Fundraise Smarter

Why Do Fundraisers Do What They Do?

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Sep 19, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Over the last two years, I’ve gotten to speak with fundraisers from all over the world, and there’s something they all have in common that resonates with me.

Every fundraiser I've met has a reason for doing the work they do.

My behaviorist psychology professors in college would say “Of course, we all have reasons for everything we do!” but it’s deeper than that. It’s beyond circumstance, compensation, or natural skill sets (though those things do matter).

Fundraisers (and nonprofit workers in general) are some of the most intrinsically motivated people I’ve ever met.

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Setting Up Peer Fundraisers for Success

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Sep 6, 2016 10:15:00 AM

It’s strange to me that peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising hasn’t caught on more in the nonprofit world.

Even as I write that, it feels like a straw man argument. Who says it hasn’t caught on?

This job provides me with the unique opportunity to speak with lots of fundraisers at lots of different nonprofits all over the country, and peer fundraising is something that I’ve noticed ranks low on the priority list when it comes to development opportunities.

Most fundraisers are familiar with peer fundraising when it comes to boards. The “give/get” model is pervasive throughout the sector. But when it comes to just general supporters who might be interested in raising money on their behalf, a lot of nonprofits are hesitant.

One reason for this that I frequently hear is that the development officers just don’t know how to get started, and more importantly, how to ensure that their peer fundraisers will be successful.

This is a reasonable concern. Afterall, your peer fundraisers aren’t professional development officers. They lack the skills, training, and experience that your seasoned fundraisers have that help them make asks and close gifts (even small ones).

But peer fundraisers have a much more manageable task; they’re raising smaller amounts, and typically just through their own social circles.

There are a few things you can do, however, to set them up for success. Think of this like preventative maintenance you do on your car: it seems like a lot of work for nothing up front, but the end result is a much more reliable machine that will payoff in the long run.

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Topics: P2P fundraising

The Top Private Charitable Foundations in Your State

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Aug 1, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Private charitable foundations.

To the general public, they’re just those names they hear read off at the end of their favorite NPR show.

But to nonprofit development workers, they’re a valuable source of funding and support.

Many of these foundations pay out millions of dollars a year to deserving nonprofit organizations. Often times, the causes they support align with the values of the wealthy individual who founded them (even if he or she has long since passed).

So who are the biggest players in private foundations near you? I put together this handy spreadsheet breaking down the largest foundations by state, along with how much they distributed in the form of grants for the latest calendar year available (2014 for most).

Take a look to see who’s near you!

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Topics: Fundraising, Major Gifts, Fundraising Data,

How to Nail Social Media At Your Fundraising Event

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Jul 25, 2016 10:00:00 AM

There’s a lot of wringing of hands in the world these days about how much young people use their phones.

Whether you’re young or old, you’re probably rolling your eyes right now (but for two very different reasons). We’ll save the merits for and against our connectedness for another day. For now, let’s discuss something I think we can all agree on:

How can you really nail your social media at your next fundraising event?

A strong social media game can work wonders for your events. For one, they help you capture that “F.O.M.O.” (that’s “Fear Of Missing Out”) feeling that can drive future engagement. If my friend goes to an event that I decided to pass on, but all the pictures he’s sharing on Instagram look amazing, I’m going to feel a bit silly for deciding not to go.

And you can bet that next year I’ll be there.

 

Point is, when your event is consistently producing a stream of social media content, it’s free advertising for you. Beyond that, it helps increase the level of engagement of attendees. People will scroll through the posts surrounding your event to see what other people are doing. Perhaps you’ve got a fun station set up somewhere in the event space, and they’ll see other people posting about it and go check it out themselves.

But good social media doesn’t happen by itself. Sure, you need a fun, engaging event, but it goes beyond that. If you don’t set yourself up for success, you’ll find your attendees might be staring at their phones for a very different (and not nearly as good) reason: they’re bored out of their minds.

Here’s some tips for maximum social media exposure during your next event.

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Topics: social media, event fundraising

15 People Doing Wonderful Things in the World That Will Make You Smile

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Jul 18, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Hey 2016, it’s me, Andrew.

Listen, you’ve been looking pretty rough lately. Is everything okay? Why do you have to keep throwing all this craziness at us?

It seems like every week there’s another case of violence, hatred, or bigotry being splashed all over my Facebook newsfeed.

Minnesota, Orlando, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Nice, Baghdad, and on and on and on.

Every terrible, awful story brings along a new wave of vitriolic anger and arguments in the comment sections. I’ve even been seeing arguments on LinkedIn lately! Really? LinkedIn?!

And we STILL have an entire election season to get through. Gross.

Enough already. I need a mood booster. Something to keep me pushing forward and looking at my fellow humans with a smile rather than a glare of suspicion. 

After all, this is a blog for nonprofits! We have mountains of "feel-good" stories!

I want to share warm-fuzzies with you, because I’m sure you need it too. Read ‘em. Share ‘em. Smile at ‘em. Bookmark it and come back to it later when you need a boost.

Oh! And leave a comment sharing your own feel-good stories!

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Topics: Nonprofit

[QUIZ] Name That Nonprofit Logo

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Jul 11, 2016 10:00:00 AM

When people download our nonprofit website guide, I email them and ask them a simple question:

What is your "website wish"?

With this question, I'm looking to understand why people want to improve their websites.

One of the primary reasons I hear? To increase our visibility.

Increasing your org's visibility is important! Your marketing and communications team knows this as branding. Branding gets a bad rap. It feels very buzzword-y, fluffy, and it's hard to measure.

But branding your nonprofit is important. A strong brand not only builds visibility with the general public, but builds trust with your most ardent supporters (think about the fierce loyalty of Apple customers or Prius drivers).

Part of a strong brand is being recognizable. Companies and nonprofits alike work hard to convey a certain message and feeling when the general public sees their material, be it a logo or even a jingle.

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Topics: nonprofit marketing,, branding

Fundraisers, Your Marketing Team WANTS to Help You. Let Them!

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Jul 5, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Last week, we published our Marketing/Communications and Fundraising report, called “The Marketing and Fundraising Rift.”

If you missed that, it’s the result of a 300 person survey of fundraisers and nonprofit marketers. Give it a look!

We asked a range of questions in the original survey, but we left a few out from the final report, just because they didn’t quite fit into the point of the article.

But I was interested in the results of one question in particular that we ended up leaving out of the final report.

It caught my eye because it went against what I expected.

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Topics: online fundraising, nonprofit marketing,

7 Tips for Crafting the Perfect Appeal Email for Mobile Donors

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Jun 27, 2016 10:00:00 AM


Over the years, much has been said about the best way to craft a direct mail appeal.

The size of the envelope, the audience, the message on the outside, the message on the inside, the response type, to include a gift or not. All these things and more have been debated ad nauseam.

But as more nonprofits incorporate digital elements into their fundraising campaigns, there is an oft-overlooked channel that provides tremendous amounts of value to those who can pull it off successfully.

It is the humble email.

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Topics: online fundraising, nonprofit marketing,, email fundraising

The Best Nonprofits on Snapchat

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Jun 20, 2016 10:00:00 AM

I gotta say, I’m fully hooked on Snapchat.

Like a lot of people, when I first tried Snapchat, I didn’t quite get it. I wrote it off as something that I must just be too old for (oh God no, it’s finally happening!) and didn’t open it for months after that.

But a few months back, I decided to give it another shake.

Now I can’t put it down.

Naturally, I wanted to see how nonprofits were using it, so I started following every single org I could possibly find.

And after a few months of watching their snaps, I’ve come up with what I think are the absolute best nonprofits on Snapchat.

It’s clear these orgs have a well-defined strategy and goals (as you should before diverting resources to a new social media channel). They’re not just snapping just to snap: they’re really delivering value to their audience.

I didn’t throw anyone on this list willy-nilly. In fact, the list was 8 at first, but then I took a hard look at a few and thought “Are they doing something truly creative?”

Simply put: these are the best of the best. At least that I’ve seen.

Here are my 5 favorites, in no particular order:

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Topics: social media, nonprofit marketing,

Are You Measuring What Matters On Your Nonprofit Website?

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Jun 13, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Can I share a vulnerability with you?

I’m easily influenced by numbers and stats that don’t really matter.

Things like website views, Twitter followers, or Facebook likes.

These are frequently referred to “Vanity Metrics.” They sure look pretty on the outside, but they’re surface level numbers. They don’t necessarily measure what actually matters.

It’s easy to fall into this trap. Vanity metrics are fun! Who doesn’t want lots of people on their website? How could that possibly be a bad thing?

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Topics: nonprofit marketing,, nonprofit websites

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