By Mike Rognlien
On November 12, 2013, Ryan Ferguson was released from the Jefferson County Correctional Center in Missouri after serving 10 years for a murder that he did not commit. Ryan’s battle with the Missouri justice system began in 2004, when he was arrested for the murder of journalist Kent Heitholt. Publicized by the news media as “The Dream Killer” case, Ryan’s friend Chuck had – with ample help from police and prosecutors – confessed to the murder and implicated Ryan due to ‘dreams’ he started having just over two years after Heitholt’s death. Add in another eyewitness – who, along with Chuck, later admitted to committing perjury in their implication of Ryan – and Ryan’s fate was sealed.
This case captured the attention of people from all over the world, not just because the premise of the conviction was so unimaginable, but because Ryan himself had maintained such poise, maturity and fortitude in light of being unjustly convicted. Over the course of the 8 years following his conviction, Dateline NBC, 48 Hours and several other media outlets covered his story, and in December 2012, a Facebook Page was started to organize – and galvanize – supporters of his freedom. Almost 90,000 strong, Ryan’s Facebook supporters wrote letters, made phone calls and – now, with the help of Fundly – raised money.
Being involved in running the Facebook Page has taught me a lot about the justice system, and the ignorance that I and many other Americans have about how it works and, more importantly, how it doesn’t. Many people believe that the wrongfully convicted are showered with compensation and apologies from those who put them away, but they aren’t. We started this fund for Ryan to give his supporters one final opportunity to help him – to get back on his feet and, similar to the way an insurance policy would, restore some of what he lost by spending almost the entirety of his 20’s behind bars.
For more on Ryan’s case, visit his Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/freedryanferguson
Donate to Ryan”s campaign here: https://fundly.com/ryan-ferguson-fund
December 3rd is #GivingTuesday, a national campaign to create a day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. #GivingTuesday started in 2012 as a charitable answer to the retail shopping days of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.
This is a day to remind us that all that giving means much more than the exchange of material items. The holidays are a season how giving, however we get so caught up on the material things, we forget to volunteer at our local animal shelter, help out a friend or family member in need, donate to a cause or even start fundraising for something that matters to you most. This #GivingTuesday, we hope everyone takes the time to give back to a cause that is important to you.
To help promote this great initiative, we are automatically giving back 25% of the payment processing costs* for any donation to your campaign on #GivingTuesday!
The discount is automatic, so make sure to share your campaign tomorrow (December 3)
*The total processing cost will be 6.7% instead of %7.9. The credit card portion is 3%, and we cut our portion from 4.9% to 3.7%. A #GivingTuesday gift from us to you!
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:
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:
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!
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.
The total charitable contributions by individuals, corporations, and foundations in the United States for 2010 was $290.8 billion. Of that number, individual giving was an estimated $211.7 billion*. So, who is getting all that money? More importantly, how can your organization claim more of it?!
Let’s break down the who, what, and where of charitable contributions. The Chronicle of Philanthropy conducted its own survey to pinpoint which states, cities, and metropolitan areas are the most generous. Here’s what they found:
Now that we know where the giving is taking place, how is it divided by sector? CharityNavigator.org has posted the following stats:
Now that I’ve bombarded you with facts, what can we takeaway from this information? There seems to be a strong common thread linking together the most generous cities, metropolitan areas, and the recipients of the largest portion of donations. Perhaps other nonprofit organizations can take a few pointers from religious organizations based on these statistics. First of all, donors tied to religious organizations often feel a moral and personal obligation to give. There is a higher sense of purpose which drives their generosity and keeps them faithfully giving. Secondly, there is a sense of community within these organizations that unites their supporters with one another and the organization itself. What opportunities are you providing for your donors to come together, connect with each other and your staff, and join together to further your cause? Informational meetings, facility tours, volunteer opportunities, Facebook groups, concerts, etc. are all ways to gather your supporters together for community development. Follow these up with accountability, relationship cultivation, and commitment, and your donors will begin to feel more connected to your cause.
Another takeaway: giving is up across the board. Though it may be a little ironic that numbers tend to rise in a recession, I contribute this fact to a couple of things: 1) there are more opportunities to give and more causes to give to and 2) it’s easier than ever to give. With the internet becoming more and more of an integral part of our daily lives, many causes are coming to the forefront of our consciousness through social media, e-mail, and publicized celebrity endorsements. Not only are we more aware of the news around us, but also of social conditions and hardships. Now, more than ever, we are living in an information revolution.
Back to the original question: who’s doing the giving? Apparently a whole lot of people.
*as reported by the Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University
With so much to do and so little time, it can be difficult to always determine what to post on Facebook or Tweet on Twitter on a regular basis. You know that you need a consistent presence using social media to stay in touch with your donor base, but some days or weeks that seems almost impossible. Well, fear not! I’ve scoured the web to find some of the most inspirational and informative quotes for you to cut and paste to encourage your donors and followers. You may also want to use this list as a way to create intro paragraphs for newsletter articles, create interaction on social media networks by asking your audience if they agree or disagree with the statement, or as text on a webpage to spur on others to give. (Some of these sayings may be more applicable to certain causes than others, but I tried to find a gamut of text to cover many bases.)
While the quotations can easily inspire others to get involved, they can also be catalysts for your own employees. The factoids clearly show the importance of nonprofits in the fabric of our society and the need for individuals to continue to support your cause on an ongoing basis. The best strategy is to maintain consistency using social media networks and to let your donors know what you are doing. Even these simple posts can cause supporters to get inspired by you and ponder what they can do to help.
Nonprofit fundraisers seem to be at an interesting crossroads with the tried and true ways of fundraising up against the ever-changing world of technology. While traditional newsletters, reply cards, and telephone calls are still valuable methods of achieving and maintaining donor support, nonprofit organizations are taking part in the transition to social media fundraising.
Kivi Leroux Miller, nonprofit marketing expert, conducted an intriguing and relevant study and posted the results in Six Ways Social Media Has Affected Nonprofit Newsletters. Some of her findings are quite surprising and I was impressed with how many organizations are combining traditional methods of donor relations with their online efforts.
Miller explains that, out of the 299 people who responded to her question “how your newsletter has changed, including how your organization’s use of social media has affected your newsletter, whether print or online,” one third said that it hasn’t. This percentage of respondents fell into one of the following three categories: they do not use social media at all, their audiences for both mediums are completely different, or they use these channels of communication for different outcomes.
Concerning the remaining two-thirds: I found the comments that Miller posted from her participants extremely helpful. Sometimes you know the answers, but it helps when someone puts words to your thoughts so you can create a tangible fundraising strategy. Here are some of the tips and ideas that nonprofit leaders provided regarding how they incorporate both social media and traditional newsletters into their overall strategy.
It’s obvious that both old and new methods of fundraising can certainly work together for the benefit of your organization and reach the maximum amount of potential supporters. Newsletters are valuable for providing in-depth content and reaching an audience who prefers customary forms of communication. Social media can piggyback on this form of donor relations by broadening your audience, making it more interactive, and refining what content goes into print. Just because more technology is being incorporated into the philanthropic world doesn’t mean that the baby has to be thrown out with the bathwater. Find out what is working with you and determine how to partner your past successes with new methods of fundraising.
Over the weekend I attended an event and met a nice older gentleman who worked at a nonprofit organization. While I was discussing some of what we do here at Fundly, a glazed look came over his eyes and he just stood there smiling. I realized that so many times we take for granted that people naturally understand, and are involved in, the world of technology these days. Since you may be new to the nonprofit world, social media, or online fundraising, I thought it would be nice to take a moment to briefly explain some commonly used terms.
Blog – an informational website that has a particular theme and consistent updates. It is an ongoing commentary on topics of interest that allows readers to interact via comments, likes, and shares.
Crowdfunding – enlisting individuals to network and pool resources via the internet to support a cause or organization. For example, in the fallout of a natural disaster, many people log on to a popular website and donate to an organization aiding those affected by the destruction, sharing with and encouraging their social networks to do the same.
Like – supporting or showing approval to a comment made on Facebook. A virtual thumbs up!
Microblogging – mini updates of what you are working on, sharing articles that you like, or attaching pictures that you would like others to see. What people “post” on Facebook or “Tweet” on Twitter.
Online Fundraising – raising money for a cause or organization using internet resources, such as social networking sites and e-mail.
Post - status updates, comments, pictures, and shared content on Facebook.
Retweet – reposting what someone has already Tweeted for your followers to read.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – the process of improving the visibility of a website in a search engine’s organic search results, such as Google or Bing. SEO incorporates keywords into a website that will result in a higher ranking in search results and, ultimately, more traffic to the website. Think about what words people will type into the search engine to find out more information about your organization or topic and highlight those terms on your site.
Share – reposting others’ content onto your own Facebook Page to share with your friends or followers.
Social Media Fundraising – using social media networks (such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+) to raise money by sharing donors, updates, thank you’s, and supporters. This also entails encouraging donors and supporters to promote and share your cause.
Social Media Network – Facebook and Twitter are the two most popular social media networks. They allow people, businesses, and organizations to create a profile/account to connect with other people or organizations they know that are registered there. Once you approve of someone connecting to you on that site, you can read what they write and they can see what you write (also called a “post” on Facebook or “Tweet” on Twitter). Other popular Social Media Networks include: LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram.
Tweet – comments that are made on Twitter.
Webpage – most websites have various links that are connected to the website. Picture the website as a book and each tab a separate chapter.
Website – the compilation of webpages that makes up a specific website.
Widget – “Widgets allow users to turn personal content into dynamic web apps that can be shared on websites where the code can be installed. For example, a “Weather Report Widget” could report today’s weather by accessing data from the Weather Channel, it could even be sponsored by the Weather Channel. Should you want to put that widget on your own Facebook profile, you could do this by copying and pasting the embed code into your profile on Facebook.” Wikipedia can say it better than I can!
If I’ve left any terms out that you would like to know more about, please leave a comment below. Also, if there is a relevant term that you would like to add, please post your idea in the comment section also.
Is it just me, or does it feel like we’ve always been in this recession? I vaguely remember a time when the housing market was strong, the stock market was steady, and pennies weren’t so tightly pinched. There just may finally be light at the end of the tunnel! According to a new study from Idealist.org on MarketWatch.com, things are looking up for the nonprofit world.
Idealist.org surveyed 1,000 nonprofit organizations this summer and came up with some interesting findings:
I can’t help but speculate why more dollars are flowing through the nonprofit sector. Is it because people have more expendable income to give? Are people feeling greater emotional ties to increasing necessity? Or is it simply easier to give and connect with an organization than ever before? Most likely, it is a combination of all three.
Regardless of the reason, increases in funding and salaries have caused more organizations to be on the lookout for new hires. The survey found that 32% of job seekers are interested in fundraising, and 36% of organizations need fundraisers. So while approximately one third of organizations are posting to fill these positions, here are things to consider as an executive interviewing candidates or a job-seeker creating a resume:
1) What online fundraising experience does the candidate have? According to nptrends.com, online fundraising in the United States surpassed $22 billion which was an increase of over 34% from 2009. The Chronicle of Philanthropy states that the nonprofits that raise the most online come from the social service, international, and health sectors.
2) What social networking skills does the candidate possess? A large portion of public relations, advertising, and volunteer recruitment is done online. While these three categories may not traditionally come under the fundraising umbrella, it still greatly overlaps in development planning. As an applicant, be sure to list your experience with social media networks and keep any online profiles you maintain professional. Interviewers and companies are increasingly turning to social media to further their knowledge of applicants – that keg stand profile picture might not be as appealing as it once was. As a job seeker, what image are you putting out there? As an interviewer, what type of person are you looking for to join your team?
3) What ideas does the candidate have to merge offline and online giving? Rarely is fundraising restricted to one medium or another. Look for innovative ideas to balance the two methods and make fundraising available to donors regardless of what avenue they are using.
With funding and hiring levels increasing, it seems obvious that now is the time to brush up on those online fundraising skills. As more dollars enter the philanthropy pool, it’s time to polish your fundraising strategies to ensure that you get your portion and that you find the right fundraisers to partner alongside you.