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5 Approaches to Keep Your Donors Engaged

The following is a cross-post from Farra Trompeter, Vice President of Big Duck. The original post can be found here.


Three Trends for Nonprofits to Watch in 2013

The following is a cross-post by Sally Boucher, CFRE, Director of Research for WealthEngine and manager of WealthEngine Institute, a knowledge center that provides fundraising practitioners research, education, networking and analysis of fundraising strategy. You can read the original post here.


Actionable Ideas for Non-Traditional Community Foundation Strategies: Knight Foundation Media Learning Seminar 2013

Lori Larson

Follow-up to Right-Things Right-Now Marketing Webinar, Part II

Below is a follow-up by Nancy Schwartz, Speaker-Author-Strategist, GettingAttention.org, to three questions submitted by participants during the February 5, 2013, webinar “Right-Things Right-Now Marketing: Move People to Act Now With This One-Page Plan.” She answered additional questions in a blog post earlier. To view the presentation or listen to the recording of the webinar, please click here.


Creating a Killer Facebook Presence

The following is a guest post by Ritu Sharma, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Social Media for Nonprofits.


IRS Updates, February 2013: Type III Supporting Organizations, 990s for the 2012 Tax Year, and More

Reprinted from Exempt Organization Update


You Are Totally Sharing the #NonprofitLuv

And We Are Totally Inspired

We've always known that nonprofits are amazing. But seeing nonprofits in action is fantastic. This month, we've had that privilege as hundreds of you have participated in our Share the Love campaign.

For those of you who came in late, the Share the Love campaign asks people to post photos and images of their favorite nonprofits on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, using the hashtag #NONPROFITLUV and referencing @GuideStarUSA. And post they have! You can see some of the results in the Tumblr feed to the right, from our new Storify page below, and the Twitter feed at the bottom of our Share the Love page.

To all who have already participated, thank you. The campaign runs through the end of this month, so keep those images coming!


Communicating with Donors: Interview with Fundraiser Harvey McKinnon

Harvey McKinnon, author of The 11 Questions Every Donor Asks and the Answers All Donors Crave, recently spoke with his publisher about donor relations. GuideStar has published an excerpt from the book, and we're pleased to share Mr. McKinnon's additional thoughts with you.

One of the questions you cite in your book is "How will I be treated?" In your experience, are donors treated well today?

I'll let you judge for yourself. In a recent "mystery shopper test" we sent gifts to 28 hospitals on the same day. One organization sent back a warm thank you immediately. But the average response for the others was four weeks. And one hospital didn't respond with a thank you and receipt for 90-something days.

Ouch! Ninety days?

A long time, for sure. A client of ours has a great policy. As soon as they receive a gift of a thousand or more, they immediately call the donor. The person making the call has the highest-ranking title in the office that day. A few months ago, they received $10,000 in the mail. But there were no senior staff around—none. So the gift processor picked up the phone herself. She thanked the donor and learned that he'd sent $10,000 to five organizations, and her group was the first to thank him. To recognize their efficiency and how they treated him, he gave an additional stock gift of $122,000. I'm pretty sure the other four organizations don't know what they lost.

You talk a lot about storytelling in your book. You're convinced it's critical in fundraising, aren't you?

Yes. And for the simple reason that stories make needs come alive. You might call them the connective tissue. Right this minute in Niger there are a thousand starving children, you tell me. But that's a number, an abstraction to me. Tell me the story of Samira—so hungry she digs through the garbage for a fruit pit with pulp on it—and I begin to understand the desperation. I get emotionally connected. I start to visualize the suffering child and want to help.

Generally speaking, what about the solicitor matters most to the would-be donor?

Trust is absolutely essential. Without it, a gift is unlikely. Trust in and of itself may not be enough, but it's the critical component.

And what's not so important?

How smart you are. I know some brilliant people who aren't good person-to-person fundraisers. They don't connect well with people. They're not great at reading social cues and can't engage in the kind of conversation that motivates donors to part with their money. And then there are other fundraisers of average intelligence, who because of their charm, passion, and integrity raise a fortune.

Urgency is a word you hear a lot in fundraising, that donors need to feel their gift is needed NOW. That's easy to communicate when there's a disaster or when, for example, you're a health agency fighting a deadly disease. But that doesn't describe the mission of many organizations. What are they to do?

The first thing I'd say is tell a compelling story. If you speak of a child in need, a river that'll only be saved if action is taken now, the donor is more likely to understand the urgency. Another approach is to use deadlines or milestones. For instance, you can send a child such as Claire to a summer camp if you respond by May 31. Helpful, too, are specific dollar targets. If you can say that a $5,000 scholarship will help a student enroll in college and achieve their dreams, that adds urgency.

By economy of scale, a national organization, whether it's engaged in health or social welfare or youth development, is able to spend less per dollar on fundraising than a grassroots group or a start-up agency with perfectly noble goals. Is it really fair, then, for a potential donor to put a lot of emphasis on overhead?

I can understand why rating agencies, and even some donors, want a simple tool to evaluate organizations. It's partly because they have so many choices. But I'm convinced that looking only at overhead and ratios is a horrible metric on which to base your giving. What you want to look for is impact. Keep in mind that it's all too easy for organizations to allocate funds in a slightly dishonest way. Meaning money that should really be allocated to fundraising or overhead is conveniently counted in the "education category." This means that nonprofits that are more transparent and honest will be penalized. That’s wrong. I give to a number of organizations that spend practically all their money on overhead because I know they're going to grow, and I like what they're doing.

Fundraising through social media—right now is it real or much ado about not much?

For emergency campaigns it can be lucrative. Social media can also work reasonably well with peer-to-peer fundraising. The problem here, though, is that people aren't giving to the cause, which they frequently don't care about, they're giving to their friend. And they're difficult to convert to long-term donors. If you think the attrition rate for direct mail is bad, take a close look at donors who come in through social media. It's appalling.

Anything we can do about it?

Yes. Don't rely solely on the Internet to renew online donors. From our experience, and it's extensive, you have to try to convert these individuals using a combination of channels, including the mail and telephone.

Pick the most important of the 11 questions in your book and tell me why.

First a caveat. The most important question varies from donor to donor. There's virtually nothing that applies to 100 percent of any population. But if you forced me to choose one question that's most important to the majority of donors it would be: Will my gift make a difference? All else equal, if you can answer that question honestly, and compellingly, your chances of getting a gift soar.

And I assume since you discussed it last, the question "How will you measure results?" isn't as pressing for donors?

It's extremely important for a certain percentage of people—usually high-dollar donors. But many others simply trust that a well-known organization will use their money responsibly. But make no mistake about it. Organizations that fail to report back on their successes—essentially how a donor's gift was used—ultimately raise less money and lose more donors.

© 2013, Emerson & Church, Publishers

Harvey McKinnon is one of North America’s leading fundraising experts and president of the Vancouver/Toronto-based fundraising consultancy Harvey McKinnon Associates. In addition to The 11 Questions Every Donor Asks and the Answers All Donors Crave, his works include Hidden Gold (Taylor); the audio CD How Today's Rich Give (Jossey-Bass); Tiny Essentials of Monthly Committed Giving (White Lion Press); and (as co-author) the international bestseller The Power of Giving (Tarcher/Penguin), which was selected as an Amazon Best Book for 2005.


What's Ahead for Nonprofits? Trends to Watch

The following is a guest post by Claire Perkins, freelance writer about nonprofit organizations. You can read Claire's blog at http://www.perkdaily.com/.


Three Keys to Combating Nonprofit Fundraising Challenges: Part Two

The following is a guest post and second in a series by Sally Boucher, CFRE, Director of Research for WealthEngine and manager of WealthEngine Institute, a knowledge center that provides fundraising practitioners research, education, networking and analysis of fundraising strategy.


Surround Sound and Multimedia Approach to Mar-Comm Strategy

Below is a case study of one nonprofit's unqiue approach to marketing and communications (mar-comm), written by Jennifer Smith, Sr. Director Marketing, Communications & Special Programs, Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®). If your nonprofit is innovating a particular facet of your work and would like to use the GuideStar Blog as a mechanism to share tips and resources about this innovation with other nonprofit professionals, please email Lindsay Nichols at lnichols@guidestar.org.


The 2012 Charitable Giving Report

The following is a cross-post by Steve MacLaughlin, director of Blackbaud's Idea Lab. You can read the original post here.


Follow-up to Right-Things Right-Now Marketing Webinar

Below is a follow-up by Nancy Schwartz, Speaker-Author-Strategist, GettingAttention.org, to two questions submitted by participants during the February 5, 2013, webinar “Right-Things Right-Now Marketing: Move People to Act Now With This One-Page Plan.” Nancy will answer additional questions in a post next week. To view the presentation or listen to the recording of the webinar, please click here.


We Heart You

Happy Valentine’s Day! All month long we've been asking people to share photos or images representing their love for nonprofits on Twitter, Instagram, and/or Tumblr using the hashtag #NONPROFITLUV.


Three Keys to Combating Nonprofit Fundraising Challenges: Part One

The following is a guest post by Sally Boucher, CFRE, Director of Research for WealthEngine and manager of WealthEngine Institute, a knowledge center that provides fundraising practitioners research, education, networking and analysis of fundraising strategy.


Be Rich and Famous: Take the Major Gifts Challenge

The following is a cross-post by Amy Eisenstein, author, speaker, trainer, and owner of Tri Point Fundraising, a full-service consulting firm. You can find the original post here.


Let’s revisit the concept of failure-friendliness

The following is a cross-post by Deborah Elizabeth Finn, technology strategist and consultant for the nonprofit and philanthropic sector. You can read the original post here.


How to Engage Your Board Members—and Keep Them That Way

Are your board members truly engaged in the work of your organization? If your organization is like most, the answer is "yes" and "no." You're doing well if engaged describes half of your board members. But what about the other half?


Exempt Organizations 2012 Annual Report and 2013 Workplan: The IRS Says It's All About Form 990

The latest report on the activities and plans for the Exempt Organizations (EO) Division of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities section of the IRS sends a clear message to nonprofits, summarized succinctly on page 22:


Case Study: A Community Foundation Turns Nonprofit Data into Knowledge for Powerful Change

I am excited to share an example of community foundation sector leadership from one of our DonorEdge partners, Community Foundation of Central Florida.


How to Use Crowd-Funding to Raise Money for Your Non-Profit

The following is cross-post by Joe Garecht, founder of The Fundraising Authority. You can find the original post here.


Academia* gets GuideStar Premium for free

The following is by Erinn Andrews, GuideStar's senior director of nonprofit strategy.


Three Fundraising Trends of 2012

The following is a cross-post by Sarah Durham, principal and founder of Big Duck, a marketing and communications firm that works exclusively with nonprofits to help them raise money and increase visibility. You can find the original post here. This is the second in our series called A Quick Quack – focusing on best communications practices for nonprofits.


Love a nonprofit? Share the news!

February is here (can you believe it?), and many of us are already looking ahead to the 14th, better known as Valentine’s Day. It's the day when we show the people we care about just how we feel. And this Valentine's Day, as in previous years, we want to let nonprofits across the country know just how much we appreciate what they do. But this year, we say: why wait?