Tag Archives: donors

home stretch for america’s giving contest

Let’s help the Sharing Foundation win the grand prize of $50,000 in ten days when this contest is over!

Here’s the scoop:

The Sharing Foundation helps Cambodian orphans in a multitude of fantastic ways.

The America’s Giving Challenge will give $50,000 to the four top fundraisers in January. That leaves ten days.

Michele Martin has set up the online giving machine.

Beth Kanter urges you to donate just $10 during the next 24 hours, because this contest rewards you for the number of individual donors — both over the course of the month and, suddenly, for TODAY.

We are winning.

sharingfoundation

You can give right here, right now.

I think this is a great cause, in addition to being a very interesting experiment in social networking for philanthropy.

I think The Sharing Foundation would do mountains of good for needy children with an extra 50 grand.

I think this is a terrific case study for online donation drives, micro-philanthropy, and social networking for positive change.

I am also very competitive.

So let’s WIN!

blogging to advance your core mission

Do you think your organization needs a blog? Or is it just a “someday” thing — a back-burner item that you feel just has to wait until you can get more on track with fulfilling your mission, becoming better known and better respected, building your donor base, getting the press to cover you, and driving attendance to your events?

And what, exactly, is it that you think blogs do?

Many organizations that would benefit from establishing and maintaining a blog are “putting it off” because they think of blogging as an “extra,” an additional, unnecessary piece of PR fluff that will take staff time away from the real, serious matters that are central to their mission.

A blog isn’t a bell or a whistle. A blog is a powerful, easily hefted tool that can achieve several goals at once. They are also cheap, easy, and incredibly low-tech.
This recent article in NPTech News (that’s nonprofit technology news for the uninitiated) spells out very clearly what the benefits of organizational blogging are.

My favorites:

1. Search engine optimization

Hosting a blog on your site can rapidly and vastly improve your search engine results. Why? Because Google (and other search engines) prize fresh content. Updating a blog takes almost zero technical skill and merely a basic business-writing level competency. For that, and ten minutes a day, you can greatly improve your page rank.

2. Expert in the Field

Don’t just be a children’s theater. Be an expert on children’s theater. Don’t just be an art gallery. Be a resource for the artist community. Don’t just sell your art online. Teach others about the process of creating art, about color theory, about outsider art. It’s not marketing – it’s sharing. The marketing is secondary, accidental — and far more effective because of that.

3. Awareness

    Be your own media source. Cover yourself, your mission, your services — relentlessly. Feature your volunteers, your sponsors, your staff, your members as much as humanly possible. Do all this in your own distinctive, human voice.

    4. Events

    Spend less on postage. Annoy your newsletter subscribers less. Maintain an interesting blog, with fresh content regularly served, and people will willingly visit and read your news and information. Hard to believe, I know, but it’s true.

    5. Fundraising

      Online donation is rising every year, and not by a little. Nonprofits of all sizes, missions, and demographics have successfully used “charity badges” to make it as easy as one or two clicks for supporters to donate online. Each blog post gives your readers a compelling reason to hit that Donate Now! button, and hit it hard.

      …and that’s only five out of the ten cited in the article.

      Do I think it’s a bit of headline-crafting hyperbole to say that “Every organization MUST have a blog?” Sure.

      But I also think that organizations would be harder pressed to make the case for not having a blog than for having one.

      For every core objective you have in your communications plan, there is a way that blogging can advance that objective.

      donor acquisition and the human element

      Mark Rovner recently commented on the state of online philanthropy, and what I found most interesting about his post was that he framed it as an issue of “donor acquisition.” This, to me, is the heart of the problem with how nonprofits are approaching — or not approaching — social media.

      The gist of his comments was that:

      1. Direct mail doesn’t work, and
      2. Soliciting donations online is no replacement for it.

      True story.

      The real issue, of course, is that people aren’t donors — they’re people. People like to give of themselves — donors can only give of their money.

      (This is my major problem with much of the CRM software out there — many programs insist on referring to individuals as “donors” or “accounts” and offer little flexibility to attach information about a person’s time spent volunteering, skill set offered in organizing, or any other pertinent, non-financial information. Fortunately, this is starting to change.)

      This culture shift, from direct mail to e-newsletter donation solicitation, to social media and (finally) to real online community building, is just a matter of technology forcing nonprofits to stop treating people like piggy banks, to stop ignoring the fact that they are routinely and profoundly alienating 98% of their communities (also known as their mailing lists) just to get a lousy 2% return on direct mail campaigns.

      I hate direct mail. Don’t you? Doesn’t everyone? So why do we keep sending it?

      Mark rightly points out that it has always been this way. He mentions that his mother gave more to her favorite nonprofit because she was more deeply engaged — as a regular volunteer. People have always preferred to be personally engaged in philanthropy, to be treated like people who have assets of value — like time, skills, expertise, warmth, empathy — that go far beyond their ability to write a check.

      The problem is, it takes time to engage people personally. It takes time to get to know a person, figure out what their unique skills and strengths are, and how they can be leveraged in the furthering of a mission statement.

      This is not, by the way, anything new. It’s what any good salesperson knows — relationships are the only thing that really matter. It’s not your pitch, your print collateral, or your wardrobe (although these help). The majority of your time has to be spent in creating, building, and sustaining relationships.

      Time is notably not something nonprofits tend to have a great deal of.

      Before we had the internet, before we had social media, it was virtually impossible to approach potential donors in a more human, personal way. No time. No way.

      But now we do have the internet. Now we do have social media. Now it is at least possible to reach lots of individuals as people and engage them in a human way, by showing your organization’s human face, using the tools of the new media.

      • You can write a blog, and share with your community the day-to-day joys and terrors of your organization’s work.
      • You can get involved in twitter, and meet people you never would have met otherwise, learn more about them, connect them to others and to your organization.
      • You can make short videos every now and then, sharing exciting news or just backstage chatter, and share them on YouTube, on your website, in your blog.
      • You can use all these tools to make it easier for people to support you in ways of their choosing, whether it’s volunteering, spreading the word, or spreading the wealth.

      Seth Godin, reflecting on Mark’s post, says:

      “The internet allows some organizations to embrace long-distance involvement. It lets charities flip the funnel, not through some simple hand waving, but by reorganizing around the idea of engagement online. It means opening yourself up to volunteers, encouraging them to network, to connect with each other, and yes, even to mutiny. It means giving every one of your professionals a blog and the freedom to use it. It means mixing it up with volunteers, so they have something truly at stake. This is understandably scary for many non-profits, but I’m not so sure you have a choice.” (My boldface.)

      I think he’s right.

      The problem is, people (“donors”) are already changing. They are already becoming more sophisticated about philanthropy, and the old ways just won’t reach them any more.

      Nonprofits have to change, because their lifeblood, the people who support them both financially and with their time, are already changing.