Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sometimes Click-Throughs Don't Matter. Here's How.

It turns out that many people share content online without actually clicking the links and reading the stories. If you're creating content that illustrates what your nonprofit organization does, it can be very frustrating to see people sharing posts without actually getting the information you want to impart to them.

But sometimes, it's okay for them to pass it along without reading it. The key is to make the post itself get the message across so that even if they don't click to get the whole story, you've still managed to raise awareness for your cause. Raise awareness, and eventually they'll click to support your cause.

Including numbers that drive home the problem your organization works to remedy is a great way to raise awareness.

Double points if you can express the numbers or the sentiment visually.

How do you create posts that don't need to be clicked to get the point?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Want more Facebook activity for your nonprofit? Break the "lonely cycle"

We're having fun without you.

There is some evidence that looking at Facebook actually makes people feel lonely, rather than
connected. Seeing all those photos of people in groups having fun without you, can make a person feel left out and lesser than your friends. That's kind of sad, but nonprofits can take advantage of this information.

Make it a point to craft posts that feel inclusive. Ask people for their thoughts. Remind your followers that you can't do it without them. Try to make it feel as personal as possible.

Responding to comments on your posts also helps people feel included. You can tag people by name when you use the Reply button on Facebook comments. This lets them know that you responded. When you respond, try to ask them further questions to engage them in conversation.

I won't lie- it takes a lot of time to make social media personal. But in a landscape where the technology we use makes us feel disconnected, making it personal can make a big difference in developing great relationships with supporters.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Replacing Older Donors with Millennials: 3 Data-Driven Tips

The HuTerra Corps connects young adults with important causes in the community. Sponsor a Corps member to make a difference in the next generation!
As the older generation of donors ages out of the giving pool, nonprofits struggle to replace them with donors from younger generations. Studies have been done to help organizations learn how best to engage younger generations in giving, with recent emphasis put on the millennial generation. That's a lot of data to parse. Here are a few tips to get you started engaging the millennial generation today:

1. Put resources into social media. Millennials like to share information with a click. They can't do that if you only put information in paper format. In fact, they're likely to throw your mailer in the recycling bin without even opening it. Dedicate people and resources to engaging this generation online, every day.

2. It's not about your organization, it's about the cause. Younger donors give to support a cause, not an organization. Whereas older generations eagerly became lifelong champions of organizations they believe in, millennials don't care so much about the organization as they do the need you are addressing. Focus on the need you address, not how you address it.

3. Use a lot of photos and accompanying messages that explain how donations are helping. People like photos because they provide an easy way to absorb messaging. Adding text that explains how the individual can makes a difference helps them see themselves as part of that picture.

What are some easy ways your nonprofit connects with younger supporters?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Five Reasons to Start Using Project-Specific Online Fundraising

Women for Habitat for Humanity of Metro Louisville (WfHML) is in the process of adding an online giving function to their annual Mother's Day fundraiser. We thought we'd share the top five reasons that adding online giving to a fundraiser that is historically all done via mailer is a great decision, especially for committees that raise funds for projects. WfHML is a small committee, but you can follow them on Facebook to see how they are modernizing the way they fundraise.

Top five reasons to start using online fundraising, even for direct mail fundraisers:

1. It's easier. Use email and social media to support your fundraising efforts. You can still send direct mail to your supporters, but adding an online giving component makes it easier for many to give (especially Gen Xers and Millennials who prefer the ease of giving online).

2. It's less expensive. Online giving access can offset the cost of direct mail. Segment your donor list and only send direct mail to those who you don't have email addresses for, and those you know prefer to give by mail. For all the rest, send email and leverage social media to bring in donations. You'll save on mailers, and won't lose income to fees if you choose the right fundraising platform. That all adds up to less expense and more money in.

3. It's social. Electronic communication via email and social media is easily shared, and people like telling others about the causes they support. Online fundraising provides supporters with an easy method of getting kudos from peers-- and by doing so, they open the doors for more donors to support your mission.

Online fundraising will save your volunteers time!
4. It saves time. Many nonprofit committees are made up entirely of volunteers, who are happy to help but are often also time-strapped. Online fundraisers reduce the amount of labor needed to get the fundraiser up and running. Plus, they allow committee members who can't make it to work sessions to help out by providing email contacts and sharing the fundraiser via social media.

5. It's secure. Online donations are processed using high security protocols to ensure safety of sensitive information. Fewer checks floating around the postal service system keeps donations secure, and lets you know in real time when a donation is made.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Our Online Event Registration Tool is Helping Nonprofits Save Thousands in Fees

They say a penny saved is a penny earned. For Breast Cancer Family Foundation, switching event registration platforms is saving them thousands of dollars in fees. That means thousands more available to support the organization's mission.

Breast Cancer Family Foundation (BCFF) is a small nonprofit located in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They provide educational programming to over 5000 high school students, and thousands of adults in the greater Green Bay area each year. Through their mobile app for Android and iPhone, they are able to reach an even broader audience, teaching people how to live cancer-free lives.

BCFF and its supporters hold a lot of fundraisers throughout the year, but the organization's main annual fundraisers are the Titletown Bike Tour and Pink Pumpkin Walk. Both are enormous events with turnouts that really illustrate how much the community supports BCFF's mission. In the past, BCFF has used other online fundraising event registration platforms...but ended up paying a significant amount of the money they brought in in fees to those services. Last year, BCFF paid over $1000 in service fees for the Titletown Bike Tour registration platform, and over $1500 in fees for the registration and donation platform for the Pink Pumpkin Walk.

Altogether, BCFF paid over $2700, taken out of registrations and donations, just for the technology needed to hold the events.    

Let's see how much impact BCFF can make with $2700: The educational programming BCFF provides costs $10 per student. That $2700 in fees could provide health education to help prevent cancer in 270 students, in 10 classrooms, at three schools. That's a lot of impact missed due to technology costs.

It won't happen this year! This year, HuTerra Foundation is providing BCFF with event registration and online donation processing. Because the HuTerra Foundation doesn't charge fees to nonprofit organizations, BCFF estimates that they will save over half the cost of technology fees for their events this year. That will allow them to help nearly 140 more students learn to live healthy, cancer-free lifestyles, just from the Titletown Bike Tour and Pink Pumpkin Walk.

The added excitement is that Breast Cancer Family Foundation is the benefactor of this year's Prevea Runway for Life event. By using HuTerra Foundation's fundraising ticket sales tool, BCFF will save 50% on the fees they otherwise would have paid per transaction. For an event that is anticipated to bring in tens of thousands of dollars to support healthcare education through BCFF, the savings for the Prevea Runway for Life ticket sales are considerable. That's a lot more students who will learn the vital life skills necessary for healthy, cancer-free lifestyles.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

This Might be the Most Important Tip to Turn Your Board into Fundraising Pros

You wouldn't build a house without the right tools, why expect
your board to fundraise without them?
For most nonprofits, your board of directors is an essential part of your fundraising strategy.

Board members often need training and guidance to become fundraising champions for the cause. There are a lot of great things you can do to turn your board of directors into a fundraising powerhouse, but this tip might be the most important of all: give them the materials and tools with which to do it.

It's all well and good to tell your board members that they need to fundraise. It's vital to connect fundraising with the organization's work and mission. Teach your board members how to tell the story. Many organizations do all that, through special workshops and training seminars. But then board members get home and often don't know where to start. They don't feel like they have the tools they need to become strong fundraisers. Giving them the tools to get started gives them a way to begin.

For example, don't just ask them to hold fundraisers. Provide them with fundraiser planning guides that walk them through the process. Help them create online fundraisers and teach them how to use social media to connect their friends and family with the cause. For those who are nervous first-time fundraisers, holding a peer-to-peer fundraiser is a great way to learn the ropes and gain confidence. Development Directors can use online peer-to-peer fundraisers as an ice breaker at the beginning of the board year. Get everybody online and set a small goal to get them started. Offer an incentive to motivate them, like lunch with the Executive Director and Development Director (which would provide an additional touch-point with the winner to encourage them to continue fundraising). Point is: don't just train them and send them out into the world. Make sure they have the tools at their disposal to help them succeed.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Why We Give: "The face of hunger is not what you think."

The Why We Give series highlights people who take the time to do good in our communities and the things that inspire them to do so. Whether volunteering or donating, visit us at and tell us why you give. You might be our next highlighted hero!

This note came from NN:

"I'd like to tell you why I give. I can't always afford large donations or a lot of time, but every time I do volunteer, my eyes are opened to the need in my community. I always wish I could do more. 
Every Friday in Louisville, volunteers arrive at schools all over the city to fill backpacks with food for children in need. That food sustains them over the weekend, until the next school day. The program is through the organization Blessings in a Backpack. Without it, thousands of children in Louisville would be without nutrition every single weekend.  
This morning, I volunteered for the Blessings program at a school that is in an under-served area of our city. There we were, volunteers lined up at long tables, ready to fill bags with cereal, protein sticks, 100% juice boxes, canned ravioli. As the children came in, each was given a plastic grocery bag. They went down the line and we filled their bags. At each station, every child smiled and said "thank you" to the volunteer putting food in their bags.  
The face of hunger is not what you think.
The school counselor explained to us that of 430 students in the school, only 22 pay for their lunches. That means that 408 students rely on free lunch in that one school alone. She told us that they are only able to provide the Blessings program to about 200 students, because the program costs $80 per student per year. That leaves 208 students who face hunger every day, who aren't benefiting from the Blessings in a Backpack program. In this one school, 208 children will go home today and not know if they will eat this weekend.  
The weekend must be very long for a young child who is starving.
So that's why I give. I give because the true face of hunger in my town isn't lazy people taking advantage of a system. The true face of hunger in Louisville is our most vulnerable population. Children rely on adults for everything from shoes, to shelter, to the food in their bellies. I give because looking in their faces, giving is all I can do to ease their situations. I can't look away. 
I hope you will join me in sponsoring a child. $80 provides food for a child for a full school year of weekends. I started a fundraiser for Blessings in a Backpack so we can work together to help Louisville's children. By giving up one meal eaten-out and donating that money instead to Blessings in a Backpack, you will provide food security to a child... a child who depends on us for one of life's most basic needs. Please don't look away." 

You can donate to the fundraiser here.

(Donations are processed by the HuTerra Foundation, which does not take from the donation stream. Learn more about donation processing here.) 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Are You Putting Your Nonprofit Board on Your Cereal Box?

We all know that boards are vital to nonprofit sustainability. But what to do with board members who are shy about fundraising? As part of your organization's training program for these members, take a note from food marketers, and put them on your cereal box.

Cornell University Food and Brand Lab recently published a study explaining how cereal marketers use eye contact to compel purchases. Basically, they found that children and adults alike are more likely to choose a product in packaging that includes figures that make eye contact with the shopper. It works for Count Chocula and it can work for your nonprofit.

Start by considering how your potential donors 'shop' for a cause. In this case, they probably want (need) to hear personal stories of what the organization does, and why it's worth supporting. This is where the cereal box concept comes in. What's the packaging you use to convince those potential donors (PDs)?

The power of eye contact compels you.

In this case, it's possibly a combination of email and in-person contact. Nonprofit employees can use email to make introductions between PDs and board members (even the shyest). This provides a contact for the PD, should they have questions or want to talk to somebody who cares enough about the mission to volunteer a significant amount of time for it. Encourage your shy board member to connect with the PD on various social media sites. If possible, take the board member and PD to lunch together. This is social marketing at its best- building meaningful relationships between donors and organization advocates from the very beginning. The board member can even engage in a little light crowdfunding via their social networks- and the potential donors can try their hand at supporting the organization before committing to large amounts. Chances are good, now that they've looked your board member in the eye, they'll be ready to commit to supporting your cause.      


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Stop Putting Your Development Team on the Sidelines

We've talked before about taking your social media managers out of their silos. After all, how are they supposed to tell the world what's going on in your organization if they don't know? Let's take a moment to consider the other outward-facing department in your organization: development. Turns out, Development Directors suffer the same silo problem as social media managers.

Ask yourself: "How is my Development Director supposed to illustrate our work to potential donors if he or she isn't kept up to date on the organization's activities?"

Put yourself in the Development
Director's shoes.
Put yourself in their shoes. There you are, having lunch with an individual who has the power to provide a major grant to support your organization's mission. Everything is going well, when suddenly they ask about the day-to-day activities inside the organization. This person understands the mission and the work you do; they are looking for evidence that the organization is powered by people passionate about the mission, dedicated to serving the organization. They want a look inside so they can get a feel for how the organization is run. If nobody communicates with you, how are you supposed to answer that in a positive light?

The great thing is that opening the lines of communication has benefits that run both ways. By opening the lines of communication between your development department and other areas, you give the Development Director an opportunity to turn all employees into major advocates (follow the link to learn how) for the organization. This will support your social media efforts as well. In fact, it will support all efforts in every department across the organization.

In a communication-based world, donors receive messages from many departments in your organization. Ensuring open communication and unified campaigns creates a cohesive voice that donors can understand.