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Year-End Fundraising: Make Your List and Check It Twice

imagesRePlatform Solutions? What rePlatform Solutions? As the year comes to a close, our thoughts are often drawn to what didn’t get done during the last 12 months. Well, there’s still time to reflect on what’s going well and what isn’t and make an impact, especially if you’re engaged in fundraising. Now isn’t the time to throw the proverbial towel in. Instead you want to make sure you’ve identified and potentially pursued all key avenues for raising funds. That’s right. You need to make a list— or refer to plan that already have in place— and check it twice. As Nancy Schwartz, principal of the nonprofit consultancy, asserts in her recent blog post for Socialbrite, “December is the hands-down most powerful month to fundraise and to strengthen relationships for the year to come.” Here’s her take on four “last-chance marketing to-dos” you should consider implementing today: 1. Pinpoint where you are right now.
  • Assess results against your benchmarks.
  • Identify meaningful trends.
2. Execute what you can ASAP to boost 2013 results.
  • Do more of what has worked best to engage your most loyal supporters while you have their attention.
  • Launch an energized, donor-focused email and social fundraising campaign in late December, including emails the last two days of the month.
  • But first, get your website and staff ready to respond.
3. Nurture your relationships now to build support in 2014.
  • Spend a few minutes, ideally one on one, with colleagues in your organization to thank them for their help in making marketing a success (even if their role is very indirect).
  • Thank your current supporters of all stripes, including clients, board members, donors, volunteers, partners and others who help your organization move its mission forward.
  • Reach out to rejuvenate relationships that have gone dark in 2013.
4. Refine your 2014 marketing plan based on your 2013 learning.
  • Fine-tune your marketing goals and primary target audiences.
  • Set or refine ambitious but realistic benchmarks and your methods of measuring where you are on the path to achieving them.
  • Make your personal plan.
All of these seem like worthwhile undertakings as nonprofit fundraisers think on back one year as they prepare for the next. However, it’s clear that robust data gathering and reporting capabilities are essential for effectively managing any of these tasks. Are you making a list and checking it twice to ensure that your organization has the appropriate software systems in place? If you’re in that process and need assistance, please let us know.
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More Data = More Donors

mailing-listTo avoid becoming over-reliant on specific sources of income or funding, nonprofits always need to expand their databases with prospective members or donors and market to them accordingly. Technology definitely has a role to play in helping nonprofits diversify their financial models. If the organization uses Salesforce, there is a comprehensive database ( that organizations can license to access new prospects that meet their criteria. As the website promotes, you get the right data at the right moment. Organizations have access to contact information for high-quality leads almost instantly. Social marketing could likely play an important role in opening up new channels for targeting prospects as well. If they use them effectively, nonprofits are finding that social media channels offer an effective venue for recruiting donors and volunteers. For instance, Alec Stern, vice president of strategic market development for Constant Contact, says, “Social media allows nonprofits to interact with their audience on a daily basis. Take advantage of that interaction by informing your audience about your mission.” According to Stern, once you’ve sold them on your mission, your online “followers” and “friends” have a connection with your organization and are more likely to support your cause. And in the process of engaging them online, you’ve gathered important data that will help you to tailor future communications to them. In addition, Stern points out how something as simple as posting links to your volunteer and/or giving opportunities on Facebook and Twitter with brief descriptions could help to build your database of potential members or donors. Forming cooperative relationships with other nonprofits is also essential. Frequently noncompetitive organizations can negotiate list exchanges as one way to expand their access to data about prospective donors. In Kim Klein’s article “Fifty-Three Ways for Board in Members to Raise $1,000” in the Grassroots Funding Journal, she suggests that board members acquire mailing lists for their organizations: “If you belong to another group, perhaps you can set up an exchange, or perhaps you have access to a list of members of some other group.” One or all of the strategies discussed here might work for your organization. It’s clear that you must constantly evaluate and initiate new methods for getting more data for prospecting. In the final analysis, more data equals more donors.
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Giving and Getting This Tuesday

GivingTuesday-is-December-3In the midst of the frenzied excitement about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, an estimated 8,300 nonprofit organizations were preparing donor campaigns for a slightly lesser known, unofficial holiday observance, “Giving Tuesday.”  Launched last year by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, “Giving Tuesday” is an effort to spearhead a national day of charitable giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Some organizations like the Union Settlement Association have taken their “Giving Tuesday” campaigns to social media with the help of corporate sponsors. In his guest post for the Huffington Post’s Impact blog, executive director David Nocenti discussed the significance of the campaign: As the executive director of East Harlem's oldest and largest social service provider, I can attest to how important and inspiring these kinds of creative, grassroots campaigns can be. Indeed, this year Union Settlement Association is grateful to one of our valued corporate sponsors, AT&T, for launching a special Giving Tuesday Twitter-based social media campaign in support of our organization. Over a two-week period, AT&T is sharing stories of lives changed through our work, and thereby recognizing the importance of neighborhood-based organizations like Union Settlement in helping residents of underserved communities. However, as nonprofits campaign to encourage giving to their organizations, it’s equally important for them to remember what their donors expect to get in return for their support. According to Hope Consulting’s May 2010 report on the “Money for Good” project, what donors most want from organizations to which they make charitable contributions is information about their overall effectiveness and efficiency. They want reassurance that their money is not being wasted. When asked about the most important piece of information they sought out before giving, 24 percent of survey respondents said “the amount of good the organization is accomplishing.” In other words, they care more about what you’re doing to solve the problem than how large it is. Along similar lines, 18 percent of respondents wanted specifics about how the organization would use their donation. Donors seek a direct connection or correlation between your organization’s strategic operations and their contributions. It comes as no surprise that the important thing that donors expect to get is “thank you.” A 2012 post from the National Council of Nonprofits’ blog sums this expectation up well: “Put yourself in their shoes: Donors want exactly what you would want. At the top of their list is a respectful and prompt ‘thank you.’” During this season of getting and giving “gifts,” be sure to take a moment to reflect on what it feels like to be on both sides of that equation. At Fonteva, we encourage our clients to make full use of the technology tools available to them so that they are proficient at both giving and receiving. Source: Huffington Post, November 25, 2013 and Philanthropy News, June 23, 2013
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Beyond a Buck

donations3 Most fundraising organizations want to engage donors in recurring donations, and surprisingly many technology Platform Solutions and payment processors make it difficult to accept and manage recurring donations. Make sure your technology can do this. Also don't just ask for money. You should be able to capture important information on a form that can be leveraged down the road for strategic communication. And if you offer a variety of funds or designations a donor may support, it is important to understand the drivers behind this area of interest as it may allow the organization to expand its work in certain areas that resonate with prospective donors. Also ask why a prospect may choose not to donate as there may be lots of good information here as well. As with any outreach to your donors, you want to think carefully about how you present online giving to them. Ben Di Maggio, technical director and partner at website design firm Digital Loom, recommends asking these questions “before you slap that donate now button on your site.” Is it important to keep track of your donors’ contact information? For non-profits, the answer to this question is seldom, “no”—if someone cares enough about your organization to donate money to it, they're someone worth keeping in touch with. The real issue to resolve is how their information is going to get from the donation process into your contact-relationship management system. Recurring? Do you want to allow donors to "set it and forget it," so that they're giving you 10 bucks a month indefinitely? Attach extra information to this donation? Is it important for your donors to be able to say that this donation should be in memory of/in honor of someone else? Should they be able to specify to which part of your organization they want this money to go? In addition to these considerations, here a final word of caution: Don't probe for information if you don't know what you want to do with it or how you are going to mine the data once you have it.
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Why Is Membership Reporting Software Key To Building Donor Trust?

To build donor trust, associations need to spend considerable effort proving to their boards, donors and the community that money isn’t going toward inflated executive director salaries or fancy offices. A recent article on the GuideStar Blog discusses membership reporting and what it calls “mission-based” performance measures.
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