The other morning I was watching Bill Gates on various news programmes talking about his annual State of the World letter. In one interview, he made reference to how good he feels about helping those in need. A simple point but one that we shouldn’t forget as fundraisers.
A similar point was made at the Institute of Fundraising London Conference last year by fundraising trainer Rob Woods . In his working life he was often asked about how the most successful fundraisers did it? How did they get round that deep rooted embarrassment (especially among us reserved Brits!) about asking someone else, particularly wealthy donors, for money? He cited the example of one top fundraiser who answered that he implicitly believed that it would improve that person’s wellbeing if they donated money, therefore it wasn’t an issue and as a result they were more convincing in their ‘asks’. The donor would feel better, so he was doing them a favour.
I’m sure we can all come up with a few examples where we’ve done something good and got that warm, fuzzy feeling inside. There are many UK TV programmes honing in on that – The Secret Millionaire, DIY SOS, to name just a couple.
Embracing the feel good factor, late last year the Samaritans launched their Feel Good Friday workplace fundraising day which takes place next Friday 3 February, where employees can take part in feel good activities while raising money.
So how can we, as charities, make the most of that warm glow?
So go on, help spread the glow!
Almost every day I see some sort of “These cities made the top 10 because … they are the greatest places to live, they have the most active lifestyles for singles, they raise the most organic chickens,” and so on. If your city makes one of these lists, that is great and good reason to celebrate! Unless, of course, you live in Austin, TX like I do and are seeing the floods of people moving here because of all the “our city is so great” lists we’ve been making as of late. Oh well, the natural ebb of all things great... it’s hard to keep them a secret in today’s cyber world!
On the complete flip side, if your city made the top 10 because of the “worst places to buy shoes” or “worst places for BBQ,” then it takes on a whole different twist. Typically people in those cities aren’t pounding their chests and shouting “we’re so great” from the rooftops.
So what’s the point? When you’re in a city of great, be proud! If you’re not, do something!
Today we announced our 4th annual ranking of most generous online U.S. cities. Not surprisingly, the top 10 cities didn’t change much year over year from 2010 to 2011. Economic influences have been consistent over the past couple of years, and the online giving numbers stay true to the course.
However there were a few moves of note: Seattle, WA climbed the ladder three spots to be this year’s #1 and also showing northwest corner pride, Bellevue, WA made it back into the top 10 at #9 after slipping to #11 in 2010. Cambridge, MA fell three to #5 and Minneapolis, MN fell out of the top 10 for the first time into the #14 spot.
Our report ranks the 273 cities with total population of more than 100,000 based on per capita online giving and total amount donated through Convio’s online marketing and fundraising suites. The average gift size remained steady in 2011 compared to 2010 at $65, as more than $435 million was donated by people who reside in these major cities. Signs of consumer confidence rising and bank accounts opening, the donors in these cities increased their total online contributions by more than 11 percent over 2010!
As for the bottom 10 cities, similar to the top, there wasn’t a ton of movement, but one surprise is Newark, NJ that slid 18 spots to #267. Bottoming out? Brownsville, TX. After some upward momentum in 2010, they regained their ‘low man on the totem pole’ ranking for 3 out of the 4 years we’ve been reporting this data.
And here’s my challenge to you. Make a difference! While we’re often limited in having a profound influence on outcomes, nonprofits and causes of all kinds are counting on us for every bit we can contribute, whether it’s our time or our dollars. Make your city proud and be proud, no matter where your city ranked in 2011. It’s a new year and you have an opportunity to upwardly influence your city’s 2012 ranking. And since we’re talking about online giving here, I know where you’re reading this so, you are in a perfect position to get started on the right foot with a right mouse click while the year is still young.
As for Austin, the city of all things great, we didn’t make it into the top 10 most generous online U.S. cities. We came in at #12, 3 spots better than 2010 and certainly not too shabby, but that’s not good enough. I, for one, am going to do something about that!
Where did your city land? Check out the complete large city ranking at: www.convio.com/onlinecities.
For the first podcast interview of 2012, I'm excited to have a chance to share a conversation I had with Sandy Schmieder, a Senior Project Manager on Convio's Services team. While Sandy has only been at Convio for about a year and a half, she is already one of our most valued project managers and has made huge contributions to our team. She was recently honored at our annual party by receiving a Convio Star award for Client Focus. This award is given each year to Convio employees who have been nominated by their peers and reviewed by the Executive team. Sandy definitely deserves the recognition!
Connection Cafe Podcast 5 - Sandy Schmieder
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Two words a board chair never wants to hear from their ED. Few things can be as disruptive to an organizations success as an Executive Director transition. The staff may be crushed. Your board chair will likely feel horrible this happened on their watch. Mine did three years ago when I told my board chair that after 12 years at the helm I was leaving the organization.
I’m not alone. According to the 2011 Daring to Lead report, 34% of nonprofit executives will depart within 2 years. You might be surprised to learn that your for-profit leadership peers were pegged at lower attrition, only 25% according to the Corporate Executive Board. What’s really shocking is only 17% of organizations have a documented succession plan.
Winston Churchill said, “I am always ready to learn but I do not always like being taught.” Leadership transitions are painful but they can teach us a lot. People change jobs; it’s a fact of life. How can you be prepared?
5 simple steps to take now:
Feel prepared? Take my colleague Jennifer Darrouzet’s “7 questions” quiz to see if your organization can pass the test!
Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for fundraisers this year? Based on the rock solid fundraising performance by Convio clients, I’m hopeful of what’s to come in 2012. Overall, Convio clients raised 17 percent more online in the last three months of 2011 than in 2010. But, the real impact was made in December when our client’s year-end fundraising efforts came on like gangbusters—raising more than $30 million more online than in December 2010.
Of course, my first question was what made 2011 year-end fundraising different from years past, and I was excited to hear from Sara Thomas, Senior Manager, Digital Marketing at Ocean Conservancy on their year-end success...
“For Ocean Conservancy’s 2011 year-end fundraising campaign we took a coordinated, multi-phase approach that focused on solutions-based messaging and highlighted our successes over the previous year both as an organization and also as a collective movement. It was important to us that we give our constituency tangible actions; reasons to continue supporting us and evidence that we were worthy of their gifts. And everything from our design and messaging, to the various channels we chose to engage with our constituency on, reflected just that. We look forward to continuing the success of our year-end campaign throughout 2012 and working with our committed constituency to expanding the movement for a healthy, sustainable ocean.”
Also, Tobi McIntyre, Interactive Media Manager at Canadian Wildlife Federation shared some details about their year-end planning and execution...
What made CWF’s 2011 year-end campaign so special and why do you think it performed so well?
“We implemented a year- end plan in 2009 and have been steadily building it since then. Our campaign begins in August and ends January 1 and is comprised of 3 stages. The first stage is to build our email list, the second stage is to remind folks what great works CWF has done and is doing, and the third stage is our big fundraising push. As our list builds so do our results.”
How will you carry-over your year-end momentum into 2012?
“We have a few solid follow-up campaigns planned for the first half of 2012, building on advances we made in our year end campaign. We plan on implementing our year-end campaign starting in August 2012 again with only a few adjustments – adopting more social media opportunities within our messaging etc. But largely we plan on sticking to our plan that has been successful so far - in marketing when something works don’t fix it!”
Thanks to Sara and Tobi for reinforcing the themes of a multi-phased approach to year-end fundraising and starting early! I’d love to hear more about what made your year-end fundraising season great so please leave comments. And, check out more tips from our latest guide on how to continue your year-end momentum into the new year.
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