Working for a charity is pretty great because you get to help other people. Another great thing about working for a charity is you get to witness every kind of human generosity possible. These situations tend to give you a “glass is half full” perspective of the world. Clearly some of the stories that resonate best with people in general are when children start to think about and act in ways that are very generous. You have to think what kind of great parents are able to raise really generous children. Here is a quick video update on 5 year old Haylen’s efforts to raise money for children at Ronald McDonald House.
The video post explains why we use peer to peer fundraising in our Rock the House Run fundraising event.
Rock the House Run is one of our signature fundraising events. Once again my staff team has come up with a little stunt to help promote our pledge programs and our peer to peer fundraising.
I am not sure that organizational leaders for a charity should take themselves too seriously. We do quite serious work, but the ability to have a little bit of fun and even take a little bit of personal embarrassment can be character building. One of our MarComm staff members said to me recently “when you dyed your hair pink and shaved it bald to raise money for the House and the local chapter of Make a Wish-we knew we could probably get you to do almost anything.” Subsequently I was a willing participant in a fundraising stunt where I had to have a 5 km race with Ronald McDonald at our annual Rock the House Run. Both Ronald and I both raised pledges and the challenge was mainly geared at drawing attention and awareness to our new version of our peer to peer fundraising pledge pages. The stunt was a success as we did raise a little more incremental revenue for the event, but mostly because our pledge fundraisers were able to help us double the ROI for the event. The pledges also become the biggest source of fundraising for this event. In the past our sponsorships and our registrations had made up the majority of the revenue. Both sponsorships and registration went up that year but pledge donations still became the largest source of revenue.
Locally right now the price of oil is down, oil and gas is a major driver in our local economy. When the economy is depressed charitable organizations need to think creatively and be willing to try new things. For leaders of these organizations this is really a good time to personally use your influence to try newer and more innovative fundraising approaches. At this year’s Rock the House run I suppose I couldn’t just race Ronald again, watch the video below to find out what my team has cooked up for me this year.
Charity Water and the story of how they transformed their organization from a grass roots nonprofit to a power house that uses content and social media extremely proficiently to further their cause and impact ,has to be one of my favorite success stories. If you haven’t heard of Charity Water -search them on You Tube, that is right after you watch this video.
Younger donors want more out of their experience and their engagement with the causes and nonprofits they support.
Is your E-Newsletter generating Donations? If you have read any of the other posts on this blog you will know I am a big fan of social media. However I do not believe that social media alone will change our fundraising or revenue generating world. I do believe that effective social media usage is considered and utilized in concert with your website and your organizations e-newsletter. An article on NonProfit Tech for Good (Nonprofit Tech for Good, September, 2014) suggests:” Despite the rapid rise of social media, more online donations are made from a click in an e-newsletter than any other source. “This article goes on to illustrate that organizations should consider how using their e-newsletter in concert with other digital tools is likely a wise practice. I suppose a logical assumption for a charity is that despite the growth of social media that e-mail is still a powerful tool in an organizations fundraising arsenal. The article suggests: Furthermore, email still dominates among online adults of all ages and thanks to the rise of social media, e-newsletter growth in the nonprofit sector grew 14% in 2013, especially for small nonprofits. Thus, not only is the myth that social media replaces email false, but now it is also understood and proven that email use is increased by social media and that in fact the two tools are complimentary and increase the success of your online fundraising campaigns (Nonprofit Tech for Good, September,2014).
The article mentioned above lists 10 best practices for you e-newsletter but I am only going to comment on a few. The first practice mentioned relates to mobile access and design. For our organizations website a little over a year ago only nine percent of our website visitors were viewing our site from a mobile device- recently this percentage went up to about 25 percent. Currently the percentage that view our website from a mobile device is growing by about 1% per month (today closer to 30% of our visitors view us from a mobile device). For you newsletter it is likely a good assumption that a growing number of your readers are going to read the newsletter from the phone or tablet in the future. Nonprofit Tech for Good (September, 2014) describes;” 66% of emails are now opened either on a smartphone or tablet. For email to continue to be effective in your content and fundraising strategies, your nonprofit must prioritize mobile design.”
As I mentioned in the post https://mathiesonlarry.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/how-do-you-use-your-social-media-to-raise-money-for-your-charity-part-2/ the authors at Nonprofit Tech suggest making you content easy to share. They advise: ”Enable social sharing. Hosted e-newsletter services allow subscribers to share your entire e-newsletter to their social networks, but allowing subscribers to share individual articles is smart strategy. “ It makes a lot of sense to share the great work your organization is doing with all the stakeholders in your email list, but if a few of these individuals share your story with all their contacts- this clearly increases your reach. The article goes on to recommend 8 other best practices-so if you have a few moments I would recommend clicking on the link below in the references to read the rest of the post.
Nonprofit Tech for Good (2014) 10 e-Newsletter Best Practices for Nonprofits in Nonprofit Tech For
Good Sept 28 2014 as retrieved from: http://www.nptechforgood.com/2014/09/28/10-e-newsletter-best-practices-for-nonprofits/
This year our marketing/communications team wanted to participate in #GivingTuesday. More specifically they wanted to attempt an on-line campaign or appeal to raise funds which would primarily utilize our social media to promote the opportunity to give. According to Craig Newmark (2014) there was a 90% increase in online giving on #GivingTuesday between 2012 and 2013. It seems that charities might be on to something. Is it possible to leverage off of the awareness about the most commercial day in North America, Black Friday to make Dec 3rd the most philanthropic day in North America? Many nonprofit leaders think so. Newmark (2014) describes #GivingTuesday in the following manner;” #GivingTuesday is an online annual crowdfunding day that changes the conversation and the hype around Black Friday to raise money around the holidays.” In general when our staff proposed that we participate, I was all for it. On-line appeals and peer- to peer fundraising have continued to be more successful for us each year, and it seems that the more we try new things in this area, the more we learn about what resonates with our supporters.
“Crowdfunding raised an estimated $5.1B worldwide in 2013 and peer-to peer nonprofit fundraising is exploding (Newmark, 2014).” Changing media and the way we interact with that media is making approaches such as crowdfunding and peer to peer much more versatile and effective for charities. VanDeCarr (2014) describes;” It’s the new media paradigm: Passive TV viewers are being replaced by new generations of engaged web users who can easily comment on news stories, share videos on YouTube, and donate to Kickstarter campaigns to fund social-justice documentaries. And why wouldn’t they? It’s fun to create media and get involved in a cause.” I personally have been a big fan of our own P2P efforts. The first year we added a P2P component to our 5k/10K run our participants raised an extra $15,000 for the event. Last year at the same event our participants added $200,000 to our event total by asking their friends and family members to pledge them. It is rapidly becoming a tool that when added to one of our traditional fundraising events can significantly increase the events ROI. Having our participants enlist their own networks in supporting our cause allows people who we might not necessarily normally have reached to become aware of our mission as well as the fact that we need financial support. Some critics of P2P fundraising would suggest that someone who makes a pledge is not doing so because they are interested in your cause but they instead want to support your friend who is running your race. There may be some truth to this notion, however it affords a charity to at very least share their case for support and their mission to many new contacts and sure enough so of these contacts do become repeat supporters. Creating material or tools that help your most interested and engaged supporters to raise awareness and financial support for your charity couldn’t be a bad idea could it? It is however important to consider that to be effective in this type of fundraising an organization does need to invest in planning and some trial and error. Be prepared to learn from your efforts and trials and do not expect to swing for the fences on your first attempts. Scott Chisholm (retrieved from Newmark’s infographic) suggests;” Nonprofits who raise the most money via crowdfunding understand that online fundraising does not succeed by itself and they are thoughtful about the outreach and marketing activities they need to perform in order to drive long term success. They have engaged supporters that care deeply about the organization and its mission.” I think what Chisholm is trying to say is crowd fundraising or peer to peer fundraising efforts (or tools) don’t stand alone. You have to consider and plan for these campaigns in concert with your other visibility and awareness building strategies.
Newmark, C (2014) Cracking the crowdfunding code; Infographic as retrieved from:
VanDeCarr,P (2014) Reaching New Audiences Through Storytelling; Philanthropy.Com as retrieved from:
I don’t think too many charity leaders or Marcom professionals are going to suggest to you that social media will create overnight success for your organization. Most nonprofit professionals don’t think it will, but some of us are quick to give up when we aren’t getting overnight success. Josephson (2013) describes a complaint he sometimes hears:” We have a Facebook page but it’s just not working”. A common and very flawed statement. First the definition of “working” is often skewed but just having a page and thinking it will magically engage your donors, raise money AND connect with a younger demographic on its own, or with little effort, is ridiculous. Generally speaking in life, the more “free and easy” something is to get the harder you have to work and spend on it to get results out of it. Social media is similar. It is great because it is so accessible, easy to start and use and incredibly free. But that means you have to invest more intentionally in how you use it”
Given how busy we all are it is easy to invest some time in pushing information out to your followers and investing little to no time engaging them and interacting with them. Why is this important other than the obvious answer that it is not called “social media” for nothing? Developing relationships, engaging and building trust with your followers increases the likelihood that you will build trust with and engage their followers. Creedon (2012) describes :”… more than half of social media users (68 percent) say that they would “take time to learn more about a charity if they see a friend posting about it.” As leaders working or volunteering for a nonprofit this is music to our ears. To attract volunteers, to engage new first time donors we have to first get people interested in our cause and our organization. We must spend time both informing our followers what we do as well as in developing relationships with them. If we do they will be more likely to share our content and to describe to their networks how they are involved with us. As Creedon suggests when they do this well over half of their followers will in turn take time to learn about what we do.
In their blog post on Forbes, Ambassador and Clark (2014) describe how to turn this interest into raising more money for your favorite charity. There authors suggest recruiting a team of volunteers to help with online pledge fundraising. However recruiting a team is not sufficient -these authors suggest that you have to show them how to help you. They describe:” It’s critical to engage them regularly and provide them with guidelines about what to post and how to ask their audiences to support the cause. To increase engagement, try to make the process turnkey for them (Ambassador & Clark, 2014).”
This appears to be a critical factor “making the process turnkey”. Doesn’t it make sense the easier you make it for your followers to share your, content, your story and your pledge pages; the more likely they will be to share them. Additionally most of the followers on our social media may be interested in raising funds for us but they are not professional fundraisers. They way however be highly resourceful and fluent in their use of social media. Arming these followers with our stories which are interesting , compelling and easy to share makes them more effective in telling our story to their followers. Arming these same followers with sample posts and tweets to support our fundraising appeals or our peer to peer fundraising pages only makes them more effective in raising funds for us.
Josephson, B (2013) Can You Raise Money With Social Media? February 14, 2013 RE:Charity ; as retrieved from http://recharity.ca/can-you-raise-money-with-social-media/
Creedon ,A (2012) Infographic: Social Media’s Impact on Giving in 2012 https://nonprofitquarterly.org/policysocial-context/21507-infographic-social-medias-impact-on-giving-in-2012.html
Bruny, M..A & Clark ,D (2014) 5 Tips To Help You Raise More Money For Your Favorite Charity In 2014 Forbes as retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/dorieclark/2014/01/02/5-tips-to-help-you-raise-more-money-for-your-favorite-charity-in-2014/
If you want to read part one of this article follow this link: https://mathiesonlarry.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/does-your-social-media-raise-any-money-for-your-charity/
Every once in a while I go to a conference or a presentation in which the presenter suggests that charities are not really raising any money with or on social media. I find this viewpoint interesting, often these presenters provide data that shows charities are increasingly raising more and more money on their websites. Our supporters do not make donations on our twitter account but they may click a link they saw on one of our tweets which clicks through to a pledge page or our donate page on our website. In my mind in such a case our social media has been a part of the chain which has made it easy or accessible for someone to make a donation to us. Our social media has not directly been the vehicle in which the transaction took place, but it is part of the chain which ultimately made the donation probable or even convenient.
I suppose it is also another one of the tools we use to make our case of support. That is it is another way we inform people that we have a need and show them a convenient way they can act immediately to support us. Josephson (2013) elaborates :”Where do you get your news nowadays? Some combination of the TV, newspaper, newspaper websites, blogs and social media I would guess. Well that’s how donors are learning and engaging with organizations as well, through a variety of mediums and devices. So integrating your campaigns, communications and events with social media increases the chances of reaching your immediate audience as well as the opportunity to reach new people with the message as well.”
Social media is another tool, not unlike traditional media that can be used as one more method to share your story or your users stories. The benefit to social media -if used effectively- is that it is in alignment with the way people prefer to get information to assist them to make purchasing or donating decisions. We have become wary and distrustful of traditional advertising; however we trust and value the input and opinions of our friends and social networks. A good deal of this type of information is or can be obtained via our social media channels of choice. Josephson (2013) illustrates how this works:”Social media and the web should make it easier than ever to get testimonials from your donors who can share and advocate on your behalf. I love the sharing option after you give as when people give, openly, it encourages others to give. If someone you know trusts an organization you are much more likely to also trust that organization. Think of restaurant recommendations, movie reviews or Amazon purchases. We value what our peers, or people like us, value. So without those fancy algorithm’s or rating system get your donors to share about you easily and when they are most pumped on your cause (after a donation for example).”
If you are not convinced the social media might help your charity Creedon (2012) has an info graphic on Nonprofit Quarterly which might have you reconsidering. Creedon (2012) reports :”The average online donation through social media is increasing every year and has doubled in the last five years”. Currently most charities are likely raising a greater proportion of their revenue through more traditional fundraising methods than they are using social media or even their website alone. However the rate of growth of the total amount or the percentage of revenues raised online certainly is cause to pay attention to these tools and tactics. This infographic also identifies some interesting themes ,some of these themes directly relate activity on social media with online fundraising success. For example:” although 98 percent of nonprofits have a Facebook page, only one-third of those organizations are using the social network for soliciting individual donations, and even less (20 percent) use it for event fundraising. Although a lesser number of nonprofits surveyed (74 percent) use Twitter, the infographic indicates that those using Twitter in their fundraising campaigns were able to raise approximately ten times more online than those who didn’t use Twitter.”
I can’t imagine nonprofit leaders or fundraisers hearing that their appeal or campaign could have ten times the success by using a particular media or technique would not do everything they could to ensure that they used the tool or media. Like all other financial transactions that are day to day occurrences for each of us, most of us have an expectation that we are able to make these transactions online. A few years ago I paid my bills by mailing a cheque. Now if I need to use a cheque to make a payment I have to first remember where I keep my chequebook, because I use it so infrequently. I also don’t go inside my bank branch very often as my paycheque is directly deposited and most of my bills I pay online.
It may be too easy for charity leaders to ignore social media or online giving as proportionally it makes up a small percent of their charities total revenue. Given the rate of growth of online giving this would not seem wise. I deal with more than one bank, if any of these banks stopped improving the types of services they offer or how easy it is to use these services online- I would stop using that bank. It is quite likely that some of our donors if we do not constantly make it easier for them to donate to us online-they will move their support to charities who do. And if the growth of online donations doesn’t encourage you to jump on board, heed Birkwood’s (2014) words:” Major charities are reporting declining results from established fundraising methods such as street, direct mail, door-to-door and telephone fundraising, according to a new report from the charity think tank New Philanthropy Capital.” When old tricks begin to stop working it is definitely time to learn how to learn some new tricks.
Josephson, B(2013) Can You Raise Money With Social Media? February 14, 2013
RE:Charity ; as retrieved from http://recharity.ca/can-you-raise-money-with-social-media/
Creedon ,A (2012) Infographic: Social Media’s Impact on Giving in 2012
Birkwood, S (2014 Charities report declining results from established fundraising
methods in Third Sector as retrieved from: