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261 posts categorized "Fundraising"

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (January 2016)

February 02, 2016

Not even an epic mid-month nor'easter could keep January from flying by. Not to worry. For those who blinked and missed all the great content posted here during the month just passed, we've got you covered....

What did you read/watch/listen to last month that made you think, got you riled up, or restored your faith in humanity? Share with the rest of us in the comments section below, or drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Gen X and Millennial Women: Ready to Give in More Meaningful Ways

January 28, 2016

Professional-womenOver the past couple of decades, baby boomers have been the lifeblood of charitable giving in the U.S., their rock-steady giving fueling nonprofits' efforts to make a difference in the world. While aging boomers continue to play an outsized role in charitable giving, research tells us their giving levels will start to decline over the next few years. But with the world focused on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, it's imperative that nonprofits begin to build relationships with younger generations and inspire them to give in more meaningful ways. While a lot of attention has been focused on millennials, a generation that is even larger than the boomer generation, a growing body of evidence suggests that the next demographic cohort to step up as significant givers will be Gen Xers and "older" millennials — especially female donors between the ages of 30 and 45.

Let's look at some of the factors that could drive increased giving within this group. We know that the greatest wealth transfer in American history has already begun, as the so-called Silent generation and boomers pass on their wealth to their children and grandchildren. Indeed, according to a study from Accenture, more than $30 trillion eventually will be passed on to these younger generations. Moreover, history shows that people, as they reach their thirties and forties, begin to think about their legacy and establish giving goals, while a number of recent surveys tell us that donors in this demographic group are likely to increase their giving, with women an increasingly significant factor in that giving. In fact, according to the Women's Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, women in almost every income bracket give more than their male counterparts.

Being in a financial position to contribute in a meaningful way is only part of the reason why women between the ages of 30 and 45 are poised to become game-changers for philanthropy. A second is that women in this age group are deeply interested in and motivated to make a difference in the world. As a group, they are culturally diverse, connected to the world in new ways, and see themselves not as individual philanthropists but as members of a community. Many also are well educated, find themselves in leadership roles, and are focused on proactively shaping the environment in which their children will grow up. Yet, despite their potential as donors over the long run, they have not been a focus of the charitable sector.

As part of the process of developing an online community-based charitable giving platform called Growfund, I conducted a series of one-on-one interviews with women in this cohort and, along the way, learned a lot about their values and what drives them to want to change the world. Typical of the comments I heard were: "I wish I could do more, but I don't know how," and "Our generation has been taught to save for education, but not to save for philanthropy." Comments such as, "Please don't ask me to volunteer; I do that through my PTA," and "There is so much pulling at me; I want to make a difference, but I need it to be efficient and easy,” also point to a difference between women this age and their parents and grandparents. One woman had raised $35,000 for her local PTA in a month and a half while running a household and working part-time as a consultant. Another told me she knew she wanted to do something to combat sex trafficking but didn't know where to start and, as a single mom with two kids in school, didn't have time to do research. For women in their thirties and forties, time constraints are a serious hurdle to giving. If, on the other hand, they were presented with more accessible, strategic ways to give, they surely would respond — and in significant numbers.

What might that look like in practice? Here are a few things to think about:

Leverage inspirational stories that engage both the head and heart. It's not enough with Gen Xers and older millennials to tug on their heartstrings. They want to know about long-term impact and sustainable change. You need to show them how your organization or cause connects to the broader world.

Use a multi-channel approach. Giving via mobile/text and social media continues to grow in popularity among Gen Xers and millennials. Which means you need to find them where they live and make it easy for them to give.

Say thank you. Donors in this group have the wherewithal to give at meaningful levels — and want to be recognized when they do. If your nonprofit or charity forgets to thank a member of this cohort for their gift, the chances are pretty good you won't be hearing from her again.

Create a sense of community around Gen X and millennial giving. Give your Gen X and millennial donors tools they can use to share their giving — and the impact it is creating — with family and friends. And make sure you give them ideas about how they can engage their children in your cause.

Focus your efforts on metro areas and donors with a college degree. According to a White House report, women living in metro areas are likely to have higher educational attainment levels, which in turn correlate directly with their giving. The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University similarly reported that "when controlling for other factors, having a college degree increased giving by about $1,900 annually."

Talk to them. Share with your Gen X and millennial donors specific strategies such as women's advisory boards and giving circles, and encourage them to share their individual feedback with you and your colleagues.

Headshot_Ann_CanelaLet's not miss an opportunity to fully engage the younger generations of donors in the pipeline. We all have a part to play in ensuring that they take their place as the greatest generation of game-changers and difference-makers ever.

Ann Canela, a Gen Xer and mom, is vice president of Global Impact and a champion of Growfund.

Ways to ‘Own’ a Movement

January 19, 2016

Blue_hand_claspAdvances in technology and the emergence of social media tools make it more possible than ever for social movements and causes to quickly spread far and wide (to go "viral" in the parlance of the moment). But how do you take a cause and transform it from an idea into something with universal appeal?

In the past, the concept of organizing, fundraising, and building a movement was focused on individuals "belonging" to a cause. In the twenty-first century, however, a successful movement isn't owned by an organization or single entity; it's owned by the people who comprise the movement itself. This idea speaks to the realities of modern constituent engagement theory and how people are perceived, whether as activists, social changemakers, supporters, or donors.

Importantly, in the research we’ve conducted, it's apparent that younger people view themselves as of a cause and not for a cause. It's a critical distinction. Young people tend not to belong to a cause but rather believe in a cause — and act accordingly.

Social movement builders who understand this understand that they have to do whatever is necessary to ensure that the qualities of purpose, authenticity, and self-actualization are embedded in their messaging when engaging supporters and would-be supporters. Without these qualities, individuals are unlikely to fully appreciate the potential of the movement or their own role in its ultimate success.

The shift I'm articulating is cultural and a function (I believe) of the instantaneous digital technologies that increasingly connect us to each other and the world. It's also something that social movement builders and leaders need to grasp in all its dimensions if they hope to be successful in harnessing the power of individuals to a common purpose. What do I mean by that? And what are the signs your cause or movement may be missing the boat?

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Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (2015)

January 02, 2016

Here they are -- the PhilanTopic posts you selected, by virtue of your clicks, as your favorite from the year just passed. Stay tuned in 2016 for more great content from our contributors. To join the lineup, drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org. And from all of us here at PND and the Foundation Center, have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Is Lack of Emotion Hurting Your Fundraising?

December 15, 2015

Mr.-SpockHave you ever wondered, after the fact, why you donated to a particular cause or organization? You hadn't planned on it. It wasn't something that had been on your radar. So why did you give?

The answer, in a lot of cases, is because it made you feel good. That's how most of us feel when we do something to help others. It's a feeling that has been well documented in studies and, recently, by the New York Times.

As a fundraising consultant, I'm often asked by nonprofit leaders how to raise money for causes or organizations that aren't perceived to be urgent or especially compelling? "We aren't curing cancer here, and we don't have any cute dogs to show people."

What I tell them is to go back to the real reasons people give. As I've said elsewhere, donors usually can be categorized as either emotional/"thoughtless" givers or "thoughtful" givers.

The key question, in many cases, is whether you've set yourself up for fundraising failure by inadvertently removing the emotion from your brand identity? Here are four mistakes organizations often make that can rob their brand of emotion and hobble their fundraising:

1. Mistakenly assume that every person is an expert. This is one of the most common mistakes made by nonprofit marketers and fundraisers – and the one that can do the most damage to your emotion-driven fundraising strategies. When promoting a cause to the public, be careful not to elevate the language, tone, and spirit of your messaging to the point the "ask" gets lost or pushed to the background. Donors like simple stories told well and are always eager to hear how their donations will benefit someone (or something) else.

2. Ignore the emotional appeal of their brand. It's always interesting when the strategists in charge of a high-profile brand decide to "evolve" it from ultra-corporate and unemotional to informal and emotion-centered. In an effort to connect with consumers, brands such as Old Spice, Dominos, Dos Equis, and IBM all have refashioned their advertising and brand messaging so as to appear more "human." Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for marketing agencies that work with nonprofits to ignore the fact that emotion is an absolutely essential component of any nonprofit brand. Branding that favors graphics over pictures of real people, polished video over real or raw footage, and designs that are "cool" rather than "hot" all tend to rob a brand of much-needed emotion – and will drag down your fundraising results.

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Weekend Link Roundup (December 5-6, 2015)

December 06, 2015

Rockefeller-center-christmas-tree-statueOur weekly round up of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

African Americans

The Campaign for Black Male Achievement has released the inaugural Black Male Achievement Index, a "first-of-its-kind report to track and communicate how cities' efforts across the country are advancing black male achievement."

Climate Change

The University of Massachusetts has joined the growing list of educational institutions that have announced they will divest themselves of investments in coal companies. WBUR's Zeninjor Enwemeka reports.

Can so-called green bonds be a game-changer in the fight against global warming. Rockefeller Foundation president Judith Rodin thinks so and explains in the Guardian how the foundation's Zero Gap work is helping to show the way forward.

On the Barr Foundation blog, Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a national coalition of investors, environmental organizations, and public interest groups working with companies to address sustainability issues, looks at some of the companies that are stepping up to address the climate change threat

One major American company, Google, has announced that it will nearly double the amount of renewable energy it uses to power its data centers, with six different wind and solar power projects scheduled to come online within the next two years in the U.S., Chile, and Sweden. Michael Liedtke reports for the Washington Post.

Fundraising

The San Diego chapter of the Alzheimer's Association has joined the New York chapter in splitting from the national federation, setting itself up as a purely locally operated organization. The San Diego Tribune's Bradley J. Fikes reports.

Giving

Is donor-driven charity dying? After noting on the Huffington Post's Impact blog that the latest numbers released by the World Giving Index show that while total giving is up, the number of individuals making those gifts is down by 5 percent, George McGraw, founder and executive director of digdeep.org, argues that nonprofits need to start developing new revenue models and offers a few suggestions.

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This Giving Season, Make Sure You Stand Out

November 30, 2015

Pencil_standing-outDo you feel like you’ve been on the receiving end of the same marketing advice for years? Or that the outdated marketing tactics promoted by fundraising blogs, websites, and experts isn't relevant to your fundraising strategy – and might actually be killing your results?

Here's one I hear pretty often: "If you show them the logo three times, they’ll remember it."

Whenever someone offers advice like this, my first impulse is to ask: "Do you have a study you can point me to that offers evidence in support of that claim?" As you might imagine, the conversation usually turns pretty quickly to other subjects.

So what does it really take for your organization's brand to resonate and be remembered by donors at this time of year?

Here are five things that will help:

1. Stand for something. In general, donors care more about the cause or issue you represent than your organization. Which means you need to boldly promote what it is your organization stands for and then empower your audiences to support that mission. Your messaging should use emotion, clever wordcraft, and compelling images to separate your organization from all the other organizations out there. And remember: You can't be everything to everyone. Or, as my dad used to say, If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing.

2. Communicate with your donors throughout the process, not just at the end. Through our research, we've discovered that donors want to know what organizations are doing with the resources donated to them. In other words, it's imperative that you help individual donors understand how you're using their donations – and that you don't wait twelve months to tell them. As soon as you receive a donation, tell the donor about the person or project his or her gift will benefit, and then make an effort to communicate on a regular basis the change his or her support for your organization is helping to create.

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Three Email Tactics to Boost Year-End Donations

November 07, 2015

Nonprofits make a huge chunk of their revenue during the last few weeks of the year – from Thanksgiving until December 31 at 11:59 p.m. So the fundraising strategies you employ during year-end should be rock solid. Careful and thoughtful planning is the key to seizing year-end opportunities.

Here are three email tactics that are relatively painless to implement:

1. Engage subscribers before asking for money. The Jane Goodall Institute asked me to vote for their nonprofit in Animal Planet's 2014 Matching Campaign (see email below). They invited me to show my support without pulling out my credit card. In fact, all they asked for was "just one click."

Goodall_appeal

They've engaged me for two reasons:

  • The barrier to entry is low (just one click).
  • The reward from that one click is high (the good feeling from supporting JGI).

By engaging me emotionally first, they increase the likelihood I'll donate (which I did).

And if you didn't already know it, let me remind you: Opens and clicks are gold!

Continue reading »

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (October 2015)

November 02, 2015

To quote the New York Post's Mike Vaccaro: "You are a New York Mets fan...and you know nothing is guaranteed." Congrats to the Kansas City Royals on a spectacular season and a truly memorable World Series victory, their first in thirty years. If you're a Mets fan...well, you don't have to wait that long to revisit some of the winning content we posted in October.

What did you read, watch, or listen to over the past month that had you cheering? Feel free to share in the comments section below, or drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Nonprofit Sponsorship: A Key Ingredient to Your Fundraising Recipe

October 31, 2015

Spices jpgOne of my leisure activities is grilling and smoking. For me, it all starts with the rub — a combination of ingredients I apply to beef, pork, poultry, or fish. Salt and pepper, garlic powder, paprika, brown sugar, and chili powder are all staples in my homemade rubs. I rarely use prepared rubs, as I like to experiment and discover for myself what works.

The same goes for my awareness-building campaigns: a bit of this, a pinch of that, a scoop of something else.

In past years, we used to call this the "media mix." Today, with the emergence (dominance?) of digital media, we've redefined this mix as multi- or cross-channel marketing. But at its core is what I have for many years described as a multi-arrow approach to marketing predicated on the idea that no single arrow hits the target every time. Rather, a mix of media/channels almost always is the right recipe if you hope to raise awareness and, ultimately, funds.

In the space where I spent about twenty years of my career — marketing and public relations for small and mid-size nonprofits — the organizations I typically worked with often had limited resources. So these multi-arrow options frequently were limited. Some options were eliminated early on, while others didn't even make the initial list of options. One such option frequently ignored was sponsorship.

Sponsorship as a Marketing Tool

While social media, advertising, promotions, and the like are on the short list of awareness-building channels, sponsorship usually isn't. This is because nonprofit organizations look at sponsorship almost always as an extension of fundraising: as a means to generate revenue. But there's the other side of sponsorship, the side that can expand an organization's reach to their audiences through:

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5 Reasons the Public Is Losing Interest in Your Cause

October 26, 2015

StethoscopeWhat can you do when interest in your cause begins to wane?

It's a scary question, and one that many fundraisers and nonprofit marketers will face at some point.

Perhaps you're already familiar with this scenario: Your fundraising results are okay, but the number of individual donors making gifts to your organization is beginning to decline. Your biggest donors may be giving a little more, but you're left to wonder why many others are giving less – or aren't giving at all.

This kind of situation is usually the result of bigger, deeper problems. So, before you rush to launch your next big campaign or event, take a step back and think long and hard about whether any of the things below could be causing you to lose traction when it comes to generating awareness for your cause.

1. You've become too focused on internal stakeholders. I've run into several nonprofit organizations that had cultivated a highly professional mentality over the years, causing leadership to take a blinkered approach to their organization's relationship with its stakeholders. Often their strategy involves putting highly experienced staff to work on problems with little input from the community. Unfortunately, an all-too-common outcome of this approach is the loss of external engagement, which is critical to your long-term sustainability.

If the number of closed-door meetings at your shop is going up while public engagement in your services is declining, it may be because you and your colleagues are shutting out the community you're supposed to be supporting. The solution: Always make sure your staff is looking beyond the walls of the organization and involving your constituents and outside stakeholders in its work. The more voices you allow to be heard around the table, the stronger your organization will be.

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Building a Strong Money-in-Politics Reform Movement

October 20, 2015

Democracy requires constant vigilance. Too often, however, our liberty is taken for granted. Unless we vehemently protect it, democracy will perish.

Teddy Roosevelt recognized this better than most. He was, of course, a complicated leader with a mixed legacy, but in his time he saw clearly what you and I see clearly today: that the ability of our elected officials to govern effectively is compromised by a rigged system, and that it is our responsibility to fix it when necessary.

Although the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United has further compromised the system, it is inaccurate to blame the status quo exclusively on the court's ruling. The massive, sprawling system of political money and influence-peddling that increasingly paralyzes Washington and state capitals has been mushrooming out of control for forty years.

The result is quietly but profoundly devastating. On the spectrum that exists between democracy and oligarchy, where would you place America? My friend Mark McKinnon, who many know as George W. Bush's former communications director, recently commented: "Our system is an oligarchy." And poll after poll show that Americans agree.

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Why Are We Obsessed With Social Media Fundraising?

October 07, 2015

Social_media-fundraisingWe all have guilty pleasures. Whether it's a favorite show on Bravo, the tabloid magazine we read in the checkout line at the grocery store, or that box of Girl Scouts cookies hidden in a desk drawer, there are certain things we become attached to and will not give up, on pain of death.

In fundraising, many of us share a guilty pleasure: social media fundraising.

We dream about it, discuss it with colleagues, and love reading articles and blog posts about it. Whether it's a platform highlighted in the latest issue of our favorite trade publication or a conference that always has at least one session on the topic, we just can't help ourselves.

Why? Why do we spend so much time obsessing about an activity that, in reality, doesn't generate all that much income – in fact, just 1 percent of total revenue from online donations?

The answer, I suspect, lies in our own use of social media, our often-overzealous boards, and misguided expectations.

You enjoy social media...

...and why shouldn't you? It's a great way to stay in touch with friends and family members, who entertain you with their pictures and videos, share things you like, and keep you informed of their career moves. As long as it's not abused, social media also provides a convenient, low-cost respite from the daily grind.

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Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (September 2015)

October 02, 2015

Although PhilanTopic was on vacation for a couple of weeks, our readers found lots to chew on, content-wise, in September, including new posts by Derrick Feldmann and Claire Axelrad, infographics from Bloomerang and the ALS Association, a timely post by Foundation Center president Brad Smith, and perennially popular posts by nonprofit executive director Susan Danish and fundraising consultant Richard Brewster. As for us? We'll always have Paris....

What have you read, watched, or listened to lately that warmed your baguette? Feel free to it share in the comments section below, or drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Four Key Indicators of Nonprofit Success

September 25, 2015

Headshot_richard_brewsterPhilanTopic is on vacation this week. While we're away, we'll be sharing some of our favorite posts from the last year or three. This post was originally published in September 2014. Enjoy.

Have you ever "ghost dialed" someone? You know, when the phone in your purse or pocket accidentally dials a number? Well, that recently happened to me with a board member of a human services nonprofit. We were surprised to be talking to each other but continued. The organization was well known in its community and had been successful, but our conversation ended up being pretty depressing: the nonprofit was in the process of shutting down.

I did some research and discovered that the organization's budget grew from $5 million to $10 million in just five years. Then a crisis came, they lost a major source of revenue, and there followed a painful five-year decline.

Why did this happen? A little more research and some reflection on others' experience suggests that four key conditions need to be met in order to survive a crisis like the loss of a major funder:

1. Sustainability isn't just about dollars. A nonprofit's programs need to be relevant today, not for situations or problems that are five or ten years in the past. The human services group above offered only housing, even as other agencies in the area began to provide services such as day care to low-income people, enabling them to keep their jobs (and pay the rent).

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