Fundraise Smarter

Andrew Littlefield

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Why Do Fundraisers Do What They Do?

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Sep 19, 2016 2:29:00 PM

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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The Best Nonprofits on Snapchat

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Jun 20, 2016 3:42:00 PM

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: nonprofit marketing, social media

The Common Sense Approach to Corporate Fundraising That Nobody Seems to Be Doing

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on May 31, 2016 12:34:00 PM

Last week, we had the great privilege of hosting a webinar with Chris Baylis (here’s the recording on demand if you missed it). Chris is an expert on all things sponsorship, and people eat his presentations up.

I think one of the things that makes his presentations so engaging and interesting to people is this: a lot of what he says is “counter-cultural,” yet common sense at the same time.

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Topics: event sponsorship, fundraising, corporate giving

I Analyzed Data on 458 Nonprofit Zoos and Aquariums. Here’s What I Found.

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

Almost everyone has a distinct memory from their childhood of going to the zoo or aquarium.

There’s something magical about going to this place in your city where you can see and learn about incredible animals from all over the world.  Huge animals with sharp teeth, long tusks, or glowing eyes, right there in front of you.

I asked some of our team members here at WeDidIt about their memories of the zoo or aquarium as kids.


Our CEO Su Sanni has some great memories from the @bronxzoo

A video posted by WeDidItNYC (@wediditnyc) on

Besides playing an important role in education, zoos and aquariums also play an important role in conservation efforts around the world and in their local communities. Look no further than our friends at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, who just this past winter rescued nearly 100 sea turtles in their area suffering from a condition known as “cold stun.”

With over 450 zoos and aquariums across the country, I decided to crunch some data and to learn more about these nonprofits.

Here’s what I found.

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Topics: fundraising, aquariums, zoos

The Top 3 Most Charitable Baseball Teams

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Apr 11, 2016 11:28:00 AM

It may not feel like it for those of us in the Northeast quite yet, but Summer is right around the corner.

How do I know? Because baseball is back!

I love going to the ballpark. Even if you don’t really like baseball, most people can admit that going to a Major League game is fun. Hot dogs, beer, Summer breezes, singing songs. It’s one of my favorite Summer activities.

When you go to a Major League Baseball game, you’ll undoubtedly hear something about what that team is doing in the community.

In fact, just about every team in “The Bigs” has their own charitable foundation that supports various causes in their hometown.

This got me thinking: which team has the most generous foundation?

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Topics: event sponsorship, for fun, grants

The Top 10 Most Visited Nonprofit Websites (And What You Can Learn From Them)

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Mar 28, 2016 12:10:00 PM

Whenever anyone downloads our nonprofit website guide, they get an email from me asking what their biggest wish is for their organization’s website.

It’s fun to see what different organizations are working on, plus it’s a great way to keep a pulse on what’s weighing heavy on nonprofit workers when it comes to their digital fundraising.

And yes, I really do read and reply to all of ‘em!

A recurring theme among the responses goes something like this:

“I wish we had more traffic on our website!”

Not exactly surprising, right? Anyone who’s ever run any kind of website will tell you that they’d love more visitors. Visibility can be a very good thing. If you build up an audience, properly nurture them, then tell them an engaging story, digital fundraising can be a consistent revenue channel for nonprofits.

It’s not the end-all, be-all by any means. Having an audience is far different than having the right audience. But the right audience can be a very powerful force for change.

So if your goal is to increase traffic, who better to learn from than the 10 most visited nonprofit websites in the country?

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Topics: nonprofit websites, online fundraising

This State Has the Most Nonprofits Per Person

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Mar 21, 2016 11:49:00 AM

Today's blog post just might win a nonprofit trivia contest for you one day...

Every year, a friend of mine from college organizes a March Madness bracket contest that’s a bit...unusual.

Rather than picking teams based on who you think will actually win the game, you have to pick a completely arbitrary, non-basketball related factor, then apply it to each match-up.

The nerdier and more complex, the better.

The end result won’t win any serious office bracket competition, but it’s pretty entertaining to see what everyone comes up with.

While pondering what I wanted to do for my entry this year, I got to thinking what interesting nonprofit stats I could crunch that might be of interest to you, our wonderful blog reading audience.

Thankfully, there’s no shortage of nonprofit data sets out there to play with.

So I downloaded the IRS’s entire list of tax-exempt charities in the United States. All 900,000+ of them.

Scrolling through the list, it was clear that bigger states had more registered nonprofits (duh), but it got me wondering:

Which state has the most tax-exempt organizations per person?

So with some spreadsheet magic, I counted up each state’s total number of organizations, threw that into another spreadsheet containing population data for each state, then divided the population by number of charities in that state to see how many people per nonprofit organization each state had.

So which state has the most nonprofits per person? And who has the least?

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How This Nonprofit Used Emotional Triggers For a 5-Figure Campaign (In Under a Month)

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Feb 29, 2016 1:19:00 PM

Want your next fundraising campaign to be a success?

Nail your emotional response.

Whether it's online, at a gala, or delivered through a street canvasser, it's the most important thing a nonprofit can do to raise funds.

Here’s why:

Emotions are the #1 driver of actions. That mean sharing AND donating.

In everything you do in a campaign, your first priority should be eliciting an emotional response from your audience. And the research shows that high arousal emotions, positive and negative, get the biggest response.

So what kind of emotion should you target?

You could make people mad.

You could make people happy.

Or you could make people sad. Tug on their heartstrings a bit.

I’m here to make the case for a tear-jerker campaign.

Sometimes, a hit “right in the feels” is exactly what we need to hear to force us to open our hearts and wallets and contribute.

But it’s a delicate balance. Going the tear-jerker route can quickly start to feel overly “preachy” or like a guilt-trip to your donor. That’s not what we’re going for.

You have to inject just the right amount of heartbreak, urgency, and hope to pull it off.

I think the best way to do that is by looking at a successful example of a nonprofit that knows how to get an emotional response and breaking down exactly what makes it so effective.

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Topics: fundraising, storytelling

Do You Know Your Visibility Settings On LinkedIn?

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Feb 22, 2016 3:39:00 PM


Last week, we talked about the ethical questions surrounding using LinkedIn and other social media tools for donor research.

One of the big questions here regards privacy settings. LinkedIn allows users to see who has viewed their profile. However, users can also browse profiles with varying levels of anonymity.

But how does this jive with the ethical obligation to identify yourself when asked in the process of researching a prospect? Would anonymously researching on LinkedIn run counter to this?

Should you hide your identity on LinkedIn when researching prospects? If so, how do you do it?

**I'm writing a guide to LinkedIn for fundraisers! Click here to pre-order (it's free)!**
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Topics: donor research, prospect research, social media

Is It Ethical To Snoop On Donors' Social Media?

Posted by Andrew Littlefield on Feb 16, 2016 11:56:00 AM

What fundraisers and researchers need to know to avoid donor blunders.

Picture this: you’re going on a blind date. You sit down and order a round of drinks, but before you can say “cabernet sauvignon, your date starts listing off every detail of your life and history and asking you about them.

Uhhhh, check please!

That’s the world we all live in today.

That includes your donors.

Social media and the internet have opened a whole can of worms when it comes to our private lives and it’s left us split between two worlds.

On one side, information is freely available for all on social media. It allows us to share thoughts, pictures, and experiences far and wide with nothing more than a device we keep in our pocket.

However, this rapid expansion of technology has also forced us to question what should remain private and what should be out in the open.

Typically, it isn’t until a piece of data or personal moment from our lives has been abused that our ideas about privacy are challenged. But once that line has been crossed, we realize just how much information is out there, and we question whether those social media status updates were worth it.

This situation becomes even more fraught when brought into the realm of nonprofit donor research.

Social media can provide information that is indispensable for fundraisers, and it’s a nonprofit’s responsibility to do their research on a potential donor so that they can effectively reach out and offer relevant opportunities to potential major donors.

But is it ethical to dig through social media profiles?

As with most deeply complicated issues, there is no simple yes or no answer.

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Topics: prospect research, social media

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