text messaging women

How to Rock Nonprofit Text Messaging Appeals

text messaging womenText messaging is becoming an increasingly important fundraising tool. Why? One of the reasons is U.S. adults now spend 10.5 hours/day consuming media.  With all the competition for your donors’ attention, there’s a need to cut through the clutter.

Texting can do that! In fact, it offers a wonderful way to strengthen and build authentic relationships with your donors because it’s so intimate and immediate. Done well, it can create a potent way for people to connect with your cause.

The key is to choose the texting tools that will work best for you, given your resources and constituency, and to wield those tools with wisdom and responsibility. While I’m not recommending any particular products, much of what I’m reporting in this article I’ve learned from experts at Rally Corp and Qgiv. You can find additional platforms here; there are others as well.

Why text messaging is so powerful for fundraising

  • Over 90% of Americans own a smartphone. And they look at it at least 80 times/day, on average.
  • 98% of texts are read within the first five minutes – which is way better than the 20 – 30% open rates for emails.
  • 39% of people have more than 100 unread emails in their inbox, with 20% saying they have over 1,000
  • 10 – 15 minutes is the average adult attention span; short term it can be as short as 8 seconds.
  • 90% of texts get opened and read.
  • 45% of people reply to branded text message blasts; 5%x the average reply rate of emails. The most immediate information – where folks go if they really want to reach us – is found on smart phones.
  • Almost 40% of Americans use cell phones to pay at least one bill. So your constituents are already accustomed to processing financial transactions via mobile.
  • Studies suggest text messages generate average gifts of $112 per Rally Corp. Even major gifts are given this way today.
  • Adding a text to donate as a giving option resulted in a 32% increase in giving over a 12-month period per a study by PushPay.
  • A study by Qgiv learned 10% of donors, overall, prefer to give by phone. And it’s a higher percentage for certain demographics. While not as attractive to Boomers (who still represent the majority of giving), it’s true for more than 30% of GenX and Millennials.

Different styles of text fundraising

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Girl dips toes in the water

12 Top Tips to Broaden Your Nonprofit Donor Community

Philanthropy should not just be about big checks.

That’s why you should never eschew small gift fundraising. Today I’m offering some tips for building and mobilizing your community to find, sustain and grow smaller gifts.

This is important, because a donor’s first gift is seldom their largest.  It’s a starting point.

The majority of your gifts will be small, but the majority of your income will come from a small group of major donors.

You have to grow this cadre of loyal, passionate philanthropists by building relationships with supporters over time.

The lion’s share of major gifts come from previously small gift donors.

A client I’m working with told me 50% of their major donors began with very small gifts.  How about tracking this for your organization? Sure, some major donors come in at the top. But I’ll bet you a majority start by dipping their toe in the water. How can you get folks more fully immersed?

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Clouds and sky

How to Kon Mari Your Nonprofit Work Plan

This year it’s been easy to hoard.

You had all the strategies that worked for you in the past, PLUS you had to add a bunch of new ones when faced with the realities of the pandemic economy.

Then you had to add things to be relevant to supporters who were thinking about a million news stories. You needed to be relevant, and consider your stance on BLM, BIPOC, DEI and a range of political and social justice issues.

The extraordinary times could not be ignored, so strategy got piled upon strategy, got piled upon…

And your nonprofit work plan got super crowded.

Time to clear out some space!

You’re likely wondering if you have to do everything virtually as well as in person. You’re wondering if your messaging needs to change to be more inclusive? You’re wanting to connect with folks in ways they’ve come to expect, and to offer meaningful engagment opportunities, but… where is everything going to fit?!?!

Never fear. Help is here!

What if you were to look at your work plan this year from the KonMari perspective?

If you’ve been living under a rock, Marie Kondo’s KonMari is the art of “tidying up to transform your life.” It’s a popular book that’s become a Netflix sensation, and it may not be your cup of tea, but…

What if, through some simplification and organization, you could transform your life (at least at work) as well as your nonprofit’s life — so all involved felt greater inspiration and even serenity?

You. Can. Do. It.

Alas, I’ve participated in many a planning session, and seldom do I recall – if ever – really focusing first on what we could stop doing to make room for new endeavors.  If this sounds familiar, you’re likely also familiar with the unfortunate consequences.

There are some things that really should not be part of your work plan moving forward. Or, at the very least, they should be pared down. Quite. A. Bit.

Here’s how you know you need, as Marie Kondo might say, to tidy up.

  • Do you try to stuff too much into your work plan and end up doing nothing as well as you’d like?
  • Do you allow daily clutter to crowd your inbox so you’re often responding to the little issues rather than the big ones?
  • Do you keep working on things that no longer have the payoff they once had, causing you to miss out on newer and more cost-effective opportunities?
  • Do you allow inertia to divert your focus towards ‘make work’ transactional stuff that satisfies your need to feel ‘busy,’ while you know it’s not really transformational work?
  • Have you allowed your job to become overloaded with tasks you don’t enjoy, to the point where you feel a bit like a lobster in a pot?
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Sign: Amplify Your Voice

Digital Fundraising Revolution: Annual Benchmarks Study; Trending Behaviors

Sign: Amplify Your VoiceYou’ve no doubt become familiar by now with the term “digital revolution.” It’s something that’s been dawning on us, slowly but surely, over the past few decades, and particularly in the past ten years with the advent of social media. How far has your nonprofit come? Far enough?

It’s hard to believe, but a mere ten years ago so few nonprofits had jumped on the digital bandwagon I began blogging about it. I even wrote monthly for a national social media blog, becoming their guest nonprofit expert. It makes me chuckle now, because use of technology is by no means my sweet spot.  But I was just so troubled by the elephant in the room too few nonprofits were naming.

Today, most nonprofits have a digital strategy. Some are even going so far as to discontinue direct mail entirely. I don’t recommend this; still, it’s testimony to how far we’ve come in a short period.

NOTE: I find abandoning direct mail a bit extreme and precipitous. A classic “leaving money on the table” rookie mistake. Merely substituting an online for an offline channel ignores today’s reality. What’s that? It’s a multichannel world. Sure, it’s more work than in the past. Where you used to just have to communicate in one space, now you must show up in many. Yet there’s good news: layering your strategies can result in richer engagement than before, because you’re meeting folks where they are and reaching people you’d never have before reached. And donors cross channels! The lion’s share of philanthropy still comes from direct mail, but things are evolving. Online giving may be precipitated by offline fundraising strategies. Even if you engage in direct mail, you need to consider the convenience of your prospects and donors. What makes giving easy, convenient and likely for them? Simply sticking to online fundraising may narrow your chances for success. Did you know average email lifespan is 17 seconds vs. direct mail’s average of 17 days?  Also, did you know 31% of offline-only first-time donors are retained for over a year, versus 25% of online-only first-time donors? So you’re going to want to hedge your bets and not just fundraise in one place.

Okay, back to the revolution.

Nothing accelerated the transformation to digital like the past year.

Is your digital adoption of a transformational nature? Has it fundamentally altered how you do business? We’re at a transformation tipping point, and transformation doesn’t move backwards.

Going digital is now an in-your-face proposition that can’t be ignored.

I’m about to share some data with you to demonstrate how online engagement and revenue grew in 2020. But first I want to share some broad perspective strategic thinking on the subject.

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red rose on imagine tile

What Causes Tribute and Peer-to-Peer Donors to Renew?

red rose on imagine tileOne of my pet peeves as a donor is making a contribution (via a peer-to-peer request or tribute gift in honor or memory) in support of a friend; then receiving nothing but a form receipt.

Some of you may be thinking, “That’s exactly how I like it; now I have no reason to get sucked in as an ongoing donor to this organization.”

Exactly.

Your job as a fundraiser and nonprofit marketer is this: Suck. People. In.

… with the good stuff.

Draw folks to you like bees to honey.

Give them something sweet and irresistible.

A one-time formulaic, “thank you on behalf of the board and staff of XYZ charity for your $50 gift,” won’t seduce or tempt me in any way. It won’t make my heart sing.

If you don’t reach your first-time donor’s heart immediately with something that makes them feel warm and fuzzy, guess what happens? When you come back to them a year from now with an annual giving appeal, they’re highly unlikely to make another donation. They don’t care about you. They car(ed) about their friend.

What Causes Tribute and Peer-to-Peer Donors to Feel Good?

When I give in honor of someone else, to a charity to which they’ve directed me, I tend to feel a little bit good because I did something meaningful to them. But… I don’t feel good because it was meaningful to me.

Unless the charity does something proactive to make their cause resonate with me more directly, I’m not likely to be a repeat donor to this organization.

So don’t kid yourself.

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Could Gifts of Stock Be Your Nonprofit’s Magic Genie?

Genie pexelsDoes your nonprofit promote stock gifts?  You should!

A groundbreaking study by Dr. Russell James J.D., Ph.D., CFP®, professor in the Department of Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University, found nonprofits that consistently received gifts of appreciated stocks grew their contributions six times faster than those receiving only cash.

This is HUGE.

If you learn to ask for gifts from appreciated assets you’ll get more generous gifts. The study shows:

  • Received only cash gifts = 11% growth.
  • Received any kind of non-cash gift = 50% growth. Included gifts of personal and real property and deferred gifts.
  • Received securities non-cash gifts = 66% growth. Massive difference from just this one strategy!

You Don’t Have to Get Fancy

The most productive strategy is simply to accept gifts of stock.

But it’s up to you to offer up this giving framework to your supporters.  Otherwise, they’re apt not to see this as an opportunity.

And speaking of ‘framing,’ this can establish a persuasive reference point for would-be donors. Researchers have found people don’t treat all their money as if they have one big pool of it.

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12 cups coffee

12 Quick Strategies to Boost Year-End Fundraising

The biggest fundraising time of the year for most nonprofits inexorably approaches.

It can be stressful.

Don’t succumb to the stress. You’ve got this!

Perhaps you can’t do everything you’d like to do this year, but you can do some things.

Here are 12 strategies that will pack a big punch.

  • Some you can do on your own.
  • Some will require support from technical and/or marketing staff.

Don’t become discouraged thinking you don’t have the time. Sometimes you don’t have time not to do these things.

None of these suggestions are big time consumers standing alone. They’re each little tweaks. Because often it’s the little things that count. That pack a surprising wallop.

So don’t save all your energy for writing your appeal. Help your appeal along by putting some of the dozen suggestions that follow into effect.

Even just one or two will make a difference.

Let’s get started…

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Street art: "Doing the right thing isn't always easy."

6 Strategies to Upgrade Nonprofit Donors Using Suggested Gifts

Street art: "Doing the right thing isn't always easy."I’m a fan of suggested ask amounts.

As you put the finishing touches on your year-end appeals, don’t make donors guess how much you need, or what you expect from them.

Clue people in. It’s the right thing to do.

If what you’re currently planning is some version of “please give whatever you can” or “please consider increasing your gift,” I encourage you to rethink your plan. Those phrases are vague.  And vague requests yield token gifts. Or no gifts at all.

The best requests for money are for a specific purpose and a specific amount.

As in “Dad, I need $250 to buy school books.” Or “Grandma, I need $5,000 to buy a used car.” Or see the philanthropic ask examples from Oxfam and Charity: water below:

Oxfam Donation Landing Page

Charity water ask string

When you don’t give folks anchor amounts to hang onto, they’re apt to put your appeal aside for some time when they’ve more time to think about it.

More often than not, that ‘some time’ never happens.

So give folks an anchor of some sort, unless you want folks to stop dead in their tracks trying to figure out the right amount.

  • No one wants to feel ungenerous by giving less than is considered helpful.

  • No one wants to be a ‘chump’ by giving more than you need, or more than others like them are giving.

  • While some donors upgrade their giving without being asked, most donors wait to be asked – or at least to be offered a darn good reason to give more.

Research tells us donors will give more, on average, when they’re prompted with specific amounts. They’ll give even more when offered a choice of giving levels (download Sustainers in Focus by Blackbaud).  But you have to do it the right way.

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Heart graffiti

How to Help Donors Give Astutely Before Year-End

I’ve written about some of the new charitable deduction opportunities included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed on March 27, 2020 before. But a recent post shared by Greg Warner of Market Smart — Dr. Russell James’ tips to help donors give wisely before this year ends — plus a recent conversation with a financial advisor, reminded me it’s a very good time to share with you again.

You see, there are several things that will impact donor deductions – THIS YEAR ONLY. It’s good for you to be aware of these as a fundraiser, because making your supporters mindful of these opportunities may lead to them making more, and larger, gifts to your organization.

Of course, you’re not in the business of offering legal, tax or financial advice.  And it’s easier to tell yourself donors’ own advisors will likely tell them about these new provisions. And that “this isn’t really your responsibility.” Yet…

Not all of your donors have their own accountants or financial advisors.

And not all tax advisors are up to snuff, especially when it comes to charitable deductions. Do you want to risk not receiving generous gifts you could have otherwise received, just because you’re too lazy to share this useful information?

The Genuine Job of the Philanthropy Facilitator

Sorry about using that “L” word, but too many fundraisers (IMHO) don’t 100% understand their job as a philanthropy facilitator. Do you?

Your job is to do everything within your power to make giving easy, joyful and meaningful for your supporters. Everything. Doing everything means

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Wish hanging from a tree

Warning Sign: A Post-Trump Digital Divide Between Nonprofits?

Believe it or not, this guest post appeared originally on my blog 3 1/2 years ago. I happened on it today, and thought it was still appropriate so wanted to share. One of my Clairification School students, Matt Patchell, had begun an important discussion in our online Subscriber Forum about what he termed the current “digital divide.”

He was referring to the chasm between nonprofits who are facing the digital revolution head-on, adapting their strategies to embrace its’ opportunities, vs. those sticking their heads in the sand and hoping it will go away.

Folks, digital engagement is not going away. Rather, it’s exploding.

As of late last year, one study found 43% of U.S. adults get political news online, rather than via television, radio or print media. A report from the Pew Research Center found one in five Americans get their news from Facebook. For the first time in the Center’s surveys, more than half (55%) of Americans age 50 or older report getting news on social media sites. That is 10 percentage points higher than the 45% who said so in the previous year. And that report is now three years old!

If you continue to ignore the channels your supporters frequent, and the ways they prefer to receive their information, the only thing that will be going bye-bye are your supporters.

What digital means for nonprofits.

It’s a sea change in how your marketing and fundraising team(s) operate and cooperate. Adopting is a far cry from adapting.

What does this have to do with Trump?

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