361 posts categorized "Fundraising"

Ten Years of Millennial Research: What I’d Do Differently

August 16, 2019

MillennialsIt's finally here — the final Millennial Impact Report, the culmination of a decade of research conducted by the Case Foundation and research teams I led into cause behaviors of the generation born between 1980 and 2000.

Any project of that magnitude — we interviewed more than 150,000 millennials, held hours and hours of focus groups, compiled and analyzed reams of data, and wrote volumes of narrative — begs the question: Would we do it all over again?

Absolutely — albeit with some tweaks based on what we've learned.

When we launched the project in 2008 — and over most of the next ten years — making assumptions about millennials seemed to be a favorite pastime of many of the people we interviewed or spoke to. We heard that millennials were lazy and more entitled than any  generation before them. They believed they deserved big salaries right out of college, and when reality hit they moved into their parents’ basement (still the most enduring cliché about young Americans in this age group).

Put it all together and you got the biggest assumption of all: there was no way millennials would want to get actively involved in causes.

When we set out to learn about millennials, it wasn't to prove (or disprove) our own assumptions; it was to better understand their real motivations and behaviors. So we designed the research process to be an ongoing journey of discovery. I wouldn't change a thing about that.

But in looking back at our journey, there are some things I wish we had explored further:

We ignored stereotypes but did we miss part of the picture? Although we all were aware of the often superficial things said and published about millennials (how could we not be?), and maybe disagreed (or agreed) with some of it, we did our best to ignore the most egregious assumptions and clichés. While the data we collected disproved most of those stereotypes, we know millennials heard and were paying attention to them; in fact, they often were repeated  back to us in surveys and focus groups when we asked millennials how they thought others perceived them. Looking back at some of those sessions, I can't help but wonder whether and how much millennial stereotypes actually helped influence millennials' approach to causes and cause-related work.

Here's an example: we discovered that many survey respondents and focus group participants believed millennials were careful to discuss issues and causes only with close friends and,  concerned that doing so could lead to tense conversations or nasty disagreements, were reluctant to share their opinions about such things with family or colleagues. Was that actual behavior they had observed, or were they simply recycling the stereotype of millennials as conflict-averse? And to what extent were non-millennials' perception of millennials influenced by exposure to such stereotypes? Today I not only wonder how much generational dynamics influenced the responses we collected, but how they might have affected the willingness of survey respondents and focus group participants to share their views — or "hear" the viewpoints of others.

We didn't examine how generations influence each other and they do. We looked at what was happening in the moment and not necessarily how generations had influenced each other to arrive at that moment. The reality, of course, is that every generation is affected by and affects other generations.

Boomers, for example, didn't one day decide that they needed to work crazy hours to get ahead; they grew up with parents and grandparents who themselves had grown up during the Depression and imbibed that earlier generation's work ethic.

Gen X, labeled cynical and unfocused at first by parents and older siblings who didn't understand them, grew up and became entrepreneurs and passionate volunteers committed to more causes than any generation before them.

It shouldn't come as a surprise, therefore, that millennials were slapped with unflattering labels right out of the gate by career-focused boomers and entrepreneurial Xers. Members of both of those generations worked hard for their successes — even as they created new work cultures and ideas about work-life balance that millennials took advantage of.

We tracked behaviors but didn't track who and what was influencing those behaviors. Nearly everyone possesses a certain degree of empathy, the very human impulse to help others. Whether we suppress this impulse or act on it often is a function of other aspects of — and people in — our lives. Over the ten years of the project, we inquired and tracked many cause-related behaviors, but we could have delved more deeply into the influences — or absence thereof — that drove them.

If we are to create real, meaningful social change, it is important we understand the influences that shape (and challenge) our actions and engagement. That's why the research we're involved in now, Cause and Social Influence, is looking beyond individual behavior into the who, what, how, and why of influence. I look forward to sharing our findings in October!

In truth, no generation has ever lived up to the initial public persona foisted on it by previous generations, and generations being critical of each other is nothing new. Expressions like "In my day, we had to [fill in the blank]" or "We were lucky to [fill in the blank]" will always be part of the inter-generational conversation because…well, that's just human nature.

But thanks to the research we've been doing, we are beginning to understand that these generational generalizations are detrimental to the conversations we need to have if we are to advance the kind of change we all want to see. Millennials were never too lazy or self-centered to be politically aware and active, to volunteer for and give to causes, or to passionately want to create change that helps others live healthier, happier, and more fulfilling lives. And now, as they enter the most productive years of their lives, we can only begin to imagine what that change will look like. I, for one, can't wait to find out.

I encourage you to download the final Millennial Impact Report, Understanding How Millennials Engage With Causes and Social Issues: Insights From 10 Years of Research Working in Partnership With Young Americans on Causes Today and in the Future. And to stay abreast of our new research on influences, follow us at causeandsocialinfluence and @causeinfluence.

Headshot_derrick_feldmann_2015Derrick Feldmann (@derrickfeldmann) is the author of Social Movements for Good: How Companies and Causes Create Viral Change, the founder of the Millennial Impact Project, and lead researcher at Cause and Social Influence.

A Tale of Two Donations

August 15, 2019

Charitable-giftEarlier this year, I made a $15 donation to a small nonprofit and also pledged a planned gift, potentially worth six figures, to a huge charity. Guess which organization did a better job of followup?

Prompted by one of those "Thanks to a generous donor, all donations made TODAY will be matched!" appeals, I made the $15 donation online. As with most online donations, within minutes of pressing the "Donate" button I received an acknowledgment of my support.

But what was truly astonishing was what happened over the next two weeks: not only did I receive a written thank-you personally signed by the executive director by regular mail, I also received a phone call from a staffer thanking me for my generosity.

The potential six-figure planned gift was made in person, in the charity's office. I was there for a meeting and learned by happenstance that every time the organization was mentioned in a will or named as a beneficiary of a retirement fund, an anonymous donor would make a substantial gift to the group. I had long admired the charity's work, had made numerous gifts in support of its efforts in the past, and years ago had designated a percentage of my retirement account, upon my death, to its cause. With pleasure, I signed the pledge card, knowing that my potential future gift would also have an immediate impact on the organization's bottom line. I was thanked in person for my gift and was told I'd be invited to an event for those who had committed to making similar gifts.

Months have passed since that day and I have yet to receive a written thank-you note — either via email or regular mail — for my pledge, nor any formal welcome to the organization's planned-giving society. No one has asked me to document the pledge or share the name of the investment company that manages my retirement fund. I have received no communiqués spelling out how my future gift will make a difference. Nor, for that matter, have I received any information about a donor event.

The organization that received my modest $15 donation raises less than $2 million annually, has a small staff, and, according to its financial filings, depends on the generosity of about a dozen individuals for approximately half of its funding. Given its size and relatively narrow donor base, one could argue that it needs to enthusiastically steward all donors and supporters who come its way.

By contrast, the second charity is many times larger, in both budget and staff headcount, and has an experienced, professional development office — which makes it all the more puzzling that the organization has made no effort to date to acknowledge my planned gift. After all, if the donor of such a gift does not feel valued and appreciated, there's nothing to prevent him or her from changing the named beneficiary of the gift.

To be clear: I am still committed to the mission of the second charity, and my primary motivation for making my pledge was to ensure its good work continues after I am gone — not because I need someone to say "thank you."

But in the ever-crowded marketplace for philanthropic dollars, a charity cannot assume that others will feel the same way.

According to Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018, there are at least two emerging trends that should worry leaders in the nonprofit sector: 1) the 1.6 percent year-over-year increase in dollars donated by individuals in 2018 was almost entirely driven by gifts of $1,000 or more, even as the number of people who gave fell by 4.5 percent and the number of new donors fell by a worrisome 7.3 percent; and 2) the nearly $40 billion total in charitable bequests in 2018 was essentially unchanged from the 2017 total (and down 2.3 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars) — despite rising mortality rates among the Silent Generation (those born before 1946) and the oldest boomers (those born after 1946).

Put simply, the data suggests that charities which ignore both ends of the giving spectrum — new, lower-level donors who might one day become bigger donors, as well as those who care enough about a cause or organization to include it in their estate plans — do so at their own peril.

My small charity of choice knows what means to have a donor-centric culture. As for the larger one, the jury is still out.       

Headshot_ellen_flax_PhilanTopicEllen Flax (www.ellenflax.com) served as the director of a public foundation and as a program officer and consultant at several large family foundations and now works as a philanthropy consultant.

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (July 2019)

August 02, 2019

It's August, and here on the East Coast the living is...steamy. Not to worry. Our most popular posts from July will cool you down and make you smarter....

Interested in contributing to PND or PhilanTopic? We'd love to hear from you. Drop us a note at Mitch.Nauufts@Candid.org.

Changing the Way Candid Serves You

July 23, 2019

ZBlog 2 Option 2Announcing Foundation Center and GuideStar had joined forces was just the beginning — now the real work of being Candid has started. We're busy combining operations on a number of fronts, and starting up new and exciting projects, too. I mentioned one of our most important initiatives in a previous post: the transition from our four regional library centers to our 400+ Funding Information Network (FIN) partner locations. We've received some thoughtful questions about what this evolution might mean for you.

What's happening to Candid's libraries?

We're not changing whom we serve, we're changing how we serve.

We've been around a long time, and over the years we've heard feedback from people who have struggled with our metro locations in terms of accessibility, hours, and parking fees and availability. Our current footprint of library locations in specific metro areas also locks our teams in to commitments behind the desk. Plus, now that we've become Candid, we have two offices in both the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, D.C.

ZBlog 4 Option 1By the end of 2019, our Bay Area and Washington, D.C., offices will have been combined so that we have one office each in Oakland and D.C., while our Atlanta and Cleveland teams will be operating out of co-working or partner sites. We will no longer provide in-person library services at these locations, but you will still be able to get all of your questions answered through in-person trainings with our partner network and online services (more on this below).

Our largest office and library in New York will continue to operate in its full current form (still providing library services and trainings). We'll also begin experimenting with local programming close to Williamsburg, Virginia, where a large contingency of Candid team members are based.

How will these changes affect my local nonprofit community?

We're focused on continued and increased engagement in your community. Candid's mission continues to be to connect people who want to change the world to the resources they need to do it — research, collaboration, and training are the ways we accomplish that mission.

Our transition away from providing direct in-person library services at our own offices will free up our teams to interact directly with audiences beyond our own four walls. Taking our D.C. metro area location as an example: three of our FIN partners are within a ten-mile radius of our current location, and all three are Metro accessible. Our D.C. team plans to offer three to five classes per month at local partners and other locations, and they also plan on holding monthly training events at the University of the District of Columbia.

What does the Funding Information Network do?

Over more than sixty years, we've built up our Funding Information Network, which is made up of more than 400 partner locations across the U.S. and around the world. In 2018, 24 new partners joined the network, and visitors at our partner sites executed more than half a million searches on Candid databases.

Screen Shot 2019-07-08 at 2.59.29 PMThese public libraries, universities, and resource centers will continue to offer access to Candid databases on-site, free to the public. They also host our low- or no-cost fundraising trainings, including advanced courses such as our Proposal Writing Boot Camp.

In 2018, our partner locations led 166 trainings. In addition to these programs, our own Candid staff hosted 80 programs at partner locations that were attended by more than 1,500 people. And next year, thanks to the transition away from our own four library centers, Candid staff will be able to offer even more programs at these locations. You can find the current training schedule at our GrantSpace calendar.

How do network partners support local nonprofits?

The first way is through access to, and on-site assistance with, Candid databases like Foundation Directory Online. One of our partner locations in Michigan told us, "It is wonderful to have this resource and the teaching tools at our disposal. People come into our library looking for information on how to write or search for grants all the time. Being able to point them to GrantSpace or schedule an orientation to the database helps our community."

Network partners undergo Candid certification each year to become experts at navigating our databases and other resources. In addition, Candid offers a substantial amount of training to our partners, including a deep dive into what Candid is and what changes they can expect. More than 98 percent of our Funding Information Network partners meet, if not exceed, the partnership standards we've set out.

ZBlog 4 Option 2We track these standards each year, and we are constantly seeking new ways to ensure that our partners have access to and are provided training on Candid resources. Our regional staff works directly with our partners and hosts monthly and quarterly calls to continue building their capacity to serve your needs on the ground. In addition, we host annual conferences and training sessions with our FIN partners to keep them up to date and prepared to assist you.

The second way our partners support local nonprofits is through trainings. A partner from Ohio said, "The first class I ever taught resulted in an individual writing a letter of introduction to a foundation not accepting applications, getting asked to apply, and receiving a $50,000 grant. I just spoke to a frequent database user who has almost solidified a $500,000 grant for her nonprofit which works to bring military personnel back from overseas."

One of our partners in Arkansas shared, "Last year, a person was at our location quite frequently for most of the year. Now that person has succeeded in establishing a new enterprise locally that assists homeless LGBTQ young adults in Central Arkansas."

Another partner, from Georgia, said, "[Being a Funding Information Network partner] enables us to meet our strategic goals of building the community and partnering with other organizations to bring needed programs and resources to the community. The classes we offer have led to partnerships with nonprofits."

Check the local calendar on grantspace.org to see upcoming community events and use our map tool to find partners near you.

What if I can't get to a partner location?

You can connect with us online, anywhere, anytime. We have developed robust direct online reference services at grantspace.org, where you can get customized help from a real Candid staffer who has the expertise to help with any of your fundraising or nonprofit questions. In 2018, our Online Librarian service addressed more than 135,000 questions. Engaging with us via our online reference service is free, and even easier than a visit — you don't need to find parking to ask us your quick or in-depth questions.

ZBlog 5 Option 2Grantspace.org also continues to be a comprehensive online learning site, with access to thousands of knowledge resources/tools, blogs, videos, and, of course, a vast calendar of in-person, live-online, and on-demand training programs available at your fingertips. In 2018, we delivered 116 webinars and self-paced elearning courses to nearly 20,000 participants.

We also continue to build out our eBooks collection, ensuring anytime, anywhere access to our online collection of information resources. An average of one hundred users a month are taking advantage of this free service.

Whom can I contact if I have more questions?

Please don't hesitate to reach out to any of our team members with questions or ideas:

Western region: Michele Ragland Dilworth
Northeastern region: Kim Buckner Patton
Southern region: Maria Azuri
Midwestern region: Teleangé Thomas

We are thrilled for the opportunity this new operating model presents Candid and are very excited to meet with more of you across the U.S. As always, you can connect with me directly to talk about how we can serve you better.

Zohra Zori is vice president for social sector outreach at Candid.

________

Learn more about what Candid can offer you today
Learn more about GrantSpace's live and on-demand trainings
Learn more about the Funding Information Network
Learn more about our eBooks lending program

 

Drive Commitment and Change With 'Moments'

July 18, 2019

Ripple-effectOrganizations are always on the lookout for strategies that can help them engage supporters or build their movements. When I interact with an organization or cause that is seeking to build a constituency, I like to ask two questions:

  1. What’s the next milestone you are working toward?
  2. What are you doing right now to increase your supporter base in advance of that milestone? 

A few definitions here will be helpful:

  • A milestone is an incremental achievement that leads to a "moment" within a movement. The milestone Is achieved by the community working together.
  • A moment is a one-time (or short-term) convergence of actions, informal or organized, that is fueled by cultural, political, and/or social events leading to a surge of individual participation and self-organizing by supporters.
  • An issue or cause is an existing state of affairs (societal, environmental, political) recognized by society as contrary to its values but that can be improved by people working together and taking advantage of community resources.

As a leader of a mission-driven organization, your work is to break new ground for your issue or cause. You’re the visionary always on the lookout for that movement-altering moment when public awareness, supporter engagement, and a broader narrative of progress come together to create progress.

Moments are incredibly powerful in the life of an issue or cause -- and for the supporters and people you serve. They’re the catalysts that drive your colleagues and supporters to commit themselves to the work every day, and they represent an enormous opportunity to strengthen your issue’s relevance to and resonance with both loyal and as-yet-unidentified supporters.

After I've gotten answers to my first two questions above, I usually move on to another set of questions. To design an effective moment, leaders of mission-driven organizations and movements need to get clarity on the following:

  1. Is your current supporter base loyal enough (and have you prepared them well enough) to help your issue by spreading a new narrative that brings others to the cause/movement?Who are the people who will be energized by your next moment, and how can you inspire them to be a voice and recruiter for your issue or cause?
  2. Typically, the only thing loyal and potential supporters have in common is an interest in your issue. And their awareness of what to do and how to do it, as well as their willingness to take action, almost always Is a function of their prior involvement with the issue or cause. This means you need to create different approaches for different audiences.

With that in mind, here are a couple of suggestions:

Maximize affinity and loyalty of current supporters

The goal here is to deepen the connection of your current supporters to your issue or cause by inspiring them to act. The idea, always, is action fuels commitment.

Step 1. Announce the upcoming milestone.

Step 2. Ask your current supporters for their help in reaching the milestone and share with them educational resources, actions they can take, and opportunities to develop DIY events and programs that will inspire and encourage others to support your issue/cause.

Step 3. Be sure to build in reporting and recognition mechanisms.

Here’s an example of an education-and-action pathway for your current supporters:

Table 1.1: Education-and-Action Pathway

Audience Goals Sample Actions Rationale
Current supporters Create a sense of belonging Supporter shares own "Why I believe" narrative about the issue Taking an action, especially if it involves sharing a personal story, makes a person feel more connected to an issue or cause

 

Increase understanding Supporter performs 3-4 CTAs that enhance his/her belief narrative (e.g., post on social media, attend event) The more actions a supporter takes, the deeper his/her understanding of the issue/cause

 

Inspire further action Supporter recruits peer/friend to issue/ cause and initiates conversation about it

 

Creates excitement and reinforces engagement when others respond positively to the same belief narrative

 

Table 1.2: Key Elements of Pathway

Action → Response → Action → Response →
Initiates pathway (e.g., sign a pledge or petition) Individual receives 3-5 automated emails with links to organized content (e.g., video, quiz, link to individualized achievement tracking) Individual completes call-to-action (e.g., “Bring one new person into the movement”) Those who complete CTA are publicly recognized and become part of the movement (e.g., showcase their picture/story)

 

Focus on new audiences already aligned with milestone

Recruiting new supporters to an issue/cause requires a different approach.

Step 1. Use targeted outreach to identify individuals who are already aligned with the upcoming milestone.

Step 2. Design an engagement program that inspires these micro-influencers to recruit their peers to the issue/cause. The program should incorporate a variety of tactics, from online display ads to face-to-face recruitment at programs and events that members of the targeted audience are likely to attend.

Step 3. Provide your micro-influencers with a digital environment (e.g., password-protected collection of online resources) specifically designed to engage them. Include an opt-in mechanism for those who want to pursue more intensive engagement.

Moments reinforce belief and drive active commitment

I’ve said this before: reinforcement of belief is a powerful factor in deepening an individual's involvement in an issue or cause and in creating a powerful sense of identity among like-minded people. Moments serve these purposes by demonstrably raising awareness of an issue among the public and inspiring some of them to act. By encouraging your supporters to achieve well-defined milestones, your organization will be advancing its issue or cause and helping to shape public discourse around the issue or cause.

But, remember: engaging supporters in your issue or cause should be your primary objective, while Increasing support for your organization should be a secondary goal. If supporters are passionate about an issue or cause, they will find -- and support -- the organizations that are most effective at advancing that issue or cause.

When organizations keep their issue or cause front and center and focus on moving it forward, moment by moment, good things inevitably follow.

Headshot_derrick_feldmann_2015Derrick Feldmann (@derrickfeldmann) is the author of Social Movements for Good: How Companies and Causes Create Viral Change, the founder of the Millennial Impact Project, and lead researcher at Cause and Social Influence.

An Engaged Board Is a Fundraising Machine 

July 03, 2019

Table-clipart-board-director-11Is your board pulling its weight in terms of fundraising? An active, engaged board can be a huge difference-maker for a nonprofit. We choose board members, after all, for their skills, connections, and potential to boost fundraising revenue — and they usually will, as long as we make an effort to encourage them to put those skills and connections to work.

Here are a few tips to help you do that:

Boost your board's fundraising capacity. You selected your board members for their knowledge, acumen, and abilities, but you still need to familiarize them with your brand, help them engage with your team, and make sure they're aware of your organizational needs and fundraising plans. The best way to do that is by boosting their engagement with staff and distributing tasks based on their specific interests and abilities.

Get and stay connected. If you're only seeing your board members during board meetings, you are missing out on much of what they have to offer. Be sure to invite board members to any community events you hold or workshops you host. An invitation to tour your facility or join you for an on-site visit where they can meet your volunteers and clients also is a good idea. Not only will it help them feel more connected to the organization, it will give them opportunities to network in the community as well as material for stories they can share in support of the organization.

While not every member of your board will be willing or able to take advantage of every invitation, many will, and doing so will help strengthen their rapport with each other and your work. Updating them on a regular basis about your work, your successes, and your ongoing funding needs also will help them feel like they are connected and an integral part of the overall effort.

Not everyone wants to ask for funds. You're likely to discover that some board members are far better at asking for donations or gifts on your behalf than others. Not everyone on your board has the same skill set (that's a good thing), and board members who are reluctant to solicit others for donations or gifts (whatever their reason) should be able to contribute in other ways. Remember the classic "Cycle of Fundraising." Being able to identify and cultivate potential patrons and supporters, thank current donors, and involve all your donors more deeply in your work are all key to successful board fundraising.

Stewardship improves your bottom line. If you're already bringing in plenty of funds but don't seem able to effectively support all the initiatives you've launched or dream about, the problem might lie in your inability to retain donors over time. One or more board members who focus on stewardship and helping donors feel connected to your organizational outcomes can go a long way to ensuring your organization’s sustainability without you needing to raise additional dollars from new donors in a neverending cycle. Both sides of the equation — effective fundraising and donor stewardship — ultimately drive your organization's ability to fulfill its mission.

Stock your board with experts. In the twenty-first century, you need to embrace and model diversity by putting people on the board of different ages, from different backgrounds (professional and personal), and with different expertise. I can't overstate how important this is to board fundraising, as it will give your organization more skills, connections, and perspectives to leverage and draw on. Chances are pretty good that the three lawyers you were considering for the board all share the same connections, while the advertising pro probably has a completely different group of colleagues and acquaintances to draw on when it comes to fundraising and networking.

Make it easy. If you know you're going to need your board's help on a specific campaign or for a specific event, you should let them know well in advance. If asking for board assistance is left to the last minute, your board members are unlikely to have enough time to help. (They're busy people, which is why they're on your board.) If your "ask" is tied to a specific need, project, or time of year, write up the main talking points for board members to refer to when they are talking with potential donors or supporters. You can also pre-draft an email that they can personalize to their own liking but that includes everything about your organization you'd like them to share with their networks. Lastly, images of the people and community you serve, figures and statistics that underscore your good work, and other talking points will make it easier for your board members to articulate exactly what its your organization does and why it's so important.

Your board plays — or should play — a critical role in your organization’s fundraising success. If it doesn't, get them engaged and actively working for you now. You’ll see a difference in your organization's capacity to serve its target population almost immediately. Good luck!

Headshot_jeb_bannerJeb Banner is the founder and CEO of Boardable, a nonprofit board management software provider, as well as two nonprofits, The Speak Easy and Musical Family Tree. He also serves as a board member of United Way of Central Indiana and ProAct Indy.

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (June 2018)

July 01, 2019

Is it us, or does chronological time seem to be accelerating? Before the first half of 2019 becomes a distant memory, take a few minutes to check out some of the most popular posts on the blog in June. And remember: You're not getting older, you're gaining wisdom.

Interested in contributing to PND or PhilanTopic? We'd love to hear from you. Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Creating a Donor Stewardship Plan: 3 Best Practices

June 17, 2019

Istockphoto-500174600-612x612A common fundraising mistake made by many nonprofits is to put so much emphasis on acquiring new donors that they forget to pay attention to the donors they already have.

Do not allow donor stewardship — the process by which an organization builds strong, healthy relationships with existing donors long after their initial donations have been received — to become an afterthought. Effective donor stewardship is all about turning first-time donors into loyal, recurring donors and is essential to keeping your donor retention rate where it should be.

Sounds simple. And it is, if you keep these best practices in mind as you sit down to develop a donor stewardship strategy:

  1. Understand and use your donor data effectively.
  2. Make it easy for your donors to leverage the impact of their gifts.
  3. Publicly thank your donors for all they do.

Let's take a closer look:

1. Understand and use your donor data. Donor data can be overwhelming and cause lots of people lots of stress if it isn't collected regularly and with an eye to how it is going to be used. But when done properly, data analytics can help you understand who your donors are, when they are most likely to give, and what kind of appeal they are most likely to respond to.

Your data should do three things:

  • Provide you with basic knowledge about your donors (e.g., name, age, location, marital status, profession, the things that excite them about your organization, other organizations they support, etc.)
  • Capture their giving/communications preferences (e.g., preferred donation amount/range, preferred giving frequency, preferred communications channels/frequency, etc.).
  • Give you an idea of their capacity to give (e.g., net worth)

(To learn more about donor analytics and the importance of using donor data properly, see our prievous post. And to learn more about what motivates giving behavior and how you can use that knowledge to increase your donor retention, check out this study from OneCause.)

Knowing who your donors are is the first step in cultivating strong, lasting donor relationships and allows you to meet them on their terms.

Continue reading »

The Essential Guide to Modernizing Your Fundraising

June 11, 2019

NonProfit-Online-FundraisingIf you've been feeling stuck with fundraising strategies that don't quite seem to cut it anymore, you're not alone. Just as our technologies require periodic updates, so, too, do our broader fundraising strategies.

Nonprofit organizations of all sizes generally run a tight ship. Insufficient budgets and high-intensity campaigns mean that most nonprofits like to stick with what has worked in the past. But a lot can change, relatively quickly, in the fundraising world.

For example, look at telethons or cold calling; they were once reliable fundraising tactics for organizations of all kinds. But today, millennial and Gen Z donors tend to not even bother answering calls from unknown numbers, and why should they? Non-urgent communication has almost completely shifted to email and text messaging.

The point? Your nonprofit's fundraising strategies have to keep pace with constantly changing technologies and donor preferences — even when the prospect of investing precious time and resources in new tools is enough to ruin your week.

At DNL OmniMedia, we help nonprofits make the most of their digital assets. Regardless of which part of your fundraising strategy could use an upgrade, there are always steps your organization can take to improve its ability to both raise money and engage donors. And sometimes the steps are simple.

Let's take a closer look at some of them.

Continue reading »

Giving Voice to Your Supporters

June 03, 2019

Giving_voiceIn their desire to give voice to the vulnerable and underserved in society, most cause-driven organizations fail to include their supporters in the equation. By failing to do so, they are denying others a golden opportunity to see themselves in the same light.

A few years ago, an agency for pregnant women/healthy newborns came to us for help with a fundraising campaign. The agency's volunteers visit pregnant women in their homes to teach them about prenatal care and how to take care of a newborn. The agency's typical supporter is someone who wants to give babies a healthy, safe start in life.

At the same time, the agency was committed to a program focused on fathers-to-be. Nowhere in the program materials was there recognition or an acknowledgment of how invested the agency's volunteers were in giving babies a healthy, safe start in life or, indeed, any mention of the volunteers who were lending their time and experience to reassure and help pregnant women who often have no one they can turn to for help.

Not surprisingly, the overall campaign was not as successful as it could have been. Potential supporters who might have seen themselves as "people who think every baby deserves a chance at a healthy beginning" instead heard "we are an organization that wants to help men be good fathers." Both sentiments are laudable, but only one truly resonated with the agency’s most important constituency.

Continue reading »

What's New at Candid (May 2019)

May 30, 2019

Candid logoSpring has been an exciting time here at Candid. Since Foundation Center and GuideStar joined forces, the two organizations have been busy with strategic planning, listening, and sharing, in addition to all the research, trainings, and campaigns we usually do. Here’s a recap of recent goings-on:

Projects Launched

  • We added new data and research to our Peace and Security Funding Index that highlight the diversity of funders and strategies focused on addressing issues of peace and security globally. For the past five years, Candid and the Peace and Security Funders Group have chronicled thousands of grants awarded by hundreds of peace and security funders, shedding light on who and what gets funded in the sector. You can learn more about that work here: peaceandsecurityindex.org.
  • Earlier this month, Candid, along with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, launched U.S. Household Disaster Giving in 2017 and 2018 Report, the first comprehensive study of household donations to disasters. The study provides new data on U.S. households' disaster giving and answers many of the questions most often asked about patterns, preferences, and practices related to individuals’ charitable giving for disaster relief efforts.

Data Spotlight

  • Since March, we've been streamlining the process for developing the FC 1000 research set, which we use to track year-over-year trends in philanthropic giving. As part of this work, we're introducing systematic quality assurance checks on the grants data and aiming for a close date (for the 2017 grants set) in early fall. As of April, we've identified ~650 funders (out of an eventual 1,000) for whom we have complete-year grants data, and we've tracked down and outsourced grants lists for a hundred more. For the remaining funders, we'll be looking to the IRS for their grants lists and reaching out directly via email over the coming months.
  • Approximately 70 percent of grantmaking for peace and security issues includes some type of population focus. In 2016, funding for children and youth and women and girls each accounted for 14 percent of total peace and security funding, while funding for refugees and migrants accounted for 8 percent. Learn more at: peaceandsecurityindex.org/populations.

In the News

What We're Excited About

  • Candid Midwest will launch Candid's Nonprofit Startup Assessment Tool (NPSAT) on June 13 in Kansas City, Missouri, with the help of a generous grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The event will include our new course, Is Starting a Nonprofit Right for You?, as well as a demonstration of NPSAT and an Open House featuring our Funding Information Partner, the Kansas City Public Library (central location).
  • Candid South has completed a lease agreement with CARE in Atlanta and will be relocating our staff there in order to better leverage our existing community partnerships. CARE is a global leader in the worldwide movement to end poverty and is known for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of all people. Learn more about Candid South's transition here.
  • Candid's other library resource centers, located in San Francisco, Cleveland, Ohio, and Washington, DC, will be redirecting their in-person library services to local community partners in 2019. On June 20, Candid West will bid adieu to our San Francisco library and office with a Farewell Open House from 5:00-7:00 p.m. Then, sometime after June 217, the Candid West team will be relocating to Oakland to join the remainder of our Bay Area team. You can read more about Candid's plans to expand its outreach into local communities here.
  • On May 22, Candid West officially launched its virtual peer learning circle, Setting Your Development House for Success. We're accepting more participants through the learning circle's next session on June 19, however. Help spread the word! To register, click here.
  • On May 30-31, Candid West will be collaborating with Funding Information Network partner John F. Kennedy University’' Sanford Institute of Philanthropy and local funders and county supervisors to present a two-day convening in East Contra Costa County. The event will focus on the importance of strategies related to achieving a fair and accurate census and will include a capacity-building needs assessment as well as fundraising training.
  • Candid West will once again partner with CCS Fundraising and the Commonwealth Club on June 20 to present "Giving USA: A National and Bay Area Perspective." Historically, this has been one of our best-attended programs, and this year's event promises more of the same.
  • In June, Candid Northeast New York will begin teaching our core curriculum on a monthly basis at our Brooklyn Public Library partner site and will also visit and do public trainings at partner locations in Greenwich, Connecticut; Westerly, Rhode Island; and in Queens and Brooklyn.
  • On June 5, Candid's DC office will lead a contract training on proposal writing at the Glenstone Museum as part of Glenstone's Emerging Museum Professionals program.
  • On June 6 , Candid South will launch its Nonprofit Consultant Cohort, a four-part series, in Atlanta. Sessions will cover how to establish your client criteria and issue area, how to develop a marketing strategy that generates client leads, determining fee structure, and creating a business plan and presentation.
  • On June 6, Candid and Hispanics in Philanthropy will release a new dashboard, LATINXFunders, which illustrates philanthropy’s support for Latinx populations across the U.S. and its territories over a five-year period, 2012-2017.

Upcoming Conferences and Events

It's the season for conferences! Our staff will be attending these upcoming events:

Services Spotlight

  • 40,874 new grants added to Foundation Maps in April, of which 2,034 were made to 1,376 organizations outside the U.S.
  • Foundation Directory Online updates its database daily. Recipient profiles in the database now total more than 800,000.
  • The first-ever meeting of the NYC Grant Professionals Group was held in March. Join us for the second gathering on Friday, June 7. The purpose of the group is to support a community of grant professionals committed to serving the nonprofit community in the New York City metro area. Network and learn from your fellow grant professionals in a warm, engaging setting. Candid will be the host of the group's meetings.
  • New data sharing partners: Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Ecstra Foundation, Urania C. Sherburne Trust, Helen and Ritter Shumway Foundation, McPherson County Community Foundation, Merancas Foundation, Inc., Permanent Endowment Fund of the Moody Memorial First United Methodist Church, and TCF Foundation. Tell your story through data so we can communicate philanthropy's contribution to making a better world — learn more about our eReporting program.
  • Candid's DC staff presented at the ECDC Refugee Resettlement Conference on May 1 to more than 200 participants from grassroots nonprofit groups across the country. With about forty attendees, our session on identifying prospective funders and using Candid resources was one of the best-attended breakout sessions at the conference.
  • Candid's DC staff also presented on Candid resources and the basics of proposal writing at the University of Maryland's Do Good Institute on May 5. Attendees were mostly graduate students from UMD's Nonprofit Management program and are future (or current) nonprofit staffers or social entrepreneurs.
  • Our lineup of online programs (webinars and self-paced e-learning courses) has attracted more than 10,000 registrations since the beginning of 2019, while over 5,000 people have attended our in-person classes since the beginning of the year.
  • In April, Candid Northeast New York hosted its third annual Nonprofit Formation Fundamentals Bootcamp, featuring a series of five weekly sessions on the essentials of starting a nonprofit organization. The series was produced in partnership with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and the Support Center, and each session reached more than seventy participants, making this year’s event the best-attended iteration of Nonprofit Formation Fundamentals yet.
  • In April, Candid Northeast New York taught a public webinar at our partner location in Andover, Massachusetts, and did staff training at our partner locations in Riverhead, Queens, and Brooklyn. And in May, we did public trainings in Albany, Saratoga Springs, Brooklyn, and Queens. Learn more about our Funding Information Network partners here.
  • New partners:
    • Gary and Mary West Foundation (a group project with our Knowledge Service team)
    • Handbid (new API client)
    • RelPro (new API and data customer)
    • Bloomberg Philanthropies (new API customer)

Content Published

If you found this update helpful, feel free to share it or shoot us an email! I’ll be back next month with another update.

Jen Bokoff is director of stakeholder engagement at Candid.

When It Comes to Reaching Donors, One Size Doesn’t Fit All

May 21, 2019

OnesizedoesnotfitallLet's say you’ve decided it’s time to buy a new pair of jeans. You’re thinking maybe skinny dark jeans or perhaps a light-wash high-rise boot cut. But when you walk in to your favorite store, the sales associate directs you to a table piled high with denim and a sign that reads: ONE SIZE FITS ALL. Um, no. The one-size-fits-all model may work with scarves, but it definitely does not work with blue jeans. Why? Because people’s body types are as diverse as their senses of style. (The Internet literally has hundreds of pages dedicated to breaking down the best style for your body type — seriously, there are algorithms for this stuff.) Your reaction to this abomination, this affront to your unique sense of style and individuality?

You walk out of the store.

Which is why, if you are attempting to engage all your donors in the same exact way, you’re going to see a lot more of them turning their back on your organization than buying what you’re selling.

In 1994, a team of social scientists conducted a study to determine what motivates an individual’s interest in and support for a nonprofit organization. Their research concluded that donors fall into seven distinct groups, which they dubbed "The Seven Faces of Philanthropy" (Maru, Karen & Prince, Russ Alan. Jossey-Bass 1994).

Astonishingly, we tracked down seven donors, one from each category, and asked them what they respond to when it comes to engagement.

Here's what we learned....

Continue reading »

Design Therapy for the Purpose-Driven Organization

May 08, 2019

Branding_Alpha Stock ImagesThe value of brand design for nonprofits or foundations — when done right — is not just in the outcome but in the process. Design is the act of (re)imagining how we see and communicate ideas. It's an opportunity to challenge assumptions, change minds, and test the status quo. Brand design, in particular, is rife with such opportunities and, of course, potential landmines. For organizations that are prepared to embark on the adventure, it can be transformative in unexpected ways. At its best, a brand redesign can reinforce and strengthen an organization's work, increase its engagement with internal and external audiences, and pave the way for real growth.

Clarity, Meet Beauty

Branding is the process of figuring out the clearest, truest manifestation of who you are as an organization through words, images, and graphics. A great brand elucidates the "who" (people and ethos) and the "why" (purpose) succinctly and clearly. And the process of getting to a great brand typically starts with a design firm gathering as much qualitative data as it can about your organization.

By data, I mean the perspectives of internal and external stakeholders; an operational values assessment; deep dives into strategic business goals, personality drivers, competitive landscape, and positioning; and audience identification. It's similar in these respects to how an organization would approach a strategic planning process.

All the insights are then distilled into a strategy that highlights key elements such as organizational personality, values, and market differentiation. This strategy guides the creation of new messaging, tagline, logo, website, and so on.

So, what's the big deal? It seems pretty straightforward.

Continue reading »

The Importance of Donor Data and How to Use It Effectively

April 12, 2019

Data-analysisFundraising professionals don't need to be told that donors are more likely to support an organization if they feel they understand the work the organization does and that you, the fundraiser, value their investment in that work.

The key question, then, is: How can I effectively communicate with and develop relationships with donors that improve the odds of my organization retaining and even growing their support? And it follows that one of the biggest challenges nonprofits face in strengthening their donor relationships is not being able to seeand understand their donor data.

Given everything you do as a fundraising professional for your organization, the prospect of adding more data gathering and analytics to your tasks surely is concerning. Unfortunately, it isn't a task you can afford to ignore. Indeed, the success of your nonprofit depends on your ability to engage with donor data.

The good news? There's no reason to feel overwhelmed by yet another item on your to-do list. Donor data can be managed and used efficiently — you just have to have a little knowledge and the right tools.

Donor data encompasses several different areas and, when used effectively, can accomplish a lot. But first, you need to ask yourself some basic questions:

  1. Why should I bother to collect donor data?
  2. What kind of data should I track and collect?
  3. How do I keep the data organized?
  4. What can I do with the data?

Why should I collect donor data? 

A big part of your job as a nonprofit development professional is cultivate prospective donors and maintain relationships with existing donors. You organize fundraising campaigns and look for opportunities for your nonprofit to engage with the community to raise awareness of your cause.

Every donor interaction or community engagement results in new data. Collecting and analyzing that data allows you to:

Continue reading »

Candid Deepens Commitment to Communities

April 09, 2019

In February 2019, Foundation Center and GuideStar joined forces to become Candid. Read our press release for more context on why we made this move.

Candid logoBringing Candid's vision to life means we’ll need to take a transformative approach to delivering our programs and services to nonprofits — on the ground and online. Some of Candid's many core assets include the resources that you have come to rely on from Foundation Center: our virtual and in-person trainings; Foundation Directory Online (FDO), our signature database for finding funding; Grantspace.org, our one-stop online portal for nonprofit professionals; and our Funding Information Network (FIN), which comprises of 400+ mission-aligned partners in the U.S. and across the globe providing on-the-ground support to strengthen their communities.

As Candid, we'll deepen our investment in these existing services. We'll double-down on our efforts to share the most up-to-date information on what it takes to build impact-ready, sustainable organizations. And as the world's largest source of information on nonprofit organizations, we'll be able to deliver to you the most up-to-date data and intelligence you need.

Through our network of FIN partners, we'll ensure that our services are available, far and wide. In all locations outside of our New York headquarters, we'll be making a shift from operating our own libraries to focusing on enhanced offerings for libraries and other community-based organizations through our FIN program. Pairing the focus on the FIN with direct delivery of trainings by our team via pop-up programs across our existing key markets — and regionally — will further enable us to deepen and widen accessibility to our resources to communities, small and large. Read on for more details.

What does this mean for Candid's library resource centers in the U.S.?

By the end of 2019, we will move our Atlanta and Cleveland teams into a shared space with partner organizations. We will combine our GuideStar and Foundation Center offices in San Francisco/Oakland and Washington, D.C. (Foundation Center staff will move into GuideStar locations in these cities). We will no longer provide in-person library services at these locations. Rather than asking you to come to us for in-person training or access to our fundraising tools, our team will be coming to a neighborhood near you: we’ve already scheduled pop-up visits and trainings at local FINs or other convenient places around the country and look forward to seeing you there.

Our public space in New York will continue to operate in its current form (still providing library services and trainings) and will eventually take on more of an incubator/laboratory role, enabling us to test new training programs, tweak, and systematize them so that we can deliver new content to the field. We'll also begin experimenting with local programming close to Williamsburg, Virginia, where a large contingency of Candid team members are based.

Note that Candid will continue providing direct online reference services at grantspace.org, and we'll further build out our eBooks collection, ensuring anytime, anywhere access to our online collection of information resources.

How will Candid's training programs change?

Short-term: They won't. Our team will continue delivering services and trainings to meet the needs of our community. We are committed to delivering all the great in-person programs that we're known for — from cohort learning circles to Proposal Writing Boot Camps, to larger annual convenings. The only difference is that we will host many of these programs out in the community rather than in our own offices.

Long-term: Candid's programs will only get better. Combining Foundation Center's rich data and research skills with the robust services provided by GuideStar will lead to an expanded — and more diverse — portfolio of offerings to you. 2019 will be a year of strategizing and planning for a future where we can better serve the community we care about most: you.

Who can you contact if you have more questions?

Please don't hesitate to reach out to any of our team members with questions or ideas:

Candid West (San Francisco): Michele Ragland Dilworth
Candid Northeast (New York + Washington, D.C.): Kim Buckner Patton
Candid South (Atlanta): Maria Azuri
Candid Midwest (Cleveland): Teleangé Thomas

We are thrilled for the opportunity this new operating model presents Candid; one in which we can more deliberately activate our time and talent to build the capacity of communities large and small, while we continue to deepen our programmatic impact in the cities where our staff are based. As always, you can connect with me directly to brainstorm on how we can serve you better.

Zohra Zori is vice president for social sector outreach at Candid.

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Learn more about what Candid can offer you today
Learn more about GrantSpace's live and on-demand trainings
Learn more about the Funding Information Network
Learn more about our eBooks lending program

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