Tag - network for good

Year End Fundraising and Social Media
Landmark Online Giving Study
Which is Better: More Donors or More $$$?
Free eBook: How to Raise a Lot More $ Now
Why Donors are Predictably Irrational
Kivi Leroux Miller's Nonprofit Marketing Guide
Wash Post Disses Causes on Facebook
Using All Of Our Media for Social Good

Year End Fundraising and Social Media

This month’s Social Good podcast focuses on the effect of social media on year-end fundraising in 2010.

My guests are Katya Andresen, the COO of Network for Good and Lena Shaw, social media marketing manager at the University of California at San Francisco.

Katya filled us in on the Online Giving Study conducted by Network for Good that, “More than 20% of all giving for the entire year occurs in the last 48 hours of the calendar year.” As Katya says on the podcast, almost a third of all giving happens in December. Katya has a terrific phrase for the late givers, she calls them, “Generous Procastinators.”

These statistics provide vivid reasons why online giving is so important; it is efficient and immediate and enables people to give when they want to the causes they admire.

Lena told an amazing story of the University’s partnership with Causes on Facebook had a year end campaign to raise money for a new children’s hospital. The campaign was called the “Challenge for Children” campaign. This is one of the most astonishing campaigns I’ve heard of using Causes; they were aiming to raise $100,000 and 1,000 new friends and raised over $1 million and over 165,000 friends! They created teams that were competing to raise the largest number of friends on Causes, not the largest donations, and you can see the result – they did both! You have to listen to Lena tell the story.

The challenge for Lena’s and others using social media for fundraising is how to engage these new friends and donors beyond the initial campaign. Stay tuned, that’s the rest of the story.


Landmark Online Giving Study

Network for Good and TrueSense Marketing released their long awaited study of online giving appropriately named The Online Giving Study. The study looked at data for about $400 million worth of giving across charitable websites, giving portals and social networks processed by Network for Good.

Here are a few of the key findings:

  • What we know about successful fundraising stays with the same with social media. A key passage of the report is, “Raising funds online is not about technology, any more than raising funds through the mail is about paper. It’s about the relationship between the nonprofit and the donor who wants to support a cause. People who give online are no different from other donors in that they expect a relationship— not simply a transaction—with the organization they support.”
  • Online relationships are often deeply affected by offline connections and cultivation.
  • December (people giving for tax purposes at the end of the year, literally the last days of the year) and disasters dominate the online giving landscape.

For me, the key data from the report is this chart:

Holy cow, look at how donors come and stay on organization’s websites for giving compared to portals (like Network for Good) and social networking sites (like Facebook)! Really, it’s not even close — I’m even wondering if the other channels are worth all of the effort, hoopla and eyeball fatigue they are creating.

The report emphasizes several times that donors are giving largely through an organization’s website because of the relationship they have with that organization. And if they give through another site, like a giving portal like Change.org, they give less and are not likely to give again.

These particular data raise two questions in my mind:

  1. Do these findings reinforce the skepticism that have had about the need for Jumo? (You can see some of the criticism here and here.) What is the point of yet another platform that takes away time and attention from individual organizations if we’re finding that donors are not deepening their relationships anywhere but on their own site.
  2. Does this make a group like charity:water, a born and bred Networked Nonprofit, look even more prescient building their own network, my charity:water, on their site as a place for action, advocacy and fundraising?

Which is Better: More Donors or More $$$?

The Minnesota Community Foundation has their second annual “Give to the Max Day” last week and once again it was a spectacular success.

The first giving day was last year. I had a chance to talk to the chief architect at the Minnesota Community Foundation, Jennifer Ford Reedy, a few months ago for my Social Good podcast for the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

It was a terrific example of a foundation forming partnerships with dozens of local nonprofits and a dozen other funders, creating an open source platform for giving (it was open source to enable and encourage other foundations to replicate the effort.) And at the end of the day, that first go round, the day generated 38,000 donors giving $14,000. I remember seeing those numbers on Beth’s blog and thinking that there had to be a typo. In the depths of the recession it was astounding to see that Minnesotans had given that much money to charitable causes. But, then, again, it’s Minnesotans, the most generous people in the world.

Jennifer posted a summary of this year’s event on the Council of Foundation’s blog last week. Jennifer outlined a key difference between this year’s event and last year’s. They decided this year to focus on increasing the number of donations not the size of the donations. They were successful in doing this, their bottom line this year was 42,000 donors pledging a total of $10 million.

As Jennifer writes, “we created an incentive system that rewards organizations for turnout.” The incentive were grand prizes of $20,000 and $10,000 to the nonprofits that raised the largest number of donors during the day.

This all raises a very interesting question: should nonprofits be aiming for more donors or more money?

Smart people like Kim Klein have been arguing for years that building a broad base of supporters is critical to long term sustainability for nonprofits.

But what if the needs are so great, winters in Minnesota are brutal after all, that losing $4 million hurts local people and communities in the most need right now?

I think part of the answer has to be what happens to these donors after they give on the big day? Blackbaud reports that donors who give online give more over time than their traditional counterparts. However, we reported that after the first America’s Giving Challenge sponsored by the Case Foundation that the winners didn’t know what to do with their online donors once they had them. That was three years ago, maybe we’re collectively getting better at learning how to build relationships with our online friends and turn them into long term donors now.

Maybe. At least I hope so! Katya, Kivi and Rebecca provide hopeful insights here on how to retain online donors.

This is, I suppose, the heart of our biggest challenge for the next few years; creating online friends, building stronger ties with a portion of them, asking them to give in real, authentic ways — and getting them to give again.


Free eBook: How to Raise a Lot More $ Now

Network for Good posted a free eBook last week called How to Raise a Lot More Money Now – 50 Great Ideas from 11 top Experts.

You have to fill out a form before you can download the book. But what you’ll get are great advice and tips from leading experts in social media for social change (full disclosure, our chapter from The Networked Nonprofit called From Friending to Funding.)

The authors include Jeff Brooks, Sarah Durham, Jocelyn Harmon, Kivi Leroux Miller, Mark Rovner, Nancy Schwartz, Chris Forbes, Alia McKee Scott and, of course, Katya Andresen.

This is a really fun and fast read packed with helpful tips. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Replace at least one sentence that’s about you with one that’s about your donor.
  • If you want my money, touch my heart. Learn what I struggle with and what makes me move. Walk a mile in my shoes.
  • Organize a crowd-sourced appeal. Invite donors to participate in drafting the “perfect fundraising appeal.”
  • Simplify your message for social media calls to action. If you can’t say it in 140 characters on Twitter, you’re not saying it well. Look to charity: water’s Twitter feed for inspiration.
  • When donors give online, ask them for an optional few words on why they gave (you can do this with Network for Good’s online DonateNow service). Fill your home page with their answers.

This is all great stuff in the perfect bite size pieces.


Why Donors are Predictably Irrational

There are a lot of webinars, conference calls, videos, blog posts competing for everyone’s eyeballs, even in July. But some events really are more worthy of our attention than others, and next week one of the more worthy ones is happening.

Network for Good is hosting a Nonprofit 911 webinar on July 20th at 1 pm Eastern with Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions and The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home.

Here is their write up of the event:

Join Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (February 2008) and The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home (June 2010), as he walks us through the simple experiments he’s used to study how people actually act in the marketplace, as opposed to how they should or would perform if they were completely rational.
His experiments examine a wide range of daily behaviors such as buying (or not), saving (or not), ordering food in restaurants, pain management, procrastination, dishonesty, and decision making under different emotional states. These interesting, amusing, and informative experiments demonstrate profound ideas that fly in the face of common wisdom.

Katya Andresen of Network for Good sent me an email about the event saying, “This is THE genius behind how people really think!” I always thought that Katya was the genuis who explained who donors think and act!  If she says Dan’s the real deal, then that’s good enough for me.

Register for this great event here: http://web.networkforgood.org/nonprofit-911-072010


Kivi Leroux Miller's Nonprofit Marketing Guide

I was very excited to receive my copy of Kivi Leroux Miller’s new book, The Nonprofit Marketing Guide.

I’ve long admired Kivi’s work, her simple, straightforward how-to advice for nonprofit marketers using social media. Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog is always a fantastic resource for practical and tactical tips and ideas.

The good news is that the book has the same approach.  Kivi opens the books with a straightforward pronouncement, “This book is meant to be part real-world survival guide and part nitty-gritty how-to  handbook for busy nonprofit marketers…” And what she says is exactly what you get.

The frustration I hear most often from nonprofit executives is, “I know I have to do this, I just don’t know how to get started.” Well, here’s how! The book is filled with clear, straightforward and concise advice for busy people charged with identifying, understanding and moving their audiences to action.  You can drop into any section of the book and get immediate, actionable steps for marketing your cause.

My favorite sections were Chapter 3 on listening, Chapter 7 on storytelling, and Chapter 10 on staying in touch with your community.

This book is exactly what busy nonprofit folks, particularly those working in smaller organizations who are already stretched frighteningly thin, need in order to roll their sleeves up and use social media to effectively build support for their causes and organizations. Kivi says, “My greatest hope for the book is that it really inspires and empowers nonprofit staff, volunteers, and board members to believe they can do amazing things with their marketing, no matter how little money or staff they have.”

Network for Good is hosting a free webinar on June 29th with Kivi to share her marketing advice to nonprofits. Or you can just go and buy the book right now!


Wash Post Disses Causes on Facebook

This morning’s Washington Post article, “To Nonprofits Seeking Cash, Facebook App Isn’t So Green”, takes some not-very-new shots at Causes, the friending and fundraising app on Facebook, while not providing any new insights. From the first sentence, “It seems foolproof: nonprofits using the power of the Internet to raise money through a clever Facebook application. ” my antenna went up because this article was entering Causes and Facebook through the wrong door; the dollar per donor door.

Let’s begin by deconstructing the article itself, which according to my friends at Network For Good, contains a number of inaccuracies.  Causes and Network for Good have a partnership to process donations made through Facebook.  One huge point of ongoing misinterpretation about the number of causes on Facebook requires clarification. There are around 250 thousand causes on the Causes platform. A cause does not have to be associated with a specific nonprofit, and most of these, over 200,00 aren’t. That leaves about 46,000 nonprofits that are connected to a cause. But, of these only 8,000 are using Network for Good, meaning they’ve created an official profile, can use their npo dashboard, and can raise money. Therefore in trying to determine the average size of donations, it is more accurate to use the 8,000 active fundraising efforts for nonprofits rather than the 176,000 used in the Post article. When the universe of causes that includes the Green on Sundays groups is included in the overall cause number,  divided by the total amount of dollars given resulting in an itty bitty average gift. This is enormously skewed by the number of inactive causes on FB or the number of causes who never intended to raise money using Causes.  So, according to Network for Good’s data, 8,000 causes have actively raised money using Causes for a total of $7.5 million — or an average total of donations to each cause of over $930.

The news here is that there isn’t any new news. This issue first surfaced last year.  Beth raised the question then of how much was being raised on Causes and what that means for fundraising via social networks.  Conor also raised similar questions and issues. Givvy took a look at the numbers last year and saw pluses and minuses. The only reason to run with this old news that I can think of is that the the recession has made fundraising more difficult this year,which in turn has made fundraisers more anxious (which I didn’t think was possible since they’re such an anxious bunch to begin with!) and Causes an easy target.

But, looking at the success and drawbacks of Causes to date is helpful in assessing where we are in the Connected Age with fundraising.  Here are a few thoughts about the importance and lessons of Causes to date:

1. Causes enables a lot of people to “support a cause.” In old thinking that meant only one thing: give us money.  But in connected thinking, it means that each one of us is can be more than an ATM for our causes.  Causes on FB enables us to tell our own world – distinct from the world –  about the issues, campaigns, orgs that they are passionate about. We can bring our networks of friends, our ingenuity, our passion, our time, our expertise to support causes.  It enables lots and lots of people to learn about causes and to share them with their friends easily, quickly and inexpensively.

2. Episodically, Causes has demonstrated the amazing power of distributed fundraising for causes.  Last year’s Giving Challenge sponsored by the Case Foundation is a perfect example. Beth and I were commissioned by the Foundation to assess the Challenge late last year. We found that the Causes Giving Challenge on Facebook raised a total of $571,686 from 25,795 unique donors for 3,936 causes. That’s an average gift of just over $20, a very respectable amount in the online direct mail world (if one feels compelled to measure things that way). What was important about the Giving Challenge experiment was that it showed what could happen through this mechanism when it was engaged and ignited in the right way; meaning a time limited competition in which the bar set by the Foundation wasn’t the dollars raised by each cause but the number of friends raised. The winners of the Giving Challenge raised significant sums (meaning tens of thousands of dollars, which is a lot of money to small orgs that won) and friends using Causes – most of whom were first time donors to their cause.

3. The Washington Post article calls Causes “largely ineffective.” Well, that depends on how one defines effectiveness. And this is one place where the Causes folks have some culpability because they have raised dollars raised as a critical measure of their application’s success. This is what I call malmeasurement, grabbing onto an easy data point and equating it to success whether it fits or not. Using dollars raised as a critical measure of success has allowed others to hammer Causes without much cause. Remember that the overwhelming number of Facebook users are still under 25 years old. This is very young for donors, and it is unreasonable to expect them to give the number and size gifts of their parents and grandparents.

4. There is a framing issue here. If Causes was judged on awareness only it would get an A+ – there are very few mechanisms that enable communities of people to  learn so much about causes so inexpensively.  So, let’s reframe: what if Causes was judged the number of people who know about a cause who didn’t know about it before; the number of people who increase their involvement with that cause by sharing information with friends about it, organizing an event, blogging and tweeting about it, and so on; the number of people who have self-organized an event for the cause. I’m sure there are other meausres, but you get the point, what measures we use to define success will utlimately define us and while dollars in might be easy to measure it’s not alwasy the best one to use.

This leaves us with is the spigot issue.  I was speaking at a conference last year when a development director asked, “How do I get money out of Facebook?”  Oy, or for my lovely readers from the midwest, Ugh! The broad public perception that Causes is a spigot that when turned on will start a gush of donations to causes needs to change. This does not mean that Causes can’t be useful for raising money, the Giving Challenge is proof of lots of money being raised by lots of activists and causes in a short amount of time.  But as Frogloop noted last year, “The problem is that the same challenges apply in any medium — you need to cut through the noise, develop a list of supporters, get those supporters to pay attention, and encourage those supporters to do something.” This takes work and constancy and resilience and patience – nothing qualities that journalists and online watchers are known for!  The bottom line here is that Causes isn’t just about raising money, it’s also about raising friends and awareness, and in the long run turning loose social ties into stronger ones for a cause may be more important than one-time donations of $10 and $20 dollars right now. Our rush to judge this application effective or ineffective over a very short time period with a primary user base of very young people is off base.


Using All Of Our Media for Social Good

Katya sent me this fantastic video produced by Network for Good yesterday:

What a fun video! It clearly demonstrates the need for a changed relationship between donors and orgs, it also demonstrates how easy and inexpensive it is for nonprofits to use videos to make their point very inexpensively and convincingly.

I then saw this interesting post from Niels Teunis who rightly reminds us that email continues to be the killer app (well, technically, it continues to be the killer app only for people over 30, but his point is important.) Niels closes his post with this great advice for communicating with donors via email:

  1. Ask the recipient to do one thing that day
  2. Show what that will accomplish
  3. Tell them what will happen next.

Online donors are not simply donors. They are part of a movement. They want to have a stake in the outcome and that is where the real challenge lies.

Let’s extend Niels model a bit further. The goal of using media for social change efforts isn’t to use latest gadgetry whenever possible, but to select the best tools available to us that fits the need. Niels’ point is that we can’t forget to use the tools that most people are comfortable with to connect with them in meaningful ways for social change. So, I’d throw the telephone into the mix, also.

When’s the last time your organization picked up the phone to thank your donors, not with an ask in mind, just a thanks for being a part of our community?  A few years ago, an organization I was on the board of did just that. Every board member took the names of ten donors and called them. The response was astounding. People were so happy to hear from us, to hear about the work that was going on, and most of all, they were delighted to know that we cared about them as people and not just ATM machines. And many of them, without being asked, wrote checks. Particularly for smaller agencies, now’s the time to pick up the phone and call your donors, tell them about the wonderful things you’re doing, make sure they’re OK, and remind each other that times are tough but the purpose of our work is to build strong relationships with people over time to support our communities.


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