Guest Blog: The New Jeff Campaign

By Jeff Newell

Jeff is raising money to attend the 2014 Your Weight Matters Convention so he can learn to overcome his obesity and develop a knowledge to help others.

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Guest Blog: Help Me Save Lives In Ghana Africa

By Tyra Ward

Tyra is going to Africa in June to volunteer as a nurse. She’s been working as an ER nurse at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center for 3 years now. In Africa, she’ll be volunteering with IVHQ to treat patients with malaria, AIDs and patients who are malnourished.

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How To Get Supporters To Your Crowdfunding Campaign

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Many people think that once they start a crowdfunding campaign, all their financial woes will disappear. If only it were that easy! One of the biggest challenges in running a successful crowdfunding campaign is knowing how to market it. Though you don’t have to be a marketer, you do have to expand your vision and feel comfortable reaching out to your family and friends, social network and community circles.

Before getting supporters, it’s important that your campaign looks nice and portrays what you’re wanting to raise money for. At Fundly, we encourage all campaigns to include at least one image or video, a description of why you’re fundraising and add a few giving levels as incentives. We’ve broken down a few of our best tips to help you get supporters.

Step 1: Recruit Your Inner Circle Of Family and Friends

When initially starting a campaign it’s important to recruit your core supporters first, this includes yourself, family and friends. This “inner circle” will be the the root of your crowdfunding campaign so make sure to make them feel connected and passionate about why you’re raising money. When you’re communicating and sharing your campaign be descriptive and excited, this will help them want to back you 100%.

How To Reach Your Inner Circle:
Email is a great way to share your campaign with family and friends. Make them feel special by personalizing each one, this may take more time but will pay off in the long run. And if you want some traction immediately, try sending them a text with your campaign URL.

Step 2: Spread Out To Your Social Circle

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ are super helpful towards marketing your campaign. A good place to start is to focus on the social media platform that you use most frequently and where you have the most number of followers.

Once your “inner circle” has supported you it’s important for them to market your campaign on their social networks as well. People are interested in what others are doing on social media and generally if someone donated or supported a cause, they want to share it with their network – think of it as a chain reaction!

Actionable tips:

  • Use hashtags. Let’s say you’re raising money for autism awareness. Make sure to use hashtags such as #autism #autismspeaks #autismawareness
  • Make sure to post pictures. We’ve noticed that when people post pictures on Twitter, your tweet becomes more popular and noticeable.
  • Give a shout out on social media to “thank” your supporters or donors – publicly making them feel special will give them a reason to share your post or retweet. It’s the little things that matter!

Step 3: Tap Your Community Circles

Once you’ve gained the support from you and your “inner core’s” network, it’s time to get the creative juices flowing. Tapping into community circles are important because it allows you to reach a broader audience that have similar interests. An easy way to start is by asking yourself what types of communities does your campaign fall into?

Questions To Help You Find Your Communities:

  • What is your campaign raising money for? If you’re a college basketball team raising money for nationals, you would look into sports, basketball, the college where you play and alumni communities.
  • Is there a local chapter you can connect with?
    • For example, if you’re raising funds for your local San Francisco church, you could look into local SF communities, other church parishioners, church member forums, etc.
    • Another example would be If you’re raising money for a community project, you could look into Junior Leagues in your area, local volunteers programs, community leaders, town/city hall, community forums, etc.

Example: Bringing Your Circles Together

Let’s say you’re a fashion and lifestyle blogger and need to raise $5,000 for blog expenses.

Step 1: After you create a campaign page, you send a personal email to your family and friends (aka: “inner circle”) telling them about your fundraiser and why it’s important for you to raise the funds.

Step 2: Next, you tap your extended network, which is your social network. With your fashion blog, you might have a stronger following on Twitter and Instagram so you would post there first so more followers will see it.

Tip: Make sure your content is different everytime you post, people don’t like reading the same material over and over. Make them want to support your cause.

Step 3: Other than using hashtags in your tweets, Facebook and Instagram posts, you could try to reach out to fashion, beauty and lifestyle blogging communities, as well as relevant clothing and product brands, to see if they’ll help share your campaign and support your cause.

We love hearing about your campaign and the kinds of communities you love. Share the communities you’ve had success with in the comments below.


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 Veronica Olah is Community Manager at Fundly.

Guest Blog: Downtown Birmingham Snow Picture for a Cause

By AJ Fennell

AJ, a dental resident at University of Alabama at Birmingham, took a bird’s eye view picture of Birmingham covered in snow. The picture went viral on social media so AJ turned to crowdfunding to help a fellow resident battling lung cancer.  

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Your Facebook Page vs. Your Website

Most companies and nonprofits have both a website and a Facebook page, but which one should have more maintenance time? Which web address is projected to get more traffic?

On Mashable, writer Samantha Murphy reports on a new study conducted by Lab42 which found that about 50% percent of consumers think a brand’s Facebook page is more useful than a brand’s website (see full infographic below). “In fact, about 82% of respondents said Facebook page is a good place to interact with brands. But one of the top reasons to follow a brand on Facebook is to print coupons and discounts. The study revealed that 77% of those who ‘Like’ a brand on Facebook have saved money as a result,” comments Murphy.

As a nonprofit, why should you care what is going on with Facebook and the influence it has on its consumers? Quite simply, developing trends in the for-profit world will eventually make their way to the  philanthropic arena. Check out some of these stats from the same study:

  • 69% of Facebook users have “Liked” a brand just because a friend has
  • 50% of Facebook users believe that their Facebook page is more useful than their webpage
  • 73% have “unliked” a brand because they posted too frequently or had a bad customer experience
  • 36% of those who don’t “Like” brands on Facebook opt out because they don’t want to be contacted

As a nonprofit, there are some valuable conclusions that you can make from this study. First of all, peer pressure is alive and well regardless of your age. The more people you can get to “Like” your nonprofit, the more people you are likely to get to follow your nonprofit and spread the word of the great things your organization is doing. If the average Facebook user has 130 friends and 69% of users are likely to “Like” a product because someone else does, you have a strong chance at reaching a new audience.

Secondly, while 50% of users who believe a Facebook page is more valuable than a webpage may not seem like a majority, it shows the continued momentum that Facebook is having in social media. While many charities continually update and tweak their home pages, they often times neglect to post consistently on Facebook and update their timelines. A Facebook page may very soon require more attention as it becomes a destination for your supporters rather than just a side note.

Next, the frequency of your posts and the contact experiences of your donors certainly have an impact on your donor relations. Post too infrequently and donors don’t think of you. Post too many times a day and you become that pesky fly that buzzes around and is swatted at. A few times a week at different times during the day should suffice to reach all of your donors and their varying online schedules.

Finally, about one third of Facebook users don’t interact with a brand on Facebook because they don’t want to be contacted. Now here is the dilemma that many nonprofits face: if a donor felt that your cause was worthy enough to give to you once, they should be willing to give again. On the flip side, how long do you pester this person and spend valuable dollars on postage and mailers without getting any results? You could create a “one-time gift” check box and hope that others give since it is commitment free. On the other hand, it also depends on your type of charity. My best advice would be to try it out for a few months and see what your results are. A large part of fundraising is experimenting and the outcome is often times individualized to each organization.

Studies are published all of the time based on marketing research and technological advances. As a nonprofit and online fundraiser, it is valuable to assess and apply the results to predict the trends that are headed towards our industry. While not everything may apply or the estimated conclusion may not come to fruition, it’s better to create a hypothesis than to fall behind.

Check out the the complete findings from Lab42 study:

LinkedIn Launches Board Connect

John Maxwell, author, pastor, and public speaker, writes, “Some people have a dream but no team – their dream is impossible. Some people have a dream but a bad team – their dream is a nightmare. Some people have a dream and are building a team – their dream has potential. Some people have a dream and a great team – their dream is inevitable.” Who is on your team?

One of the cornerstones of any nonprofit is the board members that come alongside the CEO to create a team of professionals with the wisdom, experience, and connections to make a dream a reality. Finding the right members with the skills and chemistry to work together can be a difficult, but this task just got easier with a new tool called “Board Connect” that is being implemented on LinkedIn.

Meg Garlinhouse, head of employment brand and community for LinkedIn, told Mashable, “There’s a huge supply and demand issue we’re trying to solve — more than 2 million non-profit board seats need to be filled each year and non-profit leaders are challenged with finding the right individuals to join those boards.”

Board Connect helps nonprofits find board members in three ways: 1) those who sign up get free access to TalentFinder to “amplify your ability to search and to reach out to your boards extended network.” This service is a $1000 value! 2) LinkedIn offers a free webcast interactive product tutorial to help you gain the skills you need to navigate their system and 3) you can receive exclusive content and make peer connections through the LinkedIn network.

LinkedIn also provides company pages so that your group can advertise your mission and gain supporters of like-mindedness to your cause. You can post updates, recruit volunteers, and make valuable connections with other who have a passion for your cause.

Finding the right board members to come alongside your organization is vital to the existence of your nonprofit. Not only can they provide valuable business advice and direction for you, but the connections that the professionals have in your area are priceless. I’ve worked with organizations that have had local news anchors as board members and the draw that a celebrity name brings can double your attendance to events. Not only that, but the pull that reputable professionals have brings much needed credibility and integrity to your name therefore causing more donors to trust you with their dollars.

Integrating Social Media and Fundraising: Getting Started

Online fundraising can seem overwhelming and is often times left unattended to when nonprofits are accustomed to traditional fundraisers. You know that it is free. You know that millions of people are on Facebook. You probably also know that neglecting this form of development is costing your organization money. But let’s face it: who has the time or patience to create a schedule for incorporating online fundraising into your weekly routine? It may take less time than you think! Here are some ways to start using the internet and social networking sites in your strategies to raise money.

Make a Weekly Calendar – One of the best ways to organize your life and create consistency is to make a weekly calendar of how you want to schedule your duties. This also helps to ensure that everything on your “To Do” list gets done and that the important things don’t fall through the cracks. Here is a sample schedule you may want to start with for your online fundraising strategy:

Monday – Post on Twitter and Facebook at lunch time.

Tuesday – Post a blog and let your followers know via a link on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday – Update your followers on what major activity or goal your organization is working on. Post it around 5:00 pm. Scan your Facebook homepage for comments that supporters have written concerning your posts and reply to let your supporters know you’re involved and listening.

Thursday – Visit your nonprofit leader groups on LinkedIn for new ideas, advice, or ask a question to the forum.

Friday – Find an interesting quote, picture of your cause, or statistic to post on your social networking sites. Post it around lunch time.

Now this is not set in stone or a comprehensive calendar by any means, but it’s a starting point to get you in the habit of taking a few minutes every day to engage your donors and supporters through social networks. I also included a loose time frame, taking into account that the most successful posts are read before work, at lunchtime, right after work, and in the late evening when the kids are in bed.

Who Should Post on Facebook? – My social network includes variety of nonprofit organizations on Facebook and I’ve been noticing that some are posting on behalf of the nonprofit while others have their front man or woman posting the comments personally. Overall, I think it depends on the type of organization you are running. One of my friends is a motivational speaker and he posts comments on his personal life as well as where he is speaking and his success stories. On the other hand, another nonprofit I follow pertaining to disaster relief and food distribution writes solely under the name of their nonprofit. I think that it would also be wise to write on behalf of both the CEO and have a separate account for the organization; the CEO could certainly write from his or her perspective about where the company is headed while the umbrella account could post on upcoming events, general links on press coverage, and asking for donations for upcoming projects. Consider incorporating both into your social media routine. Supporters often times like to know that there is a face behind an organization, rather than giving blindly.

Do You Donors Know You’re There? – More than likely, your donors aren’t going to seek out your social networking profiles or may have visited your page and bypassed hitting the “like” button… so, ask whenever you can! On every newsletter, direct mail letter, event program, concert program, t-shirt, pamphlet, and webpage write “Like us on Facebook” or “Follow us on Twitter”. There’ a reason why so many products include it in their advertisements; over 250 million Facebook users log in EVERYDAY! When your name appears on their home page, they will remember you the next time they get that bonus at work, need to donate that used car, or want to get involved in a philanthropic organization. They also share updates and activities (such as “liking” your page) with their friends, which averages about 130 people per account. That’s a lot of people you could be reaching if they knew that they should follow you on Facebook!

Getting Involved in School and Church Online Fundraising

Being a mom and an active member in my church means that, in one way or another, I’m always involved with fundraising or trying to get others to participate in different projects and activities. Add to the mix that I work with various nonprofits and write for an online fundraising company, and much of my time is consumed with figuring out the best practices to reach people and to create a successful atmosphere for giving. Here are some newer ideas that I have come across, which combine the convenience of online resources with the needs of school and church fundraising.

1) Evite.com: cool and practical. For holidays and friend’s birthday parties I’ve received several invitations from Evite.com, but it can also be extremely useful for clubs, banquets, and other informal events. The best part: it shows who is coming and encourages others to join in the fun. This could be great for a classroom party so you can see who is bringing what and which families are participating. RSVP tracking also allows you to gauge the amount of supplies you’ll need.

Now, I wouldn’t use this for events where people don’t know each other (that’s why this works well for schools, churches, and clubs with established communities) and it would be casual for expensive or formal events. However, it’s free, easy-to-use, and allows a platform for comments to get people excited about your event.

2) Pinterest: the best thing to happen to crafters since Martha Stewart. Yep, it’s time to start planning for those holiday craft fairs, bake sales, and boutiques! What better way to inspire parents and church ladies to get out those glue guns than sharing some amazing ideas from one of the largest growing social networking forums? Search for fun ornament ideas, recipes for baking delicious cookies, and examples of lovely table décor.

Word of Advice: If you haven’t planned your calendar for holiday events, do it now! November and December are the top months that organizations receive the highest donations, so decide how you are going to get your supporters involved. It is also an extremely busy time of year, so planning ahead is a must so that people can save the date of your event before they get too busy. You may also want to plan two or three different activities to allow options and accommodate busy schedules.

3) Think of a catchy phrase to stand out on Facebook. With Facebook, it’s easy just to scroll down the page and never really take notice of each post. And if there’s a video that someone has posted, the chances are slim to none that I’ll take the time to click on it. Sometimes, however, a post will catch my eye. A few days ago, this nonprofit post got my attention: a picture with a guy at his office desk captioned  “Your boss is probably looking over your shoulder right now and wondering why you are on Facebook. Well tell him that it’s because you need to vote for [name of organization] to reach 1,000 votes to win airfare to further their cause. Click on the link provided to vote!”.  This nonprofit posts daily pictures and press releases, but this was the first time I actually read their post and yes, I did vote! Write something that makes someone take notice and think twice. You could say, “We don’t want you at our event!… If you’re boring, apathetic, or a party-pooper, please stay at home. BUT, if you want to have a good time, join the party at _________.”

3) Get creative with your Fundly page. Break down your giving levels into what each amount will go towards. If you’re raising money for a school library, set a level saying $100 buys ten books. If you’re a church, explain that $50 will send 25 Bibles to China. Think beyond the basic “gold, silver, and bronze” names and apply the titles to your event or cause’s purpose. For the library, you could list the “John Steinbeck, Mark Twain, and Jane Austin” levels. You may also want to print these categories in your event program with the names of your supporters. Through giving online, you have the advantage to acknowledge the generosity of your supporters in the event program instead of after the fact which can inspire others to support your cause.

The bottom line: think about what you know how to do on the computer and with social networking sites and figure out how to apply it to your fundraising needs. You don’t need to spend hours researching new ideas or long periods of time watching lengthy tutorials. Just a little creativity can go a long way.

Extreme Fundraisers vs. Online Fundraising

We’ve all seen or been asked to participate in extreme fundraisers: you know, the ones that say buy a raffle ticket for $1,000 to get a chance to win a million dollar home or if the group raises X amount of dollars, the leader will shave his head. Do donors really need that type of motivation to give? Is it worth the risk of funding and reputation to get a burst of donations?

Reporter Jason DeRusha gave an overview of this topic in Good Question: Do Extreme Fundraisers Pay Off? as he highlighted a local Minnesota Boy Scout troop who offered each boy who raised over $1,000 a chance to repel off of a 22-story skyscraper. “Many people are far surpassing that,” said John Marshall, organizer of the Boy Scouts’ Double Dog Dare fundraiser, “We have people raising $5,000.”

DeRush reports that “a survey of nonprofit fundraising found 80 percent of nonprofits raise money using events… But extreme fundraisers are risky, because they are very expensive to put on.” In this situation, insurance costs alone could be counterproductive to the dollars donated verses the fees to put on the event. Is it  necessary to provide lures to encourage people to give?

In my experience, these extreme fundraising tactics are fine if you keep the prize in direct proportion to your fundraising goals and organization size. If you put  a bunch of time and effort into advertising this type of gimmick, but come out with little or no money raised, the investment might be considered “worth it” if you were able to raise awareness for your organization. However, if the prize is grandiose and your organization is small, the payoff is rarely equivalent to the risk. Step back and gauge who your donor list consists of and what your potential is for success. Ask yourself a few questions: Can your supporters afford high priced tickets? Will this take away from their future gifts? If you promise a house as a prize and give a 50/50 check for $2,000, how will this affect your reputation? On the other hand, relative to DeRush’s example, repelling off of a building is a great reward for a bunch of Boy Scouts to raise money.

DeRush states that most fundraising dollars do not come from events.

According to the Nonprofit Research Collaborative, the vast majority of dollars come through direct donations from corporations and individuals.

I have to say that I concur. I have never met a donor that bought a raffle ticket or made a donation to help reach a crazy goal who then became a committed supporter; it’s usually a one-time gift without being a long-term investment.

So what’s the answer? Do you throw away your events and your attention grabbing hooks? Absolutely not! Count the cost of your innovative ideas and have realistic expectations of what the results will be. Part of being a nonprofit is accepting risk and relying on the generous donations of others, but being overzealous can cost you time, dollars, and, if it flops, it could be difficult to recuperate your good name and the trust of your supporters (two of the most important qualities every charity must guard).

Online fundraising is one way that you can have minimal investment with high potential results. It’s about building relationships to encourage long-term giving and support. It may not always provide the mega surge in giving that over-the-top fundraisers do, but you can reach more people and you still can have giving highs around important projects. It also doesn’t have to be one or the other. Advertise your events, goals, prizes, and outcomes using social media networks. You still need to create interest and intrigue your Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

Like anything in life, it’s all about balance. When you reach the most people you can in a variety of ways, that’s when your nonprofit has the best chance at fulfilling your purpose.

Getting Those Who Need to Be “Got”

Over the weekend I heard a dynamic young speaker who was addressing the issue of giving misguided teens a purpose to help them stay on the right path. He made a statement that really stuck with me: “We want to do what no one else is doing to get those who have not already been ‘got’.” As I write this article several days later, I can’t help but think that this statement can have so many facets pertaining to the nonprofit world.

The Client Side

First of all, this idea is the perfect catalyst for many service organizations who want to reach the down-and-out, those chained by addiction, or for kids who seem to be slipping through the cracks in our educational system. What can you do that other similar organizations aren’t doing to reach those who feel like they don’t want or need help? How can you show that your group is beyond the sugar-coated stereotypes, is effective, and truly cares?

I’ve seen countless speakers in my years working with nonprofits and usually I don’t give much thought to them days after I’ve watched their presentations. What made this young man so different went beyond the fact that he was an unusually gifted speaker; his passion, research, and tangible plan made the whole room of parents and grandparents stand to its feet and applaud his vision. With a blonde Mohawk a mile high and looking like a professional wrestler, he was also cool enough to relate to the people he has a desire to help.

The Donor Side

You can’t do much in this world without money, and that’s the second side of this statement that I want to address. What can you do that no one else is doing to get the donors that you don’t already have (and quite frankly, those who haven’t pledged their commitment to another nonprofit)? Fortunately 71 percent of American households give to charities (according to Dunham and Company’s annual New Year’s Philanthropy Survey), but on the down side it is only 3 to 5 percent of their gross income as stated on financialsamurai.com. That means that over 38 million households aren’t giving and that a majority of households have the potential to give more (because I personally think 3 percent is quite low on the generosity scale). That’s a whole lot of money with a whole lot of giving capability. Now what can you do to inspire those who aren’t giving, to give, and those who are giving, to give more?

This is hardly a new idea and is probably written on the job description of every development director. We spend hours of time at staff and board meetings trying to figure out how to raise more money and reach more people. Here are some ways that nps.gov suggests can boost giving for your charity:

  • Build a more compelling case for giving in light of a more competitive fundraising environment. Charities built strong messages around the consequences of not supporting their cause, such as highlighting the loss of education or art programs, the closing of a center, or reductions in services.
  • Improve communications with donors through quarterly newsletters and regular email announcements.
  • Partner with other organizations to raise visibility and gain a broader audience.
  • Improve efforts in getting small annual gifts from members and acknowledging donor gifts within one or two days.
  • Increase advocacy work and draw attention to a need or crisis.
  • Shift priorities from fundraising for specific groups to fundraising for specific problems or needs.

There are some more basic ways to get what you haven’t got: get ideas from other nonprofits, ask your supporters what they would like to see more of, and have an open brainstorming session with your employees. Who knows what can happen when you ask the right questions?!

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