neon thank you signYour year-end nonprofit fundraising efforts have been effective. The question now is, how do you thank your donors? Some traditional forms of thanking major gift donors include sending personal “thank-you” notes, small gifts, or inviting them for a behind-the-scenes tour or a special event. Personal “thank yous” of all kinds are important and should never be overlooked for major gift donors; the challenge is how to thank all your other donors in a way that is time and cost-effective, yet still has impact. This is where social media can come into play. With social media at your finger tips there are so many creative, cost-effective, timely ways to recognize your donors. So, we are going to introduce 5 fun ways to thank your donors using social media, that won’t break the bank!

Remember that you should always have a donor privacy policy and should not share a donor’s name publicly without their permission first.

  1. Post a Heart-Felt Thank You on Facebook
    In addition to a personal “Thank You” note, you can also thank your donors using your Facebook page. Draft a thoughtful letter and address it to all of your donors. Share this note on your Facebook page and ask followers to like, comment, and share! Facebook also offers a host of multimedia options so you can include a picture, custom graphic, or video (this is important).

    By doing this you will be reaching a wider audience and really letting people know what your donors mean to you and your organization.

  1. Give a Shout-Out on Twitter
    The very nature of Twitter is to be quick, short, and off-the-cuff. Use this outlet to publish fun, friendly shout-outs to your donors in real-time. When a donor completes an online donation, ask them to provide their Twitter handle if they would like a shout-out. If they aren’t on Twitter they can still opt to have you tweet their name on the micro-blogging platform. If they do provide a handle, then you have the perfect opportunity to really engage!
  1. Make a YouTube Video
    If you’re active on a video sharing platform, like YouTube or Vimeo, take advantage of your prime real estate and give a video shout-out. You can thank all of your donors in one, heart-felt video, or you can use a micro-blogging platform, like Vine, to thank them individually, if you have received their permission to do so.

    Plus, plan ahead next year and you can gather footage from nonprofit fundraising events, interviews with donors and volunteers, and images depicting your nonprofit in action to include in the montage.

  1. hashtag with twitter logoStart a Hashtag
    Hashtags are labels, signified by the # symbol followed by a word or phrase, used to mark keywords or topics on social media. The hashtag began on twitter but has since moved to many other social platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.

Florida International University (FIU) had the right idea when they decided to ask students to write their “thank-you” notes for donors on a piece of paper and take a picture of it with the hashtag, #FIUThanks. You can follow their lead by asking board members and volunteers to take pictures with their “thank you” notes and creating a hashtag to go with it. This way, all of the images can be easily found by searching for the hashtag on social media sites.

  1. Create a Custom Graphic for Instagram
    Instagram is the perfect platform for turning candid photos into high-quality keepsakes. Since Instagram is a photo sharing platform, you can take advantage of its image-enhancing capabilities and how it connects to other social sites to share your photos.

    To thank your donors, consider creating an all-encompassing “thank you” image using a cost-effective photo editor like the one listed here. Whether you use a patterned background or an event photo, it doesn’t matter! Just add some text and publish to your Instagram account for all to see.

When you reflect on your nonprofit fundraising successes and the generous donors you came into contact with in 2014, remember that social media is a great outlet to express your gratitude. And as you move forward in 2015, keep these tips in mind for continuing conversation with your donors online!

photo of SaraWritten by Sara Thompson, SEO and Social Media Administrator at Informatics Inc.

About Informatics: Informatics is a full service web agency that provides a wealth of web related services, including digital marketing, web design and development, e-marketing strategies, hosting, custom web applications, mobile applications, social media management, SEO services, photo and video services and multimedia development.

It is not passion that's missing in nonprofit organizations, it is shoe leather.Recently I helped a client of mine replace their Director of Development. As fundraising consultants working with organizations across the country we have a network of fundraising professionals and meet a number of qualified candidates to help our clients from time to time in their search. The most important aspect is not just to find someone to fill the spot, but to find the right fit for the nonprofit organization at that particular time.

This organization is a relatively small and specialized nonprofit whose founder, people, and donors are incredibly passionate about the cause. Having worked with this client for some time in conducting a development diagnostic, creating a strategic development plan, and launching a capital campaign, we had a very good idea of what their specific needs were for their chief fundraising officer; they needed someone to develop their relational, major gift fundraising program and move their capital campaign forward, while strategically expanding other aspects of their annual fundraising plan. I knew just the person, made the introduction, and began the fundraising training.

A couple of months into the tenure of this new Director of Development, I spoke with the Executive Director and Founder to see how things were going with the new hire. She and the Board were pleased with his relational talents, his intelligence, and his ability to learn, but she raised one major concern; he wanted to be out of the office meeting donors most of the time rather than sticking around to learn more about the organization and getting to know the residents by name. In fact, she was very troubled to think that this particular mission may not be his life’s passion. Oh sure, he was passionate and spoke persuasively about the need and the organization, but what if it was not his numeral uno? Her concern caused me to stop and think, how important is it for the mission of the organization to be the number one passion for the chief fundraising officer?

Let me pause here and tell you that my answer and conclusion to this conundrum is not scientific. It is my opinion based on personal experience (in and out of the nonprofit world), anecdotal evidence, and firm belief. Passion is ONE and ONLY ONE factor for a successful major gift fundraising executive. I have known more than my share of fundraisers so passionate about the mission they never got away from the day-to-day work of the organization to go tell others and ask them to join in their giving.

The most difficult trait to find today is an individual that can turn passion into relationships and dollars, and communicate the value of a principal, major, or capital gift to a prospective major donor. Of course you can’t fake it. You have to believe in what you are asking others to support.

I come back to my own daily work. I have found myself passionate about everything from social services, education, animal welfare, and medical research to church ministries, the arts, and even apes. And I have helped them all in their quest to raise millions of dollars. Yet, to this day, I can’t tell you that I have been more passionate about one over the other. Sure I have causes in my personal life that I am most passionate about and supportive of, but it is not a zero-sum game. I can be passionate about many things.

I believe if you are looking for your next major gift fundraising officer or chief fundraising executive, you will be best served to find that individual that can find their passion, match it with a burning desire each day of “who can I get in front of today to tell about this story?” and actually get out and do it.

It is not passion that’s missing in nonprofit organizations, it is shoe leather.

Written by Daniel Neel, President of The Fundraising Resource Group. The Fundraising Resource Group helps non-profit organizations across the United States with fundraising feasibility studies, capital campaigns, annual giving campaigns, major gift fundraising, non-profit marketing, fundraising training, and other high-impact, high-return fundraising activities. For more about how we can help your non-profit achieve fundraising success, visit our http://www.thefundraisingresource.com or call 888-522-1492.

For years I made the kinds of New Year’s resolutions that are made to be broken: lose weight, exercise more, save more. These are among the most frequently made New Year’s resolutions so is it any wonder that only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolutions? Once I realized this, I started making resolutions that I was happy to keep and that enriched my life. So here are my two simple suggestions for nonprofit organizations that can be enriching both personally and professionally.

It is not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people who are happy.

1. Be More Thankful
On a personal level, people who perceive gratitude as a permanent trait rather than a temporary state of mind enjoy better health. According to University of California Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons, “Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress.” Grateful people also tend to be more optimistic, a characteristic that researchers say boosts the immune system.

The Journal of Happiness Studies published a study that used letters of gratitude to test how being grateful can affect our levels of happiness: Participants included 219 men and women who wrote three letters of gratitude over a 3 week period. Results indicated that writing letters of gratitude increased participants’ happiness and life satisfaction while decreasing depressive symptoms. Talk about killing two birds with one stone! Creating a culture of gratitude in your nonprofit organization will not only help employees, it will encourage a more donor-centric approach in all efforts that in turn will lead to greater prosperity.

Research tells us that the #1 reason donors stop giving to an organization is lack of communications. According to the Nonprofit Donor Loyalty Primer (see infographic at the end of this article), 53% of donors cited communications-related issues for discontinuing their support. Here is the breakdown: 

  • Poor service or communication – 18%
  • Never thanked for donating – 13%
  • No memory of supporting – 9%
  • No information on how monies were used – 8%
  • Thought the charity did not need them – 5%

We also know that the drop-off rate for first-time donors is exorbitantly high; according to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, only 22.9% of new donors to nonprofits give again. However, once a new donor gives a second time, 60.8% will give again. That’s donor loyalty.

Truly examining how you can communicate your thanks to donors more effectively and more frequently and showing them how much you appreciate their contributions can do nothing but benefit your organization.

2. Focus More on the “Bird in the Hand”
Happy people want what they can get while unhappy people never seem to get what they want. This is because happy people strive for realistic goals and have realistic expectations.

We all know that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.” And yet isn’t this exactly what many nonprofit organizations have done for years by focusing on donor acquisition rather than donor retention?

As we mentioned earlier, donor loyalty rates in the nonprofit industry are nothing short of abysmal. The cost of acquisition versus retention has been well researched and documented in the for-profit sector and parallels can be drawn in the nonprofit sector. The other side to this coin, which I have not seen anyone making correlations about in the nonprofit sector, is the cost of losing a customer. Research tells us the average wronged customer will tell 8 to 16 people (and about 10% will tell more than 20 people). It does not seem unlikely to me that donors who are not thanked, or who go underappreciated, also share their experiences with friends and acquaintances.

Adrian Sargeant, in his article, Managing Donor Defection: Why Should Donors Stop Giving?, writes, “Reichheld and Sasser (1990) reviewed the activities of one hundred companies in two dozen industries and concluded that firms could improve profits from 25% to 85% by reducing customer defections by just 5% per year. In one case, lowering the defection rate from 20% to 10% doubled the longevity of the average customer relationship from five to ten years and more than doubled the cumulative profit stream achieved. The impact of increasing customer retention in fundraising has yet to be quantified empirically, but authors such as Burnett (1992) have argued persuasively that dramatic increases in overall profitability may be achieved through comparatively modest increases in donor loyalty. Burnett concludes that to achieve such increases, it is necessary to move away from what he regards as a focus on transactions to a focus on relationships.”

Let It Go
Studies suggest we fear an unknown outcome more than we do a known bad one. Trying something new often requires courage but it also opens up the possibility for greater happiness and/or success. So here’s to letting go and embracing two simple resolutions for the New Year!

Nonprofit organizations lose donors mainly due to poor communications (infographic).

Written by Lee Neel, Vice President of The Fundraising Resource Group. The Fundraising Resource Group helps non-profit organizations across the United States with fundraising feasibility studies, capital campaigns, annual giving campaigns, major gift fundraising, non-profit marketing, fundraising training, and other high-impact, high-return fundraising activities. For more about how we can help your non-profit achieve fundraising success, visit our website at www.thefundraisingresource.com or call 888-522-1492.

If your fundraising strategy involves any sort of digital presence, then setting up Google Analytics is an absolute must. Google Analytics is a stats package that monitors your website traffic, social media channels, and so much more! It is great for monitoring how effective a campaign is. So, before you kick off the public phase of your capital campaign and begin promoting it online, create a Google account and add the necessary code to your site to get started.

How to Set Up Google Analytics
Google Analytics does not go back and record historical data, it begins tracking once you add the code. This means that you must set up your Google Analytics prior to kicking off your nonprofit fundraising campaign.  Here are the steps for setting up Google Analytics for your website:

Laptop with Google Analytics

Photo Credit: Blue Fountain Media via flickr cc

1.) If you do not already have a Google account, set one up. If you do, sign into it.
2.) Go to http://www.google.com/analytics/
3.) Hi the “Access Google Analytics” button in the top right corner
4.) Click the “Sign Up” button and fill out the relevant information and hit “Get Tracking ID”
5.) There are two ways to set up the web tracking code. Choose what works for you and follow the steps here.

5 Google Analytics Features
Once you have Google Analytics up and running, you can begin monitoring your web stats to optimize your fundraising strategy. Below are 5 Google Analytics features to use for monitoring your stats.

  • Social Network Referrals
    Under Acquisition→Social→Network Referrals, you will be able to view the number of visits that have come from each social network. If you are running some sort of online nonprofit fundraising campaign, it is a good idea to promote the campaign on your social media sites. This feature will allow you to see which sites are most successful and which are not. You can then decide if your content needs tweaked or if one particular site just isn’t worth the effort.
  • All Referrals
    You can find all of your referrals under the Acquisition tab. Here you will be able to view exactly which sites are sending traffic to your website. This will allow you to track backlinks, people who are linking to your site. For example, if you are running an ad on another side, you can track how much traffic it is actually sending. If the number is low, you will want to modify your fundraising strategy.
  • Goals Section
    Google Analytics allows you to create custom goals, under the Conversions section. By creating a goal you can quickly track the performance of a specific campaign. Whether you have a page for your capital campaign on your website, a donation form, or just want to monitor the number of visits to your site, goals make it easy to do.  You can set up a goal by going to the Admin section of Google Analytics, selecting goals, and clicking the “+New Goal” button. With this feature you will be able to better monitor the success of a specific conversion path.
  • Real-Time
    Real-Time Analytics can be found toward the top of the left-hand navigation bar. Here you can monitor your website traffic in real-time, viewing the number of people who are currently on your site, which pages they are viewing, and how they got there. If you are in the midst of a capital campaign, and you just announced a particular event on your website, it would be a perfect time to watch your real-time analytics.  This will allow you to monitor how successful your announcement was. Plus it’s fun to watch it happen live!
  • Custom Reports
    One of the coolest features on Google Analytics is the custom reporting. While Google Analytics has many reports available, you can also create your own custom report with just the information you are interested in. So, whether you want to share the results at your weekly nonprofit fundraising meetings or you want to present your stats to your board, you can do it when and how you want. Remember, that if you are not reporting on your progress, you won’t be able to review and optimize for better results.

Although we only reviewed 5 features of Google Analytics, there are so many more that could greatly benefit your fundraising strategy. If you haven’t already, set up Google Analytics for your site right away and start monitoring! The only way you can improve your online strategy, is if you track it.

photo of SaraWritten by Sara Thompson, SEO and Social Media Administrator at Informatics Inc.

About Informatics: Informatics is a full service web agency that provides a wealth of web related services, including digital marketing, web design and development, e-marketing strategies, hosting, custom web applications, mobile applications, social media management, SEO services, photo and video services and multimedia development.

A strategic plan in development by a team of experts.Before getting started on a capital campaign, major gift fundraising or nonprofit fundraising in general, a nonprofit must consider strategic planning. As with building a house, taking a vacation or starting a business, achieving your desired outcome depends largely on the plan you have in place beforehand. As experts in strategic planning, fundraising consultants can help you create this blueprint and ensure that you meet your desired goals, whatever they may be.

3 Objectives of Strategic Planning
So, what is strategic planning? Strategic planning is the process of defining a strategy, identifying goals, and outlining a plan for achieving those goals. Whether you are just starting a nonprofit organization or are looking to complete a specific fundraising event, strategic planning is a huge driver of your success.

The 3 objectives of strategic planning are:

•Assess the Current Situation
Where does your nonprofit currently stand? What needs to change and how are you going to change it?

•Affirm the Future Direction
Make sure everyone is on board with your goals and vision for the future.

•Adopt an Actionable Plan
Work with fundraising consultants to create a plan that makes sense for your nonprofit and identify the tactics through which you will achieve it.

The Benefits of a Strategic Plan
If you’re still not sold on strategic planning, consider these benefits it will bring to your organization:

Strategic planning requires focus.Focus – As a decision-making tool for your nonprofit organization, your strategic plan will bring focus to your mission, vision, and overall goals

Ownership – Developing a strategic plan that involves all of your key stakeholders will provide a sense of ownership to everyone involved.

Clarity – Strategic planning brings clarity to your organization’s purpose. It helps clarify who you are and where you’re headed.

Unity – A strategic plan that involves the whole team will also unify the whole team. You all are working towards a common goal and you know what that goal is and how you’re going to reach it.

Success – With a positive attitude, full team involvement, and an actionable plan, you are sure to see success.

Strategic Plan Framework
As you’re developing your strategic plan, remember this basic framework:

•Super-Ordinate Objective
What is the overall outcome your organization plans to achieve?

•Sub-Ordinate Platform Objectives
What are the desired outcomes for each broad area?
        ◊ Goals – What we will achieve?
        ◊ Strategies – How we will achieve it?
        ◊ Actions/Tactics – What specific steps we will take?

Strategic planning is vital to any nonprofit, whether you’re just getting started or you’re planning a capital campaign. If you need assistance with strategic planning, fundraising consultants can help you identify your goals and develop an actionable plan for achieving them. Check out our blog to learn more about executing an effective strategic planning process and contact us to develop your strategic plan today.

Written by Lee Neel, Vice President of The Fundraising Resource Group. The Fundraising Resource Group helps non-profit organizations across the United States with fundraising feasibility studies, capital campaigns, annual giving campaigns, major gift fundraising, non-profit marketing, fundraising training, and other high-impact, high-return fundraising activities. For more about how we can help your non-profit achieve fundraising success, visit our website at www.thefundraisingresource.com or call 888-522-1492.