Employee Giving Campaigns

July 17, 2021 in Uncategorized

Ten tips to make them a success

Each year, approximately $5 billion is raised through employee giving. Employee giving campaigns require a fair amount of effort but usually result in big dividends. Employee giving is an excellent way to enhance employee engagement and establish a connection between the employee’s work and your organization’s mission. Research has shown that employees that give feel more positive towards their employer. It’s also a great fundraising initiative and can boost your overall income. Revenue growth is even more likely if you establish a robust monthly giving program that utilizes payroll deduction.

With that in mind, here are 10 tips that will help you establish a successful program:

Recruit a planning committee and find “champions” in key departments. These campaign representatives can be assigned to their department to help track employees and support the campaign on the ground.

Secure the support of leadership. Ask the board, senior leadership, and management-level employees to give first and strive for 100% participation. Personalize the messaging to your leadership team for a better response rate.

Host a kickoff event and make it high-energy and fun (when your workplace is back in person). Bring in a speaker that has been impacted by your mission to share their story. Offer lunch or other food if possible and consider giveaways for those who attend.

Have a set time frame for the campaign. A too-long campaign will lose steam, and a too-short campaign will likely miss some employees. 2-4 weeks is an excellent timeframe to consider.

Personalize your solicitations. Consider hand-delivering campaign materials to employees. It is an effective way to make sure employees receive personalized attention and tends to have better results. Personalize all mailings and emails and consider segmenting messages based on which department the employee works in.

Communicate effectively and consistently. A marketing adage says a message must be seen at least seven times before viewers take action. So, plan a communication campaign with multiple messages to your employees, using a mixed media approach including emails, personalized letters, and social media. Also, post flyers and posters around the office (again, when you are back in-person). Create short videos with testimonials from donors or those impacted by your mission and share through email or on TV monitors if that is an option.

Offer donor-only benefits or perks. For example, enter employee donors in a raffle for a free or preferred parking spot for a year. Another example is offering a branded umbrella or coffee cup to donors. Finally, if applicable, you can list employee donors on a large poster in the dining or public area of the organization.

Accept gifts through various methods. Encourage payroll deduction and be willing to accept credit cards, cash, checks, and if applicable, gifts of cashed-in PTO (paid time off).

Create a culture of philanthropy in the workplace. Make sure communication is year-round about giving – not just during the annual campaign. Introduce employee giving during new employee orientation and regularly during leadership meetings.

Celebrate success. Talk about how employees’ generosity has created an impact based on your mission. Showcase participation rates and dollar amount raised after the campaign ends. But be sure to put a positive spin on the story whether or not the amount raised, and participation goals were reached.

If you are interested in learning more about employee giving campaigns, reach out directly to Colleen Murphy at colleen@givingcollaborative to schedule an initial consultation and receive a free copy of our white paper on employee giving.

How to Create a Board Statement of Commitment

July 17, 2021 in Uncategorized

Does your nonprofit currently use a Statement of Commitment for your fundraising board members? If not, it’s time to introduce the idea of this brief, but important document to your governance or executive committee.

A board member Statement of Commitment (or agreement form) is a promise made by an incoming member when agreeing to serve on a nonprofit board. This document is also a way to approach the recruitment of new members in a transparent way so that all parties understand and agree to the general expectations. Keep in mind that there’s nothing legal about this – it’s simply an internal document.

Why use one?

  • Most nonprofit boards are skewed when it comes to how board members spend their time. Most spend too much time on governance, events, or administrative tasks and too little time on fundraising. To address this, a Statement of Commitment can make clear what the board’s priorities need to be.
  • This document clarifies the role of all (but particularly incoming) board members and removes all ambiguity as to what the expectations will be.
  • Helps you to recruit the “right” board members – those with a comfort level and focus on fundraising

What should it look like?

  • Keep it simple. The best statements or agreements are just one page long and include only high-level information.
  • This may seem obvious but keep the focus on fundraising as the primary responsibility of the board member and state this in the document. Again, your goal is transparency and clarity.
  • Make sure your tone reflects the values of your organization and keep the language positive.
  • Outline “give or get” expectations of each board member.
  • Consider adding a line about each board member bringing at least one major gift or planned gift suspect/prospect to the organization each year.
  • Set expectations of attendance at board meetings and events.
  • Mention that during times of a capital or comprehensive campaign, board members will be expected to participate at a leadership level.
  • Have signature lines for the incoming board member as well as the Chief Executive

Other tips:

  • At the end of someone’s term, have your governance or executive committee review the board member’s performance based on what is outlined in the Statement of Commitment.
  • Present the Statement of Commitment when you are meeting a prospective board member. Don’t ask that individual to sign the form just yet but show them the agreement so that they are clear on expectations and priorities from the start.
  • Using this document removes the awkwardness and timidity that many nonprofit staff members feel when approaching board members about fundraising. Of course, you appreciate board member’s other attributes but their ability to focus on fundraising (both with personal gifts and, just as importantly, with cultivating and soliciting others) needs to be the primary focus.
  • Delete names of unengaged or inactive contacts. Come up with a time frame that you feel is safe to consider a constituent unengaged – maybe 3 years, maybe 5 years, depending upon your organization. You can keep these names in a spreadsheet elsewhere but save your database for active constituents. Note: this doesn’t apply to past donors, just prospects or constituents that have never given.

Spring Cleaning

July 17, 2021 in Uncategorized

With spring right around the corner, this is the usual time that folks look at doing some spring cleaning at home and in the office. And as a fundraiser, you can do your own version of spring cleaning.

First, for some of us, Covid vaccines mean that we may be returning to offices in some manner sometime in the near future. It may be a good idea, if safety protocols are followed of course, to get back into your office space and do some organizing and, yes, cleaning. Or, if you are planning to remain in a remote work situation, focus your attention on your remote work space instead.

Having a cluttered workspace can lead to a negative impact on your stress and anxiety levels and ability to focus. According to Psychology Today, having clutter around you is distracting, makes it difficult to relax and creates feelings of guilt. De-cluttering and organizing doesn’t just apply to your desk or actual workspace, however – you also should take a look at your digital clutter. Do you have old files on your computer that are just taking up space? Do you have too many emails in your inbox? Take some time and really focus on what you need and don’t need anymore.

Once you have cleaned up your surroundings, use the advent of spring as an excuse to take a fresh look at your office structure, board activities and other fundraising activities. Consider the following to be good protocols each spring:

Audit your current structure

  • Is staffing where it needs to be? Are you over or under-staffed in any areas?
  • Are you maximizing everyone’s role and are staff members prioritizing the right things?
  • Leading into budget season, this is a great opportunity to examine your team and make sure you are where you need to be

Audit your Board

  • Work with your board chair or governance committee to review each board member’s performance according to your Statement of Commitment (and you should be using a Statement of Commitment)
  • Consider a spring-time board retreat, virtually for now but in-person in non-Covid times to re-energize and re-focus your board on your priorities

Clean out your prospect list

  • Spring is a perfect time to look closely at your prospect list and ensure that you are looking critically at each individual. It might be time to move some names off of your list and to make space for new prospects.
  • Consider doing a yearly spring screening of your prospects to see if anything has changed and to discover new prioritized individuals.

Clean up your database

  • Everyone knows that this is typically an on-going process for most non-profits. But use spring as a time to really pay attention to the state of your database.
  • Consider doing a NCOA (National Change of Address) screening, a service offered by the U.S. Postal Service.
  • This might be a great time to institute data entry rules for your organization. Come up with set protocols on how to enter information (think about things like abbreviations, apartment numbers, how phone numbers are entered, formal names vs nicknames)
  • Delete names of unengaged or inactive contacts. Come up with a time frame that you feel is safe to consider a constituent unengaged – maybe 3 years, maybe 5 years, depending upon your organization. You can keep these names in a spreadsheet elsewhere but save your database for active constituents. Note: this doesn’t apply to past donors, just prospects or constituents that have never given.

The Benefits of Hybrid Fundraising Events

April 6, 2021 in Uncategorized

Ever heard of a hybrid event? If you haven’t, you likely soon will. Hybrid special events are simply a combination of a traditional special event (think about your golf tournament, gala, 5k, etc.) with a virtual element. Choosing to host a hybrid event will allow your constituents to decide how to participate, based on their comfort level as we move out of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

How do you create a successful hybrid event?

The simple answer is that you will want to create virtual programming to correspond to what is happening at your in-person event. For example, if you are planning an in-person luncheon or gala, plan to incorporate entertainment that can be livestreamed or recorded to view virtually. Planning a virtual programming element will also allow you to leverage speakers or entertainers that are not physically located in the same area as you. Streaming a speaker from a distance is not only possible but can be very effective. You can also consider delivery meals to your virtual participants or offer gift cards so they can pick up their own meals. 

Nonprofit organizations have also had a lot of success with virtual auctions, both live and silent. Mobile bidding apps are popular now with attendees able to bid from their phones and stay on top of the process in real time, alongside those participants who are bidding in person using the same app. 

When considering golf tournaments or 5k’s, your organization needs to get more creative. Some organizations have offered hybrid golf tournaments that allow golfers to either participate on a given day with others in attendance (the traditional model) or they can choose a golf time within a set period of time, such as 7-10 days. A virtual 5k works in a similar manner with runners choosing to participate anytime (and usually anywhere) during a set period of time. If runners want to participate in the opportunity for prizes, tracking apps can be used to verify run times.

Benefits of Hybrid Events:

  • Hybrid events are a great opportunity to expand your constituent base. You may be able to reach potential donors that don’t want to commit to attending your event in person but are open to “sampling” your event by attending virtually. Also, there is no limitation on geography – attendees can live anywhere and still participate. If you are successful at engaging these individuals, many may become future in-person attendees or supporters of your cause. Also, with virtual attendees, there is no concern for capacity at your venue. 
  • Sponsors are supportive of hybrid events because they can also potentially reach more attendees. Additionally, your organization may be able to offer more creative and far-reaching sponsor opportunities, from livestream sponsors to in-person table sponsors. 

Women in Philanthropy

April 6, 2021 in Uncategorized

Women’s History Month celebrates the vital role women play in history and in our society today. It also presents an ideal opportunity to assess how your nonprofit is engaging women in your philanthropy programs. According to a recent article in MarketWatch, some 93% of high-net-worth women give to charity, compared to 87% of high-net-worth men. Women are also more likely to volunteer their time: 56% did so, compared to 41% of men.

An effective tool in cultivating and engaging women donors is to create a Women’s Giving Society for annual giving donors at a certain level.

 Why is this effective for your organization?

  • This is an excellent way to strengthen your pipeline for:
  1. Board members
  2. Major Gifts prospects
  3. Planned Giving prospects
  • Affinity giving groups are effective, in general, by strengthening the relationship that nonprofits have with their donors, making giving less transactional.
  • Giving groups lead to a higher level of engagement and loyalty which often translates to a higher level of giving. 

Why do women find value in these giving groups?

  • Women are more likely to seek out collaboration and like-mindedness when supporting the mission of a nonprofit. Melinda Gates pointed out during her remarks at a recent Women’s Philanthropy Institute Symposium, “This is our strength as women – we cooperate, we collaborate, and we innovate to amplify our voices and accelerate change.”
  • Affinity groups are an excellent way for women to network with like-minded individuals who are committed to similar values or goals.
  • Giving groups offer a social outlet for many women, even virtually, at the moment.

 Examples of Events and Benefits of a Women’s Giving Society:

  • Offer regular networking events (in person or, currently, offered virtually) or annual or semi-annual events. This could a luncheon, breakfast or perhaps a happy hour event. The idea is to provide a mechanism for members to spend time with each other
  • Attract other women leaders to be featured speakers at your event(s). This can provide additional value to being a part of the Society.
  • Regularly communicate with members through newsletters, emails or letters.
  • Create a Woman of the Year recognition, an individual that the Society honors each year.
  • If the Women’s Giving Society raises additional money for a particular cause (not all do this, but if you might structure yours in this way), be sure to share the outcome of that giving with members through photos and impact stories. 

Storytelling through Social Media

February 22, 2021 in Uncategorized

Social media is often an afterthought for nonprofits. But, when used effectively, it is an excellent way to enhance your organization’s mission and increase fundraising dollars.

Everyone understands the extensive reach of social media platforms. Worldwide, there are 3.78 billion social media users, a 5% increase from just one year ago. So, it’s logical to assume that your constituents are using social media. Notably, 29% of online donors say that social media is the communication tool that most inspires them to give. 

Sharing your mission and story through social media has never been easier. Storytelling is an effective way to generate interest and awareness of your nonprofit’s mission. Here are some best practices to consider:

  • Tell a specific story. Don’t paint broad strokes on your social media accounts. Profile a specific person (or animal or whatever applies) who has been positively impacted by your organization. This is because of the “Identifiable Victim Effect,” a psychological concept that indicates that people are more likely to donate to a cause when they are presented with a single “victim” than when presented with a group of “victims.”  
  • Emphasize Authenticity. Expressing your organization’s passion for what you do is an effective way to relate to your audience and can be contagious. But this needs to be done in an honest and transparent way and in a way that establishes trust. Be straightforward about your needs and lean on your case for support for ideas as to how to tell this story. 
  • Use video when possible. As we discovered during our recent podcast conversation with marketing expert Eric Brown, video is king on social media. Video has an engagement rate of 87% compared to static images, which has an engagement rate of just 14%. Don’t let video intimidate you, however. Your videos don’t need to be professional quality. Using your iPhone to shoot a quick video can lend itself to establishing authenticity and relatability. But do be sure that your lighting is good, and audio is clear.
  • Consistent Content. Create a content calendar for your organization and plan ahead. According to marketing experts, publishing about three pieces of content per week is ideal. This can be a short video, a quick graphic related to your cause or a story highlighting one of your donors or someone who has been impacted by your organization. Also, re-posting content from others is a great way to keep your audience engaged and continue to provide meaningful content.

When used effectively, your social media efforts
should do three things:
*Promote Awareness
*Share Impact
*Inspire Action

For more information on using social media, listen to our latest episode of Philantherapy, Tales from your Fundraising Therapist: https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-myurz-f8af77

Starting the New Year off strong.

February 22, 2021 in Uncategorized

It’s easy for fundraising professionals to get trapped in a winter, post-holiday blues mindset. The tax year has just ended, and the frenzy of year end stewardship, cultivation and solicitations is done. Besides, still dealing with the uncertainty of a global pandemic and its effects on our wellbeing.  

But it’s a new year, and you have the opportunity to hit the ground running. Consider this quick blog post the pep talk that you need today. Although 2020 was, for many, one of the most challenging years in memory, 2021 could be a great new beginning for your organization.

  • POSITIVITY: Start with a positive mindset. Starting strong and seeing early results will help keep your motivation high as you begin a new year. 
  • REFLECT: January is an excellent time to reflect and plan. Look back at last year and consider what challenges and opportunities you faced. Learn from mistakes and seize upon tactics that worked well. 
  • PLAN: Consider a mid-year staff retreat (if you are on a fiscal year) or a beginning of the year retreat (if you are on a calendar year). Review your goals and make adjustments as needed.
  • REACH OUT: While reflecting and planning and having retreats are critical to success, be sure you are continuing to solicit your donors with confidence. Your nonprofit’s mission continues to need funding, and your case for support should remain strong.  
  • BOARD ENERGY: Make sure your board stays energized through the winter months. Consider beginning your next board meeting with a heartfelt reminder of the impact that giving has on your nonprofit. Ask board members to share why they are involved with your organization. Be clear with board members about the goals you hope to achieve this year (including goals for board participation). 
  • STEWARD: Look at your stewardship efforts with donors – can you do something extra this month to show appreciation for your donors (especially those brand-new donors)?
  • CELEBRATE: Be sure to acknowledge and celebrate your end of year accomplishments and early calendar year wins with your staff. 

Although I joke about that this blog post is your “pep talk,” don’t underestimate the winter blues.  You have the chance to motivate yourself, your team, and your board to start strong and make 2021 the most successful fundraising year yet! 

What does “impact” mean to your nonprofit?

February 22, 2021 in Uncategorized

Did you know that the number one reason why high net worth donors give is to “make a difference?” It seems simple, right? Yet, many donors and prospects are not told, in a practical way, exactly how their gift has impacted your organization’s mission. 

If you are like many fundraisers, you have metrics to fulfill and are laser-focused on your annual goals. These are great qualities and necessary for success. Yet when you are so focused on soliciting, you sometimes forget the purpose of why you asked in the first place! If you have a dedicated Donor Relations or Stewardship staff member or team, it can make the sharing of impact much easier. For those of you who are fundraising and stewarding donors, sharing philanthropic impact needs to be a central part of your job!

Why is this important?

Nonprofits’ average donor retention rate is just 45.5%. Interestingly, larger organizations are faring better with the retention of donors, likely because they have the resources to focus on donor relations and stewardship. But, if you are working for a small to midsize nonprofit, even though we know you are wearing many hats, stewarding donors and sharing impact needs to be higher on your list of priorities. As all of us in the philanthropy world know, retaining donors costs far less than acquiring new donors.

So, HOW do you share impact stories with your donors?

  1. I’m going to emphasize one word here: SPECIFIC. Tell real stories. If you work with children, consider highlighting a particular child who has been impacted by gifts. If you work for an animal rights organization, share specific examples of animals who have benefitted from donor funding. Focus on one person or one instance at a time. It’s a better way for donors to feel connected to that person or that situation rather than telling stories with broad strokes.
  1. Be sure to be CONCISE AND FOCUS on what matters most in your storytelling. You want to maintain the attention of your audience, mainly depending upon your format. So, get your point across with as few words as possible.
  1. Use VISUALS AND PHOTOS to tell your story. Images grab attention better than a block of text. Images can also often express emotion better than text and can convey a message more quickly.
  1. Include NUMBERS AND DATA when it helps tell your story. These are measurable results, and this can resonate with donors. Often, sharing impact through data can be very useful and adds validity to your storytelling. This doesn’t mean you are only sharing how much money was raised; it means sharing how many more meals you could serve to the homeless or how many new students received scholarship money because of donor generosity.

You must KNOW your donors to do any of this effectively.
Survey them to find out what are the stories that resonate the most. Profile some of your top donors to get an even more in-depth perspective.

Where are you telling these stories?

  • Take advantage of SOCIAL MEDIA. Work to grow your following and figure out where your donors already are – are you getting more traction on Facebook or LinkedIn? With Social Media, visuals and photos are incredibly effective for telling stories and sharing quick impact moments. 
  • Use VIDEO when possible. Video allows you to show emotion and bring impact to life in a way that no other medium can offer. Personalize these videos when possible. Donors respond to a customized video from someone who has been impacted by their gifts. If it’s impossible to customize, merely showing donors through video how their gift has advanced your nonprofit’s mission is priceless. 
  • Your WEBSITE should provide an opportunity for you to tell stories and highlight impact. Make sure you have a page (or multiple pages) dedicated to this. Include video on this page as well. 
  • LETTERS/EMAILS/NOTES are all excellent ways to tell stories or highlight specific moments of impact. Your organization should consider a yearly or even quarterly newsletter that focuses on impact stories. Even when sending handwritten notes or letters, be sure to describe a small impact moment for that donor that resonates with them.

Go out there and share your stories!

What hat do you have on?

December 3, 2020 in Uncategorized

For people who have either grown up or worked with me over the years, know that one clothing accessory for me is a must, and that is a hat. Baseball cap, scully cap, wool cap – it doesn’t matter. I can still hear my Dad say, “Wear a hat, you will catch cold!”

Many of you that manage small shops find yourselves wearing multiple hats too! Just not for fun or comfort. If this is your situation, you are not alone in feeling the stress. Fundraising goals are not shrinking; metrics remain the same, yet, who is planning your (now) virtual event? Who is stewarding your donors? Who is managing your CRM? Who is managing that grant deadline that’s fast approaching? (If you haven’t figured it out yet  – It is you!) Things inevitably start to pile up. You spend most of your time putting out fires instead of proactively mapping out your organization’s fundraising success.

So, what can you do?

1.      Evaluate your priorities. What is the most significant return on investment on your to-do list? Deciding which tasks will have the most damaging consequences if they are not dealt with is a helpful way to decipher priorities. Use this as a wake-up call on what you consider “priorities” and force yourself to figure out alternate solutions.

2.      Work Smarter, not Harder. Take advantage of technology hacks and other ways to automate some of your work. For example, if you manage social media or regularly send emails to your constituents, set up your content in advance and have it automatically post or send.  Also, are you a multi-tasker? Multi-tasking is natural when you have a lot on your plate. However, research has shown that the brain is not built for multi-tasking and does not function optimally when working in this way. For optimal performance, it is best to focus solely on one task at a time (back to prioritizing!).

3.      Share services and resources. Consider partnering with another organization to share resources that may be breaking your budget or holding you back from hiring even a part-time staff member. Or, if you are part of a system or larger entity, push for the concept of sharing staff members to keep your budget in check. Get creative with what you need.

4.      Ask for help when needed. Sometimes, no matter how organized you are or how automated and how many services you share, you still need additional support to fulfill your organization’s mission. Evaluate the return on investment if you do receive that much-needed help. Sometimes presenting data can help you make your case. This leads to…

5.      Outsource. It may be cost-prohibitive for your organization to hire an additional FTE to accomplish your goals. But, outsourcing talent on a project basis may make more sense. It is for a limited time, there are no health or retirement benefits to consider, and if you are unsatisfied with the results, it’s straightforward to make a change.

6.      Finally, embrace all the new skills you’ve acquired! Never thought you’d learn how to design marketing materials or understand the intricacies of data analytics? Now you have a whole new set of skills that will potentially serve you well in the future!

Don’t forget to bundle up! It can be cold out there!

You are adding another arrow to your quiver!

December 3, 2020 in Uncategorized

If you are like most fundraisers, you have used donor and prospect demographic data like age, gender, and occupation to segment your messaging. Yet, while demographics are useful, they do not tell the whole story.

If you have never heard of psychographics, it’s time to become familiar with this concept.

The definition of psychographics, according to Dictionary.com, is The use of demographics to determine the attitudes and tastes of a particular segment of a population, as in marketing studies.

By its very definition, you can understand the importance of psychographics on the fundraising world. The better you know your donor or prospective donor, the better you can appeal to them in the way they will best respond to.

Are you trying to figure out which direction to take for your annual appeal letter? Are you developing a social media campaign to highlight your mission to prospective donors? Or maybe just preparing for meetings with a major gift donor. Getting to know and understand your audience gives you a distinct advantage to correctly connecting with what matters most to them. You need to understand your donors’ beliefs, what keeps them awake at night, what creates excitement or motivates them. Fundraisers have always used demographic data like age, gender, and occupation to segment messaging. But, demographics do not tell the whole story.

Psychographics has been used for years by marketing and research companies, and there is a reason for this. Understanding HOW people make buying decisions within a specific industry helps businesses create content that resonates with them. The same concept can be used for nonprofits trying to advance their mission.

Where to begin?

There are three main types of psychographic data points that are typically prioritized:

  • Interests and Affinities
  • Activities
  • Opinions

How do you gather this information?

  • Research your donors – read complaint letters and emails; read both positive and negative comments on your social media posts. Learn about what is bothering your constituents as much as what makes them happy.
  • Consider conducting focus groups with crucial donor groups.
  • Survey large groups of constituents to see what is important to them.

Once you have gathered psychographic information, what should you do with it?

  • Create more emotionally compelling content and impact stories
  • Create a more targeted and specific Case for Support to be shared with donors
  • Reinforce your organization’s values by staying “on brand” with all of your marketing and outreach efforts
  • Create more relevant annual appeals and email solicitations
  • Use the information you have gathered for better segmented messaging based on what your donors are interested in or believe in rather than using things like age or gender.

Stay relevant!