Fundly Spotlight: Donors Get On Board to Support BioBus

The best part of science class has always been the hands-on activities and experimentation – learning how and why things explode or creating your very own volcano. What kid doesn’t like to explore  and discover the world around them? Unfortunately, not every kid has the opportunity to experiment with hands-on science education.

Enter the BioBus! Based in New York City, this Cell Motion BioBus is a science lab on wheels that runs on vegetable oil, with several donated microscopes onboard can be powered entirely by solar and wind energy. Retrofitted with four solar panels, a wind turbine, and a green roof, the BioBus’ goal is to make science accessible to all. This mobile lab reaches over 10,000 students a year, traveling to public schools across New York City and the country.

Li Murphy is a summer intern for this incredible nonprofit mobile laboratory. With the summer coming to a close, Li’s passion for the BioBus, and how it’s driving science education to communities that lack hands-on resources, stimulated her interest in joining the Mobile Lab Coalition conference in Seattle, WA – the only meeting of this kind in the country. There was only one problem: money. “I needed to fund my own flight and seize an invitation to join in representing the BioBus at the Mobile Lab Coalition. Without Fundly, I wouldn’t have had the guts to ask for the money I needed.”

Li decided the best way to raise the funds to make her trip a reality would be creating an online fundraising page with Fundly. In just five days, Li was able to raise $1,005 ($5 over the goal) in gifts from friends, family, and others.

What tips would Li give to other Fundly users?

  • Paint a clear picture. “I made sure to convey that givers would be contributing to something concrete. I needed money for a flight. Why did I need to fly? To be the best intern I could be for my nonprofit organization. How did I intend to be the best intern I could be? Use my training as a videographer to take footage of the incredible things that my coworkers contributed at the Mobile Lab Coalition Conference. I included some informational Youtube videos about the nonprofit organization and made sure to put a picture of my face with the BioBus in the background.”
  • Cast a large net. “I sent a total of fifteen individual emails, posted the link three times to my Facebook wall, and I sent emails to three different mailing lists from my University student organizations. I got incredible returns and had twenty donors in the span of three days. My largest donation was secured via Facebook in the final hours before I had to purchase a plane ticket, all thanks to the flood of likes from high school friends and random acquaintances alike. I believe my page got forty-three likes in forty-eight hours. This drove my post up in the newsfeed and brought it to the attention of the person, my athletic trainer, who ended up carrying me over the edge to my goal. My campaign was over in five days.”
  • Just because they gave once doesn’t mean they won’t give again. “The most important point is to send and connect to people who have backed you in the past, even just folks who gave you money for graduation. It’s a myth that the individuals who fund you once are done giving to you. In fact, it’s just the opposite, as Andrea Kihlstedt, the founder of askingmatters.com, would say. If you connect with your donors and get them excited about what you do, they’ll be your donors for life.”
  • Say thanks ASAP. “Reach out immediately after the gifts are given using the great donor contact sheet that Fundly generates for you to thank and inform your donors about progress. This will spark uplifting correspondences with individuals who care enough about you to believe in your cause, and these positive messages will keep you trucking towards your goal. This type of fundraising with Fundly facilitates a wonderful opportunity to not only connect but to reconnect.”

I just met you, and this is crazy, but I’m here to fundraise, so donate maybe?

While Carly Rae Jepsen’s catchy pop song has given hope that “Call Me Maybe” is enough to jump-start any relationship, we all know that meaningful relationships require a bit more effort. The relationship between fundraiser and donor is no different.

We’ve all been there before: walking down the street or out of the grocery store, when we come across someone hovering with a clipboard or sitting at a card table. We lower our head for fear of making eye contact, fake checking our watch for the time, or busily grab our phone to seem distracted and uninterested. However, we can feel the eyes of the solicitor stalking us like a lion to a zebra on the Serengeti.

“Hey! Let’s save the whales today! Get over here and talk to me!” they call out. We know that they are addressing us, but we pretend to be bewildered and “assume” that they are talking to the non-existent person behind us.

“Oh, you’re too good to talk to me! Whatever man!!” they taunt using guilt, the oldest manipulative trick in the book. A battle wars in our psyche that makes us want to shout back: “Seriously?!! That is how you reflect your organization? That’s not going to get me to open my wallet for you, Buster!”

Here’s the bottom line: this type of fundraising rarely works and is generally going to come off as more annoying than a sincere call to action. The 5 minutes of attempting to coerce shoppers into a relationship with your organization is hardly enough to give them information about your cause, let alone convince them to donate. Unless you’re standing by a red Salvation Army bucket ringing a bell during Christmas time, you’re not going to get more than a few dollars. The Salvation Army has established a long history and reputation in holiday giving, a random organization asking for donations the other 11 months out of the year in this manner will rarely be effective.

For less time, effort, rejection, and manpower, online fundraising can give you much better results. A busy storefront may have 50 passersby an hour, but the average Facebook account has 130 friends. Though not all Facebook users check their accounts daily, you still can reach 50 people with just a minute’s worth of time. Furthermore, you can add a link to your website, add a fundraising page, and have your donors share their donation with their social networks. It gives your organization credibility and makes the donor feel more secure about donating, while encouraging them to develop a continued and invested relationship with your cause.

Investing in and following up with donor relationships is extremely important. While you may get a dollar thrown your way through face-to-face solicitations, online fundraising allows you to retrieve information about your donor including their region and e-mail address, and encourages them to take part in promotion on social networking sites. This allows you to give a proper thank you, they can write their contribution off as a tax deductible donation, and you have the ability to send out future requests for upcoming campaigns. What started off as “donate, maybe”  has the potential to become an ongoing relationship.

One argument for making an ask on the street is that people can actually meet members of your charity in person. However, how many people actually stop and talk to the people manning the clipboard? They are few and far between. A better way could be to post a video interview or tour on your website or fundraising page for potential supporters to take in the heart of your vision, while giving a face to your cause.

So the next time you exit the grocery store and someone tries to ask you for a dollar simply smile, compliment their efforts, and offer them a little insight into the world of online fundraising.

You Ask, We Answer: The Future of Crowdfunding

Last Wednesday we had another interesting Twitter Q&A and would like to give more in depth answers to your questions. Here we go!

Q: What do you expect to see in crowdfunding trends? Will crowdfunding startups drop off due to saturation?

A: We’re just getting started! Saturation means high demand for the new model of raising funds for good.Saturation drives competition, resulting in companies striving to create a better, more efficient ,and easy to use product at a lower cost. Just as with any new idea or trend, many companies jump into the market and only the strong survive. Think back to the mid 1990’s and the emersion of Starbucks. What started out as a few shops in the northwest soon blossomed into an every corner affair throughout the world. Many other chains jumped onto the java train and created a saturated market. While hundreds of Starbucks franchises closed and only the premium competition survived the winnowing process, the caffeine addiction clearly staked its claim into the fabric of our culture. It may not be the frenzy it once was, but the taste for high quality coffee at the drive through has even made its way onto McDonald’s menus.

Just as Starbucks altered our view of the simple beverage, so crowdfunding has incorporated its way into the psyche of nonprofit fundraising. Obviously natural disasters are never good, but from the American Red Cross efforts surrounding Hurricane Katrina to the tsunami in Japan, crowdfunding has become the new norm of joining the masses together for social good. Fundly is proud to be one of the first companies to unite social media with social good, and our statistics show that this avenue of fundraising is only getting stronger as donors gain trust and experience with online resources. The access to the multitudes and the convenience of the internet are incomparable to traditional methods of reaching potential supporters.

Q: If the industry is over saturated, will we see new crowdfunding sites dropping off because of not gaining favorability?

A: It’s safe to say some will be successful and some won’t. The exciting part is competition drives donations and an ever-improving product. The crowdfunding sites that will continue to go strong and gain favorability are the ones that listen to their customers, evolve with the ever changing use of the internet, and provide ease of use to customers. Every online company seems to ebb and flow (even the giants such as Apple and Yahoo!), but innovation seems to be at the core of its stability and longevity.  At Fundly we are continually testing our product, partnering with our clients to gauge their successes (check out our weekly Fundly Spotlight), and analyzing market and fundraising trends.

Q: I’ve just started researching using your site. Can I add donations made in our office manually to a campaign?

A: Yes! You can add offline donations to the total and allow donors to receive updates on the campaign. The purpose of a Fundly fundraising page is to show your progress, celebrate those who donated, and share your cause with potential supporters. The Fundly dashboard allows you to easily add offline donations: from the dashboard, select “Enter Offline Donations” in the left-hand colomn and input the donor’s name, email, and amount donated. These donations will be reflected on your fundraising total and thermometer and will also appear in the export of donor data.

Do you have a question about online fundraising for one of our Fundly professionals? Follow #fundraisingtips on Twitter every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. Pacific time. We look forward to helping you create successful online fundraising campaigns to promote your cause. If you won’t be able to attend the Q&A, leave your question in the comment section below and look for it in the recap next week!

Fundly Spotlight: Helping Homeless Veterans

With the Fourth of July quickly approaching, we would be remiss not to reflect on the incredible history that our nation was founded upon and the courageous men and women who sacrificed to preserve the freedom which we cherish. At Fundly we have hundreds of charities that we are honored to partner with through online fundraising, we think it’s only fitting to highlight Deshalamar Community Development Corp and their purpose to aid homeless military veterans.

Deshalamar is currently promoting their campaign using a Fundly site with the hope of raising $10,000 for their goal to open The House of Change Veterans Residence located in Amityville, New York. Clarice Miller, Executive Vice President, CEO, and Co-Founder of Deshalamar explains that, “post-traumatic stress disorder, when left untreated, causes many of our Vets to be homeless, while many turn to substance abuse. One in four of the homeless population is an American Veteran. Until we reach a day when not a single veteran sleeps on our nation’s streets, our work remains unfinished. Deshalamar Community Development Corp. is dedicated to doing our part to reach that day.”

When creating their online donation website (http://fundly.com/deshalamarcdc501c3), Miller was sure to include a brief summary about the struggles that veterans are faced with when they return home and a video detailing information about the organization itself and what they are striving to accomplish. Miller advises that “the most important things to include when fundraising online is information on the need and what we can do to address the need”.

Thus far, Deshalamar has raised $1,050 towards its goal and has 31 supporters and 35 donors. Miller credits their early success to adding a donation widget to their websites so that people who are not so computer savvy can easily give. They also utilize their Facebook fan page as well as team members’ personal Facebook pages by posting frequently, as much as twice a day. Finally, when posting the campaign they keep their supporters updated on their progress towards their fundraising goal. Miller advises that “People like to see that others are contributing to a cause and this helped as people made their decision to donate.”

So what tips would Miller give to other Fundly users?

  • Frequent Updates on Progress: “As the funding goal rises, people like to see the progress being made, as well as updating the progress in other efforts being made to raise funds.”
  • Thank Donors: “We give out big thank you’s and shout outs to people who donate even the smallest of donations.”
  • Inclusion of Offline Contributions: “We also keep everyone posted on all our efforts such as collecting donations from local businesses in our area and upcoming charity fundraisers which can be viewed on our websites.”

At Fundly, we would like to express our gratitude for the many men and women who have served our nation in the military. We are excited to see Deshalamar raise money online for their amazing cause and it’s an honor for us to serve those who served.

Attracting and Keeping Your Online Audience

Whether your nonprofit has been around for decades or if you are just starting out, everyone could use a little advice when it comes to online fundraising. While I can’t give you a magic formula or sure-fire method to have your bank account explode, I CAN give you some helpful ways to maximize your online giving potential.

Creating an Audience

What’s the point of creating an amazing online campaign if your organization’s social network is minimal? The majority of non-profits have a Facebook or Twitter account, but if you are recently established, it may take a little time and effort to build up a list that will make your social media fundraising worthwhile.

One way to attract people to your page is to find a common ground. You obviously don’t want to steal other organization’s donors, but if there is an event or news story that you come across online related to your cause, comment on it and get your organization’s name thrown into the mix. Commenting on posts allows your Facebook profile to be seen by others interested in the topic. Find sites where people have a common passion for your philanthropic goals and let them know where to find you.

Another way to gain attention is to create thoughtful content with intriguing hooks so that current followers are compelled to first read it (which is always the first hurdle) and then share it with their personal networks. An extraordinary story, a captivating picture, or a thought-provoking quote can trigger others to repost your message.

It is also important to keep your supporters engaged so that they continue to read your posts and become a part of your campaigns. Consider creating online polls, asking simple questions, or generating stories that encourage comments. To acquire dedicated supporters, they first need to invest their time and heart before they are willing to donate their dollars.

State Your Goal and Your Strategies

I think one of the fundamental ways that many organizations fail in the fundraising department is their lack of focus. Donors want to know who they are giving to, that their contribution is making a difference, and that the goal has been reached. Without a tangible focal point, there is no way to feasibly share a success story to show your supporters that you are making great progress for your cause. While your umbrella mission statement may be to save the world, create bite-sized projects with measurable outcomes.

There are hundreds of amazing nonprofits using Fundly, and many successful ones have mastered this point. One example is the SF Goodwill Fund (check out their site: http://fundly.com/sfgoodwill). Their purpose is clearly defined: to help those in need and they are making a difference through their job skills program. Furthermore, they clearly explain the cost of the program and the goals they want to achieve. They have a clear, focused, accessible strategy with step-by-step descriptions of how they are planning on fulfilling their mission.

There are several things to take into account on your website for users to have a positive experience: first of all, what is the basic purpose of your nonprofit?  This can be explained in two to three sentences as an overview. Secondly, what are the practical steps that you are doing to have your work come to fruition? Describe the project(s) that you are working on now and how this is helping you to further your cause. Thirdly, what credentials do you have that bring credibility and accountability to your charity? Explain your past experiences, training, and evidence to prove that the donations you receive are an investment that will produce a high return.  Next, use success stories and pictures to to share results of your work. Finally, make donating fast and easy such as creating a Fundly donation page. If donors have to search a site for information or if it takes a while to make a contribution, they’ll probably move on.

These may seem like basic ideas, but when the foundation is strong you will have a stable platform for future growth. Spending your time wisely is something every charity needs to master, and online fundraising can produce incredible results. When you build a strong audience and appeal to potential supporters using social media tools, your potential for growth can be monumental.

5 Things Your Online Donors Want

Whether you are a charity, non-profit, or an individual. There are five things your donors want from you. Take a note and make sure you accomodate your donor base and you will really improve your relationships with them and increase donations and support around your future fundraising campaigns.

Here are 5 things your online donors want from you:

1) A sense of purpose

Steve Jobs famously said “We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?” Your nonprofit exists because someone was passionate enough start it. They had a vision of the dent they wanted to make in the universe. Share that purpose and vision with your donor. They must know that by donating their money, they are making that dent a little bigger.

Even better, let them know exactly what dent they are making. They’re buying 7 textbooks, digging 3 wells, or paying for 10 cleft palate operations.

2) A connection to your cause

It’s a lonely world out there. People are striving for acknowledgement and acceptance. Make them feel welcome by letting them know how much you need their support and how happy you are to have them on your side.

3) Transparency

Trust is increasingly-diminshing in today’s world. The nonprofit universe has been stung time and time again by scandal, misused funds, and half-truths. Be transparent. Let your online donors know what percent of the donation covers administrative costs and what is applied directly to the problem. Let them know where the money is going and who it is helping.

4) Simplicity and confidence

You are asking donors for a favor. Make it as convenient as possible for them to do that favor for you. Your donation page should be straightforward, inspire trust, and have a quick and easy checkout process.

5) A chance to spread their impact

Charity has always been social – bake sales, dinners, balls. Give your donors a chance to involve others through social donations. Make it easy and convenient for them to tell others about your cause and invite others to give.

Fundly would love to help you give your online donors what they want and increase the amount you raise! Sign up for an account.