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?
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.
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!
In the United States, it can be easy to take our educational system for granted. While there may be varying levels of excellence offered, the opportunities that a majority of students possess in our country are staggering in comparison to much of the world. With this in mind, Tanzania 365 was started by Marisa Ranieri using a Fundly online fundraising page.
Marisa is currently a senior at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, majoring in International Affairs with a focus in Africa and Contemporary Cultures & Societies. With a passion for East Africa, she came across some startling statistics in her research. Though the nation of Tanzania has committed itself to improving the opportunities of its youth, the most recent estimate shows that the current education system is about 85,000 teachers short of being efficient. Not only is this shortage severe, but half of all students do not pass primary school (elementary and middle school) and only 10% graduate from secondary school with the majority of these students being male.
Marisa realized that she had to do something to help this major discrepancy. Her project, Tanzania 365, will be a one-year online documentary of living in Tanzania while she dedicates herself to public service as a teacher in a rural village. While partnering with WorldTeach, an established 501(c)3 organization, she will venture into a foreign classroom to make a difference in countless lives.
With 23 supporters and 22 donors, Marisa has exceeded her goal of $3,650 by raising $4,245! She started off with a great strategy: her game plan was to get 365 donors to contribute $10 each to her cause. On her fundraising page she clearly states that the funds will be used to pay for ensuring internet connectivity, having a pay-phone charged with shilingi so she could contact people in case of emergency, and the cost of providing school supplies for a classroom of 40 plus students. Needless to say, her idea worked!
What tips would Marisa give to other Fundly users?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Philanthropy and charities have been around for thousands of years. It seems to be an innate characteristic for humans to want to reach out to their fellow-man and lend a hand. While the methods of helping those in need and fundraising have changed, the basic motivation has remained the same. However, with the advancement of technology, the parameters of law, and the many ups and downs of the economy, fundraising in modern times are quite a bit more complicated that just feeding the hungry or aiding the sick. Here are some more lessons that smaller or more recently established nonprofits can learned from those who are seasoned in the field.
I’ve worked with many charities and have given to many charities. What keeps me faithfully giving to one and not another? It’s all about how I am treated. Yes, there are some causes that pull my heart-strings a little more than others, but as a donor I want to be acknowledged for the sacrifice I am making to donate to a charity and treated equally with those who can afford to give more.
Getting and maintaining supporters is all about building relationships. There are hundreds of mailers, e-mails, phone calls, and television commercials vying for attention and dollars. Getting someone to donate in the first place is half of the challenge; keeping them is the other half. Are you truly showing your appreciation? Are you sharing how their donation made a difference and furthered your mission? Do your donors feel important and needed? If you miss any one of these points, you just might risk losing your supporters.
Here are some great ways to show your appreciation: it may seem old-fashioned, but a hand written letter shows that you are taking the time to acknowledge the gift and giver. It adds that personal touch that an e-mail or post lacks. Second, posting thank you’s with donors tagged on Twitter and Facebook also shares who your donors are and can inspire others to give. It also gives credibility to your organization that you are trusted by respected individuals. Third, an event honoring your donors and thanking them for their support is a great way to strengthen their loyalty to your charity. Don’t make an ask or present a new project, just show how their funds have made a difference thus far. Consider it an investment towards future giving.
To piggyback on the last statement, donors want to see results. We’re all tightening our purse strings so the donations that we do give need to have some tangible results to make us feel good about our gifts. If one charity isn’t showing progress, there are ten more in line with their hands out ready to go to work. How are you showing your donors that their money is being put to good use? With charts, personal success stories, and vivid images, these tools bring the purpose of a nonprofit to life and touch the heart of the donor. Were you raising money for a building project? Show the progress of how the structure is being completed. Are you an after school program? Compare year-to-year stats on how many students you helped, how their grades have improved, and gather quotes from parents and teachers praising your program. Did you help a community rebuild after a natural disaster? Before and after pictures of the impact you have made speaks volumes. Giving is both extrinsic and intrinsic; donors want to help others while gaining a feeling of pride at doing good.
Online fundraising is a perfect way to show results. Donors can visit your site regularly to see how your goal is progressing, they can share your cause and web address with friends and associates, and online giving is the simplest way to contribute to a cause.
Online fundraising has been around for several years now and the time and analysis that has gone into experimenting with the best practices is monumental. In this billion dollar nonprofit industry, thousands of charities delve into the internet pool to connect with potential donors and supporters. Some have had good results, others have stagnated, while a rare few have soared to superstardom by raising millions of dollars. What discrepancies are found between these groups and what can you do to be on the higher end of the fundraising list?
Many organizations start off a project or campaign with a bang and then within a few months the dedication and persistency seem to fizzle out. What started out as weekly e-mails, monthly mailers, and intriguing hooks on Twitter slowly start to decrease into nonexistence. One major cause of this decline is not from lack of desire or commitment, but from being overwhelmed with multiple projects; most staff members are overextended and can’t address every issue that is placed in their in box.
Just as there is a food pyramid dictating your intake of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and carbohydrates, so should nonprofits create a time pyramid balancing input verse output. While all of your tasks feel important, how many are truly necessary? When you’re doing too many projects, very rarely can you do any of them well. When you’re creating your development and marketing time pyramids, consider how much time you should spend on donor events, online fundraising, donor appreciation, and supporter recruitment. What is the cost of your time, energy, and financial investment in relation to your return? All of these areas are important to regulate, but all of the projects that are created to nurture these areas are not all equal.
Your donors obviously care about your mission or they wouldn’t donate to your cause. However, every nonprofit has sub-sets of issues within your cause that appeal to different donors. Test which projects and areas appeal most to your donors. Are you a symphony? Maybe your donors are more interested in contributing to young musicians getting their start or they may be fond of supporting musicians putting on school assemblies for children. Are you a pet shelter? See if your supporters donate more to causes pertaining to animal rescues as compared to community adoption days. Experiment to see what hot topics your donors are most tuned in to.
Highlighting key issues that are in the forefront of the media is also a great way to tap into new donors and hang on to current supporters. The greater variety of topics you touch upon, the more likely you are to hit on an issue that touches more donors. Upload great pictures and a heartwarming story next to your donate button on your webpage and you’ve got an excellent foundation for increased funding.
Just as each donor is unique, so is their preferred method of giving and how they communicate with your organization. The older generation tends to respond to the traditional methods of direct mail campaigns and volunteer call lists. The younger generation is glued to Social Media and their cell phone. Some like to read e-newsletters once a week. Others like updates once a month or once a quarter. Too many letters or Tweets can be a turn-off to some donors who may feel overwhelmed. Too little communication and you’re out of sight, out of mind.
Bottom line: determine who your donors are and ask how they would like to connect with your nonprofit. Take a poll. Base your mailers on donor giving levels. Keep track of comments and giving based on how many posts you publish. Yes, this takes a lot of work and time, but what you invest now with bring invaluable information later.
Innovative schools in Silicon Valley pushed the limits of school fundraising with Fundly this Spring. Equipped with Fundly’s social fundraising platform and professionally developed collateral, they brought school fundraising into the 21st century.
Parents were able to create a personal fundraising page for their student, personalizing with photos, video, and a message to supporters. With this tool, they could reach family and friends around the globe to support the arts, technology, and teacher development with a simple online donation.
School fundraising is not new, but with budget cuts, larger class sizes, and a variety of student needs that need to be met, it has become an important part of ensuring success with both academic curriculum and extracurricular activities. While many teachers are overwhelmed with the daily duties of running a classroom full of kids and parents are filling in the gaps with volunteer hours, they don’t have the time or energy to dedicate to complicated fundraisers. Online fundraising has proven that schools can find greater success using the internet without investing more resources.
Fundly recently held the 12 Schools in 12 Weeks Online Fundraising Challenge to prove that schools could raise more money using social media than with traditional methods alone. Guadalupe Home and School Club, the parent-teacher organization supporting Guadalupe Elementary School, was one of the participating schools. While they had successfully held their walkathon fundraiser online in the past, Fundly was appealing because it came with communication tools to motivate families to sign up and built-in social media to make it simple to “share” the chance to support the school. The Home & School Club was given a Fundraiser’s Toolkit including a vinyl banner, fliers, posters, give-away items, and exclusive online features to promote their annual walkathon.
Going online can be a great way for parents to reach more people, but keeping the students engaged in the process is a must. That’s where student videos come in to play.
To emphasize this point, Fundly held a “Best Video” contest, in which its employees voted for their favorite student-created video. The staff was surprisingly passionate about their favorites and after much discussion and analysis, Fundly’s VP of Marketing, Tom Kramer, visited Guadalupe School to present “Best Video” winner, Alex, with an iPod Touch in front of all his classmates. Now Alex can practice his video-taking and -making skills all Summer to get ready for the next walkathon!
See Alex’s video for yourself (don’t worry, his mom approves):
With Fundly’s personal fundraising pages, being a part of your school fundraiser is as easy as typing a personal message and uploading pictures. Adding a video for maximum impact, and bringing the message of support back to the students makes all the difference. With links to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the ability to use credit cards to donate, and access day or night, it’s no wonder that schools are finding greater results when annual fundraising events are combined with the benefits of technology.
People generally want to help. There are over 1,130,000 charities and foundations registered with the federal government in the United States alone and individuals donated approximately $300 billion to these charities last year. If there are all of these funds out there, why do some nonprofits struggle to make ends meet? Are these organizations contributing to their own financial detriment? What are they doing wrong?
The first way to get the dollars rolling in is to get your name out there. It’s like the old saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” Public relations and fundraising go hand in hand; without a PR strategy in place, your bank account is going to suffer dearly. Is your name clearly on your building? Do you have a leadership representative mingling in local mixers and participating in town hall meetings? Are you resting on past laurels and not pursuing current media attention for present projects? Are you up-to-date with your social media campaigns?
The second way to prevent a loss donations is to let your supporters know what your needs are and what they can specifically do to help. For example, don’t just say, “We need money to add on to our building.” Be practical in your ask. “Can you give $50 towards our John Doe Memorial Building program so that we can reach our goal of $100,000 by May 1? Our afterschool program desperately desires to keep kids off the street and in a healthy environment. ” Present your needs as urgent, necessary and attainable; skip any one of these qualities and your donor will just move on by.
Are you making it too hard to give? Yesterday I was shopping online and pop-up appeared asking if I would take a survey. I had a few minutes and I liked the website, so I was ready to dedicate five minutes of my life to share my opinions. After two pages of extensive questions and a glitch when I tried to input one answer, I gave up and closed the window. I didn’t have the extra time or patience to deal with this malfunctioning website. So here’s the bottom line: how well does your website function? How many clicks does it take from spotting the “donate” button to seeing the receipt in the donor’s inbox?
The final way to appeal to your donors is to take advantage of all of your available resources. Online fundraising is the fastest growing way to garner funds. Do you have a Facebook account? Do you check and answer your e-mails regularly? As mentioned above, is your website easy to maneuver without long loading times or a maze of pages to navigate through? Have you looked into Fundly as an option to connect with your current and potential donors? Fundraising is ever changing and by not keeping up, you may be leaving donors behind.