Here we are in a brand new year, and plenty of you have likely made resolutions that you vow to keep in 2018. Whether it’s self-betterment goals or breaking bad habits, a new year is a time of new beginnings, and that goes double for your charity or nonprofit. No matter how successful a year 2017 may have been, there’s always room for improvement and evolution, which is why your nonprofit should have some resolutions as well!
Here are three goals that your nonprofit should be striving for not just this January, but throughout 2018:
Utilize the power of social media
So your nonprofit has a Twitter page and a Facebook profile, and you think that’s enough to get the word out on your cause and communicate with your donors and prospects. In fact, you’re doing the bare minimum with those two accounts – and even less so if you don’t have a frequent, active schedule for updates.
In 2018, make a resolution to dedicate more time to social media, including putting together a comprehensive content calendar, actively monitoring your channels, and engaging with both your current supporters and those you’d like to attract. If you don’t have a dedicated hire to do this, be sure to look for one. A content and/or social media manager can be a huge piece of a successful nonprofit’s marketing team, so perhaps another resolution should be to create and hire for this position!
It’s also important to focus on other platforms, like Instagram, Snapchat, or Pinterest, and seeing how you can use their storytelling abilities to elevate your cause. Plus, there are new social media platforms and mediums coming out all the time – why not get ahead of the curve by trying out new things? Which brings us to our second resolution:
Don’t be afraid to go out of the box
There are tons of worthy charities out there for people to donate money to – how does yours stand out from the pack? If you’re just doing the exact same strategies as everyone else, there’s a good chance that your cause will be lost in the shuffle.
Make 2018 the year that your nonprofit tries something new in terms of marketing. Experiment with new ideas, have weekly brainstorms, and get in touch with different demographics to see how well different targeted ad campaigns perform. You can incorporate new strategies through the social media we discussed earlier, or you could explore new advertising capabilities both digitally and in print.
With so many avenues and creative outlets available to you both now and in the near future, it’d be a shame not to try out some big – even disruptive – ideas to bring your cause message to the masses. It could even bring in a whole new audience of lifelong supporters – the trick is just taking that single step potentially out of your comfort zone.
Keep testing and troubleshooting
All that said, don’t be discouraged if your resolutions aren’t giving you top results right away. Trying out new things really is all about trial and error, and the entire process ought to be marked with check-ins and testing along the way. (If you haven’t already set out measurable benchmarks for where you’ve started and what you want to achieve out of these efforts, now is definitely the time!)
For example, are you taking the time to troubleshoot digital assets like your website or online donation form? There could be simple errors that may be hidden pain points preventing you from gathering more donations. Or maybe you need to frequently check the open rate on that revamped round of email drips that you’re sending to prospects.
For all the work you’re putting into trying new things – be it on social media or otherwise – you also need to be following up, testing, and troubleshooting to ensure that you’re getting the biggest bang for your efforts. So in 2018, make a concentrated resolution to not just sit back on your laurels once you’ve launched a new online campaign or donor website – keep checking to see that it’s working at its optimal rate.
Feel free to use the above three resolutions as a starting point for your charity’s own resolutions for 2018 – much like an individual’s own personal life goals, a nonprofit ought to constantly be looking for ways to refine good habits, break bad habits, and try new things!
Caitlin Hotchkiss is the content and social media manager for FrontStream, covering all the best and latest news and tips for fundraising success. With many years as an online influencer, she works to stay ahead of the trends by keeping one eye on upcoming online tools and the other on established favorites, spreading the good word of charities and nonprofits across the digital landscape.
This blog was adapted from the recent Flash Class by NeonCRM and Nonprofit Garden, partners of DonorSearch.
One of the more frustrating situations that can occur when rolling out a major campaign is having different departments articulate different messages to donors. The marketing team may be focusing on highlighting stories about a specific program while your major gift officers are reaching out and telling a story around an unrelated capital campaign.
Being able to create a cohesive end to end campaign is the key to success to long term growth and sustainability, since it ensures not only are all stakeholders working towards a common goal but also utilizing the same messaging to create a powerful unified conversation with your donors.
Yet how does one go about creating a full circle strategy that envelopes all stakeholders? Let’s take the time and present a few key strategies when it comes to operating as a nimble nonprofit. As a starting point, we’ll tackle traditional fundraising, web design, and social media coordination to create a cohesive campaign for any size organization.
Many nonprofits miss some critical steps when preparing for either an annual campaign or a major expansion of services that need to be funded through donations. There needs to be a solid foundation that is established before any revenue initiative is started and there’s six steps that we have identified on where to begin:
Set the foundation – review last year’s campaigns and use that data to set a benchmark
Create an action plan – identify key team members, budgets, and timelines that need to be involved through the entire campaign, not just the beginning and end
Put it into focus – create a donor focused theme that ties all messaging together
Know your audience – segment your lists, with giving data being used as a starting point
Craft the ask – dust off those mail merge skills and make it personal
Follow through – it isn’t just about obtaining the gift but about long term relationship building
One of the most popular ways for nonprofits to raise money these days is through crowdfunding. With these social fundraising campaigns, organizations like yours can tap into the giving power of your supporters’ personal networks and spread your campaign far and wide over the internet.In a crowdfunding campaign, nonprofits launch short-term fundraisers and call on many supporters to donate small amounts so they can quickly reach their goal. Crowdfunding thrives on social media sites like Facebook because it’s easy for campaigns to spread to a large audience in just a few shares.
Check out our favorite ways to make your crowdfunding efforts stand out on social media:
1. Choose the right platform for your crowdfunding campaign
Getting your crowdfunding campaign right depends upon choosing the right platform for your fundraiser. Successful social media fundraising is already dependent on having accessible giving pages ready for your supporters, and this becomes even more crucial when your crowdfunding campaign comes into the mix.
The more your crowdfunding page aligns with your social media identify, the more likely it is donors will give to your campaign. This means your crowdfunding page should feature:
Your nonprofit’s logo
Your branded color scheme
Photos and videos of your community at work
Additionally, the perfect crowdfunding platform will also let your nonprofit offer fundraising incentives and donation levels, as these features can incentivize your donors to give. Providing perks can also lead to a larger social media presence. Think about: if you offer supporters a t-shirt in return for their donation, they can share pictures of them wearing your appear to their social networks, which can draw even more awareness to your campaign.
Your crowdfunding platform should offer:
Automated social share buttons that prompt donors to spread the word after they give
Thank-you pages that appear after a donation is made that are customized to your campaign
Branded hashtags that are unique to your crowdfunding campaign
Since successful crowdfunding campaigns need to be far reaching, your platform should make it as easy as possible for supporters to see your message.
=&5=& Ready to find the right crowdfunding platform for your nonprofit? Check out Double the Donation’s list of the top crowdfunding websites to find the one that’s right for your organization.
2. Make giving to your crowdfunding campaign easy for mobile donors
Since nearly 80% of all social media activity happens on smartphones, you want your crowdfunding campaign to be easily accessed on mobile devices.
As I write this, we are approaching the end of the calendar year, when many nonprofit organizations receive most of their support from donors. It’s crucial to get your appeal letter right. But one size does not fit all. If you are sending the same letter to all your donors, you’re leaving money on the table.
Think about it. If you give money to an organization and they don’t even know who you are, how likely are you to give again?
So, your nonprofit needs to know at least:
Whether you’re asking a donor to renew their gift or a prospect to give for the first time
If they’re a donor, when and how much they gave before
What interests them about your organization’s work (because if they care about the housing you build, and you ask them to support the childcare you offer, they may wonder who you think you’re talking to!)
Ideally, you would also have some sense of the donor’s capacity to give.
If you know all these things, you can segment your list and send different letters to donors than to prospects, tell stories about the work the donor cares about the most, thank them for their previous gift, and ask them for an amount they can afford to give if they care enough to do so. And you will make more money for your good cause!
2. When You’re Staying in Touch
Why do two out of three first-time donors to your organization never make a second gift? Jay Love of Bloomerang lists five reasons:
Thought the charity did not need them: 5%
No information on how monies were used: 8%
No memory of supporting: 9%
Never thanked for donating: 13%
Poor service or communication: 18%
Knowing your donors helps you know what to say in the thank-you letter you send within 48 hours of receiving the initial gift. It helps your board members know what to say when they call donors to thank them. And it will help you every time you “touch” them in any way throughout the year.
3. When You’re Writing a Newsletter
Beyond being thanked, donors want to hear how their donations made a difference. That’s the reason for publishing a nonprofit newsletter: to tell them.
If you know your donors well, you can decide whether it makes sense to send a print newsletter, an e-newsletter, or both, or send print to some people and email to others.
If you know what they care about, you can send newsletters on particular topics to the people who want to read them. Or, at the least, you can make sure your newsletters include items that will appeal to the various audiences you’ll find among your donors. Don’t make anyone feel left out!
Museums house artifacts from the past, but who’s to say your operations have to stay there, too?
By implementing museum software, you can get smarter about fundraising, membership management, and collections.
Of course, all museum software is not created equal, just like all museums have different missions and operational structures. Art galleries will require different fundraising event features than natural history museums, for example, and every museum has a different budget.
Sound intimidating? Don’t worry! We’ll go through the top 9 software solutions that can ease your museum operations, allowing you to focus on the other aspects of your work.
Keep reading to find the perfect museum software for your institution!
1. DonorSearch — Top Prospect Research Museum Software
Museum Software Overview
For any kind of museum, chances are you rely on major donors for a significant portion of your fundraising revenue.
Next time you launch a fundraising campaign, take the guesswork out of major gifts with DonorSearch.
DonorSearch offers prospect research services to identify major donors by their wealth markers (Do your donors have enough money to give?) and philanthropic indicators (Are your donors likely to give charitably?). You can submit an existing list of individuals, like your membership list, or request DonorSearch generate a list of prospects for you.
Why We Love This Museum Software
It’s not just major gifts that sustain museums — planned gifts make a huge difference for collections and special projects. So in addition to major donor screening, DonorSearch also screens for planned giving prospects among your membership base.
2. Doubleknot — Top Event and Membership Management Museum Software
Museum Software Overview
No matter how expansive your staff, building, or programs are, Doubleknot can help you manage your operations smoothly and effectively with integrated software solutions.
If you’re hosting special events, you can sell tickets, register guests, and even collect donations with a secure POS solution through Doubleknot software. Plus, by integrating your membership list, your members will see their benefits automatically applied at checkout.
It’s not just one-time events that are easy to manage with Doubleknot — you can also coordinate summer camps, classes and lecture series, and complex, multi-day and multi-track conferences to bring supporters to your museum.
Why We Love This Museum Software
Doubleknot is so much more than an event management software; it’s also a membership management solution and a targeted communications platform. You can seamlessly integrate your membership profiles with your event planning efforts, making it easy to update your museum members via email, view analytical reports, and apply automatic member benefits like discounted admission or early registration.
3. Double the Donation — Top Matching Gifts Museum Software
Museum Software Overview
For any fundraising effort, you can make the most of your supporters’ donations through matching gifts.
And with Double the Donation‘s matching gift software, you can empower your donors to follow through with the matching gift process!
You can add Double the Donation’s matching gift plugin to your donation form, a designated matching gift page on your website, and even your donation confirmation emails.
Why We Love This Museum Software
Matching gifts are such an easy way to boost your fundraising revenue, but sometimes, the process can seem intimidating to your supporters. Double the Donation guides your museum members through guidelines and forms to help them make their gift go further!
For fraternities and sororities, recruitment is one of the most exciting times of the year. But it’s also one of the most important — and strategic.
With the right strategy, you can take recruitment to the next level, bringing passionate new members to further your Greek organization’s mission.
Here are six steps you can take toward a more efficient, focused, organized recruitment process:
Ready to plan your most successful year of recruitment yet? Let’s get started.
1. Utilize prospect research for fraternity recruitment.
Prospect research is used nationally in Greek organizations to identify brothers and sisters with the highest giving potential. Prospect research allows Greek organizations to learn more about an individual’s professional trajectory and the causes they care about.
Likewise, your chapter can perform prospect research on a much smaller scale. And instead of asking for financial contributions, you can leverage what you learn to find the best possible recruits!
In prospect research, you search for markers such as:
Social connections: Do recruits have family members or friends in your fraternity or sorority?
Interests: Do your recruits’ activities reflect the values of your organization?
History of giving: Have recruits supported causes connected to your philanthropy before? Other charitable causes?
Commitment: Have your recruits demonstrated that they can commit to a cause and stick to it?
You can use public sources of information such as social media profiles to find this information and use our prospect research tips for Greek organizations to lead you!
Bottom line: Prospect research isn’t just for organizations looking for potential donors. Fraternities and sororities can use prospect research to find the perfect recruits.
2. Implement fraternity recruitment software
Think of just how many moving pieces are involved in rush:
Collecting recruits’ contact information
Filling out paperwork
Communicating with recruits and current brothers and sisters
Each piece is just as important as the last, so you can’t afford to let anything fall through the cracks. But if you’re always flipping between spreadsheets, email, and other software, you’re bound to miss something.
To make sure you don’t confuse recruits or, worse, deter them from joining your Greek organization, implement a fraternity recruitment software solution to handle everything in one place.
The best software for your recruitment is the one that’s built specifically for fraternities and sororities so you don’t have to do any customization or programming yourself. Check out a fraternity-specific platform like OmegaFi, which can help your fraternity stay organized throughout the recruitment process through its partnership with the GINsystem, a communications solution.
Tip: Not every fraternity and sorority management tool is created equal. You’ll need to assess your needs and budget to determine the best solution for your Greek organization. To help you get started, Double the Donation has an full list of top recommended software providers.Bottom line: It’s crucial that you stay organized during rush. Using a comprehensive fundraising tool made specifically for Greek organizations, will help you manage every aspect of the recruitment process.
3. Network with brothers or sisters and alumni.
Recruitment is a year-round process, though you’ll be focusing on your recruitment efforts more than usual during your university’s rush.
To ensure you’re always promoting your fraternity or sorority to potential new members, even outside of rush, lean on the best referrals you have: your brothers or sisters and your alumni.
The higher opinion your members have of your Greek organization, the higher praise they’ll sing to younger people. And young people who hear great thing about your fraternity or sorority turn into potential members later on.
The key is to maintain positive relationships with your chapter members. Staying on top of your relationships is easier when brothers and sisters are still on campus, but it’s not so hard to network with alumni, either:
Send out an alumni newsletter a few times a year. You should have your alumni’s email address, so use it to share news about the chapter’s on-campus activities and fundraising successes.
Organize alumni-only events in cities with high concentrations of your graduated members, taking a hint from a popular university alumni engagement strategy. Happy hour is always a popular option. Your alumni will appreciate the opportunity to get together with old friends and network with new friends that live in the area.
Include alumni in fundraising efforts for a double benefit: you bring in more donations for your philanthropic efforts, and you remind your alumni about the good work your chapter does.
Your current members and alumni are the best judges of potential new recruits. Make sure they’re funneling people as awesome as they are back into your organization!
Bottom line: By staying in contact with your alumni, you’ll have passionate supporters who can refer recruits and encourage potential candidates to join your Greek organization.
4. Brand your fraternity recruitment.
It’s a simple formula: the more students that know about your fraternity or sorority, the more potential recruits you have.
But of course, it’s not just awareness that draws recruits. You need to intentionally build a brand around your recruitment efforts so you can make sure the recruits who will make the best fit make their way to you.
You’ve got plenty of options for branding your recruitment. Some of the most popular options are T-shirts, buttons, hats, and other items your members can wear. See how effective t-shirts can be for identifying your members?
By giving your current members branded items, you associate them and their personalities with your organization. That way, potential new members who have conversations with your awesome members will walk away with a positive image of the entire fraternity or sorority.
Tip: When ordering T-shirts, keep an eye on your budget. Consider a manufacturer like Bonfire, which doesn’t charge you anything to design or sell shirts, and you get to keep the revenue from sales.
Bottom Line: Creating a brand for your fraternity or sorority is a great way to attract recruits and show potential members your organization’s personality.
5. Incorporate smart communication strategies.
You can’t organize a successful recruitment effort if you’re not organized about your communication. Your recruits need to know when to show up and what to bring, and your current members need to know what their responsibilities are.
Make sure your leadership team has clearly set a communication plan before rush begins,including:
What platform will you use to communicate with recruits? (Hint: Something free and easy to use.)
What kinds of messages will you send to recruits and current brothers and sisters? Event reminders, paperwork, etc.? (Hint: Stick to logistics about recruitment events and paperwork.)
Which members of the leadership team will be in charge of sending which kinds of messages? (Hint: The fewer people, the better.)
How often will you send messages, not overwhelming recruits or leaving them with too many questions? (Hint: At least three reminders about events will ensure no one forgets.)
The trick is to meet your members and recruits where they are. What kind of communication platforms are they already using? Email, social media, group texts? How can you implement those to get in touch with your members and recruits? Make sure you ask your youngest members for suggestions — they’re the closest in age to your recruits, so they have a valuable opinion to give.
It can get overwhelming to keep track of all your messages, especially if there’s more than one person on your leadership team who’s in charge of communications with recruits. You might find it helpful to integrate your communication strategy with your fraternity recruitment software so you’re not losing messages in transit between email accounts and other places you keep information.
Don’t forget about non-digital communication strategies, too. Anything from business cards to flyers remind your recruits that you care about them and communicating with them. Plus, it’s harder to ignore a poster on a wall than an email or a text.
Bottom line: Communicating successfully is key to improving your recruitment strategies. Make sure that members understand their responsibilities and keep outreach organized using management software.
6. Build from your fundraising success.
You can think of recruitment as a way to find the most interesting brothers and sisters on campus. But really, recruitment should be an extension of your philanthropy.
Your fraternity or sorority was founded to do good in the world, so use rush to find the people who will continue your legacy.
Include information about your philanthropy whenever you can, including:
On your T-shirts.
On your chapter’s website.
On your university’s website.
In your outreach (emails, flyers, etc.).
You’re recruiting members who will someday be in charge of your fundraising. Make sure you find new brothers and sisters who have the passion and discipline to serve as good stewards of your philanthropy efforts.
Make sure you’re following fundraising strategy best practices
Most nonprofits have a standard process in place for building a relationship with a new donor. It’s likely that your organization does too.
The flow is probably relatively standard: someone donates, they receive a thank you, they’re added to your email stream, they might receive an event invite, etc., etc.
However, many nonprofits are not as well-equipped to handle when they have a sudden surge of new donors. Whether you have a campaign go viral or there’s an event that causes a peak in interest in your cause, your nonprofit should be prepared to properly steward all new donors, even if they come in bulk.
For example, consider the current situations in Houston, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and the Caribbean. Four separate hurricanes have tragically taken many lives and destroyed entire regions and communities.
First, Harvey hit Houston and brought with it severe winds, rain, and flooding. Then, Hurricane Irma made its way through the Caribbean with record-breaking intensity. Everywhere Irma made landfall, from Barbuda to Haiti to Florida, felt the storm’s power and experienced immense devastation. Next, Hurricane Maria built steam as it moved along a course very similar to Irma. Maria hit Dominica and neighboring islands, and then absolutely pummeled Puerto Rico, ravaging the U.S. territory.
Most recently, Hurricane Nate hit regions in Central America, including Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and caused at least 28 deaths before moving north toward the Gulf Coast of the United States. Hurricane Nate has officially made landfall in the U.S., largely affecting Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, causing flooding and mass power loss.
It is absolutely devastating. And many folks who have not historically been charitable donors are admirably stepping up to help the relief effort (learn more here and here).
As a result, many of the nonprofits serving those communities are experiencing a spike in donations and new donors. Those nonprofits now have an opportunity to bring great assistance to the areas affected by the hurricanes, and if they are strategic about how they steward their new donors, they’ll be able to continue providing vital services to the region for years to come.
Recovering from Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate is going to take years, and the nonprofits in the impacted cities need every donation possible to aid in their regions’ rehabilitation.
It’s a very real and very sad example of exactly why nonprofits need to be ready to make the most of their new influx of donors, with a proper plan.
To help you put that plan in place, we’ve compiled 3 effective strategies: