Getting Noticed on #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday is a powerful swell of support for philanthropy across the world. With over 1.5 million gifts given last year, it’s clear donors are paying attention. Make sure your content helps your mission stand out on Giving Tuesday!

Check out our video below for three tips for outstanding #GivingTuesday content, even with the smallest of budgets.

Do you need help planning your biggest #GivingTuesday yet? …or launching your first? No one has planned and launched more online giving days that Groundwork Digital. Fill out your contact info below and we’ll get back to you with a free, 30-minute #GivingTuesday consultation.

Online Ambassadors Lead to Major Donor Fundraising

The bigger the purchase, the more our peers influence our decision.

2014 Word of Mouth Marketing Association study found that “higher consideration purchases” – like buying a home or a car – are influenced by peer recommendation more than “lower consideration purchases” such as clothing or food.

Would you agree that a major gift is more of a big or “higher consideration” purchase than a “lower consideration” purchase? Of course that’s true. Learn more about how this translates into major gifts fundraising in the video below:

Is your organization or institution uncovering new major gift prospects with online ambassadors? Are your digitally savvy major donors leading seven-figure online fundraising campaigns? If not, send us your contact info via the form below and we’ll get right back to you with some ideas on advancing peer-to-peer for major gifts at your organization.

Trust in Influencers

 

The for-profit world has been placing value in peer-to-peer influencers or “online ambassadors” for years. And the results show that trust in ambassadors is paying off for many companies.

In fact, “trust” has a lot to do with why ambassadors are so effective in modern marketing and communications.

CHECK OUT THIS LINK FOR SOME STUNNING ONLINE AMBASSADOR STATISTICS

People buy based on what their friends tell them, because of trust. When a relationship starts with trust, it tends to last longer. Consider these stats from the above link:

  • 92 percent of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands
  • 74 percent of consumers use social media to make purchase decisions
  • 37 percent better retention is reported for customers acquired through word-of-mouth advertising

What does that mean for donor acquisition? …and retention? The fact is, online ambassador communication works just as well – maybe better – in the nonprofit world.

In reviewing online ambassador activity that that took place on the ScaleFunder giving day platform in 2016, each ambassador would, on average, raise $125 during a giving day.

Perhaps even more staggering is this 2015 Blackbaud study that found 1 in 4 emails from online ambassadors led to a gift – a whopping 25 percent conversion rate. That’s compared to 1 in 1,250 emails from the organization that led to a gift – a paltry .08 percent conversion.

Again, for those keeping score, that’s a 25 percent conversion rate for ambassador-sent email versus a .08 conversion rate for emails sent by the organization.

It almost makes you wonder if you should ever send a solicitation email that is not from an online ambassador?

And it works for major donors, too. Check out the video below that details how the higher the price tag (a major gift, for example), the more peer influence impacts the decision.

Now here’s the catch – it’s not easy. Online ambassador programs are volunteer programs and they require careful and frequent management …but if you do it right, you have the potential to transform your development operation for the 21st century.

And guess what? Groundwork Digital has built dozens of online ambassador programs. Click here to send us a message and set up a time to talk about how we can help revolutionize your development operation with peer-to-peer fundraising.

 

Want to increase online engagement? Stop being so serious!

FunderfulThis article was contributed by Funderful and originally appeared in the April edition of CASE Currents magazine. Click here to read more.

Working adults crave fun. Four out of 10 adults worldwide deal with excessive pressure on the job, according to a global workforce study by Towers Watson. A recent work survey showed that more than 80 percent of Americans are stressed about at least one thing at work—from low pay and long commutes to overwhelming workloads and annoying co-workers. Put another way, we want to laugh more.

Your alumni are also begging for something fun that will grab their attention. Let’s look at ways your university can dust the stuffiness off of its giving campaigns and attract the attention of long-lost alumni.

When we took over alumni giving as volunteers for the alumni association at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga in 2007, the participation rate was zero percent. Four years later, participation was at 11 percent, and we ambitiously decided to surpass the rate of the university that raised the most money that year—Stanford University, which received gifts from 34 percent of its alumni in 2011. Two years later, our Let’s Beat Stanford campaign came to fruition: Approximately every third alumnus donated, increasing participation by 318 percent. This multiyear campaign also allowed us to grant 60 scholarships and provide ongoing support to renovate an auditorium.

How did we do it? By challenging egos, inventing mascots, tapping into nostalgia, and having fun.

The annual participation rate is the best measure of the strength of an alumni network—and the only true metric, suggests Dave Celone, former head of the annual giving effort at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. Alumni participation has steadily declined throughout the last decade, even as total amounts of fundraising have grown. We as an industry are good at contacting prospects but struggle when old tools no longer engage the masses—and when alumni adapt to new technologies faster than we do. More charities are also competing for the same donors than ever before.

Traditional approaches seem to have reached their limits. 47 percent of people find it annoying to be solicited for gifts via phone, revealed a 2013 survey from the U.K.–based nfpSynergy, a research consultancy for nonprofits. It’s time to rethink your strategy.

You may be hearing a lot about gamification as a flashy way to change people’s behavior. Yet if you’re not addressing the innate needs and desires that get people to participate and care about something, it doesn’t matter how much money you spend on social media campaigns, fancy websites, or exotic scavenger hunts and adventure mazes.

Think about what drives people to spend. Everyone has to allocate money for necessities like housing, gasoline, insurance, and groceries. Beyond that, most money is spent on entertainment— dinners, movies, iPads, vacations. Fun makes people part with their earnings, not only when they want to but even when they know they shouldn’t. When you combine fun with great causes, you can give people the amusement they desire and are willing to pay for. But even more than fun, good appeals, regardless of medium, have to address the need for playing, being social, and receiving recognition for good deeds. Give your alumni a game, absolutely, but match that game with insights into your community, and you will have an approach that gives the best digital life to your campaign.

If you want prospective donors to fall in love with your cause, these components are crucial. Instead of considering the needs of the institution, remind alumni what makes it special.

The key to engaging more people is to appeal to a number of triggers: peer pressure (All your friends are donating! You should too!); competition (Can your class be the most spirited?); nostalgia (Remember how fun it was here?); and pride (Look what your university has accomplished!). If you can integrate these elements into your messaging and appeals, you will persuade alumni to part with their time and money. Participation rates will soar.

Go ahead, try it. We dare you.

BWF_social’s 2014 Higher Education Giving Day Survey Results

  • Columbia’s Giving Days raised $6.8 million from 4,940 donors in 2012, $7.8 million from nearly 9,700 donors in 2013, and $11 million+ from 10,400 donors in 2014.
  • The University of Sydney’s September 2014 “Pave the Way” Campaign raised $932,000 from more than 1,000 donors.
  • Santa Clara University’s April 2014 “Power of One Day” raised $795,000 from almost 3,000 donors.

The numbers are clear—when planned well, online giving days can be enormous fundraising tools. In higher education, colleges and universities are leveraging giving days to acquire new donors, meet fundraising goals, and engage major gift supporters. But you don’t have to take our word for it…

BWF_social recently concluded a survey of 45 higher education institutions. The respondents included schools of all size and scope—from public universities to liberal arts colleges. Much like the schools, the scale of the giving days varied, but the numbers are clear—giving days equal big fundraising for nearly every school that put resources toward the effort.

To view a summary of the survey’s highlights, click on the infographic below. For the full results of the survey, click here. Wanna join the list of institutions that have conducted leading giving days? Click here to learn more about how BWF_social can help ensure a big online fundraising event for your school.

2014 BWF_social Online Giving Day Survey

 

BWF_social to Tour West Coast with FREE Online Fundraising Workshop

BWF presents a FREE half-day workshop to help your nonprofit raise more money online.

BWF presents a FREE half-day workshop to help your nonprofit raise more money online.

Oh, the things we now know about online fundraising. For example, did you know that…

  • Online acquired donors give twice as much to your organization as those acquired off line via channels like direct mail? (Blackbaud/Convio study)
  • Donors who give online have much higher household incomes than those who don’t give online? (Blackbaud/Convio study)
  • Social media is the #1 way most Americans now learn or a new cause to support? (Georgetown/Waggener Edstrom study)

Online and social media isn’t a luxury add on to your nonprofit organization’s communication strategy anymore – it’s a necessity for the future survival of your organization that will also raise big money and acquire lots of new donors RIGHT NOW. And now is when you want to get started on a strategy that helps you connect with donors on this ever-expanding medium.

On July 21, 22, and 23, BWF_social’s lead consultant Justin Ware will join Bentz Whaley Flessner principal Josh Birkholz for a three-city road show focused on building your online and social media presence for fundraising. In each city, Justin and Josh will deliver a three-hour morning workshop that will consist of two sessions and wrap up before lunch (because we know how busy you are). Best of all, it’s free!

To register for the Monday, 7/21 Los Angeles event, click here.

To register for the Tuesday, 7/22 San Francisco event, click here.

To register for the Wednesday, 7/23 Seattle event, click here.

Looking forward to seeing you soon on the West Coast!

Higher Ed Online Fundraising and the Rise of “Money Bombs”

Arizona State: $3.059 million in 36 hours … Columbia University: $7.8 million in 24 hours (after raising $6.8 million just one year earlier) … Santa Clara University: 2,600+ donors in 24 hours – by far their biggest day for donor participation ever.

Thanks, in part, to a strong social media strategy, Santa Clara University saw record-breaking donor participation during their first ever "money bomb" online campaign.

Thanks, in part, to a strong social media strategy, Santa Clara University saw record-breaking donor participation during their first ever “money bomb” online campaign.

Short duration, online fundraising campaigns or “money bombs” are taking over higher education. But it’s not as easy as sending out an email and posting a few things on Facebook. The institutions that have had success have invested tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in three main areas to prepare for these online events:

  • Well-designed, donor-centric online infrastructure (campaign landing pages, giving forms, mobile sites, etc).
  • A long-term online and social media strategy (not just for the campaign, but throughout the year).
  • Peer-to-peer or online ambassador programs.

If you’re interested in learning much more about the above suggestions, check out the following web chat from the Chronicle of Philanthropy (full-length chat posted below). In it, I’m joined by Georgetown’s Joannah Pickett (chief architect and strategist behind GU’s perfectly executed City Challenge online campaigns), Ohio State’s Chad Warren (one of the best online campaign planners in the business who has both Florida State’s Great Give and Dayton’s I Love UD campaigns under his belt), and the Chronicle’s Cody Switzer:

 

Are you ready to plan an online fundraising campaign for your institution? We have plenty of experience helping our clients achieve online fundraising success during these money bomb efforts. Click here for my BWF contact info or here for my LinkedIn to connect with me (Justin Ware) and learn more about how we might work together.

 

3 Things to Guarantee Your New Platform Leads to Online Fundraising Success

Finally, you get the green light to purchase that fundraising or crowdfunding platform that gives you all the tools you need to start raising real money online.

  • Personal fundraising pages for your biggest advocates? Check.
  • Seamless integration with your database? Check.
  • Beautiful, content-rich campaign landing pages? Check.

Maybe you’ve had these online platforms in place for a few months or years now. And if you’re like many nonprofits, you’re not having the fundraising success you envisioned when signing the dotted line to purchase that shiny new software.

A good online giving or crowdfunding is only 1/3 of what you  need for online fundraising success.

A good online giving or crowdfunding platform is only 1/3 of what you need for online fundraising success. Without online ambassadors and a smart strategy, it’s not likely you’ll meet your goals.

What happened? Why is it that your fundraising campaigns continue to fall short of their goals? Chances are, it’s not the platform’s fault (and you probably know that).

Without a single exception, every online fundraising campaign this author can think of was successful when the organization did the following three things (and did them well):

  1. Invested in attractive, user-friendly online giving infrastructure (that’s the shiny new platform your org just purchased).
  2. A robust online ambassador program.
  3. A content strategy led by smart staff.

When the above three things are done well, the organization running the campaign has always met or exceeded its goals. Every. Single. Time. When the organization cuts corners on strategy or doesn’t have an online ambassador program, the success rate drops significantly.

So, when investing in a good online giving or crowdfunding platform (and you should, campaigns are rarely successful without good infrastructure) make sure you’re saving budget to build a strategy that includes online ambassadors and content production so those ambassadors have something to share.

Justin Ware helps nonprofit clients build online and social media fundraising strategies that lead to six- and seven-figure online fundraising campaigns. On Thursday, March 20, he’ll be hosting a FREE webinar on the topic. To register, click here.

Colgate Raises $5.1 Million in 24 Hours with Online (Radio)

Online fundraising and crowdfunding can do more for your major gift program than it can for your annual fund.

No, really. I’m serious. Here’s my evidence – Colgate University raised $5.1 million – the majority of the dollars coming from major donors – during a campaign that was broadcast via their radio station WRCU …which is streamed online. The bulk of the dollars came in via major donors who wanted to drive up participation during the campaign (The focus of this campaign was a more annual fund-centric, participation-centered goal …but several six and seven figure gifts were the end result, along with a lot of donors).

For the full story, check out the article on Forbes.com. For a brief summary, here’s a few bullets:

  • An anonymous donor pledged a $1 million gift if the campaign could produce gifts from 1,300 donors (13 is a significant number in Colgate’s history)
  • WRCU rolled out a day of programming including prominent alumni such as music producer Bernie Reznick, long-time Boston Red Sox announcer Jim Castiglione, and Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy.
  • Word of the campaign grew (because it was online, the whole world had access – not just those within the 25-mile broadcast radius of the radio station) and soon, other prominent alumni we’re adding millions of dollars to up the participation challenge.
  • When all was said and done, $5.1 million was raised from 5,683 donors.
Colgate's WRCU radio station was the online hub for an impressive fundraising effort.

Colgate’s WRCU radio station was the online hub for an impressive fundraising effort.

OK …so what’s the takeaway and how does this relate to online fundraising and/or crowdfunding? There are multiple ways…

  • Online campaigns have massive reach (this would not have happened if WRCU was not broadcast over the Internet) and create an enormous amount of buzz when done right. This leads to high donor acquisition numbers, including major gift donors.
  • Because of all that buzz, getting involved in this campaign was a way for major gift donors to:
    • Receive instant recognition for their gifts which were announced in a very public manner as part of the campaign.
    • See the impact of their gifts by all the donors who gave to reach the new and increasing participation goals.
  • The best campaigns – online or off – are intimately connected to what makes your institution special. In this case, that’s a strong communications program with many prominent alumni who care about and still listen to Colgate’s radio station.

Crowdfunding is a social event that creates buzz. If you have a major gift donor who likes the spotlight, consider inviting them to participate by offering a similar challenge. It’s the naming rights concept translated to the digital space.

Of course, while we’re at it, why restrict this approach to just major gift donors? Corporate and foundation support is increasingly important in the philanthropic space. Given the exposure a solid crowdfunding or online fundraising campaign offers, corporate partners would likely be champing at the bit to get involved with an effort like this and all the related marketing appeal.

The potential for connecting your online and crowdfunding efforts to your major gift and corporate development programs are immense. So what are you waiting for? Multi-million dollar fundraising efforts that bring about impressive donor acquisition at all levels are there to be had for those who can build a smart strategy.

Justin Ware is the Director of Interactive Communication at Bentz Whaley Flessner. On February 27, Justin will be in Washington, DC leading a full-day crowdfunding workshop. To register, click here

Building a Strategy for Crowdfunding [DC BOOT CAMP]

Build a crowdfunding strategy for your organization at the BWF boot camp in Washington, D.C.

Build a crowdfunding strategy for your organization at the BWF boot camp in Washington, D.C.

Crowdfunding is a great for small gifts and donor acquisition. It’s also a powerful tool for major donor prospecting and corporate foundation relations. Don’t believe us? Well then, you’ll just have to attend our Crowdfunding Boot Camp in Washington, D.C. on February 27th! We’ll share examples that prove those points. Then, we’ll help your organization develop a strategy to achieve those results through a successful online and social media strategy.

Having an advanced online fundraising and/or crowdfunding strategy is one of the best things your organization can do to raise money and (especially) acquire more new donors in 2014. We say this because…

So join us on the Georgetown campus on Thursday, February 27th from 9am to 4:30pm for this full-day event. Along with sharing lots of online fundraising success stories, we’ll show you how to set up a successful program for your nonprofit organization or institution.

Click here to sign up now and we’ll see you next month in the Nation’s Capital!

The BWF Crowdfunding Boot Camp will be led by BWF’s Director of Communication, Justin Ware. Feel free to send any questions Justin’s way by clicking here for his contact info or by connecting with Justin here on LinkedIn.