, discusses the benefits walking can have for your productivity.
  5. Socially responsible shopping is continuing to grow and Fast Company details the current trends compared to traditional giving.
  6. And to end your week on an adorable note, Mashable highlights a photo campaign created in support of notabully.org.
Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

With the official start of spring behind us, a popular pastime for both households and offices alike is the practice of spring cleaning. From a communications standpoint, spring is a great time to assess how efforts started in the new year are performing, as well as determine if it’s time to refocus resources and attention elsewhere. Below, we outline a few steps for each major area of your digital communications strategy that might be in need of a spring cleaning.

Social Media

Are there any social media networks that you have been neglecting? Have you noticed less engagement or feedback on previously successful platforms? Now is a great time to assess how you want to allocate your resources, including either adding a new network, or potentially closing down an account.

Database

Nobody likes cleaning out a database – even data nerds like us. But as your database grows and develops over time, periodic clean-ups are necessary to help keep your organization running smoothly. You don’t need to dedicate yourself to a massive overhaul – just focusing on one category of constituent, one area of need, or a type of constituent (volunteers, donors, etc.) can help you stay organized.

Email

When was the last time you purged your email lists? It almost seems blasphemous to say, as email list size is the bread and butter to most nonprofit online fundraising campaigns. But look at the numbers – who has opened an email you have sent in the last year? Who hasn’t? Who has clicked on any of articles or calls to action you have provided? Who has forwarded your messages to others? Is it time to remove people from the list who haven’t responded to you in some time? These questions are key to solidifying your email marketing campaigns.

Website

We’ve discussed the basics to Google Analytics in the past – but cleaning up your website goes beyond knowing the basic information about your site. Are all of the links on your site still active? Is the branding on older pieces still consistent with your current design and voice? Is the vocabulary you use on key pages still up to date? Simple questions, to be sure, but ones that can have an impact on your efficacy of your website.

We don’t recommend you tackle all of these projects at once. But by choosing what areas of your communication need the most grooming, you set yourself up for greater success this summer, and subsequently, any end of year fundraising efforts you make in the months to come.

We really cleaned up in pulling together our links for this week. If you’re feeling extra dirty, be sure to check out our Tumblr for more.

  1. The Wall Street Journal outlines some of the challenges that small family foundations face.
  2. The Foundation Center’s infographic of the week looks at 10 years of social media.
  3. StayClassy provides several tips and examples of how to tell great stories.
  4. Monthly giving is very desirable for most organizations. We’ve recently discussed how to increase recurring gifts. But it’s imperative to have a plan in place to ensure those donors feel appreciated. Guidestar explains the challenge and some steps to avoid angry donors.
  5. Dustin Curtis shares why Facebook’s potential changes to their news feed were abandoned – it was too efficient.
  6. Is Google+ still a barren wasteland? New data shows that the engagement levels on Google+ posts outperform other social media networks. Mashable has the details.
  7. If you’re still trying to wrap your head around social reach, B2C wrote an overview.
  8. Fast Company shares their list of the top 10 innovative companies dedicated to social good.
Trademarked Events and Nonprofit Organizations

Trademarked Events and Nonprofit Organizations

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament started this week. This is the time of the year in which companies see production slow down as employees follow scores and check their brackets throughout the day. This is also a time of year in which nonprofits need to pay close attention to copyright issues.

Last year we received emails from multiple nonprofits that used the phrase, “March Madness” as prominent part of a fundraising campaign or volunteer activity. Connecting your organization’s volunteer activities and income development needs to pop culture and current events is resourceful. The challenge in this situation, is that the phrase “March Madness” is trademarked by the NCAA.

Super Bowl, Olympics, and World Cup are phrases that are trademarked by the entities that implement those events. While the chances of the NCAA or NFL suing your nonprofit organization are slight, it is a real risk management issue. Is using the phrase “March Madness” going to boost a bracket-based fundraising campaign more than using Battle of the Brackets,, Spring Madness, or March Mania? Hopefully not. If you are ever concerned about a trademark or copyright issue, do your research before you start implementing. The 10 minutes of preparation could save you hours of work later.

We’ve providing some reading for your Friday afternoon. As always, check out Tumblr for additional links throughout the week.

  1. Medium has created a storytelling grant to connect nonprofit with authors, illustrators, and photographers to bring your story to life on Medium, and present it in a truly stunning fashion. This is a great opportunity for any nonprofit focused on storytelling.
  2. Google Voice is a service that many small nonprofits use to help their management of phone calls and voicemail. Google announced this week that they’re going to roll the program into Hangouts. While the details haven’t been announced,
  3. Is Twitter phasing out hashtags and @replies? The Drum shares some of the recent rumblings.
  4. #Fundchat’s weekly Twitter conversation was focused on the myths of fundraising. Check out their transcript for some great insights. Michael Rosen also wrote an insightful post on donor stewardship on #fundchat.
  5. Allyson Kapin from Frogloop shares information from DonorDigital’s review of 16 nonprofit engagement strategies after making a donation.
  6. Network for Good released their Digital Giving Index, which captures a lot of helpful data from 2013.
  7. We’ve discussed the gamification of philanthropy in this space before. Marketo has an interesting opinion piece on the subject focused on gamification, Fitbit, email, and social sharing.
  8. Did you miss #14NTC? Socialfish has several media decks from the conference for your perusal.
Google’s Bay Area Impact Challenge – An Amazing Opportunity

Google’s Bay Area Impact Challenge – An Amazing Opportunity

This week, Google announced the Bay Area Impact Challenge – a contest for Bay Area nonprofits that will grant $5 million total to the winning entries, including $500,000 grants to four innovative nonprofits. The contest criteria are broken down here:

  1. Community impact. How will the proposed project improve the lives of local residents? How many people will be affected if successful and to what extent?

  2. Innovation. Does the project tackle the issue it seeks to address in a new and creative way?

  3. Scalability. If successful, how easily can this project scale? Can this proposal serve as a model for other communities?

  4. Feasibility. Does the team have a well-developed, realistic plan to execute on the proposal? Have they identified the right partners for implementation?

It goes without saying, but this is an amazing opportunity for nonprofits in the San Francisco Bay Area to really broaden their impact and improve the lives in our local community. If you have questions on the application process, or are interested in assistance in completing the application, we’d love to help.

Below are some of the best links we found this week. Don’t forget to follow our Tumblr for more links and resources.

  1. NPQ provides a great tool for nonprofits and those venturing into the world of grant and prospect research.
  2. A cap on charitable deductions is being discussed again. The Nonprofit Times details the recent conversations and potential impact.
  3. Who doesn’t enjoy Twitter Tips & Tricks? #Fundchat followers share their knowledge.
  4. Guidestar hosted their first earnings call to discuss their 2013 financial results. Guidestar’s commitment to transparency is a great example for other nonprofits. The Washington Post discusses the details of the call and its relevance.
  5. In an effort to learn more about the social impact that learning coding can have on children Ben Mangan transcribes an interview with Krishna Vedati, Founder and CEO of Tynker.
  6. Don’t forget to cast your vote for the doGooder Nonprofit Video Awards, hosted by our friends at See3 Communications.
Stop Trying to Fundraise on Social Media

Stop Trying to Fundraise on Social Media

In the years that social media has gained a foothold in the marketplace and a level of respect in the business and nonprofit community, a simple question has lingered for charitable organizations – how can social media help my fundraising efforts?

Unfortunately, there haven’t been too many successful fundraising test cases for small nonprofits to emulate. Nonprofits directly asking for money via Facebook and other social media channels rarely works. Conversion rates on these types of social media posts are extremely low and for good reason – Facebook is more effective at building relationships than converting donors.

Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab, Jab, Jab, RIGHT HOOK explains this concept well – the idea is that you provide value multiple times before making any ask of your constituents. Whether it is through sharing resources, highlighting the work of your volunteers, staff profiles, or thanking constituents, your focus should be on building a relationship before making the fundraising or event ask. That’s how you can have greater success in social media.

Once these relationships are cultivated – that’s when the real fundraising success can begin. Whether through social sharing or peer-to-peer fundraising, your fans and followers have their own networks at their disposal to help raise funds for your organization. But they won’t do it on social media just by being asked. They need to get something first.

We are still updating our Tumblr throughout the week with exciting links. Be sure to check it out.

  1. Are your Facebook engagement statistics declining? NPQ highlights how changes to the news feed are affecting nonprofits.
  2. Is a 99% failure rate, actually a success? Future Fundraising Now discusses the mental hurdle of direct mail success rates
  3. TechSoup presents stats on why a mobile-friendly website is a must have for nonprofits.
  4. Thunderclap can be a useful tool for nonprofits. We enjoyed reading a success story from Mob Lab’s work with WaterAid UK.
  5. Mary Cahalane shares her thoughts on how challenges with the overhead myth often start from within.
  6. Are you looking to strengthen your blog? Convince and Convert shares tips on how to write better headlines for articles, while Mashable breaks down your blogging food groups.
  7. Many were surprised when the CEO of the Moore Foundation resigned abruptly. The Chronicle of Philanthropy provides the details.
  8. Should your thank you letter contain another ask? Michael Rosen argues that it should not and we wholeheartedly agree.