Is your organization working to ready itself to respond to the needs caused by the earthquake in Japan? Convio wants to help you. Download and put our "Be Prepared When Your Mission Calls" rapid response fundraising guide to work for you.
Rapid response is a top-of-mind topic for nonprofits of all shapes and sizes right now. After the Haiti earthquake last year, Molly Brooksbank posted 7 quick tips to taking action quickly in times of need and numerous other resources and learnings have been put out since with the issue at top of mind for nonprofits and charities around the world (see: 5 Social Media Lessons From the Haiti Earthquake Relief Effort by Geoff Livingston, Helping Haiti: Places to Donate, Creative Fundraising Ideas and Being a Smart Donor by Britt Bravo, How to Communicate in the Shadow of Disaster -- Guidelines for Respectful but Effective Outreach by Nancy Schwartz, The Social Media Response to Disaster in Haiti by Amy Sample Ward and Text-to-Give Fundraising Campaigns Take Off by Joanne Fritz amongst others)
Being prepared for an unforeseen surge of donations is something every nonprofit should be positioned for, and the swell of attention doesn’t need to come only from a natural disaster. Unanticipated press coverage and subsequent attention on your cause can be the result of change of law or a court’s ruling. It may even be as simple yet unexpected as a pop culture figure bringing an issue to the forefront through controversy. The lesson far too many nonprofits learn the hard way is how to be prepared for unplanned events.
A few of the top takeaways from the guide include:
The Guide outlines the above best practices in detail, provides additional best practices and tactics to follow and offers examples from nonprofit peers highlighting successful ways they've followed the guide's tips.
Have any other lessons learned or tips to add to the list? Know of an organization who exemplifies how to respond rapidly in times of need? Share them here so the nonprofit community can be better prepared the next time the need arises.
This information was originally posted by Convio's Molly Brooksbank in March of 2010. Read Molly's post.
Remember the movie Back to the Future II, where Marty McFly travels to the future in a flying Delorean? My eleven-year-old self was convinced that we would all be flying in cars and eating re-hydrated pizza by the year 2015. Well, we’re creeping up there, and can you believe it - nary a hoverboard in sight! No, I think Writer/Director Robert Zemeckis missed the mark just a tad, but I have to admit I never would have guessed our true direction either… I would never have believed that in my pocket, I could carry a device that lets me call my mom, send a text message, check my e-mail, listen to music, play games, watch movies, take pictures, manage my finances, read a book, map a route to anywhere in the world, and search for information on just about any topic I could imagine. That’s pretty rad.
And it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Lately, more and more of my conversations with nonprofit fundraisers have turned to mobile technologies and how nonprofits should be leveraging mobile to further their missions. As we all know, text-to-give has proven successful(ish), especially around disaster relief like last year’s Haiti earthquake. (Read 5 Ways to Promote Your Text-to-Give Campaign on Social Media from Nonprofit Tech 2.0). Mobile applications have also begun to surface to empower peer-to-peer fundraisers to check their progress and send appeals straight from their phone. Plus every organization wants to be sure their website is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate on a screen the size of your palm. So where is all of this going? What’s the next big mobile trend to consider?
If Starbucks is any indication, we should turn our attention to mobile payment technologies. Did you know that you can download an app that will allow you to pay for your coffee with a quick scan of your smart phone? Take that, Marty McFly! This technology relies on a mobile bar code, or QR code, that debits money from a pre-paid gift card you purchase ahead of time. That seems to work for Starbucks, but not many nonprofits have brick-and-mortars with gift cards and check-out stands at the ready. No, where I see the biggest opportunity for nonprofit orgs and mobile is with Near-field Communication, or NFC, technology. NFC is a chip installed in or stuck on your phone that allows you make a credit card payment and/or gain access to information from a “smart object” with a tap of the phone (think of Exxon’s “Speedpass,” but installed in your phone and accepted anywhere).
So let’s brainstorm – how could you leverage a “tap-to-pay” or even a “tap to get more information” feature on a smart phone? What application could this have for:
In my mind, the possibilities are limitless – smart mail that allows you donate by phone, self-led tours or art exhibits, peer-to-peer donations made by bumping phones together. I’m excited to see what the future holds for mobile technologies in the nonprofit space – aren’t you?
At the end of last year, I spent a good deal of time analyzing our database (yes, my inner geek is showing) and asking the big questions: where do I need to make an investment? Do I have the right geographic coverage to support sales? And, most critically, what “personas” or profiles currently make up my list? Are they in development, do they manage special events, or do they play a technical role in the organization? What do these people have in common, what do they read, and what is their biggest pain? How can I communicate with them more effectively?
The reason marketers start here is the same reason a nonprofit should – making a connection to the real people in your database.
So what is a "persona"? Think of it as a fictional character created to represent the different groups that you interact with (e.g. “Soccer Moms” or “Nascar Dads”). A persona allows you to step into their world. It allows you to communicate with or serve groups of people with similar desires. It allows you to deliver a more relevant message. And, most importantly, it can allow you to connect the dots between your mission and their daily lives in a way that is meaningful to them.
Nonprofits interact with such a variety of groups - annual fund donors, foundations, corporations, volunteers, practitioners, program recipients, advocates, journalists, major donors - and each group has a set of unique characteristics. What’s the best way to engage these groups and the different personas within them?
We’ve just recently put together a great webinar on 10 key supporters to focus on. It covers how to create engagement plans based on the interests of these personas and their interactions with your organization. There is also a great blog post by Nancy Schwartz that talks in depth about personas and includes a sample persona checklist that you can adapt for your organization.
Much has been written and many have prognosticated about how new and emerging fundraising channels, fueled by technology, would spell the end of direct mail as THE predominate fundraising conduit. Last year, Convio, Edge Research and Sea Change Strategies announced the results of a national research study into the charitable giving behaviors and attitudes across Gen Y, Gen X, Boomers and Matures.
While there are several surprises, it is clear that the death of direct mail is an exaggeration. But, the traditional direct mail centric acquisition and solicitation model is undergoing rapid and permanent change and the research indicates that fundraising will grow increasingly complex. (Read last week’s post “Direct mail is alive and, well…changing” for more details and insights.)
Anecdotally and intuitively nonprofit professionals know that changing demographics and technology are driving a shift in charitable engagement. This research begins to answer a few of the pressing questions, including: Who and what influences giving decisions?
Influence, exposure, insight
In the giving realm, particularly in the world of major gifts the concept of influence is widely known and leveraged. Having the right board member influence or make “the ask” is a common and very successful practice. Yet when it comes to the exposure and insight your most ardent supporters provide to their networks and how people leverage technology, influence is not well understood – or well managed in most cases. This research indicates that organizations that understand and manage peer-to-peer relationships and empower their supporters and fans to provide exposure and insight to family, friends and peers can expand their fundraising “staff” and revenue base. Empowering individuals to reach others through multiple channels including email, social media and face-to-face will improve your results with the next generation of donors.
Across all generations peers play a significant role in exposing friends and family to charitable causes as well as influencing giving. Requests for donations from peers rated as the most appropriate channel for survey respondents.
The study suggests that peers will continue to play a bigger role in influencing donations, and that technology is driving greater expectations of engagement through multiple channels, including online, face-to-face and mobile. For all donors, but especially Gen X and Y, the biggest influence on their decision to donate comes from peers, friends, family. Word of mouth (WOM) is critical for the next generation of donor to learn about charities and how they can engage. Today’s donors share their causes and contributions, and that action gets passed to others within that person’s network both through traditional face-to-face communication and through social media and other technology. The next generation of donors is very comfortable asking and being asked for support of a cause. Peers are amazing advocates for a nonprofit or cause if tapped correctly. Today, too few organizations are providing their advocates with language, opportunities and the technology needed to turn these constituents into fundraisers beyond event fundraising or the use of Causes on Facebook.
Peer-to-peer based fundraising in support of your organization is an exceptional way to leverage your most valuable assets — your supporters. By giving them the ability to create personal websites where their friends and family can donate, you empower these loyal constituents to raise more money for your cause easily and effectively.
Social media ready for primetime?
At a minimum, social networks are a critically important word of mouth engine and starting to play a far more prominent role for donors of all ages.
Study findings show:
Where the debate over social networks gets muddy is their role as transaction devices. Will people at the end of the day choose to give via a Facebook app or TwitPay rather than go to a cause’s website? The jury on that question is still out. But that is only a small part of the value of these digital water coolers, whose brand building and viral message distribution value is now beyond debate.
Will an organization get a return by targeting the next generation today?
The study found that while Matures still account for more of the money given to charity each year, Boomers and Gen X now make-up nearly 60% of the donor population and report that they plan to give more in the future. Gen X is more likely to volunteer to organize an event, become participant fundraisers or help promote their favorite nonprofits via social media and their personal networks. While Boomers are more likely to support a friend or family member participating in a fundraising event such as a ride, walk or run.
Both Gen X and Boomers are beginning to approach Matures when it comes to their average estimated donations to charity and the number of charities they support:
Gen X (b.1965-1980)
39.53 million Americans; 52% give
Avg. $796/year to 4.2 charities
Boomers (b. 1946-1964)
45.17 million Americans; 66% give
Avg. $901 to 5.2 charities
Matures (b. 1945 or earlier)
25.41 million Americans; 77% give
Avg. $1,066 to 6.3 charities
“With changes in technology, the economy, and demographic make-up of donors, organizations are trying to cut through the clutter and make the right investments for their future success,” added Pam Loeb, Principal for Edge Research who conducted the study. “It is important to recognize that we are living in a multichannel world. Marrying traditional channels with emerging ones will have a lasting benefit as organizations attract and inspire the next generation of donors.”
The modern nonprofit needs to take multichannel engagement seriously and embrace the people and technology that can help them reach, inspire and move people to support their mission. And while the death of direct mail has been exaggerated, the value of this approach has not yet been realized.
Online giving is increasing; remember $6 billion was estimated to have been donated online during the 2010 holiday season. With that great online success, does direct mail still have a future in fundraising?
In a word: Yes. Research shows that direct mail is alive and well and has an important fundraising future. What is changing is the centrality of direct mail to the marketing mix.
While Matures rely on direct mail, 77%, as their primary giving channel, only 54% of Boomers, 43% of Gen X and 26% of Gen Y report giving through the channel. This tells us that direct mail will not be the dominate channel for soliciting and collecting gifts that it is today. And likely the content and style of the packages themselves need to be different based on the generation you are trying to reach. Additionally, this openness to direct mail across generations, combined with the mulitchannel preferences of Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y tells us that integrating face-to-face, email, web, telemarketing and other communications channels as well as integrated messages will play an important role in supporting the success of direct mail in the future.
“The majority of nonprofit marketing spend and tactics today are focused on mature donors, as they remain the mainstay of today’s charitable giving,” said Vinay Bhagat, chief strategy officer for Convio. “This research and the decline in donor acquisition rates through direct mail indicate that the marketing model needs to shift to attract the next generation of donor while supporting continued direct mail success. Charities need to move away from a solely direct response focus to a multichannel approach with a heavier emphasis on face-to-face, email marketing, web integration and empowering supporters to market and fundraise with and for the organization using integrated, consistent messages. We have to meet the donor of the future where they are."
The chart above illustrates the channels in which donors have given by in the last two years. Giving by checkout means making a contribution when buying groceries or checking out at a retail store and is common across generations. Giving a check by mail is by far the most common giving method for Matures. Giving by mail is still prevalent with Boomers and Gen X, but at a significantly lower rate than Matures. Not surprisingly, the incidence of having given at a website increases with younger populations to the point where for Gen X it is almost equal to mail and for Gen Y it is greater than mail.
We see a very similar pattern with information channels (see below). Mail is the dominant charity information channel for Matures, but information sources are far more varied for younger generations, with websites and email communications being ranked as most important. Facebook and other social media register as somewhat significant charity information channels for Gen X and Y.
“The research indicates that future fundraising will move from a direct mail-focused environment to one that is multi-focal and requires strong collaboration across departments and channels,” said Mark Rovner, Principal of Sea Change Strategies. “The next generation is telling us that moments of awareness, persuasion and action may each be happening via different communications channels. In an industry where direct mail has been the workhorse of nonprofit fundraising, we are facing a future where no one channel is likely to dominate.”
Fifty-two (52) percent of all respondents reported making a donation when checking out at a retail store such as a grocery store. While small spontaneous gifts were cross-generational, Matures report that they have well-established commitments to charities, actively budget for their giving, and are reluctant to add new charities to those they support. For the next generation donors, Boomers and Gen X giving is more spontaneous and based on who asks them to donate. They are more likely to support a charity when friends or family ask versus an appeal directly from the charity.
While engagement is reported in multiple channels, few organizations have aligned resources to ensure messages are integrated across solicitation methods. The messages in direct mail pieces are most often different from the website, emails being sent and other channels. Today, the vast majority of organizations measure their direct mail, online and other fundraising programs separately. Each channel is generally measured in terms of raised versus dollars spent on that campaign. The reality is that each communication and marketing channel, as well as the communications made by your supporters influences the other’s performance. Additionally communicating with donors through more than one channel drives stronger fundraising results and higher lifetime donor value that relying on a single channel.
The Next Generation of American Giving study shows that the modern nonprofit needs to take multichannel engagement seriously, including direct mail, and embrace the people and technology that can help them reach, inspire and move people to support their mission.
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