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Blog Posts

I want to be like J-Hud

Posted by Guest Blogger at May 25, 2012 02:27 PM CDT
Categories: Advocacy, Constituent Empowerment, Fundraising, Nonprofit Trends, NPtech


Better Together: Today's post is written by Amy Braiterman, principal strategy consultant at Blackbaud and author of the Friends Asking Amy Blog.  As the smart minds at Convio and Blackbaud converge, Team TR is excited to welcome Amy into the P2P braintrust as an additional resource for our clients.  She supports customers with their P2P fundraising programs using a process she refers to as “data-driven strategy.”   Amy’s data driven strategy analyzes how effective event participants are using online fundraising tools and takes those results to develop an event fundraising plan. 

I want to be like J-Hud: Inspire Your Participants for the Fundraising Journey

You’re probably wondering why I’m referencing Jennifer Hudson (J-Hud) in a post about inspiring and motivating event participants, so let me explain. I had an epiphany the other day. Fundraising is like weight loss. We all want it and we want it immediately. But, just like weight loss, achieving fundraising success requires planning and hard work. Even though there are lots of short cuts on the market, to help you lose weight fast, they never seem to live up to their promises.

So, what does this have to do with event participants? The weight loss industry does a great job motivating and inspiring individuals to buy their products. We spend more than $58 billion dollars a year on weight loss products and services. I have to admit that I contributed to that total.

For the last few years Jennifer Hudson has been WeightWatchers' spokesperson. The team has created several inspiring commercials, but I think they got it right with the first one. The campaign was built around a simple and powerful statement: I Can. The commercial features J-Hud saying “before WeightWatchers my world was can’t…, but on WeightWatchers I can”. This is an awesome message. My life was I can’t, but now I’m empowered and my life is I can. This is exactly what we need to do for event participants.

In the nonprofit events world, we’re great at sharing mission information or providing fundraising tips like how to raise $500 in a week. Let’s add another tactic into the mix and take a cue from our weight loss friends. In your next email or newsletter, include a story about an individual’s or teams’ fundraising success. Motivate your participants by sharing stories about what their peers are doing. Turn them from I can’t to I can. Plus, this is a great way to recognize your participants. They’ll be excited to be featured in your email and you might motivate them to do more.

How are you motivating your participants? Are you currently sharing peer success stories?

If you’re interested check out the commercial. It’s a great message.



 Interested in Learning more from Amy?  Sign up for her free webinar on How to make Social Media Impactful, Actionable and Profitable

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Innovate. Advocate. Engage.

Posted by at May 24, 2012 11:05 AM CDT
Categories: Advocacy, Constituent Empowerment, Email Marketing, Nonprofit Trends, NPtech

np engage coverHot off the press! Convio's new quarterly magazine has hit the virtual stands! NP Engage is our new publication slated to release each quarter featuring nonprofit trends, highlights of our latest and greatest thought leadership pieces, popular blog articles and more! The first edition covers the importance of constituent engagement and nurturing your relationship with your supporters.

Our second edition will have a new look to go with our new Blackbaud colors! So stay tuned for the NP Engage volume 2 in Mid-July!

Check out the first edition of NP Engage now!

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The Imperfect Storm

Posted by Guest Blogger at May 23, 2012 01:21 PM CDT
Categories: Advocacy, Constituent Empowerment, Content Management, Nonprofit Trends, NPtech

This post was written by Marc Chardon and Hal Williams. It was orginally featured on The Huffington Post, May 18, 2012.

The storm, for nonprofit organizations, is fully brewed. The demand for services is up; contributions have barely regained their pre-recession levels; government funding is way off; and expenses are rising. We are tempted to call this a perfect storm.

This turmoil, however, is actually imperfect. Although it's tempting to blame the economic downturn for all that ails nonprofits and charitable giving, the reality is that the current uncertainty is the new normal.

There are five key shifts affecting the environment for nonprofits that have co-mingled with the economy to create the potential for continued rough times if organizations don't change:

Donors are dramatically changing what they want from philanthropy. The fundraising appeals that used to bring in record donations no longer work, even in a stronger economy. Smart nonprofits want the check writer, not just the check.

Contributors increasingly shift from funding programs to investing in results. They are less interested in how many are served, than in how many are improved. Soon, information on nonprofit effectiveness will trump information on efficiency and even sustainability.

Many donors have moved from a desire to support multiple groups working on a single issue to investing more in the specific organization that produces the strongest result. Blending in for nonprofits is now less useful than standing out.

Donors want to see data, not just hear a few stories. Donors want to see data showing impact beyond the few stories that can be told. They will use the same business sense that they used to make their money in deciding how to give it away.

Execution of programs no longer defines the results. The shift is from the program to the participants and how these individuals make progress toward improving their lives and conditions. A great predictor of success lays in the extent to which a person engages in his or her own achievement.

Nonprofits cannot ride out this storm. They have to find a way to succeed within it. Put differently, we are not interested in how groups manage in tough times. Too often, that is about staying afloat. We are focused, instead, on how these groups thrive in a new reality, which is defined as both having a destination and reaching it.

So we begin the conversation, and we hope you'll join in. In the posts that follow, we'll dive deeper into our take on how to navigate the imperfect storm, organizing our thoughts as a response to the five shifts noted above. In all cases, our responses share one premise: that loosening up is better than hunkering down.





Marc Chardon is CEO of Blackbaud, Inc., a global software and services provider for nonprofits.





Hal Williams is the former CEO of The Rensselaerville Institute and currently an Outcome Guide who has helped foundations and nonprofits both large and small use an outcome-based approach.



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Keep your eyes on the KPIs

Posted by Alissa Ruehl at May 23, 2012 06:17 AM CDT
Categories: Content Management, Fundraising, NPtech, Productivity

Last month I pointed out a few of the ways you can use Google analytics, or other web analytics tools, to gain a better understanding of your audience. The next step is to keep track of changes to audience and audience behavior. Your audience can change over time, or change behaviors as they adapt to new technology. Adjustments to your website can affect your visitor behavior as well.

One great way to keep track of these elements without getting bogged down in all of the data in a web analytics tool is to set goals around online Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These are simply measurable data points that give insight into your online success. Some common examples are:

  • Number of visitors
  • Visit frequency
  • Time spent on site
  • Page views per visitor
  • Percent of new visits and percent of repeat visits
  • Percent of visits from your target geography
  • Mailing list signups
  • Event registrations
  • Donations
Sometimes you will want to make your KPIs more granular. Rather than simply “donations” you might choose to track general donations and donations to a special fun separately, giving you 2 different donation KPIs.

You will always want to focus on more than KPI, because one data point will never tell you the whole picture. However, too many will just be overwhelming. Typically, you’ll want to get started with 4-6 KPIs.

KPIFor each data point you will want to ask yourself “How does this affect my organization’s success?” If there is a clear connection, for example “an increase in visitors means more people are reading about this issue we want to generate awareness around”, then you have found a good metric. Sometimes you might find your answer references another data point, like “more visitors means more people will sign up for our event.” In that case you should skip straight to the important metric and use event signups as a KPI instead.

Finally, create a process to track your KPIs, starting with your initial benchmark and then focusing on any movements up and down over time. Monthly reporting is sufficient for most organizations, although some prefer weekly. Another alternative is to track before and after snapshots when any major events happen, such as changes to the website, an acquisition campaign, or a direct mail drop intended to drive traffic to the website.

Industry benchmarks around your KPIs can be helpful for understanding what you need to improve, but the best insight comes from looking at the changes over time of your own KPIs, both in the short term and over quarters and years.

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5 Election Planning Tips

Posted by Amber Wobschall at May 22, 2012 06:16 AM CDT
Categories: Advocacy, NPtech

Amber GOTV 2008Unless you've been on a long term digital detox, you have likely noticed it's an election year. Although we are more than 6 months away from the general election, many campaigns are in full swing.  Below are a few tips for your electoral organizing efforts.

1. Get some counseling. While you made need some therapy after the elections, you’ll definitely want legal counsel before you start. First, last and many times in between, check with your legal counsel about what is and is not permissible for your organization when it comes to the elections.  There are also a lot of great resources to get you started from the Bolder Advocacy Initiative of the Alliance for Justice. Check out their resources to help you navigate the rules of electoral activity here.

2. Consider your impact. Yes, 2012 is a presidential election year. And yes, the media will be blanketed in coverage of the race. But there will also be initiatives, referendums, school boards members, state legislators, and more on the ballot. These will also have lasting impact and receive state and local media and blog coverage. Consider where and how your organization might have an impact or be a key player.

3. Make it mobile and social. Do you have a resource that might help your constituents on election day? Whether it is a polling site locator, candidate guide or any other type of resource that is good to reference on election day, do your best to make it mobile friendly. People will be waiting in line at the polls, checking facebook or twitter on the bus or train and you want your information to be quick and easy to read.

4. Make the most of your resources. Making a voter guide? Send it in the mail, highlight it multiple times in e-mail (if you have capacity, customize your content based on districts), add it to your volunteer orientation kit, tweet a tidbit and link to the full guide, bring it to your major donor meetings, have it with you when you table, schedule time for volunteers to hand it out at a public event.

5. Check the mail. Vote by mail is required in WA and OR. Be sure to adjust your communication calendar in these states to reflect the ballot in hands date and deadline for return. In addition, many states offer the option to vote absentee with no excuse and mail in options continue to grow, especially in CA, CO and HI.  Keep these folks in mind while drafting your GOTV plans as well.

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