GuideStar Blog

Are You Mindlessly Employing “Best Fundraising Practices?”

I’m starting to get annoyed.

I’m getting too many formulaic fundraising emails.

Maybe it’s partly my fault?

You see, I know I write all the time about “best practices.” And some of these annoying emails are employing these practices―just not in a “best” way, as that word is defined.


Gilded Giving 2018: Top-Heavy Philanthropy and Its Risks to the Independent Sector

What are the risks to the autonomy of the independent nonprofit sector—not to mention our democracy—when a growing amount of philanthropic power is held in fewer hands?

A new Institute for Policy Studies report, Gilded Giving 2018: Top-Heavy Philanthropy and Its Risks to the Independent Sector, takes a close look at the impact of increasing economic inequality on the philanthropic sector.

Co-authored by Chuck Collins, Josh Hoxie, and Helen Flannery of the Institute for Policy Studies, the report finds that our charitable sector is currently experiencing a transition from broad-based support across a wide range of donors to top-heavy philanthropy increasingly dominated by a small number of very wealthy individuals and foundations.


Ready! Fire! Aim?

In many ways, philanthropy and technology are dangerous yet exciting collaborators. Technological advancements are happening so rapidly today; what seemed impossible yesterday is today’s status quo. Combined with the generally optimistic, can-do attitude prevalent in philanthropy, you have the recipe for head-spinning change. Philanthropists want to believe the greatest problems facing us today are solvable. You are willing to take chances. You believe there are solutions.


Showing Gratitude to Donors

Expressing regular and authentic gratitude to the donors, volunteers (including board members), and others who support your organization’s mission is one of the most important things you can do.


Understanding Your Donors Is Crucial to Keeping Them

Understanding how donors feel about your organization and what role they want you to play in their lives is the starting point for your keeping them for years.

The key question you must answer is the one that resides subconsciously in every donor’s mind: How does this organization best enable me to make the difference I want to make?

How to uncover the answer to that question, and what resources you’ll need to do so, is the subject of my book, Retention Fundraising. Here I’ll focus on why answering the question is a bit trickier than you might imagine.


Building Successful Partnerships: How Nonprofits and Corporations Benefit

With the Internet at our fingertips, today’s consumers are becoming increasingly aware of where their money is going. This means that corporations need to consider their purpose beyond making money and increasing revenue for their shareholders. More companies are investing in CSR (corporate social responsibility) programs, which dedicate resources to delivering economic, social, and environmental benefits to all stakeholders. Luckily, this is something nonprofits can use to their advantage, because when you’re looking for a successful corporate partnership, you know they need you just as much as you need them. Finding that corporate partnership can be challenging, however. You need to consider what elements will make your organization an attractive nonprofit partner and how to position your nonprofit to build relationships.


Is Your Year-End Fundraising a Sprint or Part of the Long Game?

As a fundraiser, I’m keenly sensitive to how I act and am treated as a donor. I’ve shared before how last December, I joined the 60 percent of donors who become former donors to the charities they had been supporting. 


4 Easy Steps to Develop a Social Media Content Strategy for Your Nonprofit

In today’s mobile content-driven society, developing consistency with your social media strategy is vital to the success of your nonprofit. Each nonprofit organization should have a strong, visible presence on social media to reach its audience.


5 Best Practices to Strengthen Your Fundraising Cycle

Fundraising is one of the most important tasks that your nonprofit team undertakes year after year. Without the donations of your generous supporters, you wouldn’t be able to fund your projects and act as a champion for your cause.

Every nonprofit professional should know the fundraising cycle: identification, qualification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship. These five steps lay out the groundwork for building and maintaining strong donor relationships and achieving your fundraising goals.

But how can you make sure you’re optimizing each step of the process to ensure that you’re giving donors and members what they want?


Five Tips for Safe Charitable Giving This Holiday Season

As #GivingTuesday kick-starts the giving season, everywhere we look are worthy causes or people in need who tug at our heart- and purse-strings. This is a time of year when a lot of consumers naturally turn their attention to charitable giving. Maybe it’s the undercurrent of consumerism at this time of year that makes us want to give as much as we get or the recognition that some of us have so much while others have so little. Either way, there is a lot of good to be done, as well as a lot of charities who can benefit from your generosity.


Is Participating In #GivingTuesday Really Worth It For Nonprofits?

#GivingTuesday is only a few weeks away. While many nonprofits are ramping up their appeals for the occasion, others are wondering whether it’s worth making a fundraising push right after Thanksgiving and a month before the biggest fundraising days of the year. Smaller nonprofits may worry that their appeals will be crowded out by larger, more tech-savvy organizations, but those worries are misplaced. #GivingTuesday is an occasion that celebrates all charitable organizations, and preparing for the day isn’t as big a deal as it seems. Here’s why your nonprofit should get involved this #GivingTuesday.


“Trick or Treat?” Who’s Knocking on Your Nonprofit’s Door Looking for Data?

Many professional cyber thieves set their sights on big data platforms, where one doorway in gives them access to millions of individuals’ data. But, this doesn’t mean that nonprofits are off the hook just because they are the “little fish” in a big pond. In fact, because cyberattacks are often crimes of opportunity, nonprofits too often leave the door open for hackers, and have information that can be valuable in identity theft, nonprofits are major targets, too. Taking simple steps to prevent cybercrimes should be a high priority for every nonprofit. We’ve got some ideas to help your nonprofit take three easy steps to shore up its cybersecurity savvy.  


The Digital Shift: Transitioning Out of Traditional Marketing

The world today is rapidly changing, and never before has an adaptive marketing strategy been more necessary to succeed. An adaptive marketing strategy is one that is constantly changing based off relevant, accurate data in order to reach qualified individuals in the most effective ways. These types of strategies do not rely solely on one specific type of marketing. They are digitally based but use other forms of traditional advertising to enhance and reinforce the messaging seen online.


Top 6 Ways a Board Can Help Its CEO


Board members have a lot of responsibility to the organization they represent, to the community for which they are stewards of the nonprofit’s resources, and also to the organization’s CEO. The CEO’s success is tied closely to the support he or she receives from the board. How can individual board members support their CEO’s success? Below are the six ways I’ve found that have the greatest impact. 


Converting Volunteers to Donors: Missed Opportunity for Most Nonprofits

It is not uncommon for nonprofits to look at volunteers and monetary donors differently. Both provide tremendous value and allow an organization to reach goals and obtain its mission. Oftentimes nonprofits target these donor types differently and design different communication strategies/campaigns between the two groups. Diversifying targeting and campaigns may be beneficial for some organizations, but what happens when a supporter fits into both categories? New data is providing insights into the relationship between volunteers and financial donors. The results may surprise you.


5 Key Ways to Make Sure Your Digital Marketing Campaign Pays Off


“How much should I spend on my Facebook ads?”

“How much time should I spend on social media strategy?”

These are the most frequently asked questions I hear from nonprofits in my line of work as a digital marketer.


How to Use Peer-to-Peer Texting to Boost Your Nonprofit Campaign

Relationships are vital to nonprofits, be they with volunteers, stakeholders, or donors. And establishing and maintaining relationships is possible only through conversations that foster a sense of harmony and trust. But having these personalized conversations on a large scale can be overwhelming for nonprofits.


Designing Printed Charity Newsletters and How to Get the Reader’s Attention

Your newsletter for your charity is key for educational and informational reasons for your readers. It’s one of the main ways of keeping your followers up to date, and it’s also a great tool for raising awareness and gaining new support, too. Although many organizations have moved to online newsletters, many others have found that printed newsletters still work best with their audiences. 

But how are you going to make sure that people go out of their way to notice and pick up your newsletter?


Capital Campaigns and Motivation: Lessons from Microsoft and Wikipedia

Here’s an interesting fact: Microsoft, one of the largest software makers and most valuable companies in the world, introduced its digital multimedia encyclopedia Encarta in 1993. It fizzled in 2009. Wikipedia, a largely volunteer-based organization, introduced its web-based free-content encyclopedia in 2001. Today, it is the biggest and possibly best multi-lingual encyclopedia in the world.

This is a wonderful example of just how powerful volunteers can be, when they are motivated. The problem is, most of us in the nonprofit world do not know how to motivate our volunteers—specifically boards of directors—very well.


4 Instagram Post Ideas to Help Grow Awareness of Your Nonprofit

If your nonprofit is looking to spread the word about its mission, Instagram can be an amazingly powerful platform. Using visuals attracts people’s attention and encourages them to take action. While many nonprofits are finding it more and more difficult to get noticed on other social networks, there is huge potential on Instagram—you just need the right strategy in place.


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