Tag Archives: charity

Achieving Maximum Revenue Online

There was a good article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy about how “Why Charities Need to Take a Long-Term Approach to Online Relationships.” (Source Here)

The gist of the article is that online fund raising is not the same as direct mail online.  Online donors are not ATM machines, and they can’t be expected to treated as such, if you want to them to come back and give again.  Similarly, the approach of email blasts to all of your constituents once a month is not the best approach to achieving maximum revenues either.

The strategy must involve a relationship-based approach.  There needs to be human interaction involved on the other end of the computer.  People want to feel like their concerns or opinions are being validated online, similar to a personal interaction.  In other words, the online process should be treated as similar to major gift fund raising. It is relationship building. Otherwise you can never expect to achieve increased revenue through social media efforts or web platforms.

This is a pretty logical and sensible statement. I would love to hear stories of the best and most successful online programs to date for nonprofit groups. Because to this point I haven’t heard many examples of social media and online donations to be stronger than face-to-face visits and in-person asks.


Achieving maximum dollars online


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State of the Nonprofit Sector 2010

The Nonprofit Finance Fund also released their annual State of the Nonprofit Sector 2010 (Source here).  It’s different from the UCLA School of Public Affair’s “Hard Times: Impacts, Actions, Prospects — The State of the Nonprofit Sector in Los Angeles 2010It focuses on the global view as opposed to the local view of Los Angeles County. However, the message and the general outlook are still the same: not good.

So much so that the report even led their front page with a rather telling quote from Clara Miller, CEO of the Nonprofit Finance Fund: “We expect 2011 to be another treacherous year for many nonprofits that routinely take heroic measures to meet demand for services. The ‘recovery’ has not yet reached people in need, or the organizations that serve them”

The nonprofit sector typically lags two to three years behind the private sector when recovering from a “normal” recession. But this recovery is more likely to be in the four- to five-year range, given all the circumstances. The likelihood of a full return to pre-recession economic conditions is doubtful.

The report tells the same story: a large increase in need for services, coupled with a sharp decline in revenues and fund raising efforts.  Even worse are the expectations from the Government, federal support, and United Way support.  There are statistics and hard data, and there are no punches pulled.

It’s tough news to take.  But as I mentioned before, you can look at all of the statistics at a macro level, and everything looks bleak.  But when you get down to an individual level, there are still personal stories occurring everyday of people receiving services, receiving hope, and relief.  It would be naive to ignore the big picture, but I still believe we need to focus on the stories of hope. We can still talk about the good things that happen everyday, and look forward to a day when more good things happen.  If we can shine a light on the bright spots, then everything else will become brighter sooner.   That’s just a thought.


Nonprofit Finance Fund State of the Nonprofit Sector



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Crowdrise – Innovative Fundraising Site

Crowdrise is a relatively new site using the power of celebrity to raise money for various charities around the world.  With a combination of crowdsourcing, social networking, incentivized perks, and celebrity appeal, it is a rather addictive site that empowers everybody to become their own fundraiser.

The Crowdrise founders include Edward Norton, Shauna Robertson and Robert and Jeffro Wolfe.  The concept began when used the New York Marathon as an awareness tool to raise money for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust in Kenya.  They created this site, which then became a platform to empower all charities to get involved and fund raise.

It sounds like they are utilizing the power of crowd sourcing to apply it to fundraising, and philanthropic action in general – with the thought being that lots of little donations soon add up to a powerful impact.  The concept of crowd sourcing has exploded in the last couple of years.  I still think the best example is the Obama political campaign, where a lot of $5 and $10 contributors soon added up to millions.  Or the American Red Cross, who used $10 text donations to raise over $35 million to support the Haiti crisis.  It is also a reflection of the American people’s will to do good, and be charitable.  It is a powerful network.



Crowd Rise - Charity for the masses



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Chronicle of Philanthropy Report on Fundraising

Donations Dropped 11% at Nation’s Biggest Charities (Article Here)

By Noelle Barton and Holly Hall

The Chronicle of Philanthropy started its Philanthropy 400 ranking of organizations that raise the most from private sources.Those 400 institutions raised $68.6-billion in 2009. In 2010 they collectively suffered a drop off of %11. According to the article, the last time there was a large annual decrease was after 2001, during another recession, but that decrease was just 2.8%.

Among the 10 charities that raised the most last year, six reported declines. United Way Worldwide, the largest fundraiser, decreased by 4.5%  and the Salvation Army, the 2nd largest, decreased by 8.4%.

This is troubling information for those of us in the fund raising field. Although it is not unexpected.  We knew there was a major financial collapse in 2o08, sending the economy into a recession.  And because of that earning power suffered, which thus means donations to charitable groups will suffer.

In times like these, the best thing to do is simply ignore the macro trends.  Of course we all know the economy is suffering at the moment.  And we can thus predict that charitable giving will suffer as well.

But that information isn’t going to help your organization improve.  It is better to look at the entire economy as a living, breathing organism.  At the moment, the economy is exhaling, and releasing a lot of toxins.  Within the time, the economy is going to inhale again, and momentum will again be carried upward.

Instead, at this moment, you should focus on how to be more effective, more efficient, and how to maximize current resources. Just because the economy is hurting doesn’t mean that all individuals are hurting.

Get out there and meet with your most loyal donors.  Let them understand that right now is the time when you need them most.  Talk to your Board Members. Make them realize that this is the time to step up.  There is still money out there. The economy hasn’t stopped.

The most important thing you can do is focus on what’s good, and not focus on the bad.  So many times that negative thinking can lead an organization astray.  It’s not productive to worry. It’s the time to get proactive.

The TOP 400 Ranking Charities – http://philanthropy.com/premium/stats/philanthropy400/index.php

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10 Steps to Donating Wisely

Here are GuideStar.com‘s tips for donors 10 Steps to Giving Wisely and Researching Charities

  1. Clarify your values.
    • Do this before you open your checkbook, volunteer your time, or look at that letter from a charity.
  2. Identify your preferences.
    • Ask yourself: “What is important to me?” The environment? Education? Hunger? Animal welfare? Helping sick children?
    • Where should the charity do its work—in your neighborhood, region, the nation, or internationally?
  3. Ask yourself if you want to support a large or small charity, a new or an old one.
  4. Focus on the mission.
    • Look at each charity’s description on its Web site, or in its literature.
    • Find the nonprofits that fit best with your values.
  5. Eliminate organizations that don’t meet your criteria.

Evaluating Charities

  1. Get the cold, hard facts. A reputable organization will:
    • Define its mission and programs clearly.
    • Have measurable goals.
    • Use concrete criteria to describe its achievements.
  2. Verify a charity’s legitimacy.
    • If you find a charity on GuideStar (www.guidestar.org), you know it’s legitimate—all nonprofits listed are registered with the IRS
    • If the charity is not on GuideStar, ask to see its letter of determination.
    • If the organization is faith based, ask to see its official listing in a directory for its denomination.
  3. Compare this Charity to similar organizations, compare apples to apples
    Be sure to compare charities that do the same work, especially for their finances. The type of work a charity does can affect its operating costs dramatically.
  4. Avoid charities that won’t share information or pressure you. Reputable nonprofits
    • Will discuss their programs and finances.
    • Don’t use pressure tactics.
    • Send you literature about their work or direct you to a Web site.
    • Will take “no” for an answer.
  5. Trust your instincts.
    If you still have doubts about a charity, don’t contribute to it. Instead, find another nonprofit that does the same kind of work and with which you feel comfortable, then make your donation.

I normally don’t take directly from another source, but I found these to be helpful.

I believe that all of us like to view ourselves as philanthropists, and I think we all are, if we choose to be.

Although I don’t make a lot of money, I find value in donating to charity, and the decisions of who I choose to give to are never that easy.


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7 Keys to use Social Networking in Fundraising

A lot has been made of social networking in recent years.

What exactly is it?  What does it achieve?  How do you use it?

In my opinion, I believe there is little that you can expect in fundraising through social media networks, especially via Facebook and the like.

Fundraising is still a contact sport, and it always will be.  You can’t make money by sitting behind your computer.  You have to go out and talk to people.

But after the Haiti disaster in January of this year, we saw a lot of things happening.  The American Red Cross raised close to $40 million through $10 donations on mobile phones.  People were using Twitter to give on the ground reports that were more thorough and trust worthy than major news outlets. Groups formed on Facebook in order to respond to the event.

So is an event like Haiti an anomaly, or the new norm?

That remains to be seen.

But I can offer these 7 helpful keys to use social networking for charity fundraising to help get your campaigns off the ground:

  1. Update your website. Your website is the entry point to your organization for the majority of people.  So a) make sure you have a website, and b) invest the time and resources in doing right.
  2. Keep your message really simple. Have a good tagline or slogan.  Make it short, memorable, and simple.  Somebody visiting your website should know exactly what your organization does in 10 seconds or less.
  3. Make your content easy to share, cut and paste.  You are targeting the masses, not the most tech savvy.  Provide information that is easy to obtain online.
  4. Use video and visual aids. Put them right on your website.  Create a memorable video.  It doesn’t have to be done for a lot of money. One of the most effective videos I’ve seen used a photo slide show and touching music.
  5. Integrate the offline with the online. You are still going to have to make phone calls and send mailings to accompany your social media campaign.  Think of ways to drive people to your website and social media in the real world.
  6. Be creative and take chances. The Internet is free to use. Putting together social media campaigns can be done at a very low cost. So don’t be afraid to do something different.  Social media is the one area where you don’t have to play it safe.  Remember that you are competing with millions of other voices and causes on the web, so you are going to need a way to stand out.
  7. Be patient and persistent.  Don’t lose faith. Recognize that a good online presence takes time to build.  People aren’t always going to flock to you. Rather, you have to be aggressive in building a community, staying in touch with stakeholders, and communicating your message.  It will pay off in the long run, but it does take time.

I hope this is helpful.

If there is anybody out there who has an example of effective fundraising with social media, then I’d love to hear about it.

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