Tag Archives: fund development

Greenpeace Gets Brand Tone, Donor Motivations Right

Greenpeace membership renewal

Great example, Greenpeace!

Driving from North Carolina to Washington, D.C. last week, my old colleague and pal Sharon Swanson (producer of the Elizabeth Spencer documentary among other career hats) and I had plenty of time to talk. About street signs like the one posted below, sure, but also about how nonprofits sometime miss the mark with events and promotions that aren’t in keeping with their brands.


This got in here because it just cracked me up

Then this little blurb caught my eye this morning, thanks to The Nonprofit Times:

Individual donors contributed about 73 percent, or $217.79 billion to nonprofits in 2011, out of a total of nearly $300 billion, according to Giving USA. Knowing your donors’ motivations can help you create more targeted asks and get more contributions to your organization. Eric John Abrahamson, Ph.D., outlined seven types of donors in his book Beyond Charity.

  • Communitarians give out of a sense of belonging to a community, using their gifts to reinforce collective efforts.
  • Devout donors are motivated by faith, adherence to religious teachings, and loyalty to religious institutions.
  • Investors view money as a means to create social change.
  • Socialites participate in philanthropy as a social activity.
  • Altruists see philanthropy as a way to fulfill their life purpose.
  • Repayers give out of a sense of gratitude.
  • Dynasts are born into families with deeply embedded philanthropic traditions.

Exactly. Individual donors need to be described in terms of profiles that reflect their attitudes and motivations. When I was wearing my corporate marketing hat, we called it psychographics.

So the piece at the top of this post caught my eye. I thought this membership renewal piece was downright brilliant. It appeals to the group of people who define themselves as nonconformists and 99%’ers. It is a great execution right down to the creepy charcoal illustrations, the ironic reverse psychology, and even the use of snail mail to reach an audience that uses snail mail rarely. My son will love it.


Filed under fundraising, Messaging, Strategy

Finally! Online Community Giving Blitz Comes to Sacramento


In 2011, I wrote about Washington DC’s “Give to the Max” online fundraising blitz, and I’ve been anxiously waiting for something like that to come to Sacramento. This Monday, April 29, that moment arrives as Give Local Now, the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, For Arts’ Sake, Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission and the Nonprofit Resource Center bring us the Arts Day of Giving. As happy as I am for the arts organizations that will benefit, I’m even more excited about what it potentially means for all local nonprofits. I caught up with Susan Frazier of Give Local Now to learn more about the event — and the progress of Give Local Now’s efforts to energize local giving.

Let’s start with the basics: what do you want people to do on April 29?

We want them to go onto givelocalnow.com, where they will be redirected to a special giving page. The page will be up over the weekend but they won’t be able to donate until 4:29 a.m. on Monday, April 29. It’s very simple and quick to get to a list of nonprofits and pick the one you want to donate to. The page can handle 10,000 transactions a minute so it’s not going to slow down. Check out the tutorial about a minute in:

You can also help by spreading the word. Local arts organizations stand to win prizes including $1,000 for the organization that generates the most posts on Facebook and Twitter during the 24-hour-period, but posts must be public and use the hashtag #artsdayofgiving.

Is this the first 24-hour online giving event in the area that benefits a group of nonprofits?

It is. You have to have sophisticated technology in place, which we now have, thanks to the Sacramento Region Community Foundation. The next online giving event will benefit the full sector of nonprofits, in May of next year.

The Sacramento Region Community Foundation has been terrific. The amount of labor and investment that they’ve taken on has been stunning. It’s a real gift to the region. They both funded and staffed the development of the technology.

Technology is more and more important to nonprofits. What technology was required to make this online giving event possible?

We integrated two pieces of existing technology: a database and an ecommerce/campaign tool. The database comes from Guidestar; they branded it as DonorEdge but we renamed it GivingEdge. The secure ecommerce/campaign tool provides the landing page for the day, which will instantly track and display each donation and all kinds of statistics as the day goes along. You’ll be able to tell which nonprofits are getting what and how we’re doing against our goal.

The database allows donors to see really robust information about a nonprofit’s programs, financials, management and governance. We only have the arts organizations profiles now but by fall we hope to have good representation of all sectors of the local nonprofit community. While Guidestar includes all IRS-registered nonprofits, those organizations will have to choose to complete a profile for GivingEdge. The database shines a lot of light and transparency on organizations.

What do you hope will be raised for the arts?

We hope to raise as much as $500,000. We have $100,000 in matching donations from a variety of corporate sponsors and businesses and restaurants that are offering discounts or freebies to contributors who show a receipt for their donation via print out or on their smart phone. And this was just added: Bistro 33 locations are offering a 20% discount to donors and Harv’s Car Wash will provide a free wash. We’re deeply grateful for the support of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, Western Health Advantage, Wells Fargo Bank, Barry and Lynda Keller, Enlow and Mel Ose Endowment for the Arts, Safe Credit Union, Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, and the Jean Runyon Endowment for the Arts Fund, which will give a cash prize of $1,767 to the arts organization that raises the most overall during the event.

Why the particular focus on the arts?

The original initiative idea came from “For Arts’ Sake,” through Mayor Kevin Johnson’s office. They thought it would be a great use of their initiative and they knew they couldn’t do it alone.

What are you hearing from local nonprofits about their fundraising success as the local economy begins to slowly improve?

I’m hearing about a slight uptick, but there’s also a lot of concern among donors. As one donor said to me, “Darn, I thought this economic downturn would get rid of some of these nonprofits.” What’s behind that is some skepticism about whether the sector has too much duplication. Nonprofits are really frustrated with that, that they may not be able to attract donors, often because of a misperception. That’s something that this database can help with. It may show that they fill a need that other nonprofits do not, or suggest opportunities for collaboration.

What’s next for Give Local Now?

We’re gearing up with a bunch of different strategies. One of them is the nonprofit capacity piece, working through the Nonprofit Resource Center to build fundraising skills of nonprofits and their Boards through training, and to make them better stewards of the resources they have. We can help them with their message about why they’re worthy to invest in, as opposed to “help us because we’re desperate.” We’ve written a grant for a series of training sessions that will bring executive directors and Boards together to help them understand fund development better – their different roles and responsibilities as well as best practice strategies.

Another focus is measurement. In September 2011, we announced three ambitious goals: to increase the regional average of households that give to charities; increase the average household contribution of households that give; and increase the share of giving that stays here in the area vs. benefiting national or international charities. To help us track progress, we’re developing a set of measures using nonprofit partners’ results as the data source. But first, we need to get local nonprofits on the GivingEdge tool.

The third thing we’re doing is developing a whole suite of new tools that will help local nonprofits connect with donors. We are changing out the website to have a lot more donor tools on it, and to enable donors to get a lot more information about local nonprofits.

The fourth strategy is just an awareness and outreach strategy, with an underlying idea of building regional pride. If information about the cool things that are happening here were more broadly known, there would be a greater sense of pride in philanthropy.

What are some of the cool things you’re seeing?

One example is “Reason to Party,” which organizes events benefiting a cause they select as a way for 20-somethings to have fun and donate. It’s pretty inspiring. Another is the El Dorado Giving Circle, a group of several hundred women in the foothills who contribute individually and pool their donations to make an impact on a cause they select together. The Metro Chamber’s Project Inspire is another innovative way approach to philanthropy, where anyone who donates $250 or more can participate in supporting an exciting project benefiting the Sacramento area community.

Any parting words?

There’s nothing static about Give Local Now. New ideas come in everyday. I really see it as a snowball rolling down hill that’s picking up pieces as it goes. It’s a catalyst. We’re starting to attract people that can see this as a vehicle for change.

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Evaluating marketing results: a minimum for non-profits

In a small non-profit, every penny (and minute) counts (unomike2/flickr via CC license)

Large organizations typically have highly developed dashboard metrics and formats for evaluating the results of key operating divisions and staff functions.  Small non-profits often have no history of formally documenting results of fundraising and marketing activities, yet you could argue that it is even more important for them to take stock because they can’t afford to waste a dime or a minute.

Evaluation doesn’t have to be complicated.  If you did a formal fundraising or marketing plan (good for you!), report out based on the quantitative goals that you established in the plan.  If your organization is more used to using the budget as its primary management tool, you should still create a framework for evaluating what you did and how it worked.

1.  Start with the BIGGIE.  What was the fundraising goal and was it achieved?  How much over or under were you compared to last year in total dollars?  What was the total percent increase or decrease compared to prior year?

2.  Analyze important variances within your program.  For example, you may have had financial goals for five or ten tactical subcategories such as events, direct mail programs and so on.  Did they beat or fall short of expectations?  Did these subcategories grow or decrease from the year prior?

3.  Analyze important variances by segment.  You may also have established particular fundraising goals for categories of donors such as demographic groups (young donors), giving level (major individual gift givers) or organization type (individual vs. business).  Were you over or under goal?  By how much?

4.  If you established leading indicators to help you know whether activity was moving in the right or wrong direction (for example, increase or decrease in mailing list size, friends on Facebook, event attendance, etc.), take a look at where you started and ended the year.  Did things play out the way you expected?  How do your results compare to benchmarks, where they exist?

5.  List and subjectively grade all of the tactics that you spent time or money upon.  Your plan may only have included major new initiatives, but for this purpose, you should give some conscious thought to everything that absorbs staff resources or costs the organization out of pocket for purposes of fund development and communications.  Do you believe they are integral to the success of your program, or are you keeping some tactics around that are no longer adding sufficient value?   One fund development manager recently evaluated all of the tactics she implemented according to this grading system:

In hindsight, was this strategy a good use of our time based on a) return on investment of time, b) return on investment of money, and c) whether it raised awareness with a significant new audience?  An “A” rating means it met all three criteria. “B” means it fell short in one area. “C” means it fell short in two areas. “D” means it was not a good use of time. “F” means we should not repeat this strategy next year.

6.  Lastly, capture lessons learned.  In the current economic environment, there is no such thing as a sure fire approach.  Everything is an experiment.  What worked as well or better than expected?  What didn’t work as well as it has in the past, or as well as you expected?

Being “planful”, as an old colleague of mine used to put it, is an important discipline in any business.  Small non-profits may think that they don’t need to get all caught up in the exercise of evaluation.  But, with finite resources and volunteer good will, I’d argue that evaluation and basic planning is even more important than it is for large organizations.  Your evaluation becomes the impetus for a smarter, better program in the year ahead.

Who should see it?  Small non-profit boards should be asking for an evaluation of the year’s fund development and marketing efforts.  Even if they’re not, providing a 1-2 page executive summary can be an extremely helpful tool to educate the Board and frame the right kind of dialogue.  Like, dear Ms. Board member, how can you personally help introduce us to major donors next year??

P.S. Did you know that Google has over 3 million hits for “marketing evaluation template” but only less than 200,000 hits for “fund development evaluation template” or “fundraising evaluation template”?

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Filed under Planning and evaluation, Uncategorized