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Fundraising

Digital Storytelling Techniques Boost Fundraising Success

By | Fundraising, Nonprofit | No Comments

As the world continues to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, nonprofits feel the pinch. Many face record shortfalls. Some who relied upon in-person fundraising activities find it hard to adapt to the new digital world where business and personal events have shifted to the ubiquitous video conference.

Those nonprofits who have never conducted digital fundraising campaigns face a steep learning curve as they embrace the new normal (a phrase we’ve all heard since the pandemic started in March). As you begin your online fundraising efforts, you’re faced with myriad choices. What marketing tactic do you use, and when? How do you engage potential donors when so much vies for their attention online? How do you make your story stand out in their newsfeeds or emails?

The following guide to the best digital storytelling techniques can help your digital fundraising activities go from ho-hum to homerun. Ready? Let’s get started.

Establish a Successful Marketing Platform

  1. Review your current marketing plan. Has it been updated since the pandemic? If not, now is the time to update the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis section, competitive analysis, and target audience.
  2. Look at what your competitors are doing to raise funds or generate sales. Where are they running ads?
  3. Where are your donors congregating online? Do they like Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube? Once you understand your target market, begin to assess various advertising platforms for your fundraising campaign, and start a list of possible platforms to place ads.
  4. Set up online payment portals or gateways to collect and record funds from the campaign.
  5. Gather the stories to share in your fundraising campaign from those who your nonprofit has helped. Ensure that if you use anyone’s name or likeness, you have a signed consent form on file.

Two Powerful Digital Storytelling Techniques for Nonprofit Fundraising

Take a cue from the for-profit world of advertising and use these proven techniques to elicit responses. Each of these powerful storytelling techniques can be adapted to nonprofit fundraising with just a few adjustments. These basic formulas have been used for decades to sell products. Why not use them to generate funds for a good cause?

The AIDA Formula

AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, and action. It’s a way of writing material to grab attention and interest, spark the desire for action, and inspire the action. In nonprofit fundraising, a compelling headline grabs attention while success stories and pictures generate interest.

To spark the desire to help, you must tell the story in such a way that it appeals to the emotions. Then, ask for the desired action—in this case, a donation. Make it easy for people to donate by creating a direct landing page for the campaign with links to online donation forms or buttons to click to donate.

Problem-Solution-Ask

The problem-solution-result-ask formula is often used in case studies to showcase how a company solved a problem, and, by extension, could solve the same problem for the potential customer reading the case study. Nonprofits can adapt this formula by thinking of it in terms of the problem brought to their attention, the solution they applied, the results achieved, and asking for donations to continue such work.

Perhaps you have seen advertisements from animal shelters on television or online. These are classic problem-solution-ask ads. These ads typically start by showing the problems—abandoned pets, sick dogs, injured cats. Next, the scene shifts to the solution—pets frolicking with new owners, shiny eyes and coats, injuries healed. The solution is the shelter’s activities and the dedicated people working there. Such commercials end with the ask and the offer. They ask for donations, offer something in return (the feeling of helping, a gift), and ask again, providing clear and easy methods for donating to the organization.

This formula has worked well for many nonprofit organizations and charities, including food banks, homeless shelters, drug and alcohol rehabilitation charities, educational organizations, and medical charities. It can work for many types of nonprofits, and it may work well for yours!

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

There’s Power in Numbers – Crowdsource Your Fundraising Efforts

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Have you heard the term “crowdsourcing”? It refers to using the power of groups or crowds for fundraising efforts.

People crowdsource a wide range of activities. Artists have engaged their fans to crowdsource funding to produce CDs and books. People crowdsource funds to help neighbors and friends rebuild after a disaster.

You, too, can use crowdsourcing to raise funds for your nonprofit. To get started, learn the basics of crowdsourcing, then work on your campaign using these tips.

There’s power in numbers … the ability to raise money for your nonprofit.

What is a Crowdsourced Fundraising Campaign and How Does It Work?

Crowdsourced fundraising campaigns engage your nonprofit’s supporters, so they become your fundraising team. Each person who participates in the crowdsourcing campaign works their contact list to raise funds. It’s like having a big crowd of volunteer fundraisers working on your behalf to raise money.

The organization running the crowdfunding campaign establishes channels for accepting donations, provides marketing support, and uses its communication channels to raise awareness.

3 Crowdsource Fundraising Tips for Nonprofits

  1. Establish clear, specific goals

Crowdsourcing is similar to many other fundraising activities. It starts with clear end-goals. Consider the following questions as you develop your fundraising goals.

  • What is the objective of this fundraising activity?
  • What is your financial goal?
  • What will the starting and end dates be of the campaign?
  • How will you measure the success of this activity?
  • How many supporters do you need to engage?
  1. Develop the story

Crowdsourcing campaigns revolve around a compelling story. The hero of the story isn’t you or your organization: it’s the fundraiser. Everyone who chooses to participate in the crowdfunding campaign should be treated as a hero in the story.

Build out the campaign story using classic storytelling elements. Every story has a hero, a villain, an obstacle to overcome, and champions or supporters. Think about a well-known story such as “Star Wars.” The hero is Luke Skywalker; the villain is Darth Vader. The champion is Obi-Wan Kenobi. The obstacle to overcome is for Luke to destroy the Death Star and cripple the Empire. It’s a classic tale with elements examined by mythologists such as Joseph Campbell for its compelling modern spin on time-honored storytelling elements.

The hero of your story is clear: the person participating in the crowdsourcing campaign. The villain? What does your organization combat or overcome: illness, animal cruelty, environmental destruction, illiteracy, homelessness? And the champion is the donor—the people who the crowdfunding person engages in the campaign and encourages to donate.

Weave a spellbinding tale in the marketing materials around these classic storytelling elements for powerful messages that resonate with the target audience.

  1. Build donor materials

Make it easy for people to respond and donate. Build a special landing page to track donations from the crowdsourcing campaign. Create and print paper-based donation forms the volunteers can distribute to their contact list and use a code on the form to track donations back to the campaign. Provide plenty of case studies, stories, and marketing materials to support the campaign. Be generous with your time answering questions, hosting online chats or videos, and using social media to support the campaign’s goals.

Successful Crowdsourcing Makes Participation Easy

The key to successful crowdsourcing your fundraising activities, is to make participation easy. By providing supporters with all the materials and information needed to share the campaign, you’ll encourage greater involvement and higher donations.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

 

 

Fundraising During COVID-19

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If you’ve been hesitant to restart fundraising activities during COVID-19, there’s good and bad news. The good news is that it’s not in poor taste or tone-deaf to restart your organization’s fundraising activities during the pandemic. Although their attention is elsewhere, most people recognize that nonprofits still need money to continue their good work.

The bad news? In-person fundraising activities are canceled, at least for the foreseeable future, until scientists provide us with a vaccine, a cure, or both for COVID-19.

But take heart—even if you count on the annual silent auction or dinner-dance for most of your funds, you can switch to fundraising online. And, if your organization is also using technology to support its fundraising activities, you’re in an excellent position to continue operations.

What Do Donors Want?

Donors want two things: transparency and accountability.

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are over 1.5 million charitable organizations registered in the U.S. with the IRS. Nonprofits must work hard to secure donations when donors have so many choices.

Take steps to ensure that your organization’s activities are visible. Keep your website up to date as well as your social media channels. Use stories, case studies, and data to illustrate the work that you’re doing. A donor-centric approach to fundraising means putting your donor’s needs front and center. When you do this, all of your digital communications will be both accountable and transparent.

Keep in Touch Regularly

Some nonprofits fear that they send too many messages. In their quest for both transparency and accountability, their communications manager sends emails, newsletters, and direct mail to donors. How much is too much?

According to the Network for Good, 28% of recurring donors say that the best thing a nonprofit can do to keep them engaged is to send plenty of success stories and communications. Only 4% of respondents to their survey said that nonprofits send too much information. The same study says that 40% would like communications from their favorite nonprofits once or twice a month.

Keep the good news coming. Donors want to know what their favorite organizations have accomplished!

Doing Digital Donor Relations Right: 5 Must-Have Tools

There are many ways to keep in touch with donors. The following five digital communication tools can be used to support donor communications and outreach and ensure fundraising efforts remain consistent. You’re probably using many of these digital communication tools right now. Track, monitor, and measure the response to each, and use more of what works to improve digital fundraising and donor relations.

  1. Email: Emails are the most popular digital fundraising tool in use. Email ‘blasts’ or messages sent to your entire list with a fundraising appeal can be easily tracked and measured. A clear call to action or request to donate positioned prominently within the email can improve response rates.
  2. Blogs: A blog can be used to share stories and updates. Tools added to blogs can automatically send links from new posts out to your social media sites. Blogs are also useful for SEO or search engine optimization. Each time you publish a piece on your blog, it adds one more way for search engines to help people find your nonprofit, so consider the topics of your blog posts and the keyword phrases you select for the issue very carefully; and use free tools like Google Keyword Planner to assess potential traffic for a keyword phrase.
  3. Social media: Social media remains a popular medium to connect with the public. Use plenty of photos and keep profiles updated. Monitor social media channels for questions and respond promptly.
  4. Online giving pages: Specific pages on your site dedicated to encouraging online giving are a great way to use your site for fundraising.
  5. Mobile giving: Mobile giving is a text-to-donate method that enables people to text donations to your organization. The 2019 M + R Benchmarks Survey states that mobile fundraising has a 13% click-through rate, which is noticeably higher than other channels.

These are just a few ideas of how your organization can continue its fundraising activities right now. If you’ve been hesitant to ask for donations during the pandemic, when so many people are out of work or on partial pay due to social distancing, hesitate no longer. Many people remain employed, and loyal supporters want to hear from their favorite nonprofits. To remain silent is to be forgotten; stay top of mind by using digital technology.

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.

Five Traits of Successful Fundraisers

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Having a successful fundraiser on your team is a great feeling. These are the rock stars of the nonprofit world, but unlike the big-haired bands of old, they aren’t smashing guitars or getting their faces splashed on the front page of gossip magazines. Instead, they’re quietly, calmly, and creatively generating the funds you need to keep the doors open and the work moving towards fulfilling your organization’s mission.

What’s their secret? How do they work their magic? Here, we distill the five secrets of successful fundraisers.

5 Traits that Successful Fundraisers Have (and You Can Learn!)

You may think that successful fundraisers are born. But anyone can learn or embrace the characteristics that great fundraisers embody. Read through this list and see which ones you can add to your skill set.

  1. Curiosity – Great fundraisers remain curious about the world around them. This curiosity opens them to new possibilities, connections, and potential, which in turn leads to the creativity that’s needed to launch effective campaigns.
  2. Understanding of human behavior – One of the main traits of successful fundraisers is that they understand how the average person thinks and acts. This in-depth knowledge can be intuitive or acquired through reading, study, and experience. It leads them to develop campaigns that get responses because they understand the motivators and drivers of human behavior and can connect it to the cause supported by your organization.
  3. Insights into the target donor – Many people new to fundraising create campaigns based on their likes and dislikes. That can lead to mistaken messaging and poor response rates. Good fundraisers understand that they are different from the donors they approach. Most donors are in their 60’s and follow specific personality characteristics unique to a given nonprofit. Those who donate to animal charities may differ from those who support healthcare nonprofits, for example. Understanding the “end customer” is marketing-speak for knowing why your donors give and how to approach them so that they are likely to say “yes.”
  4. Data-driven mindset – While great fundraisers are also creative, they embrace a data-driven mindset and aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and crunch the donor campaign data. The resulting facts are then used to fuel the next round of marketing. Data is used to support decisions and improve response rates.
  5. Networking – Great fundraisers are also good net-workers. They network with people both within the nonprofit world and those from the profit-driven business world. Thanks to this relentless networking, they have a large circle of colleagues and friends who can share advice and best practices. They absorb information from throughout their network and aren’t afraid to share their learning and understanding, too, to help a friend succeed.

But the Most Important Characteristic?

The most important characteristic of successful fundraisers isn’t one that can be taught or bought. It’s the love of the cause and a passion for fundraising.

These are the people who genuinely believe in the mission of the organization and who aren’t afraid to go the extra mile to support it. They have a genuine love of the fundraising world and embrace best practices in direct response marketing, direct mail marketing, advertising, and digital marketing to help them achieve their goals. They find joy in developing relationships with donors and sharing the mission to drive margin.

Successful fundraisers are worth every penny of their salary. They not only raise money, but they also lift spirits. Because of their dedication, others in the organization find themselves recruited into the fundraiser’s orbit. Fundraisers are the rock stars, but they are also the rock of any organization, creating the foundation from which margin flows and organizations can meet their objectives.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact Welter Consulting at 206-605-3113 for more information.