End the Churn, Part 2: Setting Goals and Other Financial Expectations

End the Churn, Part 2: Setting Goals and Other Financial Expectations

Some of the most recent literature indicates that the average tenure of a Development Director is eighteen months, and the level of turnover at the junior staff levels isn’t much better.

The following is the second of a 3-part series on ending the churn in your Development Department.

Depending on your organization’s sources of earned revenue, your work might live and die on how effectively your development department reaches its contributed revenue goals each year. That’s no small burden on your team of fundraisers, especially if communication gets murky and not everyone is on the same page about what kinds of numbers they are working toward. Setting clear expectations is a key part of keeping your development staff engaged, ensuring department morale stays high, and supporting the work your fundraisers are doing to help them meet your organization’s financial goals.

In order to get everyone on the same page, start by agreeing to shared definitions of the following terms. Here’s what we recommend as a jumping off point for conversation:

Budget. Your budget, both for expenses and income, is your roadmap. It is your expectation for what you are going to raise and earn, and your plan for how you are going to spend it. All of the numbers in your budget should be backed up by history, research, and reasonable assumptions so that when the actual income and expenses vary from it, you can identify exactly what happened. 

Goal. More ambitious than your budget, a contributed revenue goal gives your development staff motivation for prospecting, donor acquisition, and upgrades that may happen throughout the year. The goal is the number that they are aiming for, one that may be above and beyond what is outlined in the budget as the baseline for ensuring your financial operations stay on track.

Stretch Goal. Fundraisers or fundraising teams may want to set stretch goals for themselves. They may even set levels of stretch goals that they are not going to share with senior management until they feel confident that they can hit them. Consider this a reach-for-the-stars goal, a number that drives many fundraisers to push themselves to the next level.

Revenue Projection. Your revenue projection may change throughout the year, based on a combination of what your development department has already raised, and what they feel confident they can raise throughout the rest of the fiscal year, with the information they have now. At the beginning of the year, your revenue projection will be aligned with your budget, but as upgrades, downgrades, acquisition, and attrition play out during the budget period the projection continues to evolve.

 Once you’re on the same page about the language you’re using to describe your work, communication around goals (and progress to goals) better serves every stakeholder in the conversation.

 

 

"cafe shop meeting" by 1Day Review is licensed under CC BY 2.0

End the Churn, Part 1: Reasons to Invest in Your Development Staff

End the Churn, Part 1: Reasons to Invest in Your Development Staff

Some of the most recent literature indicates that the average tenure of a Development Director is eighteen months, and the level of turnover at the junior staff levels aren’t much better.

The following is the first of a 3-part series on ending the churn in your Development Department.

Investing in your development staff takes on many forms. It means compensating them appropriately through salary and benefits; putting resources toward their ongoing professional development; and making sure that they have the tools and back-office support they need in order to do their job well.

Salary and Benefits: Being able to offer a job candidate a competitive salary and benefits package (including health insurance and a 401K or 403b plan) is important, however, fundraising salaries are rising and if you’re a smaller organization, it can be difficult to compete with opportunities that come up at larger institutions. Even when you are unable to provide a financial offer to a job candidate, think about the other benefits that you can provide. Things like generous time off, flexibility in working hours, and the ability to work from home as needed may attract candidates who put a preference on work-life balance.

Professional Development: Sometimes, keeping your employees challenged and fulfilled means making sure that they have the opportunity to develop their skills so that they can progress at your organization and in their careers on the whole. Make sure your employees know how much money and time they are able to spend on conferences, webinars, training sessions, books, and other forms of professional development over the course of the year. If your financial resources for professional development are more limited, there is still plenty of support that you can provide. Work with your employees to set specific goals for self-training and help them locate low-cost resources to help them meet those goals. There are several fantastic organizations, for instance, providing helpful content free of charge online.

Tools and Back Office Support: Your Development staff cannot do the great work of raising funds to support your organization if the department is not properly outfitted to ensure that donor prospecting, cultivation, and stewardship can happen effectively. This means that not only do you need to have tools like a CRM (donor database), but you need to work with your Development Department to provide the staff support to keep the data clean and updated, and to make sure that laborious tasks like large mailings can be handled without distracting from other important projects.  Equally as important is that your fundraisers have access to donor research—whether that research is conducted in-house or outsourced—to help them prioritize their prospect lists.

These three areas of staff investment can go a long way toward employee retention in your development department—and the effect of not making these investment is potentially huge, especially if a staff member leaves and the position sits empty for several weeks or months. Save yourself the stress and costs of high development staff turnover by investing in your team as professionals, supporting their growth, and making sure that they are set up for success.

 

"Numbers and Finance" by reynermedia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

7 Smarter Donor Prospecting Tools and Services for Your Team

7 Smarter Donor Prospecting Tools and Services for Your Team

Donor prospecting and donor research refer to the process of identifying prospective major donors for a nonprofit organization. It involves studying their capacity to give as well as their inclination to support a particular mission.

Major gifts are just that — major! That's why so much care and careful research should go into the prospecting process. This saves both the nonprofit and the prospective donor time in the long-run. When you're sure that a prospect will be interested in your organization's work, you dramatically increase your chances of successfully asking for support. Plus, you reduce the chances that a prospect will feel that you've wasted their time. 

Prospect researchers are expert guides at exploring data and piecing together an actionable plan to find the right donors for the right projects. Drawing from a wide range of resources, these consultants can take your organization's next major campaign to the next level. 

So what kinds of tools and services do expert donor prospectors use? Here's a sampling of the variety of tools and donor prospecting software that a prospect research consultant will put to work for your nonprofit. We'll start with an overview of how Donorly brings it all together, and then we'll move into individual tools:

  1. Donorly
  2. DonorSearch
  3. GuideStar
  4. 360MatchPro
  5. SEC and FEC records
  6. LinkedIn
  7. Zillow

While nonprofits themselves can easily make use of some of these resources, it really takes an expert prospector to translate these pieces of valuable data into an actionable plan. These insights can then shape your fundraising and capital campaign strategies, helping your team more accurately pinpoint the right prospects in the right ways.

Curious to learn more? Let's get started!

 Donorly is a top donor prospecting tool and service because our research will connect you with the right major donors the right ways!

1. Donorly

If you've already explored our more comprehensive guide to donor research, you know that taking a big-picture approach to prospect research is the key to refining your strategies and making more targeted decisions. 

That's why our services here at Donorly can become an extremely effective resource for your nonprofit's fundraising and development team! We draw from a wide variety of resources and tools to bring together all the bits and pieces of prospecting data that your team might gather on its own. 

We strive to take all the guesswork out of donor prospecting by directing the research for you. With your organization's mission, goals, donor lists, and leads, we'll help guide you to your next major gift or institutional donor in no time.

What makes this a smart donor prospecting service

Donorly can become an important partner for your organization's major gift prospecting, capital campaigns, and annual fund drives for a number of reasons, including:

  • Access to professional-grade prospect research databases
  • A focus on connections research, resulting in more actionable results
  • Additional donor research training and support for your team
  • Time-effective solutions and customized
 Donorly's donor prospecting tools and services can take your next major campaign to the next level.

Our experience in the nonprofit research field has taught us that wealth markers alone are rarely the best route for effective donor prospecting.

By bringing together all the best tools and data to make more informed judgments, a Donorly prospect research team will bring expert guidance and big-picture insights to your organization.

 DonorSearch is among the best donor prospecting tools because it offers extremely high quality donor data services.

2. DonorSearch

As a leader in prospect research data, DonorSearch provides some of the most comprehensive databases and search tools for prospect researchers and the development teams of enterprise-level nonprofits. 

Like Donorly, DonorSearch also believes that the most useful insights come from a big-picture view of prospect research. Their databases offer an unrivaled level of detail for both traditional wealth markers and more alternative philanthropy markers. They offer data screening services and useful CRM integrations, as well. 

What makes this a smart donor research tool

DonorSearch databases compile a full range of individualized donor data points, including:

  • Charitable giving histories
  • Political contribution info
  • Demographic and property data
  • Employment background
 DonorSearch offers advanced and comprehensive donor prospecting software and tools.

Plus, prospect generator tools from DonorSearch allow prospect researchers to view the donor lists of other organizations, helping to immediately identify proven donors interested in similar missions.

Why Donorly uses this kind of donor prospecting tool

With access to DonorSearch's comprehensive databases, Donorly can combine all this data with our own insights, experience, and personal understanding of your goals to give you a more customized and actionable overview.

After all, understanding your prospects as individuals with specific motivations and desires goes a long way to help refine your lists and focus your efforts!

 GuideStar is a top donor research tool because it's a central database for information on any nonprofit organization!

3. GuideStar

501(c)(3) nonprofits are required to publicly provide their financial statements, but scouring websites for historical data is incredibly time consuming. Having a single place to search the financial records of any nonprofit plus any other information on their structure, leadership, and history could be a huge asset for your prospect research team! That's where GuideStar comes in. 

As a premier nonprofit database, GuideStar is an essential player in the nonprofit environment. Maybe your organization is looking for another nonprofit to partner with for an upcoming project, or maybe you're researching a grant-giving foundation before starting an application.

What makes this a smart donor research tool

GuideStar becomes an invaluable tool for donor research when you know that a major prospect once served on a nonprofit board or has made major gifts to other organizations in the past.

Wouldn't you want to learn more about the missions that inspired them to get involved? GuideStar connects prospect researchers with:

  • Nonprofit organization contact information
  • Revenue and expense data for the current year
  • Balance sheets from the past 5 years
  • Searchable IRS 990 forms from the past 3 years
  • Listings of CEO, board chairs, and board members
 GuideStar is an authoritative resource and donor prospecting tool for smart researchers.

Why Donorly uses this kind of donor prospecting tool

Since it's such a central resource in the nonprofit space, GuideStar entries and listings are very frequently updated with current information and data. This makes it one of the most reliable, up-to-date, and comprehensive resources for this type of data.

Prospect research experts like Donorly can quickly draw from this information to find new insights or connections between your organization, its prospects, and other nonprofits.

 360MatchPro is one of the best donor prospecting tools because it gives your team fast insights into corporate philanthropy opportunities.

4. 360MatchPro

When starting the donor prospecting process, don't forget to consider the world of corporate philanthropy! 360MatchPro is a leading corporate giving resource for mid- to large-sized nonprofit organizations. With access to their comprehensive corporate philanthropy databases, your donor prospecting team can easily identify major opportunities to grow donation revenue for nonprofits.

How? Through matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Businesses looking for structured ways to support their employees' philanthropic interests will match their donations or volunteered time with grant funds. All the employee needs to do is file a request.

What makes this a smart donor research tool

Using its comprehensive database of corporate philanthropy information, 360MatchPro provides automated tools that can create built-in revenue boosts nonprofits. These features also double as extremely effective donor prospecting resources:

  • Automated identification of matching gift eligibility for existing donors
  • Tracking and messaging tools to drive matches to completion
  • Intuitive reporting and data automation features to help guide next steps

Some corporate giving programs can be particularly generous, so it pays to do your research!

 360MatchPro's corporate philanthropy tools double as effective donor prospecting software!

Why Donorly uses this kind of donor prospecting tool

360MatchPro is particularly useful as donor prospecting software for a few reasons. By focusing on areas for growth within your donor list, a prospect researcher can quickly identify individuals able to easily (and significantly) boost their impact.

Knowing a prospect's eligibility for matching gift funds can help you better prioritize your development plans, too. Plus, knowing that their donations can be matched is an extremely effective motivator for donors; it might be the perfect way to turn a loyal supporter into a new major donor!

 Official records from the SEC and FEC are great donor prospecting tools and resources because they illustrate a prospect's wealth, connections, and likelihood to give.

5. sec AND fEC rECORDS

The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Election Commission are both important donor prospecting tools for savvy researchers.

That's because the SEC requires all companies that do business in the US to provide and disclose information to be made available to the public, including quarterly and annual reports, other significant records, and stockholder records. The FEC, on the other hand, offers a full database of registered political contributions made to election campaigns throughout the country.

What makes these smart donor research resources

Official records can become invaluable for your prospect research in a number of situations. These might include:

  • Estimating the value of a business that a prospect owns or works for
  • Exploring the owners of publicly traded stocks, a traditional marker of wealth
  • Looking into the philanthropy programs and annual budgets of potential corporate partners
  • Learning more about the interests and desires of a prospect through their history of political contributions
  • Exploring a prospect's employer or connections between companies that have done business together
 Federal records make for excellent donor prospecting tools if you know where to look!

Why Donorly uses this kind of donor prospecting tool

Imagine some of the ways in which this kind of official data could be useful for guiding your prospect research. Learning more about relationships and individual motivations is an essential part of making effective donor prospecting and prospect development decisions.

Top prospecting consultants use this data to deliver deep research that can continue to pay off long after you've secured the prospect's support!

 LinkedIn is a great donor prospecting tool because it's a central social media platform for exploring employment and business connections of prospects.

6. LinkedIn

As you likely already know, LinkedIn is the go-to social media platform for businesses and professionals. This makes it a perfect resource for exploring the connections of individual prospects and corporate partners.

Plus, in addition to its usefulness as a donor prospecting tool, LinkedIn is a great resource for keeping your donor database up-to-date! As a central digital space for job searching, marketing, and networking, users on the platform make a point of keeping their contact and employment information regularly updated. 

What makes this a smart donor research tool

There are a number of donor research uses for LinkedIn, including:

  • Exploring the boards and employees of other nonprofits and businesses
  • Generally gauging a prospect's giving capacity based on their employment
  • Examining the professional connections of both existing and prospective major donors
  • Identifying the matching gift or other corporate philanthropy opportunities offered by a prospect's employer
  • Exploring alumni connections and identifying individuals with the desire to get involved with nonprofits through LinkedIn's advanced search features
 LinkedIn is a perfect donor prospecting tool for researching professional connections.

Why Donorly uses this kind of donor prospecting tool

As an extremely accessible donor prospecting tool, LinkedIn is a great first step your team can take on its own. Stay active on the platform, continually exploring your extended networks.

However, a donor research team like Donorly can pull out expert insights from the wealth of data in a platform like LinkedIn. Not only can a prospect researcher navigate the connections to find the most effective route to your prospect, they'll also use that data to give you a much clearer view of the best ways to approach prospects with whom you share professional connections.

 Zillow can be an excellent donor prospecting resource and research tool for its comprehensive real estate information.

7. Zillow

Real estate holdings tend to be a very reliable and effective wealth marker in the traditional sense. Free search tools on real estate websites like Zillow are an invaluable resource for doing quick, initial research on a prospect's properties.

Plus, real estate ownership is also a philanthropic marker when analyzed by an expert researcher. Donors with more than $2 million is real estate are 17 times more likely to give than an average prospect! By providing value estimates and more detailed information, it's easy to see why real estate sites like Zillow are quite effective as prospecting tools.

What makes this a smart donor research tool

As a leading real estate database site, Zillow provides a number of useful data points to help your prospecting team very generally determine a prospect's wealth in relation to their property:

  • Zestimate, or general estimate of the property's value
  • Most recent sale price of the property
  • Dates of sales of the property
  • Median value estimates for the neighborhood
  • Projected market trends for the neighborhood
 Zillow is one of the easiest donor prospecting tools for researching property values and sales.

Why Donorly uses this kind of donor prospecting tool

While you can use this data on your own to roughly determine a prospect's capacity to give, there's still considerable gray area. The market and taxable values of a property are often quite different, and trends in real estate markets have made it more difficult to glean any reliable assumptions from just a quick glance. 

The best way to generate deeper insights from real estate records is to use a donor prospecting service or research team to refine and analyze all your findings. Donor researchers can guide your team by making deeper connections. Drawing from many resources, including assessor's records, allows them to make more precise inferences about a prospect's lifestyle.


Donor prospecting is never an easy process, but the right tools and services can make it more efficient and effective than ever! Keep yourself updated on all the best tools and resources out there. When it's time to bring on some expert guidance, your donor prospecting team will have plenty to work with, getting you closer to your next major gift!

Want to learn more about prospecting and attracting major donors? Continue your research with these additional resources:

There Is No Magical Unicorn Fundraiser

There Is No Magical Unicorn Fundraiser

As you may have guessed from the title of this post, we are here today to dispel a common myth about the way that fundraising works.

There is no magical unicorn fundraiser.

In fact, we’d argue that the real work of fundraising—the work that results in the most effective implementation of a fundraising strategy—is mundane, banal, and downright routine. No major gifts officer, development director, or other frontline fundraiser can actually do their job well without hours and hours of administrative work to back them up.

That work starts with prospect research—which, depending on your organization can be anything from diving deep into databases to running a cursory Google search. If you follow the Donorly Blog, then you already know why this work is important. Research helps a fundraiser prioritize their time, determine when and how to cultivate a prospect, and assess how big an ask to make.

The work continues with data management. Once you have helpful information on a prospect, it has to be recorded somewhere—preferably somewhere logical and accessible, such as a database or excel spreadsheet. Having that data on hand will help a frontline fundraiser determine how to address a letter to the prospect, or remind them of that prospect’s last point of contact with the organization.

Using that data, someone on the team has to be in charge of moves management—determining next steps for cultivation as prospects are brought into the pipeline, and making sure that those steps get taken at the right time by the right people.

Once the time is right for an ask, all of the information that has been learned throughout the cultivation process has to be distilled and conveyed to the person doing the asking, to provide for as smooth a conversation as possible. Then, when a gift is made, it gets logged in the database, and someone becomes responsible for ensuring a quick and effective ‘Thank You’ and continued moves management to (hopefully) steward the donor to a repeat gift.

The ask, while an art in and of itself, is only one part of an extensive process.

So, when you’re staffing a fundraising team, consider this: while there is no magical unicorn fundraiser, the most important work is conducted by highly effective narwhal development assistants, associates, coordinators, and managers.

 

 

Unicorn” by Valerie Everett is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

The Basics of Development Data Hygiene

The Basics of Development Data Hygiene

Hopefully, if you’re reading this post, then we don’t have any more work to do in convincing you that data is important. (If you’re still on the fence, read our blog post on the importance of fundraising data!). But, in order to make sure that your data is doing the work that you need it to do, you have to prioritize keeping it clean.

Here are three core principles to keep in mind as you set your internal processes for data hygiene:

  1. Use a CRM (Customer/Constituent Relationship Management platform) – there are a number of great tools on the market ranging from free web-based platforms, to low-cost options with high levels of customer service, to comprehensive, customizable software packages that require an in-house staff member to manage. If you’re fundraising for a brand new or small organization with just a handful of constituents to manage, you could even use an excel spreadsheet. Regardless, step number one is to get the data out of your head, and out of your inbox, and into an organizing tool that makes sense for you.
     
  2. Create uniform conventions for naming (and tagging, and filing) – This is especially important if there are multiple people entering information into your CRM! Make sure that your entire team is on the same page about how addresses need to be written, where and how honorifics (such as Mr., Ms., Dr., Council Member, etc) need to be added, as well as what tags and campaigns are associated with specific donors and gifts. Making sure the information is clear when it is uploaded in the first place will save you lots of headaches on the back end when you need to start pulling reports.
     
  3. Empower everyone on your team to participate – whether you are a major gifts officer who is hearing first-hand the details surrounding a donor’s life change, or the administrator receiving mail that is returned to sender due to a bad address, you probably have donor information that needs to be updated in your database. Empowering everyone to help keep your data clean and up to date in real time.

    The one caveat to this approach is that there should still be a person on your team who is primarily responsible for the management of the CRM, to ensure that you don’t suffer from a diffusion of responsibility for your data!

Optimizing Your Online Donation Form: 6 Stand-Out Strategies

Optimizing Your Online Donation Form: 6 Stand-Out Strategies

One of the most important tools in your nonprofit’s fundraising arsenal is your online donation form. This is the last step on the giving ladder and an important part of securing a gift from your supporters.

All too often, organizations make the mistake of taking their online donation form for granted.

Many feel that all this page needs to do is process payments without any frills and are reluctant to invest in robust giving software that could elevate their donation form strategy and create better relationships with donors.

However, optimizing your online donation form should be at the top of your nonprofit’s list as you prepare for your next big fundraising campaign. With a streamlined, effective, and inspiring donation form, there’s very little standing in the way between your team and its goals.

In this article, we’ll review some of our favorite donation form optimization strategies. These include:

  1. Truly customizing your donation form.
  2. Streamlining the online giving process.
  3. Adding gamification tools to your donation forms.
  4. Thinking of the smartphone giving experience.
  5. Emphasizing social media fundraising channels.
  6. Capturing meaningful donor data to optimize your donation forms.

Ready to take hold of your online fundraising form and leverage it as a more effective fundraising tool? Let’s dive into our top strategies!

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1. Truly customize your donation form.

When a prospective donor lands on your fundraising form, they need to cross two main hurdles. First, they need to be inspired enough by your cause to make a gift. And second, they need to trust that your donation form will process their payments securely.

For many organizations, giving form abandonment spikes when their forms are poorly formatted, generic, or otherwise unfriendly to supporters.

To boost the success of your online donation forms, your team should choose a software that puts customization first and not simply use a generic payment processing tool like PayPal.

Your nonprofit can customize your giving forms by:

  • Reflecting your “brand” in the form’s design. Include your nonprofit’s branded color scheme, logos, and signature typeface. Ideally, your donation form should look like a seamless element of your organization’s website.
  • Including images of your nonprofit’s community. Find a solution that empowers your team to include compelling images of your nonprofit’s staff, volunteers, and constituents. Only use high-quality photography, preferably taken by a professional photographer.
  • Changing designs from campaign to campaign. A great way to improve the performance of your donation forms is to update their design with each fundraising campaign. Maintain a core style, but swap out visual elements to keep it fresh.
  • Adding a matching gift search tool. Did you know that you can add a matching gift database search tool to online fundraising forms? These allow supporters to find out their matching gifts eligibility while they’re making their donation.

Remember, your giving from is the last place your nonprofit can make the case for supporters to donate! With the right customization, your team can close the gap between supporters who are simply moved by your mission and those inspired enough to make a gift.

Bonus! Want to learn more about matching gift databases and how they can enhance your fundraising strategy? Visit Double the Donation to see how their matching gifts database helps nonprofits raise more money.

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2. Streamline the online giving process.

Another optimization strategy for your nonprofit’s donation forms is streamlining the giving process from beginning to end. Very often, motivated individuals fail to complete their gift because donation forms are unnecessarily lengthy or confusing.

Even worse, when your giving form makes it difficult to set donors up for future support of your cause, your team will miss out on one of your best opportunities for upgrading donors and securing long-term fundraising revenue.

To ensure a streamlined giving process, your team should:

  • Only ask for the information you need. While customizing data fields in your donation form is a great way to learn more about your supporters, don’t go overboard. You want your supporters to be able to complete the form in just a few minutes, if not less.
  • Share direct links to your form with your community. Inexperienced nonprofits frequently make this mistake! When you simply link to a Ways to Give page or tell supporters to give without a link, it’s more likely they’ll get lost along the way to donating.
  • Offer donor account setup as part of making a gift. When donors have giving accounts set up with your nonprofit, they’re more likely to make future gifts since they don’t have to re-enter their information.

The bottom line? By making giving as convenient as possible for your supporters, they’ll be more inspired to make future gifts and to share your giving form with their personal networks

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3. Add gamification tools to your donation forms.

One great way to boost the power of your online donation forms is to equip them with gamification tools.

Gamification tools are a type of donation form feature that help to encourage supporters to make a gift, increase their giving amount, or give more frequently. Typically, these are used in peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns as a way to motivate volunteer fundraisers.

There are three core kinds of gamifications tools your nonprofit can add to its giving forms:

  • Fundraising thermometers. These can be used in all kinds of fundraising campaigns and help show supporters how close your nonprofit is to reaching its fundraising goal.
  • Fundraising badges. Often used in peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, fundraising badges help differentiate between your top-performing volunteer fundraisers.
  • Leaderboards. Also used as a motivator in peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, leaderboards show off the performance of different fundraisers.

Adding gamification tools into the mix has a couple of benefits. First, it makes giving fun for your supporters; when giving is enjoyable, they’re more likely to give again in the future.

Second, gamification tools offer a seamless way into your community for newcomers. When they see who is ranking highest on your leaderboard or how quickly you’re reaching your fundraising goal, they have an immediate point of access to your latest campaign.

Bonus! Want to learn more about gamification tools? Visit Qgiv and find out how to make gamification tools like fundraising thermometers, leaderboards, and badges work for your cause.

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4. Think of the smartphone giving experience.

Did you know that a growing proportion of online donations are made exclusively through mobile devices like smartphones and tablets? Quickly outpacing desktop-giving, smartphone fundraising is becoming the preferred giving channel for donors worldwide.

This probably isn’t a surprise to your team. After all, most people have their smartphones on them 24/7, and it’s no secret that smartphones are often the primary device individuals use to access the web and interact with your cause.

Before your next campaign, your nonprofit should optimize its online donation forms for smartphone users. You can start this process by choosing a fundraising software that allows your team to create a mobile-responsive version of your form during the form building process.

Another way to improve how smartphone users give back to your nonprofit is to adopt text giving technology. With these tools, your donors can make a gift right from their phone. This method works especially well for donors on the go and those at fundraising events.

Finally, consider promoting mobile giving methods to your supporters. They may be under the assumption that they can only give on a desktop, which limits your opportunities to secure a gift from them. Be sure your community knows they can easily give using their phone, either through traditional donations or via text-to-give.

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5. Emphasize social media fundraising channels.

On a similar note, since so many of your supporters use their smartphones to access the internet each day, your nonprofit should focus on sharing your online donation form through social media channels in addition to more traditional fundraising channels.

Most nonprofits are on social media sites these days, but less often do they effectively leverage this platform as a fundraising channel. Rather, social media is seen as more of an engagement tool than anything else.

Yet, sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all offer great fundraising opportunities. Take advantage of social media’s fundraising potential by:

  • Embedding your donation form on your Facebook page. Did your team know that some online fundraising software enables your nonprofit to embed its donation form directly onto your organization’s Facebook page? Supporters never have to leave the site to make their gift, another convenience-booster for givers.
  • Sharing your donation form’s link on Twitter and Instagram. On websites like Twitter and Instagram that don’t offer embedded giving forms, your team can still share direct links to your form. Include them in your profile’s bio section as well as in regular posts from your account to give supporters ample opportunity to come across your form.

Social media fundraising channels are a great place to make connections with new donors, too. Since most individuals will look your organization up on social sites before giving, they’re likely to encounter your giving forms on your profiles before even making it to your main website.

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6. Capture meaningful donor data to optimize your donation forms.

Finally, the other sure-fire way to optimize your online donation forms for your community of supporters is to design them with donor data in mind.

The fact of the matter is that your fundraising strategy is always more effective when it’s based off of data, and this is especially true when it comes to your giving form. Be sure to track informative metrics related to your giving form and analyze trends from campaign to campaign.

For example, if one version of your giving form is underperforming, that may be a sign you should redesign it. Alternatively, you may find that sharing your form on a particular channel yields better fundraising results, indicating it would be smart to emphasize that channel to givers.

Further, when your nonprofit develops a robust donor database, you can search your records to make connections between givers, hone your fundraising strategy to specific prospects, or even find new opportunities for fundraising.

Your nonprofit’s online donation form is one of your most important fundraising resources, so it’s important you take the time to optimize your strategy. With these best practices in mind, your team is ready to start improving how you make use of this important tool!

Author Bio

  Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for  Qgiv , an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading  online giving  and  peer to peer fundraising tools  for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.

Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.

Tips for Rethinking Your Donor Approach

Tips for Rethinking Your Donor Approach

Some of our favorite advice on fundraising is this: Don’t ask your donor to give you their money, instead, offer them an opportunity to be a part of something important.

For many people who aren’t used to it, fundraising can feel uncomfortable. It can feel like asking for a big favor, like asking someone to give up a valuable resource that they might otherwise use for putting a roof over their head, or sending their kids to college.  However, if you convey neediness or desperation when you’re making an ask, then you run the risk of convincing your prospect that they actually are being put upon. Unfortunately, this could result in a lower gift than you might have otherwise secured or making the donor feel awkward around your organization.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, being philanthropic makes people feel good—it activates pleasure center of the brain.

Don’t believe us? Check out this New York Times article published just last year about a study in Nature Communications revealing that generosity actually changed the activity in the human brain in ways that makes people feel happier.

If your job is to motivate board members, leadership, or other stakeholders who get stuck feeling like they’re burdening a donor by asking for a gift, there are some tools you can use to help them rethink their approach.

First, empower your stakeholder with knowledge about the donor. Even if your they have had a personal relationship with the donor for years, there may still be pertinent information that they are not aware of, such as the donor’s history of charitable giving. Armed with this information, your stakeholder can feel more prepared to navigate a conversation about making a financial contribution to the organization. Even if there are no details in the research that are new to them, it can be validating to learn that they already have all the background they need to make an ask.

Second, give your stakeholder talking points and language to fall back on. Remind them that instead of making a request for a financial transaction, they are offering someone the chance to be a part of the great work of your organization. Phrases like “join us,” for instance, can help put the stakeholder and the donor in this mindset. Consider that instead of asking the donor to “give” something, the stakeholder might be asking them to “be” something: be a member of the patron program, be a co-chair of an event, be a leader in a campaign, be an advocate for important work.

Third, focus your stakeholder with specific tasks. Depending on where you are in the process of cultivation, you may have instructions to help guide your stakeholder in setting up and engaging in a conversation with the donor. Think about the type and level of ask you’d like them to make. Are they soliciting a patron membership? A campaign gift? Or gala participation? Is there a range that they should be asking for, or do you want them to leave it entirely open? Having a set of guidelines to keep in mind will help steady them if they get nervous to initiate a conversation about money.

Finally, motivate your stakeholder with the reminder that having the conversation is the win.  No matter what happens, an authentic and meaningful relationship with the donor is the best possible outcome.

Getting Beyond Your Network: The Importance of Connections Research

Getting Beyond Your Network: The Importance of Connections Research

Finding a connection to a prospective donor, be it an individual, foundation, or corporation can be the first great step toward a fruitful cultivation process. All too often as fundraisers we identify a potential donor whose interests clearly align with the work that we do, who are publicly philanthropic, who believe would make a charitable gift to our organization, if only they knew that we existed and had the opportunity to get to know our mission.

Showing these names to your board members and senior leadership is always a great first step, and can sometimes prove to be highly productive, especially in terms of getting them to think about who else they might be able to introduce to the organization. Sometimes, however, that step is not enough. In those cases what you really need is research.

If you’ve read the Donorly blog before, then you’re likely familiar with how we feel about donor research. We’ve advocated using research to make the most of your gala, using research to design your charity auction, and getting creative with free research tools (such as The Wayback Machine). In short: we love it. In the case that you have a prospective donor that you’d like to find a way to engage, what we recommend for you is time and resources spent on connections research.

Connections research creates a series of narratives that connect Subject A (you or your organization) to Subject B (your prospective individual, foundation, or corporate donor) through first and second-degree connections.

For example:

Let’s say April is a member of your board, and she is also on the corporate board for The Now Corporation.

Then let’s say May is also on the corporate board for The Now Corporation with April, as well as a Trustee for The Later Foundation.

If The Later Foundation is a prospect, then your research stops there and you can start strategizing with April about how to engage May.

But, connections research could even take it a step further. Perhaps The Later Foundation’s funding priorities aren’t a match for your organization, but there is another Trustee on The Later Foundation’s board, let’s call her June, whose personal philanthropy indicates that she’d take an interest in your work. Then your conversation with April might be about leveraging her relationship with May to get an introduction to June.

In other words:

April  (The Now Corporation) leads to May (The Now Corporation, The Later Foundation) leads to June (The Later Foundation).

Taking the time, or spending the resources, to put connections research to work can help you open doors to new contacts that may have otherwise been out of reach—a worthwhile, and relatively easy, way to take your donor prospecting to the next level.

Using Research to Make the Most of Your Gala

Using Research to Make the Most of Your Gala

Anyone who has ever organized, worked, or volunteered for a gala knows what an immense amount of work goes in behind the scenes to execute the spectacular celebration that your donors have come to know and love. Luckily, the payoff has the potential to be big—in addition to being a fundraising event, with the right research, you can also use your gala as a moment for donor cultivation and stewardship.

3 Weeks Out: Begin your research! Once you have amassed a substantial list of gala attendees, be they people in your network and the guests of your board or committee, submit those names for research. You will likely need to provide an address or email address to help the person doing the research verify the subject of their search—whether it is outsourced to a company like Donorly or taken care of in house. With enough lead time, this process can be ongoing right up to the days before the event when your lists are being finalized.

Keep it simple—figure out what two or three pieces of information will be most useful for you. Here are some examples:

Where do they work?
Where do they serve on boards?
Where did they go to school?
What are their pronouns?
How many children do they have?
What city do they live in?

Once you have a gala bio written for someone, you will be able to save time by giving it a quick refresh the next time that donor attends an event at your organization, rather than needing to write it from scratch.

1 Week Out: Review your gala bios with your leadership team. Who at your organization needs to be doing the work on the floor of making your donors feel acknowledged and appreciated? Whether you recruit your board members to do this, or utilize your senior management, make sure they have a chance before the day of the event to review the results of your research and consider what, if any, specific conversations need to happen at the event. These conversations may be informed by anything you have learned in the bio-writing process. Do they need to be congratulated on a promotion or retirement? Do their other interests suggest they should be invited for a site visit? Do they need to be approached by a particular board or staff member because of a shared connection? This is the time to make those decisions.

The Day of the Event: Provide your leadership team with discrete lists of bios and/or a list that quickly reminds them who they have been assigned to talk to, and why. This can be formatted digitally to scroll easily on their smart phone, it can be sized to fit on a single index card, or it can be put in the hands of a staff member or trusted volunteer who is in charge of directing your leadership team members’ movements throughout the room for the night.

Having this kind of information at hand when talking to donors at your gala not only makes them feel valued and acknowledged, it makes the donor relationship personal and authentic, paving the way for future fruitful conversations with someone who will hopefully become a strong advocate for your organization.